Tag Archives: blogging

10 Years of Blogging

Today is my 10-year blogging anniversary. That should be a pretty significant milestone, but it doesn’t feel like it. The last 5 years have seen a sharp decline in how much effort I’ve put into this space. I haven’t maintained it well for half of the 10 years The Eagle & Child has existed. In the last two years I posted as much as I did in one month in 2005 (no wonder my wife had issues with my blogging back then).

I don’t want to give up on blogging just yet. But I’m not sure what direction to take it in. I looked back at random months in my archive and I had some fun with it back in the day. These days I start writing something thoughtful and serious and it doesn’t take long for me to lose interest or feel like it’s not worth posting here. I have 128 draft posts of various lengths, 26 of which are from the last year.

I need to find the fun again.

I write a reflection for our church bulletin almost every week. Maybe I should post those here. But that’s not the kind of fun I was thinking of.

At any rate, over the years this blog has made me some new friends and in some respects helped get me where I am today in the church in The Field. It has been an interesting ride, old friend.

Anyway… here’s to 10 years of blogging! And here’s to increased fun and creativity here!

8 year anniversary

I’m in the midst of (mostly) finishing up this semesters work. Two more weeks of class, and in that time I have 3 major assignments, an exam, some paperwork, translation and quizzes to do. This ignores the 4 major assignments I have left to do for a directed study course due in early January, for which I will have to get an extension. Eep.

Anyway, in the midst of all this, I thought it might be nice to mention that today is my 8-year blogging anniversary. I’ve been at this for eight years now, since just before Madeline’s first birthday! I started blogging on this day under slightly false pretenses. I promoted my blog by emailing friends and family and saying that I was doing them a favour by posting pictures of Madeline on my blog rather than filling up their inboxes with them. Pictures of said child were few and far between in subsequent posts.

It has been an interesting journey, if I may be so pompous as to call blogging such. You might say it was a meteoric rise, relatively speaking. In less than a year, I owned my own domain name and was posting almost at an average of twice a day. My hit-count was decent. A community of sorts developed between my readers and other blogs I read. My wife, as I recall, complained about the time I spent writing on the blog and interacting with the comments.  Eventually, I settled on a once-a-day average, and my wife also started blogging, rising to “fame” and “fortune” in the lucrative “Reflective Mommy Blog” category (philosopher sub-category). And then, life started changing. I went to seminary, and it almost killed this blog.

Along the way I’ve written some stuff that I’ve truly been proud of, stuff written with passion and clarity. I’ve written some stuff I wish I hadn’t. I’ve written some stuff that I thought wasn’t that valuable, but which other people thought helpful. I’ve written some stuff that unintentionally started arguments. I think I’ve probably written some stuff that intentionally started arguments. I’ve written a lot of stuff that was speculative. And I’ve almost written a lot of stuff that never saw the proverbial light of day.

The really cool thing, though, is that I made new friends through this blog. I won’t list them all here for fear of missing someone. But we’ve made friends that we’ve visited with, eaten with, traveled to, debated with. We’ve made friends in other countries. We’ve made friends that eventually connected us with a community where we made more friends. Those friends and that community, in turn, had a big role in getting us to the place where we are now, nearly finished seminary and just about ready to enter the real world in vocational ministry.

Interesting how a seemingly simple and inconsequential choice can lead to such grand, life-changing experiences!

So here I sit at year eight, entering the ninth, without much energy at the moment to write in this space. It has become somewhat neglected. Some say blogging is a thing of the past. The world really does change quickly. But I’m not ready to give up on this medium. 140 characters just won’t do it for me and neither does the cluttered all-inclusive noise of Facebook (at Google+ seems, at the moment, to be a bit of a failure). There is still something about a blog…

So here’s to eight years of blogging and to some more.

Blogs in transition

I’m sad to see that the Philgrim has put his blog “on ice”, but good for him anyway. I am not going to announce a similar move here, but I can understand the move. Perhaps you would expect a same move from me, but I still feel compelled to keep writing here, even though I do so less now than ever. It’s a bit odd how little I’ve written here or on the “social networks” considering how much time I spend (read: waste) on them.

What I have considered on occasion is changing this blog or starting anew as I enter a new season of life after this school year. I’ve thought of going through my archives and selecting particularly journal-y or reflective posts and getting them bound as a book so that I have a hard-copy to keep with my other journals (I haven’t yet warmed up to “the cloud”). See blurb.com, for instance. I could then delete the rest of this blog and start over.

