Tuesday, December 30, 2008

book review: Spirit of the Rainforest by Mark Andrew Ritchie


Title: Spirit of the Rainforest
Author: Mark Andrew Ritchie
Publisher: Island Lake Press, Second edition, 2000
ISBN-10:
0964695219
ISBN-13:
978-0964695214

Back cover description:

"The Yanomamo of the Amazon -- endangered children of nature or indigenous warmongers on the verge of destroying themselves? Now for the first time, a powerful Yanomamo shaman speaks for his people. Jungleman provides shocking never-before-answered accounts of life-or-death battles among his people -- and perhaps even more disturbing among the spirits who fight for their souls. Brutally riveting, the story of Jungleman is an extraordinary and powerful document."

Review:

The Yanomamo are a fierce tribe of Indians who live in the jungles of Venezuela. The story that Mark Andrew Ritchie tells in The Spirit of the Rainforest - A Yanomamo Shaman's Story is through Jungleman, one of the most powerful shamans of the tribe. The incidents Jungleman relates took place from approximately 1950 to the early 1980s. The stories were collected and transcribed by Ritchie during numerous visits to Amazonia when he talked with Jungleman, Shoefoot, Keleewa (Gary Dawson, son of missionary Joe Dawson who grew up with many of the story's characters, and translated the stories for the author in exchange for all author royalties from the book going to the Yanomamo people), and others.

From the 1950 fight with Potato Village to the 1980s when Jungleman is finally able to live at peace in Honey Village, his tales of events among the Yanomamo -- their tit for tat inter-village battles that inevitably lead to more anger, fear, treachery, and revenge -- fascinate and repulse.

Several things struck me about this story.

1. The reality of the spirit world and how it corroborates Bible accounts of Jesus interactions with the demonic. Though the Yanomamo encountered white men (nabas) of various kinds -- rubber traders, anthropologists and missionaries from various denominations -- it is when they met Pepe (Joe Dawson who worked under New Tribes Missions) that the spiritual conflict really began. Pepe and his family came to live at Honey Village (at the Yanomamo's invitation) where Shoefoot (Jungleman's protege and relative) was the shaman. Over time Shoefoot gave up his spirits. Here's what happened the next time Jungleman came to visit his brother-in-law and friend:

"When I pulled my canoe up to the shore at the mouth of the Metaconi I felt the usual excitement that comes with meeting old friends. But something was very different. What was it, I wondered.

'Don't go in here,' Jaguar Spirit told me. 'There's too much danger here. We are afraid.' It was the first time I had ever heard fear coming from Jaguar Spirit and it made me feel poor inside. My hands began to flutter and I held my bow tight to make them stop.

There can't be any danger here, I thought. These people are my friends. They have always been my friends. But it wasn't just Jaguar. All my spirits were crowding the shabono iin my chest and making a terrible noise about how afraid their were.

When I saw Shoefoot I was stunned. 'What has happened to your spirits?' I asked him, looking at his chest. I could see they were gone.

'I threw them away, brother-in-law.'

'What!' I whispered as hard as I could. 'How could you do that? Why would you do that?'

'I found the new spirit I was looking for,' Shoefoot said. 'Yai Wana Naba Laywa -- the unfriendly one. You know, our enemy spirit.'

'You can't have him!' I whispered in excitement. 'It's too hot there and he never comes out!'

It was a horrible visit for me. There was a spirit in Shoefoot's village that I couldn't understand. But it was powerful. That's why my spirits were so upset when I came. I hung my hammock next to Shoefoot and as soon as I lay down they were all there, every spirit I have, crowding my shabono.

'Please Father!' they all begged together. 'Please leave here. It's not safe here. We are terrified.' And they were. The new spirit in Shoefoot's chest had them all frightened like I had never seen them before.

He's my friend, I thought.

'He's no friend of ours! We hate him!' All my spirits talked at the same time. 'Please Father! Please don't throw us away.'

The thought of throwing my spirits away hadn't even come into my mind. Why would they say that to me?

'He'll want you to throw us away,' they said. 'You'll see. Please don't listen to him, Father!'

My spirits were right about that. Shoefoot and his new naba friends did want me to throw my spirits away. Shoefoot's new spirit would never get along with mine."
Compare with Mark 5:1-12, also Matthew 8 and Luke 8.

2. The Bible talks about unclean spirits. That is what these spirits were. The book is not a pretty or pleasant read. There is much violence, especially against women, with rape, bloodshed, vengeance, physical and sexual abuse -- and not all of it at the hands of fellow Yanomamo but also at the hands of various non-Indians (rubber traders and some of the anthropologists). The graphic nature is not gratuitous, though, but makes the story seem more believable, told as it is without taking the taboos of our culture into account.

3. The Bible describes Satan as a liar and the father of lies. Here are Jungleman's thoughts about his spirits when he was an old man:

"I wish I had known the truth about Yai Wana Naba Laywa when I was a young man -- it would have saved me so much pain and misery. But how could I? My spirits lied so much to me and tricked me. They were so beautiful, so wonderful, so hard not to want. They were the best at telling me split-truth. Now I'm at the end of this life, and I'm ready to begin my real life with Yai Pada.


