Saturday, July 29, 2006

Like old pants

God has a sense of humour. I went to Saskatoon last weekend for two weddings, and basically did not stop going for forty hours while I was there, but I thought it was alright because I would have a nice relaxing week at teen camp, since I did not have to run the LIT program (they were campers). I pulled in to the camp, and within one minute of arriving my dreams of relaxation were dashed, as I was informed that one of the cabin leaders had fallen ill and that I would replace him in the cabin. With the kids. All week. I was somewhat apprehensive at first, but I soon realized that cabin leading again was like putting on an old pair of pants. At first, I wasn't sure how it would fit, but I knew I had to do it, and once the week was going, everything loosened up and it was just like old times. And it was not long into the week that I realized that it was teen camp that I had to leave early last year after Mike committed suicide, and that at the time I had half-wished that I could get another chance to lead a cabin of teens. I, of course, had assumed that that chance would not come, so I was very amused when it did. In other news, I have three weeks of camp left and then it's time to teach. Also check out the Gnarls Barkley record St. Elsewhere, especially the track "Crazy." It's the "Hey Ya!" and "Feel Good Inc." of 2006. And I just celebrated my second blog-iversary. Happy blogday to all of you who have stuck with me this long, but remember: the best is yet to come! Peace.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

There goes my hero...

...watch him as he resigns. My good friend Evan finally decided he had had enough of the pettiness of student politics, and decided to bow out gracefully rather than compromise his integrity. I know there are many people who might have had misinformation about all of the goings-on while Evan was in office as USSU President, and I would advise those people to do some more digging and talk to Evan before they continue to judge him. Titus over at studentunion.ca has a copy of the resignation letter and is keeping up on the story, so read it over, figure out which questions to ask, and then when you have those questions answered begin to form your opinions. I'm standing by Evan; he has fought the good fight and run the race well, and I have no doubt that someday he will be rewarded for his integrity, honesty, and true leadership. You will always be President in my heart, Evan.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Board game geek

I have a confession to make: I am a board game geek. In the last two months, I have purchased about 25 board games - the vast majority for two or three dollars at Value Village - in addition to the over forty (plus card games) that I already owned. I am just a sucker for a cheap well-designed game, even if I do not have an opportunity to play it in the immediate future. I have a fairly extensive variety of most kinds of games - common party games, esoteric party games, card games, word games, about ten different versions of Uno, and even some strategy games. I am not a big fan of more traditional board games (like Monopoly, Life, or Sorry), so I have fewer of those variety (though I am sure if I ever have children that those games will be a necessity to own). My biggest problem - other than I can rarely refuse a good deal on a cheap used game - is that I rarely have people with whom to play said games. Maybe when I move back to Saskatoon I will have to start up a board games club. Or maybe I will just have to become a middle years teacher and have all kinds of cool games in my classroom. Now to go play some Bohnanza.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

For Mike

It was a year ago, when I was counseling at teen camp, that I got a phone call that I hoped I would not get, but that I was unfortunately expecting: the call that my friend and former roommate Mike had finally lost his struggle with bipolar disorder and committed suicide. I was not able to attend his funeral, due to other commitments, so it has taken me a long time to begin to sort out my feelings about the situation. I think the best way to describe my emotion is disappointment - disappointment that I could not share anymore jokes with him, that I could not tell him to check out some sweet tunes, that we could not play Mega Man together anymore, that he missed out on what would have been a great life, that we missed out on having him around. My close friend Becca was one of the people most affected by Mike's death, and I recommend you visit her blog to see how she has dealt with the entire situation. She recently compiled a book with a collection of thoughts from Mike's friends in Regina, and I wanted to share an excerpt of my submission, because I think it not only helps me deal with things, but also gives you an idea of who Mike was to me and to those around him.

