Thinking Out Loud

February 17, 2017

We’re Back!

Filed under: Christianity — Tags: , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 9:12 am

hotel

For a number of reasons, the vacation we just returned from represented our first time on an airplane in 28 years. Money, kids, health, work, money, sandwich generation issues, and money are just some of the reasons why we never got away.

I know a lot of you get to travel and I don’t want to sound like an overexcited neophyte, but the point is that we did go to a part of the world that my 74% US readership have never visited, Cuba. Over the next few days, I’ll be sharing a little bit of that experience once we’ve got the film developed, so to speak. I want to consider a number of things surrounding the contrast between the excesses in the resorts and the poverty of the masses in the rest of the country; and also the strange ways in which these worlds intersect.

For us, it was a life-changing experience; but then again, I’ll probably overuse that phrase many times in the next few days.

 

December 7, 2015

Building Margin into Your Schedule

About five years ago in a Sunday morning service our pastor was talking about the importance of having margin in your life. Margin to hear from God, to wait before Him and to expect miracles. That’s vital at a time of year when margin is slim because of the busy-ness of the season.

But then he picked up his Bible and talked about the margin that exists on each page of the book; space to add your own notes and record observations. I’ve thought of margin on several levels but never from a printing or graphic arts perspective, a field in which I have some familiarity.

In printing, margin is necessary because sometimes the paper gets trimmed a little off center, just like the time runs out on some days (and weeks, and months, and years) a little unexpectedly. Without some white space, there is the risk the text would simply get cut off.

But if your house is like mine, you probably got flyers, circulars, brochures or whatever they call them where you live delivered to your door or mailbox; and if you examine different types of printed matter, you see that in many cases there is no margin at all because the photo or background color is meant to look like it runs right to the edge. In fact it runs a good inch (2 cm) over the edge and is then trimmed back.

In graphic arts, this is called a bleed, and the designer will markup the text with the word ‘bleed’ to tell the printing people that the background gradient or pattern should overrun the page to be cut to size in the trim process.

And that, is my message to my readers for this Christmas, straight from the graphic art and design industry: If you don’t have margin, you bleed.

[Yes, it’s pithy remarks like that which keep readers coming back!]

If we don’t (literally) take the time to build margin into the busyness of the holiday season, we pay the price for it. If we try to do too much, there’s pain. If we fail to accomplish essentials we should have prioritized, there’s tears.

no vacancyWhich is odd considering the potentially frantic story of incarnation — in a crowded village that has run out of hotel accommodation because of a census registration — begins on what we regard as such a peaceful, silent, holy night. Christmas card images look so tranquil, but if you’ve ever driven into a town as we have only to learn that every motel and hotel is booked because of a sports tournament or a convention, you know that for Mary and Joseph, it was a very, very stressful day.

The celebration of the birth of Christ was never intended to drive us crazy on an annual basis. We’re celebrating the coming of Christ, not reliving the search for lodging that led up to it. Slow down — you might just hear from God — and take a cue from the printing industry: If there’s no margin, you bleed.

November 26, 2015

Thanksgiving Link List

Filed under: Christianity — Tags: , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 7:05 am

fall-scene

  • Thanksgiving is More Religious Than Christmas – Last week I spoke with a woman whose family—and extended family—exchanges gifts the first week in December, in order that the focus on Christmas Day itself will be all about Christ. I thought of her when I read this article, though as the new car advertisement says, ‘Your mileage may vary;’ we each experience the holidays differently in our family, economic and cultural contexts. See if you agree with 7 Reasons Thanksgiving is Way Better Than Christmas.
  • One Year Ago – We decided to celebrate Thanksgiving with some microblogging. A picture (or 7) is worth a thousand words, right? So if you’re new here
  • Thanksgiving Song of the SeasonAnd here’s a bonus song, just in time for the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday, My Heart is Full of Thankfulness by The Gettys, or if you prefer a more rollicking version by Stuart Townend.
  • It’s About a Beautiful Time of Year: There’s no denying that photographers love this time of year. Fall leaves contrast so well with blue sky. This worship song by Canada’s Brian Doerksen seems so appropriate on a day like today.
  • One Last Thanksgiving Debrief – Remember that time your high school small group leader asked, ‘What’s the opposite of love?’ and everybody said ‘hate’ and then he explained it’s really fear?  So what’s the opposite of “thanksgiving?” This answer is both surprising and satisfying: “While this may be human nature, nothing good comes of it.  Mark Twain said, ‘Comparison is the death of joy.’  For when we look and see someone else’s blessings, we suddenly have no appreciation of our own.”

