Sunday, May 31, 2009

Baptism Teaser

We had three video cameras rolling, plus an audio recorder, to capture this baptism. I don't have all the footage in hand, yet, so it's going to take me a few days to get around to editing it together. I'm certainly glad that she was keen to have the moment recorded. I'm getting better at aspect of COTM's operation. Anyway, here is a short (15 second) teaser of her getting into the water....

It was a remarkably moving and joyful Pentecost!


Synod 2009

Bp. Nichols--pic by Michael Hudson
Synod was nuts. Fun, but nuts! Got up at 4:30 A.M. on Friday to give me time to pack and to finish the stuff for our workshop. We were a little later leaving from the church than planned, but we still made it to the Synod location (Durham College in Oshawa) before registration closed. As a result, however, I always felt like I was barely keeping with the day's events. Along the way I put down my seersucker jacket on the back of a chair and went back for it there was no sign. Lost and found hadn't received it. Hopefully someone will turn it into the campus security soon. Otherwise, it's a causality of war. Bummer, I love my seersucker suit!

Anyway, I set up a display for the ARC. People seemed to like what they saw and heard about. No word on a grant, yet. Cross your fingers!

Canon Phil Potter--Pic by Michael HudsonPhil Potter came from the U.K. to talk about Fresh Expressions and Missional Church. I was struck that a lot of people in our Diocese hadn't heard of these concepts before. Hopefully this Synod took care of that. We probably spent two-thirds of our time talking about Missional Church and the other third talking about the same-sex blessing issue. We did that (in both cases) using the Indaba process that the Archbishop of Canterbury used at the last Lambeth Conference. So the pattern was gathering as a whole synod (some 600 people?) for worship and singing, bible study, and listening to a talk by the Bishop or Phil Potter. Then we'd go off into smaller Indaba groups of about 40 people to share. Our group was fine, though I did hear that some of the Indaba groups got little uncomfortable when the same sex issue was discussed.

Table discussion--Pic by Michael HudsonYou see, the Bishops are proposing a policy that would create a structure to last in this interim time of uncertainty in the church. They believe the question of whether the church will recognize "gay marriage" is really up to the national church. Yet, in the mean time, there is a need to establish a "generous pastoral response" to gay and lesbian Christians who come to us seeking the blessing of the church. The proposed policy would allow a small number of parishes chosen by the bishop to offer blessings to long-term, committed relationships. No parish and no priest will be required to participate. The bishop will have to give permission for the blessings on a one-by-one basis. The policy would also involve the drafting of guidelines for how that blessing would look, liturgically, but it clearly fill fall short of a "marriage." In addition, a group will be formed to evaluate and oversee the implementation of this policy.

Indaba Group--Pic by Michael HudsonIn our Indaba group of about 40 there were only four people that didn't like the direction the Diocese was heading, but almost of them said that they "could live with" with the policy. I heard that some other groups were more contentious. For the time being, however, nothing changes. This is only a proposal. The vote will come later, probably at the next Synod that gathers at St. Paul's Bloor Street in November.

On Friday afternoon Kerrie and gave our workshop. We had about 30 people in the room. I had a Powerpoint presentation and handouts and posters on the walls and books for people to look at. The hour went quickly, but people seemed to get something out of it. One person told that they found it very "permission giving."

Friday sessions weren't over until 9 p.m. After that many of headed to the campus pub. I brought my bottle of Woodford Reserve Bourbon. The bar didn't seem to mind for the first couple of hours. Eventually the manager did come over and take my booze! She kept it behind the bar until I left. At the pub I had many fine conversations with friends and colleagues. Eventually they closed the bar around 2 A.M. A couple of us went back to a room to keep the party going. I finally went to bed at 4:30 A.M.

I admit I was a little tired when I showed up to morning prayer at 8:30... but at least I was there. Coffee... Coffee... More coffee... More sessions and Indaba groups. The whole thing wrapped up around 3 and we got on the road not long after that. During the conference they had separated the members of the parishes from each other, so it was only in the car ride home that the three of us from Church of The Messiah could talk and share. It seems that people enjoyed themselves and learned some new things.

Back at home I was toast. I had Chinese delivery and watched the recording of the Blue Jays FINALLY winning a game. Went to bed at 6 p.m.--slept until 6 a.m. this morning! Got up, felt great. More in my next post!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Final Preparations for Synod '09

Got up early to drive Betsy to the airport... the Buffalo airport! Left around 8:30. Got there around 11:00. This saves money, but takes time. Got back to the GTA around 1:30. Traffic was slow, but steady through the rain. Betsy will be visiting her sister for a few days.

On the way back I decided to stop by the duty free and pick up a bottle of Bourbon (Woodford Reserve) to consume with my fellow clergy at the Synod (there are usually some good late-night discussion groups). Duty free is a good deal, but unlike crossing from Canada to to the U.S., you have to be out of Canada for at least 48 hours to qualify. But they won't necessarily make you pay the duty, it depends on which customs inspectors you get. So I rolled the dice. As I drove through the checkpoint I got the usual questions. When he asked me what I was bringing back I was honest. He shrugged and handed back my passport saying, "Have a nice day." Sweet. It's great to feel lucky...

Back in my office I finished the exhibit display for the ARC. I also made progress on the workshop presentation that Kerrie and I are giving. I didn't manage to finish the powerpoint, but I can get up super early tomorrow and do that part. It means a long day tomorrow, but that was inevitable. The Candidate for Sunday's full adult immersion baptism came by for a walk-through. She's excited. I'm excited. The congregation is excited. It's not that often that you get to bring someone into the faith like this! She even asked me if she could get a DVD--so naturally I'm going to do my best to record it. it's going to be awesome!

Also had to pick up the LCD projector and drop off the keys with the cat-sitter. Synod is an overnight thing, so I had to arrange for someone to stop in to feed the cats and check the litter. I also started assembling a sort of go-bag for tomorrow. It includes things like a stapler, tape, and other stuff that we might need for the presentation. I'm also taking along my camera bag (to videotape the presentation).

Now I'm just relaxing. The next two days are going to be intense!


For Teenagers--Hugging is the New Hello

The New York Times notes that hugging has become very popular among teenagers in the last couple of years. Whether its girls hugging girls, boys hugging girls, or even boys hugging boys, it has become so popular that many schools have banned it! No one is quite sure why this has become popular, one theory is that children are raised to be more cooperative and social now--less given to cynicism and detachment. Another theory is that counterbalances the facelessness of facebook, twittering, and texting.

