Friday, July 29, 2011


There are times when life seems to get in the way of blogging.

That happened yesterday. Nothing in particular. I just, well, got busy. Like a dog heading out with his nose to the ground, and not particularly noticing where I was going.

That, I think, happens to all of us, sometimes.

Anyhow, Thursday's thoughts didn't materialize until this morning, because, um, other things were materializing yesterday.

The story is told of an old pastor. He was reflecting back on his ministry.

"I used to be bothered, when I was following our plans, about the interruptions getting in the way of my ministry. Then, one day, I discovered the interruptions were the ministry."

And that's the way it is.

Monday, July 25, 2011


SO, I got to the point of saying Jesus didn't die for our sins.

Now, on to something which people may find even more puzzling.

I'm less and less inclined to think, or talk, of "sin." For four reasons.

First, I've thought, for a very long time, that humans are naturally self-centred. Which seems logical. If you aren't concerned about your welfare, if you don't pay attention to living, you die. That seems incredibly simple.

Second, I think that all of us are spiritual beings having a human experience. I take it to be true that we are "made in the image of God." Which means that, on some level, we are divine beings.

That being said, the third point. As self-centred beings, and also divine beings, having an "unusual" experience. How do we fit in? That is the question that stays with us all through our lives. We might use the word "socialization," or something like that. The overall message is that kindness, or compassion, is the most helpful thing. And that, really, is the opposition of self-centredness.

So we reach the point of recognizing that we are imperfect people, living in an imperfect world. Yes, we have "defects of character," because we have not learned entirely to fit into the community which surrounds us, and we're still worried about our own self-preservation. One of the functions of faith, or spirituality, or whatever you call it, is to find creative ways to live with one another.

In the end, the conflict is between self and community. And the more uncertain — more frightened — we become, the more we are likely to focus on self-preservation, and the less likely we are to focus on community. Which is the exact opposite of what we need to be doing. Because we cannot do it all ourselves. Simply put, my survival depends on your survival

We don't normally think of life on such stark terms. We often tend to consider ourself as self-made people, who worship our creator (i.e., ourselves).

Yes, I know; that is a lot of territory to cover in a short space. But I'm trying not to bore you.

Thursday, July 21, 2011


"When you're hot, you're hot."

I have no idea who dreamed up that line, but it certainly makes a lot of sense, in several ways.

Huge chunks of North America have been suffering through temperatures in the 90s (F) or above. (That's 30+ for those of us who count temperature in degrees Celsius.) Even up here on the Canadian Prairies (north of the Plains States) I've seen video of people cooking eggs on sidewalks and on the dashboards of cars in the last few days. I kid you not. 

One of the managers of our SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) was on tv, and surprised me. We might think it's OK to leave the family pup in the car for a bit, while we go sun and surf. Park in the shade if you can, leave some water, roll down the windows. Apparently not. There is no safe period of time that you can leave your pet in a car, unattended, on a hot day, said the bright young woman. Our dogs feel the heat as much as we do. I assume that would be the same for cats. (Yes, this is one time I worry even about cats. Dogs have owners; cats have staff — you can tell the difference in attitude pretty quickly.)

I was talking to an SPCA's Board member a few days later, and told her how good her employee was. And I got some additional info about hot weather care, because people underestimated how sick their animals could get, and how quickly.

So, what to do as the heat wave continues?
1. Head for the local swimming pool.
2. Get into an air-conditioned building — library, mall, whatever.
3. Drink lots of water, especially if you're working outside. Your body is going to put out a lot of liquid trying to keep you cool, so you need to keep filling up the internal water reservoir.
4. Crawl under a rock, and don't come out until September.
5. Keep your pet in the shade, out of the car, with lots to drink.

I'm serious about this! You people are so sweet, you'd probably melt in about ten minutes. I'd hate to lose any of you. My blog depends on you!

Monday, July 18, 2011


. . . and started trying to figure out what I would do for the day.

BTW, Linda got me thinking about this, because of her post about Sundays. (I believe in giving credit where credit is due.)

There is a pattern for my Sunday mornings. Or, more specifically, my Sunday morning questions. 1. What time is it when I wake up? 2. How I feel? 3. Where will I worship?

