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This should not have happened to me!

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It was a beautiful day to study. I had just settled in on one of my favourite benches near the lost lagoon in Stanely Park, when I had the strange sensation that someone was watching me. I looked up from my books and turned around. There behind me perhaps 15 meters away in the bushes was a well muscled young man standing beside his bicycle, he was looking at me. No worries, I went back to studying. Still my unease remained, so I looked over my shoulder again, he was still there, but this time it appeared as though he was studying me. As I tried to return to my work I realized that I couldn’t. Why was this man watching me with such intensity? I decided I would make direct eye contact and find out. So for a third time I turned around. At that moment the man grinned in a sinister way, lowered his pants, exposed himself to me and began to massage his manhood in plain view.  With his other hand, he pointed directly at me, and then commanded me to  “Come here!” I was shocked, disgusted, traumatized, violated, angered, and afraid all at once. I grabbed my books and backpack, yelled at him “No!” and ran off.

I kept running until I found another bench far away and in a very public place. I called my wife and as we talked she suggested I call the police. They came immediately, and together we searched in vain to find the perpetrator. As we drove around in the squad car, I asked the officer what the primary crime in our neighbourhood was. Without hesitation he said sexual abuse. People, he told me, are always trying to take advantage of each other sexually and as a result many people feel violated. Since we were only three days away from the Pride parade, (a parade in our neighbourhood which celebrates, among other things, sexual freedom) I asked the officer if during this time of year there was a spike in sexual abuse complaints. He said yes.

That got me thinking. Are we as a society helping to increase sexual abuse or decrease sexual abuse? I think it’s the former. The cry for freedom is a noble one, but maybe not so much when it comes to sex. If we as a society tell ourselves that we are free to experience whatever sexual pleasure we happen to desire then we shouldn’t be surprised when people regularly break through the rather loose constraints of “responsible” and “consensual” to maximize whatever they think will give them the most pleasure. This is exactly what’s happening in my neighbourhood and it’s exactly what happened to me. This man who attempted to violate me, acted upon a freedom principle he has learned from our society. Granted he was willing to break through more fences then most to get what he wanted, but still, if we continue to promote sexual freedom as one of the highest ideals in our society, then we will have to continue to accept sexual abuse as one of it’s unintended consequences.

Perhaps there is a better ideal to strive for when it comes to our sexuality than freedom. As one who has been violated, I am certainly willing to explore other options. What if, for example, freedom was supplanted by faithfulness as our society’s highest ideal when it comes to sexuality? What if faithfulness was the message we taught our children in schools and at home. What if our popular culture began to frame it’s art, movies, and music around this ideal? Would sexual abuse increase or decrease? My suspicion is that it would decrease and humans would flourish.

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Love Your Body (Psalm 139:14)

David actually loves his body he’s thrilled with it! But he does not become egotistical with this kind of self-love. When I love my body and realize it’s a gift from God the gratitude that I feel for that gift turns into worship. So many people in this world stumble around hating their bodies unhappy with how they look, because they are overweight, have the “wrong” body shape or some undesirable feature. This self loathing creates anxiety, fear, despair and unhappiness, God wants us to believe that our bodies are masterpieces of incredible design handcrafted by the king of the universe. Believe this! Come to love how God has made you and in so doing free yourself from the trap of worthlessness. Only then will you be able to truly love God and love others like you were meant to

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What We Believe Matters

d9c3ecf1187afd3ca3005ee7a857adc9 Elliot Rogers, did a bad thing. It’s a bad thing to take the lives of innocent, unsuspecting people. Why did he do it? A common answer will be that he was sick. Medical professionals failed to get the chemicals in his brain properly adjusted and that’s all there is to it. The solution then is to continue to experiment with chemicals so that people won’t act so violently. Another explanation could be that Elliot failed to learn the proper techniques for personal deescalation— if he could only have learned the proper use of breathing & meditation. If he could have utilized happy thought therapy or appropriate distraction techniques then this tragedy could have been averted. I am not convinced that chemical adjustment or technique adaptation is the ultimate solution to preventing this kind of societal harm. Is there another reason why Elliot Rogers did what he did? I think so. He did what he did because of belief. The story that he was believing shaped his life and led him to this dark place. What did he believe?

  • About himself he believed that he was the best and most important person in the world. He refers to himself as “the perfect gentleman.”
  • About women he believed that they were on this earth to give him pleasure
  • About men he believed that none should achieve more pleasure than he.
  • About money he believed that it was the only antidote for his loneliness.