I'm a big fan of hugs, but I have a hard time initiating them. Fear of rejection, I guess. I always appreciated that hugs, not handshakes, are the customary greeting at the exchange of the peace at the Masses at Holy Cross. It's sometimes a bit awkward, but I think that's part of the usefulness of the practice: it's training for heavenly places.

Speaking of Holy Cross--I'm redoing their website this summer. That will mean reorganizing the current content as well as adding a bunch of new stuff. I'm particularly looking forward to producing a few short videos. I've been boning up on things like video lighting, editing techniques, sound, and optimizing video encoding. Jack of all trades, me. Funny how I'm happiest when I'm learning new skills.


New Ways to Give Yourself Cancer

Check this out, R.J. Reynolds is test marketing new tobacco products that dissolve in your mouth. No smoke. No spitting. Camel "Orbs" are bead-like droplets of flavored nicotine. "Strips" are like those breath-freshening strips and give a heavy dose of nicotine (much higher than a cigarette) very quickly. "Sticks" are shaped like toothpicks and stretch the high out.

Critics say these candy-like delivery methods are an attempt to appeal to kids, but really it's just a creative solution to the problems of "smoking." Time will tell whether it works, but given the success of tea-bag like "Snus." Will this stuff kill you? Of course it will! Will it make it "easier" for people to get a nicotine high without the problems of secondhand smoking? Of course it will! Who dreams these things up?


Count Down to Synod

Sorry I haven't been posting so much--it's been a crazy busy week getting ready for Synod and dealing with various issues that have come up in the life of COTM. But things seem to be coming together fine. Thursday (err.... today... after I get some sleep) Kerrie and I will finish putting our workshop presentation together for Synod. I'm also meeting with the baptismal candidate I'm baptizing on Sunday for a run-through.

The ARC going to have a display table. Wednesday I finished making the pieces of that--Kerrie and I will put them together today. I will be curious to see what kind of reception to the ARC gets. I haven't heard back about the grant, yet, which honestly makes me nervous. I seriously have a hard time understanding why "they" wouldn't want to give us a grant. This project has enormous potential and is aligned with current Diocesan thinking about the future of children's and youth ministry (see the recent report on youth ministry by Erin Martin, for example). But we'll see.

So Thursday morning I'll drive down to Buffalo to drop off Betsy at the airport (she is flying to North Carolina to see her sister and co. for a few days). Then I'll finish this presentation preparation. The baptismal prep. Then a few errands I need to get done before going to Synod on Friday morning. Crazy, crazy busy!


Monday, May 25, 2009

Sermon - Easter 7 2009

This Sunday I preached about the Gospel call to be "in the world" but not "of the world." That means that Christians are called to be intentionally marginal, occupying a place between this world and the heavenly kingdom. In that sense we are continuing the work of Christ, who also mediated that divide. I argue that virtually is called to live on the edge of life in this way in one part of life or another, it's part of being human, as so we can take comfort and insight from other examples. Poets and teachers also abide in this place of bridging the divide between the collective experience and something they alone have ventured forth to be learn. What is unique about the Christian vocation is that we do this bridging as a holy act that transcends the metaphysical divide between the universe and its creator.

It was a busy Sunday morning for me. Lots of stuff going on right now. I often wish I could be in more than one place at once. I'm really pleased with some of the changes I've seen around here. Lots of warmth and holiness. When asked about his impression, a visitor on Sunday said that it struck him as a very warm and friendly place. Bingo! I want to build this place on love.

Here's the audio...

Here's a direct link to the MP3 file...

*PS for liturgical purists: the still photo I used above is from Palm Sunday, hence the red stole. In the video you'll see I'm wearing the correct color--white.


Saturday, May 23, 2009

Adobe CS4

Today I spent some time in the office answering e-mails, a few phone calls, and I made a pastoral visit.

I can't really talk about the interesting adventure that was that pastoral visit (ever put together shelves on such a visit). So instead I'll talk about the interesting adventure that is the new Adobe CS4 Suite. This is a set of professional-level programmes for producing all kinds of media including websites (Dreamweaver), photos (Photoshop), movies (Premiere Pro), etc. I've been using CS3 for a while, but there are at least three features I found missing, all of which have been resolved with the latest version.

First, the old version of the Adobe Suite did not have the ability to take advantage of the complete power of my workstation (ORAC)--principally in that it didn't take advantage of the 64-bit architecture (though most of the suite was able to use the four-processors simultaneously). The new version makes much more efficient use of the latest processors/operating systems.

Second, I was always frustrated that Premiere Pro Couldn't import the MP4 files from my Flip HD camera. The Flip Cam takes surprisingly good footage considering that it is very small (easily fits in a chest pocket), but I was limited to using the editing software that came with the camera. I had yet to find a good (lossless) way to convert the footage into a format Premiere Pro could work with. So it was good for spontaneous, informal video snapshots, but that was it. Now, however, that problem with CS4 is solved! It has no problem at all taking the footage at 720p and editing it.

Third, here is a feature I didn't know I wanted until someone invented it: speech recognition. Basically, CS4 can create a transcription of the speech in a video that is then searchable as meta-data. Searchable not only from within Premiere Pro, but from within other programmes like Adobe Bridge. Imagine you just shot a three hour interview with two cameras. That's six hours of footage, and you want to find where your subject said something distinctive like, "it was at that moment that I knew that pickles are good in hamburgers." Rather than have to "scrub" (fast forward) through hours of footage, you can simply search through the automatically generated transcript! How cool is that? Here's a demo:

There are lots of other improvements, as well. The media encoder is much improved, especially because you can have it running in the background while you do other work. There are also a lot more pre-sets and options for importing and exporting data. it's all very, very cool.


Thursday, May 21, 2009

Rectors Who Don't Call You Back

So a few weeks ago I was tasked with finding out which churches in this Episcopal Area of the Diocese would be participating in the Back to Church Sunday Programme. This a programme where churches ask their parishioners to invite someone to come to church with them on a particular Sunday (this year: September 27). My task was to find out which churches would be participating and how many pre-printed invitations they would need.

So I dutifully printed off a contact list of some 60 parishes that might participated and started calling them. Mostly I got answering machines--which made for some interesting listening. Most were up to date, but some still had Holy Week information or obviously hadn't been changed since shortly after Christmas ("...and we wish you a happy New Year"). The tone of voice on some messages was extremely off-putting while others made me genuinely want to try their worship. It's a good exercise to remind oneself how important the voicemail message on a church answering machine can be!

