Sunday, December 28, 2008

Appropriate Hitler Humour?

When is it appropriate to make fun of Adolf Hitler, and when does that humour cross an ethical boundary into bad taste or, worse, trivializing the evil he stands for? Tonight I was discussiong books on the fall of Berlin in 1945 with a friend. He wants to read Cornelius Ryan's classic The Last Battle, and I was recommending Antony Beevor's Berlin 1945 book. Then I remembered the wonderful portrayal of Hitler by Bruno Ganze in the 2004 film, Downfall.



A gazillion peole have seen the famous bunker rant scene from Downfall on YouTube without ever seeing or even knowing about the film. Phillip Mosscovitch noted this phenomenon in a recent piece (Dec 22) in The Globe and Mail. Parodists have used the rant scene, with alternate subtitles, to show Hitler getting banned from online video games, expressing his disgust with Windows Vista or the atest Star Wars movie. Perhaps the most recent depicts Hitler as Stephen Harper reacting to efforts in the House of Commons to defeat his minority government. Mosscovitch raises the question, ``Where is the line between harmless humour and tasteless parody?`

A number of G&M readers weighed in, one criticizing the paper for being out of its depth and slow to note this internet meme. However, one good comment from a Sidney M in Toronto is worth repeating:

Mel Brooks has said that by making Hitler the subject of comedy, in such works as The Producers and his remake of To Be Or Not to Be, he intended to make his ideas seem so ridiculous that they would never again be taken seriously. On a similar note, the Jewish activist and spiritual leader Arthur Waskow once suggested that back in 1978 when a neo-Nazi group sought to hold a rally in Skokie, Illinois, the Jewish advocacy groups who tried to ban it might have done better to stage a parody counter-rally, with giant balloons depicting Hitler sprawled dead in his bunker. (Waskow wrote this in the context of a discussion of Purim, the holy day in which Jews commemorate the defeat of the would-be genocidal Haman by, among other things, staging skits making him look as ridiculous as possible.)

I don`t have anything more intelligent than this to add, but a friend of mine sent me this graphic, which is funny (at Hitler`s expense) and is worth sharing.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Preparing to Serve - A Sermon for the Fourth Sunday of Advent

After three months away from the pulpit, it's a blessing to be able to preach again. This sermon is to be preached tomorrow at St. Mark's chapel, CFB Greenwood.


2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16, salm 89:1-4, 19-26, Romans 16:25-27, Luke 1:26-38

"Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38)



As most of you know, I’ve recently returned from three months basic training at the chaplain’s school in Borden, Ontario. Our training prepared us for military service by focusing on drill, discipline, rank structures, fieldcraft and other essential survival skills. By the end of the course, we had some idea of what would be expected of us as soldiers. But we weren’t just training to be soldiers, we were training to be chaplains, and that required a different mindset. To use military jargon, it wasn’t enough to learn how to be (army) green, we had to learn how to be (chaplain) purple.

Several years ago, the Chaplain’s branch adopted new cap badges and a new motto, to reflect the fact that our branch is no longer just a Christian institution. The new motto reminds us that whether we are Christian, Jew, Muslim or some other faith, we all have the same mission. We are all “Called to Serve”.

Now if you are forced to spend three months up close and personal around 24 other people, being forced to work as a team, you learn a fair bit about service. You learn to help the other fellow learn to shine his shoes, because he in turn may be good with an iron and can help you with your dress uniform.

You learn to admire the various ways in which people are gifted. The strong chap who inspired you on a rucksack march and helped you set up your tent might struggle in the classroom and need help with academics.

As talents and gifts became obvious, it was tempting to look at one and say “He’s young, smart, and bilingual – he could be the next Chaplain General”, and to look at the other and say “He’s forty something and a real plodder, he’ll be stuck in Cold Lake as a Captain for Life”.

I found it very tempting to fall into this career-oriented thinking, and whenever I did so, I always tried to ask myself, Am I called to serve?, or am I called to serve myself?

Borden was thus a time of preparation for my colleagues. We learned more about who we were, and how we might live out our callings in the Canadian Forces. Hopefully we graduated feeling more prepared and more willing to take on the challenges of these callings.

Likewise, these four weeks have been a time of preparation for us as church. Advent is a Latin word (advenio) meaning “coming” or “coming to”. Our worship began this morning with the hymn “People look East”, reminding us to prepare ourselves for God’s coming as if he were a guest coming to our house.

Our custom of lighting the candles of the Advent wreath reminds us of our task to prepare for God’s coming. The Advent wreath is so much more than a four week Christmas countdown. Like the candles or lights we place in a window after dark, or the porch light we leave on, the Advent wreath is a sign that we want to be good hosts, that we are ready for the coming of “love the guest”. All through Advent we have heard voices warning us to prepare for God’s coming. The prophet Isaiah told us to prepare the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God” (Isa 40:3). John the Baptist warned us that “The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me” (Mk 1:7). Now we stand, like the expectant host, taking a last look at our house and our dining room table, praying that everything is ready for the guest who will be at the door at any moment.

Throughout the Bible there are stories of God showing up on people’s doorsteps like an unexpected guest. In Genesis 18, the aged couple Abraham and Sarah entertain three unexpected men who visit their tent. They courteously provide lunch for the visitors, who reveal that God will make Sarah pregnant. The news is too much for Sarah to believe, but God says to Abraham “Is anything too wonderful for the LORD?” (Genesis 18:14). Sure enough Sarah conceives and gives birth to Isaac (Genesis 21:2), and this birth is the first instalment in God’s promise to Abraham that he will be the father of God’s people (Genesis 15).

In Matthew’s Gospel the idea of being prepared for the coming of God is found in the parable of the Wise and Foolish virgins, which ends with the famous verse, “Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour” (Matt 25:13) when God will come. This idea of preparing for God the visitor is famously expressed in the Victorian painting “The Light of the World” by Holman Hunt, inspired by the verse in Revelations, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me" (Rev 3:20). These bible verses and Hunt’s painting are warnings that we never know when God will make demands on us.



All of these stories are of people being called by God to serve, and the greatest of these stories is today’s gospel story of Gabriel visiting Mary (Luke 1:26-38), commonly called the Annunciation. Here Mary has not been consciously preparing for God’s coming into her life – she is just a young girl getting ready to be a bride, just an ordinary small-town girl. However, the angel’s greeting to her as “favoured one” (Luke 1:28) says that there is something about Mary that is pleasing to God. Christians have traditionally focused on Mary’s virginity and purity as her greatest quality, but I think what also makes her pleasing to God is her willingness, her receptiveness to what God wants to do through her. When she learns how God wants her to serve, despite her fears and doubts, she says “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word” (Lk 1:38).

