Monday, July 28, 2008

Another Caption Contest!

Some ideas to get you started:
  • "Mommy, this popsicle tastes funny."
  • "I am not watching too many princess movies!"
  • "Please not that symbol... please not that symbol..."

Friday, July 25, 2008

Dear Anonymous

Thank you.

That was a very grand gesture.

You know who you are.


Hey everyone... we're having an "open surprise party" for Dawn on August 1. Feel free to show up at our house anytime after 7:00 PM.

An "open" surprise party means that she is aware of it and helping to plan it.

What's more... I love this woman so much that I even signed up for Facebook to help promote her party.

Love conquers all.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

We Love Our Pope

At the closing Mass for Sydney's World Youth Day, reports Australian cardinal Archbishop George Pell had the following comments:

Addressing the Pope, the prelate thanked him for having made World Youth Day an "ordinary part" of the Church's life.

"Your Holiness, the World Youth Days were the invention of Pope John Paul the Great," Cardinal Pell recalled. "The World Youth Day in Cologne was already announced before your election. You decided to continue the World Youth Days and to hold this one in Sydney. We are profoundly grateful for this decision, indicating that the World Youth Days do not belong to one pope, or even one generation, but are now an ordinary part of the life of the Church. The John Paul II generation, young and old alike, is proud to be faithful sons and daughters of Pope Benedict."

At this, the Holy Father raised his hands and the crowd erupted into cheers.

That brought tears to my eyes when I read it.

We don't love our Pope because he is some fad-of-the-week rock star. We love him because he represents for us Christ, the ultimate servant, giving up his life for the Church. This cheer was not intended for the person of Joseph Ratzinger aka Benedict XVI, but extends deep into the mystical connection between Christ and his body, touching the very face of Jesus.

The 400,000 youth in attendance recognize the eternal promise of Christ as made manifest in the papal role. Their cheers for Benedict are an effect of their love for God, and of their receptiveness to God's love for them.

These World Youth Days are going to change the world; just wait and see. In fifty years, I warrant that nearly every Church leader will be able to point back to his experience at one or more WYD event as a turning point in his faith.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


As my family grows and grows, it is occurring to me more and more that I'm not really the one making all this new life happen.

Nor is my wife. I'm not speaking about the biology here. I'm talking about the creation of a new, living soul who would not have existed but for our openness to life.

Some years ago I was talking to my paternal grandmother, who had seven children. I thanked her for her openness, as I truly enjoy knowing my aunts, uncles, and cousins who would not have existed without the choices she made. Her marriage to my grandfather fell apart after their children were grown, and I also thanked her sticking it out with him for as long as she did. I didn't know him well, but my understanding is that he was somewhat of a brute, although he mellowed somewhat in his last years.

She told me that if she had gotten to know him better before marrying him, she never would have gone through with it.

Of course, the ramifications of that near-decision would have been significant throughout the cascading generations, culminating in - GASP - no Convert Man blog! But we can't undo our past, and I confessed that while I understood her sentiment, I was nevertheless happy that things had worked out the way they did. I enjoy existing, after all. Me, my brothers and sister, my cousins, my uncles, my aunts, my parents, my kids, my nieces and nephews... probably close to 80 individual people would not have come to draw breath had she had made a different choice.

How mysterious are the ways of God! For he orchestrates our lives and guides us to his perfect will, and continually adapts his plans for us when we stray from his original revised tweaked reconfigured adjusted plans for us, over and over again.

So here I am - with four kids drawing breath, one little saint in Heaven, and one percolating in the grand decanter that is my wife's womb - wondering how it all comes to be. As my blessings increase, I marvel in them. Each life that God sends my way is a solemn charge, and I am so very weak in so many things, yet he obviously knows I'm capable because he keeps sending me more blessings.

Lord, give me your wisdom and your strength!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Spirited Away

For those of you unfamiliar with what's known as "The Charismatic Renewal" let me explain something to you. It may sound odd, and it really is odd, even when you experience it.

Occasionally, when in deep prayer, the Holy Spirit may come upon you in such a manner as to render you incapable of controlling your physical body. Most often this results in a collapse to the ground, but most groups that pray for such experiences within their communion will ensure that one or two sturdy young men are situated behind you, to "catch" you and let you down slowly.

Sometimes spontaneous laughter or healing tears may occur, sometimes it's just a quiet period of rest. Having such an experience requires you to surrender to it; God never just "takes over." He requests permission to give you an experience of intimacy with him, and you are psychically free to deny it or snap yourself out of it at any time. The ancient Church knows this type of phenomenon as a form of ecstasy (not chemically induced!); today it's known as resting in the Spirit. In my Protestant days they called it "being slain in the Spirit." I never experienced it until a few years ago, well into my Catholic life.

Regardless of the term you use, it is a real experience. It's powerful, and yet tender; intimate, and yet frightening. I've never felt the love of God more strongly than in those moments.

Enter Matt Lincoln of Knoxville, Tennessee. He was in exactly this type of prayer meeting at Lakewind Church, and "was so consumed by the spirit of God that he fell and hit his head."

Because nobody was there to catch him, he is now suing the church for "$2.5 million for medical bills, lost income, and pain and suffering." James Taranto of the Opinion Journal's Best of the Web Today quips that the church is absolved of responsibility because it was an act of God.

Yes, we all know that Americans are sue-happy. But this is worse than normal.

