Vlog – Let’s Talk “Why”


A few thoughts from our annual general meeting, an interaction I recently had with a recovering drug addict and my dad’s 80th birthday.  Trust me, it all makes sense as I walk you through it.

Spoiler alert – it’s all about finding your “why”

Enjoy – Lauren

5 Signs of Dehydration


And a not so expert opinion on what do about it

I did it!

This past Monday I completed my very first Olympic Triathlon!  I did it in the gym (not in competition) because it’s January and nobody wants to do an open water swim in Ottawa this time of year.  But I did the whole distance for the first time, in the pool, on a stationary bike and treadmill, so it counts.

Photographic proof of my time – I really did it!

My total time of 3:24:13 isn’t going to put the fear of God in any competitive triathletes but that’s not the point.  The point is I did it and now that I have established a base line, I can only get better from here.

After I got home, I posted a video about my experience and some of my immediate impressions, just link to my last post here to view.  One of the things I noticed was that I had a pretty persistent headache and some other odd bodily sensations for the rest of the day.   My immediate thought was general fatigue but then I remembered that I tend to run a low-grade headache pretty much all the time, so I did a little bit of research and found that the more likely culprit for most of my symptoms is dehydration.

According to my research here are five of the most common signs of dehydration (all of which I displayed in the hours following my triathlon and on a regular basis at other times as well).  For more check out facty.com, a peer reviewed medical information website based in Victoria BC.

1 – Headache

We all know that our bodies are mostly water.  But did you know that a loss of water in your body can lead to a change in the chemical make up of your blood?  This can then cause your brain to shrink and pull away from the skull, triggering the pain receptors in the region.  After strenuous exercise this effect can be amplified.  No wonder I get a headache after just about every 10K run.

2 – Dark Coloured Urine

Healthy urine is mostly clear with a slight yellow tint.  As you lose bodily fluids your urine will turn a darker shade.  Just a 3% reduction will result in a prominent yellow colour, 5% will show a rusty colour, anything approaching orange or red is a sign of severe dehydration and you should seek medical attention immediately.  My urine wasn’t too bad but I have seen some pretty funky shades at other times.

3 – Fatigue

Everyone knows that without the right amount of water you can experience muscle soreness, but general fatigue is also a high risk.  A 10% drop in overall performance, both physical and metal is quite common and reasonable in people dealing with dehydration.  I was in a mental fog for most of the day and made a few silly errors while I tried to get my work done, things like sending documents to the wrong printer, misplacing small items, that type of thing.

4 – Muscle Cramps and Spasms

Every athlete, even weekend warriors like me, knows about the intense pain of a Charlie Horse.  Other less obvious and less painful muscle spasms and minor twitches are also early signs of dehydration.  Sodium and potassium help muscles contract and dehydration can cause an imbalance here which is the real cause of cramps and the dreaded Charlie Horse.  No Charlie Horse this time, thank God, but my legs and arms did twitch a bit off and on throughout the day.

5 – Light-Headedness

One of the reasons I started my triathlon training in the first place was due to a diagnosis of hypertension or high blood pressure.  It’s a well-known fact that regular exercise lowers blood pressure but coupled with the previously mentioned electrolyte imbalance, low blood pressure after intense exercise can result in a light-headed feeling, dizziness and even fainting.  I was slightly light-headed early in the day, but it seemed to abate quickly in my case.

 

So, armed with this knowledge what are some things I can do next time to avoid dehydration?

I should obviously drink more water.  Most experts agree that 64 fluid ounces per day is the goal.  If I get a full glass every 2 hours that should be good.  Most days I’m lucky if I remember to get half that.  But what else should I do to get more fluid in my body and avoid the electrolyte imbalances that cause some of the more painful symptoms of dehydration?  Here are four simple remedies and preventative steps to take to avoid dehydration.

1 – Eat more Fruit

Specifically, watery fruits like melons, bananas and citrus fruits are a good source of not only water but many of the minerals like potassium that are lost during dehydration.  I already tend to eat a banana as my first solid food after a workout anyway, but more fruit can’t hurt.  Watery veggies are also a good idea, cucumbers, celery, tomatoes, etc.

2 – Salt

This may seem counterintuitive since salt is associated with dehydration, but we need salt to regulate the function of our organs and we lose a lot of it when we sweat.  Some athletes drink saltwater, others eat crackers or other salty snacks right after an intense workout.

