Monday, January 31, 2005

"The Plan"

I always have a "the Plan." Anytime you talk to me, you can ask me what "the Plan" is, and I can tell you "the Plan." Problem is that "the Plan" is rarely ever the same anytime you ask me. What is "the Plan?" It is the direction of life, the ideas for the future, the carefully constructed strategy for the next while. I've struggled with having to have a "the Plan," but I have concluded that it is not a bad thing to have a "the Plan."
You see, I have to have "the Plan." I am a big picture thinker, and I am always looking beyond where I am to where I want to be. I am not content to just let life happen; I need to see beyond the immediate moment in which I find myself. In the past, I have wondered if this was a crutch, or if I was trying to create such a plan by myself. And after much pondering, I have realized that it is okay to be looking at life this way, with two provisos: one, "the Plan" is never immutable; and two, "the Plan" does not interfere with my current situation in life. When focussing on the future begins to detract from my current place in life, it becomes a problem. When it becomes an idol in and of itself and I am not giving it to God, it becomes a problem. But having "the Plan" is no more evil in and of itself than drinking alcohol is (now there's a loaded statement for you!).
My roommate once asked me why I keep making plans for the future since they keep changing so frequently. I said that it was how I operated, and that I need to always see life that way. So having a "the Plan" is okay. I have a "the Plan" right now. I do not know if it will be the same "the Plan" that I will have in a year, or a month, or even a week, but it's what I have for now. And I will always have where I am. As another friend once told me, "Be where you are." Good advice. Hopefully, "the Plan" never gets in the way of where I am, with "the I AM."

Friday, January 28, 2005

Sticking around too long

I was in Scott's Parable the other day listening to the "new" Supertones record, Unite. New is in quotation marks because it is actually a greatest hits album comprised of twenty of their greatest songs. In November, they announced that they would be done in 2005. Although I was sad initially, I was also relieved, since their latest album was below the 'Tones standard. The first five songs were really good, and it just went downhill from there. And so we come to Unite. I was both pleasantly surprised and disappointed at the same time. As a long-time fan of the rude boys, I was pleased with the re-recording of two songs from their first album, "Adonai" and "O.C. Supertones" (although they appear to have eliminated the reference to the "rude boys show"! Is nothing sacred?). I was also quite impressed with both the song selection and track order of the CD. There was more emphasis on the first three albums, their best, while the final three albums received less focus, deservedly so. In fact, there is really only one or two choices I would question, mainly concluding with "Wilderness." Anyway, the fact is that if you're a novice to the Supertones, Unite is a good catch-all summary of their career. Of course, the bad news is that if you're a longtime fan such as myself, there's really no point in buying it. I've heard rumours of a worship album and/or b-sides album coming out later on, so I'll wait for those, methinks. Of course, you can compare this with the way Five Iron Frenzy went out, which was to release a B-sides album, followed by their final new album, which was reissued the next year and packaged with a live recording of their final concert. The perfect way to go out. But enough music talk for now.
I have been wondering about how to do this very thing in my own life. Not ending my musical career, but how to transition from one thing to another, and how to end something I've done for a long time. I'm speaking of executive involvement with IVCF. I have three months left until I am officially done, and I am completely confident that God is not calling me to executive leadership next year. So how do you end? I've decided the best option is just to continue giving it my all and to continue to seek God in what He would have me do. That's about the only option, as best as I can see it. But it's also kind of intimidating and invigorating all at the same time, seeing the end of something that has been vital to your life for so long. It makes for an interesting period of life, I suppose. The farewell tour of IVCF leadership. Then I get to embark on new projects, much like members of FIF and the 'Tones have done. And then I get to see what God will do with that. Seems like it will be fun.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Oscar's coming!

Well, yesterday was the big day. The Oscar nominees were announced just over a month before the awards will be presented, on Sunday February 27. And although I have not seen several of the nominated movies, I figured I would give my thoughts on who will win, who is the main competition, and who got robbed by not being nominated for each of the major categories. You heard it here first.

Best Picture
Who will win: Million Dollar Baby - Clint's overdue, and it's been too long since a sports movie won the title.
Biggest competition: The Aviator - 11 noms means it's got a good shot.
Who got robbed: Passion of the Christ - It really was an amazing movie when you think about it.

Best Director
Who will win: Martin Scorsese, The Aviator - It may not be the best film, but Marty is long overdue, and he'll get his due.
Biggest competition: Clint Eastwood, Million Dollar Baby - he's always in the mix.
Who got robbed: Mel Gibson, Passion of the Christ - Took a lot of risks and made a great movie.