When I first met Mike in the fall of 2002, I did not know what to think of him. Here was this kid who could make funny faces and quote The Princess Bride and who enjoyed the same kind of humour I did. But I did know that I had a connection with him, because he reminded me of myself. It did not take long before Mike became like a little brother to me, a relationship he unofficially cemented by referring to me as "Papa Turner." Soon after we met, Mike and Trent moved in with me and Lee into a house which we affectionately referred to as the "WASP’s nest," primarily because we were all White Anglo-Saxon Protestants. As that year progressed, I realized that Mike was a lot of fun. We connected well on superficial interests like music and video games, and there were many jokes that remain known only to the members of that household. But I also saw the deeper side of Mike. I saw someone who was confronted with issues in his life, and who struggled to meet God in them. I saw someone who was willing to grow and be molded by God and by those around him. Most of all, I saw someone who had a huge heart for the people about whom he cared. Mike went out of his way for me so many times, and the only thing he asked for in return was friendship. I kept in good contact with Mike over the two years after I moved away from Regina, though it proved increasingly difficult to do so with Mike’s reluctance to open up. Nevertheless, whenever we met, we had those experiences that were both superficial and meaningful at the same time. But over time, I saw changes in Mike, and it seemed as if all I could do was to continue to encourage him, pray for him, and wait for him to change. But regardless of his struggles, the old Mike shone through. He still had a huge heart for his friends, and still reached out to those around him to bring them joy and laughter. Perhaps the story of the last time I saw Mike will demonstrate the kind of nature to which I am referring. The last time I saw Mike was in March of 2005, when he stayed at my house in Saskatoon on his way to Regina. We shared some good laughs and a good talk, but I was very uneasy about Mike. I knew that he needed help, and that he was in a dangerous place. As always, I did what I could to help nudge him in the right direction, as "Papa Turner" would be expected to. But then I woke up in the morning, and Mike had gotten up and made breakfast for me. Despite my concerns, the Mike I knew was still there, and he still cared. Even though he was struggling, he still reached out to me - simply because he cared about me. I do not know if Mike ever knew how much his friendship meant to me, but I count him as the little brother I never had. My life is richer because I was friends with Mike, and I will always miss him.

Papa Turner out.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Storytellers

I bought the new Johnny Cash CD - American V: A Hundred Highways - on the weekend, as well as a live recording of Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson performing on VH1's Storytellers in 1998. As I listened to the latter disc, it occurred to me that every song had a story to be told, whether it was about why it was written or a funny story about how it was performed. Then it occurred to me that there are few artists today that are those kind of storytellers in their songs, save for those who have been doing it for many years. Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Alice Cooper, and U2 spring immediately to mind as examples, but where are the next generation of storytellers? Coldplay? The Wallflowers? (If they're still a band?) It seems that the art of telling stories in songs has been suppressed by the need for catchy pop tunes and emotional identification with song subjects. At least those artists who have been doing this for decades have a significant back catalogue for me to catch up on, given the apparent dearth of storytelling in music today. And there's always Johnny Cash, ready to tell me about "Folsom Prison Blues."

Sunday, July 09, 2006

A calling to ecumenism

Today I attended my fourth wedding of the summer (of eight), and it was a delightful affair: a small Catholic wedding with family and close friends and a very good time. As I reflected during the day on this summer of weddings, I began to think about the variety of faith backgrounds represented in the weddings of this summer: conservative charismatic; Anglican; Mennonite; Catholic; Alliance; Baptist; disenfranchised Evangelicals. But things have been this way for my entire time of university: I have friends in almost any legitimate strain of the church, and I have grown in my understandings of those traditions. A Catholic friend of mine noted that I knew the mass as well as he did, and I realized that was true. I felt completely at home in the Anglican wedding I attended a few weeks ago. And I had a great three-hour long exploration of theology with another friend who wants to become a Catholic priest (primarily his asking about my understanding of Evangelical theology). And then it hit me: I feel essentially at home in all of these places and with all of these people. This is, however, not a surprising realization. I have known for years that I would not enter a life of ministry with a church or denomination if at all possible, but that my life's ministry would be conducted through interdenominational parachurch organizations such as CSSM and IVCF. I know already that I do want a home congregation, but that the variety in the spectrum of my friendships, as well as my own desire to expose myself to new challenges and ways of thinking, will mean that I will live a life that is likely more ecumenical than many other people. I hope my children will attend Anglican services and Catholic mass and Pentecostal prayer sessions and house churches. I hope and believe that I will continue to grow in my understanding of my faith in relation to my brothers and sisters in Christ, and that I will not be limited to a more narrow denominational understanding of Christianity. I strongly feel that I have been called to an ecumenical life of ministry, and it is exciting when I get a taste of what that feels like, because it is already happening. May the peace of Christ be with you.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Cryptically thinking

