Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Being White - Being Aboriginal

I've been reading this somewhat interesting book entitled Being White recently, as I explore issues of race, culture, and identity, and what it really means to be white. So much of white identity and culture is assumed and rarely discussed beyond Stuff White People Like's assertion that because of my pigmentation, I inherently love Wes Anderson movies and moleskine journals. (Okay, yes, this is true). Because I am not content in this lacklustre understanding of self, I have been searching and exploring for more depth and meaning. This journey has brought this book into the forefront, and has challenged my view of self, others, displacement, and implicit/overt racism. While the book is definitely written from a Caucasian-American perspective, it dawned on me that issues of ethnicity wrestled with south of the border, often in unnoticed realms to the predominant culture, are quite lively and subversive here as well. A wall of dominoes began to fall for me as I did an exercise of identifying elements that were foundational in my upbringing. From something as simple as hockey.

My family was a hockey family.
We played hockey, followed hockey, watched hockey.
I learned to play hockey when I was seven.
I learned to play hockey when I was seven in a town called Oshweken.
Oshweken is the main city of the Six Nations of the Grand River Reserve.
This is the largest aboriginal reserve in Canada.
I didn't know what Oshweken meant.
I didn't know what nations comprised the Six Nations.
I grew up in Brantford, beside the largest aboriginal reserve in Canada, learned how to play hockey there, and yet still didn't know anything about the peoples, nations, languages, cultures, beliefs.

So. I'm rectifying this.
I'm owning being a White-French-English-Canadian-Christian, and I'm getting to know my neighbours.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Thee Christmas Mix Tape (2010)

Merry Christmas! If you listen carefully, you'll find Davey Von Stone as he journeys into the far reaches of outer space, with an angelic chorus, helping heal the mechanical heart of a lonely space drone. For real.

I love making Christmas music!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

This skin that I am in

There's a new look to the blog, to reflect the new direction of thought, contemplation, reflection, discovery, and musing. I am a caucasian male, born into this skin, this culture, this time, this identity, and I am attempting to make sense of the multi-ethnic, multi-cultural world that I have been blessed into. I have worn these clothes, listened to this music, appreciated these games, enjoyed these stories, and so on, without being able to fully identify what draws it all together. How would I name myself, if given the chance? What happens when you discover that multi-culturalism is not a culture, and living in a multilingual country means nothing if we don't know what the other person is saying to us?

This is what happens: You discover a place of identity crisis. A place with more questions than answers at this point.

And so, I am endeavouring to figure this thing out, with the aid of the Spirit that leads people into new lands, to new peoples, to new foods, with new languages. To confront and name the lies and unbelief that have been woven for centuries into my archetypal reference. To explore and believe that I was made like this on purpose - of this culture, of this colour - made in his image and likeness; in the image and likeness of God.

As were you.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The People's Republic of Gino Reda

I went on a little trip this summer to help run a Conversational-English Immersion Camp. But not everyone knows that a certain someone also went travelling to far off parts with me. Who would have thought that he was so photogenic while not on "That's Hockey"?

Ladies and Gentleman: Gino Reda.

Outside of the hotel in Beijing, Gino stands guard.

Where is he? Yep, paying respects at the Altar of Heaven

Not content to be inactive in the offseason, Gino decides to climb the Great Wall. In record time. Thus begins the legend of Gino Reda amongst the locals.

My roommate in the camp had a pet turtle that roamed the floor day and night. Gino was not shaken.

Enjoying the hospitality and lodgings of the Grasslands.

In one fateful moment, two symbols of great power stood face to face. Only one could stand, and only one did. On that day, men of all ages began to grow moustaches with all the willpower they could muster.

Friday, September 17, 2010

a sacred spoken word

Like a newborn child
I am learning a new language,
and breaking in a fresh pallet.
I have spoken it before, though lost my voice;
lost it in my wanderings
and forgot it in my homecomings.
The tongues of messengers
speaking inaudible or unintelligible librettos,
resonate truer to the harmonious kingdom pitch.
These were familiar - now foreign -
to be discovered anew, in belief,
by a fresh faced novice thrust from the monastery.
Oh! In exalted, exclamative, reflection
I discipline the unruly horses of untamed thoughts.
To focus on the divine an hour,
would be to bring my lost belongings home.

"Oh, simplest of prayers be found on my lips continuously."

