Category Archives: life online

November is disappearing like a fart in the wind, as they say.

I’ve always thought time appeared to move faster at a job where I’m always looking two weeks ahead.  But, now that I’ve got a second job sandwiched in between that first job, it feels like time is moving faster still.  Enough already.  It’s barely winter and already it’s almost Christmas.

My first seminary assignment is due in just over a week.  Not a lengthy assignment, but I still have a lot of reading, listening (to lectures) and thinking to do.  All the sickness and tiredness around this house isn’t helping in this respect.  Plus I have other quasi-commitments I may or may not have to keep in the mean time (hopefully not).  So, things might get quieter still around here.  (Of course, I tend to get fidgety when writing papers, so chances are I’ll find a moment or two to post something.)

In the meantime…

Henry Chadwick’s The Early Church is a fascinating account of the first several centuries of the church, but you wouldn’t expect it to be funny.  In fact, I would hazzard a guess that Henry Chadwick himself did not intend it to be funny.  Be that as it may, this sentence made me chuckle:

Gregory retired in distress to Cappadocia, where he wrote a self-pitying autobiography in iambic verse.  (p. 150)

This is the outrageous stuff of Monty Python, Woody Allen, Douglas Adams and their ilk, except that it’s history.  Hilarious.

Sometimes the best map will not guide you.

Today our church had a combination Thanksgiving/farewell potluck.  Now there’s a bulletin blooper for you:  “Join us for a Thanksgiving potluck as we give thanks and say farewell to our pastors” or something like that.  I guess you can’t force a blooper.

We had a nice lunch, had a bit of a program and then many people said goodbye to Randall and Lauralea.  They’re still around for a bit, but this was the official goodbye as a church body.

I’m generally a non-crying person, but there are four circumstances in which I’m guaranteed to get choked up and weepy-eyed:

  1. A normally non-weepy person gets choked up.
  2. When I’m really angry (doesn’t happen often).
  3. When I’m trying to speak from the heart.
  4. At the end of a movie about a couple dogs and a cat who travel a thousand miles to find their owners.

Today’s circumstance was #3.  Opportunity was given today at the potluck for people to stand and tell a story or share something about Randall and Lauralea.  I felt like I had better say something, so I stood up and hoarsely fought my way through a quick something or other.

I still remember the day I met Randall face to face.  It was just over 4 years ago (July 2004).  I had been reading his blog (found via Leighton, via Paul, via Nate—Paul and Nate are no longer blogging) for a couple of months and one Sunday I decided to stop in at Randall’s church (Gateway Covenant Church) for something different (I blogged about it here).  One of the first things he said to me when we met was, “We should get together for coffee sometime.”  He barely knew me, but that’s the kind of guy Randall is.  The rest is history.

We had lunch a couple of times over the next year.  In the spring of 2005 Dixie and I were in a period of transition and we attended Gateway Covenant Church several times.  In the autumn of that year we were invited to join their weekly small-group meeting and we started attending the church regularly.  Somewhere in there Randall suggested we get together regularly.  A couple of years of weekly breakfast at A&W ensued—talking, laughing, listening.  In January 2007 we became members of the church.

In February or March of this year, after a weekend trip with the church youth, Randall was one of a couple of people to name things that needed naming.  In April, Randall asked me to preach on a Sunday when he was going to be out of town.  He had actually mentioned (as I recall) the possibility of me preaching a year earlier, but the time probably wasn’t right.  I’ve preached thrice since then (and will be again this coming Sunday).  And now I’m going to be working at the church for a bit.  And I’m enrolled in a seminary course.