Many have noticed that Mary does not get a choice in God’s plan. Gabriel doesn’t ask her to be a mother, let along a disgraced mother out of wedlock. He simply tells her that “you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus” (Lk 1:38). Some have even called this episode a divine rape, an example of submissiveness that embodies what is wrong with Christianity. Now it is true that God often seems to ignore our plans and choices, and makes decisions for us without consulting us. I remember one preacher’s spouse who made fun of a standard evangelical slogan by saying “God loves you and has a terrible plan for your wife”. But all too often it’s the case that God calls to serve way outside of our comfort zones, doing things that we never envisioned for ourselves. God will knock on our door, as he does with Mary, present us with a done deal and say “I need you to serve me”, and we don’t seem to get a choice.

But who said that we as Christians ever really got a choice in our relationship with God? Some people say that we have to choose to accept Christ as our personal saviour, but isn’t it really the case that God has already chosen us and called us to serve him? Isn’t it the case that in designing us in his image, God wanted us from our very beginnings to want what is good and what is God’s in the world? We didn’t ask to be born, but God gave us life and God wants us to spend that life walking and working with him. God called all of us to serve, whether we go to chaplain boot camp or whether we choose to embrace our callings as parents or as workers or as professionals. We may be called to spend our retirement doing church work or volunteer work while our peers pursue golf and sunny beaches. We may be called to teach others, to befriend others, to heal others, to feed others, the list goes on. The call to serve may be unexpected, it may, like Mary’s call, go counter to what we think our role and our purposes are. As the preacher Barbara Brown Taylor puts it, "Like Mary, our choices often boil down to yes or no: yes, I will live this life that is being held out to me or no, I will not; yes, I will explore this unexpected turn of events, or no, I will not." You can say no to your life, Taylor says, "but you can rest assured that no angels will trouble you ever again."

Today marks the end of our Advent preparation. On Sunday we will light the white candle at the centre of the Advent wreath, symbolizing the birth of Christ. Love the guest will have arrived. Our spiritual houses may not be as well prepared as we would like. We may not feel ready for God. We may not feel that we have any great calling, or that we have any great gifts to offer. But then again, neither did Mary. All God asked of Mary was to bring Jesus into the world. God will ask the same of us, Christ’s followers, that we leave church and show the light of Christ to the world as Christ’s servants.

Long ago, the Christian writer and mystic Master Eickhardt wrote these words.

We are all meant to be mothers of God. What good is it to me if this eternal birth of the divine Son takes place unceasingly but does not take place within myself? And, what good is it to me if Mary is full of grace if I am not also full of grace? What good is it to me for the Creator to give birth to his Son if I do not also give birth to him in my time and my culture? Then, then, is the fullness of time: When the Son of God is begotten in us.

This Sunday the angel comes to us as he did to Mary and asks us the same question. “How will you bring the love of God in Jesus to the world?” This is how we are all called to serve. And may our answer be, with Mary, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word”. Amen.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Afghanistan Honour Roll Reaches 103

Canada lost three more soldiers in Afghanistan on December 13th, killed by an improvised explosive device in the Arghandab distict,near the site of the three killed the week before. The latest three were all from the 2nd Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment, based out of Gagetown, New Brunswick. Two were fathers and all three were from Atlantic Canada. They are:




Corporal Thomas James Hamilton





Private Justin Peter Jones






Private John Michael Roy Curwin




This comment from the Department of National Defence website:

Members of Task Force Kandahar and the Provincial Reconstruction Team are committed to improving security and increasing development in Kandahar Province. We are all thinking of the family and friends of our fallen comrades during this sad time, but are determined to continue working with our Afghan and international partners towards a better future for the people of Afghanistan."

This photo shows the ramp ceremony in Kandahar, Afghanistan, which was shorter than normal due to a Taliban rocket attack.



Their commander, Brigadier-General Thompson, offered these comments in the press:

The three men were remembered fondly.

Cpl. Hamilton had volunteered for the third time to come to Afghanistan. Known as "Hammy" to his friends, he was also an outdoorsman.

"He loved to fish, hunt and barbeque, but his first love was his daughter Annabella. She was his pride and joy," Thompson said.

Pte. Curwin was described as a "quintessential family man," a father of three who said his wife Laura Mae was his best friend.

Pte. Jones, or "Jonesy" loved to play the guitar and continue his learning and was described by his friends as "one of the kindest people you would ever meet".

"I just want to pass on my condolences, on behalf of my team and behalf of the entire task force," said Lt.-Col. Dana Woodworth, the commander of the Kandahar Provincial Reconstruction Team where the three men were stationed.

"They were fine Canadians, courageous men, they will be missed and I understand there will be much pain and much sorrow in the days that come for the family and friends and loved ones," he finished.

Gen. Thompson has overseen too many ceremonies at the other end while he was a commander in Petawawa, Ont.

"When you're here in the field it's actually easier to be here. I know it's a much heavier load to bear back in Canada," he admitted.

"At the ramp ceremony here we've said goodbye to our friends with honour and dignity and then we'll just return to our duty and it's very easy to get buried in your job here."


Rest eternal grant to them, O Lord, and may light perpetual shine upon them.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Robot Roundup

A lot's happened in the last week or so, including finishing my chaplain's basic officer training course, and I'll get to it in due course. Before I do, though, I can't resist revisiting the robot theme from my last post, a buddy sent me this link from the Globe and Mail, about an unemployed engineer who is building Aiko, a robotic girlfriend. I think we're a ways away from Bladerunner here, but it's kind of creepy watching her. I'm a little puzzled why he would program Aiko to say things like "Don't touch my face with your dirty hands". Perhaps it's because the inventor, Trun Lee, doesn't want his creation to be seen as a sex toy and is denying that she's his girlfriend.



I confess that if I were programming Aiko, I'd want her to say things like "That's ok, honey, you stay late at the Mess with your friends".