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Welcome Home Run On

I've been gone for a long time. Feels pretty good to be honest. I'm trying out a new format for the old blog. Curious for comments. The background is the view from my bedroom window at night. It's remarkable really, even though I do not quite enjoy the cement jungle. The new place, around Church and Carlton, is fantastic for hosting students and changes like no other neighbourhood I have ever lived in, depending on the time of day. I said hello to two prostitutes on my walk home last night. Working one minute from my doorstep. Saw another farther down Church St. It's a broken neighbourhood, and it does better hiding it during the day.

First it was Hamilton. Then camp. Then Toronto. Then the one country in the world I never wanted to visit. Now downtown Toronto.

There are so many places that the Spirit has invited me to go to, and never in my old life's wildest dreams did I want or think to go there. There was no desire. But I did, and I found life. My heart changed and I saw resurrection.

So now, in this moment, this is my calling's destination. This is my new home.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Final Post Until September

In less than 24 hours I will be leaving this great continent for another, and will most likely not have internet access for the next month or so. That being said, this is my last post for a while. Here are some things I've thought to share:

-I flew to Vancouver six years ago, and only saw it briefly. It was good. This time around I have settled in for two and a half weeks. I think it is safe to say that I have become enamoured with the place. It will be hard to leave.
-Climbing mountains, hiking trails, and going running, are not a part of my regular Ontario routine. I am wishing that could change.
-The summertime is the perfect time for enjoying buskers.
-I finally, after years of false starts, have the beginnings of a novel going. And I am confident that though it will be a labour of love over the next few years, I will have something of substance to share with friends, family, and the like.
-INCEPTION!!!! I counted six levels.
-Extroverts need Introverts, and Introverts need Extroverts.
-Though I currently don't have a home to return to in Toronto yet, this does not bother me. I actually have a lot of peace about it, and full faith in God and my community.
-If you visit Vancouver, go to Gene (which is a small coffee shop) at Main & Kingsway. You'll see the view and immediately see how I was able to find inspiration to write.
-I have been blessed by western hospitality, and more than anything else, will take that back to Ontario with me.

See you in September.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Stuff Christians Like

I'm not always hip to the latest trends, but I guess I should try to be if I want to be missionally relevant to a PoMo-Starbucks-drinking-wear-my-faith-on-my-wicked-American-Apparel-original-silk-screen-T-shirt kind of generation. Or maybe not? Questions, questions...

Disclaimer: One of my biggest pet peeves is the way Christians often absorb culture, chew on it a bit, and then spit it out as a lamer, more embarrassing, way that ruins both. Two examples: (a) Those red T-shirts that say Counter-Culture on them in the Coca-Cola font style; (b) the majority of Contemporary Christian Music, which is neither contemporary nor original. If anything, both of these say that Christians are only capable of being boring, unoriginal, participants in our culture. But I digress...

Regardless, I'm not hip to the hipness of the Stuff Christians Like (SCL) website, but I did come across a book of the same title while checking out the Regent College Bookstore. Here's where the disclaimer comes in. For a moment, I got caught in the broad generalization mentioned above, and lumped the SCL website in as a lamer version of Stuff White People Like (SWPL), the latter being a brilliantly witty take on whiteness, and on more than one occasion, dead on in its depiction of white, North American, culture. This alone could have kept me from purchasing the book inspired by the website, but I am glad that in this case, it did not. The SCL website makes it pretty clear that it is inspired by SWPL, and gives credit where credit is due. Great, my conscience is clear.

Alright, so this book is probably the funniest thing that I have ever read out of the Christian world. Seriously, so hilarious that I was literally crying while reading it to some friends, and had my voice break several times while trying to read through some of the chapter headings. A small smattering of such headings look like this:

"Complaining about not being 'fed' at church."
"Watching R-rated movies... but only if they're violent."
"Using "I'll pray about it" as a euphemism for no."
"Falling in love on a mission trip."
"Ranking honeymoon sex slightly higher than the second coming of Christ."

So yes, I broke my fast from purchasing new books, and I bought this book. It was/is worth it. There is a treasure trove of teachable anecdotes here that I will no doubt use when I return home. Also, I doesn't hurt to laugh (a lot) at yourself. I think that if I was to contribute a chapter heading, mine might be,

"Letting people know that you're wrestling out your salvation by blogging about it."

