August 4, 2020

What a strange strange week!


What a strange, strange week I’ve had. I must say I am feeling a little discombobulated. Let me start with end of the week and work my way backwards. I think you will find a few engaging tidbits, so be sure to read to the end.

First, the picture is of a Chokecherry tree. If you have never tasted a Chokecherry, now is not the time to start. We used to call them pucker-berries, because although they look like little cherries, they are very, very tart. But… they make an amazing jam. For those who don’t know it, I am a bit of an artisan jam maker. Generally making my jams for foraged fruit. My favourites are probably wild grape, and black raspberry, but chokecherry has an exquisite taste that is to die for. I had been searching for years for a tree in my area with a decent enough crop to make my jam, and today (Sunday) I found one. It was just a few blocks from my house, growing wild next to the hockey arena.

Two weeks ago I had picked Saskatoon berries. For those who don’t know what they look like, imagine a blueberry growing in a tree whose taste is a combination of cherry and almond. That is the Saskatoon berry for you. The best pie I have ever eaten was a Saskatoon berry pie. Well, I didn’t have enough Saskatoon berries to make a batch of Jam, so I decided to throw them in with my Chokecherries. And I got to wondering, has anyone ever made a jam with that combination before? Quite likely not.

So I set my juicer on the stove with all the berries in the top. Once the juice was flowing nicely I decided to come down stairs to write this post. Well this being the week that it was, I was soon summoned upstairs. The smell of burned chockecherry juice permeated the upper levels of the house. I had let the juicer run dry. Fortunately, I was able to rescue enough of the juice that I will be able to make my jam this week.

That morning we decided to play hooky from church. We did a six kilometre hike around a lake with the intention from going for a swim at the end. The temperature hit 93 degrees, and with the humidity it felt like 105. My the time we got to end of the hike, we just wanted to go home, shower, and nap.

Of course I wasn’t the only one playing hooky on Sunday. I read Friday about a recent study published by Barna. Apparently the initial reports of increased online church participation were in fact just a curiosity bump. Apparently only a third of Church attending Christians have been faithful to their pre-covid churches. The rest have either been also checking out other churches, switching churches, or stopping attending altogether.

The dropout rate has been highest among millenials with 50% those who attended prior to Covid-19 no longer attending.

I am not sure where Saturday went. I think it involved a lot of sleep.

On Thursday I found out that a prior co-worker had just passed away from a heart attack. He was only 45. He used to sit in the cubicle next to mine and helped be out a lot when I was first diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. He had been diagnosed as a child. It hit home. Donovan was passionate about racing his motorbikes and I always appreciated his sense of humour.

On Tuesday another friend of mine made the National news by refusing to be the videographer at a gay wedding. In Canada, with some narrow exceptions, if you offer a service publically, you cannot discriminate who you offer it to. Although I have been quite outspoken as an ally of LGBTQ persons, I do have some empathy for the videographer, as no one deserves the hate that has been directed her way. It will be interesting to see where this ends up. As an interesting side note, about a year ago I was walking out of church behind a couple of guys who I didn’t know. They were talking about a wedding photographer friend of theirs, who “wouldn’t confirm his availability until he confirmed that the couple were straight.” I thought to myself this week, so are those the only options left to conservative Christians in the wedding business in Canada, be forthright and get crucified for it, or be deceptive? I think that Evangelical Christianity is going to have to take a long look at this and figure out where it is headed.

And last Sunday was another strange day. In my post last week I had said that I would try to make the best of a bad situation as far as Sunday morning worship goes. Then last Sunday they announced a change in the music format. The music team was going to be altogether again. Multiple singers, multiple musicians, all indoors, no masks. I was so upset I had to leave our TV room, and take some time working in the garden to calm down. Like the majority of those in the survey I will probably look to do something different on Sunday mornings going forward. Hey Chaplain Mike, is your service still online?