If this book had one affect on me, it made me want to crowd close to Jesus -- and to have nothing to do with any other spirit. For they are active in our land too, though not feared as they parade in familiar costumes with names we all recognize like pride, unbelief, anger, greed, envy, revenge...

*********
Links of interest:

Anthropology case study including references to the work of Anthropologist Napoleon Chagnon and an interactive CD-Rom that he made of a Yanomamo ax fight in 1975.

More about the Yanomamo from the Hands Around the World site.

Another blog review with generous quotes from the book.

portzelky - new years cookies

This old post from December 30, 2004 is always popular at this time of year. Maybe I'll make some myself... If you choose to do the same - enjoy!

*************

It’s almost New Year's Eve and last night I thought of Portzelky. These are New Year's Cookies (fritters really). They are a Mennonite food and Mom always made sure we had a roasterful cooling by New Year’s Eve and a bagful dusted with icing sugar and ready to take to the watchnight service.

That late-ish New Year's Eve church service, consisting of hymns, testimonies and lots of prayers, always ended with lunch in the church basement - definitely the highlight of the evening for us kids. Portzelky was the star of the menu - iced, plain, coated in a sugar cinnamon mixture, or dusted in icing sugar. Some were soft as marshmallows, others were chewy. Some cooks filled theirs with apple bits, but most with raisins. It always amazed me how one food could turn out so differently in the hands of a variety of cooks.

Here is one recipe for Portzelky (though if you plug that word into Google, you’ll come up with lots of variations.)

PORTZELKY

2 pkg. yeast dissolved in
1 cup warm water
2 cups milk
½ cup melted butter
2 tsp. salt
6 well beaten eggs
2 cups raisins
6 cups flour or enough to make a stiff dough
Mix in order of ingredients.
Put in warm place until mixture has risen to double in bulk.
Cut or form dough into small bun shapes, place on greased or waxed paper-lined cookie sheets and let rise again 10-15 minutes.
Deep fat fry (moist side up first), turning until golden brown on both sides.
Drain on paper towel. Cool. Dust with powdered sugar.


Find more Mennonite recipes here.

Friday, December 26, 2008

christmas 2008...

a time of snow


music




gates


learning to climb stairs



gifts



(not sure I like that blue paper, though)



food


and exhaustion.
















Wishing a happy Christmas week to one and all!






Thursday, December 25, 2008

merry christmas!

Advent Calendar - December 25

To all who read here, may your travels be safe, your food rich, your body healthy, your love sincere and your gifts just what you want. But most of all, may you experience Jesus, the Gift Who never disappoints. From our house to yours. . .

Merry Christmas!



Wednesday, December 24, 2008

only 1 more sleep!!

Advent Calendar - December 24

Christmas Fact:
The magi brought the baby Jesus kingly gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
The sap of the frankincense tree (Boswellia carteri or Boswellia thurifera) dries into hard, yellowish brown lumps of bum resin known as frankincense. .... The English word “frankincense” comes from the Old French words franc encens, meaning pure or high-quality incense. Although it was most commonly used as incense in ancient times, frankincense was also prescribed as medicine.

The sap of the myrrh tree (Commiphora myrrha) dries into hard, reddish brown lumps of gum resin known as myrrh. It was used as a medicine and a component of perfume and incense.

– Encyclopedia of Christmas pp. 219 & 395

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

only 2 more sleeps!

Advent Calendar - December 23

Christmas Fact:
In Matthew 2, Magi from the East led by a star journey to Jerusalem and then to Bethlehem to worship the newborn king.

The word "magi" comes from the ancient Greek magoi, plural of magos and from the Old Persian word magu. Both terms referred specifically to a class of scholar-priests originally from the ancient land of Media, now part of Iran... The magi were famed for their knowledge of astronomy, astrology, dream interpretation, philosophy , and religious ritual.

- Encyclopedia of Christmas p. 346




Adoration of the Magi - painting by Leonardo da Vinci

Monday, December 22, 2008

only 3 more sleeps!

Advent Calendar - December 22

Christmas Fact:

George Frederick Handel’s (1685-1759) Messiah is perhaps the most popular piece of classical music associated with the Christmas season.... Handel never intended Messiah to be connected with the Christmas season. In fact, he wrote the oratorio in the late summer of 1741 and premiered it around Easter of the following year. Subsequent performances during Handel’s lifetime also took place around Easter.

Encyclopedia of Christmas pp. 365-6

The first public performance of Messiah took place on April 13,1742 in Dublin Ireland.


Detailed story of the writing of Messiah.

Handel’s Messiah: Midi files and text.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

only 4 more sleeps!

