Sights along the Road… (3/18/12)

Giant Moose, Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan

O Canada!

Your collection of roadside attractions is simply amazing. So this Sunday, we’re taking a drive up into the north lands for our Sights along the Road post.

Michael Bell is our Internet Monk expert on all things Canadian, and we will highlight something he sent me in the spirit of coming Easter at the end of the post. [By the way, Mike will be contributing a “wilderness” post this week that we’re all looking forward to reading.]

In the meantime, we’ll have a a look at moose, lobsters, circus elephants, gigantic axes, and a Russian game that requires the death of at least 14 horses.

• • •

World's Largest Axe, Nackawic, New Brunswick

One of my friends who is doing good things these days, John Armstrong, is hosting a unique conversation in Chicago on Monday, March 26, at 7:00 p.m. at Wheaton College, a “Conversation on Unity in Christ’s Mission” . Here is the backstory:

Last year at this time, John had the privilege of visiting the Vatican. When he returned he had the opportunity to meet with Francis Cardinal George, the archbishop of Chicago, to discuss matters of missional-ecumenism. Reflecting on what came out of that meeting, he writes, “At the end of that lovely visit I asked the Cardinal if he would come to Wheaton and continue to discuss my thesis of missional-ecumenism in a public context. He agreed. But then the details had to be worked out. With profound gratitude I can tell you that Wheaton College allowed ACT 3 to use the largest facility on campus, Edman Memorial Chapel, for this special evening. Thus on Monday, March 26, at 7:00 p.m., Cardinal George and I will meet again but this time we will have our conversation in a public setting. You are cordially invited.”

Any of our readers in the Chicago area may attend this “Conversation on Unity in Christ’s Mission” in person. The event is free, but seating is limited. However, anyone can watch this dialogue via streaming over the internet at by using the video link they will find there. John specifically asked me if I would invite our Internet Monk community to tune in, and I think the best way to do that is to let John speak for himself.

This is really good stuff, folks. Listen up.

A Conversation on Unity from Jake Mater on Vimeo.

Rachel Held Evans wrote the best, most personal, and most moving piece I read this week: “Scattered Thoughts on My Life in the Christian Industry‘”.

Jumbo the Elephant Statue, Barnum & Bailey's Circus, St. Thomas, Ontario

A lot of churches have green rooms these days.

And I’m not sure how I feel about that.

I sit in the green room, fidgeting with my water bottle and trying not to make eye contact with the famous preacher whose pictures line the walls. I wonder if they’re expecting someone like him today, and I wonder if I’ll ever be able to speak in front of a room full of people without getting pee-in-my-pants nervous about it, without feeling out-of-place.

Afterwards, people will have questions. Questions I don’t have the answers to.

And I’ll watch the disappointment spread across their faces when they realize that I’m just as frightened and confused as they are about this thing we call faith, that I’m not the authority figure they think that they need.

There are microphones and there are lights, and sometimes it feels like a big performance. I wish Lady Gaga would show up and do it instead.

I fit in best with those who don’t fit in.

A group of 200 people, half of whom identify as LGBT, laughs at all the right spots, waits patiently through the hiccups, embraces me like a sister.

There is bread and there is wine, and sometimes it feels like heaven come to earth. And I am grateful in a way I’ve never known before.

• • •

Giant Lobster, Shediac, New Brunswick

RJS wrote one of the most thoughtful and clear posts I have read on the subject of inerrancy last week, over at Jesus Creed: “Absolute Perfection…Oh My”.

“I long had doubts about the evangelical doctrine of biblical inerrancy. These doubts and questions did not rise from the blatherings of skeptics but from the reading of scripture itself – in large chunks rather than in small bite-sized disjointed tidbits. Certainly science, archaeology, and Ancient Near Eastern studies played a role, but only as a component of a whole, not as issues driving an agenda. A proper understanding of  and respect for the nature of scripture is an essential component of the Christian witness. My questions were accompanied by a need to investigate the nature of scripture and the source of Christian doctrine more completely. The entirely inadequate, in my view, range of ‘evangelical’ answers only increased the doubts and dissonance.

“…In this view we require that scripture is reliable — (the lamp must give off light) —  but we do not require that scripture be inerrant in the common evangelical use of the term (it is not the foundation of knowledge). A reliable scripture is consistent with the evidence and not demolished by modern biblical scholarship. And we can use modern biblical scholarship to help us better understand the text and the message. We are not skeptics trying to separate truth from error, but believers reading the Bible for all it is worth. We can stop wasting our time defending inerrancy and start spending our time listening to what scripture actually says.”

I especially like her sentence, “We are not skeptics trying to separate truth from error, but believers reading the Bible for all it is worth.” Those with more conservative positions are suspicious and cautionary (and worse) with regard to those who doubt inerrancy, as though our intention or agenda is to undercut the foundations of our own faith. Nothing could be further from the truth. The written Word is a trustworthy, reliable witness to the Living Word, and this is enough.