Well that was my rather strange week. I managed to get some work for work done in there as well. There are a few things in there to chomp on, and as usual your thoughts and comments are welcome.

Comments

  1. Adam Tauno Williams says

    > … church participation were in fact just a curiosity bump.

    I am not surprised. I struggle more and more with Online meetings. I was a regular meeting attendee before COVID-Times, related to my roles; it is really hard now.

    In the Before-Times a meeting meant going somewhere – – – stopping what I was doing – – – being on the 11:39am #15, … Then walking to a building, sitting in a room, getting out the notebook Listening.

    Online meetings; I’m at home. Everything around me is still happening. How do I stop doing something when I’m still right there. Maybe I turn on the meeting, but I’m not there – it is so easy to eave-drop more than participate. I’ve got two other screens. I can even doze off, sitting in my own chair.

    There is no chance encounter at the bus stop, no impromptu conversation in the lobby after the meeting, no missing a connection on the way home so I might as well grab lunch.

    All the apparatus and implicit requirements surrounding a meeting added so much value.

    • thatotherjean says

      I think you’ve found a lot of the problem. No matter what you’re doing at home, it’s still at home. No real surprises (well, the cat might throw up in the middle of your meeting–but she does that anyway), no different settings, no face-to-face contact with people–either those you know or those you meet by chance–outside your immediate circle, However nice home might be, there is too much sameness about it.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        Until every day becomes Blurday, the Forty-teenth of MarAprilayUneUly.

        Just one more day of work, eat, sleep, and wait to be infected.

        • Several times this spring & summer I’ve gone to pick up the mail at the Post Office on a Sunday. My work doesn’t depend on the day of the week, so I lose track. And, as Adam said, the on-line option doesn’t work well, especially if the service/sermon doesn’t post until Sunday morning. By then I’m doing something else.

  2. “so are those the only options left to conservative Christians in the wedding business in Canada, be forthright and get crucified for it, or be deceptive?”

    There’s always Option C – stop thinking that we get to be the moral arbitrators and policemen of everyone else, and just do our jobs. If we can’t offer our services to sinful people, we’d best just close all our shops and go live like the Amish – which has it’s own set of festering problems.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      Yep, always to exclusion of Option C: perform your commercial service, for money, as advertised – you are not entitled to make commentary.

      How many Landlords are Christians? They shouldn’t rent to people unwilling to commit to only marital sex, right?

      I am a landlord. Do I have to rent to people who vote for fascists?

      • thatotherjean says

        “I am a landlord. Do I have to rent to people who vote for fascists?”

        NB: I am not attacking you personally, just answering the posted question.

        Yes. Distasteful as it is, you do. You are not the political police, any more than wedding photographers and wedding-cake bakers are the sex police. If you offer something to the public, you have to offer it to ALL the public who can afford it. I really don’t understand why Christians can’t separate their religious beliefs from other people’s, when they are offering a service to the public at large.

        Do waiters have to serve people who come in wearing MAGA hats, if their personal politics lean liberal? Of course they do, or they’re out of a job. Do they have to serve Hindus, if their personal religion is Christian? Of course. How is this different?

        • Adam Tauno Williams says

          >> “I am a landlord. Do I have to rent to people who vote for fascists?”
          > Yes. Distasteful as it is, you do.

          I agree. The Market is The Market, whereas My Pulpit exists in a different space. I am an Option-C guy; I am not entitled to commentary [via coercive means; aka The Market]. That is **NOT** what Free-Speech is.

          Also, I’d point out to people who disagree: are you sure you want to “Go There?” Are you sure you are going to “Win?” If society decides I am indeed entitled to use Market Power ideologically… well, Ok, you made the rules.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            If society decides I am indeed entitled to use Market Power ideologically… well, Ok, you made the rules.

            At which point, all that matters is which Ideology gets to Hold the Whip.