Advent Calendar - December 21

Christmas Fact:


According to early Christian tradition, Jesus was born in one of the caves that local people used to shelter animals. As early as the second century A.D., pilgrims began to visit that cave. The Roman emperor Hadrian (76-138 A.D.) constructed a shrine to the pagan god Adonis over this site. In approximately 325 A.D. after the conversion of the Roman Empire to Christianity, the empress Helena (c. 248-328 A.D.) had the temple to Adonis destroyed and built the Church of the Nativity over the presumed site of Jesus’ birth. . . .

Today the Church of the Nativity is an Eastern Orthodox shrine. The cave in which Jesus was born lies underneath the church. Known as the “Grotto of the Nativity,” this underground chamber is a site of intense religious devotion for Christians of many different denominations.

Encyclopedia of Christmas pp. 47,48

Virtual tour of the Church of the Nativity - Bethlehem

Saturday, December 20, 2008

a white christmas - not only in our dreams

It's been a while since I've written anything personal on here. Of course life has continued apace. A week ago we were in the middle of our Christmas production. It all worked out beautifully with the weather cooperating, big crowds and no major snowstorm till the concerts were done.

Monday and Tuesday found me at the mall in a rush to get the last of the Christmas shopping done. I finished Tuesday noonish (although there are always odds and ends to pick up till Christmas Eve, it seems). Whew - because the forecasters predicted a large snowfall for Wednesday.

The ducks that live on one of Rotary Park's ponds
- looking a little puzzled and cold.

It came - Wednesday and the snow. But I was cozy in my office, working on bits of writing that needed tidying away so I can take a Christmas break. I have since whittled all those down to one last article, which I'm hoping to send to my editor today or Monday.

My list for today includes paper shuffling, as I enter our profligate holiday spending into Quicken, work on my FellowScript article, and maybe I'll make some more homemade treats like the "Cracker Toffee" Elaine Yong whipped together on the TV news last night. The recipe is here.

(Psst - curling is on too!)

And then it's Sunday (another snowstorm in the forecast) and Monday, when the kids arrive (please let the snow stop by then!)!

One thing is sure. We're in for a white Christmas this year - and that's not only in our dreams.

only 5 more sleeps!

Advent Calendar - December 20

Christmas Fact:
Both Gospel accounts of the Christmas story name the birth place of Jesus as Bethlehem. In modern Israel, Bethlehem is located about five miles south of Jerusalem. Its Hebrew meaning is “house of bread” located as it is in a fertile zone of the Judean desert.

Bethlehem was the birthplace of the King David (Old Testament), from whom Jesus is a descendant, according to the genealogy in Matthew. The Jewish prophet Micah also predicted that Messiah would be born in the town of Bethlehem.

About Bethlehem - ancient to modern times

Friday, December 19, 2008

also blogging

here today.

only 6 more sleeps!

Advent Calendar - December 19

Christmas Fact:
Angels played a big part in the first Christmas. And what do angels actually look like? Opinions about that have changed over the centuries:

The very first depictions of angels date back to the time of the Roman Empire. Early Christian paintings of angels rendered them as ordinary men rather than as winged, spiritual beings. Some artists, however, garbed their angels in white robes, resembling a Roman senator’s toga, in order to symbolize their power and dignity. . . . By the fifth century Christian artists from the Byzantine Empire began to depict angels with a disk of light, called a nimbus, behind their heads.

In medieval times most western European artists portrayed angels as masculine in face and form. This trend reversed itself from the fourteenth to the sixteenth centuries. After that time western European angels acquired softer, more feminine or androgynous looks. Sometimes they appeared as chubby children or toddlers. Artists often depicted angels with harps or other musical instruments. These emblems signify what some consider to be the primary occupation of angels – praising God.

Encyclopedia of Christmas, pp. 27,28

Lots of links to angel craft projects here and here.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

light



Downtown Calgary (Alberta, Canada)

***************

Thursday Challenge

Next Week: PATH (Road, Highway, Street, Trail, Sidewalk, Railroad Tracks,...)

only 7 more sleeps!

Advent Calendar - December 18

Christmas Fact:
The announcement by the angel to the teenager Mary that she would bear a son by the Holy Ghost (the Annunciation) has been a source of fascination from the time of the early church to now. We still write songs and monologues and plays trying to work out for ourselves things like what about Mary made her the one God picked? How did she feel about the way God overrode her plans? What thoughts went through her mind in the days and weeks that followed, when the angel's announcement went from being an abstract idea to the takeover of her body? Did she actually handle this life-shattering event with the ease the Luke account suggests?

When, in the middle of the fourth century, Church officials in Rome scheduled December 25th as the day to celebrate the birth of Christ, the date nine months earlier when Mary would have become pregnant – March 25th – became a holy day. It was called the Feast of Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Many medieval kingdoms also chose March 25th as the day on which to begin the new year (Julian Calendar).


More about the Annunciation

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

only 8 more sleeps

Advent Calendar - December 17

Christmas Fact:

Every Sunday of Advent people in churches all across the world light candles in Advent wreaths.