3 – Yogurt

Another great source of sodium and potassium, yogurt is also very easy to digest and generally won’t upset your stomach.  I felt a bit nauseous after my triathlon, maybe a few mouthfuls of yogurt would have helped.

4 – Epsom Bath

Soaking in Epsom salts has been shown to help the body absorb fluids through the skin.  Epsom salts also contain magnesium which can counteract many of the negative effects of inefficient fluid intake.  Just 10 or 15 minutes in a warm bath of Epsom salts can do wonders in heading off the effects of dehydration after an intense workout.

 

So there you have it, a few common signs of dehydration and how combat them.   The next time I run a triathlon I shouldn’t feel quite as dehydrated afterwards.

The Age of Nonsensical Nonsense and Unfalsifiable Fallacies


I never understood wind.  – Donald J Trump

Wait a minute.  Alternative facts?  Alternative facts are not facts, they are falsehoods! – Chuck Todd, Television Host, “Meet The Press”

That is not only not right; it is not even wrong. – Wolfgang Pauli, Theoretical Physicist

We are living in bizarre times.

In recent history, the last 80-100 years or so, society has made some incredible advancements in the fields of science and medicine.  We have split the atom, escaped gravity and broken the sound barrier.  Everyday at hospitals all over the world we trade our organs for new ones and implant tiny machines inside our bodies to keep them operating long after our ancestors would have simply passed away or lived with chronic annoyances.

We have the technological know how to produce clean energy for billions of people and drive enough agricultural output to feed every human on earth, extend life and maintain the planet.  A journey from one corner of the world to another that used to take several weeks, even months, is now over in a matter of hours.  It seems as though, there is no country or region that is too remote, no physical reality too complex and no disease too mysterious.

Dolly, the first genetic clone of a mammal. “Born” 1996.

I graduated high school in 1991.  Before the internet, biological cloning, electric cars or the construction of the international space station.  Our coat of arms contained a Latin phrase;

Scientia Vincit Omnia – Knowledge Conquers All

Almost 30 years later, it seems to me that the people of my generation, with the help of those that have gone before and are coming after us, have brought humanity to the verge of conquering all that there is to know.

We live in the greatest time is history.

Yet.

Billions live in poverty and die too young for lack of access.  Our climate is changing rapidly and threatening the lives and livelihoods of the most economically vulnerable of our population.  And the president of the United States openly admits that he doesn’t understand wind.

Now to be fair that last bit was said as his way of explaining his views on wind powered electricity but it’s still just strange and indicative of a larger problem.

That larger problem is this.

Modern windmill, according to Donald Trump, probably manufactured in China

We now have the raw knowledge to solve just about all the world’s physical problems, what we lack is the ability to recognize and prioritize their severity and the moral fortitude to humble our own self-interest in the interest of humanity as a whole.  Our political discourse has been reduced to constant bickering over the validity of proven facts.  When we pitch our rhetorical tent on the wrong side of an easily provable position we are not dealing in “alternative facts”, as some have tried to assert, we are dealing in delusion.  When we argue against clean energy because windmills are made in China but pretend it’s because they kill birds, (which is what the president went on to say when he talked about not understanding wind), we are speaking nonsense that is so far from reality and so impossible to prove that it can’t even be proven wrong, as Wolfgang Pauli so famously stated way back in the 1950s.

It’s 2020.  We are standing at the dawn of a new decade with a new generation ready to step on the stage.  My grandparent’s generation defeated fascism and started the world on the path to human rights.  My parent’s generation defeated communism and pushed capitalism and self-determination to the forefront.  My generation invented the internet and brought human understanding of the physical world to unimaginable heights.  It will be the job of this next generation to tackle the moral and ethical questions brought about by the promises made possible by those that have gone before.

The Berlin Wall – The iconic symbol of institutionalize communism came down in 1989 symbolising the end of the cold war and ushering in what George Bush called “a new world order.”

The tools we used to defeat fascists and communist won’t work in this fight.  In fact, they could just as easily backfire.  The tools we used to build physical knowledge won’t work either.  We need a new paradigm, a new way of looking at the world and a new way of talking to one another.

