August 26, 2016 Leave a comment
Read my sermon for August 28, 2016 here: 15 Pentecost Yr C
Thoughts, sermons, & scribbles of a Lutheran pastor.
August 18, 2016 Leave a comment
Yesterday, while still on holidays, we visited the Edmonton International Fringe Festival. It has evolved and grown over the years. In the early years, from what I remember of it, the Fringe was a fair bit smaller, and more confined to the Strathcona area of the city. Now it has expanded considerably, and venues are more spread out. We decided to go to two plays. Here’s some photos.
Scaramouche Jones by Justin Butcher, played by Robert Benz, was the first play we chose to see. In this engaging storytelling adventure, Scaramouche reminisces the events and multi-layered stages of his life, which include, among other things: sorrow and joy, darkness and light, tragedy and comedy. If you like long monologues, this is the one for you.
This play was co-written by Aaron Malkin, Alastair Knowles, and David MacMurray Smith. Malkin and Knowles entertain the audience with light-hearted British humour. The play is quite imaginative and audience members were ‘conscripted’ in the performance. If you like to keep it imaginatively light, this is the play for you.
For more information on the Edmonton Fringe Festival, click here.
July 24, 2016 Leave a comment
Conquering Fear: Living Boldly in an Uncertain World Author: Harold S. Kushner Publisher: New York: Alfred A. Knopf, A Borzoi Book, 2009 ISBN: 978-0-307-26664-4, 173 pages, Hardcover CDN $29.95
Reviewed by Rev. Garth Wehrfritz-Hanson
Fears. Every human being, at one time or another, encounters fears. The question is: How does one deal with such fears? Harold Kushner, who served as an active rabbi for many years, offers some of his experiences, knowledge and practical approaches to the subject at hand.
The volume consists of ‘First Words,’ and nine chapters. Each chapter focuses on a particular theme, and begins with at least one pertinent quotation.
There are over eighty references in the Bible instructing human beings not to fear. According to Rabbi Kushner, God does not want fear to dominate our lives; hence he gives us the Eleventh Commandment—“Do not be afraid.” This means, among other things, that: “Our goal should never be the denial of fear but the mastery of fear, the refusal to let fear keep us from living fully and happily.” (p. 24)
If readers are familiar with any of Rabbi Kushner’s previous books, they will recall that he casts the literary net far and wide, drawing on an array of sources, including: the Bible, the Talmud, rabbinic stories, contemporary psychology and literature among them. This volume continues in that vein.
In chapter after chapter, the author counsels his readers not to be paralyzed by their fears. Rather, the best way to handle fears is to face them and try to overcome them.
For example, Viktor Frankl told his patients, “Go out and do what you are afraid of. Expect the worst to happen.” When they did it and the worst did not happen, he would say to them, “There, that wasn’t so bad, was it?” (p. 168) Of course there are some exceptions to providing such counsel, especially regarding life-threatening behaviours.
My favourite story in this volume is one of hope inside a Nazi concentration camp, when Jews wanted to celebrate Hanukkah. Holiday celebrations were forbidden in the camp, but one man saved a bit of the bread from his evening meal, dipped it in grease from his dinner bowl, fashioned it into an impromptu candle, said the appropriate prayer and lit the bread. His son said to him, “Father, that was food you burned. We have so little of it. Wouldn’t we have been better off eating it?” The father replied, “My son, people can live for a week without food, but they cannot live for one day without hope.” (pp. 93-94)
This volume is written in accessible prose, and readers who are familiar with Rabbi Kushner’s previous books would most likely benefit from this one.
June 11, 2016 2 Comments
As a member of Amnesty International, I encourage you to view the above video, and, if the spirit moves you, to take action to ensure that companies like Apple do their research into how resources such as cobalt are mined. According to the video young people like “Charles” are exploited to mine for the cobalt needed for our technological devices such as iphones. The working conditions are poor, leading to serious health problems for some. The wages are also poor. Apple and other companies need to do their research into how resources such as cobalt are mined, and to ensure that workers producing such resources have proper working conditions and are paid an adequate living wage.