Monthly Archives: July 2011

Summer Camp

What do your kids do during the summer?  What did you do for the summers when you were a kid?  Some of my fondest memories of my childhood summers are connected to Guide Camp.  For my son and daughters, many summer memories will be tied up with weeks at Camp Geddie.  For around twenty years now our summer plans have been built around camp dates and costs.


I remember sleeping in bell tents on wooden platforms and brailling up the sides during the day to air them out, kitchen duty and helping the leader make porridge for breakfast, dish water that was so hot it would almost take your skin right off, licorice for tuck, polar dip, campfire and more.  At our church camp the girls sleep on bunk beds in cabins, eat in the Irwin Lodge, canoe, hike, swim, worship, and of course have campfires on the beach.  Most of all we spend time with other young people, some friends when we arrive, some we make after we get there.

What is it that makes summer camp so special?  Is it the amazing scenery, the activities, the food (no, that can’t be it), time away from home?  Those are all great features.  We may learn a lot about ourselves and others at camp, we may learn new skills, try challenges we would normally be afraid to try.  At a Guide or Scout camp the kids learn about cooking on fires, repairing tents, making knots, fending for themselves in the woods, and camp crafts.  At a church camp we will hear God’s word in a different setting and with extra time to reflect and new people with whom to discuss things.

I think the real value comes in the unplanned moments.
When it is raining for the third day in a row and everyone just runs out in the rain to play anyway. The moment when you first notice the sunrise.  That moment just after the final song at the end of campfire as everyone sits  in silence for a moment looking
at the dying flames before heading to bed.  Those are the moments in which your spirits are refreshed and if you listen carefully you  can hear God’s whisper of reassurance and love.

One Little Click Can Do So Much!

If you go to the website and click on the button that says “Click here to give, it’s free!” the sponsors of the page will give money towards free mamograms for people who need them. While there go to the other tabs and you can donate to; Hunger, Animal Rescue, Autism, Child Health, Literacy, the Rainforest and US Vetrans. The whole thing takes just a moment of your time and costs absolutely nothing. Join me in clicking every day!

What Ever Happened to Mutts?

Puppy Picture

I went looking for a calendar for 2012 the other day.  I would really like to get a dog calendar this year, but when I look at the dog calendars they all feature twelve pictures of purebred dogs and puppies.  My dog is a mutt!  Where are the calendars with the mutts?  If you look at a cat calendar you will find a few pedigree cats, but mostly the pictures are just regular cats.  Why is this not the case for the dogs?

Coda, pictured above at about five months, was presented for sale as a “designer dog” which is an interesting new term referring to purposefully cross-bred dogs.  You may have heard of the yorkiepoo, the cockapoo, the goldendoodle etc.  The idea of these dogs is to get the best characteristics of both breeds.  Of course, like any other breeding, it actually ends up being a dice roll.  You may indeed get the best of each, but you may just as easily end up with the worst of each.

I was not really looking for any particular type of dog.  My husband set a height limit and I went from there.  A colleague happened to buy a really cute little dog and said he had a brother that looked just like him.  They were, theoretically, shi-tzu/ toy fox terrier crosses.  If you have seen mixed litters of puppies you know that some may look just like the father, some just like the mother, and some an interesting combination.  In this case the breeder has a big old barn with one non-registered shi-tzu male and a bunch of un-registered females of various toy breeds.  When one of the females gives birth the pups are determined to be 1/2 shi-tzu and 1/2 whatever the mother is.  Coda and his brother are not just a cross of those two breeds.  They are mutts.  There are definitely bits of at least one other breed involved in their genetic background!  I don’t mind, because I love the way he looks and his size and wouldn’t want him any other way (maybe quieter…)  The thing is, though, that nobody uses the term mutt anymore.

My sister is looking for a mutt and nobody lists their dogs on Kijiji as mutts, even if they are.  What is wrong with the term mutt?  What is wrong with a mutt?  Are we too sophisticated now to use the term or to have a dog that isn’t purebred?  Has it taken on a pejorative meaning?  People used to call them Heinz 57 dogs, which I don’t imagine the Heinz company appreciated too much.

Selective breeding, which is responsible for the purebred dogs we have today, has its down-sides.  Many purebred dogs are prone to physical problems and or temperament issues which make them difficult to live with.  This is rarely the case with the mutt.  Vets will tell you that if you take a mutt in for their check-up they will refer to them as good hardy dogs.  I am not anti-purebred, though it may sound that way.  My horse was a registered Canadian, I have had a samoyed and pomeranian dog in the past.  But, why do we get dogs in the first place?  Most people get a dog for company, a way to get themselves off the couch and out the door, that sort of thing.  Can not a mutt serve these purposes just as well as any other dog?  If you are into dog showing I would agree that the mutt is not a good choice, but for a family pet I think they are ideal.