I don’t know what the solution is.  But I think it needs to start with this whole idea of “otherness”.  Us vs Them, we are right therefore they must be wrong, my interests are more important than your interests, everything is a competition, cooperation is weakness; that is the old paradigm.

Donald Trump, his coked out frat boy meets Bond Villain rhetoric aside, tilts at windmills because they are made in China.  China, not wind or clean energy or even a concern for the well being of birds, represent “the other”.  And it’s that sense of otherness that must be conquered.  Mr. Trump’s supporters point to the strength of the U.S. economy as reason enough for him to remain in power.  They are all too prepared to gloss over and ignore his many moral and ethical failings, and the damage he has done to “other people”, even when they would personally crucify anyone else if the results didn’t serve their self-interest.

The age of self-determination; championed by my parent’s generation and which helped fuel the expansion of technology driven by my generation must now come to an end in order to allow true human equity, and economic sustainability to reign.  We must be willing to submit our self-interest for the good of the whole.

Or because now I’m thinking about Latin and my generation invented Google Translate;

Plus Paucorum Necessitatibus Plurimis Necessitatibus

Equality vs equity – Sometimes self sacrifice makes all the difference.

We have all the physical knowledge we need; we cannot allow that knowledge to conquer us.  We must begin to use it to conquer inequality, inequity, bigotry, arrogance and selfish ambition.  Otherwise we are no better that the fascists and communists that came before and the fight will start all over again, this time with better weapons and everything we have gained on the line.

Another Latin phrase comes to mind;

Amor Vincit Omnia – Love Conquers All

We’ve reached the point in human evolution where anything less, is worthless noise.

 

 

Da L-Dawg Show!


I started a YouTube Channel to supplement my blogging.

I figured it would be a good way to get quick thoughts out without a lot of writing, editing and thinking.  After playing with the format a bit I discovered that it is easy to produce and upload a 5-minute video in about half the time it takes for me to write and edit a 500-word blog post.

I’m not going to stop writing but the video format will allow me to get quick thoughts and ideas out in a more timely manner.  Moving forward, I hope to post at least one or two videos per week along with one longer written post here.

Here are the first two episodes of Da L-Dawg Show! for your viewing pleasure.  Hit subscribe at the end so that you are notified when I upload the next episode.  Enjoy!

As Continents Burn


A Semi-Poetic Reflection on the Nature of Reality

Half a world away,
A crisis is unfolding.

 

Some say the crisis has been here a long time,
we are just now noticing.
Some say it is not really a crisis at all.
Others say that how we respond will define humanity for generations.
Still others say it is already too late,
The choices before us are about adaptation and a new normal.

 

Some blame our governments.
Some blame the corporations.
Some blame each other.
Some just wish we would all shut up about and go hang out at the mall.

 

What is this crisis?

 

Some say it is climate change.
Some say it is the economy.
Some say our way of life is under attack.
Some say we must impose our values on others for the sake of “love” and “order”.

 

We all say a lot of things,
But is anybody listening?
Is anybody doing?

 

Australia is burning.
But it could just as easily be the Amazon,
Or the Serengeti,
Or cousin Ed’s house down the road.

 

An entire continent could be lost.
We can’t even agree on what’s happening,
Or how,
Or why.

 

Will reducing waste solve it?
Travelling less, taking public transit more?
Eating less meat, carrying reusable water bottles?
Will recycling and buying local solve it?

 

“Conflict arises at the point of perception vs reality.”
I read that in a book once.
Or at least I got the idea from a book, it is not an exact quote.
The author was talking about personal turmoil.
I think it applies here too.
How we perceive impacts how we interact.
What we value impacts the pieces we choose to ignore.
If we perceive incorrectly and reality disagrees, conflict.

 

Reality always wins in the end.
We can ignore it,
We can try to fight against it,
Objective, scientific, physical reality cannot be willed into non-existence.

 

To be anti-science, is to be anti-reality.
You can question science.
You can continue to collect data and test theories,
but at some point, you are going to have to accept what the results tell you.

 

The crisis we current face is multifaceted.
It is not just about climate change,
or economics,
or values.
It is all these things and none of them at the same time.
It is truly a crisis of perception vs reality.

 

Until we agree on the parameters that define reality,
We will continue to argue about perception.

 

As continents burn.