Since I was about ten years old, I have loved puzzles and games, particularly those found in Games Magazine. I have always loved to exercise my mind, whether in crosswords, logic puzzles, riddles, trivia, or word searches. A magazine of puzzles will keep me busy for a long time, but there have always been a few puzzles I avoided - primarily paint by numbers and cryptic crosswords - until now. Cryptic crosswords - in which the clues are coded through manipulating synonyms, rearrangements, and other various forms of wordplay - were outside of my ability until I began to do them more intently over the past few months. Once I trained myself to think in the way that the clues are written - looking for unique words, patterns, and unusual constructions - it became far easier to complete the puzzles. Much to my surprise and delight, I now find myself able to complete them with much the same efficiency as a regular crossword. It is quite exciting to begin to master a new form of puzzle, just like I have beginning to do with sudoku (yes, I got hooked on sudoku). I may be a nerd, but I am proud of my nerdiness and how I learned to do cryptic crosswords.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

A summer of new music

One of the best features of working at camp this summer is that I have been working with two other audiophiles who love music as much as I do, so I have been exposed to a number of new artists. You might wonder how much more new music I need, considering the preponderance of music to which I already listen. I myself wondered that same question, and my answer has been - to both my dismay and delight - much more. Part of my exposure to new music has been intentional, as I deliberately sought out artists like Thrice, Sufjan Stevens, and the David Crowder Band in the months leading up to camp. But what has been truly delightful is having access to the others' music collections, and getting significant play of a host of new-to-me artists, such as Dashboard Confessional, Keane, In Flames, Lovedrug, Still Remains, Death Cab for Cutie, As I Lay Dying, Thursday, and even a little bit of the Buble. It is nice to have the time to be able to invest in some new artists, since a number of my mainstays released albums in the fall and thus do not require immediate attention. Of course, that means that there are even more albums that I need to buy...but I can wait until after the summer and listen to the others' music in the meantime. 2006: the summer of new music in the life of Turner.

Monday, July 03, 2006

The other half of summer

The realization that the summer is now half over has made me realized just how complicated my life continues to be. I had a nice break from a number of things in May, but June was very busy, and July and August appear to be even busier. By Labour Day long weekend, I have to: attend five weddings (including two on one day), find a place to live in Humboldt, begin to plan my classes for internship, apply for student loans, start work with the Sheaf board, see friends who are moving away, and help save Evan (more on that later). Oh, and help run the camp at which I am working. I think my internship might actually be a break. That's the life of Turner for you. Well, for me, anyway.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Define the great line

"What if your life had taken a sudden turn and your passage from this world into death happened in the darkest of dreams? All your regrets, all your hopes, all those you loved: what does it all mean?"

So ask Underoath with their new album Define the Great Line, which debuted at Number 2 on Billboard (behind Nelly Furtado) with 98,000 copies sold in their first week (which is no small feat for a hardcore Tooth and Nail act with no radio play). Define has been one of the most eagerly anticipated albums of the year, after 2004's brilliant They're Only Chasing Safety redefined the genre, and it lives up to expectations. Themes of redemption run through the album, and it boldly asks the hard questions about the purpose of life. The artwork is absolutely breathtaking as well, and contributes well to the overall theme and feel of the album. And it is perhaps even more tight musically than Safety, which is amazing in itself. I find it hard to believe that I have been listening to Define for only a week, since it has easily become one of my favourite albums ever in that short time. Visit the album's website and watch the intro trailer to get a taste of Underoath, and to define your great line.

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