I was able to get a hold of most churches within the first week or so. They called me back or I got them on the first try. No problem.

But it's been several weeks now and there are still 13 parishes that haven't called me back. In the mean time I've left two more messages (for a total of three messages in three weeks). You might think that the culprits would be really busy priests without support staff--or bad answering machines. But, in fact, some of the worst offenders are some of the largest churches in the Diocese! I'm leaving messages with real people, but the priests aren't calling me back! I don't think it's a personal thing--I hardly know these folks. Rather, I think it's a good indication of just how focused churches can become on their own little patch of garden. They really can't be bothered talking about anything else (even if it has the potential to benefit their parish). It's all quite fascinating and somewhat annoying! This would be unacceptable in some large corporation--but we expect far less professionalism in the church, I'm afraid!


Wednesday, May 20, 2009


More proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy

It will surprise no one that reads this blog that I'm a fan of hot sauces. I love strong tastes, and have a higher-than-average tolerance for hot foods. So I was delighted to see this article about the ubiquitous Sriracha hot sauce (pronounced "SIR-rotch-ah"). You might think this was a traditonal Thai sauce, but actually it "may be best understood as an American sauce, a polyglot purée with roots in different places and peoples" (source).

Part of what makes Sriracha superior for many applications than, say, Frank's or Tabasco (*) is that it doesn't have the acidity of those vinegar-based hot sauces. It's more a blended chili-garlic-salt kind stuff. Many restaurants, even high-end ones, will use Sriracha in hollandaise or frying-batters.

The NYTimes article interviewed the inventor, Vietnam-born Chinese-American David Tran.
"I made this sauce for the Asian community," Mr. Tran said one recent afternoon, seated at headquarters, near a rooster-shaped crystal sculpture.

"I knew, after the Vietnamese resettled here, that they would want their hot sauce for their pho," a beef broth and noodle soup that is a de facto national dish of Vietnam. "But I wanted something that I could sell to more than just the Vietnamese," he continued.

"After I came to America, after I came to Los Angeles, I remember seeing Heinz 57 ketchup and thinking: ‘The 1984 Olympics are coming. How about I come up with a Tran 84, something I can sell to everyone?’" ...

Multicultural appeal was engineered into the product: the ingredient list on the back of the bottle is written in Vietnamese, Chinese, English, French and Spanish. And serving suggestions include pizzas, hot dogs, hamburgers and, for French speakers, pâtés.(source)

It's a classic immigrant success story, but it's also a fine chili sauce. I particularly like to use it in leftovers and on hot dogs. Here is a recipe that I would like to try...

Pete's Shrimp with Sriracha Cream Sauce over Toast Points

1 Lb Large Shrimp
1 Large Shallot (minced)
4 Cloves Garlic (minced)
1 Large Roasted Red Pepper
¼ cup Diced Sun-dried Tomatoes in Oil
8 oz Stemmed and Sliced Shiitakes
Half & Half or Heavy Cream
Extra Virgin Olive oil
Sriracha Pepper Sauce
Black Pepper
French Baguette

  1. Toast some baguette slices cut on the bias.
  2. Coat a sauté pan or saucepan with olive oil and butter, and sweat the shallot and diced red pepper on low heat. After several minutes, add the minced garlic and season with Kosher salt, fresh ground black pepper, and Sriracha.
  3. Once garlic has been cooked, pour the mixture into cup, add heavy cream and puree with immersion blender. Pour the mixture back into the pan and add diced sun dried tomatoes and additional cream if needed. Sautee mushrooms. Let the sauce reduce for approximately ten minutes on low heat adding mushrooms about halfway through. Sauce should coat the back of a spoon when it is ready.
  4. Sautee shrimp in butter then toss with sauce. Pour over baguette toast points.


* Fun Fact:
Tabasco is included in about two-thirds of all U.S. Military rations (MRE's) and is served in every Officer's Mess in the Marine Corp. Since the Vietnam War the Tabasco company has been producing "unofficial" cookbooks for troops. I don't know if the Canadian military's version of MRE rations (known is IMP's in the Canadian Military) include Tabasco or not). I've eaten MRE's before--they remind me a lot of airplane food.


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Fly Wheel Energy Storage

The engineering problem of energy storage is very important for making things like Electric Cars and efficient green architecture, etc. Normally you immediately think of batteries. The problem, however, is that batteries are heavy, sensitive to temperature, and require maintenance. Enter the concept of Flywheel Energy Storage.

Now, this is actually a very old idea. My dad has several antique industrial/farm engines that are designed to get a large steel flywheel spinning at a target RPM. The engines then only use fuel to maintain that RPM. As the load on the flywheel increases (that is, as energy is taken out of the wheel) the engine kicks in to compensate. It's a very efficient, simple system.

Now, flash forward to 2009 and the need to be able to store large amounts of energy. Say you need to provide an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) to a hospital or data centre. You might immediately imagine a large diesel engine hooked up to a generator, and then a bunch of (DC) batteries that provide electrical power while the engine gets up to speed in the event of a power failure. But in larger applications (say, when you need to provide 4 Megawatts!), the batteries necessary take up far more room and require much more maintenance than a comparable flywheel system.

So here is a real-world example, the Hitec UPS...

Note how there are actually two different fly wheels going, one that maintains a constant RPM (and is connected to the generator) and one that spins three times faster to store energy necessary to keep the other rotor spinning when no new energy is being put into the system (in other words, in the time between loss of power and the diesel engine firing up).

Another real-world application--transient energy. Imagine that you need to produce brief, extremely high electrical currents for testing circuit breakers. Simply wiring these into the grid and shorting them out would cause a great deal of stress on the utility system. Storing the energy onsite in batteries would take a lot of space and hassle. Instead, you could have a giant flywheel with a motor on one side and a generator on the other. The motor may take several minutes to spin up the fly wheel, but then the energy could be released on the other side in a fraction of a second--effectively making the flywheel into a capacitor.

Can it be used in a house? Sure. Electricity generated from say, photocells, would be used to spin up a flywheel. Then that energy could be drawn off to run the house electricity. Can it be use in a car? Yes. There was at least one proof-of-concept type vehicle made with a drivetrain that used a device like this. And it has been used in race cars to recover energy from breaking. But one of the key issues to be resolved in the gyroscopic effects of having such a large, spinning mass!