Continuing the robotic theme, I hope that Aiko and her like are well treated in the future (as opposed to the present). Otherwise, we risk suffering from the apocalyptic revenge of the robots as prophesied by the Flight of the Conchords.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

The One Hundred

The announcement on Friday, Dec 5 of three combat fatalities in Afghanistan brings the total number of Canadian dead there since 2002 to one hundred soldiers and one diplomat, not including NGO workers and civilian aid workers. The latest three were all members of the First Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment. Their bodies will be returned with honour to CFB Trenton tomorrow, Monday, Dec. 8th. They are:



Warrant Officer Robert John Wilson



Corporal Mark Robert McLaren



Private Demetrios Diplaros




CBC news reports the three casualties here and offers some analysis of the casualties here. A list of the all the Afghanistan casualties is maintained by the DND webste here. That National Post prepared this moving graphic:



Click here for a larger view of that NP graphic.

Cpl. McLaren had been wounded in Afghanistan in 2006 when US A-10 aircraft mistakenly attacked Canadian troops during OP MEDUSA.

The same day two Canadian soldiers on foot patrol were wounded in a separate incident, one losing both legs.

Inevitably, the number "100" will be used by voices in Canada debating the wisdom of the mission, especially as Canada's government's longevity is in question. Numbers mau have weight as symbols, but each of these soldiers was a real person whose death leaves huge holes in those left behind. The Globe and Mail did a worthy job of reminding us of this fact in its weekend piece on Sergeant Robert Short, one of the first Canadians to die in Afghanistan, a story called "1 in 100". This account of Short's family, dreading the padre's knock on the door, hit us chaplain candidates hard as we wind down our course and prepare for the day when we might have to perform such a dreaded service.

In all of the discussion of these three deaths, one comment that seems worth repeating comes from Brig-Gen. Thompson, the Canadian commander of Nato forces in Kandahar province. He was quoted in the NP as saying:

"During my short time in Kandahar province, a female civilian member of our task force has been set on fire. A man has had his eyes gouged out in front of his family. Children have been used as suicide bombers against the security forces. A busload of young men have been executed in cold blood. And young girls have had acid thrown in their face on their way to school. Standing up to terror and injustice is not easy and it's not without a cost, as we've learned today."

So stand easy, you soldiers three. You're in good company. Rest eternal grant to them, O Lord, and let light perpetual shine upon them.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Will Ethical Robots Serve on the Battlefields of the Future?

Two weeks ago the New York Times ran a piece on a researcher, Dr. Ronald C. Arkin, from Georgia Tech, who is being funded by the US military to research robots that could "behave more ethically in the battlefield than humans currently can". The article claims that the technology, particularly software technology, to “allow autonomous systems to operate within the bounds imposed by the warfighter". is only a matter of time.



One of the rationales for this research, according to Arkin, is a "2006 survey by the surgeon general of the Army, which found that fewer than half of soldiers and marines serving in Iraq said that noncombatants should be treated with dignity and respect, and 17 percent said all civilians should be treated as insurgents. More than one-third said torture was acceptable under some conditions, and fewer than half said they would report a colleague for unethical battlefield behavior."

The study quoted here is the "Mental Health Advisory Team (MHAT IV)Operation Iraqi Freedom 05-07 Final Report" and it can be found here. One of the study's most interesting and most distubing findings is that one third of soldiers and marines reported encountering ethical situations in Iraq in which they didn't know how to respond" (p.42). The study's recommendations included making ethical training an important component of allbevahioural health counselling, anger management classes, especially those conducted in the combat theatre, and making ethics a part of all after action reviews. The study says nothing about intelligent robots, as far as I could see, but the study is obviously being used as ammo by Arkin and the battlefield AI researches.

The NYT article about Arkin's robot research is here.

By chance, I also came across an excellent discussion by the science journalists John Horgan and George Johnson on the website Bloggingheads TV on combat robotics and ethics. Hear their discussion.

A question for another day - would ethical robot soldiers require robot padres?

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Do Books Have a Future?

If you've followed Mad Padre for a while, you know that I'm a bibliophile. In face, I'm sitting here in my little room at Canadian Forces Base Borden, my home for another 12 sleeps (not that I'm counting!), and I'm looking at this stack of books that I've accumulated in the last three months:



















Hmmm, and that picture doesn't include the volume of Karl Barth's Church Dogmatics I brought out with me. I'm hoping I can ship this pile home in the unaccompanied baggage allowed me by the military, but I'm not exactly sure where they'll go when I get home.

Maybe I need to embrace the kind of future that James Gleick discusses in yesterday's New York Times, a future in which the published book may be entering a golden age of "the long dreamed-of universal library, its contents available (more or less) to every computer screen anywhere".

For my part, I'm taking some tentative steps in that direction, learning to access and manage books digitally via Google Reader, at the same time as I learn to use Itunes. But the problem, as Gleick notes, is that people like books. While it's true that I probably spend more time per day reading on a computer screen than I do reading the printed word on paper, I want to have a book in my hand, and I want it to last. Some of my most cherished books, including a Folio Society reprint of Kipling's poems that my dear friend Patsy gave me when I left my parish, are aesthetic as well as literary treasures, and that's the hope that Gleick offers the printed book. However, as he notes, the internet and the digitizing initiative of Google now means that there are millions of titles, copyrighted but out of print, that have been rescued from limbo and are now available to we book lovers.

Here's the article by Gleick.

Oh, and if you have any spare room on your bookshelf, give me a shout.

MP+

Friday, November 28, 2008

An American Air Force Chaplain in Iraq

I'm always interested in the stories of military chaplains at work, even if it's the quiet, day by day work of chaplains living and ministering to ordinary service men and women. This piece, couresty of Kendall Harmon's Titus One Nine Blog, is from a Charleston, Virginia newspaper, and describes the work of one Air Force chaplain in Iraq:



The Rev. John Painter's desire to serve abroad pulled gently at his conscience, then grew strong and clear when the Air Force Chaplain Service called in June.

Painter, who is a chaplain at the Ralph H. Johnson Veterans Affairs Medical Center, voluntarily deployed Sept. 5 to Ali Air Base in southern Iraq. He will forego Thanksgiving and Christmas, and his two children will turn a year older before he returns home in January 2009.





Read the whole article

As the Christmas Mess Dinner season approaches


For military and civilian folks alike who are approaching the Christmas dinner season, this one is just too funny. I wish I could take credit for it.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Pastor Advises Flock to Have Seven Days of Sex

I think Christians always get a bad rap for being anti-sex, so it always does my soul good to hear a pastor who is willing to defend sex as part of God's good plan for creation. This article from the New York Times caught my attention the other day and is worth repeating. I'm not sure if the "let them eat cake" advice for singles will give much comfort, however ...