"Many assign special significance to each of the four wreath candles. Some say they represent the four gifts of the Holy Spirit: hope, joy, peace, and love. Others use them to represent the themes of the Advent season. Thus they may signify hope, preparation, joy, love, or light. Still others tell the story of Jesus' birth with the candles, allowing each to stand for some of the important figures associated with the Nativity, such as the prophets, angels, shepherds, and magi." - Encyclopedia of Christmas p. 9

This year the first Sunday of Advent in 2008 was on November 30th. On the third Sunday of Advent (the Sunday just past) some churches celebrate White Gift Sunday. The tradition began in a Methodist church in Ohio in 1904. People were encouraged to bring whatever gifts they could, all wrapped in white paper to avoid comparison. These gifts were then blessed in the service and later distributed to poor families and people in homeless shelters etc.

Here are instructions on how to make and use an advent wreath (for next year).

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

only 9 more sleeps

Advent Calendar - December 16

Christmas Fact:

A Chrismon tree adapts the traditional Christmas tree to more strictly Christian uses. It consists of an evergreen tree decorated with traditional Christian symbols of Jesus. In fact the word “Chrismon” resulted from the combination of the two words “Christ” and “Monogram.” Originally only monograms of Christ decorated the tree. . . Only the colors white and gold appear on these oranments. These are the liturgical colors for Christmas Day. White represents Jesus’ purity and perfection, while gold stands for his majesty and glory. White lights may further embellish the tree, reminding the viewers that Jesus is the “Light of the world” (John 8:12).
Encycloepdia of Christmas p. 86

Scroll down on this page to see embroidered Chrismon tree symbols.

Monday, December 15, 2008

only 10 more sleeps

Advent Calendar - December 15

Christmas Fact:
A fun tradition observed by some families during the holidays is to put together a Christmas-themed jigsaw puzzle. A large board or card table works fine as a puzzle holder. Spread out the pieces and leave them out so they are a constant temptation to whoever has a few minutes to work at the puzzle – until the picture is complete.


Here’s a simple computer puzzle to try.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

only 11 more sleeps

Advent Calendar - December 14

Christmas Fact:

In southern Europe, where the Christmas tree never found much favor, home Christmas decoration focuses around the Nativity scene. The Spanish call the scene nacimiento (meaning "birth"), or a belén (meaning "Bethlehem"), the Italians call it a presépio (meaning "crib"), and the French call it crèche (meaning "crib"). In the same way that many North Americans collect Christmas tree ornaments, many southern European families slowly build a treasured collection of Nativity figurines.

Encyclopedia of Christmas p. 410

Open December 14

The Nativity figurine market thrives in North America too - judging by the wares available here, and here and here.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

only 12 more sleeps

Advent Calendar - December 13

Christmas Fact:

The Nativity scene also rooted itself firmly in French soil, especially in the southern region of Provence. The first manger scenes included only those figures most related to the story of the Nativity: Mary, Joseph, the baby Jesus, the shepherds, etc. In the eighteenth century, however, people began to display a multitude of characters in their home Nativity scenes. . . .

In 1803 small clay statuettes from Provence, called santons (or "little saints") appeared at the Christmas fair in Marseille. These santons became an essential element of the French Nativity scene. In addition to characters mentioned in the biblical accounts of the Nativity, the Provencal santons represented a wide variety of ordinary French townspeople, such as the baker, the mayor, the fishmonger, the village idiot and others. . . Like their Italian counterparts, French Nativity scenes depicted the birth of Christ taking place in a local setting, such as a village in Provence.
Encyclopedia of Christmas p. 409

Friday, December 12, 2008

another gift to make - Nuts 'n' Bolts

Maybe that's why I do it, Maxine. But that's not the only reason. Because I think homemade Christmas gifts say to the recipient - you're like a part of my family - the people I think about as I measure the ingredients, cook the coating, fill the house with delicious smells.


In that vein, I have a multitude of gift bags stocked with Poppycock and Nuts 'n' Bolts sitting under the tree, ready for tonight. We're doing our second of six Christmas performances and we've invited our friends to come over for coffee later. I'm planning to send each family home with a bag of these Christmas snacks.

If you've never made Nuts 'n Bolts - you should. It's one of the easiest Christmas snacks to make and a perfect companion to puzzle-making, game-playing, and movie-watching.


Nuts 'n' Bolts

12 cups Cheerios
8 cups Shreddies
4-5 cups salted peanuts
2 packages pretzels (about 500 grams/
1 1/2 cups butter (I don't use quite this much)
2 tablespoons worcestershire sauce
*2 teaspoon onion salt
*1 teaspoon garlic salt
(*Substitution - 2 teaspoons salt and add 1 teaspoon garlic powder)

Melt butter.
Add seasonings and toss with other ingredients.
Bake at 300 for a couple of hours or till crisp.

only 13 more sleeps

Advent Calendar - December 12

Christmas Fact:

The popularity of living Nativity scenes gave rise to another custom, recreating the crib scene with figurines...