2019, The Year in Books


I read a grand total of 33 books this past year.  That’s about one book every 10 days. 

You can find me with a book in my hands most days somewhere between 7:00 and 8:00 am.  I come home from the gym and while I take a few minutes of quite time to recover with a cup of coffee I’ll read a few pages.  At the end of my day, between 5:30 and 6:30 pm I pick the book up again and read for as long as I can before drifting off to sleep.  Nap time is a great way to end a workday.

On the weekends, I try to squeeze in a few concentrated hours, depending on what else is happening in my world.  The result of all these reading times is an average pace of about 25-30 pages a day so with the average book being about 300 pages long the math works out.

For the most part I read three kinds of books.  I read business related books on things like sales psychology, personal development, and business management.  I read theology and personal spirituality books so I can become a better person and gain a better understanding of faith and God.  And I read about health, personal training and development so that I can become a better Triathlete.  I also read the odd novel just for the hell of it when I’m on vacation or just trying to find a simple escape from the world.

Here is the list of books that I completed in 2019, sprinkled with a few comments and reviews of the ones that really stood out. 

The Well-Built Triathlete: Turning Potential Into Performance – Matt Dixon

Read from: 10/27/2018 to 01/01/2019

I took my time with this one, dropping in and out as I learned various techniques that I could apply to my training plan immediately.  I finished it on New Year’s Day, so it just snuck in under the wire to be included on this year’s list.

The Hard Thing About Hard Things:  Building a Business When There are No Easy Answers – Ben Horowitz

Read from: 01/12/2019 to 01/26/219

Shoe Dog:  A Memoir by the Creator of NIKE – Phil Knight

Read from: 01/26/2019 to 02/03/2019

This one was a lot of fun, reminded me of the early days of my previous life as an entrepreneur in the music business.  Lots of great stories, I could really feel both the stress and elation of running a start up.

Guerrilla Marketing:  Easy and Inexpensive Strategies for Making Big Profits from Your Small Business – Jay Conrad Levinson, Jeannie Levinson, Amy Levinson

Read from 02/03/2019 to 02/24/2019

The Endurance Handbook – Philip Maffetone

Read from 01/01/2019 to 03/02/2019

The Trauma Code:  Unlocking your Performance – Doug Smith

Read from 03/03/2019 to 03/09/2019

I ate this book up, blowing through it in just 6 days.  The author is a local hockey hero who survived a life-threatening injury on the ice during a game.  His journey back and what he learned about how our brains work in the face of trauma was life changing.

Thrive:  The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder – Arianna Huffington

Read from 03/09/2019 to 03/18/2019

Zero to One: Notes on Start-ups, or How to Build the Future – Peter Thiel

Read from 03/18/2019 to 03/24/2019

Difficult Conversations:  How to Discuss What Matters Most – Bruce Patton

Read from 03/30/2019 to 04/06/2019

Blueprint for Revolution:  How to Use Rice Pudding, Lego Men, and Other Nonviolent Techniques to Galvanize Communities, Overthrow Dictators, or Simply Change the World – Srdja Popovic

Read from 04/09/2019 to 04/13/2019

Don’t let the title fool you.  While told on the back drop of revolutionary movements, like the overthrow of communist regimes in Europe, this is really a book about marketing and spreading ideas.

Made to Stick:  Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die – Chip Heath

Read from 04/13/2019 to 04/21/2019

The Upside-Down Kingdom – Donald B. Kraybill

Read from 04/21/2019 to 05/04/2019

Anabaptist theology 101.  This is a book about Jesus, community and how to read the bible without any cultural or theological bias.

Thinking, Fast and Slow – Daniel Kahneman

Read from 05/04/2019 to 05/22/2019

Statistics meets behavioural psychology and economics.  If you are a marketer or salesperson who wants to understand how to manipulate perception and nudge people to move in a particular direction, this book could help.  Caution:  some of the ideas discussed could be considered dishonest and underhanded but I bet they would work on most people.  Turns out we’re a pretty predictable species if you pull the right levers and push the right buttons.