November 24, 2008
Pastor’s Advice for Better Marriage: More Sex
By GRETEL C. KOVACH

GRAPEVINE, Tex. — And on the seventh day, there was no rest for married couples. A week after the Rev. Ed Young challenged husbands and wives among his flock of 20,000 to strengthen their unions through Seven Days of Sex, his advice was — keep it going.

Mr. Young, an author, a television host and the pastor of the evangelical Fellowship Church, issued his call for a week of “congregational copulation” among married couples on Nov. 16, while pacing in front of a large bed. Sometimes he reclined on the paisley coverlet while flipping through a Bible, emphasizing his point that it is time for the church to put God back in the bed.

“Today we’re beginning this sexperiment, seven days of sex,” he said, with his characteristic mix of humor, showmanship and Scripture. “How to move from whining about the economy to whoopee!”

On Sunday parishioners at the Grapevine branch watched a prerecorded sermon from Mr. Young and his wife, Lisa, on jumbo screens over a candlelit stage. “I know there’s been a lot of love going around this week, among the married couples,” one of the church musicians said, strumming on a guitar before a crowd of about 3,000.

Mrs. Young, dressed in knee-high black boots and jeans, said that after a week of having sex every day, or close to it, “some of us are smiling.” For others grappling with infidelities, addictions to pornography or other bitter hurts, “there’s been some pain; hopefully there’s been some forgiveness, too.”

Mr. Young advised the couples to “keep on doing what you’ve been doing this week. We should try to double up the amount of intimacy we have in marriage. And when I say intimacy, I don’t mean holding hands in the park or a back rub.”

Mr. Young, known simply as Ed to his parishioners, and his wife, both 47, have been married for 26 years and have four children, including twins. They have firsthand experience with some of the barriers to an intimate sex life in marriage, including careers, exhaustion, outside commitments, and “kids,” a word that Mr. Young told church members stands for “keeping intimacy at a distance successfully.”

But if you make the time to have sex, it will bring you closer to your spouse and to God, he has said. You will perform better at work, leave a loving legacy for your children to follow and may even prevent an extramarital affair.

“If you’ve said, ‘I do,’ do it,” he said. As for single people, “I don’t know, try eating chocolate cake,” he said.

Read the whole article

This Week's Caption Contest

Click on the picture to see the full image. I don't know why blogspot is cutting off the right hand side of the pictures I post.




The picture for this week's caption contest comes via my friend Martin.

Here are the captions submitted thus far:

"The World of Warcraft Convention swimming outing turned into a panic when someone spotted a girl."

"Last on in gets to hot tub with Richard Simmons!"

"FIRST one in gets to hot tub with Richard Simmons!"

"Cold water increases sperm count. Yet another great big kick in the face for natural selection"

Hey dummies! I said I dropped a Rolaids, not a Rolex!

"At this point, Tom began to wish that he'd spent more on airfare to do the Hawaii Ironman."


Feel free to add your own, or to vote for one of these. Results announced next Wednesday.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Iraq and Afghanistan veterans help their own

This video is produced by a US organization called Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. I learned about it through Bob Herbert's wonderful op-ed piece in the Nov 22 New York Times. Check out the video, read the column, and visit IAVA's website. There's a ton of resources there for chaplains and soldiers dealing with PTSD or wanting to help a buddy deal with PTSD and reintegrate at home.


video

November 22, 2008
Op-Ed Columnist
Help Is on the Way
By BOB HERBERT
With so much attention understandably focused on the economy and the incoming administration, the struggles being faced by G.I.’s coming home from combat overseas are receding even further from the public’s consciousness.

If you’re in your late teens or early 20s and your energies have been directed for a year or more toward dodging roadside bombs and ambushes, caring for horribly wounded comrades and, in general, killing before being killed, it can be difficult to readjust to a world of shopping malls, speed limits and polite conversation.

Bryan Adams is the face of a sophisticated new advertising campaign that is trying to get troubled veterans to come in from the cold and piercingly lonely environment of post-wartime stress.

Bryan, now 24, was an Army sniper in Iraq from February 2004 to February 2005. At an age when many youngsters go to college or line up that first significant job, he and his squad-mates were prowling Tikrit with high-powered weapons, looking for bad guys.

He was shot in the leg and hand during a firefight, and he saw and did things that he was less than anxious to talk about when he came home.

“I wanted to go to college,” he told me. “I had all these plans, but I couldn’t seem to make them happen. I couldn’t focus. I would get, like, depressive thoughts.”

He said that he would party a lot. “Party” was a euphemism for drinking.

The drinking made him more depressed, and then he would get angry that he was “partying but not having a good time.”

Bryan said he would “flip out,” and friends began to shun him. “I just didn’t care what I did or who I affected with my actions. I would break stuff. I’d break, like appliances. It was bad.”

Returning to civilian life from combat is almost always a hard road to run. Studies have shown that a third or more of G.I.’s returning from the combat zones of Iraq and Afghanistan — more than 300,000 men and women — have endured mental health difficulties.

Many have experienced the agony of deep depression, and alarming numbers have tried or succeeded in committing suicide.

A CBS News study found that veterans aged 20 to 24 were two to four times as likely to commit suicide as non-veterans the same age.

The advertising campaign, initiated by the advocacy group Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, was designed to increase the number of veterans seeking treatment for their mental health difficulties. Many are embarrassed to speak about their problems or are unaware that help is available, or even that they need help.

As Bryan Adams told me, “I didn’t know anything about these symptoms. I didn’t know what post-traumatic stress disorder was.”

To get the word out, IAVA hooked up with the advertising giant BBDO and the nonprofit Ad Council, which is famous for such public service slogans as, “Only you can prevent forest fires,” “A mind is a terrible thing to waste” and “Friends don’t let friends drive drunk.”

This campaign is titled, “Alone,” and focuses on the sense of isolation so many veterans feel when they come home. The television and print ads encourage the veterans to visit a Web site, CommunityOfVeterans.org, as a place where they can share their experiences with other vets.

IAVA tells veterans in its promotional material: “Just listen in or share your experiences in a judgment-free environment.”

The site is filled with features and news updates on many topics and information on a wide range of mental health resources.

The ads are powerful.

In one, a somber Bryan Adams is shown, in camouflage fatigues, standing alone in an airport, then riding an otherwise passenger-less subway train, and then walking through empty streets in Manhattan. He is eerily and absolutely alone. There is not another soul in sight, until a marine in civilian clothes walks up to him, extends his hand, and says: “Welcome home, man.”