In the 17th century families began to create their own Nativity scenes. These became more elaborate with time. The art form reached spectacular heights in eighteenth-century Naples Italy. Families competed with each other to produce the most elegant and elaborate crib scenes. These scenes expanded far beyond the manger to include village backdrops, ordinary villagers, ruined Roman temples, angels and even foreigners whom the families thought might have rushed to Bethlehem had they known of the miraculous birth.
Encyclopedia of Christmas p. 408-9



Some Living nativity scenes - Italy.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

three of anything

Trillium

***********

Thursday Challenge

Next Week: LIGHT (Street Light, Sun Light, Candle, Colored Lights, Fluorescent Lamp, Glowing...)

only 14 more sleeps

Advent Calendar - December 11

Christmas Fact:
The earliest known Christmas tree ornaments were apples. Medieval actors used them to decorate the paradise tree, the central prop of the paradise play, a medieval European mystery play often performed on December 24th. The apples represented the temptation of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden. Later, unconsecrated communion wafers were added to the tree, representing the salvation offered to humankind by Jesus Christ.
Encyclopedia of Christmas, p. 439

Directions to make homemade Christmas ornaments here.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

only 15 more sleeps

Advent Calendar - December 10

Christmas Fact:
The first carols were not singable songs at all, but ring dances. They were used to celebrate many occasions as well as Christmas, but were not allowed in church. As carols changed and became songs to sing, many of these folk songs, lullabies and hymns were written about Jesus’ birth. Legend says that St. Francis of Assisi first allowed carols to be part of a Christmas midnight service in the 1200s.

“Of the Father’s Love Begotten,” often sung at Christmas, was written by Aurelius Prudentius in the 4th century. It was set to plainsong in the 13th century. Imagine this caffeinated version of it about three times slower, sung a capella and in a cathedral with incredible acoustics.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

only 16 more sleeps

Advent Calendar - December 9

Christmas Fact:

St. Francis of Assisi (c. 1181-1226) generally receives the credit for popularizing the Nativity scene as we know it. At Christmas time in (1223?) 1224 he recreated the manger scene using real people and animals in a cave near the Italian village of Greccio. Mass was said in this novel setting and St. Francis preached about the humble birth of the newborn King. Onlookers enjoyed this re-enactment of Christ’s birth so much that the custom soon spread throughout Italy and Europe.
Encyclopedia of Christmas p. 408



Monday, December 08, 2008

only 17 more sleeps

Advent Calendar - December 8

Christmas Fact:

The poinsettia originally hails from Mexico. The leaves that crown the end of each poinsettia stalk undergo a seasonal color change in December, turning from green to red. As Christianity spread across Mexico during the colonial era, this color change turned poinsettias into a popular Christmas decoration. The Mexicans call the plant flor de la Nochebuena or "Christmas Eve flower".
Encyclopedia of Christmas p. 474
Lots more about poinsettias on the Poinsettia Pages

Sunday, December 07, 2008

only 18 more sleeps

Advent Calendar - December 7

Christmas Fact:

The earliest uses of a crib in worship date back to fourth-century Rome. Of the three masses observed at Christmas, one was called Ad Praesepe (meaning "to the crib"). This mass took place in the basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, at a shrine built from boards believed to have come from the original stable of the Nativity in Bethlehem. Churches throughout Italy and Europe gradually adopted the custom of saying mass over a crib at Christmas time.
Encyclopedia of Christmas p. 407,408


Basilica Santa Maria Maggiore, Rome. (Dragging your mouse across the image causes it to scroll around the entire room.)

Saturday, December 06, 2008

only 19 more sleeps

Advent Calendar - December 6

Christmas Fact:

Children in the Netherlands receive Christmas presents on St. Nicholas’s Day, December 6th. According to old Dutch folk beliefs, each year St. Nicholas and his helper, Swarte Piet, or Black Peter, sail from Spain to Holland in a ship loaded with presents for good children. Nowadays Black Peter not only carries St. Nicholas’s sack of presents, but also brandishes a birch rod which he uses to discipline undeserving children. Truly troublesome youngsters face sterner punishment. Black Peter tosses them into his sack and carries them back to Spain with him.
Encyclopedia of Christmas p. 54.



Wikipedia on Black Peter


Friday, December 05, 2008

frivolous friday

"My wife was on my case to get the Christmas lights up for a couple of weeks. They're up now, and for some reason she won't talk to me!"





(... but this isn't at our house. Our lights are up in all their strung-out and modest glory.)

only 20 more sleeps

Advent Calendar - December 5

Christmas Fact:
Bells as part of the Christmas celebration date back to the middle ages when bells began to be used in Christian worship. Of course the use of bells in worship and secular life predates that. The Jewish high priest had tiny golden bells hanging from the hem of his robe. The ancient Greeks and Romans used bells for all kinds of occasions from civic ceremonies to warning people of fires and emergencies. And of course bell ringing plays a major part in many eastern religions.


When bell ringing became part of the European church tradition, bells began to change as ever larger ones were cast to sound over longer distances.


