Monday, April 30, 2012

Finding God in all the Wrong Places – Part Two

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Today’s Blog Post
Finding God in all the Wrong Places – Part Two

(This posting could be considered as the second part of the “Culture” of my city of Peterborough… or it could be the “Christian Tourist”.)

As I entered the huge and very old building it took my breath away. I was entering a very different world than the one that I am used to. This was the Sacred Heart of Jesus Roman Catholic Church which stands at the corner of Romaine and Aylmer in Peterborough.

This is hard to believe!  This stately church is in such a sharp contrast to the community that it sits in. Everything about this place looks as if it should be in Roman or at least in Quebec. It is too beautiful to be in old Peterborough.  It is not like the St. Alphonsus Catholic Church that I attended a week before Easter – which is much more modern.

I met the Pastor of this church one day when I was carving in my Misty Hollow work shop.  I was a little startled when his voice said, “Good afternoon.”  I had turned to see a young priest and his bicycle just outside my garage.  His name was Father Ervens Mengelle.

Fr. Ervens had found me on the Internet and came to ask about me doing a carving for the church.  It was the beginning of a new friendship. He is a very interesting person to say the least and a friend.

Yesterday I sat in the service that Fr. Ervens Mengelle conducted.  It was a powerful and uplifting service for me. I specially thank the congregation that allowed a complete stranger to attend their Mass… and welcomed me.

Why would I attend a Roman Catholic Church on a Sunday Morning – as a Protestant, an Evangelical and a Pentecostal?  What could ever get me into that kind of place?

The answer was, I was looking to see if God was there ( there was a couple of other reasons as well).  Lots of protestants and specially evangelicals flat out state that He isn’t there.  Sorry to have to tell my friends, I found God there. I also found a large congregation of friendly and open people worshipping it their own special way.

I left with a deep sense of having had something special happen in me.

Next came a different kind of shock to my system.

I left the Roman Catholic service and then picked up my wife and mother.  We were headed to another evangelical church… the Immanuel Alliance Church on Sherbrook Street.

Whoah – what a contrast to the senses.

Upon entering the foyer there was a buzz happening already with every one talking to each other.  The “Holy Awe” that the Sacred Heart Church contained and produced was definitely not there!  There was a friendly happiness and a different atmosphere.

I can see why most Catholics would have a dickens of a time walking into the Protestant church and specially the Evangelical churches. These people are all about speaking with each other and connecting big time. It seemed that there were good friends meeting good friends that had known each other for years – which was likely true.

The first person I met when I walked through the door was a man I knew from the Small Business Network that I attend in our community. He and his wife operate a Bed and Breakfast not far from Peterborough. Sadly they took him out of the foyer and into an ambulance not long before the service began.

All the songs I knew – except one. I could sing along with these folks.

The pastor’s 35+ minutes were in a fairly big contrast to the priest’s sermon at Sacred Heart at 9 minutes. They both spoke about Jesus being our Shepherd, and explained themselves very well.

It took Pastor Mark Bebbington a little longer to get to the end.  But hey I am a Pentecostal and understand how much a person can try to say before you lose them. Tongue in my cheek at this point… not fair to compare I know!

I had moved from the stately, magnificence of the Roman Catholic Church to the warm fuzzies of a modern little church that you feel surrounded by people that are hand shakers and like to talk before the service starts.

God was there too… not more there… just there… the same as He was at the Sacred Heart Church.

Someone told me one time that you judge a church by what happens to you AFTER YOU LEAVE THE PLACE.  That is happening to me today. I can’t stop thinking about the two churches. Something happened in me yesterday that is deep.

~ Murray Lincoln ~

The Two churches that I attended yesterday...

First - Sacred Heart of Jesus - Roman Catholic Church

Immanuel Alliance Church - Peterborough, Ontario

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Experiencing the “Culture” of my city of Peterborough

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Today’s Blog Post
Experiencing the “Culture” of my city of Peterborough
My wife and I started our Saturday by attending our adopted grandson’s support breakfast for his baseball team at a local restaurant. The young boys on the team served us. What fun.