Cool, heh?


Monday, May 18, 2009

General Tso's Chicken Recipe 3

I made General Tso's chicken. A different recipe than last time. It turned out pretty well. Here is the new recipe--my favourite so far...

General Tso's Chicken Recipe Number 3

3 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into chunks
2 cups green onions, sliced
8 small dried chilies, seeds removed (bird pepper or thai chilies are good)
1 head chopped broccoli
--Cornstarch slurry--
1/4 cup soy sauce, low sodium preferred
1 egg, beaten
1 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh garlic, minced
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup sherry wine or white wine
14 1/2 ounces chicken broth (a can)
  1. Place sauce ingredients in a quart jar with a lid and shake to mix. If you make this ahead of time just refrigerate until needed, shaking it again when you are ready to use it. This also keeps your dirty dishes down.
  2. Mix cornstarch slurry in a large bowl- the mixture will be strange but trust me it works. It will be VERY thick almost paste like.
  3. Add chicken pieces to coat. Using a fork remove ONE chicken piece at a time and let the excess mixture drip off. YES even though the mixture has a weird consistency it will not stick like paste and the excess will drip off.
  4. Add chicken to the hot (350 degree) oil and fry until crispy. Only cook 7 or 8 chicken pieces at a time. You do not want to raise the temp of the oil by cooking too many at a time. You can use a simple cooking or candy thermometer to judge the temp of the oil.
  5. Drain on paper towels. Keep warm- I just put them in the oven with the oven off. Repeating until all chicken is fried.
  6. In a separate wok or large skillet add a small amount of oil and heat to 400 degrees. Again, a candy thermometer works great. You can fry all the chicken, drain the oil to the desired amount and use the same pan if you like.
  7. Add green onions, hot peppers, and broccoli and stir fry about 30 seconds to one minute.
  8. Stir sauce mixture, and then add to pan with onions and peppers, cook until thick. If it gets too thick, add a little water. The thickness of the sauce should be similar to what you get when ordering this at a restaurant.
  9. Add chicken to sauce in wok, and cook until all is hot and bubbly. The quicker this is done the crispier the chicken stays.
  10. Serve over rice.

(slightly modified from this source)

The sauce is particularly close to what you might get in a restaurant, though I found myself wishing I had added more chili and more sugar and had less sauce per the amount of other ingredients. I'll keep experimenting.


Sunday, May 17, 2009

Coming Home

I'm tired. it was good to spend some time with my sister and dad but I'm anxious to get home. Unfortunately, this turned out to be a very busy time at COTM so I've got a lot to do when I get home. Thank God my Wardens and Staff are so capable.

I'll be curious about the feedback from the NRA connection. As a parish priest I always have to be careful about what I reveal about myself, as people make a lot of assumptions about how I should act or believe. I've been screamed at on the TTC Subway merely for being an Anglican Priest, even! To tell the truth, it makes me not want to wear my collar around when I'm aware that at any moment I might be verbally attacked. One time an Anglican priest I know was harassed by a woman in an airport who assumed he was Roman Catholic. When she had finished dressing him down for not ordaining women, he said calmly, "Are you finished?"
"Then I should tell you that I'm not Roman Catholic, I'm Anglican. We do ordain women."
"I've made a terrible mistake, haven't I?"
"I should go away and sit down, shouldn't I?"
"Yes, I think that would be best."

I'm not ashamed of my sister or what she does. And if people want to disagree with me about the rightness of her cause, that's fine. I'm used to holding a lot of opinions that other people disagree with. Even something as simple as my belief in God has gotten me into some heated debates! I've actually taken about as much heat from the "right" from time-to-time as the "left." like I've said, I really have a foot in each world.

I think that this situation will also reveal something of the difference between American and Canadian Culture. Not much I can say about that except to accept that I live in Canada and that's my home! I love Canada, but I'm an American citizen with some of the peculiarities of that culture still embeded in me. Sorry! it is confusing sometimes, I admit, even for me. Living trans-culturally isn't always easy.

So if my time at the NRA convention bothers you, I'm sorry you feel that way. I certainly didn't mean to offend, and I'm not making any statements here about Canada or anything like that. Certainly I'm committed to a peaceful and law-abiding society and believe in a God of Peace and Love. Certainly I think crime and urban violence are terrible things. Sigh. in the end I can only be honest about who I am and where I come from and where I believe I am called to go.


Tay at the NRA

With friends and family at one of the dinners

I haven't been posting much because I'm visiting my dad and my sister at the NRA convention in Phoenix, Arizona, this weekend. My sister works for the NRA, so it made sense for the three of us to meet up here. I know that will seem really strange to my Canadian friends and parishioners, but I'm used to maintaining a foot in two worlds.

It's been a series of events for us. Lots of fundraising breakfasts and lunches and dinners. Perhaps the most impressive was tonight's "Celebration of American Values Banquet." There were 6,000 people at that banquet dinner, which is a record for the state of Arizona. It was completely smooth and even delicious. Very polished fundraising operation! The results... in the last two years they've raised something like $110 Million--and that's over and above regular dues to the Association. That's with an advancement staff of about 30 people. Impressive.

Overall there were about 62,000 people at this convention, which makes it the largest convention in Arizona State history. Some of the events were of a mind-boggling scale. I took some video. Here's an example of me playing with a super-advanced rifle designed for U.S. Special Forces. And no, this rifle is not available for civilians, even in America...

In case you're wondering, all weapons on display on the show floor were rendered inoperable by removing the firing pins. Also, there was no ammo on the show floor. There was a also a very heavy security presence in case someone thought that stealing guns from NRA was a good idea!

Almost everyone we met were friendly and personable. You might not agree with their politics, but you can't deny that they are hard-core patriots that believe in liberty. In fact, a lot of the speeches were less about gun-rights, in particular, than the preservation of personal freedoms, generally.

There were some things that definitely made me squirm in my seat. Some of the criticisms of Obama, for example, I thought were unfair or poorly argued. But when everyone rose to say the Pledge of Allegiance or sing the Star Spangled Banner it was hard not to feel a stirring of the heart.

But what I'll remember most is meeting some really fun people. Two couples in particular that we spent time with at the various receptions and events. Just the nicest people you ever met....