The world's largest bells are pictured here.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

prorogued

The Governor General has allowed parliament to be prorogued. Whew!

I watched Harper's speech and the reaction to it by Dion, Layton, Bob Rae, Duceppe -- all predictably negative.

Here's another take on what happened today. Under the headline: "Why the PM must persist," Terence Corcoran writes the following opinion piece in the National Post:

The Tories and the Prime Minister must seize the moment. It is a rare opportunity that could be the road to a Tory majority. More importantly, they must do so for the good of the Canadian economy.

Let me explain. Into the grand fable of their attempt to take control of Ottawa, the opposition coalition and its backers have woven an imaginary tale of Tory economic negligence. They were at it again yesterday in the House of Commons and last night in Liberal leader Stephane Dion's address to the nation, repeating claims that the Harper government's economic plan leaves Canada's economy sailing rudderless into an economic hurricane.

There is no substance to the Dion coalition's alleged reasons for existence, no basis for its false claims of looming economic peril and job losses due to Conservative policy. Nor is there much truth in the media's caricature of Stephen Harper as an arrogant strategic dolt whose monumental economic and political blunder has plunged his government, the country and the economy into a crisis.

The whole production is a page from the work of the greatest academic authority on the subject, Princeton philosopher Harry Frankfurt, author of the 2005 best-seller, On Bullshit. Liars, says Prof. Frankfurt, need to know the truth. Bullshitters, interested solely in advancing their own agenda, have no use for the truth. They just make things up to win over their audience.

Read entire

prayer for Canada

What a roller coaster week! I must admit I've been more than a little exercised by what's been happening in Ottawa. The possibility of my country falling into jeopardy has made me realize how much I love Canada.

Though I've struggled with an array of emotions from anger to despair, I return again and again to the only posture that I believe will make any real difference. It's prayer. It's bringing the issue to God, the way Hezekiah spread out the threatening letter he got from Sennarcherib, and asking for Divine help.

I have a wonderful book of prayers on my bookshelf. Praying with Fire by Barbara Billett is a slim, coil-bound book full of prayers based on Scripture. This morning I found myself praying the prayer for Canada.

If you're feeling similarly shaken by recent events, why don't you join me in this prayer (abbreviated from the book version - complete prayer found here -- beginning at "Confess aloud the following prayer over Canada every day..."):

1 Timothy 2:1-3

Father, in Jesus' name, I give thanks for our nation and its government. I bring before you the men and women in positions of authority. I pray and intercede for our Prime Minister (and the Governor General), and every Premier of every province. I pray for every person who is in authority over us in any way. I pray that the anointing of the Holy Spirit be upon them to lead them and to guide them.

....

It is written in Your Word that the heart of the king is in the hand of You Lord, and that You turn it which ever way You desire. I believe that the hearts of our Prime Minister and the leaders of Canada are in Your Hand and that their decisions are divinely directed of the Lord.

....

Father, I ask you in Jesus Name to pour out your anointing of divine favour, wisdom and discernment upon the leaders in the Name of Jesus. I ask you Lord that they would have great liberty in sounding the alarm and blowing the trumpet regarding every unrighteous strategy that is trying to be implemented in this nation. I pray that there would be an exposure of the hidden things of darkness in the government in the Name of Jesus.

I ask You, Lord, to remove every deceitful worker and unrighteous person from being in any position of authority in our nation of Canada, in the Name of Jesus. I thank You, Lord, for replacing them with righteous men and women.

....

I thank You, Lord, that this nation stands together in one accord and that You, Lord, command a blessing where there is unity! In the name of Jesus, I serve notice to every attempt of Satan to bring division to this nation and I declare that every spirit of division is bound and broken from our nation of Canada. I command you rulers of darkness, principalities and powers and spirits of division and witchcraft to loose Canada and its leaders in the Name of Jesus.

.....

I thank you, Lord, that the Word of God is prevailing and growing mightily in the hearts of the people of Canada. I thank you, Lord, that Your Word is upholding, maintaining, propelling and guiding the leaders of this nation. I thank you, Lord, that You are watching over Your Word to perform it and that Your Word shall not return void in the Name of Jesus!

I stand in agreement with every person who confesses this Word over the nation and its leaders in the Name of Jesus. The Bible says that when two shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them by My Father which is in heaven. I confess and believe that the angels of God are hearkening to the voice of God's Word today and are going forth to bring Your Word to pass in the Nation of Canada! I confess that Jesus Christ is the Lord of Lords and the King of Kings over the Nation of Canada, in Jesus Name! PRAISE THE LORD!