With a day off, we thought some of you might be looking for some fall fiction reading…more great book covers at this link…with word the 2015 worst covers list is coming soon!

Lancast Amish Fires of Autumn

Finally this was forwarded from our friends at Flagrant Regard:

Mayflower's competition

December 1, 2014

While You’re Cleaning Up From Thanksgiving

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 7:01 am

Kids are back at school today, relatives are back at work, but the house is a disaster, right? Actually, it’s all in how you look at it. Credit for this goes to Chelsea Lee Smith; click the image below to explore her blog.

It's All In How You Look at It

November 21, 2014

The Hardest Days

Filed under: Christmas, Church, Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 7:59 am

Doug and Gary were always the last to leave the office.  Doug always turned off the lights as Gary set the alarm, and on Fridays, Gary always asked Doug if he wanted to join him for church that weekend.

“Actually, I’m going to church with my wife on Sunday,” Doug replied.

“Oh right. I forgot you’re a CEO,” Gary said smiling.

“A CEO?”

“Christmas and Easter only.” They both laughed, and Gary continued, “You know it’s good that you’re going, but you always pick the two hardest days.”

image 211114“I know,” returned Doug, “The parking at that church is miserable at Christmas.”

“No, that’s not what I mean; you always choose incarnation and atonement. They’re the toughest ones to grasp.”

“Wait a minute, I thought you wanted me to attend church.”

“I do, but think about it; if you show up for The Good Samaritan, the message is ‘love your neighbor,’ that’s easy!  And if you show up for ‘husbands love your wives,’ well two minutes in and you’ve got that one. But incarnation –“

“Do you mean the flower or the canned milk?”

“No it’s the idea of God becoming man, God becoming one of us. See, God is like those triplicate materials requisition forms we send to head office. The kind where what you write on the top part goes through to all three. But then God Himself rips out one of the pages — let’s call it the middle one — and then the letter to the Philippians tells us that that part of God took on the role of a servant and entered into the human condition even to the point of experiencing human death, and a rather excruciating one at that.”

“So you’re talking about Jesus. You’re saying he was 50 percent man and 50 percent God. Like a centaur?”

“No it’s not 50/50, more like 100/100.”

“So that’s gotta hurt. Why would he do that?”

“Well that’s the Easter part, the atonement part. In another letter, to a young disciple named Timothy, the same writer wrote that ‘Christ came into the world to save sinners, of which I’m the worst.'”

“The guy who wrote part of the Bible said he was the worst?”

“Jesus himself said he ‘came into the world to look for and save people who were lost.’ In another part he said that he came into the world to give his life as a ransom payment for many; and in yet another written account of his life we read that he didn’t come to condemn — which is what a lot of people think church is all about lately — but that through him everybody could have eternal life.”

“So you’re talking about going to heaven when you die?”

“Well, actually, eternal life starts now.”

“How come I never heard that at a Christmas service before?”

“You did, but you probably weren’t tuned in to it. You heard the carols, but missed the connection between incarnation and atonement, and you can’t have the one without the other. Ultimately, Jesus — the baby in the manger — came to die for the world, for me, for you.”

“Wow;” Doug said, “I never heard it like that.”

 

 

 

Phil 2, I Tim 1:15, Luke 19:10, Matthew 20:28, John 3:17

October 20, 2014

The Fright Industry

Filed under: Church, current events — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 9:41 am

pumpkin-carving

They appeared just after Labor Day.  Pop-up retail stores in strip malls and indoor centers dedicated wholly to the evening of October 31st.

Pop-up retail is not for the faint of heart. It involves a certain amount of portability in terms of inventory and fixtures, but you’re still installing cash registers and point of sale terminals, hiring staff and presumably obtaining liability insurance; all with a less than 60-day sales window.

In the U.S. and Canada, there is now big money in Halloween. It doubled between 2005 and 2011 in a way that other holidays did not. But numbers vary with each survey. A Forbes survey had it fourth, but had Thanksgiving second — food, no doubt being factored in — while a National Retail Federation survey for the same time period didn’t mention Thanksgiving at all, but listed “Winter Holidays” followed by Mother’s Day, Valentines Day and Easter.  A more recent NRF study had October 31st dead last, by a large margin, and trailing — any guesses? — the Super Bowl.

It eclipses Christmas for many families and neighborhoods in terms of decoration and the participation of children.  This year, having the holiday on a Friday night means some people may buy two costumes for two weekend parties.