The ad then flashes the message: “If you’re a veteran of Iraq or Afghanistan, you’re not alone.”

Bryan, who lives in Palmyra, N.J., is a real-life example of what the timely intervention of mental health counseling and treatment can do. At his family’s urging, he enrolled in a treatment program at a V.A. hospital in Boston. It turned his life around, and he is now back in college.

This ad campaign, if disseminated widely enough (it is depending on donated media), will reduce the heartache of G.I.’s and their families, and will save lives.

The need for more attention to this issue is tremendous. Combat does terrible things to people. As Paul Rieckhoff, IAVA’s executive director, put it:

“Nobody can cross this river without getting wet.”


Saturday, November 22, 2008

American Civil War Meets Jurassic Park

This little gem came to me via the twisted minds and English humour of the chaps from the Too Fat Lardies mailing list. I've been to Virginia several times on Civil War reenacting trips, but I've never seen this little attraction before:




















The attraction, called “Professor Cline’s Dinosaur Kingdom,” imagines a lost chapter from Civil War history. It supposes that in 1863, a group of paleontologists inadvertently stumbled upon a valley of live dinosaurs. The discovery comes to the attention of the Union Army, who, recognizing the destructive power of the giant lizards, decide to capture them and unleash them on the Confederate Army.

I haven't done reenacting for some years, but if I go again, I think I may try going as a stegosaurus.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Weird Church News Roundup

Three items of strange church news recently caught my attention as being suitably "mad" to merit mentioning on the madpadre blog.

The first involves a Russian church that was was stolen, brick by brick, an act of blasphemy according to the Orthodox priest who is now hoping the police find his church.

The second story is about a man who was wrestled to the floor in a Florida Roman Catholic church after attempting to steal a handful of communion wafers from the priest during mass.

Finally, this item from England about a Church of England vicar (priest) who turned up in the emergency word with a potato stuck inside a certain part of his anatomy. His excuse deserves credit for being breathtakingly lame, that he was naked and hanging curtains in his dining room, fell backwards onto his table and was thus afflicted with said potato. Mind you, if he was telling the truth, then his neighbours might well be asking, why is the Vicar naked in his dining room window? Doesn't bear imagining, really.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Britain Grapples With Role for Islamic Justice

Anglican readers of this blog may recall the furor earlier this year when the Archbishop of Canterbury got himself in trouble for musing in public the inevitability of sharia law in Great Britain. This piece from today's New York Times reminded me of that debate and of how difficult the question of religious accomodation can be in a liberal society, and, if you believe conservative commentators like Mark Steyn, how dangerous it can be. As a friend of mine on my current chaplain course saiid, pluralism works fine as long as the numbers favour the dominant group in a society. Here's an excerpt from the Times article:


November 19, 2008
Britain Grapples With Role for Islamic Justice
By ELAINE SCIOLINO
LONDON — The woman in black wanted an Islamic divorce. She told the religious judge that her husband hit her, cursed her and wanted her dead.

But her husband was opposed, and the Islamic scholar adjudicating the case seemed determined to keep the couple together. So, sensing defeat, she brought our her secret weapon: her father.

In walked a bearded man in long robes who described his son-in-law as a hot-tempered man who had duped his daughter, evaded the police and humiliated his family.

The judge promptly reversed himself and recommended divorce.

This is Islamic justice, British style. Despite a raucous national debate over the limits of religious tolerance and the pre-eminence of British law, the tenets of Shariah, or Islamic law, are increasingly being applied to everyday life in cities across the country.

The Church of England has its own ecclesiastical courts. British Jews have had their own “beth din” courts for more than a century.

But ever since the archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev. Rowan Williams, called in February for aspects of Islamic Shariah to be embraced alongside the traditional legal system, the government has been grappling with a public furor over the issue, assuaging critics while trying to reassure a wary and at times disaffected Muslim population that its traditions have a place in British society.

Boxed between the two, the government has taken a stance both cautious and confusing, a sign of how volatile almost any discussion of the role of Britain’s nearly two million Muslims can become.

Read the whole article

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

New Veterans Hit Hard by Economic Crisis

The fallout from the current financial crisis and economic slowdown in the US is impacting wounded and disabled veterans from America's current wars. This article from the New York Times offers some sobering facts about how these families are falling through the cracks. I have yet to see any comparable Canadian data. Here's an excerpt:


November 18, 2008
New Veterans Hit Hard by Economic Crisis
By LIZETTE ALVAREZ

After a mortar sent Andrew Spurlock hurtling off a roof in Iraq, ending his Army career in 2006, the seasoned infantryman set aside bitterness over his back injury and began to chart his life in storybook fashion: a new house, a job as a police officer and more children.

“We had a budget and a plan,” said Mr. Spurlock, 29, a father of three, who with his wife, Michelle, hoped to avoid the pitfalls of his transition from Ramadi, Iraq, to Apopka, Fla.

But the move proved treacherous, as it often does for veterans. The job with the Orange County Sheriff’s Office fell through after officials there told Mr. Spurlock that he needed to “decompress” after two combat tours, a judgment that took him by surprise. Scrambling, he settled for a job delivering pizzas.

Read the whole article.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Account of Charge of the Light Brigade Auctioned

It's always pleasant when the voice of the archetypal Private (or in this case Trooper) Bloggins is heard over the years. In this case, an ordinary soldier's account of the Charge of the Light Brigade was recently auctioned in England. As you can see below, he must have watched stonefaced but full of foreboding as Capt. Nolan gave Lord Lucan his famously vague orders. Even my fellow chaplain candidates, after a week of training on NATO battle procedure, would recognize those orders as being fatally flawed. It's very gratifying to hear that Trooper Olley was rescued from a shameful beggardom and lived to a ripe old age.




From BBC News:

A soldier's account of the doomed Charge of the Light Brigade is expected to fetch up to £2,500 at auction.

Private James Olley, of Knapton, Norfolk, was 16 when he lost an eye and suffered a broken skull in the Battle of Balaclava in 1854.

Scores of cavalrymen died when they galloped straight into enemy fire after being sent in the wrong direction.

The soldier's handwritten account, which pinpoints some of the confusion, is being auctioned in Shropshire.

The document, which is believed to be one of only a few surviving eye-witness accounts of the charge, is being sold by Mullock's Auctions at Ludlow Racecourse on Thursday.