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Vancouver, Je T'aime

I don't know what it is, but every time I visit Vancouver I end up getting blessed with beautiful weather. The locals say the current stretch of hot, sunny, and cloudless days is not the norm, but it's the same weather as when I came here the first time six years ago. Perhaps this province really just wants to show me a great time - to woo me into picking up from Ontario and moving to these parts. I wouldn't be the first.

You needn't worry, my Ontario brethren, I will return to you safely in a few months time; but in the meantime I will enjoy everything this beautiful province has to offer.

Initial thoughts in the few days that I've been here: (1) I am jealous of the UBC campus, as I drove, open-jawed, around the perimeter; (2) walking around Granville and Emily Carr made me wish I was putting my creative potential to good use; (3) the world needs more mountains.

Though I am technically on vacation right now, it still seems to be a working vacation, as many things still need to be set in place for the GP next month, and there's an endless list of things to take care of for next year back on campus. However, I must say that working in Toronto during the heat wave, and working in Vancouver during the heat wave, are world's apart. I am pleased with my choice.

Finally, I've embarked on reading the last (well, last one for me to read) complete Fitzgerald novel of his oeuvre, The Beautiful and Damned, and am being inspired for the creative writing that is itching to begin here.

Monday, June 21, 2010

badgerland presents: Saskatchewan

My musical alter ego - Davey Von Stone - is honoured to be amongst those whose passion for all things Saskatchewan has brought forth this loving ode to Canada's swift flowing land. Click the album art and experience the sound of prairies recorded in far off places.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Suffering and Loneliness

Yesterday I was having coffee with some friends on a patio up on Bloor West when an elderly gentleman sat down on the bench in front of us and asked the following:

-Excuse me. I used to work for CIBC and... What do you think the ratio is... of five people... is there one who would buy someone a hamburger?

Immediately the man burst into tears. Each of us looked awkwardly at each other, and as I was the closest to the man, I felt compelled to oblige. I tried to comfort him, reassuredly saying,

-Of course I will. I'll be right back.

So I walked a few store fronts down and bought the man two hamburgers from McDonalds. When I had returned back to the bench, one of my friends was sitting with the man and talking to him. I put my hand on the man's shoulder,

-Here you go. And not just one. I figured you could use two.
-Oh thank you. Thank you. I'll eat this one now, and save the other one for later.

I began to listen to the man as he shared the many reasons for his breakdown. It was rare for him to make it through a sentence without bursting into tears, and holding his face in his hands.

-I am alone, and there is nobody to talk to... (tears). My wife put me in a home down the street a while ago, and now all my family is dead... (sobs). Sometimes I wonder if God is punishing me. Sometimes I ask 'God, why do you hate me?' (more sobbing).

Here are the things I'm noticing about the man at this time: He has an unusually large build up of liquid eye mucus; he has two bracelets, one that says Fall Risk and another with his name, and for some odd reason, a note that he has no family.

-I am lonely. It's so lonely when nobody talks to you. I could be dead on the floor of my room for a week and nobody would notice. How can you be happy when nobody cares?
-Well, perhaps you need to find joy in the small things, like a hamburger at the perfect time.
-You're right, I guess.

He takes some more, slow bites.

-I used to work for CIBC. Lived in Fenelon Falls. I had a big house, and I drove a Mercedes. I had the good life, but it means nothing now. I go to dinner with people and nobody talks. It's just so lonely I... (head in hands) I am so lonely. And I ask God why. Does he not love me?

We're still listening as this goes in circles a little bit.

-It makes you not want to live anymore.

I jump in during a pause.

-That's when you have to appreciate the small things. The clean air to breathe. The sunshine and the green trees. See those pigeons down there?
-Think about it: if God can love even those pigeons at our feet, don't you think he'd love you more?
-Oh I feed the pigeons all the time.

A smile emerges on his face, and lingers for a while before he descends into his wounds of loneliness again. My bet at this point is dementia. He doesn't seem to connect everything, and yet there are moments of real clarity - specifically when speaking about the milestones of success that are now meaningless. He sure seems connected to his old Mercedes, and to the truth that the desired vehicle speaks no life into his suffering and loneliness. We talk for a few more minutes before he heads on his way. We make sure to let him know we really appreciated and enjoyed talking to him, and that he was worth talking to. He smiles, clings to his cane and McDonald's bag, and leaves. Very slowly.

