- Waleed Aslam lives in Owen Sound. He works for Grey County. I first met Waleed when the mosque in the city was vandalized last summer. Waleed is married and has two delightful kids. He moved here from Hamilton a few years ago. I have no idea where his roots are, as if it matters. He's also a faithful Muslim, just as you and I are faithful Christians. A week ago, Waleed announced with great joy on his Facebook age, that he had been appointed a director of the Downtown Improvement Association or the DIA. There were many posts of congratulations from the many people in the community and family members. I was one of them. So was my wife, a City Councillor. On Wednesday Morning Waleed woke up to discover that three people has posted xenophobic, anti-Islamic comments. They were hateful, co-ordinated and vile. One person in particular used Christian theology to make horrible comments about Islam. Normally, I don't say much about being a pastor. After living in a city for twenty years, many people know who I am and what I do. But is this case, I stood on the role of Christian pastor and challenged their points based on faith. It was not hard to refute. Many other people rose to the defence of Waleed. They challenged the hateful words and supported Waleed and his family...
- ("Margaret Mead [an anthropologist] saw the value of little kindnesses in her study of ancient cultures. One day a student asked her for the very earliest sign of civilization in a culture. He expected the answer to a clay pot or a fishhook or maybe a stone for grinding grain..." and other illustrations)
- A woman in a red Honda, Christmas presents piled high in the back, drives up to the Bay Bridge toll booth in San Francisco. "I'm paying for myself, and for the six cars behind me," she says with a smile, handing over seven commuter tickets. One after another, the next six drivers arrive at the toll booth, dollars in hand, only to be told, "Some lady up ahead already paid your fare. Have a nice day." In Paterson, New Jersey, a dozen people with pails and mops and tulip bulbs descend on a run-down house and clean it from top to bottom while the frail elderly owners look on, dazed and smiling.
- In her recent book The Silent Cry: Mysticism and Resistance, Dorothee Soelle describes how deeply moved she was when she discovered that Dorothy Day, the great Roman Catholic prophet and mystic of the 20th century, often "experienced phases of utter exhaustion, sadness, and grief. The word 'despair' seems inappropriate, but it cannot be far removed from what she went through. In such times, I was told she would withdraw and cry. For long hours, days at a time, she would not eat but just sit and weep. She never withdrew from the active, struggling life for the poorest of the poor and never ceased to look upon war and preparation for war as a crime against the poor. But she wept. When I heard this, I understood a bit better what prayer can mean in the midst of defeat, how the Spirit consoles humans and leads them into truth, how one thing is not at the expense of another, and where consolation is purchased with the renunciation of truth. That Dorothy Day cried for days means both consolations and inconsolability at one and the same time. She knew why she liked to repeat Teresa of Avila's words, 'The whole way to heaven is heaven itself' "
(and other illustrations)
- ("Getting your message across in the simplest, most 'user-friendly' manner is always good for business. When Jesus began his own Galilean mission, wandering the familiar countryside, speaking to both his disciples and to the crowds that would spontaneously appear to hear his words, Jesus kept it simple...")
- ("We've all seen the big, hairy Viking oaf who is the spokesman for the CapitalOne Visa card: 'What's in your wallet?' He demands to know, because if it's not the credit card he is hawking, you are missing out on all the rewards you could be getting. Every credit card company out there is trying to convince us that running up even more debt is a 'rewarding' thing to do...")
- ("It is every parent's dream. It goes like this. Your child is a guest at someone's home. Maybe a friend or a relative. When the meal is over, your child is the one who, without being told, spontaneously rises from the table, gathers their plate and even grabs another place setting, and takes them into the kitchen and put them either in the sink or in the dishwasher...")
- ("Nineteenth Century writer Henry David Thoreau put it this way: 'I sat at a table where were rich food and wine in abundance and great attendance, but sincerity and truth were not...")
- ("In Des Moines, Iowa, dozens of people descend with pails and mops, hammers and saws on a run-down house and clean it from top to bottom while the frail elderly owners look on, dazed and smiling...")
- ("One day several years ago, I was home on a weekday morning during a break in the legislative day. While preparing a stew for the crock-pot, the doorbell rang. When I opened the door, little four year old Katie from down the street was standing there with a small bag. 'I'm running away from home,' she announced. 'Can I run away to your house?'...")
- ("Marian Wright tells the story of a school teacher named Jean Thompson, and a fifth grade boy, Teddy Stollard. Little Teddy Stollard slouched in his chair and didn't pay attention..." and other illustrations)
- ("When I was about 8, I went out with my parents one night when the car broke down - miles from any where. It was midwinter. It was pouring with rain and bitterly cold...")
- "Percy Shelley's haunting poem Ozymandias recounts his recollection of an observation a traveler made of a broken statue of thirteenth century BC Egyptian pharaoh Ramses II lying in the desert sands..."
- ("The movie Ben Hur: A Tale of the Christ is a story of one man's encounter with Jesus and how it changed his life. Ben Hur had been enslaved by the Romans...")
- ("While I was on my internship in LaCrosse, Wisconsin, there was an incident in our neighboring state, Minnesota. The winters up there are hard: blizzards and temperatures in the winter of thirty and even forty below zero are not uncommon. During one bad snowstorm, a woman's car broke down on her way to Rochester...")
- ("There's an old story about a little boy who was riding across town on a city bus. He was huddled close to a very well-dressed lady and was swinging his legs back and forth out in the aisle like kids will do. Accidentally, he rubbed his shoes up against the woman sitting across from him...")
- ("A few minutes before the services started, the people were seated in their pews. Suddenly, Satan appeared at the front of the church. Everyone started screaming and running for an exit, trampling each other in a frantic effort to get away from evil incarnate...")