Now, I’m not suggesting that all of these things are linked or that I couldn’t have come to the place I’m at by another route—and I’m not suggesting that Randall is “responsible” for all of this or that he has been a means to an end.  But I will say this: Randall’s friendship and guidance has had, I think, a subtle, but profound effect on my life (and Dixie’s life as well) and he has been able to see things in me long before I see them myself (and he had the patience to wait for them to surface).  I like to think that God has brought Randall and Lauralea into our life (or us into their life?) for whatever purpose he has in store for all of us.  That’s pretty vague, I know, but I’m generally reluctant to make that kind of statement, and things aren’t clear yet, though we seem to be on a course (“sometimes the best map will not guide you/ You can’t see what’s ’round the bend” – Bruce Cockburn*).

The friendship was meant to be, I think, and it shall continue to be, I hope.

Thanks Randall and Lauralea for listening and caring; for your patience; for your insights; and mostly for your love and friendship.  You will be missed.

Oh, I guess I also get weepy-eyed over this sort of thing (#5).**

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*there’s an appropriate Cockburn quote for every situation.
**Apologies for the non-locals for some of these sappy posts of late. Perhaps these things are better sent in emails and letters, I don’t know. But I write here and I write what I live.

I came to confess…

We had some friends over tonight, so I stopped in the liquor store across the street from the office to pick up some wine.  I was handling a dusty, $25 bottle of wine* when I someone tapped my shoulder.  I turned around and saw a familiar face: someone I know locally, mostly by association.  In fact, I didn’t think we knew each other well enough for her to go out of her way to say “Hello”, so I was surprised that it was her.

She offered me her hand in greeting, and said simply, “I’m Critic.”

I paused for a moment, then I arched my body backwards, clapped, and said, in my high-pitched voice of disbelief, “WHAT?”

Some of you may recall Critic as a frequent commenter on this blog until a year or so ago.  Critic was a regular, vocal participant in the discussion here: sometimes her comments were helpful, sometimes they were uncalled for, but she was a presence here.  Dixie also had a similar commenter on her blog, writing under the alias “Raven”.  We deduced that Critic and Raven were the same person (confirmed by Critic today).  We spent quite a bit of time trying to figure out who this person was, based on what she had said and revealed of herself.  Critic had always refused to identify herself, even by email.  Without reason, I had assumed that it was someone from my pre-Prince Albert past—a school mate or something—someone that I knew and who Dixie had at least met.  Never once did I think it was a recent local acquaintance.  She was right: I would never have guessed in a million years.

“Well, now I’m trying to think of what I’ve said to you—if there were any jerk-ish things.”  Of course it’s easy to debate and confront people online.  Face to face the thought of such things happening even in the past is embarrassing.

“Nah.  If you did, I probably said something jerk-ish back and then we’d figure we were OK.”

I didn’t think to ask her how she found my blog in the first place, given that we walk in different circles and apparently have widely divergent worldviews.

“Where have you been?” I asked, “I was wondering about you a couple of weeks ago.”  I had told Dixie that I guessed we’d never find out who she was.

“Facebook happened.”

Indeed it did.  Indeed it did.

So: a toast to mysteries solved.  Thanks, Critic, for tapping me on the shoulder and introducing yourself.  It blew my mind and made my day.

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*I wasn’t thinking about buying the wine.  I was just wondering if I could tell an expensive (for my pocket book) wine and a cheap wine apart.

Also true

(Link)

I usually order books from Amazon.ca.  I’m not sure why.  I should really order from Chapters.ca as a general rule, since they’re a Canadian retailer with a CEO that cares about reading.  Randall has told me several times that Chapters.ca is sometimes cheaper than Amazon.ca.  I recently placed an order at Chapters.ca and he was right—it’s a margin of only a few dollars or less, but still.

On the Saturday before last I ordered some books from Chapters.ca.  Some time after I had checked out, I decided that maybe this wasn’t a good time to order all of those books, so I attempted to cancel 60% of my order.  The site said that cancellation within 50 minutes of placing the order was possible, but because more time had elapsed I would have to request the cancellation and would receive word within 5 days.  So I requested the cancellations. This was Saturday evening.