      • I do believe it’s worth distinguishing between offering general human necessities and whatnot (e.g. shelter for living, or even trivial things like toiletries) and things like a cake whose “exclusive” purpose is to celebrate a gay marriage. I personally don’t think there should be any discrimination when offering products/services, but just pointing out there is a legitimate difference to acknowledge when having this discussion. Clearly a waiter is not celebrating Hinduism when they serve a pizza to a group of Hindus at a table.

  3. Burro (Mule) says

    Offering business services is one thing. Although I’ve never been a big fan of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, I can see the sense in your arguments based on it being the law of the land. However, performing ecclesiastical marriages is another thing altogether. Is this being sorted out?

    I mean, there’s no sense trying to boo up the Orthodox with lawsuits

    • Michael Bell says

      Churches and ministers have exceptions under Canadian law. Videographers and cake bakers (likely) do not. (There is a grey area).

      • Burro (Mule) says

        Despite your continual emphasis on the fact, I frequently forget you’re Canadian, and there isn’t a one-to-one correspondence between your laws and ours. Also, despite the vitriol I’ve seen displayed for Messrs. Trudeau and Harper, you don’t have the Manichean political culture we have.

        The Catholic Church is likely to be the one targeted for those who want to test the limits of the new doctrine. Down here, grudging tolerance and a desire to mind your own business is losing out against demands for whole-throated support and enthusiastic consent.

        • –> “Down here, grudging tolerance and a desire to mind your own business is losing out against demands for whole-throated support and enthusiastic consent.”

          We may not agree on much, Mule, but Yes… there has been a shift from “tolerance” to outright celebration and enthusiasm. I just chalk it up to the pendulum swinging in an over-correction. Pendulum swings are pretty common throughout history.

          • Robert F says

            I’ve started seeing it too. It’s starting to feel as if we’re moving in the direction of — to quote a quote from Alan Jacob’s blog — “Everything not forbidden is compulsory.”

            • Are we sure we’re not reading too much into this? Just because we can’t penalize people for being gay anymore doesn’t mean they’re out to get us.

              • Robert F says

                I was thinking about how not kneeling and kneeling during the National Anthem at football games have switched positions. That latter is almost compulsory now, unless you’re willing to field a lot of social media threats and boycotts aimed at ruining your commercial viability.

              • Burro (Mule) says

                Nah, ya gotta be friggin’ delighted that they’re gay, even though they’re as stodgy and bourgeois as your parish council president and his wife.

                • Methinks the mule doth protest too much. 😛

                  • Burro (Mule) says

                    We’ll see.

                    I’m old enough to remember the ‘safe space’ promised to opponents of female ordination in the ECUSA.

                    The demon of ‘This Is Exactly The Same As That Because I Say So’ is an imperially-minded one.

              • Adam Tauno Williams says

                +1 I do not see how anything has become “compulsory”.

              • Rick Ro. says

                –> “Are we sure we’re not reading too much into this? Just because we can’t penalize people for being gay anymore doesn’t mean they’re out to get us.”

                I live in Seattle. Trust me, we are not reading too much into this. They may not be out to get us, but a visible portion of that community certainly wants everyone to celebrate and be enthusiastic about their lifestyle.

                • As there are evangelicals who insist everyone conform to their take on culture and ethics. The question is, who’s the worse threat at the present moment?

                  • Robert F says

                    I think the left is moving toward political absolutism at this point as much and fast as the opposite side — I hesitate to call that other side “the right”. There is a developing radical leftist orthodoxy that looks very illiberal to me. I’m seeing absolutist factions looming on both sides, and growing in power. I think they both present threats in different arenas, using different methods and strategies.

                    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

                      And we’re all heading towards 1932 Germany.
                      When the Radical Left (Communists) was the only hope to stop the Radical Right.
                      And the Radical Right (Nazis) was the only hope to stop the Radical Left.

                      “Whichever side wins, Germany Loses.”
                      The Word at War, Episode 1: Germany, 1933-39

                    • Rick Ro. says

                      The ultra liberals are becoming as fascist as the fascists, yes.

