Saturday, January 29, 2005

Tomorrow is the election in Iraq. Let's all pray for the best.
I dreamt that I went to hell in an airplane, along with some other people. It looked like any other place, house lined streets, with trees and cars. The demons bore a likeness to Jay and Silent Bob, and were quite civil. Satan was upstairs reading a book, and I never saw him, but I heard him. He was polite and had many requests of me, bad things that I would never do or say, and when I refused to do them he showed me visions of Abu, dead at the side of the road. I was seriously considering telling him to kiss my ass when I woke up in a state of bewilderment.

Abu was alive and well, and came to snuggle up with me as I gradually woke up, wondering where such a dream would come from. Did I need a new pillow? Was it time to wash my bedding? Am I eating too many hot dogs? Drinking too much pepsi?

Satan can't kill my dog..... can he?

Dreams are so weird, aren't they? I dream so seldom that when I remember one, I take note. That's not to say I'm reading any meaning into this dream. I'm just saying that it was long enough, and strange enough, and cohesive enough that I woke up and thought about it, and remembered things that happened as I slept, getting into the plane, and then stepping off the plane into a dark cavernous place, full of smoke and towers and frightening creatures, and the gate that led to a place that didn't seem half bad. There was a soft, nagging, underhanded evil that sought to erode my integrity and change me into something less than what I am.

I went through my morning routines with the memory of Abu's black shaggy corpse strewn over a snowdrift and wondered to myself, what would I sacrifice to avoid ever having to see that again? What would I compromise to protect her? She's only a dog. What about my brother or sister or mother? What about any one of the people that I love..... How far would I go to keep them safe?

In high school I attended a Christian Ethics class where we discussed the question of right and wrong in the context of seemingly impossible circumstances. Like, if your friend is trapped in a burning car and can't be saved, and you shoot him to save him from the torture of burning to death..... have you committed murder?? Did you sin? And what if you're pregnant, and due to complications you'll die with the child, unless you get an abortion, which is your only chance of surviving. What if that was your wife? Do you sign for the abortion?? Is it wrong?

I think it's pointless to debate situational ethics, and that's not what I'm getting at. I'm not getting at anything, really, but I'm thinking about sneaky evil and a world full of manipulation and diabolical schemes. I see it all around me, and sometimes it's frightening, because I know that I'm vulnerable and I don't always know what's right. All I have is a relationship with a Being who, let's face it, sometimes seems more imaginary than real, and a big book full of parables and "apparent" contradictions, compiled by fallible humans, which is supposed to be the basis of my faith.

I wonder sometimes if everything I think I know is just piss in the wind, and I wonder how I'll escape the planet with my mind and soul intact. Sometimes I wonder if Christians in general aren't missing some huge detail that would make everything make sense..... cuz sometimes, Christianity just doesn't make sense. There's a big hole in the middle of our theology, and it leaves people striving and angry and tired. We've got ourselves the makings of our very own separate civilization, complete with mythology, religion, language, and written records. We're all about turning Egyptians into Israelites while sometimes I think people don't even know who they are or what they believe.

I'm not saying what you think I'm saying, and that is, that I'm losing faith in my.... faith. On the contrary, God takes on shape and color each day that I seek Him, and Jesus feels closer and less like a cardboard cut-out in a Christian book store lobby. But the closer They come to me, the more glaringly obvious my weaknesses and shortcomings become, the harder it becomes to hide the chasms in my faith where the human examples I've been given have fallen short.

I suppose this is why the topic of judgement and religion has been so sensitive to me. If I ever understood that I am not righteous, it's now. If ever I was desperate for wisdom and understanding, if ever I needed to see God, to peek inside His mind and catch a glimpse of what this is supposed to look like....

Cuz I don't really think very many people have a clue. I know that somewhere in the midst of all our religion, there is truth, and somewhere in all our speculation, there is wisdom.

The Christians and the Pagans, by Dar Williams, performed by Ani Difranco

Thursday, January 27, 2005

In three days, Iraq will be having what they are calling an election. It will supposedly wrap up the American occupation by granting Iraq a democratic government.

Back in my bible school days, I attended a class called cross cultural ministry, where we learned about the specific challenges involved with relating to people in other countries or from different cultures. We learned to approach other cultures as students, instead of teachers. Rather than teaching others the correct way to be, we need to always aspire to understand the paradigms that influence them. Only in doing so will we develop beneficial relationships.

I've discovered in my subsequent trips to Africa that everything I learned in that class was true, but I learned some other things too, and I learned them better than in any classroom. Here's what I learned: "I DON'T KNOW." More specifically, I do not know what I am seeing, I don't know what I'm hearing, I don't understand what I'm saying, and I don't know where I'm going. Which also goes to show that I don't know what action to take, I don't know what's best, and I don't know how it will affect the people involved.

You can't take something from your culture and just transplant it in someone else's life. Doing so can have dire consequences. People respond in different ways. compliments in one place are insults in another. Acceptable behaviour is blasphemy. It's important to realize that a different culture is not a wrong culture. Of course issues of morality are always up for debate, but that's not what I'm talking about.

On sunday we will witness the outcome of a vast cross cultural trespass. This is not to say that Iraq cannot be democratic, but it is to say that forcing it on them because you believe it is the correct way to be, is an arrogant way to conduct oneself. As the election draws closer, suspicions are high that it will have detrimental effects on the country. Many people anticipate civil war. After all, why should militant religious factions accept the results of an election forced upon them by an illegal invading force? This isn't the way things are done in Iraq. One example of this lack of understanding can be seen in the fact that the voting is to take place in various schools.

In Canada, we vote in schools. It's safe to vote just about anywhere, and the schools are funded by the government. But in Iraq, bombs are likely to go off just about anywhere, particularly where highly controversial voting is taking place. The schools are having a hard enough time recovering from the war, and to place the schools in harms way like this is putting the education of the nations children at stake. It's completely irrational in an Iraqi context, but over here it makes perfect sense. I'm sure no one asked the Iraqi people where the best place is to vote, but then, it sounds like most of them weren't consulted on the candidates either. Nobody even knows who the candidates are. The candidates won't announce themselves because they're afraid of a bullet in the brain.

Someone needs to inform the perpetrators of this election, that Iraq is a country with a different history, a different culture, and a different people. They have different opinions and different complications and different ways of looking at the world. By the sounds of things, many would appreciate democracy, but not like this. Not under these circumstances, not enforced by gun toting american soldiers, under the threat of suicide bombers, not in exchange for food rations, not in a haze of confusion.

I'm holding my breath until the 30th. As opposed to the war as I am, I hope that some good can somehow come from it, but I'm afraid of the outcome. I doubt that this will be the victory that justifies Bush's invasion-under-false-pretenses. The fruit of deceit and violence is seldom warm and fuzzy.

If you're interested in reading more about the election from an Iraqi perspective:

Secrets in Baghdad... comical and yet.... not
Raed in the Middle... in a historical context
Baghdad Burning... what it's like to be there

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

The republicans have come to Regina and decided that we drive too fast. They want more photo radar just like in winnipeg. If they get their way, I may have to move again.

Life...... is a journey to a destination that cannot be reached alive.

And..... I'm tired. Goodnight.

Monday, January 24, 2005

I got a shiny new answering machine. It's like a comment box on a site that no one reads. It doesn't bother me that the little red light is never blinking when I come home because at least now I don't have to answer the phone.
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