So, here is to the lovable mutts of the world.  It is time they had their own calendars and more respect!

The Panic Clean-Up Box

For those super housekeepers out there I realize that this topic will seem totally foreign and possibly even made up.  For the rest of us, for whom a clean and tidy house is a far-off aspiration, it will be well-known.  No, I’m not going to talk about hoarders, the topic is the Panic Clean-Up Box.

Here is the scenario.  You have guests coming over.  You have been gradually working on getting the house ship-shape for a week or so but now it is crunch time.  They will be arriving in a matter of hours and you are not finished.  What do you do?  You take a largish box around with you and basically shovel everything off the flat surfaces in your house (at least the areas guests will see) into the box.  That finished you shove the box in a closet or storage room, vacuum the floor, dust the now clear surfaces and collapse exhausted onto the couch to catch your breath before they arrive.

Months may go by before you miss something and go looking for it, and even longer before you think to check the PC-UB and there you discover a treasure trove of things you had not even missed.  The possibility that we have far more stuff in our homes than we need really comes to the fore at this time.

There was a time when our panic clean-ups would require more than one box and happened with almost every visit.  We have improved immensely and sometimes only use one grocery bag now.  This is due partly to deciding that people can cope with the real us and we don’t need to pretend to be neat-nicks to have a friend in for coffee.  I think the other major influence is that we don’t have young children anymore.  Today I am going to go through a couple recent PC-UBs, I wonder what I’ll find?

So, I emptied one box and one bag and other than a full grocery bag of papers to recycle,  a handful of papers to shred, and five or six items to throw away, I found;

1 Jeffery Deaver novel
1 pot holder
1 book on green philanthropy
1 taped copy of a magazine we were supposed to return some time ago,
1 package of watch batteries,
1 unused flip-light
1 power adapter (unclear what it is for)
1 deck of cards
1 notebook with sticky notes from a conference (unused)
1 plate stand
1 coaster
1 needle threader
1 padlock with key
2 photos
1 pair of panels for a baby quilt (front and back)
1 small piece of fabric with horses on it
4 resource books for running KAIROS workshops on environment and Healing&Reconciliation
1 report from our World Vision child in Rwanda

The next challenge is what to do with this stuff.  Much of it ended up in the PC-UB due to it not really having a proper spot in the house.  The books I will give to the church yard-sale, the coaster will go away with the rest, the fabric and needle threader down in the sewing area.  In the end, though, I know that some of it will probably turn up in another box at a later date.  At least the bulk of it will be going out of the house through garbage or recycling and then the cycle can begin again.



Rainy Summer Days For A New Generation

When I was a kid/teenager, a rainy day in the summer meant a total overhaul of plans. As my normal form of transportation at the time was on foot or on my bike, both of my normal ways of getting together with friends were suddenly very unpleasant. Plans for the beach or the like were cancelled. I probably curled up with the telephone, to talk at length with my friends, and a good book.

Today was a rainy summer Tuesday. My daughter got up had something to eat and tidied a bit while waiting for her friend to be dropped off by car. They then proceeded to watch tv and play video games the whole day. Basically, it was business as usual for her. I am sad to say that going outside and being active is not in the usual cards for my kids. They do it sometimes and enjoy it, but only rarely.

For me, the rainy day involved getting wet going to and from the car when dropping off my other daughter at work, doing some housework, and curling up on the chouch with my kobo (the good book in the new century). For me the real change is the number of times I fell asleep on the couch while reading.

Recipe for Casserole

Hon. Muriel McQ. Fergusson

My Favorite Casserole

2 x 10 oz cans, cream of mushroom soup
1/2 cup cold water
2 cups cooked, diced chicken
2 cups diced celery
1 cup diced onion
1 cup diced green pepper
1/2 lb. cashew nuts
6 oz toasted chinese noodles

Place soup in a 2-quart baking dish.  Add water and stir until smooth.  Add chicken, celery, onion, green pepper, nuts and 1/2 the noodles.  Mix lightly.  Sprinkle remaining noodles over top.  Bake at 350 F for 1 hour.  Serves 8