Best Actor
Who will win: Jamie Foxx, Ray - The performance of a lifetime.
Biggest competition: Clint Eastwood, Million Dollar Baby - the sentimental choice.
Who got robbed: Paul Giamatti, Sideways - From everything I've heard, his performance was amazing.

Best Actress
Who will win: Hilary Swank, Million Dollar Baby - Hilary 2, Annette 0.
Biggest competition: Annette Bening, Being Julia - She just picks the wrong years to get nominated.
Who got robbed: Kate Winslet, Eternal Sunshine - Nominated, but in any other year she would likely be the frontrunner.

Best Supporting Actor
Who will win: Morgan Freeman, Million Dollar Baby - The sentimental favourite who has been snubbed before.
Biggest competition: Alan Alda, The Aviator - A classic actor in a classic role. It'll be tough.
Who got robbed: Alfred Molina, Spider-Man 2 - Who says a supervillain can't be a great character?

Best Supporting Actress
Who will win: Cate Blanchett, The Aviator - Playing an Oscar-winning actress guarantees a win, plus it needs to win at least one acting award.
Biggest competition: (tie) Natalie Portman, Closer / Laura Linney, Kinsey - Two up and coming very talented actresses who will have other chances to win.
Who got robbed: Regina King, Ray - The "Hit the Road, Jack" scene is one of the most memorable in recent history.

Best Original Screenplay
Who will win: The Aviator - it goes with the package.
Biggest competition: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind - Kaufman's genius.
Who got robbed: Napoleon Dynamite - Anyone who has seen it will agree.

Best Adapted Screenplay
Who will win: Million Dollar Baby - The other heavyweight in the ring gets a good punch in.
Biggest competition: Sideways - If Sideways is not the high-profile nominee that gets shut out, this is the award it will win.
Who got robbed: Passion of the Christ - They adapted the gospels, what more do you want?

Of course, now one of my goals over the next month will be to view a couple of these movies, particularly Million Dollar Baby, Finding Neverland, and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. And we'll see how I have done on Oscar night, February 27!

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Android Tears

There are often times where I wish I were an android like Data or a Vulcan like Spock. Emotions had no reign within them, and they were able to run on cold, calculated logical premises. It would be quite advantageous sometimes, running purely with the mind as the sole determinant of any course of action. Especially in times of hurt. But then I remember that without hurt, there is no rejoicing; without sorrow, no joy; without mourning, no laughing. (Ecc. 3:1-8, loosely). To use only the mind is to neglect the heart and soul, the very things that make us human. Therefore, losing our emotions logically leads to losing our humanity. And losing our humanity means losing our relationship with Christ. If that is above all to be what I want to be the defining factor of my life, that means taking all the garbage along with the good stuff. There are very few times in which I am rejoicing that I wish to revert to robothood; rather, those times come mainly when I am suffering, which is ultimately a very self-centered response to hurt. To say that "I want the good and none of the bad" is to claim to know more than the Lord about what we need, and to essentially place our own self-gratification about God's sovereign will and plan for our lives. So it is necessary not to hope for the escape from these hurts, as mechanization might well allow, but for the resolution of them and for the strength to endure them and the wisdom to know how to deal with them. It is in these times of hurt that it is imperative to know the promises of God contained in His word, of which there are many. This weekend, we spent time studying the first four beatitudes (Matt. 5:3-6), and there is always a blessing for each God-inspired condition. I can only pray that God will choose to manifest some of those blessings in my own life, and not that he might turn me into a robot. As tough as that is at times.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Disappointment of the day

I seem to have lost my beloved toque. I typically don't lose things. Ever. I'm sad. And just in time for the IVCF winter retreat too. Grrrr. I always got compliments on that toque. It was so warm and fuzzy and worn in, and it had a Toronto Maple Leafs decal on the front. I miss my toque. Come back, toquey, come back. Sigh.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

There's a party going on upstairs!

Well, the inevitable finally happened last night. My dad, Brian, decided that his posterior was starting to hurt from sitting on the fence so long, and he got off the fence! For those of you that are looking at your screens quizzically, I am alluding to the fact that Dad has finally decided to stop living for himself and start living for God! Although many people might call this "being saved" or "becoming a Christian," if you know my dad, you know this doesn't quite aptly describe the reality of the process. I think he has a better understanding of the idea of continual salvation than anyone else I can think of. The main point is that he has decided to turn his focus off of himself and onto Christ. He knows, and I know, that it's not going to be an automatic lifestyle turnaround, but at least now I know that he is working out his salvation with fear and trembling (Phillippians 2:12-14), and that he is heading in the right direction. I will likely have to continue to help him grow, but I am looking forward to a future in which our entire family is truly under the headship of God. Praise the Lord for his wonderful gift! (I Peter 1:3-9).

