Birthday, etc

Oh, the things I would post if I could blog between 9am and 5pm!  Alas…

So it was my birthday on Monday (yesterday).  I’m 31, so now I’m officially into my 3rd decade.  I’m siding with the The New Millenium Didn’t Start Until 2001 people.  It gained me an extra year in my 20s.

While I don’t feel quite 31, I do feel like I’m catching up to my age.  Things accelerated significantly this year.  Some extra yeast, if you will, was thrown into the rising dough, as it were, of my maturity.

I just lost a couple of notches of maturity with that last sentence.

Last night Dixie and I went on a date.  I was flip-flopping throughout the day about where to eat.  If we had an Olive Garden in town the decision would have been made on December 9, 2007, but as it is, it’s slim pickin’s in Prince Albert when it comes to eating out.  Dixie was encouraging me to choose something different, such as the new fine dining establishment downtown, or the Filipino place we haven’t been to yet, but I didn’t feel like any of those.  Menus are a big problem for me, I wasn’t about to risk spoiling my birthday supper on a new restaurant.  About mid-afternoon I decided that, given the choices available to me, I was in the mood for beer and pizza.  So we went to Boston Pizza.  We shared a starter spinach salad and a small Thai chicken pizza.  Delicious.  It was the right choice.

Dixie gave me my birthday present at Boston Pizza: a weekend away at a “spiritual” retreat.  Awesome birthday present, you’re thinking in your most sarcastic tone of thought.  Actually, it is and awesome birthday present.  Given its location, I’ll probably go to the Queen’s House Retreat & Renewal Centre in Saskatoon, although St. Michael’s Retreat Centre in Lumsden is another option (with a good location as well).  Unfortunately, its December and it would be a shame not to have an opportunity to go for walks outdoors, so this may have to wait until Spring.  (But then who knows what new things will have happened by then?)

I also cobbled together enough gift certificates and early Christmas gifts to buy myself an iPod Touch.  I’ve been feeling a bit guilty about this for several reasons:

  1. It’s an expensive (but potentially useful) toy and usually I avoid adding those gadgets to my life.
  2. I’ve never been good with daytimers, so what makes me think I’ll do any better with an electronic organizer many times the price of a paper daytimer?
  3. I could have saved the money (by using the gift certificates to buy other people gifts) and used it for future tuition and textbook costs.
  4. I feel a bit hypocrytical because on the first Sunday of Advent I was the catalyst for showing the Advent Conspiracy promo video in church.  I know the two aren’t directly related, since the iPod Touch was bought with money given to me by other people for my birthday, but still…

On the other hand

  1. It was money given to me as a gift to get myself something–getting myself gifts for other people technically doesn’t count, does it?  My natural tendency is to use that money to buy books, but I’m already way behind on the books I already own, and I’m not likely to read much non-seminary material for the next little while.  (But I still hope to get some books for Christmas!)
  2. I’m at a stage in my life where I have a lot going on and having everything organized (and synced) in one place, with access to email, etc. wherever there is wifi will be of great use.  My normal way of “keeping track” of things is to write them on little slips of paper, which I promptly lose.
  3. It’s a way for Dixie to communicate with me away from the office without having to buy a cell phone.  I suppose a pay-as-you go cell phone would have been cheaper, but not nearly as fun or functional.  (I have to say it: the iPod Touch puts the “fun” in “functional”.)
  4. Plus it’s fun.  DId I say the thing about “fun” in “functional”?

I don’t know.  It’s been useful so far.  More useful than a daytimer?  I don’t know.  But I can’t check email or blogs with a daytimer.  I can’t install applications on a daytimer–apps like a dictionary or a guitar chord chart.

Am I still trying to justify this purchase?  Yes.  But I’m just filling this space–not looking for your approval.

A couple of years ago I was talking to a friend about how Christians tend to be apologetic about their purchases.  Someone will notice their new barbecue and say, “Hey, did you get a new barbecue?”  And they’ll say, “Yes,” and then quickly add, “But it was on clearance” or something like that.  I don’t know why that is (and it might not be unique to Christians), but I kind of feel like that about the iPod.  It’s as if I’m ok with having money, but not ok with spending it.

Strangely, had I used all that money to buy books or a zoom lens for my camera, I would not have felt the same guilt.  So it’s not the money, it’s the thing.

Anyway…

Remember the good ol’ days of this blog?  They were awesome.  The heady days of controversial theological posts and arguments; dry wit, laughter, tears.  No more, folks.  Add another lame post to the list.

17 thoughts on “Birthday, etc

  1. Phil L

    I don’t think it’s a lame post. It’s about real life stuff.

    And I’m one of those The New Millenium Didn’t Start Until 2001 people, and you’ve made the mistake of getting me going again after all these years. A baby doesn’t turn 1 until the end of its 1st year, but the Gregorian calendar goes directly from 1 BC to 1 AD without a Year Zero. You can’t get out of feeling a year older that easily.

  2. Phil L

    Of course how we celebrate birthdays is completely in agreement with the The New Millennium Didn’t Start Until 2001 people. We don’t throw a 1st birthday party for a newborn, and you didn’t have your 31st birthday until you had completed your 31st year. If we celebrated birthdays like the The New Millennium Started on the 1st day of January 2000 people, you would be 32 now.

    And you were officially into your 3rd decade a year ago, after you had your 30th birthday.