The great divide: Challenges in reforming the church

I received my copy of the Presbyterian Record the other day.  In glancing through the first few pages I came to the letters section and came across this heading, “Sad, Disappointed, Hopeful” (July/August 2011, p7) There followed three brief letters.  The first spoke of the PCUSA decision to allow practicing homosexual ministers in terms of the perversion of the word of God and a list of well-known scripture references which condemn homosexuality.  The second was rejoicing with the PCUSA and hopeful that PCC would follow suit, and the third pointed out that The Church of Scotland has also made this move and ends with, “Might it be time to discuss the possibility of gay clergy in the Presbyterian Church in Canada? Perhaps.”  (Writers Paul Kokoski, Darlene McLeod, Rev. Eldon Hay)

It occurred to me that some background information might be helpful, so I am reprinting my final essay for a course on church polity.

Tradition/Prophecy:A Balancing Act

by Cathy Scott April 4, 2011

Reading of the Presbyterian Church in Canada Report on Human Sexuality (A&P 1994, pp. 251-274) without further investigation into the process by which the report came into being, the discussion and responses at the time of its approval as PCC doctrine, and subsequent work done on the issues of human sexuality in general, and homosexuality in particular, may leave one determined that the PCC may be reformed, but is not reforming.  This conclusion, through further research, proves to be false.

To start with, prior to OVERTURE NO. 22, 1987 – PRESBYTERY OF
(A&P 1987, p. 468-69, 17,) the Presbyterian Church in
Canada did not have any specific written statement of doctrine on human
sexuality and it is unlikely that discussion of things like masturbation were
ever heard on the floor of General Assembly.  By putting forward this overture, the Presbytery of Westminster was encouraging an examination of the way that our church handles issues of sexuality in what was, at the time, the late C20th.  This provision in the Book of Forms for presbyteries to bring forward doctrinal issues for study by the church as a whole is, in itself, evidence of the church reforming.  The General Assembly in 1987 referred overture no. 22 to the Committee on Church Doctrine giving instructions to, “produce a statement defining the Church’s position on human sexuality” (A&P 1987, pp. 17, 468-469; cf. Appendix to this Report).

Prior to this document reaching the floor of General Assembly for approval in 1994 issues related to it came up at two other assemblies.  Following the collection of responses to a draft document  from 35 of 44 Presbyteries and ¼ of the 996 Sessions, a draft report was presented to General Assembly in 1992 along with “Recommendation No. 1 (amended, page 34; reworded, page 47; adopted, page 47) That the Committee on Church Doctrine undertake to clarify, amplify and revise the Report on Human Sexuality in response to the submissions received, recognizing that the Report on Human Sexuality has been adopted as an interim statement by the 1992 General Assembly and that a large majority of presbyteries and sessions replying have approved the Report, and that the Committee report to a future Assembly.”

Before venturing to look for the balance between tradition and prophetic voice in the 1994 document one must first acknowledge that this balancing has been
challenging people of faith from the earliest times as the people of God were
uprooted and moved around from present day Iraq to Canaan, Egypt, Assyria and back.  It is easy enough to understand that tradition refers to the practice of those who came before us, which is represented in the word of God in the Bible and the work of scholars over the centuries, and one’s experience within the church.  Prophetic voice is usually assumed to be the voice for change, whether subtle or radical change. One needs to be ever aware that not all prophecy is for “forward change” but may also be prophecy of the need to return to traditional practices.  Whatever other message prophets carried from God to the people, the
first thing was the need to repent of our sins. That being said, for the purpose of this report let us consider the prophetic voice to be that encouraging a change to a more liberal doctrine, and the traditional to be the status quo.

In terms of expression of tradition, the Report on Human Sexuality states, “1.3 In presenting this statement the Committee seeks to avoid being swept along by the tide of current beliefs and practices. It is essential, in response to the
challenges confronting us, to explore and state our Church’s position in contemporary terms as clearly and as persuasively as possible.”  References used for this traditional side include the Bible, Calvin’s Institutes, the Westminster Confession of Faith etc.  Tradition is also brought in with the discussion of the former view of Christian churches that all sexual activity is inherently sinful and was to be struggled against (Augustine).

Expressions of prophetic voice are referred to in reference to prayer for direction from the Holy Spirit and by the inclusion of some of the possible stances the church might take prior to the statement of the conclusion of the question.  The fact that the report took us as far as considering that homosexual people are not aberrations but people of value to God and to the church, and that indeed some homosexual couples are stronger than heterosexual couples shows great movement from tradition.