Prayer references: 1 Timothy 2:1-3; Proverbs 2:10-11,20;28:2 (Amplified Bible); Matthew 18:18, 19; James 3:15; 2 Corinthians 10:4, 5; Proverbs 21:1; 2 Corinthians 11:13; Psalms 5:12; Proverbs 2:10; 1 Corinthians 2:16; Psalm 33:12; Ephesians 6:12; Psalms 133; Proverbs 29:18; 2 Corinthians 4:4,6; Hebrews 1:3; (Amplified Bible); Jeremiah 1:12; Isaiah 55:11; Psalms 103:20

healthy


Goth spaghetti
(Any food this ugly must be good for you, right?)
**************

Thursday Challenge

Next Week: THREE OF ANYTHING

only 21 more sleeps

Advent Calendar - December 4

Christmas Fact: Paradise Tree (Christbaum)

Few people today would recognize a fir tree decorated only with red apples and white circular wafers as a paradise tree. The paradise tree developed as a prop for the paradise play, a medieval European mystery play performed around Christmas time. Indeed, with its early historical connection to the Christmas season, the paradise tree may well have been the forerunner of the Christmas tree.
Encyclopedia of Christmas (p. 452)

More about paradise trees here.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Our Right to Vote on the Coalition Government Petition

Sign a petition AGAINST letting the left wing coalition take over the Canadian government. We want to vote on it!

Our Right to Vote on the Coalition Government Petition

Madame Governor General has a blog with a place for comments. Let your voice be heard!

it's all about Christmas!


  • Win a Christmas book.
Joanna Mallory at God With Us: Finding Joy is giving away the Christmas anthology Christmas in the Maritimes - A Treasury of Stories and Memories edited by Elaine Ingalls Hogg.

From the publisher's website:
"Christmas in the Maritimes is a heart-warming look at Christmas traditions from Maritimers both at home and away … a collection of favourite yuletide memories…. Humorous and heartfelt, these are stories of love and family coming together at the best time of the year to make it special, often in spite of hardships. The magic of the season comes alive in every story, reminding us about the history of our region as well as what is truly important about the Christmas season.” (from the Nimbus website)

Place your entry here before midnight December 13th.

  • Read a Christmas story.
What happens when guests are coming for dinner and you can't even afford dessert? Read Sandy Austin's story "Simple Gifts."

  • Christmas-shop online:
...and buy Canadian too. The Word Guild's catalogue of "Books In Print" lists books available from the best Canadian authors who are Christian. From TWG website: "In this catalogue, you will find a comprehensive list of books by our members, including a description of each book, distribution information, price, reviews, and awards won..." Check it out.

  • Write a Christmas poem.
My newest Poet's Classroom column has 16 poem prompts to help you write fresh Christmas verse.

only 22 more sleeps

Advent Calendar - December 3

Christmas Fact: Advent wreaths are a church and family tradition. Made out of greenery these round wreaths sit flat or hang horizontally.

The wreath holds four candles and another sits in the center. Today in churches around the world, people are lighting that first candle on the wreath (signifying Expectation or Hope) because today is the first Sunday of Advent.


Find out more about Advent wreaths, their beginnings, their significance and their uses, here.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

only 23 more sleeps

Advent Calendar - December 2

Christmas Fact: Advent calendars are thought to have been invented in Germany around the turn of the twentieth century. Many are double layers of cardboard with perforated windows which open onto the day’s surprise--a picture, trinket or piece of candy. In Germany, homemade Advent calendars were sometimes made in the shape of cardboard houses. Here are some lovely (but pricey) wooden Advent calendars.

Whatever form they take, they are a playful way to check off the days between December 1st and 25th.


And now, if you just can't get enough of Advent Calendars, Ian's Messy Desk has lots more linked here .
hat tip: Rebecca

Monday, December 01, 2008

canadian coup

If you're a Canadian who has been listening to the news, you'll know that all is not well in Ottawa. The newly elected Conservative Government may go down to defeat as early as a week from today with a coalition of Liberals, NDP and Bloc Quebecois eager to take charge and start shoveling money off the back of the truck. (And this all looks like it has been in the planning stages for some time now - if Jack Layton's NDP conference call is to be believed. What a weasel.)

I feel outraged, angry and have done the only thing I knew to do - written an email to the Governor General, begging her not to allow this coup. Maybe if enough people express their outrage at having the results of an election overturned in such a scandalous way just six weeks later, it will make a difference... who knows?

A copy of my letter is below. If any readers decide to do something similar, the Governor General's email is: info@gg.ca

Other email addresses can be found here. Clicking on the member's name opens up their profile complete with email and snail mail addresses.

*************

Her Excellency the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean, C.C., C.M.M., C.O.M., C.D.
Governor General of Canada
Rideau Hall
1 Sussex Drive
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A1


Dear Madame Michaëlle Jean,

I am a B.C. resident who is very concerned about what has been happening in Ottawa over the past few days. The country did not hand Stephane Dion and the Liberal party their greatest defeat in years on October 14th just to see Mr. Dion do backroom deals to become Prime Minister six weeks later.

In order for the proposed coalition of NDPs and Liberals to succeed, they must depend on the support of the Bloc Quebecois – a party whose sole reason for existence is to disassemble Canada. Is such dependence on separatists even constitutional? It sounds more like treason.