The life story that he believed could be summarized in the following way: I am the most important person in this world, people exist to serve my needs, if they don’t a great injustice has been served me that will require deadly retribution. Society is built to produce pleasure only for the rich, beautiful, and famous. Because I am unable to accomplish these necessary life enhancers I will react destructively against a society that guarantees my misery. All that matters is the pleasure that a life can produce, if a life cannot produce pleasure (in particular sexual pleasure) than it’s not worth living. Is there another story, that could have shaped Elliot’s life?

  • About himself: What if he believed that he was a broken person, but in that brokeness he had been met with Divine sacrificial love, which led him to be convinced that no matter what he was loved and forgiven.
  • About women: What if he believed that he was put on this earth to serve and bless others as an act of worship to this God of forgiveness.
  • About men: What if he believed that he was called to rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep instead of comparing and resenting.
  • About money: What if he believed that he was never truly alone because the Spirit of God was with him. What if he believed that he was inseparably and organically connected to a body of people that loved the same God and in this he could find a loving community that cared little for riches, fame, or external beauty.

This is a real story, it’s the Jesus story. Countless millions have shaped their life around this story. Why would we push this story to the margins of our society? Why would we choose to ignore it? Why not embrace it? If Elliot grew up shaping his life around this story, none of us would be talking about him right now, and a lot fewer tears would have been shed in California over the weekend. If you care to hear Elliot’s final speech, click the link below. We all needed him so badly to believe a different story. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=50JbI4-V-UQ

Upside Down

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A nude man yells at us for asking him to put clothes on. We didn’t want our children to be exposed to his nudity, is that so bad? He is incredulous at the inconvenience we are causing him. Us telling him that there is a nude beach available for him not far away, does little to quell his fury.

A music teacher at our school can’t understand why we object to a song she is teaching our second grader. The song talks about eating each others brains, “But it’s a really fun song” she says.

“It’s just words, It doesn’t matter! They are having fun!” was the angry retort my wife received.  A local college first year initiation rite involved songs that promote rape. My wife, simply said it was not a good idea. “but there is nothing funny about rape, ever.” was her comment. Eyes rolling, our friend just shakes her head and walks away, mumbling something about how my wife is not liberated enough to understand.

“Life is better when you share it” says my poster. It’s an invitation for the people of our neighborhood to come together at my house for a BBQ. It has pictures of about 30 of us, smiling and enjoying each other and good food. The other night it was torn down. “We don’t want that kind of thing around here” is the obvious implication. It’s hard not to notice that posters like “Rent Money” remain unscathed. It’s a local strip club’s attempt to “help” the more financially challenged of our female population come in once a week to give a show. They take off their clothes, the audience deepens it’s sexual addiction, women in general are further objectified and these girls get their rent money. How nice.

Complaint’s trickle in to the school: “We don’t want churches in our schools.” What does that mean? We don’t want people of faith helping to make our schools better? Why not? What would happen in our neighborhood if someone said we don’t want Asian people helping to make our schools better?

Will our society flourish? Will our children be safe? Will there be more peace and prosperity? What is the stuff that’s really needed for human thriving? I think it is relational stability and longevity. If that’s true, will we thrive if we have a culture that embraces nudity, celebrates death and darkness, condones sexual violence in media, celebrates proudly and publicly sexual freedom in all it’s forms and continually marginalizes those who believe in loving a real God and loving their neighbors? I don’t think so. Our society’s path is not taking us to better places. I know this because I can see it in the faces of the people that walk down my street. There is a reaching but a never finding. There are deep wounds in these smiling faces. We are upside down. We’ve come to think of wrong as right and right as wrong. The brights of our era have worked hard to erase both of these categories, but as humans we just can’t, so we’ve inverted them. We are like my daughter hanging from her legs on the monkey bars. But we can only remain upside down for so long until all the blood rushes to our head. Eventually we will pass out, as we slip from consciousness there might be a bit of euphoria but a great and painful fall is the end result.

The Duck Woman & Jesus

duck1I met the duck woman the other day,  she walks around Vancouver with ducks that prophesy and have psychic powers like her. They are blessed ducks that God heals in incredible ways. The ducks have magical feathers and miraculous tears. She’s a nice woman, gave my kids rings and rubber duckies. But it was really hard for me not to conclude that she was a “quack” — Sorry for the pun.
She is believing some crazy stuff than I began to think about what I believe, I believe in a man that has miraculous powers in fact this man was so magical that he rose from the dead! He’s promised that I will see him one day even though he left this earth  2000 years ago
What’s the difference between what the duck woman believes about her ducks and what I believe about Jesus?
That’s a really good question
Both are faith-based systems, both are supported by circumstantial evidence and experiential testimony.
But then again how big of a faith leap is it to think time plus chance plus matter equals me? That feels like the biggest whopper of them all! – and there’s not even hope attached to that story.
Divine ducks? Risen Saviours? Goo to you in a few billion years? Pick the better story and start shaping your life around that story.