Balance might be represented by statements such as, “2.1.2 Scripture, tradition, reason and experience each have a role to play in discerning God’s will. Yet our
ultimate authority and our primary source for our knowledge of God’s will
remains the revelation of God, in Jesus Christ, witnessed to in Holy Scripture,
speaking to us through the power of the Holy Spirit. A Christian sexual ethic
will make wise use of tradition, reason and experience, but will evaluate these
in the light of the witness of Scripture. Experience and rational reflection
may act as spurs which drive us back to Scripture to look again at neglected or
misunderstood aspects of the biblical revelation.”

Since the adoption of the report as doctrine there has been further action.  In “ 2001, 127 GA Committee on Bills and Overtures presented Recommendation No. 3 …That Overture No. 15 (p. 561) re using the 1994 statement on human sexuality as basis of work for the Special Committee on Sexual Orientation be referred to the Special Committee on Sexual Orientation. Adopted.”[i]  The issues of human sexuality were also addressed in the Social Action Handbook, published by the Life and Mission Agency in 2004, which summarizes the doctrine as it stands.

Another area of our polity that allows for balance is the provision for recording one’s dissent along with written reasons to be included in the Acts &
Proceedings.  It is interesting to note that one member of the committee resigned and four had their dissent recorded at the end of Recommendation 7 and prior to discussion at GA.  Following the vote to adopt Recommendation 7, there were 39 individual commissioners who had their dissent recorded.  Many of these people turned in written explanation for the dissent signed by two commissioners.  The dissents cited many issues including; questions of the exegesis cited in the document, noting concern for the negative effect it may have on relationships in congregations, a focus on creation rather than the example of Christ, lack of medical and scientific focus, a focus on perfectionism over grace, and the requirement of homosexuals to deny their innate sexuality, and more. (1994 A&P p56-62)

On the whole, regardless of one’s personal feeling about the content of the Report on Human Sexuality, through the process which led to its creation, the study and deliberation of the committee over many years, the chance for presbyteries and sessions to respond, the discussion at GA and the option to dissent in writing, balance is maintained between the traditional and the prophetic voice in this document.  Controversial issues, such as this, will always involve strong feelings and probably always end up with a mild sense of disappointment on both sides; one feeling we have gone too far, while the other feels we have not gone far enough.  There is no doubt that human sexuality, and
specifically homosexual relationships will come to the General Assembly again
and one trusts that once again our polity will safeguard balance.


Re: Using the 1994 statement on human sexuality as basis of work for the Special Committee on Sexual Orientation (Referred to the
Special Committee on Sexual Orientation, p. 15) WHEREAS, after
prolonged study across the whole Church, the 120th General Assembly adopted a
comprehensive and satisfactory statement on human sexuality (A&P 1994, p. 251-72), and WHEREAS, the 126th General Assembly, in reviewing the report of the current Special Committee re Sexual Orientation, found that there were significant definitions in the report which the General Assembly could not accept or endorse, and found it necessary to state so, in a resolution adopted by an overwhelming majority (A&P 2000, p. 49, additional motion by C.D. Cameron), the Presbytery of St. John humbly overtures the Venerable, the 127th General Assembly, to advise and direct the Special Committee re Sexual Orientation to utilize the statement on human sexuality adopted by the 120th General Assembly as a basis for its work, or to do otherwise as the General Assembly, in its wisdom, may deem best.


Kirking the Tartans


Yesterday afternoon we attended a service called the Kirking of the Tartans. This event was a part of the NB Highland Games. People representing many different families with ties to the Scottish clans gathered together in the workshop tent for scripture readings, and prayers of blessing on the tartans and the families who wear them.

For people of Scottish descent, an highland games weekend is a chance to tap into that part of their heritage, and for those who are not it gives a glimpse into where we come from culturally speaking. Walking around the grounds you can hear pipes and drums warming up all around, Celtic fiddle tunes, lots of Scottish accents, and the announcer saying how far someone just threw a hammer, large stone or telephone pole. You will see men, women, and children in various forms of Highland dress along with plain old shorts and t-shirts. You can shop a little at the vendors who are selling everything from stuffed Scottish cattle, to full regalia including brogues, socks, jackets and the whole nine yards (kilts). You may choose to eat at the tea tent for some haggis on a bun, Scotch eggs, scones and short breads, or at the Belgian waffle stand, the kettle chip stand, wet your whistle at the beer tent, or get a hamburger or other fair fare like cotton candy. Along with all this there are workshops, competitions, genealogy tents and tents representing many of the clan associations.

