Sunday, December 18, 2011
I really must protest in the strongest terms, the use of the carol Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, each Christmas. It is alarming that such content should be broadcast at all, but especially to young children—and, make no mistake—this carol is geared to our little ones.
At a time when provincial governments are introducing legislation to curb bullying, the behaviour of this gaggle of reindeer towards Rudolph is unconscionable. I have always understood reindeer to be gentle animals in need of preservation, but I’m not sure that’s a good idea with this reported behaviour.
According to the record, it was simply his difference to them, namely his peculiar nose, which caused them to scorn and ostracise him. If the report is correct, the reindeer laughed at him and called him names, unacceptable behaviour at any time, but indecent at this time of peace and love.
As if that wasn’t enough, they wouldn’t let poor old Rudolph join in any reindeer games. Clearly, they considered him an outsider, conforming insufficiently to their traditions and company—he was not one of them at all.
Rudolph’s stoic response stands out in clear contrast. We don’t hear a word from him of censure or complaint, although I’m not sure whether his absence of retort was loving regard for his erstwhile brothers and sisters, refusing to respond in kind, or he was simply cowed into silence.
There is also no record of Santa Claus intervening. Didn’t he know what was going on? If he chose to ignore it, he was complicit in the reindeers’ actions. Perhaps the magnanimous old fellow didn’t want to hurt their feelings, which wouldn’t help his authority. Donner and Blitzen may now be laughing at him!
If he did sense some awkwardness among the reindeer, perhaps he thought elevating Rudolph to a place of prominence, befitting his nose, would solve the problem. It certainly changed the reindeers’ appreciation of Rudolph, their behaviour changing from derision to adulation in a moment.
I can’t help feeling that this sudden change in attitude might not last. What will happen when age reduces the brightness of Rudolph’s nose and is no longer able to pierce the fog? Will Santa Claus abandon him again to the taunts of the others.
That idea may occur to Rudolph, but differently. Perhaps, if he can find a way to dull his nose—hide his light under a bushel, so to speak—the others would accept him after all. If so, he could teach us each a lesson for
caving, er, fitting in to the crowd. Which Way to go
Sunday, December 11, 2011
Hello Folks: a great Christmas and happy New year to you all. Here is a copy of our Christma Letter for 2011.
Most events this year were related to our family and writing. We flew to Montreal in February to visit our daughter and family to keep up with antics of their four year old son, Luciano. We had the opportunity to sign and sell books at Ottawa’s Salem Christian bookstore, who always gave us a warm welcome.
Our third book, Gone with the Spirit, shortlisted the previous year, came out in the spring. It gave us options for our book tables that we manned in Red Deer, Calgary, Edmonton, Medicine Hat and Lethbridge through the winter and into the rest of the year. You can see all our books at pebblepress.ca or by inserting Bryan Norford in the Amazon search box.
We learned early in the year that Dan our grandson and his wife Joelle were expecting their third child, a son, Jakob, a brother to Norah and Cole. Later we learned that our daughter, Alex in Montreal, was expecting a brother to Luciano. Due early March 2012, he has already been named Matteo!
In April, we drove to the coast, visiting friends in Kelowna and many friends we made over the twenty years we lived in the Vancouver area. On a visit to Regent College, where Bryan received his MDiv, the bookstore manager told us of a system for self-publishing at minimum cost. He introduced us to another Regent graduate in Toronto who was familiar with the program, and we kept that in mind for our June trip to eastern Canada.
During the spring our granddaughter suggested we all pray on Sunday afternoons for family needs. We prayed by conference call as our family was scattered around the world. We recall one Sunday we were in Lethbridge, our granddaughter phoned in from Toronto, a daughter called from Phoenix, another daughter joined us from New Zealand, and our grandson checked in from China! With gratitude to God and the help of others, the needs were met.
In May we drove to Montreal, stopping in Winnipeg where we made contact with our publisher regarding their latest competition. Bryan was writing a new book he was planning to enter. The following two and half days we drove to Ottawa, where we twice signed books at Salem again. That evening we were in Montreal to be with our family.
We settled home for a summer and fall of writing, book signings and family visits. We were delighted to have our eldest daughter from New Zealand in Calgary for October to help her daughter-in-law during with the birth of their third child. We had the privilege of visiting with them all a number of times and meeting our latest great grandchild Jakob.
In November, we proudly witnessed our only granddaughter graduate with a PhD in Psychology. She is our oldest grandchild, leading a parade of six grandsons, and another on the way. Most of these great guys are still eligible bachelors!
We look forward to a blessed New Year, and in January plan to visit our eldest daughter in New Zealand, and to meet our eighth grandchild in March. With a couple more books on the way, it will certainly be busy and exciting.
We cannot help but be thankful to God for the full life we have and the family He has given us. The love of God, grace and truth of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the abiding fellowship of the Holy Spirit be yours throughout 2012, as we face whatever changes and challenges may come our way.
Ann and Bryan
Sunday, December 4, 2011
Only 21 days to the day when we celebrate the occasion of superlative joy of God’s greatest gift to humankind.