                • “certainly wants everyone to celebrate and be enthusiastic about their lifestyle”

                  Is that really what they want, or do they just want to be who they are in public without getting flack for it?

                  • Rick Ro. says

                    They will tell you that it’s the latter, but it sure feels like the former. And therein lies the rub, and the danger. There is a growing “shame” associated with “not celebrating, embracing, and showing enthusiasm” for that community.

                    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

                      “PARTICIPATE JOYFULLY WITH GREAT ENTHUSIASM, COMRADES!!! OR ELSE!!!!!”

    • thatotherjean says

      Mule, what laws demand that clergy perform marriages that they don’t think are suitable? Catholic priests are not required to marry Protestant couples, atheist couples, same-sex couples, or anyone that they don’t believe to be ready for marriage. I don’t know of laws in any state that would force any clergy person to do that. Do you?. Clergy are indeed “performing” marriages. Photographers, bakers, florists, and the owners of wedding venues that rent them to the public are not. Even US law recognizes the difference.

      • Burro (Mule) says

        Not complaining. We’re already ‘under the gun’ so to speak because our parish rents out our facilities for non-Orthodox receptions. It was a Hindu ceremony that prompted the internal discussion, though, and not a gay marriage. It turns out that we have to rent to all and sundry, and this is as it should be in a civil society.

        The sanctuary cannot be used for no-Orthodox weddings. Just cannot.

  4. David Greene says

    My dad used to collect chokecherries on fishing trips to eastern Washington, usually in the Yakima valley near Ellensburg, to make wine. Sometimes I would go with him and do most of the harvesting as I was not very adept with the fly rod. We never made jam (now I wish we had) but we did make several batches of wine, it was exquisite – I was surprised how something so tart could be used to make something so amazingly great.

  5. Videographer: meh. This is all performative self-righteousness. As other commenters have pointed out, we deal with people whose lifestyles or politics or personal hygiene we disapprove of. We deal. Contracting services to weddings is an arbitrary line in the sand. It also is very specifically targeted hate. How often do we hear of Catholic florists refusing their services because one or both of the happy couple is divorced?

    The good news is that this battle is so clearly and so thoroughly lost that in a few years the few people continuing to fight this fight will be regarded as eccentrics, like the KJV-only crowd, while the will be denying that this ever really was a thing. This is generally how culture wars go.

    • Good comment, Richard.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      +1

    • Christiane says

      “It also is very specifically targeted hate. ”

      Yes, it is ‘hate’, and not the fabled ‘truth in love’ that fundamentalism has preached as an ‘excuse’ to brutalize people for whom they had hatred and contempt.

      It is good to see this called what it is. Thank you, Richard.

  6. That survey is very interesting. It seems at the very least COVID-19 is exacerbating tendencies that were already apparent. One doesn’t have to be a psychic to see what’s going to happen when the Boomers finally die off. The paradox is that it has traditionally been at times of national crisis that church attendance has increased but now of course church attendance is itself part of the crisis!

    I find myself curious about the minority who changed churches. I wonder what reasons they would give. I can see some diehard determined to physically attend a service switching when their home congregation started zooming.

    • “COVID-19 is exacerbating tendencies that were already apparent. One doesn’t have to be a psychic to see what’s going to happen when the Boomers finally die off”

      Just look at Europe.

      • –> “Just look at Europe.”

        Sadly, you might be right.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says

        > One doesn’t have to be a psychic to see what’s going to happen when the Boomers finally die off

        A lot of really great things will finally be possible?

        Like sidewalks in eastern Midtown; without those oldsters standing up to screech about how them-people-are-just-gonna-use-them-to-case-our-houses?

        There are many Boomers I love. Yet I am ***so*** ready for their l-o-n-g era to sunset.