The auction will also include the sale of a map used by Sir Winston Churchill before D-Day.


Pte Olley penned his account to escape begging on the streets.

After returning to Norfolk, the injured soldier fell on hard times and begged with a placard around his neck.

Just as we saw the Russians a bullet from the enemy took away my left eye

Private James Olley

Pte Olley's account suggests the miscommunication between the head of the British cavalry, Lord Lucan, the Light Brigade's Commander Lord Cardigan and Captain Edward Nolan, who ordered the charge.

He wrote: "I was within 10 paces of the Earl (of Lucan) and his staff when the order was brought in - 'He (Lord Cardigan) may advance but what can we do?' said the Earl.

"'There is the enemy and there are the guns' cavalry,' replied Nolan, pointing to the Russian squadrons."

However, Captain Nolan indicated the wrong guns and caused confusion by commanding the entire valley, instead of a select number of troops.

Pte Olley told how he came across a horse with an empty saddle after his own horse was shot down.

"I mounted it and rode down to the guns, when I was attacked by a Russian gunner who I cut down with my sword," he wrote.

"I received a severe wound on my forehead, which went through the skull bone."


Pte Olley said the soldiers were soon "overpowered by the enemy".

"Just as we saw the Russians a bullet from the enemy took away my left eye, " he wrote.

"I still rode and fought through the lines of the enemy.

"When we got through we rode into our encampment, what few there were left of us."

Richard Westwood Brookes, of Mullock's Auctions, said the charge was a "spectacular example of dreadful leadership and lack of communication".

He said: "What makes this manuscript so important is that Olley was present when those crucial orders were delivered."

Pte Olley was seen begging by a squire who wrote an angry letter to the press about his treatment.

He was later granted a subscription fund and went onto work as a horse trainer.

He died aged 82.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

How Militaristic Has Canada Become?

In this essay from today's Globe and Mail, Michael Valpy throws a bunch of points of view at the question of how militaristic we have become as a country. Certainly it's true that the military has a greater visibility today than it has since the Korean War. I also think Valpy is acknowledging a nerve in certain Canadian intellectual circles that, as Trudeau acknowledged during the FLQ crisis, gets twitchy when uniforms are seen on the streets. If he had tried harder, Valpy could have parsed the word "militaristic", which has connotations of fascism and dictatorship. I think Canadians have the common sense to value their military while knowing exactly where it belongs in our society - an honoured institution firmly under the control of a democratic government, without being "militaristic" or even "militarised". Anyway, here's Valpy:


MICHAEL VALPY

From Tuesday's Globe and Mail

November 10, 2008 at 11:29 PM EST

It is Remembrance Day. At cenotaphs, war memorials and in schools and civic squares across the country, what Canadians will be asked to remember Tuesday is as complex and contested as their own uncertain culture.

They find themselves living with the fascinating phenomenon of a military presence once hidden from sight on government instructions, now more visible than at any time in the past half century.

Read the whole article.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

What I'm Reading: Shock Troops

Tim Cook. Shock Troops: Canadians Fighting the Great War,1917-1918, Volume Two, Toronto: Viking Penguin, 2008.























Tonight, most likely, officers and senior NCOs of my former reserve unit, Fourth Battalion of The Royal Canadian Regiment, are gathering in London, Ontario for an annual event called The Pursuit to Mons dinner. This custom falls on the Saturday before Remembrance Day, and commemorates the last Battle Honour earned by the Regiment in the First World War. On November 10th, 1918, the Canadian Corps was attempting to capture the Belgian city of Mons, where the British Expeditionary Force had been thrown into retreat by the overwhelming power of the Imperial German army in August 1914. Thus the war came first circle, with the Empire’s new army of shock troops from Canada regaining what ground the mother country’s professional army had lost at the outset of the war.

Canada’s military coming of age in 1917 and 1918 is the subject of Tim Cook’s book, Shock Troops. Cook, the Great War historian at the Canadian War Museum, completes in this volume the story he began in At the Sharp End: Canadians Fighting the Great War 1914-1916. Shock Troops begins with the Canadian Corps battered after the 1916 battles of the Somme, and shivering in the winter of 1916-17. Herbert Burrell, an infantryman at the unimaginable age of forty-six (my age next week) wrote that “We are like the rats which infest the trenches burrowing in the ground; sleeping by day; grovelling in the mud at night. Mud in your bed. Mud in your bed; in your mess tin; on your food. We seldom wash. No water to spare. One marvels at the cheerfulness of the boys who have been out here a long time” (p. 14). Comradeship in the midst of unrelenting hardship and casualties is a constant theme in Cook’s study. His other major theme is the increasing professionalism, operational and tactical organization, and national pride which made the Corps such a powerful force on the Western Front.

Under their last two commanders, Sir Julian Byng and Sir Arthur Currie, the Canadians spent the winter of 1916-17 reorganizing and training in ways that allowed the Corps’ four divisions to build on their staff strengths and lessons learned. “Canadians understood one another, often knew their counterparts in their division or other divisions from prewar life in Canada or from serving in the First Contingent, and would come to know each other better in the various divisional and corps training schools that were established from 1916 onward to impart lessons and bring senior and junior officers together” (21).

The story of how Currie and his staff achieved their goal in the methodical, set-piece battle of Vimy Ridge is well told by Cook and is too well-known to deserve much space here. We can be grateful to Cook that he spends as much time describing the Canadian effort at Passchendaele, a battle which has been memorably and lyrically evoked in film this fall by Canadian actor and director Paul Gross. Passchendaele, a winter battle fought in appalling conditions amidst bottomless quagmires of mud, has long been a symbol of the idiocy and sacrifice of trench warfare. However, given the bleak strategic situation of 1917 for the Allies, with Russia failing and the French army in a state of mutiny, there was a grim logic in the British general Douglas Haig’s plan of keeping the pressure on Germany. While Currie won his demand to fight the battle on his own terms, he only had two weeks to plan the offensive, far less time than the Canadian Corps had to plan the attack on Vimy Ridge. Cook gives Currie full credit for standing up to his British superiors to win every possible advantage for his Canucks by spending shells instead of lives:

“Currie needed more guns to adequately prepare for the battle. Returning from his tour of the front, the red-faced general barged into GHQ demanding replacements for the guns that had sunk beneath the mud. Kilometres from the front, the British staff chided Currie and asked how he could know for sure if the guns where there or not. Currie exploded, cursing and pointing to his mud-stained uniform; he had been there to inspect the bloody guns, he bellowed, and there were far fewer of them than the British claimed in their handover reports! The surprised and chastised British acquiesced.” (p. 321)