That might seem pretty plain and simple, yet it isn't entirely simple.

That's because there are so many variables.

Let's think of the first two questions, for example. Is it 6:00, 8:00, or 10:00? And am I feeling well, tired, sick, or hurting?

All of those factors have an effect on my decisions. If I wake up at 6:00, I'll likely go back to bed. If I'm really tired, sick and/or sore, I'll likely go back to bed.

For a half dozen years, waking up sore and/or sick, and tired was a fairly regular morning pattern, and not just on Sundays. Only recently have things begun to change for me on a regular basis. And the change is delightful, as I said last month.

(Of course, I knew back then this change wasn't going to be a simple ride; sometimes I still end up in the old mode. As I did, yesterday.)

If I wake up at 8:00 or 9:00, and I'm feeling well, I have breakfast, get dressed, and head out for worship.

Where I worship is, perhaps, not an easy choice.

I've been growing my faith for about 50 years, more or less. And the point I have reached is, well, a bit different. Especially for a guy who is a pastor in Canada's largest Protestant church (denomination). 

Cut to the chase. Did Christ die for our sins? No. Jesus died because he was opposed to the value system of his time (which was similar to our time in important ways). Or, more specifically, the keepers of that value system opposed him. Regardless, as W. Edward Demings observed, "Put a good person in a bad system, and system wins, no contest." That's pretty simple.

Nowadays, I feel that the bit about "Christ died for our sins" only works in a world where animal sacrifices are normal, and well understood. We quit doing animal sacrifices a long time ago. So the model, the image, doesn't make sense for a lot people today, particularly North Americans. Even me. If it doesn't make sense for me, if it doesn't help me, why should I keep using it? If it doesn't make sense to others, or help them, why should I keep using it?

Meaning I'm seeking a new understanding of Jesus. That means trying to see his life/ministry in a 20th or 21st century context. I want something which will provide some creativity and usefulness in my every-day living. What's good on Sunday has to be good on Monday, and vice-versa.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Anyhow, I said my thinking is kinda different, in terms of who/what Jesus was/is. I'm looking for a new model. Something that's simple, easy to explain.

So, if I'm going to worship, I want to find a place where I feel hopeful — a place where I am accepted, a place that will help me reflect on life and "grow my soul." A place that isn't focused on what was part of my past. And there are some; I've located a couple. One is even a bit Celtic.

I feel this is getting a bit long. So I'll quit while I'm ahead, and come back to this in a week's time.

BUT in the meantime, here's an important thought. What you believe is what you believe. Because you have been working on your beliefs too, maybe for a long time. What I believe is what I believe. If you've got questions or comments, I would love to hear them. People learn by sharing ideas.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Did you notice . . .

That today is Friday, and there is a new post on the Bears Noting blog?

Thursday, July 14, 2011


We've all hear a lot about tornadoes, particularly this summer. But how many of us have been "up close and personal" with one, this year or some other time?

There have been some hugely destructive ones in the United States. In a three day period (April 25 - 26) tornadoes caused wide-spread death and damage in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. In fact, 335 tornadoes were confirmed in 21 states from Texas to New York during that period. There was also massive damage when Joplin, Missouri, and related areas, were hit in May.

Tornadoes have also been reported in Canada, Bangladesh, New Zealand, and elsewhere.

I don't know about you, but I've never been very close to a tornado. And I've never received any training in what to do if there's a tornado. Those are almost unheard-of where I grew up.

So what does one do when a tornado is near-by?

The pictures I saw of Joplin, MO, in particular, were sufficiently frightening. Basically, nothing left in some places. What appear to have been wood-frame houses were completely taken apart — blown apart, really. Not much protection there.

Our apartment has a concrete structure and concrete exterior. That would have provided some additional protection. But St. John's Hospital in Joplin still suffered a lot of damage. You could see it in the pictures.

What's a Bear to do?

We have a small storage room in the middle of our apartment — not near any windows. I figured if I got on the floor of that, I would have been in the safest place in our suite. Not that I know it would have been safe; I was just guessing.

What to take with me?

