Soul Mates?

Do you remember those awesome Evangelical 90’s/ early 2000’s where Jesus was kind of like our boyfriend and we all kissed dating good-bye because we just knew that God was going to bring us THE ONE and then life would be awesome? And THE ONE would most likely be a worship minister, or at the very least a youth pastor, and we would have to be in college when we would meet at some sort of rally to save children from disease or something. We would know that he was THE ONE because of his plethora of WWJD bracelets and because (duh) he had also kissed dating goodbye and was waiting for me, strumming Chris Tomlin songs on his guitar as he stared into whatever campfire was nearby. We would get married and it would be awesome FOREVER. If you were like me, in devote preparation for this moment, you wrote letters to your future spouse, preferably in a leather bound journal dotted with your overwhelmed tears. Yes, I actually did that. Suffice to say that I found this journal over Christmas break and it was so embarrassingly awful and emotional that I couldn’t even read it out-loud to James because I was crying from laughing so hard.

But then my theologian biblical scholar father shattered my dreams by informing me that God doesn’t have a husband for me, doesn’t have a plan for who I marry. NOT TRUE I scolded him, attacking him with the full force of Jeremiah 29:11 that God “knows the plans he has for me, plans to prosper me and not to harm me, plans to give me a hope and a future,” and obviously that means a hott Christian husband because God “delights in giving me the desires of my heart.”  He slammed through my horrible (yet popular) biblical abuse by reminding me that the first verse applied to the people of Israel in regards to a specific time and just didn’t even dignify my horrible abuse of the second verse with a rebuttal. Nope, he said, a husband is not only not a biblical promise, it is also not a specific element of God’s “plan for my life.” God’s plan is for us to be made more holy, more like Christ… not marry a certain person. (This advice was also used when I asked what college God wanted me to go to, accompanied I think by, “God doesn’t want you to be an idiot, so go somewhere you will learn.” )

It’s not very often that I read something on the Internet about marriage that makes me want to stand up and cheer. I especially surprised when it comes from a person who has been married for a sum total of one year. But this piece by Hannah is brilliant and says so much of what I’ve been learning about marriage for the past thirty-three years.

KT Tunstall covers Don Henley’s ‘Boys of Summer’

There are literally dozens of cover versions of this song, and very few of them come anywhere near the power of Don Henley’s original. The most successful attempts, in my view, are the ones that don’t try to imitate Henley (hello, The Ataris!), but try to do something recognizably different, something that doesn’t immediately recall that memorable original. I think this one by K.T. Tunstall is one of the best.

KT TUNSTALL – THE BOYS OF SUMMER from The Old Vinyl Factory Sessions on Vimeo.

Honorable mention to Show of Hands‘ version.

Texts of Terror – UPDATED

Roger Olson’s blog is one of my favourites. He writes from a moderate evangelical viewpoint, is a first-class theologian, and he makes me think. And now he’s taking on the ‘texts of terror’:

The phrase “texts of terror” usually refers to stories in the historical books of the Hebrew Bible that describe God as commanding his people to slaughter groups of men, women and children and “show them no mercy” (to quote on such command).

Here I will lay out all the theistic approaches to interpreting these texts I am aware of. Every “other” approach I know about seems to me to fall under one of these—as a version of it. You may be aware of others. Feel free to post them here.

As you can see, in my opinion, all have serious problems. This is almost certainly a question that will have to wait for answer until paradise or the eschaton.

If you have ever struggled with these texts. I strongly recommend that you read Roger’s whole post. Warning: he will not give you easy answers. Every approach he mentions has its strengths and weaknesses. But he will make you think, and that’s always good.

UPDATE: Please do read the comments to this post on Roger’s blog, and especially his replies, some of which are real gems. Here’s his answer to a question about what he actually teaches his students on this issue:

I offer them all options and their strengths and weaknesses and tell them I willingly await the eschaton for the definite answer to this and many other seemingly insoluble problems of theology. I make no secret of the fact that I think much theology is simply far too speculative. We need to label our speculations just that–speculation. My problem with many people who claim to have a definite answer to this and many other problems that have plagued theology for centuries is that they don’t admit the problems their views have and that their answers contain elements of speculation.

There are some views I cannot personally accept. I’m more than willing to tell students that. One is that the God of Jesus Christ really willed and commanded the merciless slaughter of thousands upon thousands of innocent children in ethnic cleansing “holy wars.” I don’t consider my rejection of that belief speculation because of my firm commitment to Jesus Christ as the full revelation of the character of God. People who claim to believe that God literally commanded ethnic cleansing in Israel’s history are, in my opinion, choosing to believe that and not to believe that Jesus is the full revelation of God’s character. They accuse me of not believing portions of the Bible; I accuse them of the same.