Even within the broader Church, there are people who are totally unaware of All Saints Day, the feast day that follows on November 1st.  But in some conservative quarters, and also some not-so-conservative Evangelicals, an anti-Halloween movement started perhaps 20 years ago.  On this topic, I wrote:

…Of all the things that we could NOT do when I was younger — card playing, Sunday shopping, dancing, etc. that we now CAN DO; it’s interesting that there is this one unique area where we COULD do something years ago that now Evangelicals feel we can NOT do…

Taking my kids out trick-or-treating when they were younger was something that I sometimes I had to do rather low-key, as the winds of change among my church community were already blowing.

But this year, for the second time, we’re probably skipping participation in terms of handing out goodies as well. Our neighborhood has grown up somewhat; or perhaps we’re reacting to the mega-industry Oct. 31st has become and are simply trying to maintain a distinct identity.  


 

Redeeming the holiday: A preaching series tied to Halloween.

 

 

 

December 4, 2011

When There’s No Margin in Your Life

I want to extrapolate something different that was triggered by something our pastor said this morning.

He was talking about the importance of having margin in your life.  Margin to hear from God, to wait before Him and to expect miracles.  That’s vital at a time of year when margin is slim because of the busy-ness of the season. 

But then he picked up his Bible and talked about the margin that exists on each page; space to add your own notes and record observations.  I’ve thought of margin on several levels but never from a printing or graphic arts perspective.

In printing, margin is necessary because sometimes the paper gets trimmed a little off center, just like the time runs out on some days (and weeks, and months, and years) a little unexpectedly.  Without some white space, there is the risk the text would simply get cut off.

But if your house is like mine, you probably got flyers, circulars, brochures or whatever they call them where you live delivered to your door or mailbox; and if you examine different types of printed matter, you see that in many cases there is no margin at all because the photo or background color is meant to look like it runs right to the edge.  In fact it runs a good inch (2 cm) over the edge and is then trimmed back.

In graphic arts, this is called a bleed, and the designer will markup the text with the word ‘bleed’ to tell the printing people that the background gradient or pattern should overrun the page to be cut to size in the trim process.

And that, is my message to my readers for this Christmas, straight from the graphic art and design industry:  If you don’t have margin, you bleed.

[insert rim shot here]

If we don’t (literally) take the time to build margin into the busyness of the holiday season, we pay the price for it.  If we try to do too much, there’s pain.  If we fail to accomplish essentials we should have prioritized, there’s tears. 

Which is odd considering the potentially frantic story of incarnation — in a crowded village that has run out of hotel accommodation because of a census registration —  begins on what we regard as such a peaceful, silent night.

The celebration of the birth of Christ was never intended to drive us crazy on an annual basis.  Slow down, and take a cue from the printing industry: If there’s no margin, you bleed.

November 11, 2011

11-11-11

Filed under: current events — Tags: , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 11:11 am

I’ve scheduled this post for 11:11 AM on 11-11-11.

The date suggests a number of themes.   First of all it’s Remembrance Day in Canada and Veterans Day for our friends in the U.S.  The U.S. name suggests a day to commemorate all those who have served in past conflicts, whereas in Canada, I think the focus is there but also more applied to those who gave their lives fighting for the ideals that sparked the wars in question.

In an age of revisionism, I’ve addressed the idea that “people tend to forget” here twice recently, once in the lead up to Remembrance Day a year ago, and at the ten year anniversary of September 11th, just a few weeks ago.  The stylized Canadian flag which substitutes the poppy — a symbol of the day in the UK and Canada — for the maple leaf seemed an appropriate graphic.

Second, the fixation on numeric dates such as 11-11-11 suggests our passion for order; our passion for symmetry.  I’ve written before about growing up in a family where we tended to mark the moment when the odometer on the car rolled over to a significant number such as 50,000, or perhaps, as someone might experience today, 111,111.  (We’re in kilometers here so we get to do this more often, except we spell it kilometres.)

We like things that come in boxes we can pile neatly, at least I do, hence my life work has been among books and records and CDs (things which can be stacked, or boxed or displayed in rows) and not clothing or pillows or plush toys (which don’t share the same characteristics).  11-11-11 suggests a formal balance, and it also transcends the Canadian-versus-US difference of going day-month-year (logical; from smallest to largest) rather than month-day-year (logical because it echoes the written form: November 11th, 2011).  However, none of this should be taken to infer that our house is neat or that the desk I’m sitting at right now is not total chaos.

Finally, as a result of both of the above factors, it represents a “special day.”  The days tend to hum along without variance, so setting a day apart to remember the past, or just choosing a unique, once-ever date to celebrate the present breaks up the routine.

But typing that, I’m aware of at least one marginal Christian group that doesn’t permit the celebration of special days such as birthdays, anniversaries, or even Christmas.  I think that’s unfortunate.  Clearly, the Hebrew roots of Christianity point to a people for whom there was an annual cycle to the year beyond the atmospheric changing of the seasons.  Celebrations allow us to measure our days, to know our time for this life is fleeting; but also to enjoy where we’ve been and where God has brought us.