A few important papers, and some medications. And some family photos. Of course, I would have made sure J was in there, first and foremost, but she wasn't home at the time.

Fortunately, nothing came near us. A twister apparently touched down about 30 miles west of us, but that's as close as it got. And judging from the pictures from there, the situation wasn't too bad. No people hurt as far as I know.

Have you ever been in a place when a tornado touched down? What happened? What did you do? Bear would be very pleased to know. Others might be as well.

Monday, July 11, 2011


All good things come to an end, it is written (somewhere).

Zed is the final letter in the English alphabet. (Were we speaking Greek, Omega would come last, but that's entirely different — except for Amanda.)

I know that in some places, like the United States, this final letter is pronounced Zee. As in Zee-Zee Top. (Can you feature Zed-Zed Top? Right.)

Anyhow, we've come to the end.

Well and truly did Canadian singer and songwriter Paul Anka pen the immortal words,
"And now, the end is near
And so I face the final curtain"
(Anka wrote that for Frank Sinatra, who sang it as "My Way.")

Now, I haven't exactly followed the rules for this A - Z Challenge. Had I done so, this would have started and ended in April, instead of ending in July. But most of you, gentle readers, know very well that Bear does not always abide by normative conventions (i.e., the rules). Following the rules can be so, well, boring, and may not fit one's schedule or inclinations. So, you got what you got.

What's next?

There will be changes. (Hardly a surprise.) 

I've decided to reprise my old (as in original) blog Bears Noting, meaning that I'll be using it more than I have in the recent past.
I'm not completely sure what I'll do there, buy I have some ideas. Let's say it will be a surprise. For you. And maybe me.
No, Diva, it won't be an "adult" blog. But I trust it will be interesting to adults, of all ages.
Every Tuesday and Friday, I'll have something new over there. And I'll try not to yabber. Hey; that's tomorrow. I'd better get working on something!

On Mondays and Thursdays, there'll be a new post on this blog, in which I may yabber. Which is why this is here today, since it's Monday. I'll see what happens on Thursday. Hmmmm; better get working on that, too!

Please Bear with me during this revitalization period. Bear thanks you.


Also brought to you by the letter Z:
• zoo
• zebra
• zone
• Zulu
• Zen

And from the new Phonetic Alphabet, Zed the lot! Which, in fact, I have.

Friday, July 8, 2011


I find it interesting how words can be picked up from one group and used by another.

In this case, "yabber," which is probably Wuywurung in its origin (Wuywurung being an Australian aboriginal language).

The commonest translation I have found for the word is "chatter," meaning "talk rapidly or incessantly about trivial matters."

I'm thinking here about a particular application of the word. Does "yabber" or "chatter" characterize the conversations which normally happen in the blogsphere? On Facebook? Through Twitter?

I'm torn.

I think there is a lot of chatter through these media.

The "A - Z Challenge" is probably a case in point. Every day, bloggers took a pre-determined letter, choose a word which starts with that letter, and made up a story, or told a tale. The story could be about something important or trivial. My feeling is that a lot were easy-going chat, simply because of the nature of the "Challenge."

I feel, generally, that a lot of postings I see are fairly trivial. "Tell us 25 things about yourself." Yeah, well . . . whatever. Do I actually learn important things about you through that process — things which come from deep within your heart and soul, things which have touched your life? I would guess not, though that might be true in one or two items. It strikes me as being on the level of two neighbours talking about "nothing and everything" across the back fence.

There is, I suppose, a kind of social glue that helps solidify some kind of community at some level. But mostly I see this on-line "yabber" as being like "small talk" at a cocktail party.

I'm not saying this is wrong. But I, personally, do not find much of it particularly interesting, except on rare occasion. Otherwise, I see these as opportunities to "play" with the writer.

On the other hand, there are stories of personal tragedy and triumph, frustration and joy. There are biographical or historical pieces, and issues of every-day living. I find these are stories full of heart and soul. They tell me about the struggles through which a writer has gone, in facing a difficulty in his/her life. They speak of time spent researching the character or history of another, or even writing good fiction, or finding something helpful to others. They tell and show of effort in good photography.

Those, I particularly appreciate.