From there we moved quickly over to the Home Depot, the Temple of Saturday Morning home worship.

From there I went over to a local Hockey Arena to take part on an afternoon of discussion about the promotion and development of culture in our community.  It was a three hour, Saturday afternoon meeting.

It is at this point I will try to bring you into the spot next to me at the table.

The room had approximately 60 people from the creative community of Peterborough and area.   A number of great artists, actors, with crafts of all kinds, as well as several guilds being represented.  Together with these folks was a mix of the City of Peterborough staff from a few different departments.

And finally there were two City of Peterborough Councilors, the political people.

Not to say that everyone else around the table was not political in some way or other!  You should have heard the comments in the discussion groups!!

I had heard about this meeting only hours before and thought that it would be a good time to get a closer to look at the Creative Community of Peterborough.

Slipping into the seat that I occupied was like putting on an old shoe. I had been involved in the arts communities of different cities we have lived in.  I was back at the discussion again of how we might better bring awareness to our community as a whole of the “cultural” things that we know. How we might better share our individual creations or talent/ability with a world that doesn’t know about the “culture” of our city and area.

What does that word “culture” really mean anyway?

In our setting yesterday it meant acting, drama, music of all kinds, concerts, art shows and artists and anything to do with the finer kinds of artistic things.

Having said that I cannot begin to really explain what the unusual collection of people around my table alone was like.  But let’s try…

There were two or three dramatic artists at the table.  One had been involved in the theatre promotional end of things for a number of years.  Others were actors and/or producers.

One lady was from the Fiber Arts group, a spinner and weaver I think. 

A nice lady beside her sang in a church choir and was a knitter.

One fellow is a major musician, promoter and a newspaper editor of newspaper he started when other newspapers wouldn’t help promote the upcoming concerts in the area.

There was an Anthropologist sitting across from me that had lived all around the world doing anthropological things in about 25 different countries… but now retired he has become a sculptor.

The Choir lady was on my right. To my left was a young lady from the National Gallery of Canada that is in our city to study this summer. And beside her was another young lady that does fine art with her stitchery.

Our group was led by the Peterborough Art Gallery’s Director.

Whoa! That was just one table of six tables in the room that were set abuzz with the discussion that followed.

What an afternoon of words.

One thing that came from the discussion was the fact that we live in a Hockey Town. It is a place where on the “Holy Night” is Thursday when the “Peterborough Petes” play their home game.  About 3000 or less people attend the hockey game at the Memorial Arena and that fact shuts down many activities. As the Choir lady stated, “You can’t have Choir Practice on Thursday nights!”

As I left the meeting I was sure of one thing, that much work and effort would be needed to put into the effort to be given by the newly formed culture committee.

The brain storming session of the afternoon was quite stimulating to say the least.

But it was not as stimulating as the walk home from the arena!

Remembering again this is Saturday afternoon. And also pointing out that in this “culture promotion meeting” I have a hundred million thoughts in my head about what has been said.

I walked down a small street that is kind of tucked back into an area that few people travel on. In fact it is like a dead end place with a number of small business plugged into old buildings.  This is just across the railway tracks behind the hockey arena.

It was Saturday afternoon, but the streets were full of vehicles of all sorts!  Something big was happening somewhere in the complex of the buildings. What could it be?

In the lower level there seemed to be something major taking place.  Some folks were outside for their smoke breaks. Others were pouring in and out of the one door on the lower level.  Something inside was noisy and action packed, filled with powerful music that sounded like thunder from the street.

It couldn’t be a wedding!?  It couldn’t be an auction? What was it? I had lived in this small part of our community for 14 years. I had walked by this place dozens of times… but had never noticed what was taking place.

Are you ready for what was taking place inside? I wasn’t!

