Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Oh, Canada

I had a childhood fascination with Canada. I'm not sure why. My aunt lived in Prince George, British Columbia (PCBC) for a good chunk of my youth, and I like my aunt quite a lot, so that may have had something to do with it. I know I liked the Canadian flag; it had a simple, monochromatic elegance that appealed to me, and a maple leaf still strikes me as an endearing icon. I used to hang the Canadian flag in my bedroom, which I suppose might have called my patriotism into question back in the day. I knew who Pierre Trudeau was--the prime minister of Canada, not the creator of the comic strip Doonesbury. I celebrated the notion of socialized medicine. I subscribed to the comic book Alpha Flight, the serial drama of a team of superheroes whose exploits were underwritten by the Canadian government. I owned a tape by Glass Tiger--the band who recorded "Don't Forget Me When I'm Gone." Yeah, I had a thing for Canada.

You'd think such a fascination would translate into a real comprehension of the country, but you'd be wrong. I trip up on the geography of the place, and I couldn't name the current PM. My spirit is willing, but my flesh is weak, eh? Sorry.

Last night my ignorant appreciation for Canada in the abstract was on display as I met with the sales team from Cook Canada--the folks who will be selling Deliver Us from Me-Ville in the great white north. You might expect that we would meet over a meal of salmon and back-bacon and Sasquatch jerky, but you would be wrong. We met at a table for ten at P. F. Chang, not far from my house. I don't know about them, but I had a great time, even though I chose my seat poorly and didn't get to interact much at all with about half the table. I suspect I learned more about how a sales team that spends much of their time on the road apart from each other cultivates a sense of togetherness than I did about how their government's prescription drug program works, but that in itself was a great experience: I learned from the Cook sales team a little more than I knew before about what makes for good friendship.

In Deliver Us from Me-Ville the trajectory of the discussion is, roughly, from the kingdom of self to the kingdom of God, from "Me-Ville" to "Thee-Ville," if you're feeling cheeky. Along the way we come to what might be called "We-Ville," that place where we seek the security of one another. It's an important mile-marker, because God is drawing us into the community of his people and establishing his kingdom as a fellowship. But it's also a temptation toward idolatry; in the perceived absence of a God we can't see, we make God's church our surrogate, and inevitably we are disillusioned when a church that can't bear such a burden lets something drop.

Bonhoeffer says that God in his grace "speedily shatters such dreams," that our disillusionment is part of our spiritual development. On the far side of such trauma, if we keep moving, we can come to recognize that true friends take friendship seriously but don't take themselves or one another too seriously. We leave room for one another to be ourselves, and we keep our eyes trained on the invisible God out in front, who still has a destination in mind for us.

7 comments:

heather said...

Ah, Canada, the home of my beloved Anne of Green Gables.
And Vancouver.

David A. Zimmerman said...

All right, everybody follow Heather's lead and post what you love about Canada. No Brian Adams allowed.

bob/Sir Pent said...

Dave!
Alpha Flight ruled under the iron thumb of John Byrne!!
I was dying for some good intrigue with Beta Flight and Omega Flight.
Puck used to be one of my favorite heroes!!

- - - - - -

Things Bob likes about Canada:
SCTV
Bob & Doug McKenzie
Kids in the Hall
Rush
Michael J. Fox

Anonymous said...

OK Dave...here are some of my favorite things from Canada, some which you'll recognize from our childhood:

-Our aunt Marian
-Moosehead Beer
-Rush
-Sarah McLachlan
-Alonnis Morrisette
-"You Can't Do That on Television"
-Its environment (especially in Western Canada - the mountains are beautiful)
-The really cool Canada shirt I got during our trip up there
-My friend Anita, wherever she is

Brother Steve

Michelle Van Loon said...

Cool accents, eh?

Anonymous said...

Dave,

Someone you know quite well loves the sound of "Saskatoon Saskatchewan." He also is proud to claim a visit to Moose Jaw and traveling through the tunnels.

GZ

Larry Eisner said...

Catching up on the blog... so forgive me for commenting so late...

But...

I was in Toronto the week John Candy died. (Ha... rereading that makes it seem like his death was drawn out all week. I amuse myself often... :)

Anyway, two things struck me as cool/creepy (which is, more often than not, much better than one or the other).

1) Toronto is clean. Like Disneyland's Main Street clean. And it's a huge city. I don't know what's up, but I suspect nanobots. (I'll have my own book out shortly.)

2) It was amazing how the whole city kind of shut down more than a little when news hit that he died.

It was as if... I dunno, as if you were in Disneyland the day Walt passed. There was a palpable sense of loss. Businesses literally shut their doors. EVERY paper had a front page story about it. People were all talking about it on the streets.

Everyone was talking about their chagrin that his last film would be "Eastward, Ho!" (Which was indeed a tragedy on many fronts).

Anyway, those two things will embody Canada for me for quite some time.