I suppose in the end, we bloggers write what we want, and let those who like what we write read us, hopefully on a regular basis.

But my question to you is this: what kind of writing do you like from a blog? Chatty, light yabber, or well-considered stories of tragedy and triumph, fine photos, and other thoughtful writing??

(And please pardon me for yabbering like this.)


Also brought to you by the letter Y:
• young
• yes
• yule
• yokel
• yesterday

And from the New Phonetic Alphabet: Y for you, and Y for me?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


 Xena (pronounced: ZEE-nah) is a village about a half hour east of River City.

That's not quite true. The last building there was demolished in the 1970s. So it's a ghost village, or a vacant site. But the name is still on the road signs.

Oh, how sadly fallen.

Xena, in its day, was on the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway (now the Canadian National Railway — except it's owned by Americans, like most other things here).

Grand Trunk had a habit of naming town sites alphabetically, as the rail line snaked across the central part of the Canadian prairies. There were towns like Raymore, Semans, Tate, Undora, Venn, Watrous, Xena, Young, Zelma, Allan, Bradwell, and Clavet. Then you come to Saskatoon, which existed before the railway got there.

For me, the interesting thing is that I've been in most of those places. Can't remember when for Tate and Udora, but I remember the rest. Sometimes a church service, or a burial after a Memorial Service, or travelling through the countryside on my way to a meeting.

But like Xena, there are lots ghost towns around here. Little places that thrived for half a century or more, then just faded away, as people moved to larger centres. They're like little east-coast fishing villages described by the late Stan Rogers:
Old houses stand empty
old nets hung to dry
are blown away,
lost, and forgotten.

Have you ever lived in a community which eventually disappeared, like Xena? Or have you passed through ghost towns? If so, what do you remember of the places?


Also brought to you by the letter X:
• x-ray
• xylophone
• xanthan
• xenon
• Xerxes

And from the New Phonetic Alphabet: X for the Spot

Saturday, July 2, 2011


To begin at the beginning; in this case, the end of the my last post.

This is a special message of thanks to all of you who have been so supportive during my challenges. While there are more things I need to do which will help me be whole, your support has encouraged me to keep moving ahead. And to not fall back.

That is WONDERFUL. So, I am going to talk about two more things which are wonderful.

First, July 1 was Canada Day — our 144th birthday as a Dominion within the British Commonwealth. Not quite as old as the United States (which began around 1776, as opposed to 1867), but we've been around for a while. As a student of history, I really do like tradition, as well as modernity.

We watched the official ceremonies from Ottawa (our nation's capital), which we try to do most years. (We also watch Remembrance Day activities in Ottawa, November 11th.)

This year's activities were particularly interesting because our Royal Newlyweds were on hand: The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, aka Wills and Kate, who were married April 29th. This tour is their first official visit overseas; the third time in Canada for the Prince, but the first for Lady Kate. (Interestingly, during WW2, Kate's grandfather had trained in Canada for the Royal Air Force through the Commonwealth Air Training Program. Which means that her family has some Canadian history.)

Everyone was watching her to see how she would do as a Royal, and she wowed the crowd. Kate is a natural with everyone, and was given the nickname, by some, of "chatty Kate."

Ah, the joys of Royalty! For Canada Day, she wore a red "fascinator" with a maple leaf on top. You can't get much more Canadian than that!

A pretty good — exciting — start all together I'd say.

As for me, the second wonderful thing has been swimming. I have been swimming for years for decades, and I thoroughly enjoy it.

Our grandkids were here for a sleepover on the night of June 30th. And besides watching all the Canada Day events with us on the first, they went for a splash on the apartment building's swimming pool. Since neither of them is a terribly good swimmer yet, I got in the pool with them while they were in, to be sure they stayed safe. And I did a bit of swimming myself. It was good exercise which did not hurt any of my very "unhappy" muscles!

Now that I have found a way of exercising that is relatively pain free, I intend to continue doing it. And that will be fun.

So, all of this is called "progress," I think.


Also brought to you by the letter W:
• wild
• weird
• wistful
• washing
• woodpecker

And from the New Poetic Alphabet: W for quits