Thursday, May 14, 2009

Bishop's Company Dinner 2009

This evening a healthy contingent of Church of The Messiah folks (10 of us) went to the "Bishop's Company Dinner." This is an annual fundraising event in the Diocese of Toronto that raises money for the relief of clergy in need. Most problems that clergy run into cannot be truly solved with money, but it can certainly help! The dinner is a real mix. There are, of course, the people that give the money. Then there are clergy, of course, that come courtesy of the generosity of those donors! As you might expect, it ends up being a kind of who's who of the Diocese.

We had a blast at our table. I swear we were laughing more than any of the other tables--thank God we were at the edge of the room and not the centre! Of course, I'm an extrovert so I really get off on a room full of people I know! Lots of networking. Lots of laughter. And naturally I used the opportunity to move some of my projects forward! More about that later, perhaps.

Man, I love my peeps.


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Alarms in the Night

Around midnight I was in my robe watching the DVR'd recording of the Toronto Blue Jays demolishing the Yankees when Betsy came down to the room we call "man town." She handed my my cell phone and told me that it had rung. Sure enough, the history showed a 1-800 number that I recognized immediately: it was the Alarm Company. I called back, gave my authorization codes, and they told me that motion detectors had tripped at the church. Security had been dispatched. I told them that I would meet them there.

In a perfect church world the Rector would not be the first number on the alarm-notification list, but since I live less than five minutes by foot, it's simply too practical to avoid. So I put on my pants and walked down the church. When I arrived I could already see that some lights were on that shouldn't be on. The front door was locked, and there was no sign of security, yet. Nonetheless, I walked in. The alarm was armed when I entered, but when I reset it a message flashed that noted the location of the alarms that had been tripped earlier.

What to do. Security wasn't there, yet, but I was anxious to clear the building and curious about what had happened. So I went back outside and walked around the perimeter of the building. Nothing obvious. I went back inside. I figured that the alarm had probably scared the person away, otherwise the internal sensors would have been tripped a second time after the alarm company reset them. I decided to start exploring. To be safer I dialed 911 on my cell phone, but didn't press "send." I simply held the phone behind my back so that I could dial instantly if I did find something unsavory.

I walked down the dark hall toward the sanctuary. I could see that one of the sanctuary lights was on. I could also see light under the door to the sacristy. As I got further down the hallway I could see some plant stalks on the floor--the sort that might be in a dried flower arrangement. I doubt the cleaners would have missed this in their earlier cleaning--probably remnants of whatever/whoever set off the alarm.

In the sactuary--nothing. I checked the spots where someone could hide. nothing. I went into the sacristy. The light was on but I saw no other sign. One of the Chancel Guild had been by in the afternoon, and it's possible she forgot the sacristy lights, and the cleaners could have missed it. But they would not have missed the sacristy lights. Weird.

At that point I decided not to keep creeping around without backup. I waited outside and the security guy came after a few minutes. Together we checked the rest of the church. More signs that someone was there. Theories abound:
  1. Someone with a key, but not an alarm code, entered and set off the alarm. lots of people have keys to the church. however, the first sensor tripped was inside the building, not near the doors.
  2. No key, no code--someone forces there way through a weak door. On our search we found a door that looked like it could be forced open (a reason to call the locksmith in the morning), but again, this doesn't match the sensor record.
  3. Someone could have been hiding in the church until the cleaning staff left (which would have been circa 11:30 or midnight) went home. The person came out, and in doing so set off the alarm. Panicked, they left quickly knocking over the a plant in the sanctuary.

So in the morning I'll call the locksmith and talk to the staff and see what the cleaners may have seen. What an annoyance.


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Sermon - Easter 5 2009

I was very pleased with how my sermon turned out on Sunday. As is often the case, it's hard to predict what the finished product will be like--but this one turned out solid. I used the examples of the shows "Twin Peaks" and "Lost" to discuss how communities and individuals deal with the darkness and evil around and within us. Ultimately I argue that the Christian community strives to be more like "Twin Peaks," with a grounded sense of identity. That rootedness is to be found in Christ.

Sound is better this week, the new mic placement works okay, though it's not ideal. Closer to ideal would perhaps be a shotgun mic aimed at the ambo from 15 or 20 feet away. But I'm certainly learning. I'm not entirely happy with the sound mastering I did in post of this clip, but I don't have time to monkey with any more than I did.

I'm bothered more and more by the light. Far too bright on one side of my face than the other thanks to the sunlight coming in through the windows. What I really need is a light on the other side to act as a fill to balance it. Hopefully before this summer I'll have some extra cash to buy a light that could work in this application as well as for doing the Holy Cross interviews. A cheaper option would be a reflector, but this would look pretty obnoxious in the space! Compromises, compromises.

Here's the audio...

Here's a direct link to the MP3 file...


Success, Happiness, and the Mysterious Whims of Fortune

David Brooks of the NYTimes writes today about the Grant Study, a 70-year longitudinal study into success and happiness. The study tracked 268 of America's most promising young men. It recruited them from the top ranks of Harvard's sophomore class. These were the most well-adjusted, most gifted, most ambitious young men the researches could find. Our expectations would be that they would live up to the promise as their lives unfolded.
Their lives played out in ways that would defy any imagination save Dostoyevsky’s. A third of the men would suffer at least one bout of mental illness. Alcoholism would be a running plague. The most mundane personalities often produced the most solid success. One man couldn’t admit to himself that he was gay until he was in his late 70s. (source)

One of the most gifted of the bunch fell apart in his 30s. One became a major advocate for gay rights after coming out of the closet late in life, only to die at age 64.

Yet some connections to begin to emerge:
The men were able to cope with problems better as they aged. The ones who suffered from depression by 50 were much more likely to die by 63. The men with close relationships with their siblings were much healthier in old age than those without them. (source)

Another thing that emerges is that happiness much less to do with success than it does with relationship. "Happiness is love. Full Stop," he says in this remarkable video:

There is a lot of wisdom is this.


Monday, May 11, 2009

Dog Food versus Pâté

According to a study by the American Association of Wine Economists, most people cannot tell the difference between dog food and pâté. Just goes to show how much of "taste" is really context.

Once I did eat cat food. We give our cats the healthiest stuff we can find, and it says "human grade" right on the label, so I thought, "why not?" Actually, it tastes kind of bland, but not bad...


The Most Awesome Thing You Will See Today...

