Blaise's Big Show

Blaise spent some time writing invitations for various camp staff who he ate meals with in the cafeteria. The event was his Big Show which was to be followed by his birthday cake.

Being 6 now, he is capable of producing a production. This one consisted of three parts:

A dramatic production (which I insisted he rehearse, and which I subsequently narrated as he mimed) about Blaise the Good Pirate.

A magic trick taught to him by Bryan, one of the programming staff. He performed the “pick a card, any card” trick on Christie.

The conclusion was an a cappella performance of 4 verses of “Lord of the Dance,” the song that enchanted Blaise at the Anglican Church the week before.

Well done, my son. And happy birthday too!

Christian Tour Part 3: United Church

I have to credit Amber who paused our trip to Prince George for 75 minutes so that I could continue my adventure through Christianity. She walked through the town of Banff with Acadia while I and my faithful son Blaise attended Rundle Memorial United Church. I was late, again, because I missed the exit off the TransCanada and had to turn around.

The building is beautiful and suits the gorgeous Rocky Mountain surroundings. As we entered sanctuary from the front doors (a lot of these older churches don’t have foyers), we were handed a bulletin and a songbook. The order of service was traditional Protestant and it felt a lot like attending a Seventh-Day Adventist church, with a couple added readings.

It was a summer service, so there were very few people inside, though many of the “so called” liberal churches are declining in membership too. We took our seats during a hymn. We sang from both the hymnal and the newer song book.

One retired pastor who was visiting from Arizona led everything in the service except for the Mission Minute and play piano. He directed everything as though it was an upbeat business meeting. His sermon was about gifts. It didn’t look like he had anything written down and it seemed like it was all a bit off the cuff - that said it was good to be reminded of why God endowed us all with gifts.

The stained glass windows are noteworthy. Three large windows on each side featured men (and one woman) of faith. On the left side were folks like John Wesley, Isaac Watts, John Knox, John Calvin, and other big names in Protestantism. On the right, were local ministers who established churches or served the church locally, most notable would be Pastor Rundle for whom this church is named. Flanking each window were picturesque depictions of each province and territory (except Nunavut of course) of Canada. New Brunswick’s picture had a view of the St. John River valley.

Blaise was brave enough to go up with the two other kids for the children’s time. When asked where he was from, he guardedly said he was on vacation.

During the shake everyone’s hand and bless everyone time, Blaise and I were invited to stay for coffee and juice after the service. I declined, but then discovered we had 15 minutes of flex time before we had arranged to meet Amber so we ended up partaking in some rather delicious brownies and coffee in real china cups. I think it is the classiest after church snack I have ever experienced. Everyone was very friendly and I chatted with a local bank worker who attended this church in his youth.


Rainbow Insect Graveyard

I recognized yesterday how colourful my front bumper was after driving 2000 km from Fort Qu'Appelle, SK to Smithers, BC. Thank you bugs!

Christian Tour Part 2: Orthodox

On July 10th, I attended St. George's Orthodox Church in Regina with some friends. It is certainly the most original service I've partaken in and in a rather surprising way, it was refreshing - not something I anticipated in 1500 year old liturgy.

I was late again (thanks to Chris, again ;)). We were invited to sign the guest book as other late attendees crossed themselves before an icon outside the sanctuary. This particular Orthodox Church is Romanian in heritage so the liturgy book had one page in English and the other in Romanian.

The priest had a couple helpers, deacons, who sang various portions of the liturgy as rites were performed at the altar. The chorus was read by a choir and the congregation - all in English thank goodness. The liturgy was a combination of prayers, Bible passages, and affirmations written by St. John Chrysostom over a millennia ago and for the most part, I resonated with it. Only the prayers were not sung, reminding me of how scripture is sung in Judaism too.

Blaise was with me and was quite mesmerized by all the movement at the front. During the short and joyous predication on the meaning of the words Gospel and Evangel, I wrote out a few key words for him to copy out, which he did and gave to the priest at the end of the service (everything Blaise writes is worthy of giving to someone).

During the Communion, only members of the Orthodox faith were invited to partake in the wine, but others were invited to come forward to have bread and receive a blessing. My friend Marc, new to the Orthodox faith, brought a handful of bread back for us.

The icons in the church were striking. I didn't find them particularly inspiring as I don't have any training in their history nor are most of the saints between 100 AD and 800 AD familiar to me. Central to the beautiful rotunda above the altar was a large image painted with gold leaf of Christ, done in perspective so those in the congregation could see Him in proper dimension. Below Christ was a large image of St. Mary holding Christ. I've learned much regarding the importance of Mary in Orthodox theology. First, she is venerated for her lengthy physical contact with God which makes her Blessed Among Women. Second, she was the one who gave Christ his Humanity an essential part of his identity and a core doctrine that was defended many times in church history.