There in the middle of the room was a Boxing Ring and in the ring were two young men pounding the daylights out of each other.  The bright lights on the ring together with the low ceiling and the seats packed with screaming (and I mean SCREAMING) fans, was like a wall of horror that hit me!!!!

At the same time my ears were assaulted by the music that filled the room with the deep beat… between bouts!

I was like a bug drawn to the light. I couldn’t move. I was standing near the main pole ring side… just behind the Red Corner… with the audience packed into very full chairs to my left.  The person ringing the bell for the start and finish to each round was to my right.

Blood was flowing from the nostrils of one fighter as solid punches were landed by the other dude. Pop. Thud. Umph. Ugh. Ohhh… came from the ring.  Screams from the ladies in the audience were profuse… giving instructions to their sons, boyfriends, friends in the ring how to better kill the other guy!

These words will not convey the sense of utter amazement that I felt at that moment!

I had just come from the “culture” meeting of fine artists, actors, drama type people, the Choir lady, the weavers and knitters, the musical people which included the symphony to rock and roll dudes… to the Peterborough Boxing Club’s major fight afternoon… with young men from all over the area taking part to pound the crap out of each other.

By 5 PM my brain was feeling like I had been in the ring. I was over stimulated emotionally, physically and mentally.

I write this to try and unload some of what I saw and felt and experienced at the deepest level of my life – all one day of retirement.

I had been overloaded with the “culture” of my Peterborough.

One of the ladies in the afternoon meeting had complained that the word “culture” has no meaning. It should be more like, arts, creativity, or talents and abilities – she had suggested.

As I walked away from the Boxing arena I wondered how this culture would ever meet or understand the culture just across the railway tracks – less than 200 feet away.

Oh boy! Culture is alive in my city!

~ Murray Lincoln ~

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Dear Mr. Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada – it has started again and I hate it!

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Today’s Blog Post
Dear Mr. Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada – it has started again and I hate it!

Yesterday at dinner time another stupid call came from your Conservative Party of Canada.  The young man calling was not an original English speaker… with his slight accent it was evident that he was either not in Canada or was a recent recruit to your Conservative Party work place.

I listened to his “Schlemiel! Schlimazel! Hasenpfeffer”.

Schlemiel! Schlimazel! Hasenpfeffer? Yep – that was it.

This young fellow was reading from a script and trying his hardest to make it sound like he was sincere in what he was saying.

After identifying himself and telling me that he was calling on behalf of the Conservative Party of Canada he proceeded to tell me buckets of stuff about Monsieur Thomas Mulcair and what wretched person he was. His message stated that Mulcair was about to raise the Carbon Tax or place one on us… that dirty rotten Mulcair!  And when Mulcair gets away with this our Gasoline Tax and Price will rise yet again.

And he indicated that MULCAIR is a rotten idiot that I should be frightened of and about and because of and whatever.

What a bunch of Alberta Male Bovine Used Alfalfa!!!  Where do your Conservative Party of Canada folks dig this crap up?

I let the young man from the offshore calling service… or the downtown protesting student riots… say his whole ditty.

Then I asked him if he personally was a Conservative or if he worked for the Conservative Party of Canada.  The poor guy sputtered a little and said that he was working for a call agencies of some sort.

I have to confess that I was plain ole riled up by this stage. After tearing down Thomas Mulcair the way your message did… I was angry… really angry. I was still angry over the way that your Party was hacking at Bob Rae and what an idiot he is in his role as a flip flopper – you know NDP now Liberal. 

But now, 3 years plus away from a horrific possibility that Thomas Mulcair might become our next Prime Minister – your planners are now telling me to worry about a Carbon Tax and Higher Gas prices!???!

In case you have noticed – the GAS PRICES are rising under YOUR ADMINISTRATION – YOU are the Prime Minister that is doing nothing about it at all!  It isn’t Mulcair – it is you.