• • •

This is a giant bunnock, a horse's ankle bone that is used in a game that was first introduced to Canada by Russian Germans. The world championship is hosted and played in Macklin, Saskatchewan. 52 bones are used in a game of bunnock.

My, this is a week of favorites! One of our ever-vigilant commenters pointed me to Skye Jethani’s interview with Jim Gilmore, “A business expert warns pastors not to emulate marketplace principles”.

Gilmore is the author of The Experience Economy: Work Is Theater & Every Business a Stage, featured prominently in Jethani’s book, The Divine Commodity.

Gilmore calls business “the most corrupting influence on the visible church today.” He wrote his book to help congregants understand the commercial culture in which we live, but was troubled to find that it was being used as a manual for “doing church.”

“The talk of ‘multi-sensory worship,’ the installation of video screens, the use of PowerPoint, having cup-holders in sanctuaries — and I’m not talking about for the placement of communion cups — and even more ridiculous applications really took me back. I even read of a pastor who performed a high-wire act, literally–above his congregation. All of this effort to enhance the so-called ‘worship experience’ arose at the same time that I detected a decline in the number of preachers actually faithfully preaching the gospel through sound exposition of the scriptural text.”

Here’s a keeper thought from the interview: “The church should not number itself among other worldly enterprises, performing roles properly assigned to other institutions. Instead, the church should be the place where individuals are equipped for when they go forth in their daily pursuits.”

This conversation is so rich, that I may feature it in fuller form later. In the meantime, I encourage you to follow the link and spend some time thinking about the implications of what this man with his feet in both the church and business worlds has to say.

• • •

Our Canadian friend and IM contributor Mike Bell wrote me recently to point out that, “Canada boasts the largest Easter Egg.  A Ukranian Easter Egg.  It stands 31.6 feet high.” Now that’s something I had to look up. When I did, I found these great pix of the Pysanka (Ukranian Easter Egg). Read the story below, from the Vegreville Chamber of Commerce.

Pysanka, Vegreville Alberta
Pysanka, RCMP Centennial Celebration










The story began in 1973 when the Alberta government established the Alberta Century Celebrations Committee to co-ordinate the Centennial Celebrations of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to be held in 1974. The committee was to distribute funds to communities that wished to build a monument to the R.C.M.P.

The Vegreville and District Chamber of Commerce took up the challenge. Numerous suggestions were made but the best by far was a giant Easter Egg symbolizing the peace and security the Mounties had offered the area’s pioneers and their descendants. The exquisite and intricate decoration of Easter eggs is a Ukrainian folk art known the world over. (The Ukrainian word for Easter egg, Pysanka, comes from the verb pysaty – to write.)

The unique nature and complicated geometry of the egg shape made the design of the Pysanka a highly complex project. Professor Ronald Resch, a computer scientist at the University of Utah, agreed to take on the design project. Realizing the significant nature of the project, the Century Celebrations Committee increased the Chamber’s grant to $25,000.

Professor Resch was responsible for the entire Pysanka concept, which required the development of new computer programs. The Pysanka is really an immense jigsaw puzzle containing 524 star patterns, 1,108 equilateral triangles, 3,512 visible facets, 6,978 nuts and bolts, and 177 internal struts.

As a result of Professor Resch’s work and leadership, the Pysanka is recognized around the world as not only a unique artistic masterpiece, but also an achievement of nine mathematical, architectural and engineering firsts. The design represents the first computer modelling of an egg.

13 thoughts on “Sights along the Road… (3/18/12)

  1. I was also fascinated by the giant Bunnock! Having lived for many years in Central Asia, where Bone Games are common (mostly using the vertebrae of sheep), this caught my attention. It is my first exposure to a bone game of a different origin!


  2. Just returned from a side trip down John Armstrong’s link to “Conversation on Unity in Christ’s Mission.” The comment threads are in full “NO POPERY!” flame mode.


  3. C’mon Chaplain Mike – we Catholics already have the corner on sculptures and church (from saints to gargoyles and some of ’em even weep….)


  4. I never heard of the game of bunnock. So many new things to learn at the internetmonk! 🙂

    I loved Rachel Held Evans’ essay too. Very touching.


  5. Thank you for yet another splendid display of bizarre sculptures.
    (It takes very little these days to entertain me.)


  6. My favorite big thing along the road is the Longaberger Basket building in Newark, OH which is the headquarters of that company.


  7. I kinda like John Armstrong. But if there has to be “unity”, maybe we should be honest and tell the evangelical churches of countries like Poland, France, Austria…to disband and merge with the Catholics.


  8. A lot of churches have green rooms these days.

    For those not familiar with the term, a Green Room is something you find in theater arts. A Green Room is a room in a live-stage theater where the actors wait and prepare themselves to go onstage and perform.


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