Wednesday, January 30, 2008


Being a man is tough. I think this is not a new fact, but it is a fact which is extremely important to acknowledge today.

In my interminable funk, it seems that I'm at a turning point. I've been sitting around, waiting for somebody to notice how miserable I am, while time passes and nothing changes. I'm coming to realize that nobody can take charge of my life except me.

Men today are told to be vulnerable, to be open, to share their feelings. These are not bad ideas, in themselves. But if taken alone, they produce wimps; "girly men." No - this must not happen to me. My vulnerability needs to be applied with wisdom; my openness needs to be secure, and my feelings need to be balanced by my actions. Often this means I need to sacrifice the selfish validity of my own suffering to be the husband, father, and man God calls me to be.

We men are told repeatedly not to be the authorities in our homes, but to be partners in the mission of raising a family. I am now beginning to see the danger in that statement. In any partnership, one must lead. This does not negate the contribution or input of the other partner, but it's only natural that one will select the course upon which the two sail. When men abrogate that responsibility in favour of the latest Dr. Philism or Oprahology, they do their families a great disservice. We need to be strong, we need to be leaders, we need to call the shots and bring our wives and children closer to Christ.

Does that mean that reasserting myself as the spiritual and temporal head of my household will be a seamless transition? Not in the least. Does the difficulty of the task permit me to sluff it off? Not at all.

It's time to be a man.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Help Direct the Federal Budget

The Federal Government of Canada is currently open for input into its main priorities for the upcoming fiscal year, and is welcoming comments on their homepage for what we feel our spending priorities are.

Check it out... deadline is Feb 11.

Tip of the hat to: SDA, trying to organize a concerted effort towards removing taxpayer dollars from the abusive Human Rights Commissions which are being used by radical Muslims to silence and/or bankrupt their opponents in the press.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

An Invitation

Within the dual pressures of the despair of crumbling job satisfaction and the spiritual valley through which I'm trudging these days, I am sensing an invitation from God.

It spurns, as is not unusual for me, out of a Christian rock song from the '80s. Also not surprising to my regular readers is that this is a Rick Cua rock song. Its title is "Line of Fire."

The lyrics - in their cheesy '80s glory - go something like this:

He's been watching you all through the night
He's been keeping your soul in his sights
With every second feel the hunger grow
Where or when love strikes, you'll never know

He takes careful aim
He sees you in the distance
You are the target, he can't miss

Step into his line of fire
He's lookin' for you, his heart's desire
Step into his line of fire
He's comin' at you with rapid fire

Scripturally, this is basically, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock" from John's Apocalypse. I am sensing an invitation from the Lord to make myself vulnerable to him. This is immeasurably difficult for me. I ask for your prayers as I struggle to accept this invitation.

Monday, January 07, 2008

A Funk

It gives me much comfort to know that even a person like Mother Theresa had her own dark night of the soul - that is to say, a time of supreme trial of heart, mind, and spirit as to the goodness and love of God:

Throughout 1946 and 1947, Mother Teresa experienced a profound union with Christ. But soon after she left the convent and began her work among the destitute and dying on the street, the visions and locutions ceased, and she experienced a spiritual darkness that would remain with her until her death. It is hard to know what is more to be marveled at: that this twentieth-century commander of a worldwide apostolate and army of charity should have been a visionary contemplative at heart; or that she should have persisted in radiating invincible faith and love while suffering inwardly from the loss of spiritual consolation. In letters written during the 1950s and 1960s to Fr. Van Exem, Archbishop PĂ©rier, and to later spiritual directors, Fr. L. T. Picachy, S.J., and Fr. J. Neuner, S.J., she disclosed feelings of doubt, loneliness, and abandonment. God seemed absent, heaven empty, and bitterest of all, her own suffering seemed to count for nothing, “. . . just that terrible pain of loss, of God not wanting me, of God not being God, of God not really existing.”

Often we are force-fed the falsehood that true holiness means always feeling peaceful, joyful, and radiating God's love in a genuine manner. But more often we don't feel like that; or to make my point, I don't feel like that all the time. I feel weak, sad, lonely... so lonely... and it's hard for me to accept the love of God. It's hard for me to open myself up to him and to hear his words.

Yet when I take the risk and open my spirit up to him in prayer, that is the one resounding message I hear from Jesus: "I love you! You don't have to prove anything to me, you don't have to be a saint, you don't have to be the image of human perfection, for my love is stronger than your weakness."

