Friday, August 31, 2007
Ruth was a little dubious about going but it is an excellent museum and we both felt we learned a great deal. Currently there is an exhibition on the Canadian mission in Afghanistan. It doesn't try to promote or justify our involvement. It does tell the story of what happens there. There is a poignant slide show featuring some of those who died with photographs from childhood through proms to their time of deployment. I can't imagine anyone not being moved.
We are also given the grim facts on malnutrition and illiteracy and poverty in Afghanistan. According the the UN half of the population gets less than 2400 calories a day, considered the minimum for health. Infant mortality is high. The stats also point out that 8 million people voted in the last election, including millions of women. Children are now getting an education and food is being delivered to areas of extreme poverty.
What should we think? Incessant war is the reason for much of this suffering, so why would more war be a solution? Yet the election wouldn't have taken place without the NATO presence.
These issues are seldom simple and we all want our troops to come home to safety. So we keep praying for peace.
Thursday, August 30, 2007
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
After nearly 50 years Stephen Truscott has been acquitted of a murder he did not commit. As a fourteen year old he was the youngest Canadian to be sentenced to "hang by the neck until dead" a graphic and grisly description of the form of execution to be meted out. Fortunately the death sentence was commuted and now he has been exonerated.
I don't believe in the death penalty for many reasons. There are miscarriages of justice which cannot be righted when the wronged persons are dead. But even when the perpetrators of the crimes have been fairly brought to justice the state should not be a murderer. I worked as a chaplain in Kingston Penitentary during my seminary days and I saw that some of those who committed heinous crimes came to the place of penitence for their wrongdoing.
Executing them might have brought some satisfaction for a few, yet capital punishment would not have brought back the dead victims, it would have removed the opportunity for repentance, and it would have made our society harsher. The United States is the only Western country which maintains the death penalty but there is little evidence there that capital punishment acts as a deterrent.
I have a button somewhere which asks "Why kill people for killing people to prove that killing people is wrong?" One of the Ten Commandments instructs us not to kill. This question and this commandment still make sense to me as a Christian.
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
I also checked my blog to refresh my memory on where I left off. I was pleased to see that there were several responses during my absence. A couple more individuals have joined the ranks of Blogger so that the responses can be direct rather than through email.
I have been thinking that I should figure out how to make my blog entries a little more "interaction friendly." I enjoy reading your comments and musings.
I will apologize in advance for the next few blog entries which will likely have a "what I did with my summer vacation" flavour. We had a great time in the Saguenay region of Quebec and in the Killarney area of Northern Ontario.
We are blessed to live in such a beautiful country and now you're going to hear about it!
Friday, August 03, 2007
Thursday, August 02, 2007
Eighteen years ago our concern was very different. Western governments were figuring out how to respond to human rights issues in China. A protest against government oppression led to public demonstrations in Tianammen Square in Beijing. It's estimated that 200-400 students were killed, maybe more.
We will always remember the young man who stood in front of a line of tanks. It was everyman confronting military might. At least I hope we will remember. Human rights violations continue in China. Executions are commonplace. Some of our imported goods are produced in situations of slave or child labour. While there is much greater religious freedom, there are still restrictions.
I pray that we will have the courage to challenge injustice, not just take the toys and run.
Wednesday, August 01, 2007
A number of people have asked my about the book called The Secret and the film based on its premise. Have I heard about it or read the book? I saw it at the library the other day so I signed it out.
According to the author the Great Secret of Life is the law of attraction: "The law of attraction says like attracts like, so when you think a thought, you are also attracting like thoughts to you. " She goes on to offer that "your thoughts become things."
Would anyone argue with the idea that in life it helps to be positive, hopeful people? We really don't enjoy being around the Eyores of the world. Surely we "get it," though, that one of the reasons that the planet is in a mess is because we are so enamoured of "things." This book tells us that our thoughts will attract material wealth and while this is not the only promise it is a prominent one.
This is not Jesus' secret. Jesus promised abundant life but not material prosperity. In fact, while he didn't say that wealth is wrong, he did warn us to be wary of its effects. He cautioned that money can become our god, the lens through which we see the world, and that distorted image can change us for the worse. Some of the most positive people I have met don't have much in the bank. Some of the kindest and most open folk I have encountered live in countries where there is little evidence of Canadian-style affluence.
The apostle Paul also wrote of a secret: "in any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being well-fed and of going hungry, of having plenty and of being in need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me." Phil. 4:12
Inner peace and contentment in all circumstances. This is a powerful message that doesn't have to be a secret.