Monday morning I received two emails from Chapters.ca: “your orders have shipped”, was the long and short of them.  4 days later (last Thursday) and the day after that I received emails, each regretting to inform me that my orders could not be canceled.

Strange policy.  I can’t imagine that there wasn’t enough time to cancel those orders.

Monday morning, 8a.m., the Chapters warehouse:

Supervisor: OK fellas, we’ve got a bunch of weekend orders we have to get shipped pronto.  The sales department needs to get back to some clients, so lets ship these items out as fast as possible and then I can let them know whether or not the orders can be canceled.

One of the fellas: Wait—what?

Supervisor: Just shut up and ship ’em.

The books arrived today and they’re all books I want, so…no harm no foul.  I just don’t recall having a 50 minute cancellation window at Amazon.ca, especially on a weekend.

IE problems — solved…sort of . . . for reals now.

Dixie’s mom has just informed me that my blog doesn’t work in Internet Explorer.  Apparently it has been down for a couple of days.

I’m not sure what the problem is right now.  I removed some widgets from my sidebar a couple of days ago, but I can’t imagine that a widget would have coding in it that would enable it to work in IE.

Any ideas (other than switching browsers)?

UPDATE: I guess it was a theme issue.  Must have been one of my widget changes a couple of days ago.

Enjoy my temporary template with it’s hasty—but clever—personalization.

UPDATE 2: Sheesh.  IE is finicky.  You know what the problem was?  I forgot to close the <title> command in the header.  The other browsers had no problem with this.

But now that that temporary template is out there, I’m tempted to switch permanently.  What did you think, those of you who actually caught a glimpse?  (In case you missed it, here’s a semi-accurate sample page, including some of my hasty personalizing tweeks).

Pause

A recent post by Scot McKnight gave me pause:

Helmut Thielicke, in what has to be one of the finest little (absolutely must-have) books ever written for those in school and considering pastoring or a teaching ministry, A Little Exercise for Young Theologians, said something like this some where in that book: “During the period when the voice is changing we do not sing.”

Bloggers pastors or students or theologians, especially young ones, need to listen to the wisdom of this little word by Thielicke. Why? Let me begin with this: what you say on your blog is international, permanent, and universally accessible. It’s not that I think you need to hide your ideas; it is that some of your ideas are not wise to be aired in public. Keep them to your closer friends and give them time to dig roots. Some of them you may toss into the bucket before too long.

. . . You are working out your ideas and your theology — at least I hope you are. It is indeed disappointing to me when someone thinks they’ve mastered theology as a result of a class in seminary or after having read an author or two. Especially when they haven’t earned the ideas themselves but are simply borrowing someone else’s ideas; we call this 3d person theology. Theology takes a lifetime to engage responsibly and wisely. So, hold your ideas a bit more tentatively when you are young. You’ll grow into moderated, confident wisdom. That’s the best time to chat about theology. (Link)

Given what has been on my mind lately, you can see why this would raise my eyebrows.

It’s humbling: much of my theology is 3rd person.  Possibly all of it is. I don’t think that’s entirely bad: few of us, if any, would work out the doctrine of, say, the Trinity on our own, without outside influence.  The idea, I think, is to take a 3rd person theological point, check it against scripture (and—yes!—the traditions and historical writings), and by confirming it this way make it a 1st person theological point.

But I could be wrong.

But that’s the beauty of this blog: it’s a working out and examining of theology.  I think I’ve been clear from the outset that I am for the most part examining ideas (“thinking out loud”), rather than staking any theological claims.

At least, I hope that has been clear.  I hope these 4.5 years of writing don’t come ’round and bite me in the ass.

Maybe writing “ass” just now will come ’round and bite me there.

WP 2.* questions

Looks somewhere along the line, WordPress has added a tags function and I can convert my categories into tags if I so choose.  Here are some questions for your WP experts and my readers in general:

1. If I convert my categories to tags, will my categories be deleted?  I’ve looked for the answer to this question on forums, but, quite frankly, forums are possibly the most annoying place to locate any sort of helpful information.