Can such a love exist that renders my failings irrelevant? I know my wife loves me with all her heart, but even she can't see past some of my faults. And ditto I for her. We expect each other to change, but God doesn't expect us to change. He merely calls us to his side, to true intimacy, to vulnerability - and invites us to receive him. He doesn't expect change in us, but he does effect change in us, for when we are close to him we cannot help but assume his holiness.

So let the funk come... I know that my redeemer lives, and that he died for me.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Corporate Efficiency

Hear my sad tale of corporate woe...

I worked five shifts in the week of Christmas, which under Canadian labour practices means that two of those shifts are overtime, since both Christmas and Boxing Day are statutory holidays here. I also worked the closing shift on New Year's Eve (yippee!) and since I worked until 2:00 AM, I was entitled to 2 hours of overtime on the feast of Mary Mother of God (or as my company calls it, New Year's Day).

As a manager, however, overtime doesn't automatically appear on my paycheck like it would if I were an hourly employee. No... I have to fill out a form.

So I print off the form. This itself is a significant task. I have to log in to our intranet, find the right form, and send it to the printer. It used to be that we had printers interspersed throughout the building, so you never had to go more than 20 paces to the nearest one. Now, because it's more efficient, we have one huge super-printer in a "secure" room (with no door) way across the building. Imagine walking across a football field to get a piece of paper. That's what I need to do, but no problem. I could use the exercise - I guess the company knows I'm out of shape. I should thank them, really.

This form is a full sheet of paper, but for some inane reason the nutbar who created it only gives me tiny blanks in which to fill my name, employee number, and the shift I worked, plus an even tinier blank to fill in why I deserve to paid overtime for those days. So already the experience is an unpleasant one; the form itself makes me feel like I'm a burden to the company.

In the section for "Overtime Actually Worked,"I fill in the blanks beside Wednesday and Saturday with 8 hours each; Wednesday because I actually worked on Boxing Day, and Saturday because it was the fifth shift I worked in a week when I should only work three shifts (yeah, I know it's complicated, but that's why I get paid the big bucks). Then I write in my two hours for January 1 in the Tuesday blank, and go in search of my boss to get her signature approving it. Now, understand that my boss is my new boss effective January 1 (the project bosses like to rotate amongst themselves on a yearly basis), and my old boss had pre-approved me working all this crazy overtime when I told him that if I merely took the time off that I wouldn't get my work done. So I have to explain all this again, and she goes off to find him to confirm my suspicious tale. Then she comes back to me and says I need to fill out two forms because the shifts for which I'm claiming overtime fall into two different weeks.

Log in, print two new forms... walk across the football field... fill in the tiny spaces with the same information... find my new boss again, who takes the forms back to my old boss. He signs them and brings them back to me, and tells me that I need to fill in the same information on both forms in the "Pre-approved Overtime" section as well. More tiny spaces to fill in... finally done.

Then I have to fax it to our payroll department. Before my employer introduced all these efficiency measures, I used to be able to actually walk up to my payroll rep and give her the paperwork. Now I have to fax it to her.

Is the fax number on the form? I think you can deduce the answer. Is it on our company's intranet site? Not there either. That would be a logical place. So I have to call a toll-free number to get it.

I've called these guys before, so I know enough to put on a headset because I know it'll be a while and I don't want to strain my neck by shouldering the phone.

The hold music is actually somewhat enjoyable - a rare ray of sunshine into this bleak process - but they keep interrupting it to tell me that they still haven't answered my call. After about five minutes, Kyle answers the phone. I identify myself and tell him I need the phone number to fax in my overtime form. I rightly guessed that this task is simple enough for him to fulfill it, and also know that if I ask him when the deadline is to catch the next pay cycle that he'll be stumped and need to "open a case" to get me the answer. So I steer clear of that question.

The number Kyle provides is naturally a local one - very local, it turns out. It's in my building. I head over to the fax machine (which is actually the super-printer across the football field) and dial the 5-digit internal extension for the other fax machine in the building and send over my completed forms. I swear I can almost hear it ringing through the wall separating me from the Secret Chamber of Payroll.

The fax machine asks me to wait while it produces a confirmation page so I know that the fax went through. It gives me two of them for good measure.

I shouldn't complain, though. The overtime will probably add $300 to my paycheque, and it only took me two hours to ensure that I'll get it.

If I submitted it in time for the payroll cutoff.