The caller yesterday pointed out to me that Mulcair was dangerous and should not be trusted.  It was bad timing – many of us can’t trust the present Government for almost everything.

Many of my friends are about to lose their jobs because of the decisions you and your Government Leaders have made.  And I wouldn’t trust anything that is happening now by you folks. Mulcair is small peanuts!

I told the young man on the telephone that I don’t trust you or your Government… and that many of my friends were about to lose their jobs. He asked what area that would be in (HEY he was listening!).

He sputtered a little and said, “So from what you said I guess you will not be making a Donation to the Conservative Party of Canada?”

I laughed out loud – (sorry young fellow…) what a funny thing to ask.  Tear Mulcair down… tell me how horrible he is and then ask me for money!  What a bunch of Alberta Male Bovine Used Alfalfa!!!!!

I said earlier that what the young fellow said was “Schlemiel! Schlimazel! Hasenpfeffer”. What is that?  Here it is…

Schlemiel! Schlimazel! Hasenpfeffer
At the start of each TV episode, Laverne and Shirley are seen skipping down the street, arm in arm, reciting a Yiddish-American hopscotch chant: "1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 Schlemiel! Schlimazel! Hasenpfeffer Incorporated!" This then leads into the series' theme song which is entitled "Making Our Dreams Come True" and is performed by Cyndi Grecco. 

schlemiel : an inept clumsy person; a bungler; a dolt (Yiddish shlemil) 

schlimazel : a chronically unlucky person (שלימזל shlimazl, from Middle High German slim 'crooked' and Hebrew מזל mazzāl 'luck') (OED)

Hasenpfeffer (also spelled hasenfeffer) is a traditional German stew made from marinated rabbit or hare. Pfeffer is not only the name of a spice, but also of a 
dish where the animal's blood is used as a gelling agent for the sauce. 

Yep – what your party organizers and planners are offering Canadians now is pure “Schlemiel! Schlimazel! Hasenpfeffer”. That is inept clumsy person; a bungler; a dolt; chronically unlucky person; slim 'crooked'; 'luck'; producing a a traditional German stew made from marinated rabbit or hare; seasoned with Pfeffer; but also with the animal's blood is used as a gelling agent for the sauce. 

Why does it make so angry?  Why does it make so many of us Canadians angry?

Well it’s a simple answer.  YOU and the Conservative Party of Canada think we are stupid. You really do. No?  You say you don’t?  Well why call and tell me what a lowly opposition leader is planning to do three years from now… not now… when you are the Prime Minister of Canada!  He can do nothing now with your ultimate power and control factor – You HAVE A MAJORITY!

Yep! You offer Schlemiel! Schlimazel! Hasenpfeffer”.

Please stop calling.. please.. please – at least give me three years of no calls!

~ Murray Lincoln ~


Friday, April 27, 2012

The Java Jive and the Aged People at the Gardens - Smooth Music

Misty Hollow Carving
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Today’s Blog Post

The Java Jive and the Aged People at the Gardens - Smooth Music

“Smooth” is the best word I can use to describe the sound of “Java Jive”.  Java Jive performed last evening at the Royal Gardens (Retirement Residence) in Peterborough, Ontario.  Very smooth.

Three gentlemen shared their vocals while one fellow played an amazing guitar.  They were engaging to say the least.  What style and what sound!

Java Jive last night took me back to days before I was born… and different times since I was born – but do not remember.  They “crooned”.  So very different than most music that I hear today.

Right now the Musical Background at McDonald’s Restaurant is all pop… very pop… rock and roll mixed with the very popular music of today. It is so different from the grace of the Java Jive group of last evening.

As I sat listening to these guys sing last night I was drawing parallels in my mind and contrasts. I was trying to find where I fit in this great spectrum of sound.

I grew up on Rock and Roll.. noisy and with a great beat.. a deep beat.  I listened to Western Music for a long time until the stories of the old songs were all memorized and there was nothing more to learn from them.