Cure for the Common Life:  Living in Your Sweet Spot – Max Lucado

Read from 03/24/2019 to 05/25/2019

Collaborating with the Enemy:  How to Work with People You Don’t Agree with or Like or Trust – Adam Kahane

Read from 05/28/2019 to 06/02/2019

What Should I Do With My Life:  The True Story of People Who Answered the Ultimate Question – Po Bronson

Read from 06/02/2019 to 06/20/2019

A Piece of the Action:  How the Middle Class Joined the Money Class – Joseph Nocera

Read from 06/20/2019 to 07/07/2019

This book traces the origin of consumer debt from the first credit cards to today along with the advent of discount brokerage and investment houses in the United States.  It’s a very eye-opening discussion of who we are and how we got here along with some subtle comments about the characteristics of greed and ignorance that help drive the economy. 

Master Your Money:  A Step-By-Step Plan for Financial Freedom – Ron Blue

Read from 05/25/2019 to 07/11/2019

Sapiens:  A Brief History of Humankind – Yuval Noah Harari

Read from 07/11/2019 to 08/03/2019

The Fireman and The Waitress – Dessa Kaspardlov

Read from 08/03/2019 to 08/10/2019

I finally found a book that details my own personal philosophy of financial planning.  I was starting to think I was the only one that considered debt, in all it’s forms, to be a bad idea.  And who feels that taking a long hard look at values along with goals, debt and taxes is the only effective way to plan for your future. 

Leaders Eat Last – Simon Sinek

Read from 08/10/2019 to 08/19/2019

New Power:  How Power Works in Our Hyperconnected World and How to Make It Work for You – Jeremy Heimans, Henry Timms

Read from 08/19/2019 to 08/31/2019

Bucky F*cking Dent – David Duchovny

Read from 08/31/2019 to 09/12/2019

My one and only novel this year.  Baseball is the only spectator sport that I enjoy watching and any story that has a baseball theme is a good story as far as I’m concerned.  I took this book on our end of summer weekend away as an escape from the world and I thoroughly enjoyed the diversion.

The Tipping Point:  How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference – Malcolm Gladwell

Read from 09/12/2019 – 09/23/2019

I read this one a few years ago.  It’s always a good one to return to, as a reminder of some of things that drive our society.  The discussion of connectors and influencers was helpful in refocussing my business for the fall push.

Being Mortal:  Medicine and What Matters in the End – Atul Gawande

Read from 10/05/2019 to 10/15/2019

The Girl Who Smiled Beads:  A Story of War and What Comes After – Clemantine Wamariya, Elizabeth Weil

Read from 10/15/2019 to 10/29/2019

If you’ve ever wondered what life is like for children who survive genocide and then try to live a “normal” life, read this book.  You’ll never watch the news or think of war in the same way again.

No God but One:  Allah or Jesus?  A Former Muslim Investigates the Evidence for Islam and Christianity – Nabeel Qureshi

Read from 10/29/2019 to 11/10/2019

Buying Time:  Trading Your Savings for Income and Lifestyle in Your Prime Retirement Years – Daryl Diamond

Read from 11/10/2019 to 11/21/2019

Life Together and Prayerbook of the Bible – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Read from 11/21/2019 to 12/07/2019

A two for one book, Bonhoeffer wrote both books while imprisoned for speaking out against the Nazis.  The first details a community way of life based on the teachings of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount.  The second discusses how to pray while reading the psalms.  Both have been immensely helpful for me as I continue my own personal journey of discipleship.

Peak Performance:  Elevate Your Game, Avoid Burnout, and Thrive with the New Science of Success – Brad Stulberg, Steve Magness

Read from 12/07/2019 to 12/14/2019

168 Hours:  You Have More Time Than You Think – Laura Vanderkam

Read from 12/14/2019 to 12/26/2019

Forget about to do lists, or traditional time management tools like pocket calendars.  The most productive way to manage your time is with a system of “time blocking”, set your priorities and fill in the time around them.  I’m getting away from my old to do list system and implementing a plan like this in 2020.

America the Anxious:  How Our Pursuit of Happiness Is Creating a Nation of Nervous Wrecks – Ruth Whippman

Read from 12/26/2019 to 12/30/2019

I’m still digesting this one but the main thing that stats out so far is a quote from the final pages. 

“Happiness has turned inward and become entangled with the idea of a personal journey and forging ahead alone.  Our narrative of happiness has become individualistic and punitive, totally divorced from social justice or wider responsibility.  If we genuinely want to build a happy society, we need a shift in thinking, and acceptance that happiness cannot be achieved by emotionally cloistering ourselves, that it needs other people in order to flourish.”