This whole episode reminded me of a prince many millennia ago who left his castle to observe the people outside his gate, and all he found was suffering. He went on to teach many that all of the world is suffering; that suffering is truth. I don't buy it though. I am ever thankful that though suffering and loneliness are a part of this life, there is one who speaks belovedness to creation, and I can't help but wonder what this man's life would be like if he knew he was loved. Because he is.

In this moment I saw Hauerwas, Nouwen, and my calling all intertwined.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Moving from Solitude to Community to Ministry

If we do not know we are the beloved sons and daughters of God, we're going to expect someone in the community to make us feel that way. They cannot. We'll expect someone to give us that perfect, unconditional love. But community is not loneliness grabbing onto loneliness: "I'm so lonely, and you're so lonely." It's solitude grabbing onto solitude: "I am the beloved; you are the beloved; together we can build a home." Sometimes you are close, and that's wonderful. Sometimes you are close, and that's wonderful. Sometimes you don't feel much love, and that's hard. But we can be faithful. We can build a home together and create space for God and for the children of God.

- Henri Nouwen

Friday, June 4, 2010

Living Gently in a Violent World

I remember thinking, When technology replaces community, you ain't got community to fall back on when you're in a crisis.

- Stanley Hauerwas

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

David's List

Alright, so now that LOST is over, any time spent not analyzing, re-analyzing, and reminiscing the goodness of that show will be spent doing my new, rediscovered hobby: reading. That's right. LOST is over, and therefore it is time to leave the television behind and to start reading. So here it is folks: my list of books to read. There are some gems in there - specifically the one by L. Neil Smith (if you can find it).

Estimated time of completion: Don't even want to think about it.

I wish I could find a way to make these images larger if you click on them. However, I'm not computer savvy, so best of luck in trying to figure it out in the meantime.

Monday, May 24, 2010

108; Fin; The End

In the earliest moments of reflection on the episode, I was hesitantly okay - perhaps all right - with the outcome. It was not what I had expected, and yet was exactly what I had expected. In my desire to get out of the finale, and essentially the show itself, what I wanted out of it, I found it difficult to let go. Now, with more space to reflect upon what happened over the past six years, I think I am coming to a place of actually letting go. Of appropriate acquiesce. And fittingly, I am finding the finale to be more and more poignant and brilliant. This was not just some show. For those with eyes and ears that could perceive beyond first sense, it was something far more significant. When you can sit at a kitchen table the morning afterwards, having a meaningful conversation about what worked, what did not work, what this story meant to us, the nature of a parable, the sacred experienced on the screen of the profane - then you know that this was something beyond just a serialized television show.

Sunday, May 23, 2010


This should be a self-explanatory reference to the greatest character on the greatest television series, and what drives him. I will let other's unpack the theological significance of the notion of a constant, as I am running out of time to do so. The final recap starts in 56 minutes.


Sometimes, you can just hop in the back of someone's cab and tell them what they're supposed to do. Other times, you have to let him look out at the ocean for a while.


Evil Hearts of Unbelief: What comes out of a man is what defiles a man. For from within, out of the heart of man, comes evil thoughts...


A simple act of choosing to believe has massive ramifications, unbeknown in the present, but often serendipitous.

Saturday, May 22, 2010


Why does this generation seek every single answer? Truly I say to you, answers will remain for this generation.


One day I am going to write a serial that falls somewhere between Dostoevsky and Darlton.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Vito's Ordination Song

I live in parables. Or, at least I try to. Last year when I first co-taught Mark I at city/script, I decided to play a song before each study that had something, anything, to do with what we were about to study. Only one student came up to me throughout the week asking me why I had chosen the songs for each day. To her had been given the secret of the playlist. This year, when I saw this same student again, she came up to me and asked if any of the new students had asked questions about songs (I had a new playlist this year). This year one or two students asked.

There was one song this year that I hadn't planned on playing at all, but for some reason or another it was played midweek. And then again on the final day during reflection time. For me, this song encapsulated my thoughts and emotions while leading. So here is said song.