Passchendaele, as one Canadian gunner remembered, was “really hell on earth … a complete nightmare of mud, slush and everything else. It was frightful, and if I’d been in for a week I’m sure I’d have gone mad” (p. 364). However, it was a tribute to the Canadian Corps that it managed four set-piece attacks in October and November, using increasingly sophisticated tactics. During the capture of Passchendaele village, spotter aircraft from the Royal Flying Corps, using state of the art wireless radios, called in seventy artillery missions from the air to support the Canadian attacks. The use of aircraft for fire control and ground attack, combined with tanks, armoured cars and mobile artillery, all assisting infantry with robust tactical leadership and initiative at the section level, would be widely used in the above ground battles of the Hundred Days in late 1918 as the Canadians got better and better at the art of war. Readers who think that the Western Front was simply the repetition of mindless and stupid tactics by idiot generals need to read Cook’s book.

The battles of the Hundred Days (August to November, 1918), when the Canadians broke the German lines at Cambrai, Amiens, the Canal du Nord and Valenciennes, deserve to be as equally well known to Canadians as Vimy Ridge. In these last, desperate battles, against German lines lavishly equipped with machine guns, the Canadians infantry was often forced to attack before their supporting artillery could be brought within range over recently captured ground. In these last days of the war on the western front, the Candians suffered 45,835 casualties, an eighth of the losses of the British Expeditionary Force during this period, even though the Canadians only made up one-fifteenth of the BEF’s total strength (579). The breaking up of the Fifth Division in England, plus the arrival of conscripts from Canada, allowed a flow of replacements to keep the Canadian infantry at full strength and fighting. When one considers the number of men who flowed through the Canadian battalions, being destroyed and rebuilt five and six times over (the 1st CEF battalion, with an OOB of about 1000 men, had 6,449 men pass through its ranks during the war), it’s a marvel and a tribute that the Canadians fought as well and as hard as they did.

The surprising cohesion of the Canadian Corps, as Cook suggests, came from its camaraderie, the loyalty of mates in a platoon to one another when Generals like Currie seemed far away. It came as well from the special discipline of the Corps, noticeably more relaxed and democratic than the tone of the British army, but still an army that prided itself on its soldiering reputation. And, as Cook suggests memorably, it came from the fact that they embodied a nation:

“Close to seven percent of the country’s total population left Canada during the war years, which included an astonishing twenty percent of the total male population between the ages of eighteen and forty-five. And when they arrived in their camps, and later in the fighting formations of the Canadian Corps or other units, they met men who hailed from across the country. English Anglo-Saxon Protestants served next to French-speaking Catholics; east-coast fishermen rubbed shoulders with big-city Toronto factory workers; Natives, blacks and Japanese fought side by side with men who might never have seen them in Canada, let alone talked to them. This is not to suggest that the Canadian Corps was one big, happy family that experienced no friction or fights. But the country did come together in its corps, taking great pride in the significant victories on the Western Front, which created a new pantheon of soldier heroes. The corps’ success in the war also created a new sense that Candians had done something important together, that indeed something “Canadian” existed beyond the political federation of provinces and localities.” (p. 630)

If this all seems rather abstract and academic, read the book for the many soldier’s voices that Cook includes in its over six hundred pages. Among these voices is Gunner Robert Hale, writing a poem home to his girlfriend Alice, knowing, as all Canadian soldiers did, that the odds were stacked against them ever coming home. Hale wrote:

Remembrance is all I ask
But if remembrance proves a task
Forget me. (p. 189)

As another Canadian historian, Duff Crerar, has written, “all of our historians gaze across the white crosses and memorials with awe and sympathy for the grief and pain that still haunts those who have been lovers of those who signed away their right to life for the defence of Canada”. Thanks to Cook, Gunner Robert Hale and others like him will not be forgotten. At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, we will remember them.

MP+

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Toying With History

Toy soldier enthusiasts and Canadian chauvinists will enjoy this statue, currently on display in Toronto, as a reminder of the War of 1812. It depicts a British soldier from the War of 1812, triumphing over an American soldier. The war visited Toronto, then Fort York, in 1813.




The whole story can be found here. The article quotes a US museum curator as saying:

Connie Barrone, the site manager of the Sackets Harbor state historical park in northern New York, had in a previous interview with the National Post declared the American troops victorious. But Monday, she applauded Toronto for its "strong" monument.

In an e-mail, she wrote that "historical or aesthetic interpretation must be made by the viewer."

"Depending on one's point of historical interpretation, the figures could be reversed, for example representing the Battle of York, or the figures might both be standing eyeball to eyeball when interpreting the War of 1812," she wrote.


Tnis quote spurred a professor friend of mine to write:

Funny that the US 'historian' is curator at Sacketts Harbour. That's recorded there as another 'victory'.

"Executive summary: Drummond raided the place in 1813 with 800 militia. It was defended by 6000+ US militia and regulars. Aim was to burn the naval yards, and naval supplies. US militia fled at the first approach. While the US regulars defended earthworks against the Canadian skirmish line, a US militia officer (Cornelius Spunkmeyer -- I'm not making that up) fled through the town, shouting that all was lost. US Militia fired the town, including the building supplies, the dockyards, and the ships under construction. Drummond withdrew. US victory."

I suppose as a wargamer, my only criticism of the statue is that there isn't a big dice and a bag of Doritos beside the toy soldiers.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Caption Contest

This picture courtesy of my brother Al (you have to click on the picture to see the whole thing:



Captions courtesy of military friends in London from 4RCR:

"For this I shaved my legs??"

"I said, 'Watch out for the Shitzu'..."

"At the 2008 All Alumni Olympics, the 1956 Chinese Women's Gymnastic Team enters the stadium."

"Sexy Asian Villains March in Protest of being cut from the latest Bond film. Allegations surface that cameras were void of film during bikini oil fight in submarine. Daniel Craig and Producers silent."

"The US...Who's Bitch is She Now?"

"The US Economy...It's Not Sizzlin', It's Fizzlin'"

"Maoist supermodels attempting to emulate Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton, and as usual, the PRC doesn't get it quite right."

