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Sunday, October 31, 2010

Zaccheus: the first man to compensate for something?

I imagine that many of my priestly colleagues preached on the the story of Zaccheus today.  Most of the sermons I have heard about this story end up asking the question, "When are we going to come down out of our tree and follow Christ?"  But the problem is this: most of us aren't there yet.  Coming down out of the tree makes it sound as though we have made a decision, that we know what we want.  I contend that many of us are still jostling about in the noise and choas of the crowd.

I maintain that this story forces us to ask another question which is perhaps more relevant to our post-Christian society.  That questions is "When are we going to get up in our tree?"

Zaccheus was a short little man who had betrayed his people.  Being a tax collector for the Romans ensured that he would be a pariah among his own people.  While I can crap on Zaccheus for that, I can also sympathize with how lonely this must have been for him.

But then Zaccheus hears about this guy who is wandering around the Galilee spreading love, forgiveness and acceptance wherever He went.  Zaccheus wants a piece of that, so he goes down into the crowd, where some of the "righteous" probably took the time to elbow him in the ribs, knee him in the groin and step on his toes.  But he can't see because he's just a wee little man, so he climbs up in a tree where only children and manual laborers harvesting fruit should be found.

Imagine The Godfather climbing a tree.  The Don doesn't climb trees, OK?  They bow down to him or he has Sonny chop them into toothpicks.  Zaccheus is like the Don: feared and loathed by those around him, yet he assumes this ridiculous perch because he is desperate to find some meaning in life.

I will be the first to admit that faith is not everyone's thing, and even if it is, Christianity is not everyone's thing.  But Zaccheus shows me that we have to be willing to "go out on a limb", so to speak, to find meaning in this life.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Why I hate Sarah Palin, yet secretly long to be like her

So as I procrastinate on writing my sermon for tomorrow, I am reminded that my initial blog indicated that I might be taking some shots at Sarah Palin.  I wouldn't want to be called a liar, so here it is.

So Sarah Palin has a reality did this woman become a celebrity, anyways?  She doesn't appear to have enough intellect to keep her lips from moving as she reads, and yet somehow she managed to get into politics, become a presidential running mate, become a best-selling memoir author AND get a reality show which sold for a million dollars an episode.

I have a theory, and I base this theory on my own morbid fascination with the woman.  Here it is: Sarah Palin is the human equivalent of an accident site.

We have all had the irritation of being stuck in a long line of traffic, watching the red and blue lights flash on the other side of the highway, indicating that we are indeed stuck in a line of rubberneckers: arseholes who slow down and gape at accidents in the hope of seeing blood.  We tisk, we curse, and then when we get to the accident site, we do exactly the same thing.  There is no point trying to deny it: we all succumb to the temptation to cast a sidelong glance at disaster.

Sarah Palin is an accident.

I am drawn to her like I am to the sight of blood, although I am repulsed by both.  Through the sheer force of her mindless, chirpy optimism, she has gouged out a career.  If her rambling speeches are any indication of her abilities in other spheres of life, I wouldn't trust her to find her way out of a pillow fort without a map, and yet she writes books, drives a car, owns a gun, and frolics and prances like any other member of the human race.  I mean, she even put Alaska on the map for Pete's sake! (admit it, the fact that Alaska even exists barely impinged itself upon your consciousness before she came out of it).  And here's the kicker:

Sarah Palin is a millionaire.

Yes, despite a string of political and public appearances that can only be described as farcical, this woman just keeps getting bigger.  She can't string together a coherent sentence, and yet she is laughing all the way to the bank.

And then it hit me.  She may actually be brilliant.

The Internet is NOT a Passing Fad

So I have this friend who started blogging like 20 years ago on what I guess you could call the "ground floor" of blogging.  Back then, there wasn't much point in blogging because only 3 people blogged in the entire world, Google and Facebook hadn't been invented yet so no one could ever find your blog, and many people didn't see the point in becoming invested in a blog because they were still under the impression that this whole internet thing would eventually blow over.

At the time, I didn't pay much attention to blogging, largely because I didn't understand what it was for or what it could accomplish.  I admit to expecting that blogging would be a fad, much like Koala Pads and breakdancing.  20 years later, I have to admit that I have come to appreciate a number of blogs.  Granted, many of them reinforce the reality that the biggest problem with free speech is that some people will use it, but nonetheless I have gained much insight over the years from a number of blogs.

As my profile indicates, I am an Anglican priest with the Diocese of Quebec.  I have just come back from our Diocesan Synod, and we had a fantastic guest speaker by the name of Reverend Tom Ehrich; author, pastor, creator of Morning Walk Media and consummate blogger.  I got the impression that he once felt the way I did about blogging, but he succeeded in convincing me that blogging was truly the best way to reach people.  "Forget Facebook!", he said.  "Facebook is on its way out.  Blogging is the way to go".

So if blogging is a nuisance to you, blame Tom that I have started my own.

I guess I always thought blogging had to have a purpose, like you had to be explaining step-by-step how to spackle or refinish furniture or discuss philosophy.  But I really don't have a goal in starting this blog.  I am a priest, so you can probably expect a lot of religious musings.  I am an Anglo-Quebecer, so you can expect a number of political diatribes.  I play guitar, bass and drums, so you can expect postings about that.  I love fly fishing, expect that.  I love animals, check.  I am an amateur photographer, yo.  I hate politics and other forms of pop culture, so you can probably expect cheap shots at Sarah Palin.  I can't guarantee that this will be consistent, coherent or even spell-checked.

What I do want to do is generate conversation.  It has become increasingly clear to me over the past few years that we are living in an unprecedented age of communication.  We text, we email, we blog, we post on FB and Twitter, we Skype, we streaming chat with complete strangers as we play campaign video games, we call each other on the phone...but am I the only one that feels lonelier than ever?

It seems that with all these different forms of communication, we should feel more connected, shouldn't we?  And yet as I pastor and as I talk with friends and colleagues, loneliness seems to be more prevelant than ever.  I myself live and work in an area which isolates me from friends and family, so I guess what I would like to accomplish with this blog is to create a space where I can hear what is happening in the lives of my loved ones, where I can let them know what is going on in mine, and where I can make new friends and converse with them.

So please feel free to let me know how you are feeling!