Archive for October, 2009

Halloween Night

Well, after writing a series of Halloween/Samhein blogs and exploring the subject I  found myself still ambivalent.  I could make do with Thanksgiving to celebrate Harvest and Good Friday/Easter to celebrate Christ’s victory over death.  I don’t miss Halloween the slightest when we are in Africa, and I look at the macabre aspects with revulsion.

And yet, I used to love handing out Halloween treats as a teenager.  I enjoyed the excuse to costume up, and yes, carving Jack-o-lanterns, when they were nothing more than a fun craft with pumpkin pie to follow.

If I ever get into a real life conversation about Halloween with someone other than another ambivalent Christian, I think I will explore the fear of death and the answer of the resurrection.  I think our culture swings between an unhealthy denial and unhealthy defiant fascination with death.

So what did I do with the day itself?

This year the grocery store I shop at gifted me a free box of Halloween mini bars for buying a generous load of groceries. It was unexpected.  I hadn’t heeded the coupons, or shopped intentionally, but when I finished the clerk looked at my total, pulled a box of candy bars out from under the counter and said, “Do you have a coupon?  I think you qualify, oh wait, I have an extra coupon here for you.”

I looked at the box, did not have the strength of character to turn down her kindness, and came home with the chocolate.  Tonight I left on the kitchen light and the light over the side entry and handed out treats to  exactly three door bell rings- “Two angels with halos, a little boy, sans costume but sucking a lollipop and holding on to his mother’s hand, and later, after it started to rain, three  pretty moist junior teens, friendly and having a good time.

Oh, and I kept the cat in, and parked the car in the garage.

And I prayed for a friend who sent a message this evening that he has been called to his mother’s side. She is doing poorly and the diagnosis is pancreatic cancer.

I know too that she is one who also says,

“And though worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God.”


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Songs the Magpie sang

Being fairly new to the fine art of net surfing, I only recently discovered that by putting in a tag phrase of that old song that’s been rolling around in your memory you can get Youtube to cough up just about any song you might feel like hearing or singing.

When our daughter was about four we once took a training course, and she attended the Nursery School at the center.  One day it was her choice to pick a song to sing.  They were definitely expecting, “Jesus Loves Me,” “This Little Light of Mine,” or something of like ilk.  But no, our darling daughter requested “What shall we do With the Drunken Sailor?”  I found myself defending the cultural value of a sea chantey (Irish drinking song???) to a concerned teacher.

And thinking of that sort of sent me researching more bedtime favorites.  Mind you, as a mitigating factor, I should also  point out that our Granddaughter is being put to bed with all five verses of “Children of the Heavenly Father” as sung to her Mom by her father.

He also sang these.

And then I found this one.  Sometimes singers do improve with age.  Or perhaps there is less self-focus in this presentation (and of course, more hoop-la).

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Hardly a coincidence

In 1981, the Open Doors organization clandestinely delivered one million Bibles to a Chinese beach for the benefit of house-churches.  It was called “Operation Pearl”. For various reasons it did not remain a secret and ended up being featured in Time Magazine.

In his book “The Calling,” Brother Andrews tells the story of the cost to one Chinese Pastor, a seventy-year-old house-church leader. He had received 10,000 Bibles for distribution, but being warned that the police were interrogating people, buried them in a safe place.

The officials decided that he was probably one of the organizers and called him in for interrogation,

“As the interrogators pressured him for names of others involved in Pearl, he remained silent.” . . he just shut his eyes and prayed.

“His reaction only infuriated the investigators all the more. In desperation, they resorted to an especially cruel means of torture. Taking John into the prison courtyard, they tied his hands behind his back and made him stand on a wooden box about four feet high and less than a foot wide. Then they placed a noose around his neck and attached the rope to a wooden beam above his head.

‘We have given up on you,’ the officials said. ‘The moment you sway violently or your legs collapse with fatigue, you will hang yourself. It is a just penalty for your stubbornness.’ Then they left him.”