Finally, my favourite, thanks to Photoshop (again, click on the picture to get the whole joke):

Monday, October 27, 2008

A Warrior and an Artist

One of the DS (Directing Staff) on my Chaplain's course is Master Corporal Roger Chabot, one of the most amazing soldiers I've had the privilege to meet. MCpl Chabot isn't a big man, but his authority on the parade square is gigantic. He's an ex Airborne and PPCLI paratrooper, a veteran of Kosovo and Somalia. After six weeks we discovered that he is also a talented artist.

This is MCpl. Chabot in the field with us last week, explaining basic infantry tactics to us clueless padres (click image for a larger view:




Here's an example of his work:



Please visit Roger Chabot's website and consider purchasing some of his work. A portion of each sale goes to a charity that supports families of Canadian soldiers killed in Afghanistan.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Life in Borden Cont.

Today my section mates from the mighty Three Section and I are relaxing at a Williams Coffee Pub after completing the Green (military) phase of our Chaplain's BOTC course. Here are some more pictures of our green phase field exercise. As always, you can see a larger picture by clicking on each image: Myself (middle) with Capt. Gordon Mintz (an Anglican priest and fellow Wycliffe alumni) and Lt. (Navy) Rob Parker, a fellow Anglican priest and fellow escapee from the Diocese of Huron. Both standup guys:



Another shot of myself and Rob Parker - Rob is wearing the cast that he earned after breaking his wrist on the confidence (obstacle) course a day before we returned to the field. Rob has so far refused to let us write dirty things on his cast:



Captain Gerald VanSmeerdyk poses in the woods, trying hard not to be seen. Gerry is a Christian Reformed Church minister and a runner up with yours truly for the title of most flatulent in the section:



The handsome, erudite, and strikingly Teutonic Captain Howard Rittenhouse plots to take over the Canadian Forces. Howard is a Baptist pastor and a font of knowledge about arcane facts. He also emits wondrous belches.



Minus 10 Celsius in our unheated tent and Rob Parker and I try to stay warm. Hopefully this photo will not tip the balance one way or another in the Anglican Church's same sex debate:



While new to the army, Gord Mintz shows that he has mastered the soldier's art of sleeping whenever possible:



All of the aforementioned gentlemen and others make up Three Section, the oldest, fightingest, wisest, orneriest and stinkiest section in our BOTC platoon. Here we are on the final day of our field exercise. Left to right, front row: Fr. Lester Mendonsa (RC); Fr. Rob Parker (ACC); The Mad Padre Himself; Rev Howard Rittenhouse ((Baptist). Randall Read (Baptist); Fr. Gordon Mintz (ACC); Rev. Gerry Vansmeerdyk (Christian Reformed Church); Rev. Kevin Olive (Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada).



Today was the final challenge in our military training, the rappel tower at CFB Borden. We couldn't believe that we got paid to have this much fun. Here's the rappel tower looming large in the early morning mist:




Three section's Captain Kevin Olive, a Pentecostal pastor, looks dubious at the thought of entrusting his life to a small rope:




Chaplain candidates rappelling on the thirty foot wall.



Video taken by coursemate Ian Easter of our buddy John (High Def) Hounsell Drover, the pride of Newfoundland and the Anglican church, rappelling off the skid. The skid simulates the skid of a helicopter, and the ONLY way this would have been MORE fun would have been if we had an actual helicopter.



video

Time and failing energy prevent much more for tonight, but I am with some awesome friends and Christian leaders, we're embarked on an awesome calling, and God is good. Starting next week we embark on six weeks of death by powerpoint as we enter on the purple chaplain phase of our training. Bash on padres!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Life in Borden

The blog has been quiet lately because I've been offline in CFB Borden taking my Basic Officer Training Course at the CF Chaplain's School and Centre. Today it's turkey day and I am finishing my leave at home. Enough time to upload a few silly pictures. You can see a larger picture by clicking on any of the images below.


With my boss, Major Art Crawley, and my fellow candidate, Gordon Poley, at CFB Greenwood before setting off on Sept. 9.



Me shortly after arrival, sporting the course standard hair cut - in military terms, a "3 and 1":



Course mates taking First Aid training seriously.



Puppy pile, taking advantage of a rest period in the field. I'm in here somewhere:




Looking dubiously at our new surroundings:



Me with my shelter half tent, or "hootchie", showing the artistic design dubbed "The Luge" by my section mates:




My section after winning a stalking and concealment exercise in our first field portion. The objective was to cam ourselves up and try to get a power bar placed on a hilltop without the Directing Staff seeing us. Since the DS are all commando and sniper qualified, the chances of us surprising them were slim, but they were good sports and gave us a chance. I'm the happy guy holding the power bar.



That's all that time permits. I'll try to add more as time permits, hopefully before my course ends in December. Pray for me. Blessings, all!

MP+

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Moving to Greenwood

This set of pictures (click on any to see a larger image) completes the story of our epic journey this summer from London, ON to Greenwood, NS. Our first day on the road, July 24th, saw us driving through a rainstorm just east of Toronto on the 401. For about half an hour we followed this rainbow, and finally drove through it. A good omen, we thought:





Visiting one of the Martello towers in Kingston, built in the mid 19th century when the fear of an invasion of British Canada from the US was very real. My dad would have toured this same tower when he did an army staff course at Kingston in the early 1960s.



Kay and I in front of the same tower. The house we are moving to in Greenwood is considerably more luxurious than the married quarters inside this tower that a few lucky officers and their famileis enjoyed:



My son John wasn't impressed by our day traversing Quebec - too much French, he thought. Our drive along the St. Lawrence east of Montreal was gorgeous, and I wish we had more time for it. Finally we turned south and crossed the New Brunswick border near Edmunston:



St. John New Brunswick had a very cool, old world quality to it, even though we found it shrouded in fog on a late July evening. After a confusing few minutes we found the ferry to Digby, and enjoyed watching the bow go down on its hinge before we left - reminiscent of the Chee-Chee-Mon that runs from Tobermory, ON:



My son John enjoys the three hour passage:



Kay and I enjoy a bad hair day topside:



Nova Scotia comes into view:



We pull off the ferry and arrive in Digby, about an hour south of our new home:



Kay admires murals/wall carvings in downtown Digby.





July 29th, Greenwood. My son John is the first person to enter our new house, 1788 Cartier Court, Kingston.




Our mighty moving crew. These guys did an awesome job:

Mad Padre

Mad Padre
Opinions expressed within are in no way the responsibility of anyone's employers or facilitating agencies and should by rights be taken as nothing more than one person's notional musings, attempted witticisms, and prayerful posturings.

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