Archive for the ‘Culture’ Category


Wednesday, April 1st, 2009

He makes grass grow for the cattle,
and plants for man to cultivate—
bringing forth food from the earth:
wine that gladdens the heart of man,
oil to make his face shine,
and bread that sustains his heart.

- Psalm 104: 14-15

For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and “sinners.”
- Matthew 11:18-19a

“Do not suppose that abuses are eliminated by destroying the object which is abused.  Men can go wrong with wine and women.  Shall we then prohibit and abolish women? The sun, the moon, and the stars have been worshiped.  Shall we then pluck them out of the sky?”
- Martin Luther

A recent discussion on a friend’s blog on the topic of alcohol consumption by Christians – moderation vs. abstention – set me checking some sources, and I came across a 7-part blog series called, “God Gave C2H6O”.  I think it makes a strong biblical case for moderate drinking.  If interested, start by clicking here for Part 1 and follow the links to subsequent parts.

Only a week till Saint Joseph’s Day

Thursday, March 12th, 2009

One of my favorite movies of 2005 was “Millions“, a delightful story of a boy who memorizes statistics on saints (did you know that Saint Clare of Assisi is the patron saint of television?) the way some boys memorize sports statistics.

Several saints make an appearance in the movie.  One of them was Saint Joseph.

As I’ve mentioned previously on these pages, my evangelical Protestant church background hasn’t had much place for saints.  I was aware of the Joseph of the New Testament mostly as the kid in the Christmas pageant who accompanied Mary to Bethlehem, asked the innkeeper if he had a room, settled for the barn, then stood around the stable while the real action happened.

I didn’t realize until recently that March 19 is Saint Joseph’s Day.  A recent article in Touchstone magazine helped me realize that Joseph isn’t just a kid in a bathrobe with a towel on his head, but as the step-dad of Jesus and the husband of Mary, is an excellent model of manliness for Christian men to emulate.  Read the article here.


(That same issue of Touchstone has a couple of other good articles on the subject of Joseph (Abba, Joseph! by Russell D. Moore; Father Joseph by Patrick Henry Reardon), but they aren’t online.

Wolf Willow

Monday, January 26th, 2009

I’ve never been to Eastend, Saskatchewan.  In my mind it’s mostly been associated with Scotty the T-Rex.

However I have been to Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park, straddling the Saskatchewan/Alberta border a bit to the west of Eastend.  It is a fascinating area, with its lodgepole pine forests stuck in the middle of the prairies.

My perception of Eastend, Cypress Hills and southern Saskatchewan in general has been changed by the book Wolf Willow, by the American author Wallace Stegner.  It’s been on my to-read list for some time, and I finally got around to reading it during my days off around Christmas.

Wolf Willow works for me on a lot of levels.  It is a strange blend of non-fiction and short stories.  Stegner reminisces about his childhood in the village of Whitemud (Eastend) and a homestead on the Saskatchewan-Montana border, makes the history of the area breathe, and describes the natural environment in a way that makes it come alive – the shrub wolf willow (Eleagnus commutata, also known as silverberry) does indeed have a distinctive aroma.

I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in ecology, history, frontier attitudes, homesteading, law enforcement (North-West Mounted Police), Blackfoot/Sioux/Cree and other native peoples, Métis, Canadian vs. American attitudes, or just a good read.

Venture in to Venturoso while you still can

Friday, December 5th, 2008

Just in case any book lovers in the Prince Albert area still aren’t aware or have forgotten, this is a reminder that Venturoso Books will close its doors for good on December 24. The P.A. Daily Herald story can be found by clicking here.

I popped in yesterday and picked up a couple of books at 40% off.  The sale prices will get progressively better as the closing date approaches.  They still have lots of used books, and quite a few new books (predominantly Canadian/Saskatchewan/local interest stuff, which they seem to specialize in).

Venturoso is a nice change from the used book stores that specialize in trashy novels, comics and garish posters.  They will be missed.

Ventuoso Books

No dinner for me

Wednesday, November 12th, 2008

Some people like ambiguity.  I don’t.  Hence for example my preference for the International date format, which I blogged about on 2007-09-13.

But today’s post isn’t about dates, it’s about dinner. Specifically, the fact that half the time I don’t know which meal is being referred to when people use the word “dinner”.

I grew up referring to the mid-day meal as dinner.  Like other Saskatchewan farm folks our family ate three square meals every day, being breakfast, dinner, and supper.