So, there you have it, my year in books.  If you’ve also read any of these books, would like to know more about them or have any suggestions of additional reading that I should pursue, let me know your thoughts in the comments below. 

Christmas Morning 2019


I awoke at 6:15. My usual wake-up time is somewhere between 5:30 and 6:00 so this constitutes sleeping in a bit for me.

The world is still silent though, no car doors slamming, engines starting or windshields scraping the remnants of the overnight frost. My bedroom window overlooks the parking lot of our condo complex so on a regular work day I tend to hear all the early risers heading off to their various work destinations

Not today, today is a holiday and the world will wake up a bit more slowly. Maybe not your house. Maybe the kids had you up in wild excitement well before dawn but as far as the outside world, the going places world, the hustle and bustle work a day world goes, this is a holiday.

Or should I say Holy-day?

The silence in my house at this hour is soothing. I tend to take advantage of this time to meditate. On this day the words of Isaiah rose in my mind quite unbidden.

For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given,
    and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 9:6

George Frederick Handel used these words as a refrain in one of the movements of his masterpiece, Messiah. I put it on and let these words enter my soul. May they enter yours, “For Unto us a Child is Born.”

No, I’m not the Grinch but I hate just about everything about Christmas


From the auditory train wreck that is Miriah Carey’s “All I want for Christmas, Is You” to the cliché ridden Hallmark movies featuring washed up child actors from the 90s and even more predictably unrealistic plot lines than the shows that made them famous in the first place, (I’m looking at you Candice Cameron Bure). The garish decorations and the forced attempt to make just about every expression of love and happiness fit within a false narrative of personal charity and community (re: Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” appearing on the Penatatonix Christmas Album; newsflash, it’s a song by a Jewish songwriter about King David and lust not Christmas!).  I hate just about everything about Christmas.

As I write this, I’m sitting in Tim Horton’s on Saturday December 21st waiting for the stores to open. The shop where I on plan purchasing a gift for my wife opens at 9:30 and I hope to be the first one in the door. Why? Because the last Saturday before Christmas is the busiest shopping day of the year and I would like to make it home alive, before midnight.

Yes, I still buy gifts.  I said I hate just about everything about Christmas, not absolutely everything.   I like to buy gifts as an expression of my love and appreciation to the people closest to me, but my list is small, and I rarely spend more than $20.00 on anyone.

The gifts are not what Christmas is about. Everyone knows that, at least they should. Even if our behaviour contradicts what we say about love and togetherness. The average Canadian will spend just over $1000 on gifts this season, buying trinkets for everyone from their dog walker to great uncle Phil who they only see once a year. How on earth can you buy anything meaningful for someone you only see for a few hours once a year? You don’t know that person, you probably have a more intimate connection with the barista at Starbucks, whom you at least see a few times a week.

Charitable giving is up this season too and that’s not a bad thing.  Canadians are generous people, 86% of us give to charity, giving on average $450 a year.  That’s less than half of what we spend each year on gifts but again, charity isn’t really what Christmas is all about either.

So, what is Christmas about?

Ricky Gervais, an avowed atheist, once wrote a passionately emotional piece on the meaning of Christmas.  “It’s when you visit or reminisce about the ones you love. And reflect on how lucky you are.”  He went on to talk with deep vulnerability and emotion about his mother and explained that we buy gifts for and spend time with the people we love as an expression of that deep sense of connectedness.  A lot of people agreed with him, some going so far as to say that in our modern world Christmas, or as they prefer to call it, “the holidays” needn’t have anything to do with Jesus, it’s just a secular holiday about love and community. 

But Ricky Gervais, and most secular Christmas lovers, couldn’t be more wrong and that’s why I say that Christmas music and movies suck and that the decorations are ugly.  The true meaning of Christmas is about nothing less than the salvation of the world.

We live in dark times.  Our world exists on a backdrop of despair.  The dust of our culture is cynical and fatalistic.  Just existing in this environment, the in-fighting and vitriol of our culture is impossible to avoid.  It settles on us like dust.  Efforts to clean up the environment, help the poor, balance the economy or fix the political grid lock are met with resistance from all sides.  Any message of hope seems naïve or simply too hard and too late. 