I really like that amidst all the bustle and fun, time is taken to acknowledge the central role Christianity plays in this heritage. The Church of Scotland is Presbyterian, but many denominations make up the fabric of the land. So one clan at a time, people took a sample of their tartan to the table and as the blessing was pronounced they touched the cloth that represents a link to their heritage.


When the main character dies…

When the main character dies in a book, you know the series has come to an end!  The same can be said for TV series, when the main character is on death’s door we know that he or she will pull through, after-all how would a show named House, for instance, continue if the character House were to die or move away?

I’m reading Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol right now and, (spoiler alert!) was assuming that Robert Langdon who was about to drown would, as per the rules, escape at just the last moment, but…he died!  I immediately assumed that this will be the last book with this character.  Later his character continued in the story in the form of a disembodied mind and I have reason to suspect that it may later turn out that his body will reenter the scene.  Why are they not following the rules?  Where did this idea of being dead and then showing up later alive come from?

Obviously, the greatest example of death not being final is the Good News of Jesus, who was dead and in the grave for three days, and then was alive again!  Through the sacrifice and resurrection Jesus put an end to the power of death over those who believed in him.  There are other resurrections in the Bible; Lazarus was in the grave, but came back to life,  the widow’s son was being carried out-of-town for burial and then was alive, the centurion’s little girl died and the mourners were wailing and then Jesus woke her and told her mother to feed her.

In the show Dallas, JR died and was absent from the series for a whole season, but it turned out that it was all a dream.  The final book of the Harry Potter series involves the death of Harry, but it turns out not to be permanent.  Are these all examples of the art of imitation, or imitation in art?  I don’t think you can really consider JR to have been a Christ figure, well you might but I don’t.  I do believe the parallel has been suggested with Harry Potter who throughout the whole series fought Lord Voldmort the force of evil and then it ends up that they have to both die in order to end the issue before one of them could be alive.

What is important, of course, is that you and I don’t need to fear death of our earthly bodies.  If we believe in God and accept Jesus as our Saviour we will not die, but have eternal life.

Blessings to you all,


Comfort Food and Pot Luck Suppers

My daughter is about to prepare her first casserole to take to a pot-luck supper.  We have been going to potlucks all her life, but this is one of the first to which she is invited without us.  She has chosen to make a casserole which is classic comfort food in our house ever since I got married and started having meals at the home of my mother-in-law.  The recipe comes from the Federated Women’s Institutes of Canada cookbook, Cooking Collections (1988).  It was entered to the book by the Hon. Muriel McQueen Fergusson and is titled simply My Favorite Casserole.


Other than the great chance to get together with people and have a great time, the joy of a pot-luck supper is two-fold; first you are sure that there will be at least one thing you like to eat on the table since you brought it, and second it provides an opportunity to get a variety of foods for one meal which you would never put together on your own and which may lead to finding new favourite recipes.


One caution which we often forget until it is too late is to take tiny servings of things.  It is all too common to go back to the food table over and over again until you are so full you can barely move.  In that condition we often vow never to indulge in another pot-luck, or at least to do better next time.


Do you see a parallel to church here?


Making your first casserole for the event is like the life of a person (young or old) within the church.  When we fist start attending we rely on those people with experience to lead us, to do the work of preparing and leading worship, preparing and leading Sunday school and Bible studies etc.  As we mature in our faith we gradually take steps beyond this comfort zone of simply attending worship or other events.  Perhaps we start with helping out at coffee hour, or with taking up the offering in worship.  It may not seem like a big deal, but for many people it takes great courage to step up in front of the congregation in any capacity.  In turn these actions may lead to further growth in service.


The variety of items on the table at the supper is like the hodge-podge of knowledge and talents with which the members and adherents come to the church.  We all have our own special gifts to share and we are comfortable with those.  We also have a huge selection of other personalities, gifts and talents, ideas, activities, and jobs with which we may work.  Some of those may turn out to be great favourites and some we may choose to avoid in the future.


I’m sure we are all familiar with the results of putting too much on your plate and then trying to eat it all!  Within the church context this represents the all too frequent burn-out of volunteers, staff, and clergy alike.  All those activities look great, and they may not get to run if nobody volunteers to run them or attends them.  The problem is that God created only seven days and we have this fixed amount of time and, even if we don’t like to admit it, limited personal energy resources.  There comes a time for all of us when we need to learn to say no, hard as that may be.  If we don’t say no to some things and provide some true Sabbath time for ourselves, we may find that it gets really hard to get up from the table.  We may need to go lie down to recover.  We may swear that we will not ever volunteer again, or we may even stop going to church altogether!