But it is fitting to realize Christmas also carries a reminder of the pain of life as well. Mary’s baby conceived out of wedlock—no real deal these days—carried enormous stigma in the Jewish culture of the day. Mary’s pain of childbirth reflected the ostracism that she would receive from people around her, as well as the pain that this baby was eventually to bear for our sin.
Christmas has become a family affair; a good thing considering the family nature of that original event, and the many fractured families of today. But many who have no family dread Christmas. More than one has said they wished they could fall asleep in early December and not wake up until January.
For several Christmases, we have invited one or two singles to join us for some part of our Christmas celebration. It is not easy, for visitors may feel like interlopers in a family affair. Yet Jesus came to bring us who were separated from Him into His family. To include those who are cut off from their own family relationships is simply a reflection of His love.
Sunday, November 27, 2011
I usually look forward to the National’s Rex Murphy’s commentaries on Thursday evenings, but missed the last one. Too bad, although I have the full comment. It’s worth reading: http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2011/11/26/rex-murphy-what-the-tolerant-must-tolerate/
Rex Murphy reminds us of the of the insults and sacrilege that Christians and Christianity endures. A fraction of that directed at Islam would raise riots in the Islamic world. Few Islamic countries tolerate even a Christian presence, let alone Christian influence.
While many consider the Arab Spring will bring a liberating democratic sweep across the Arab world, Naguib Sawiris, an influential Egyptian Christian, is pessimistic. Peter Mansbridge’s One on One interview,
http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/story/2011/11/21/naguib-sawiris-video.html, with him this weekend is as enlightening as Rex Murphy’s commentary was incisive.
Both Israel and Isalm claim Abraham as their ancestor. If there is to be an ultimate battle that will bring about the closing of this age, it will be the culminating anger of Ishmael against Isaac. The seething anger in the Arab world against Israel and her western support has a spiritual dimension that exceeds any injustice, real or perceived, between Israel and Arab claimants of Palestinian lands.
God has kept his promise to both Israel and Ishmael in blessing their descendants. But God will judge all human leadership that He provides, including Islam, for its abuse of power.
Egypt is the largest Arab nation, and the Muslim Brotherhood—in the past a radical version of Islam—has been building its political base underground for eight years supported by other Arab nations. It is rumoured to sweep tomorrow’s Egyptian elections. If so, the current military dictatorship is likely to give way to a Muslim theocracy with little regard for other faiths.
The same process could occur in other uprisings in Tunisia, Libya, and Syria, with similar rumblings in other Arab states. While the majority of Muslims would like to live in peace and security—like most of us—to raise their families, militant Islam intimidates them and opposes the west—or any infidel that refuses allegiance to their version of God.
That a democratically elected Middle East will be friendlier to the West, or, perish the thought, might seek friendly relations with Israel, is unlikely. Even an elected government can still stifle freedom of speech and religion. And as the west strays from its Christian roots, it becomes more vulnerable to pagan decline and the inroads of other faiths with their pernicious brands of reform.
The future without God frequently looks bleak at both the personal and political level. But whatever the future, the Christian can face it with confidence knowing his trust in God will never be misplaced. That God will intervene in the affairs of this world on That Day is the Christians’ hope and security. See my Christmas offer on Guess Whose Coming to Reign.
I liked Naguib Sawiris’ response when Peter Mansbridge asked him if he was afraid. He responded that he wasn’t afraid because he trusted God; that a Christian who fears denies the faith he claims!
Monday, November 21, 2011
A culture that denies individuals’ accountability to God, deteriorates into a self-serving society that develops its own rules of behaviour. Rationalization desensitizes conscience, the God-given gauge for conduct, blurring the line between good and evil. Moral standards derived from personal opinion loosen the cohesiveness of society.
There are now only two forms of sexual expression forbidden by today’s western culture: Pedophilia and rape. All other sexual activity ranks either as normal or acceptable. Very different from the only acceptable practice of sex within marriage of one man to one woman recognized just a few decades ago.
The free-for-all that now constitutes sexual practice has produced broken families, a generation of scarred children and has migrated to the destruction of human life as a birth control measure. Now that sex is primarily for recreation and not procreation, children are increasingly targeted for sexual recreation.
Within the last week or so, reports of youth abused by adults in authority have surfaced at both Penn State and Prairie Bible Institute. The tragedy of the native residential schools not only continues, a strong lobby advocates normalizing this practice between consenting individuals.
For those whose sexual orientation is toward children, pornographic images of children continue to proliferate around the world. The liberalizing of the varied expressions of sex not only broadens categories of practices considered acceptable but also increases the practice of those forbidden.
Some may consider this freedom gained. But each “advance” creates demand to legitimate wider practice. This fosters exploitation, slavery and misery of others. If every tree is known by its fruit, this tree is rancid and poisonous.
Yet this deepening crisis is excused by love. How meagre and ephemeral is this distorted image of love that demands fulfilment yet destroys its environment. True love is sacrificial, acting beyond its needs and demands. It builds bridges over the chasms of human failure.
This spring of love is in God Himself. Sacrificial faithfulness maintained in the “one flesh” heterosexual union pictures God’s faithfulness to His people. His ultimate sacrifice is the fruit of His love, which draws us to Him in reconciliation and joy.