Consumer blues

I had to make a tough decision today. I was in Wal-Mart buying some things, and I found long-sleeved shirts in black, grey, and white. I tried one on, and it was exactly what I've been looking for. And they were on clearance for $5 each. Then I looked at the tag, and I saw that they were made in Bangladesh.
Considering that I know that the American government deliberately destroyed the Bangladeshi economy because it was based on hemp, and that they replaced it with the cotton industry that is currently in place. This essentially threw the nation into poverty, and meant that they would always be in a subordinate state to countries like the United States. So I realized that as I looked at this tag, I just could not justify buying these shirts, knowing what factors led to their production. So I did not buy them.
But then I looked at the socks I was buying. Pakistan. Still, I did buy the socks. The difference was twofold: one part was that I did not know the details of Pakistan as well as Bangladesh, though I could imagine the two were similar; second was that while I did not directly need the shirts, I needed the socks. And so I bought them.
This whole experience got me thinking about the consumer experience. Honestly, I would love to be more actively anti-establishment and wear hemp and buy things only made in Canada, but I can't. I'm a student, and I have to minimize costs. True, I could cut some corners and probably do it, but even then it would be a stretch.
So I think that my conclusion is to do what I can. Cut those corners where possible, and occasionally accept the fact that I may not be able to do everything I want to. Am I going to become a writer for Adbusters? Not likely. But am I going to continue attempting to make informed decisions, and taking measures to ensure that I am educated about pertinent issues? Certainly. And therein lies the conflict: while I love Wal-Mart, I hate it. And I hate that I cannot do more myself. But I guess you can only do so much.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Lessons from Napoleon Dynamite and Pigeon John

Napoleon Dynamite is one of the most entertaining movies I have seen in years. Gosh. But not only is it funny, it makes a great point about being true to yourself. Each of the main characters in some way make decisions to embrace who they are, and the conclusion of the movie reinforces this as a good thing. And it's pure comedic genius.
I went to the Pigeon John show here in Saskatoon tonight. What a showman. I really appreciate Pigeon. We had about a half-hour conversation at Harvest Moon in Edmonton, and it was just refreshing. Not only is he incredibly talented, but he is humble and personable. The idea of being true to yourself is one of the key messages that PJ is trying to get across, particularly in songs like "Be" and "Identity Crisis." And I think that that is so important for people to hear, and to see. For example, two females wanted him to sign their chests, and he signed their shoulders instead. Rather than hearing them complain, a friend overheard them calling him a gentleman. Lead by example.
Why did this thought of self-truedom strike me tonight? You see, as I looked around the crowd, I saw many different people. Different people who were trying to be something, to fit in. Wearing brand names and stylish clothes and waving their hands in the air like they just didn't care. And then there was me. A portly white guy wearing a bright yellow bunnyhug with a camera bag slung over my shoulder. Yet, I didn't feel the need to be anything else, or even that I didn't fit. I was completely confident that I "belonged" there. I'm not a "hiphop" guy, but I still know the scene (at least the Christian scene) fairly well, and I own about twenty hiphop CDs. I really appreciate the genre, and PJ is one of the best emcees. And I really enjoyed the show without being hip or hop myself.
I think I am destined to the lifestyle of a journalist. Always outside of the societal norm, sometimes by deliberate effort and sometimes by circumstance, but never willing to sacrifice who I am for human esteem or popularity. Sure, I occasionally long for that kind of human acceptance, but it is fleeting and futile. When I talk about being true to myself, that means being true to Christ, because Christ is my life. I am who I am, because He is I AM. And if that means going to a hiphop show, or to university, or to wherever He calls, I'm up for the challenge.