Blaise, Chris and I were recognized as visitors and given a nice card picturing the icon of Christ with the four beasts of Revelation (who in Orthodox tradition represent the 4 evangelists) which spreads across the ceiling of the sanctuary (different from the one on the dome).

We were invited to dinner to Marc's sister's home after the service, so we missed out on the feast at the church to which we were invited to. It was a fundraiser to pay for the new painting and coating on the ceiling of the dome.

I picked up 8 little booklets on Orthodoxy directed at Evangelical Christians to help them understand that since the Orthodox Church has existed virtually unchanged for 1500 years, it is the best expression of the New Testament Church. They certainly have much to teach the Western Church in regards to church history, tradition, practice and theology.


600 Posts

At 600 posts, I feel pretty good about myself and my commitment to writing (albeit unprofessionally) on a regular basis. It's also pretty handy to go back and review the years and trips and anecdotes that made it onto Zaakistan: The Blog.

Thanks to you readers, especially those who leave comments and have blogs of your own.

Christian Tour Part 1: Anglicanism

I've been given a great opportunity this summer. Since I am not home for any weekends, I can visit churches in the cities I am present in.

Two weeks ago I was able to visit the first of these: St. Mary's Anglican Church in Regina. I am becoming more familiar with Anglican theology as I have been reading N.T. Wright this last year and I have read the scholarly work of John Stott too. It was a pleasure to sit (and stand and kneel) and worship among St. Mary's believers in their stained glass windowed church.

The liturgy was beautiful and engaging for me, one who has attended freeform worship services his whole life. It was a bit tricky to follow in the prayer book, but I managed well enough. The message was inviting and challenging and Christ-centred.

As the minister spoke and several youth read biblical passages, a group of children coloured and played quietly at the front of the sanctuary before the altar. This was quite amazing really.

I participated in communion, shared weekly in the Anglican tradition. It was a substantial time in the service and the faithful were dismissed row by row to line up and then kneel at the alter to be served the bread and wine. We were blessed as we received it which is a nice change from participating in virtual solitude at my church. The wine was clear and sweet and alcoholic - not sure why it's not red. The bread was leavened unlike what I grew up experiencing - when I asked why it was leavened since leaven represented sin in the old testament, my friend explained that it was because Christ's body was risen.

The final song sung was Lord of the Dance (sung to the tune of Simple Gifts). Blaise enamoured himself with it so I am glad it was an insert in the bulletin. He still pulls out the sheet and sings along.

We enjoyed refreshments in the basement following the service. The basement is also used for a community drama festival to present plays. It is also the site of a small school.


Ode to the Dragonfly

I have enjoyed dragonflies my whole life. They are gentle. They control the mosquito population. They are beautiful. Dragonflies move in mysterious ways.

We named our cohousing group after the dragonfly for anyone of its qualities, perhaps because its wings look like stained glass windows (without the stain).

I spent some time this week photographing some of the thousands of dragonflies around Katepwa Lake. I must say, they aren't easy to capture in flight, but I managed a few from a distance. Upon contemplation, I appreciate the swarms even more.


Canada Day Fireworks [with kids]

Canada Day Fireworks are better with kids!

I really wanted to get the kids up and take them to the 10:30 fireworks in Regina (Saskatchewan's provincial capital) since we were in town anyway. Amber agreed, fortunately, and got them dudded up appropriately in PJs and maple leaves on their cheeks. They never actually went to bed before the fireworks, because we got into Regina later than expected and they needed baths.

The works were excellent, worthy celebration of our great nation. We got close to the park grounds and since the show had just started, we parked ourselves with other spectators on the corner of College Ave and Broad St.

Blaise went ballistic! He danced around and waved his flag for nearly the entire show. Both he and Acadia recited ooohs and aaahs throughout. You can tell by their smiles in the photo below that it was worth it for us to keep them up that late. [we'll see how they behave the day after, they are still sleeping at 8:45 am...]


777 KM Drive to Regina

Yeah it was a fine drive. Took a little longer with all the police on the highway. I saw a pair of moose trotting in a field. Blaise got a free poster of the world's tallest teepee at the info centre in Medicine Hat. Listened to The National, New Pornographers, Death Cab for Cutie, and Dylan and Cohen covers.

Acadia barfed a triple helping onto herself (with it pooling behind her booster seat - so gross!!). I know how much she chews her food now (not much).

This was my favourite sign:

Happy Canada Day! We're off to see the fireworks now with Chris and Christy; our kids are super wired.