        • thatotherjean says

          Careful, there, Adam. A lot of us, after all, are old hippies, and some of us non-hippie types have grown more liberal with age. We care about the world in which our children and grandchildren will live, every bit as much as you do. Some of our age group, alas, were born conservative, or have grown more hidebound and –can I use the word gullible? as they aged. They seem to fear change more than anything else, yet they can’t escape it, and it makes them angry. But remember, please, that’s not true of most of us–just the loudest ones.

          • Adam Tauno Williams says

            > that’s not true of most of us–just the loudest ones

            I wish, sincerely, the not loudest ones could find some time to make some more noise.

            > Careful, there, Adam.

            Well, they aren’t, so I’m not going to. I’ve been called “ignorant” and “boy” way to often, and none of their peers ever call them out on it.

            • Adam Tauno Williams says

              > “boy”

              I’m in my 40s.

              > none of their peers ever call them out on it.

              I mean this precisely, as in exactly, it has NEVER happened; not once.

          • Robert F says

            @thatotherjean,

            The judgment rendered on us by the younger generation: Boomers are Bummers!

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      It seems at the very least COVID-19 is exacerbating tendencies that were already apparent.

      Like the collapse of classic FRP gaming (pencil/paper/funny dice) in the Nineties with the Magic the Gathering Extinction Event. The industry was already highly over-saturated with hundreds of different systems (never mind games) competing for gamers’ money. And the huge number meant (unlike the Seventies) no two people in a gaming group knew a given system. Everything was already very fragile.

      Then (like the Chixlub Impact), “Magic the Obsession” hit, triggering the Mass Extinction.

      • I remember that Extinction Event. And like the Deccan Fields in relation to K-T impact, Magic the Addiction combined with online RFP things like Everquest and Warcraft just made the extinction of classic FRP gaming that much worse. How many gaming companies went under? FASA, GDW, White Wolf, and West End Games for starters.

  7. anonymous says

    talk about strange, my nephew had a house in one of the better areas of our city, something of an old Victorian which he renovated and loved;
    but today I hear he sold it and bought a home down near the sea in a gated community (so unlike him to do this). I asked him was it a ‘good move’ that he was happy with and he hedged a bit, saying only that the Catholic Church which was nearby was very good to take homeless people in at night, but that it let them out in the mornings, whereupon they would seek ‘shelter’ on the porches of nearby houses, including my nephew’s porch;

    so hence the house was sold and a new home in a sterile environment purchased where there was no ‘porch’ with large swing and great rocking chairs and flowers, and no shade trees on a wide city street, no. Just a sterile ‘beautiful’, ‘modern’ enormous McMansion with pool and a pier down to the water. ‘Better for the little one’, he said, as the city street had become quite ‘busy’ with traffic and so they worried on that score also.

    small sacrifices . . . the funny thing is that the community did not turn on the Church for its hospitality to the homeless, no

    and the Church continues to house them each night and let them go out in the daytime into the nearby beloved neighborhood

    strange? well, with the coming of the little child into the family, I understood my nephew’s worries, but in truth, I don’t think the move is what he ‘wanted’ . . . to be a suburban home owner in a gated community? no, had he not had a family, I think my nephew would have stayed in the stately Victorian in that beloved part of his city

    so it goes

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      He’s probably sharing that Gated Community with the McMansions of a lot of homeless-advocate activists. Kyle’s Moms always seem to wall themselves off from those “undesirables” they are so motivated to advocate for.

      And feelings about Homeless DO run high. They do in my area.

  8. Christiane says

    I had this thought that maybe AFTER we all have the virus vaccine in future and can once again be as we were in our communities,
    that it might be a similar epiphany for us as what happened to Thomas Merton who, after a long time of living isolated from people, experienced in Louisville as he recorded, “IT WAS LIKE WAKING FROM A DREAM OF SEPARATENESS, OF SPURIOUS SELF-ISOLATION IN A SPECIAL WORLD”, this:

    ““In Louisville, at the corner of Fourth and Walnut, in the center of the shopping district, I was suddenly overwhelmed with the realization that I loved all these people, that they were mine and I theirs, that we could not be alien to one another even though we were total strangers. It was like waking from a dream of separateness, of spurious self-isolation in a special world. . . .