The Computer-Driven Life

"Nobody dies wishing they had spent more time on the computer." - Jordan Kurtz

The computer is one of the more interesting introductions to my life to come about in the last half-decade. The internet didn't become very common until my latter years of high school, and I didn't buy a computer for myself until I entered university in 2000. But in those five years, the computer has become an essential part of my life. It functions as my TV, my jukebox, my videogaming console, my journal, my office, my typewriter, my diversion, my store, my primary method of communication with many people. I honestly often wonder how I functioned without WinAmp and online news and MSN Messenger and e-mail, because I cannot imagine life without all of these amenities. Even blogging is becoming that significant after only half a year.
I have been considering my computer usage lately. There are different levels, of course. Recreational use, informational use, communicational use, "official" use (ie for IVCF business), personal use. But there is also the basic maintenance on top of that. The "operational" use, if you will. The cleaning of hard drive and reorganizing of files and sorting of e-mails and burning of CDs and deleting of files and all the other stuff that comes with the territory. In fact, I frequently lament the fact that it is occasionally necessary to plan to spend a day on computer maintenance. Although you may in fact be accomplishing much in the cyber-realm, it really feels as if the time spent on this task has been squandered.
Take the last three and a half hours, for example. In that time, I have checked several sites, updated my blog template, conversed with several friends via MSN, sent out several e-mails for both personal reasons and IVCF, and I am now writing this blog. While I can observe that I have been productive, I feel as if I have not. Quite the quotidian quandary. ["Quotidian" meaning "daily" and contributing to my efforts of alliteration.]
I also wonder if I could just cut the computer out of my life. Is it truly just a tool that makes tasks I was going to have to accomplish in a more time- and labour-intensive fashion that much more accessible and easy? Or does it add a lot of previously unheralded trivialities without which I could live a perfectly satisfied existence? I may well at some point in my life have to give up daily computer use in order to be where God calls me to be, and will I be ready and able for that? Am I using the computer, or is it using me? It's a hard question to ask, and even harder to answer. Hence, my computer-driven life, with no apologies to Rick Warren, since his idea has been so overexposed and manipulated as to make my possible copyright infringement negligible.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Gettin' into the groove

You would think that the longer you were in school, the easier the whole new semester thing would get. But it seems that the opposite has happened. My time for adjustment and really feelin' school has gotten later and later. I'm still not completely with it yet. I'm hoping that early next week I kick it into school gear, and I can stop focussing on all this other stuff, like getting stuff done and IVCF and car and computer. The problem I can foresee is that I'll be hitting my stride, and then comes Spring Break (which will be incredibly welcome), then it's just a scant two months until it's all done. Well, at least it's going by quickly. Just hoping to get the pattern down and get into a groove for the semester. And then I do it all over again in May. The life of a student.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Seven year itch

This week has been primarily focussed upon IVCF stuff. The table, getting a schedule together, planning the retreat, the kickoff on Friday. At which I am speaking on "How IVCF has affected me." And it got me to thinking about the last seven and a half years of my life. That's how long I have been involved with some manifestation of IVCF. This is my seventh consecutive year of leadership, either with ISCF (high school), at the U of R IVCF, and now last year and this one with U of S IVCF. It's a long time to stay with anything. (As a side note, I have been involved with some form of student press over that same span of time.) Especially something as demanding as peer ministry. As I have been preparing for this semester, I really have had both a sense of closure and of opening up. I feel fairly strongly that this chapter of my life will be concluded soon, and that the Lord will lead me to exciting new things. Some things that I may have been putting off in order to continue with IVCF. Like finishing a degree, for example. I guess it's just kind of interesting, being at this point where I can look backward and forward, but I really just need to focus on what's in front of me, and that is the ministry of IVCF, the classes I'm in, writing for the Sheaf (check out my articles on B2 and B6 of the January 13 issue!), and being with the people that are in my frame of reference. Anyway, I guess this is just to say that I'm glad I'm where I am, even if it isn't always easy to be there/here. And come tomorrow night if you can. Check the IVCF website for details. That is all.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Grand Re-opening!

Hey everybody! Here is the long-awaited relaunch of "The Life of Turner"! As you can see, I still have some work to do (such as figuring out the code for the Blogger NavBar), but this blog is for the most part ready for business again. Some of the new features include "Verse of the week" and "Disc of the week," both of which will be updated on Mondays. I think that this layout should serve fairly well. I chose red, white, and black because of their significance in my heritage. Red and white are the colours of Canada, as well as my old high school. But they are also theologically representative of the redemption that can be found in Christ: though I was born into sin (black), I prayed for the blood of Jesus to cover me (red) and now I am white as snow (white) (Isaiah 1:18). I am hoping to be done figuring out all the little quirks of things within the next two weeks, so please feel free to contact me if there's a link that doesn't work or if something looks funny on your computer. Also, I am toying with the idea of adding a tagboard to the site. Would there be sufficient interest? I don't know. Well, stay tuned to the new "Life of Turner!"

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