Vito's Ordination Song - Sufjan Stevens

I always knew you
In your mothers arms
I have called your name
I've an idea
Placed in your mind
To be a better man
I've made a crown for you
Put it in your room
And when the bridegroom comes
There will be noise
There will be glad
And a perfect bed
And when you write a poem
I know the words
I know the sounds
Before you write it down
When you wear your clothes
I wear them too
I wear your shoes
And your jacket too
I always knew you
In your mothers arms
I have called you son
I've made amends
Between father and son
Or, if you haven't one
Rest in my arms
Sleep in my bed
There is a design
To what I did and said

Listen below, and feel free to ignore the fan made video

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Exit Strategy

I have had a hard time putting into words what the experience of last week, teaching the first half of the Gospel of Mark by myself, was like. I can be honest in saying that it was yet again another transformative experience with good news Mark had to share, and that things came to life that had never come to life before. I believe* to have perceived some new revelations and understandings of what the text calls people into. One day, when I write that oft-thought of book on Mark, the things running through my mind this past week will most definitely be included. My mind's eye holds the cover artwork, and inner artwork (that whole legion thing will be true to its scene - images and actions of pure chaos). These are a few of the minor things I have left thinking about; the more major being about what it means to follow Jesus, and to see unclean things made whole in this life.

At the end of the study I taught, I encouraged the students to develop an exit strategy involving how they were going to spend their time
post-city/script. It's easy to look for rest after pouring yourself out for days of intense study, but so often the idleness and vacancy that fills the void of structured days and intense relationship can lead to destructive tendencies and, in all honesty, unbelief in what just occurred. The
playing out of my exit strategy has not gone as well as I would have hoped, but I have tried. Here are the things I've been throwing myself into to find rest, relaxation, and aid reintegration into the busyness of life:

-Lost: This was the first thing I did when I got home.
-Cinema: I had a hankering for French cinema, so I watched "Entre les murs" aka. The Class (see above), which was fantastic. Tonight I watched "The Box". Weird, but it was good way to also hang out with a good friend from back home. Would love to get in "Wings of Desire" before things get too busy again.
-Home: I'm in Brantford, for better or for worse. It's hard getting around this town without a vehicle.
-Hockey: These playoffs are bittersweet. See earlier post.
-Books: I'm slowly easing my way into "I Once Was Lost", and "True Story".
-Coffee: I have made sure to be intentional about getting out of the house, especially to read. There's a fair trade coffee shop in town that I make sure to frequent.
-Wine: The parables about new wine and wineskins really gave me a hankering for some red wine. I enjoyed some Chilean and Spanish wines with the family on Mother's Day. Ah, perfect for a Sunday afternoon.
-Music: writing songs about Sasquatch in Saskatchewan, bridegrooms, and love's labourers.

Tomorrow I will more than likely head back into the realm of work, but I am ever so grateful to indulge the things that I delight in, knowing they are a part of who I have been created to be, a part of the whole truth I extrovert to Jesus, and woven into things being made new in my life. This has been life giving - all of these past few weeks.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Playoff Beard: The Bitter End

The Last Shave: April 12, 2010
Modifications: Removed neck beard and aforementioned upper-cheek hairs, as per Playoff Beard rules.
Moral Support: Gino Reda
Reason to Mope: I don't like sharks, and I need a hair cut.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Playoff Beard: Day 16

The Last Shave: April 12, 2010.
Modifications: Trimmed sparse upper-cheek hairs, as per Playoff Beard Rules.
Moral Support: Gino Reda.
Reasons for Hope: A decisive 6-1 victory over Pheonix in game 7; Abdelkader's hits and Helm's speed; Memories of Vladimir Konstantinov.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Post-It Note Book Reviews

The following is a list of books I've read, or am still reading, from the past year. Rather than writing full reviews of each one, I've posted Post-It Notes with random thoughts on each book.


The Brothers Karamazov - Fyodor Dostoevsky

Beatrice & Virgil - Yann Martel

The Complete Stories - Flannery O'Connor

Dubliners - James Joyce

Scott Pilgrim, Vol. 1-5 - Bryan Lee O'Malley


Surprised by Hope - N.T. Wright

Drawn into the Mystery of Jesus through the Gospel of John - Jean Vanier

The Passionate Intellect: Incarnational Humanism and the Future of University Education - Norman Klassen & Jens Zimmerman

Colossians Remixed - Brian J. Walsh & Sylvia C. Keesmaat

Life Together - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership - Ruth Haley Barton