Another option I’ve considered is to split up theeagleandchild.com and vandersluys.ca, both of which have always directed here. theeagleandchild.com would then carry on this material and vandersluys.ca would be something else.

I confess that part of the reason I’m considering this is that I’m not quite sure how to navigate this space from being the writings of a “lay person” to being the writings of someone who has a position of some degree of authority in a church setting. Yes, yes, the priesthood of all believers, we all have different roles but we’re still all human, etc. etc. Yet, the reality remains that what I’ve written here could cause unnecessary grief for me and my family simply because of my job.

I don’t intend to hide anything from anyone, but not every thought needs to be shared (even if I’m thoroughly convinced of its truth), and I am conscious of the very real possibility of misunderstanding or misinterpretation of things written, particularly online. I’m thinking particularly in terms of what I have written previously and my own spiritual progression over the years. I don’t remember everything I’ve written here; I may or may not still believe or think some of the things I believed or thought (and wrote down here) 3 or 5 or 7 years ago. This is natural, of course, but I’m not sure this notion of development is always clear to everyone.

Anyway. I’m not going to change anything any time soon, but it’s something I’ve been thinking about. There are a number of things to consider as we (hopefully) make a major life transition in the next 8 months or so.

Post of the Year

Who am I to say what my post of the year is?  I suppose that should be decided by my readers.

We’ve arrived in Prince Albert and I’m fully into the early stages of the flu: runny nose, aching body, chills, headache. What a way to start the Christmas break!  I suspect it’s as a result of my trying to dig out the van when we hit the ditch the other day. I didn’t have proper snow pants on and spent quite a bit of time out there. Plus, my adrenaline probably ran out when I handed in my last assignment of the semester on Monday.

But I digress. I confess I have neither the will nor the strength scan through all of my 2010 post. No matter–I’m convinced this is the best one. In fact, it may well be the only post I wrote this year that I think is worth reading.

Written on February 19, 2010, it’s a reflection on good, evil, and God, prompted by a Bruce Cockburn song I was listening to at the time. This isn’t a post putting forward tentative theological ideas, as I usually do. These words came from my heart and my guts, which is why, I think, they continue to resonate with me.

* * *

how faint the whisper we hear of him! (Job 26:14, TNIV)

* * *

is bigger than you can imagine
is forever (Bruce Cockburn)

I’ve been thinking quite a bit lately about pain and suffering and genocide and natural disasters and…God.  Without diminishing the pain and horror, and without denying the legitimacy of our incredulity, our anger at God for allowing these things to happen, I do have the strong sense that we humans are awfully short-sighted in our assessment of what God is or is not doing in the world. What truths can we derive from our suffering when it is but a blip of an event in the continuum of history?  What do we, with our short lives, know about how these things fit in the great scheme of things?

And what of all the beauty and goodness we see in the world?  Should God get any credit for those things?  Should the bad things outweigh the good?

Perhaps it is easy for me to say this sitting comfortably in my Poäng chair at home, surrounded by books, family, love, health and…a roof and walls, but there runs inside me a deep vein of hope.  There is good in the world and it will prevail. I believe this deeply.

Hope does not do away with the pain and suffering, and neither does it justify or excuse it.  Hope does not mean we cannot or do not weep, grieve, shout at God in anger.  What hope does is see, if faintly and uncertainly, beyond pain and suffering to the time when, in Julian of Norwich’s wonderful words, “all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well”.

Tonight I had Bruce Cockburn’s album You’ve Never Seen Everything playing in the background as I worked.  The title track is quite a powerful song.  On first listen it comes across as a heavily political song, which is not unusual for Cockburn.  It is a dark song, sparse instrumentation, with lyrics spoken in a low, tired, almost pained voice.

The listener is presented with a series of vignettes showing the dark underbelly of the world: viruses, suicide, murder, drug trade, sexual harassment, consumerism, poisoning of women and children, rage, greed, and so on.  After a couple of these vignettes, the words, “You’ve never seen everything”.  For example:

And a car crashes and burns on an offramp from the Gardiner
Two dogs in the back seat die, and in the front
a man and his mother
Forensics reveals the lady has pitchfork wounds in her chest –
And that the same or a similar instrument has been screwed to the dash
to make sure the driver goes too

You’ve never seen everything

The listener is shaken out of his or her stupor: there is so much darkness beyond that comfortable little world you’ve created for yourself, he seems to be saying. You think you get it?  You think you understand the world–like watching the nightly news gives you any sense of what’s going on?