    Math is fun.

  3. Simon

    Are you sure it’s just Christians who are apologetic about purchases? Was it a Canadian Christian sharing this conversation with you? Because I’d bet (well, I know) it’s a totally Canuck thing to do.

  4. Marc

    Phil,

    I’m looking at your comments one at almost 11pm and another at about 8am. Did you get any sleep last night? Did you dream about the Gregorian Calendar?

    🙂

  5. Linea

    It takes some living to learn to accept God’s provision as a thing to celebrate not feel guilty about. With provision comes responsibility. Use your things fully aware that you actually merit nothing, that you use things but that they are not “yours” but God’s. Always be generous to others and give till it hurts if the need to do so comes your way. Don’t hold on to your provisions with miserly fingers. And use that iPod with joy thanking Godfor the people whose gifts made it possible.

  6. Collette

    I went to your Facebook page on your birthday and got distracted by something else before I had a chance to wish you a happy birthday! so, here it is now: happy birthday!

    also, St. Michael’s Retreat is one of my favourite places in Sask. we went there a few times at my last job for team building/planning stuff. I love the peace. particularly since my marriage ended, I’ve been wanting to go back for a real retreat. thanks for the reminder! also, though, I’ve been taking a meditation class and it’s been really useful. and I think it does not clash with your current beliefs. would you consider taking a retreat more like that? I’m mostly just curious. I think either way, that gift is really superb!

  7. Anonymous

    Why not try St. Peter’s Abbey, in Muenster, Sk? It’s a Benedictine monestary and looks like a great place for a personal retreat. I spoke to a fellow who spent a weekend there, and he had great things to say.

  8. Marc Vandersluys

    Collette: The appeal of St. Michael’s is, of course, that it is closer to my native Canadian soil. Any excuse to be on the prairies…

    No, meditation is not contrary to “my beliefs” (although many evangelicals would be suspicious or against it entirely). I’m not sure if there is a difference between meditation and contemplation. I assume there isn’t, and if I’m right, it certainly is part of the Christian tradition.

    It’s a discipline that would be very valuable for me to learn, as I tend to be a restless, fidgety person. I find it difficult to focus on one thing for a long period of time.

    Anonymous (whom my stats indicate is actually Andrew): Muenster is indeed another option and not much farther from here than Saskatoon. I had forgotten about it, and it was included in the print out Dixie gave me as part of the present.

  9. Toni

    Marc – I suspect the feelings of guilt are because you perceive the apple device as slightly frivolous instead of inherently useful.

  10. Collette

    ooh, Muenster is also nice!

    ah, I should have said mindfulness meditation. (I’m new to this!) Wikipedia has what looks to me to be a good description of it, under the heading near the top “Forms”.

    but basically yes, contemplation is a form of meditation, but I was specifically meaning Buddhist meditation.

    I’m taking a Vipassana (or Insight) Meditation class right now, which began with mindfulness meditation. in reference to someone who feels they are too fidgety, it would help teach them that it’s not a bad thing to feel restless, and knowing it’s not a bad thing simply makes restlessness easier to deal with. it’s not something to fight, it just is what it is.

    ha, is the atheist who talks about Buddhism going to get kicked off your blog? 🙂

    but in all seriousness, recently I linked what I’ve been learning in meditation with that video you posted about the prosperity gospel. I am certainly not even implying you should consider Buddhism seriously, but perhaps it might be a bit of an occasional compliment to what you are studying?

    personally, I have no intention of becoming a Buddhist. but, I am finding that some of the teachings are really helping me find some peace in a rather tumultuous time.

  11. Marc

    Collette: Why in the world would I kick you off the blog for having a different view than mine? This isn’t a “Christian Blog” or Christians only club. This is a normal blog, whose author happens to be a Christian and write a lot about Christian stuff.

    Plus, I know you personally. So, no worries.

    There is actually some dialogue between Buddhists and Christians. The famous Trappist monk and author Thomas Merton had an interest in Buddhism. There is also a book on my shelf called The Dharma of Benedict (or something like that–I can’t be bothered to look for it). It’s reflections by a couple of Buddhists on the Rule of St. Benedict. (But I haven’t read that one yet).

    I don’t believe that Christianity is the vessel for all truth* and that anything outside that vessel is false. There are things I can learn from other traditions. “All truth is God’s truth” as someone (possibly St. Augustine) said.

  12. Collette

    it was a joke, everyone 🙂 Marc and I met specifically because we have very different beliefs. (that’s how I met Dixie too! and it’s also how I get to be a little part of the How They Met story!) we have a pretty established history of being respectful while exploring the beliefs of those not in our regular circle, which in turn strengthens our own. that year in university where the Atheist and Agnostic Student Group met with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship figure prominently in my happy memories of growing up and exploring life and beliefs. I still mention it often, and that was ten years ago!

    I’ve been finding Buddhist principles to be very useful, much more than the Christian ones ever have, so I just thought I’d toss out the idea to someone that I know would take the suggestion seriously and to heart. I think a spiritual retreat is a great idea, and I am looking forward to going on a meditation one in the next few months depending on scheduling. and, I almost went to a Lutheran one back in November, except that I had conflicting plans. I just noticed it was only Christian retreats being mentioned, so I thought I’d give a little nudge to another kind of retreat.

    good discussion.

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