However I have also rubbed shoulders with people who insist that the mid-day meal is properly called lunch and the late afternoon/evening meal is dinner, and only hillbillies believe otherwise.

My solution?  I avoid that ambiguous word “dinner.”  Today I ate lunch (not dinner) at noon, and after returning home from work I ate my supper (not dinner).

No dinner for me, thank you very much.

I love the CBC

Friday, November 7th, 2008

Sometime in the early 1970s I heard a song from Bruce Cockburn’s “Joy Will Find A Way” album, I think it might have been “A long-time-love song”, on the CBC radio program “Touch the Earth”.  To the best of my knowledge I hadn’t previously been exposed to Cockburn’s music, and I wanted to hear more.  When I had enough money scraped together, I went out and purchased that LP, one of my first ever.

CBC radio has continued to provide a welcome alternative to the mainstream radio alternatives ever since, and for that I’m grateful.

I heart CBC

However sometimes tough love is required.  That’s why I’ve been known to criticize Canada’s national broadcaster.

Dylan road trip

Tuesday, November 4th, 2008

Since so many of my readers (namely Marc and Dan) have asked for a report on the Bob Dylan concert that I previously mentioned I’d be going to, here goes …

In a nutshell, it was a great concert if little things like not being able to make out any of the words don’t bother you. That and the fact that our seats were to the side of the stage that Dylan was facing away from.  And that he didn’t do any songs from Blood On The Tracks or his Christian albums.

With those complaints out of the way, it was a great concert.  And a great road trip generally.  The decision to have all eight of us pack into Marv’s Suburban worked out really well.  It wouldn’t have been nearly as much fun without all of us being able to interact.

Here is a photo I took when we stopped at Davidson on the way to Regina.

(Ray, Luke, Abraham, Charlotte, Rachel, Derek, Marv, Phil – cleverly inserted in from another photo taken by Abraham)

Dylan was looking gaunt and decrepit, but I thought that he and his band rocked out really well, apart from the unintelligible lyrics.   Since I haven’t followed Dylan’s career really closely I didn’t recognize all the songs.  In fact even with familiar songs sometimes he’d be halfway through before I recognized it.

So was I disappointed?  No way.  This was Dylan, and he didn’t need to pander to me or anyone else.

A review in the Regina Leader-Post gives a complete set list.  Read it here.  It’s interesting that a lot of the people commenting have only negative things to say about the concert.  Unlike my nephew Derek who described the experience as “almost spiritual”.

Apart from the concert, we had a nice visit with Carmen and Jared and their children Dylann and Kade.  Jared cooked us a full turkey supper, just like a second Thanksgiving.  Unfortunately I’d packed my camera away and didn’t take any pictures.

Of course having Ray along provided a lot of laughs.

It was just a really fun trip.  Thanks to Derek and Charlotte for suggesting it.

Highway 1 Revisited

Sunday, September 28th, 2008

We spent so many years living on a single income that when I hear of big-name artists performing at venues within a reasonable driving distance of our little city the thought of attending just doesn’t cross my mind.  It doesn’t fit our family budget – end of discussion.

So when Charlotte casually announced that she had been chatting with her cousin Derek on Facebook and he had suggested that bringing the Ancient Uncle to the upcoming Bob Dylan concert in Regina would be fun, and that Uncle Marv and I should go too, my paradigm was shaken.

The upshot is that the tickets have been purchased and on November 1st two generations of Dylan fans will drive from P.A. and Shell Lake to Regina to enjoy a music icon.

I’m looking forward to our road trip.  I just hope he’ll perform a song or two from Blood on the Tracks, and a couple from his born-again Christian period.

The Fire Preventin’ Bear

Wednesday, August 6th, 2008

I have had a fondness for the song “Smokey The Bear” ever since the surreal experience of hearing three of my forestry professors (Peter Murphy, Jack Heidt and Paul Woodard) sing it at an informal talent show event at the University of Alberta back in the early 1980s.

I realize that Smokey Bear doesn’t have a middle name, but to me he will always be The Bear.

Vote for Earl

Tuesday, July 15th, 2008

While at my brother’s place yesterday, a TV show was playing in the background. It was a show called “Canadian Idol”. I’m told that the idea is for the audience to phone in and vote for their favourite singer. Well, one of the contestants is named Earl. It’s a very noble name, so if you happen to watch next week, vote for him. OK?