For the longest time I would simply skip over the song.  It was too dark, too discomforting.  And the only reason I did choose to listen to it was to get to the chorus, which is a rich, beautiful melody dropped in the middle of those dark vignettes:

Bad pressure coming down
Tears – what we really traffic in
ride the ribbon of shadow
Never feel the light falling all around

Until tonight I wasn’t sure what to do with that chorus, other than enjoy it as a brief reprieve from the dark images being spoken around it.  The song is the shadow, it seemed to me, and the chorus but a thin ribbon of half-light running through it.  But suddenly, tonight, perhaps in confirmation of the things I’ve been thinking about hope, I realized what the song is actually saying.  It ends with the chorus and repeated mantra:

Bad pressure coming down
Tears – what we really traffic in
ride the ribbon of shadow
Never feel the light falling all around
Never feel the light falling all around

You’ve never seen everything

It’s not the darkness we haven’t seen around us, it’s the light!  We think we’ve seen it all when we see the pain and sorrow of the world, but we haven’t seen everything: we haven’t seen the light falling all around, filling all the infinite space in which the ribbon of shadow moves.  We choose to ride the ribbon of darkness when we could just as well ride the light if we are willing to see it.

In fact, the album ends quite abruptly a few songs later on the word “hope”.

* * *
The original post is here if you want to follow the discussion that went with it (comments there are closed, but they are open here).

Community theology blog

Last year, Hendrikson Publishers bought the rights to the old printing of Karl Barth’s Church Dogmatics and Christianbook.com has made the 14-volume work available for $99 (US). A number of seminary student pounced on the opportunity and purchased the set, which has now shipped!

Several of us were talking the other day about having a Barth bl0g to reflect on our reading of Church Dogmatics. And so I went and set up a group blog: I Heart Barth.

The blog won’t be just about Barth, though. It will be a blog of theological reflections based on a range of theologians.  There are four “authors” at this point, all of them Providence Seminary students, with more authors possibly to be added as time goes by.

I just created this blog last night and have written the only post there at this point. It kind of gives the story of the blog and its intent.  But keep checking back for updates. [UPDATE: Joel has now posted as well.]

Read it, subscribe to it, comment.  It should be fun!

(PS. I haven’t been updating much here lately, especially and unexpectedly not in terms of theology. Hopefully this other group blog will inspire me to write more.  I’ll likely cross-post between the two blogs, or link to new posts there.  But read that blog anyway, because there are other writers there.)

The CanWebbies

You may have noticed the little button at the top of my sidebar, which says “2010 CWA NOMINEE”.  It seems that a kind reader (or a couple of readers) has nominated me for the Canadian Weblog Awards in the categories of “Art & Photography” (for Photolicious) andthe sweeping-but-naturally-associated “Religion, Spirituality and Philosophy” (for this blog).

2010 Canadian Weblog Awards Nominee 2010 Canadian Weblog Awards Nominee

What can I say at a time like this?  I really don’t know…


But seriously, the odds of me winning anything are slim.  Let’s have a look at the criteria by which the judges will be evaluating nominees.

The evaluation is divided into two categories: design and content.  This blog is a slightly altered version of somebody else’s template–a template which, I add, is used by many WordPress users.  So no go on the design element.

I think I do a little better on the content: I’m usually intelligible, clear, transparent and authentic; I generally pay attention to spelling and grammar, although perhaps not as much as I used to. BUT: Am I engaging?  I don’t know.  Am I original?  No. Am I current? Absolutely not. It’s funny (funny unexpected, not funny haha) that I’m nominated in a year in which I have blogged less than ever (other than when I was not blogging).

But it’s nice that I’ve been nominated. Perhaps someone will click on the link on the nomination page and like what they read here.  Perhaps it will motivate me to blog more and with more care.

It’s a decision by jury and more nominations will roll in as the year goes by. Awards will be…awarded in January 2011.


Nearly forgot that today marks 6 years of the Eagle & Child.  I should have saved yesterday’s post for today, because I don’t have much to say.

We had Madeline’s friend party today. 12 kids running around screaming for 2 hours. (Thankfully we used one of the school’s banquet rooms.) Too much.  I think that marks me as an introvert, doesn’t it?  Or does that kind of crazy affect even the most extroverted of extroverts.

Otherwise, a relaxing day.

Happy blogiversary to me.