Places I’ve lived

I was born in Leicester, England, in 1958. When I was very small we lived in Woodland Road; we lived on the corner at number 1, and then a bit later we moved next door to number 3. My Taylor grandparents lived across the road at number 8, and my great-grandpa Sam Reynolds lived at number 20. Here’s a recent shot of Woodland Road, taken in December 2011. When I lived there no one had a car.


This is the house we lived in, at number 3 (with the white wall):


In 1965 my Dad was ordained, and we moved out to Leicester Forest East where he served for a couple of years as a curate (assistant minister). Here’s the street we lived on, Kirloe Avenue:


In September 1967 we left England and went all the way to the wilds of the Canadian Arctic, where my Dad served for one year as missionary in charge of St. George’s Anglican Mission, Cambridge Bay. When we lived there it was a community of about 600 people. Today it is much bigger. Here’s a recent shot.


We returned to England in October of 1968, and my Dad served his second curacy at St. Thomas’ Church, Lytham St. Anne’s, Lancashire. Here’s an old photo from 1968 of St. Anne’s pier; that was about the time we lived there.


We lived in Lightburne Avenue, in a house a bit like this (we were at number 16; this is next door, at number 18):


In December 1969 we settled down for a few years, as my Dad was appointed vicar of St. Leonard’s, Southminster, Essex; the next six years were very happy ones for me, as I made good friends, learned to play guitar, and became a committed Christian. Here’s a recent picture of Burnham Road in Southminster, looking north toward the High Street:


When we first moved to Southminster we lived in a big old vicarage dating back to the 18th century; it was set in the middle of a field (nowadays it is totally surrounded by houses). Here it is:

87 Hol 29

After a few months, however, we moved into a brand new vicarage where we lived for the next five years or so, from 1970-75. This is a photo of that vicarage taken in 1987 (these days it’s surrounded by houses too!):

87 Hol 30

In December 1975 we were on the move again, as my Dad accepted an appointment as rector of St. Alban’s Anglican Church, Ashcroft, B.C. This picture of the rectory (with Dad and Mum and me) was taken in 1977 I believe.


I left home in September of 1976 and spent the next two years at the Church Army Training College, 397 Brunswick Avenue, Toronto.

Fall 77 40

After I finished my training in 1978 I was posted to Angus, Ontario where I spent a year trying to plant a church (a job, alas, I’d never been trained to do!). I don’t have a photo of the tiny rented house I lived in, but here’s an aerial view of the town.


While I was there I met a wonderful young woman, and in October 1979 we were married. A week later we packed our VW Beetle and drove west to Arborfield, Saskatchewan, where I spent the next five years serving the Anglican churches and communities of Arborfield, Red Earth, and Shoal Lake. Here’s a shot of Arborfield, taken from the west. You see the grain elevator? That’s where the town is:


My normal Sunday in my Arborfield days included three services and 150 miles of driving, about half of it in gravel. Here’s the little church at the Red Earth First Nation (which has since been replaced):


And here’s the house we lived in, in Arborfield:

Arborfield 1

In August of 1984, after five years in Arborfield, Marci and I headed north to the Arctic with the two children who had been born to us in Saskatchewan, Sarah and Matthew. We spent four years, 1984-88, in Aklavik in the Mackenzie Delta. Here’s Aklavik:


And here’s the church and mission house:


In the summer of 1988 we (the four of us, plus Jacqui who had been born while we lived in Aklavik) moved even further north, to Holman (now called Ulukhaktok), where I believe I was the third most northerly Anglican minister in the world. Here’s Holman:


And here’s our mission house:

Mission House

In the summer of 1991, after seven years in the Arctic, the six of us (Nick had been born while we lived in Holman) moved to Valleyview, Alberta, where for the next eight and a half years I would be the rector of the Anglican churches in Valleyview, Fox Creek, Goodwin, and New Fish Creek.  More long Sunday drives (it’s 50 miles from Valleyview to Fox Creek, and 32 from Valleyview to Goodwin)! Here’s our rectory in Valleyview:


And here’s St. Anne’s Church, right beside the rectory:


We lived in Valleyview from September 1991 to January 2000, when we made our final move (to date!) to the city of Edmonton, where I became the rector of St. Margaret’s Church. We have now lived here for thirteen and a half years. I don’t appear to have a good photo of our house, but here’s the church:


And here’s a nice shot of our city centre skyline (several miles from where we live!):