2. Are tags better or preferrable to categories?  I guess categories are somewhat rigid, whereas tags are more flexible (and come with not-so-hip-anymore “tag clouds”.)  The difference between the two is subtle, I think, and I’m not sure I even know the difference.  Since I can assign a post to multiple categories, the difference may even be negligible.

This post I put in the “Life Online” category.  But if I assign tags, they would include “WP”, “WordPress”, “Blogging”, “tags”, “categories”.  Another post dealing with blogging downtime would go into the big “Life Online” category, but it’s tags would be, for example, “admin” and “blogging”, which would give both overlap with this post’s tags, but also give some level of independence to each.

What do you think?

If converting my categories to tags leaves the categories intact, I may just use both for a while.

Admin note: WordPress upgrade (Done)

I’m upgrading WordPress, so this blog may disappear for a while…

…aaand I’m done.  That was relatively painless.  I panicked for a second because I had forgotten to deactivate my plugins before uploading the new files, but that wasn’t a problem.

Just a couple more background tweaks and I’m good to go.

For those of you who care about such things:

1.  I upgraded to WordPress 2.6.

2.  Question: when you back up your files (not your database) from your ftp site prior to upgrading, which files do you copy?  I copied everything in my root ftp folder, which was about 180MB of files.   This would have included files for subdomains and test sites, of course, but that still seems high.

I’m wondering if I should have just backed up the files relating to the actual blog I’m grading (the folder containing the subfolders wp-admin, wp-content, etc).  If this is the case, I could upgrade the blog in 30 minutes or less.  As it was, I took an hour last night to download all the files for backup.  What say you, WordPressites?

3.  I was told that there was a built-in stats counter with WP 2.5+, but I don’t see it.  I still have the wordpress.com stat counter, which requires me to sign in every time I use it (I don’t like my browser to remember passwords for sites like that).  Am I missing something?

Hmmmmm… seems that the Upgrade Process Monster ate my categories.  Looks like this is a failing common to this model of WordPress, but it’s fixable.  This is why we back up files before upgrading, folks.

Aaaand the categories are back with a little manual labour.

3rd Person Theology

Scot McKnight posted this:

[When you are young,] [y]ou are working out your ideas and your theology — at least I hope you are. It is indeed disappointing to me when someone thinks they’ve mastered theology as a result of a class in seminary or after having read an author or two. Especially when they haven’t earned the ideas themselves but are simply borrowing someone else’s ideas; we call this 3d person theology. Theology takes a lifetime to engage responsibly and wisely. So, hold your ideas a bit more tentatively when you are young. You’ll grow into moderated, confident wisdom. That’s the best time to chat about theology. (Link)

I became aware of this on my own some time ago, though I couldn’t quite articulate it.   This is one of the reasons I think I’ve been blogging less lately.  Until quite recently, I was resisting this question of “Who am I to be making these theological statements?”  These days I tend to think that I should keep them to myself, because many of them were discovered in a book.  Could I back them up with scripture?  I don’t know—someday, maybe.

Of course, I’ve always stressed that I am wrestling with ideas on this blog, not making definitive statements;  I am “thinking out loud”.  I hope I have never come across in a “This is the way it is” manner.

These days, however, I’ve been doing my thinking silently, resisting the urge to write about the latest things I’ve read.  Even when I give in to the urge, the posts rarely make it past draft form.

I want to keep blogging, to keep writing, but I’m not sure what shape it will take.  Much of my blogging has been theological in thought—so what do I write when theology isn’t an option?

Hopefully soon I’ll reclaim the thinking-out-loud aspect of this blog, because that’s a fun thing to do.  Theology and faith issues are a part of my day-to-day life—it’s a hobby, really—so I’m sure I’ll get back to that to it at some point.  For now, I continue to be self-conscious about being a know-it-all, regardless of how I actually come across.