While the calendar dates are somewhat arbitrary, and some cultures ascribe a different year number; still, it’s hard to look at 11-11-11 and not think that there’s something worth giving a moment’s pause to consider that past generations possibly didn’t consider the human race might ever get this far.

At least one other Church/Christianity blogger at Alltop had the same idea.

November 28, 2010

James MacDonald’s “Merry Christmas” Comeback

This was sent out by Walk in the Word to e-mail subscribers this week:

I look forward to having a great time with a new response to ‘Merry Christmas’ or ‘Happy Holidays.’ When people say that to me, I will answer, “It’s a boy!”

You should try it out. These three words will help you point to Jesus and lead you into some great conversations with both believers and non-believers.

It’s so easy to forget that Christmas is about the fulfillment of prophecy: “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given” (Isaiah 9:6). It’s a boy!

And the miracle of a virgin birth: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel (which means, God with us)” (Matthew 1:23). It’s a boy!

And the mission accomplished by this baby: “She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). It’s a boy!

Why do I like this response so much? It’s God’s answer for the universal problem of sin in the world. It’s what makes it possible for me to look forward to eternal life. It’s what gives me the peace and joy so I can have a Merry Christmas. It’s a boy!

So try this response. It’s just one way to stay focused on the real meaning of Christmas.

~James MacDonald

October 31, 2008

But Will Google Have a Graphic for All Saints Day?

Filed under: Christianity, Church — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 11:43 am

Probably not.  Christian special days usually don’t rate the same attention.   But I’ll be happy to be proved wrong tomorrow morning.    All Saints Day is November 1st; the day after Halloween.

Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about it:

The Western Christian holiday of All Saints Day falls on November 1, followed by All Souls’ Day on November 2, and is a Holy Day of Obligation in the Latin Rite Roman Catholic Church.

The origin of the festival of All Saints as celebrated in the West dates to May 13, 609 or 610, when Pope Boniface IV consecrated the Pantheon at Rome to the Blessed Virgin and all the martyrs; the feast of the dedicatio Sanctae Mariae ad Martyres has been celebrated at Rome ever since. The chosen day, May 13, was a pagan observation of great antiquity, the culmination of three days of the Feast of the Lemures, in which the malevolent and restless spirits of the dead were propitiated. Medieval liturgiologists based the idea that this Lemuria festival was the origin of that of All Saints on their identical dates and on the similar theme of “all the dead”.[citation needed]

The feast of All Saints, on its current date, is traced to the foundation by Pope Gregory III (731–741) of an oratory in St. Peter’s for the relics “of the holy apostles and of all saints, martyrs and confessors, of all the just made perfect who are at rest throughout the world”, with the day moved to November 1.[5]

This usually fell within a few weeks of the Celtic holiday of Samhain, which had a theme similar to that of Lemuria, but which was also a harvest festival. The Irish, whose holiday Samhain had been, did not celebrate All Hallows Day on this November 1 date, as extant historical documents attest that the celebration in Ireland took place in the spring: “…the Felire of Oengus and the ‘Martyrology of Tallaght’ prove that the early medieval churches [in Ireland] celebrated the feast of All Saints on April 20.”[6]

A November festival of all the saints was already widely celebrated on November 1 in the days of Charlemagne. It was made a day of obligation throughout the Frankish empire in 835, by a decree of Louis the Pious, issued “at the instance of Pope Gregory IV and with the assent of all the bishops”, which confirmed its celebration on November 1. The octave was added by Pope Sixtus IV (1471—1484).[3]

The festival was retained after the reformation in the calendar of the Church of England and in many Lutheran churches. In the Lutheran churches, such as the Church of Sweden, it assumes a role of general commemoration of the dead. In the Swedish calendar, the observance takes place on the Saturday between October 31 and November 6. In many Lutheran Churches, it is moved to the first Sunday of November. It is also celebrated by other Protestants of the English tradition, such as the United Church of Canada and the Wesleyan Church. [1]

In the United Methodist Church, All Saint’s Day is on the first Sunday in November. It is held to remember all those that have passed away from the local church congregation. A candle is lit by the Acolyte as each person’s name is called out. Then, a liturgical prayer is offered for each soul in Heaven

Read the full Wikipedia article here.

>>>UPDATE:  The blog, Slice of Laodacia also had an All Saints Day post which contains ALL ELEVEN VERSES to the song, “For All The Saints.”   This paragraph was its link, but then that blog died, so in 2010, I posted them myself, as you can read here.

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