Hours turned into days. . he couldn’t afford to sleep. His legs swelled to twice their normal size until numbness set in.  After a week, with John still standing, without sleep, food, or water past what he caught on his tongue when it rained,  word spread around the prison.  By day twelve he  was delirious but still standing.  On the thirteenth day a thunderstorm swept in.

“As he stood there pelted by the rain, his resistance gave out. A sudden flash of lightning and a simultaneous clap of thunder caused him to pitch forward. The noose tightened.

“The next thing he knew, John heard himself coughing. He was no longer standing but lying on the floor. His legs had been propped up by a chair, and he could feel the blood flowing back into his upper body. The pain was excruciating.”

People were shaking him. Gradually he realized it was the two policemen who had been guarding him.

” ‘Please,’ they shouted, ‘don’t die- please.’ John managed to clear his brain for a moment.

‘Why?’ was all he could say.

‘Because we want to know your Savior, Jesus,’ they replied, trembling.

‘But why?’ he asked again.

‘Because he saved you!’  they exclaimed. ‘ A bolt of lightening cut the rope above your head just as you fell.  Don’t tell us that was a coincidence!’ ”

The whole story is worth reading. You can find it in, “The Unforgettable Story of a Man Who Discovered the Adventure of The Calling” by Brother Andrew with Verne Becker- 1996 by Random House.

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“If I were serious about Halloween, I might dress up as an AntiVampire. I’d put on a tunic and a crown of thorns and I’d go around with a loaf of bread and some wine and offer people my own blood to drink and flesh to eat and tell them that the new life it gives them will enable them to pick up their cross and die to the world in order to truly live, which in its own awe inspiring way is scarier than all the freaks and monsters combined. But it’s a bit too serious and a bit too sacred, and I think one or two people might take it the wrong way.”


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Direct Energy at your door

“My old man’s a salesman, whaddya think about that?

He wears a Direct Energy Jacket, he wears a Direct Energy Hat;

He has a Direct Energy name tag, slung about his neck,

And every Friday evening he reads the great consolidation deal from a big black notebook, door-to-door.”

And he’d like you to dump your Enmax account for a five year lock-in energy gas and electric deal with Direct Energy that will cost you $400.00 to back out of later if it takes more than ten days of “cool-down” time to change your mind.

“Please sign on the dotted line right now, on your doorstep, in the gathering dusk.  And no, you can’t call me back, I’ve lost my cell-phone.”

“Well, Sir, we don’t sign things like that without doing some homework.”

Wouldn’t you know it, right there on the net the most abbreviated search brings up kind Mr. Buffy:

I had a rep from Direct Energy come to my door. She showed me an invoice that had a Direct Energy bill on one side, and an ENMAX bill on the other. She was claiming that they are working with ENMAX to consolidate two bills into one. I questioned her that it was odd that two competitors would be working together on something like this. She claimed lower admin costs for the customer and it was a part of this go green campaign. I asked her many times that all she was doing was putting two bills together and not actually de-enrolling me from ENMAX and into Direct. She said, no, blah blah blah.

I signed the paper and go back inside. When I looked into the details on the paper (which she was hesitant to show me, rushing through, covering up) I find out that she did actually switch me from ENMAX to Direct on RRO.

I’ve been hearing this happening to a few people now and they too went through the same experience. So..heads up”

Well, the Magpie did some surfing and it looks like the competition is offering a sweeter deal.  And they don’t have to beat a path to your door to do it.  Seems a more Canadian way somehow.

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My Old Man

When our kids were growing up their Dad sang to them a variety of songs, some from his father.

He used to sing

“My old man’s a salesman

Whaddya you think about that?

He wears a salesmans raincoat, he wears a salesman’s hat;

He wears a salesman’s collar, he wears a salesman’s shoes;

And every Saturday evening he reads the salesman’s news,

And someday, if I can, I’m going to be salesman

Just like my old man.”

It was a zipper song and my old man became a banker, tinker, tailor, beggarman, and of course computer programmer in succession.

Well I was hunting for the words for the blog that will follow this and I found the Dustman song.

Just for you, Magpie.

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Remember her need

Amanda Lindhout

Amanda Lindhout, kidnapped in Somalia for more than 14 months.

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