The most awesome thing you will see today: a car crash at 650 MPH. Mythbusters wanted to see if they could fuse two cars together by colliding them. When a combined speed of 100MPH and the mass of two semi-trucks didn't do the trick, they tried a two-stage rocket sled designed to test missile warheads. The steel sled hit the car at about 650 MPH (nearly 948 ft/sec). This is faster than many bullets. As you can see in the high-speed, the metal seems to become virtually liquid in the grips of so many energy. (Incidentally, it would be nice to know how much the sled weighed so as to be be able to calculate the Kinetic Energy.) Enjoy...


Sunday, May 10, 2009

Cyber Warfare Games, West Point Style

Michael Falco for the New York Times
Recently West Point Cadets participated in a War Game unlike the ones in the past. The cadets were required to establish a secure computer network and execute various tasks with that network. Meanwhile, hackers from the NSA attempted to infiltrate or disrupt the network using the most advanced methods available to them. And I imagine that the NSA has some pretty wicked tricks available to them! Just goes to show how information management is the new battlefield...


The Drake Equation

The Drake Equation:

N is the number of civilizations in our galaxy with which communication might be possible;


R* is the average rate of star formation per year in our galaxy
fp is the fraction of those stars that have planets
ne is the average number of planets that can potentially support life per star that has planets
fℓ is the fraction of the above that actually go on to develop life at some point
fi is the fraction of the above that actually go on to develop intelligent life
fc is the fraction of civilizations that develop a technology that releases detectable signs of their existence into space
L is the length of time such civilizations release detectable signals into space.

The Drake Equation, named after Astrophysicist Dr. Frank Drake, is an argument for the existence of life on other planets with whom we could communicate. The argument is based on probability, essentially arguing that if conscious, communicative life could develop on earth, than the probability is greater than zero that it could have developed elsewhere in our galaxy. While the parameters for the equation are somewhat speculative, we do have plausible value that yield a current estimate of....

N = 7 × 0.5 × 2 × 0.33 × 0.01 × 0.01 × 10000 = 2.31

In other words, the best guess is that there are 2.31 civilizations in our neighbourhood of the universe capable of communication with us. Of course, if you give different values to the parameters you can make this number go up or down, but it can never be reduced to zero because, in fact, there are people to ask the question!

How cool is that?


Saturday, May 9, 2009

Star Trek

I saw the latest Star Trek movie last night with a group of friends. It was good. A worthy addition to the venerable franchise. It had enough edge, but was still respectful of the "rules" of the Star Trek universe.

While we were out in Nathan Philip's Square we noticed that one of the huge Jumbo-Tron screens had an error. Instead of the usual flashy videos advertising stylish clothes or cars, there was a bland Windows XP desktop with a pop-up notification window reading "Windows Genuine Advantage Notification..." In other words, the computer that runs the jumbotron thinks it's copy of Windows is hacked! This was showing when we went into the movie and it was still showing hours later when we got out.

If you think about how many thousands of dollars Microsoft would have paid to have positive message about their product in Canada's version of Times Square, now to think about that being thousands and thousands of dollars worth of negative advertising. Hilarious. Here's the video to prove it:


Thursday, May 7, 2009

Adam Vaughan

Today I had a meeting with Adam Vaughan, the city Councilman who represents the church's Ward. The meeting took place at the City Hall, which is a rather grand building built in the sweeping 70's style that reminded me of either 2001: Space Odyssey or perhaps one of the sets from a James Bond super-villain. I thought it was quite attractive, actually!

One of his assistants met me at a reception desk and we chatted briefly about the building. I noted that all his staff (that I could see), were young women, and I wouldn't be surprised if this position is functionally a kind of internship. His offices were compact, but not overly cluttered. He was finishing up his breakfast as I came in, and he joked about how sometimes he ends up having lunch and dinner together and at home. "Half of politics is explaining why you are ten minutes late to a meeting when the last one was only supposed to be five minutes long," he said throwing away his wrapper. One of his "Constituency Assistants" sat next to me with a steno pad taking notes. The councilman kept his own notes in a small notebook with graph-ruling with a mechanical pencil. He tends to use key phrases organized linearly, sometimes underlining or circling for emphasis.

At first we talked a bit about the church. What kind of people come to Messiah and what ways we serve the community around us. Then I asked him about his perception of the needs of our community. He immediately zoomed in on 250 Davenport, a 25-storey community housing high-rise just Southwest of the Church by a hundred metres. Originally it was to be senior housing, but eventually evolved into general-purpose community housing. They have had problems in the past with drugs, and Adam didn't hesitate to use the language of pathology to describe the effects of that on the health of the building as a whole. He also talked about the loneliness and isolation of many of the people living there, and suggested that it was a place infected by the social disease of poverty.

I told him about how the church once had ministry to the children living there, and he liked the idea of a "movie night" that we have been kicking around here at COTM. Now Adam Vaughan was wearing a button on his lapel that had a one-way sign made into a "two-way" sign, a clear invitation to negotiation? So I told him one concrete way the city could help us make such a thing possible. He said that he might be able to find a little money for what I had in mind in one of the city budgets. Nice to see that give-and-take works well. No guarantees, of course, but he would like to see a proposal from us in writing. After that our short (20 minute) meeting was over.

Once in the outer office I told his Constituency Assistant about some of the problems the church has been having with parking tickets (they are not supposed to ticket outside churches on Sundays) and The Epic Garbage Battle of 2008-09. Many moons ago the city garbage inspectors gave the church daycare a citation for illegally dumping garbage in the park across the street. When we investigated we found video footage of a street person taking our garbage from the back alley and dragging it off (presumably to the park where it ended up). The city prosecutor still wants to take us to court, but next time we are bringing a trial lawyer who is a member of the congregation. He plans to kick ass. "If I lose in garbage court to a city prosecutor I'll never hear the end of it at my firm!"

Incidentally, the garbage thief has been back, and took more than trash. He stole some stuff from the church playground this time. The police have been called.

Anyway, I'm not sure the Councillor's office can make this nuisance go away, but it doesn't hurt to try. Another reason why having this kind of meeting every once in a while with your civic leaders is a good thing! I'm all about the partnerships....


Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Dan Graves on Healing Prayer and Flame Wars

Here is a short video made as part of the National Church's Vision 2019 project. The Rev'd Dan Graves talks briefly about his new book with healing prayers and the work of the Anglican Book Centre is doing that sort of mission. I'm posting it here mostly because I know Dan, but I'll also use it to say that our Diocese needs to be making little videos like this! It also helps set the stage for Dan's latest post.

