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Fall Update – October & November

December 17, 2014

It’s been a long time since I posted an update of the Teichrib life and the work done through Forcing Change, but this absence reflects the business of the past two months. So here’s a little glimpse of what we did during October and November…

Professionally:

– The October and November issues of Forcing Change magazine featured essays on “Religions United for Global Order” and “Emerging Universalism.” Both tackled developments in religious pluralism; politically charged interfaithism, and the challenge of inter-spirituality within the context of the Christian faith.

– Much of October was spent in preparation to teach a 20-hour modular course, “Secular Trends,” at Millar College of the Bible (Pamburn, Saskatchewan) in early November. And I have to admit, I was nervous! To speak for an hour at a weekend conference is one thing, but to teach a class of 40 – including my attending wife and daughter – from 8:00 AM until noon was daunting. Nevertheless, it was a fantastic experience, with students asking a lot of penetrating questions and having some great after-class discussions. Two things struck me: 1) How often students recognized the influence of secular and pagan worldviews within their own lives, largely absorbed through public education, and… 2) How few of the students understood the history, ideology and impact of Marxism and socialist thought, even while parroting and defending, in-part, categorical Leftist positions (particularly in the name of social justice and saving the environment). Keep in mind: Millar is a conservative Christian college and the students fit that category, which just goes-to-show how much our overall social fabric has changed.

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– Spoke in three churches: a Sunday morning at the Neepawa Christian Fellowship, a Sunday evening at the Portage Evangelical Church, and a day-long mini-conference at Zion Mennonite Church in Schanzenfeld, Manitoba. The Zion event had an interesting twist: One of my talks was focused on how various world religions are visible and active in our Western “spiritual marketplace of ideas.” To that end, part of my slide presentation included a section on Mormonism and its growth in Manitoba. And guess who was sitting near the front of this conservative Mennonite church? Two Mormon missionaries! We had a nice talk afterward, and I’m glad they came to check out the conference.

– Worked on the Winter 2015 quarterly edition of Hope For The World Update, the research publication of author Gary Kah. Each year I pull together a substantial “calendar of events” outlining upcoming conferences, summits, and forums dedicated to global governance and world transformation. The purpose: to give his and my own readers a heads-up regarding international trends that challenge Christianity and impact the structures of society. This project was started in November but wasn’t completed until the following month.

– On December 1st, I gave a presentation in Dallas, Texas, titled “Becoming Babel: Pursuing the Vision of World Unity.” So a good chunk of late-November was devoted to preparing talking points and slides for the Dallas event.

– Radio interviews in October/November: The Mind Renewed (broadcast out of the UK), Canary Cry Radio, and The Edge (both U.S. based programs).

Personally:

– During the first weekend of October, my wife and I chaperoned a rehearsal of the Central Manitoba Youth Choir (CMYC), which was held in a camp set in the rolling sand hills near the Assiniboine River. Earlier in the year, our daughter auditioned and was selected as one of the singers, so we were asked to be adult leaders for one of the weekend CMYC rehearsal dates, helping to chaperone 50 young people. Now this may sound overwhelming to some; 50 teenagers for three days! But CMYC choirs conduct themselves in a top-notch manner, and while the youth had fun, each person was there as a serious artist. So… we were able to enjoy three stress-free days of exceptional choral music, led by a professional director flown in from Toronto. How cool is that?

But there’s more: During the Saturday rehearsal, Leanne and I had the chance to explore a forested area north of the camp and discovered wild grape vines loaded with the tart fruit. Later that day, Leanne and a friend went back to the woods and picked enough to make a nice batch of wild grape jelly. Yum!

Two weeks later, CMYC was on tour across central Manitoba, and we were fortunate to attend a few of the performances.

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– For one week I helped a local grain farmer take the crop off and do some field work. As the soil was saturated from an exceptionally wet season, we found ourselves in a cursed battle of sinking and stuck combines, frantic turns to avoid slough holes, tough straw and wet grain, and churning mud. We constantly had a four-wheel driver tractor with a heavy tow-rope on stand-by to pull combines out of the muck. It was a dirty week, but for a lot of people in our area, this was how October played out; One step forward, two steps deeper in the mud.

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– Enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday with family, including our son Scott, who was home for a few days from working on the railway in northern Ontario. Remember, Canada’s Thanksgiving falls in October, which means we can celebrate it while still enjoying our autumn weather. As I wrote in my Twitter post on October 12: “Happy Thanksgiving, Canada! There is much to be thankful for, and someone to be thankful to; God keep our land glorious and free…

– The passing of my wife’s uncle, Don Sumner, was a tough spot. He was noted and recognized in Western Manitoba, and in the city of Brandon particularly, for his extensive involvement with local and regional sporting events. In fact, he had been inducted into the Manitoba Baseball Hall of Fame. Although he as known as “Mr. Brandon” in the newspaper, he was “Uncle Don” to us.

– Spent two cold but enjoyable days with another farmer helping, along with our daughter and his children, to dismantle a large grain bin. And it was cold! The windchill effect made it feel like minus 30, even though the ambient temperature was hovering around minus 15. At one point while dismantling the roof, the entire ceiling buckled around the bin’s center ring. So we hardly felt the cold as we frantically worked to prop-up the metal panels with ladders before it all collapsed. It was a little crazy, but it all came down without anyone getting hurt.

– As mentioned a few paragraphs back, we were in Millar College for one week. This was certainly a highlight for us as we were able to spend time re-connecting with good friends on staff and with students we knew. However, upon returning home we had an unwelcome surprise. The day after our arrival home, my son and I went to a remote piece of forested property where we’ve been working on a family project. The purpose: to pick up some tools. As we drove into the work site, a mile-and-a-half from the nearest gravel road, I could see something was very wrong: The generator was missing. Not only that, but all of our tools with the exception of a mitre saw were gone. Someone who knew our location had helped themselves to over $4000 worth of tools. But why leave the mitre saw behind? The only thing that makes sense is that they just didn’t have the room to take it too.

– Our daughter participated in a community-based Christmas play hosted by the Pine Creek Players, a local theatrical troop. The production was Dickens’ classic “Christmas Carol.”

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– Finally, as my wife and I had to be in Dallas for December 1st, we started our trip a few days early and drove to Iowa to visit with friends. Then, on November 30, we hopped in their car and together set out for Texas…

Books Read:

– Gennady Bocharov, Russian Roulette: Afghanistan Through Russian Eyes (HarperCollins, 1990).

– V.I. Lenin & J. Stalin, The Russian Revolution (Lawrence & Wishart, 1938).

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