Somebody from this type of faith community should be above such petty antics. Yes, he was hurt, and yes, he had to have surgery, and yes, he missed work, but I highly doubt it was all quite that expensive. It's that nasty "pain and suffering" clause.

He's a Christian. He should know better than to reject pain and suffering. I dare not judge him, but I can't help but wonder... was God's intent for him to sue the church?

Suffering is something else on which the ancient Church has much to say. For a heartier read, check out Pope John Paul II's encyclical Salvifici Doloris on the Christian meaning of human suffering.

Monday, July 07, 2008


If you're a fan of the TV series Survivor, this may be a bit repetitive, but bear with me as I set up this scenario for the uninitiated.

Last season featured the "fans" vs the "favorites" - the two starting tribes were composed of some of the show's biggest fans - real Survivor nerds whose heads were filled with trivia and presumptive strategy - and some of the show's most beloved (and hated) participants from previous seasons. For a whole roundup of the season, go here. But I with to talk about one incident in particular: the gullible decision of Erik, one of the fans. A scrawny 20-something ice cream vendor with a great poof of hair, Erik charmed us viewers with his boyish innocence.

As the show was nearing its climactic end, Erik found himself the sole fan remaining among four favorites: Cirie, Natalie, Amanda, and Parvati: one gangly, naive boy against four seasoned , devious women. But he shocked them when he won the immunity challenge that day, meaning that he would be guaranteed a spot in the "final four" unless he did something... stupid.


Erik, knowing for a while the girls were gunning to vote him off the island, had previously panicked and had tried to forge last-minute alliances with every single one of them, unsuccessfully trying to pit them one against another. The girls were all on to him, and let him know that they didn't trust him and had lost all respect for him. In a clever move, Cirie suggested to the other women that if they told him he could earn back their respect by voluntarily giving up his immunity at the upcoming vote, he might fall for it.

And fall for it he did. He gave up his immunity, hoping against hope that it was the right decision, and the women cast him off.

Now for the segue... Stephane Dion is in Alberta these days, trying to convince the hard-core conservatives out there that his environmental proposals are a good idea. He refers back to his days as a Unity fighter back in the Chretien cabinet, and tries to connect some very fuzzy dots:

"We have a united Canada, a Canada built on clarity and mutual respect. We did it with the courage, the determination, of a cowboy from Calgary," Dion told Liberal party supporters yesterday. [Is he talking about Joe Clark?]

With environmental concerns high in Canadians' minds, Alberta is now the focus of so much political attention, and Dion said his plan is the only one that can repair the "damaged" reputation of the oil-producing province that is responsible for one-third of the country's greenhouse gas emissions.

"To me, it's important for the world to know how much Albertans care about the environment, how much you are green and you want to do the right thing," he said.

"I can't accept that your reputation is damaged, as it is now."

Gosh, thanks Stephane. But would you please stop waving that pocket watch in my face?

This reminds me of Erik because Stephane is saying that Alberta's reputation is damaged because of all that carbon and the only way for them to recover the respect of the nation is to submit voluntarily to massive taxes on the industry. Cirie spoke the same lie to Erik: nobody trusts you anymore - in fact, we all hate you very much - so make yourself vulnerable and trust us.

Dion does not speak of the natural consequences of this hypothetical act of submission, which would be the stifling of the oil industry in Alberta (not to mention the rest of Canada) and the mass exodus of all its skilled labourers, professionals and youth (kinda like what's been happening to Newfoundland the last few decades, up until recently when they began developing their own offshore oil).

His plan is to remove the tax burden from the people and place it upon the carbon industries instead. Sounds good, right? Rob Peter to pay Paul. Different source, but same overall recipient ... a Liberal government. Heh - I'm still trying to forget what the last ones did.

Do you think industry will just sit idly by and let itself be taxed into oblivion? Or will they shift south, across the U.S. border, where the oil is just as abundant and the economic environment much more welcoming? Then the beloved Canadian oil worker will be out of a job.

Don't fall for it, Alberta. Take a lesson from Erik. Keep your economic "immunity" and vote Stephane off the island instead.

The True North Insecure and Timid

Why is this even newsworthy? Apparently Google didn't edit their homepage logo to celebrate Canada Day on July 1.

Apparently it's a snub.

They've tweaked their logo every year since 2001, except for 2003. Which means... six times. Canada's been around for 141 years, and Google has "only" noticed us six times - but Google's only been doing their "Doodles" for nine years. Sure, when they've done it in the past I've been amused by their take on Canadiana, much as their celebrations of the the 50th anniversary of Lego or the birth of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle were also fun to see. There's lots more.

But come on, Canada! So what if Google didn't care about us this year? Are we really that insecure about our national identity that we care what other Google thinks about us?

Perhaps I'm just desensitized to the whole "being ignored" thing. After all, what did Google display for the election of Pope Benedict XVI? If we Catholics can accept being ignored by the world, why can't Canadians in general?

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Just In Time

I don't remember having the skill-set necessary to perform this task adequately while I was still at Convergys... apparently I left at the right time:

About 300 employees at Convergys call centre in south Winnipeg were evacuated about 5 p.m. [Jun 28 evening] after a bomb threat was phoned in.

Emergency crews were called to the building at 14 Fultz Blvd. after Convergys received a threatening phone call from an external line.

Staff waited across the street for more than an hour as police and managers swept the building. [emphasis added]