    This sense of liberation from an illusory difference was such a relief and such a joy to me that I almost laughed out loud. . . . I have the immense joy of being man, a member of a race in which God Himself became incarnate. As if the sorrows and stupidities of the human condition could overwhelm me, now that I realize what we all are. And if only everybody could realize this! But it cannot be explained. There is no way of telling people that they are all walking around shining like the sun.”

    Merton’s words so fit current situation with ‘sheltering’ from contamination by one another, that I wonder sometimes
    how prescient was his vision . . . was it some forecast of a time to come, and will we also in this strange, strange time of ‘self-isolation’ find our fellow humans to be radiant when we can once again be ‘with’ them in community?

    Merton had his insights, but was he also a prophet? 🙂

  9. Joel Henderson says

    What you call “saskatoon” we call “serviceberry” (pronounced SAR-VIS not SIR-VIS) here in CO and WY, they are one and the same species. A few years ago I gathered some of both and because I didn’t have enough SAR-VIS berries to make a batch I threw them in with the chokecherries. Their subtle hint of sweetness combined with the tart of the chokecherries makes for the best jam on sourdough toast available, in my mind.

    What game me the idea was while cleaning out the fridge one day I found some strawberries and some left over watermelon, which also make a tremendously delightful jelly. My next combo I believe will be choke cherry/watermelon, gotta wait a couple more weeks though, and it will be on here in the central Rockies. Can’t wait!

    • Michael Bell says

      I wasn’t the first! 🙁

      As an interesting note, the city of Saskatoon was named after the berry, and not the other way around.

      There are a number of different varieties, here they are along with their canadian locations.

      Amelanchier alnifolia
      Saskatoonberry, western serviceberry
      • Native to : wON – BC, YK, NWT
      • Habitat : Rocky ridges, along streams, forest edges, open woodland, sandy and rocky woods. Prefers full sun, but will also tolerate partial shade, and dry to moist soils.
      • Appearance : Grows up to three metres and forms thickets, has oval leaves with rounded tip and fine hairs along midvein. The flowers often precede the leaves. Considered to have the sweetest and juiciest fruits of all Canadian Amelanchiers.

      Amelanchier arborea
      Downy serviceberry, downy juneberry
      • Native to : sON and sQC
      • Habitat : Forest edges and clearings, fields, dry soil, rocky or sandy areas. Prefers full sun to partial shade and well-drained soil.
      • Appearance : Can grow to a small tree size up to 10 metres, leaves tapered to a point at tip and hairy when opening – hence their common name of ‘downy’, hairless or slightly hairy along veins on underside at maturity.

      Amelanchier Canadensis
      Canada serviceberry, shadbush
      • Native to : ON, QC, NB, PE, NS
      • Habitat : Swamps, thickets, riverbanks. Prefers sun to partial shade but may tolerate full shade, moist soil.
      • Appearance : A small shrub that can grow to seven metres with oval leaves that are partially opened at the time of flowering.

      Amelanchier laevis
      smooth serviceberry, allegheny serviceberry
      • Native to : wON – NL
      • Habitat : Moist woodlands, ridges, clearings and roadsides. Prefers full sun to partial shade, moist but well-drained soil.
      • Appearance : Grows to small tree size of 10 metres. Leaves pointed at tip and partially grown at the time of flowering, hairless and coppery-red colour while unfolding.

      Amelanchier stolonifera
      • Native to : ON – NL
      • Habitat : Sandy and rocky areas such as dry woods, cliffs and dunes. Prefers full sun but tolerates partial shade, average well-drained soil.
      • Appearance : a suckering shrub with oval leaves that can spread to form thickets, grows to two metres tall.