After the Vision 2019 project was put on the web, Dan noticed that the responses to project were mixed. Many people had constructive comments, but some were downright nasty. In particular, some of the responders resorted to name-calling ("so-called bishops" "apostates" "work of Satan" etc.) He decided to respond in order to defend the Archbishop's gracious effort at working on vision, which naturally started a flame war!

Oh man, flame wars! Who hasn't gotten sucked into one of those? But as Dan points out, the people arguing with him in the back-and-forth comments weren't discussing the underlying issue at all, but rather simply shutting down discussion with inflammatory name-calling that does no one any good. Naturally, his foes considered his call to civility to be an abandonment of the righteous zeal of the truth-tellers.
For the record, at no point did I engage Mr. Wirrell on whether or not I "stand on the Word." My blog posts and sermons are a matter of the public record. Should they choose to judge me they can do so from my published writing, but not from this red herring of a debate. No, Mr. Muirhead, this was not a "classic conversation between two parties of Anglicanism in Canada... one concerned with manners and the other with the Word." There was really no debate here, simply an unwillingness on the part of Mr. Wirrell to use the kind of temperate language that makes debate even possible. I stand by my original point that constructive dialogue is characterized by a graciousness of language. If there are those that count me as condemned or apostate for the use of good manner, then so be it. At least my mother will be proud. (source)

The irony is that this is Dan Graves we are talking about, who is about the most polite priest I know. I wonder whether it is his very politeness, his very interest in real reconciliation, that bothers the zealots who went to go to the mattresses online. Hmmm....


Of Scotch and Video Games

An article I wrote for the Episcopal Café blog just got posted: Facebook, Scotch and Video Games: Balm for the pastor's soul. In it I explore a more modern take on the concept of "leisure" as it applies to ministry-related stress. I'm also arguing for a certain amount of self-forgiveness when it comes to the kind of harmless vices that get you through the day!


Twin Peaks

Special Agent Dale Cooper
Twin Peaks is one of the greatest Television series ever made. For a while it was also one of the most popular until the increasingly stylized storytelling and network-management meddling alienated the masses. I think the series is best understood as a dream about communities and the way individuals struggle within them to deal with darkness encroaching from without and within. Like a dream (itself a common trope within the story), the characters and places are drawn with such vibrancy that they come close to charactiture. In fact, I had to actually turn the saturation levels on my TV down when watching the series on DVD recently!

The basic plot revolves around the murder of a high school prom-queen-type in a rural Washington town near the Canadian border. Due to the connection between this murder and others as well as the limited resources of local law enforcement, FBI agent Dale Cooper is sent to investigate. Almost immediately we begin to discover that underneath a nostalgically sweet and wholesome American town are dark, dark secrets. As the series goes on paranormal aspects of this struggle between light and dark are revealed. The storytelling becomes increasingly poetic and cosmic in scale. The allegorical character of the story becomes somewhat murkier and obscured in the last episodes, but I'm still quite moved by the poignant moments Frost and Lynch were able to create in the midst of all the abstraction.

These are similar themes as those developed in some of David Lynch's movies, especially the earlier Blue Velvet and later Molholland Drive. Dreams inside dreams that often drift from meditating on one poignant moment to another. Yet the total effect in a film like Blue Velvet is stunning. Molholland Drive was a bit harder to achieve satisfaction from, but rewards investigation with a later "a-ha" moment. I only "got" that movie after reading an article online that translated Lynch-into-English, but I'm glad I did.

One of the reasons Twin Peaks had such a cultish following was the compelling quirkiness of the world and characters they created. Dale Cooper is a loveable odd-ball--unquestionably competent yet also weird. I think he foreshadows some other geek-heroes of pop-culture by several years. Watching the series again for the first time in many years, I recall that I've actually modeled some of Cooper's mannerisms--like the way he gives an over-earnest thumbs-up sign.

Incidentally, shows like Lost have Twin Peaks DNA. The creators of Lost often refer to Twin Peaks. I remember reading one article about their conviction that Twin Peaks really ran into trouble because it revealed the answer to the central mystery ("Who killed Laura Palmer") too soon. That turned out to be a ratings ploy by the network that backfired. The creative team behind Lost has apparently used this as argument to win greater freedom from network control!

But besides the fact that they are both intricate, serialized mysteries, with cultish-following, there are important similarities, too. Note the large, ensemble casts, exotic setting, and the encroachment supernatural elements. But whereas the spiritual temperature of Twin Peaks was set by the cool, dark and foreboding woods, the temperature of Lost is set by the alternating feelings of orientation/disorientation felt by character and audience alike. Lost is about being, well, "Lost." Twin Peaks was about confronting darkness and how that encounter changes us. It's telling that the certainty felt by the John Locke character from Lost (often referred to as "faith" within the show's dialog) is rare in that series. But in Twin Peaks almost all the characters are oriented to place and themselves at all times--indeed, many give touching soliloquies about their highest aspirations and beliefs. Perhaps this difference says something about our changing spiritual climate, the grand and extraverted aspirations and vision of the early 90's replaced with the fear and isolation of the end of this decade.

One feels that every character in Lost, even the coupled ones, are profoundly lonely. In Twin Peaks many characters are brokenhearted, but there are also many examples of deep love and friendship (between Agent Cooper and Sheriff Truman, for example). Another compelling love is between Cooper and Annie Blackburn (played remarkably well by Heather Graham). In the Twin Peaks universe, real connections between people are indeed possible, and may offer the only possible response to the existential darkness that creeps into each episode as the sun goes down and the shadows lengthen (each episode takes place over one day). I think it was this vision of the moral universe that I found most compelling when I saw the show for the first time in junior-high and high-school. I enjoy Lost, but it doesn't resonate for me like the coffee-and-pine world of Twin Peaks. At the end of the day Lost leaves me feeling selfish and isolated, whereas Twin Peaks made we want to hug a tree or talk to a log or compliment someone for their coffee and pie.


Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Deep Dale

My great-grandfather built a house in Berkshire Valley, New Jersey, using recycled timber from a barn that once stood on that property. He raised chickens and goats and also worked as switchman at the nearby railroad branch. He was something of a gentleman farmer and went to extravagant lengths to have enough ice in the summer (buried in saw dust in the barn) to have ice cream! He was curious by temperament, and would have students from an agricultural science school come to the farm to experiment with various breeds of chickens. Unfortunately, he died when my grandmother was a girl, but she remembered enough of him to tell me once that I reminded her of him. It was a fine compliment that I've always treasured.