Yesterday I purchased an unusual book: A Life in the Bush: Lessons Learned from my Father. I stumbled upon it while browsing the books section at theglobeandmail.com. Every so often I want like to try something different to read. (If I never did that, I wouldn’t have discovered Bill Bryson or P.G. Wodehouse.)  This one is a memoir written by the son of a man who lived most of his life in Ontario’s Algonquin Park. I was planning to read The Culture of Fear, but I may just put everything else aside for now and read it instead.

A chart for your edification.

I just spent way too much time creating the following line chart, which shows the relationship between how full my schedule is and how much blogging I do:

Busy-ness vs. Inspiration Ration

As you can see, my Busy-ness to Inspiration Ratio is pretty high (or is it low? I can never remember.)  September was a productive month both in terms of homework and assignments and blogging.  October, thus far, is a relatively slow month in terms of school work and my blogging quantity reflects that fact.

Comparing this empirically-sound chart and my calendar, I predict that blogging will pick up significantly near the end of November, with a chance of intermittent posting for the rest of October.

The skinny

What’s new?

» It’s a slow month for blogging at The Eagle & Child.

» I have very recently become a big fan of Flight of the Conchords and Flight of the Conchords (band and show with band).  It all began when a friend showed us “Business Time” on YouTube, followed by my viewing a bunch of YouTube material from that concert, followed by watching a bunch of episodes of season 2 online, followed quickly by purchasing season 1 of the show on DVD.  Dixie has also become a fan.  We have been watching season 1 together.  It is fun.  The show is funny.  Good times.

»  Last week/weekend was spent first, with an evening getting angry at my mitre saw for not cooperating, followed by borrowing a mitre saw from the person who lent me their brad nailer and air compressor.  This was followed by much angle cutting and brad nailing, such that most of the upstairs now has floorboards.  I couldn’t believe the difference the floorboards made.  It still feels just a little bit like we live in a classy house.  

During this time, Dixie and some friends have been working on cleaning and decluttering the house so that we can take pictures to list the house.  Pictures here and here.  You’ll note, however, that we have a lot of clutter and Dixie has cleverly positioned the clutter outside of the frames of the picture.

»  Right now I am wearing a grey shirt with cut-off sleeves.  It’s a little too short, as well.  I am generally too self-conscious to wear this shirt outside.  I do not plan to go outside now.

Whither The Eagle & Child?

I was thinking of posting some church-related musings tonight–you know, something meaty, significant.  But I shan’t.  But neither shall I not blog for the rest of May, which was another option.

Instead, I alert you, dear reader, that we’re off for a marathon drive to Manitoba tomorrow, where we will do some reconnaissance work on Friday–on the seminary, lodgings, schools, etc.  On Saturday we will spend the day with friends in small town Manitoba.  On Sunday we will join the good folks at Faith Covenant in Winnipeg, before making the marathon return trip to Prince Albert that same day. 

It’s bound to be a tiring, but useful weekend.

I’m getting tired of myself referring to us doing “reconnaissance work”, which I have done several times.  And it was only marginally clever the first time I said it.  If that. My sincerest apologies to those of you who’ve had to hear it more than once.

In other news, I emailed  my second (yes, only the second of several) seminary assignment to Briercrest the other day.  I made an enquiry into the process for getting a due date extension (it’s officially to be done June 10).  I was merely asking questions, because ideally I would like to get this course done on time, but with home improvement things and whatnot I thought perhaps that final research paper might need a little extra time.

It seems that officially, the extension ‘process’ is simply a request for more time, though it comes at a price: $75 for a 4-month extension.  I wouldn’t expect to use another 4 months, but whatever.  As it happens, they granted me an unasked for, free 2 week extension.  This will make a world of difference.  A due date of June 26 sounds a lot better than June 10, doesn’t it?

(I just checked the syllabus and the paper doesn’t, for the moment, seem that daunting anymore.  Glad tidings.)

Got some work done at the church today.  I was feeling pretty useless there yesterday, but today was better.  Did some administrative stuff and finally got some idea rolling for my sermon on the 17th.  I sometimes wish I could record my thoughts, because my sermons always seem to be better (and more passionate) in my head than when they are put on paper and then into speech.  Even the transfer from thought directly to speech suffers great loss of clarity, so a dictaphone or recorder of some kind wouldn’t be much help.

Interestingly, ideas seem to flow best when I walk slow laps around the perimeter of our sanctuary.


I saw you nodding of there.  Yes, you.

Ho hum.

Whither The Eagle & Child?  Well, clearly not entirely here.