I also listened to church music. It was generally from a Hymn Book but could also be from memorization.  Then it changed rapidly in recent times and it is on a screen now – very seldom memorized because it changes too quickly… with so much new to take in.

Now my age has nothing to do with it! How dare you think that!!!

It is too much to shift all the time.

Yet as I listened to Java Jive last evening I realized how far we have come from the “crooning” days.  The slow, mellow, soft, suggestive, plaintive, pleading of the old songs – is amazing. It is so far from the stuff that is on all the time now.

I walked into my friend’s workshop the other day. What a shock!  He had music on that was from a Classical Station! Imagine!  My rock and roll in my garage makes me embarrassed to say the least.  But my friend makes better wood working than I do!! So his music needs to be better as well… I guess.

As I have been reflecting on this thought of musical differences and preferences I smile. So much has changed in me.

Not long ago my three grandsons were in my vehicle with me. I had some cool beat on the radio. As I looked at the grandson beside me his head was moving rhythmically to the beat. He likes the same stuff as I do!  Too cool.

But with the lack of variety today.. he may never know what a crooner is… and as far as sitting through a slow, smooth and gentle sound that is filled with harmonizing… he will never know what that is about.

The Java Jive was performing to an audience of very old people… that were young when these songs were sung.

Fast forward the time and have me sitting where the seniors are sitting now.. the music will not be smooth – but rather Bump, Bump, Bump – Thump Thump Thump wooo a wooo a uh!

Times are changing too fast for me!  Oh Boy!

~ Murray Lincoln ~

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Discarded Piece of Wood – Old and Useless – not so

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Today’s Blog Post
The Discarded Piece of Wood – Old and Useless – not so

As I carried the piece of wood into the shop of my fellow craftsman I didn’t want to give it up.  Yet I had no use for the old wood anymore.  I had handled it for the past few weeks now it was time to let it go.

Yet I had put so much of myself into it and looked at every bit of the surface so often I had memorized the thing from top to bottom, left to right.

About 75 years ago it had been placed into someone’s old house from what I determined when I bought it in Bracebridge, Ontario.  It had been taken out of the old house when renovations were being done on that old place. 

For all these years it had served as a door frame in that old place. The little ones of the family had run around that old place and knocked against the door frame often, the adults had leaned on it as they shared in the family experience, and it had been a part of a lot of people’s lives.  Many memories happened in and around that old door frame.

When it was ripped out of the place where it had stood so sturdy for so long it was destined for destruction.  With the nail holes in it and the paint on the edges together with the old varnish that had been applied to its top surface – it was good for nothing anymore.

When I bought the mahogany door frame from the “Re-Store” of “Habitat for Humanity” I saw the promise or the possibility in that old piece of wood.  Then the wood stood lifeless in my garage for over two years more.

The call came asking if I was able to carve a “Clock Beard”.  I did know that stage that Clocks had “Beards”.  I had seen the intricate carving on the very old clocks in the museums that we had visited over the years but never knew what they we were called.

The craftsman that made the connection with me was Rob Brown of Equinox Interiors ( ). Rob was building a clock cabinet for Bill.  His beautiful wood work was in need of a carving to be done to complete the task at hand.

After meeting with Rob and Bill (the man who is having the clock made) I set off back to Misty Hollow’s workshop to begin the planning for this possible carving.

Using an original carving that Bill had of a Clock Beard from the 1800s I began to create a “Canadiana” kind of Beard for the new clock. This one would have maple leaves on it.

The old piece of discarded wood is now going to be in the brand new clock. It will stand sturdy and proudly somewhere in Canada – for years to come.  How about another 75 to 100 years.

( The Completed Beard - held in place - its future home)

What an adventure this has been!

I really didn’t want to give up that old piece of wood… sheesh! But today I am celebrating the new opportunity for an old piece of wood.

Hey you know – that is a lot like my life!  WOW!

~ Murray Lincoln ~