If/when the leaders of the proposed coalition approach you in the days ahead to ask for the go-ahead to form government, I plead with you to deny them their request. Their assertion that Canada is in desperate financial straits and needs a bail-out package immediately is a ruse. There is no common agreement amongst financial experts that this kind of bailout package is necessary, wise or will be effective in the present global financial situation. Canada is currently known to have the best managed economy of the G-7 nations. Why would we endanger it by putting it in the hands of ambitious, unprincipled men whose hunger for power is equaled only by their ability to scheme, connive and consort with anyone who will advance their personal agendas?

These men are out of touch. Please respect the wishes of the Canadian people and the democratic process by refusing to allow this band of bullies to wrest power from the hands of our elected Conservative parliamentarians.

Sincerely,

(my name)
Langley, B.C.

cc: Stephane Dion, Leader of the Liberal Party
Jack Layton, Leader of the NDP
Mark Warawa, Langley Conservative MP
The Right Honorable Stephen Harper, Prime Minster of Canada

welcome to promptings' Advent Calendar

It's December!

December 1st is the day of the year we (the kids and I) used to unwrap the Advent Calendar, pin it up and look forward to twenty five days’ worth of surprises.

My kids are gone now and for several years I’ve been missing that Advent Calendar tradition. In 2006 I posted an Advent Calendar here at the blog. This year I've decided to put it up again.

Every day till Christmas, you’re welcome to drop in, read an interesting fact about Christmas (taken from the Encyclopedia of Christmas by Tanya Gulevich) and then open a promptings’ Advent Calendar surprise. Shall we begin? (But there won't be chocolate - sorry!)

December 1 - Christmas Fact:

In the middle of the fourth century Christian authorities selected December 25th as the day on which to celebrate the Nativity of Jesus Christ. Scholars believe that they did so largely in order to divert people away from competing pagan celebrations held on or around that date.
(Encyclopedia of Christmas - p. 52)


Sunday, November 30, 2008

sunday quote


"When you carry out acts of kindness, you get a wonderful feeling inside. It is as though something inside your body responds and says, 'Yes, this is how I ought to feel.'"

- Rabbi Harold Kushner

Saturday, November 29, 2008

book review: The Boomer Burden


Title: The Boomer Burden - Dealing With Your Parents' Lifetime Accumulation of Stuff
Author: Julie Hall
Publisher:
Thomas Nelson, June 1, 2008, paperback, 208 pages
Genre:
Non-fiction, How-to
ISBN-10: 078522825X
ISBN-13:
978-0785228257

In The Boomer Burden - Dealing With Your Parents' Lifetime Accumulation of Stuff, Julie Hall, a.k.a. The Estate Lady, shares expertise gained during seventeen years spent working in estate liquidation. As a professional estate contents' expert and certified personal property appraiser she is well qualified to give advice. It is not only welcome, but also desperately needed. Parents of baby boomers — Depression survivors who have found a lifetime of security in their possessions — are aging, then dying, and leaving behind a lot more than memories.

In an "Author's Note" at the beginning of the book Hall promises, "This book will provide you with the trustworthy counsel you need when facing the monumental task of walking your parents through their final days and then settling their estate." She proceeds to keep that promise in fifteen chapters that deal with things like:

  • how to tell your parents are failing
  • the importance of a will
  • what an executor is and does
  • how to protect the estate from grasping neighbors, friends and relatives
  • how to ascertain the value of estate items
  • how to clean out your parents' house, and more.

Important points covered in each section are repeated within the chapter as slimmed-down lists, definitions, and words of advice in sidebar-type boxes. Each chapter concludes with "What Can I Do Now?" - a checklist of three pertinent actions for the reader to perform at that particular juncture of the process.

The book ends with three appendices:
  • a checklist for parent care
  • a list of helpful resources
  • a list of estate documents and information that children should locate and keep accessible.

Though the subject matter makes this a hard book to read, Hall's sympathetic tone and reasoned approach helps the reader quell naturally arising angst in favor of paying attention to what needs to be done. Her wealth of stories and anecdotes keeps the book interesting. If the story of neighbors who cleaned out the valuables of a senile lady's house, paying her mere dollars when the pieces were worth hundreds, doesn't outrage you, some of the stories of family treachery will.

Hall's real goal is to move the reader beyond outrage to action. If you are a boomer with aging parents, The Boomer Burden will motivate and guide you. It will show you how to set things up now while your parents are still alive so the estate isn't a nightmare to settle later when there is no will, no knowledge of where important papers are kept, and no list of who gets what. (However, if your parents have died intestate — without a will — it walks you through that scenario as well.) If you are a boomer or a boomer's parent, this book was written to motivate you to look after your stuff yourself and not leave it to your kids.

So, if you're a boomer with failing parents, get this book. As someone who was executor of my mother's estate two years ago, I can vouch for how bang-on its advice is. I only wish I had had it then.

If you're a boomer or younger, get this book in any case, not for your parents' estate but for your own. Follow its advice and leave your children one of the best gifts you can give them - a straightforward and well-administered estate.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...