Poll after poll shows that just about half of society not only disagrees with but actively resents the other half.  Social media has created a world of silos and echo chambers where we go to hear and be heard only but those with whom we agree.  Our opinions are bolstered and reinforced by biased commentators and then released out into the world to recruit more like-minded followers. God help the dissenting voices and those who simply want to take a breath and examine more facts before making any decisions. 

It is on this backdrop that we are expected to celebrate Christmas.  But this watered-down secularized version of “the holidays” is just meaningless drivel.  A message of love and joy coming at a time when literally half of our neighbors would gladly wipe the other half off the planet without a second thought is hollow at best; hypocritical and downright blasphemous if you want to know how I really feel about it.  True love and hope are absent from our world and the Christmas songs and holiday movies that try to recreate them are nothing more than a clanging gong and a resounding cymbal. (1 Corinthians 13)

The true message of Christmas however is that maybe, just maybe, it’s not too late and maybe it’s not too hard.  Last Sunday while speaking at The Meeting House church in Oakville, ON, author and social activist, Danielle Strickland has said that “God’s ability to do things that look too hard and too late is the very definition of hope.”

Christmas and the message of Christianity should be that of a people who do hope.

The apostle Paul, in Romans 12 defines the Christian movement this way:

Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.

Romans 12:10-16

This is how we do hope.  Share, be hospitable, bless even our enemies, feel things in the moment, be with and mindful of others.  Do not curse, do not be proud or conceited.  And most of all, associate with people whom you view as beneath you or just disagree with.

At the end of the story of the Grinch, when he heard the Whovillians singing, despite that he had stolen all their presents, food and decorations he realized that maybe, just maybe, Christmas “doesn’t come from a store, maybe Christmas is just a little bit more” 

Well Mr. Grinch, Christmas is a whole lot more!  I fear for the world if we lose sight of who we are meant to be.  Let us not lose hope, let’s do hope. 

Merry Christmas – Lauren

Silent No More


Over the past few years my blogging has been sporadic at best.  It used to be that I would write two or three times a week.  Lately it’s been more like two or three times a season.

There are many reasons for that, some of them based on time constraints, some based on an inability to focus but most based on a genuine lack of anything coherent to say. 

Much of what I have been dealing with as a writer has been a clear and persistent fear that what I was feeling wasn’t something anyone would be interested in reading about.  I have worried that if I were to write honestly about what I was truly feeling many of my former readers would abandon me, brand me a heretic or worse, go on the attack. 

Since we entered the era of Trump and the worldwide growth in populism, I have become increasingly fearful for the future of the world.  Democracy, human rights and religious freedom are all under attack.  The environment, climate change and the very survival of our species are at stake.  Faced with these daunting concerns I did what any sane, and yet fearful introvert does, I retreated into a self-imposed exile of silence and reflection. 

I didn’t stop writing all together, I just stop publishing what I wrote.  The resulting silence has led to three, not quite fully formed musings, on Leadership, Philanthropy and Blasphemy in the modern evangelical church.  Each one of these musings have the potential to blow up making me a target of criticism and vile attacks.    So, they remain unpublished, nothing more than bits and bites of data locked away on my computer hard drive. 

Until now. 

I would like 2020 to be the year that I re-emerge as a writer. I hope to begin by publishing exerts from some of my unpublished works, new thoughts and edits.  By the end of the year I hope to publish at least one book length project, maybe more. 

Will anyone care?  I don’t know. 

But I do know this; my purpose as a writer is to express my faith as a disciple of Jesus, to both teach and learn how to live life to the fullest in complete submission to the will of God, steward the planet, guide creation and care for humanity as a member of one coherent community of infinitely valuable image bearers of the divine.

Will everyone agree with me?  I doubt it. 

Will I make as many enemies as I do friends?  Probably more. 

Will I be reduced to a voice crying in the wilderness?  I hope not. 

But I cannot remain silent.  I am afraid for the future and I cannot remain hidden in the shadows.  If a sixteen-year-old can go from relative obscurity to Time Magazine’s newsmaker of the year, the least I can do is stand up and be counted. 

Up first, some thoughts on the continuing blasphemy of the western evangelical church.  Nothing like starting with something uncontroversial right?  Stay tuned.