"Deep Dale," the house he built, is now my mother's. Betsy and I gave her this sign for Christmas. Every time I go home one of my first rituals is to open up the fridge, as though to make sure we have enough food! I think this dates back to my high school days when I was doing several sports and ate thousands and thousands of calories a day!


Monday, May 4, 2009

Sermon - Easter 4 2009

Another short homily. Mainly I was speaking to the sense in which ministry (of all the baptized) is as much about the mundane and ordinary as it is about the extraordinary and interesting. It seemed like a useful point to make in response to the "Good Shepherd" texts of the morning.

Some tech notes of the video. Audio is not as good as normal because I forgot to start the little digital audio recorder! So rather than having a very nice little stereo microphone two feet from my mouth (and "off-axis"), the only thing I had to work with was on the camera 45 feet away. The HV20 has only an average microphone built-in, and I haven't yet invested in an external solution besides my little M-Audio recorder (which does a fine job when I remember to turn it on). So I did mess around with the audio in Soundbooth, but there is only so much you can do with bad mic/placement combo!

Notice that versus some of the other videos I have taken from this angle, this one is a bit sharper and less "over-zoomed." That's because I added a "tele-converter" lens (Canon TL-H43) to the camera. It simply screws into the front and adds a 1.7X magnification to the zoom. I added a UV/Haze filter as well, which might make a slightly better image, also.

I've been thinking a lot about lighting. You can learn a lot by studing the so-called Three-Point Lighting that forms the basic paradigm. Even better than the Wikipedia article is the tutorial on the Lowell website--it includes a "simulator" to demonstrate how placement of the three classic lights (Key, Fill, and Back) changes the composition. They also have much more advanced lessons in lighting for interviews, etc.

In my setup, the light coming in from the video is effectively the key light. The ambient light (maybe 50% reflected sun and 50% Tungsten bulbs in the ceiling) acts as the fill. The colour temperature difference between the two sources does tend to throw off the white balance a little. On "Auto White Balance" the camera picks a middle between the "cold" tungsten and "warm" sun light, and the result is that some of white highlights (being lit by the sun) come out with a bluish tint. Adjusting the whole image to shift warmer would mean making the areas getting more fill light (from the lights above) too orange. Luckily, in Premiere Pro you can adjust colour balance on mid tones and highlights separately, which solves this problem rather neatly.

Another issue with this natural lighting, however, is exposure. Basically, the ratio of relative brightness between what is striking the window-side of my face versus the other side is greater than would be desirable in this shot. I could fix that with a light shining from the other side, but I don't have such a light! The other possibility would be to use a reflector, but that would be obnoxious. So what ends up happening is that white on my vestments gets overexposed. But, hey, I can live with that!

Is this sort of thing important for a priest to know? Yes, if that priest wants to use multimedia to grow the church!

Here's the audio...

Here's a direct link to the MP3 file...


Sunday, May 3, 2009

A Tired Tay

When I miss a few days blogging it's a good bet I've been not only busy, but busy with things I can't really blog about because their are either too boring or too confidential. That has been the case for the past several days. Little of which I can talk about openly.

But I can say that today went very well. Solid attendance and a good spirit. One of our parishioners told me after the service that more and more it seems like the church and I are falling into synch. I would agree--there is a definite coming together that happens. I notice that people feel more comfortable with me and vice-a-versa! We definitely have some momentum going and that has everyone feeling good.

Which is not to say that I'm not challenging them. Today, for instance, we had to hold a special Vestry to authorize the Wardens to open a Line of Credit with the bank to make up for an expected shortfall in operating capital. In other words, we are about to spend more than we are taking in. This is not unanticipated, and we expect to make up the difference with the Stewardship campaign this spring and summer. But in the meantime we don't want to spend down the endowment, so the alternative is to take a loan against the Rectory (which the church holds free and clear).

Establishing such a line-of-credit turns out to be a real hassle. Obviously, the Diocese wants to discourage this sort of thing, so we have to pass a Vestry motion, get the Bishop's permission, and apply for approval with several Diocesan Boards! It's a pain--but it's the right move from a ministry point of view, as most of this deficit is the result of missional spending (especially the Director of Children's and Youth Ministry). They say money follows vision, and certainly everyone who talks about revitalizing parishes speak of the need to make this kind of move. As one person wrote recently, "Stingy parishes don't grow."

So having a special vestry meeting (during announcements, no less) today probably raised the level of anxiety a bit for people, but that's okay. It's a challenge for people to fund the vision that they endorsed at Vestry a few months ago!

Also, remember how I was leaving it to the Holy Spirit to give me another Warden? Someone has stepped up and expressed interest. I'm gathering with the other Wardens and this person next Sunday to pray about it together. Assuming that lightening doesn't fall from the sky, we'll have our third Warden. Whew!

The ARC group met on Friday to look at the physical space at St. John's York Mills we will be using. It's perfect! Big and well suited. It's on the second floor but there is elevator access. We'll need some money for paint and shelves, but that's what grants are for! we are all really psyched about how this project is developing.

I can now reveal that one of my parishioners, who comes to the Saturday afternoon service, has expressed a desire to be baptized. We've set Pentecost as the date. It's going to be a rocking service with extra (rock) musicians and, now, an adult baptism. She is excited by the prospect of full-immersion baptism, which I have never done with an adult. I think it is going to be an incredibly powerful and meaningful way to celebrate the sacrament. Lots of practical issues to solve, but I embrace the challenge.

I've also done a lot of writing in the past few days. My Column for the June Anglican is off to the editor. I was extremely pleased with how it turned out and curious to hear the feedback. I also wrote a piece for The Episcopal Cafe which should be published sometime this week.

After church today I did confirmation prep with the youth group and now I'm just taking a little break. In a few minutes I'll walk down to Trinity to say Mass and then back up to COTM for this evening's big concert. As I write this the choir from Church of the Redeemer and our choir are workshopping. This evening (7pm) they will perform along with the Niagara Vocal Ensemble.

Besides putting on a killer concert, part of the point of this event is to experiment with partnering with Redeemer to host joint events. If it is successful we probably will do similar projects in the future. Indeed, we are going to get a small group of Messiah and Redeemer people together soon to discern possible directions for future shared ministry. These kinds of partnerships are absolutely essential for urban evangelism, IMHO!

So I'm a tired Tay!