Sunday, February 17, 2019

Will There Be Pets In Heaven? by Susan Harris

Yes or No could be so boring at times, can't it?

To catch my drift on the topic, click on the video below:

This clip is part of an episode for my show Eternity that was taped on location at our farm to accomodate the four-legged adorable ones. Happy watching.

“You are worthy, O Lord our God, to receive glory and honor and power. For you created all things, and they exist because you created what you pleased.” Revelation 4:11 (NLT)

Eternity is hosted by Susan Harris on Access7 Television in Saskatchewan. The weekly program is a corollary to her upcoming release of her memoir TOUCHED BY ETERNITY: A TRUE STORY OF HEAVEN, HEALING, AND ANGELS.

Thursday, February 07, 2019

Artificial intelligence (AI) as an emergent religion - Denyse O'Leary

 There are many reasons to doubt the “conscious machines” myth, including Levin’s Law and the general difficulty of pinning down what “intelligence” actually means in a specific enough way to ever give instructions to a machine. Similarly, serious analysts are diminishing, not increasing the hopes of finding ET Out There.

 In his new book, Unbelievable: 7 Myths About the History and Future of Science and Religion, Mike Keas, lecturer in History and Philosophy of Science at Biola University, draws attention to the striking similarities between two staples of pop science news, superintelligent AI and superintelligent ET.

Both types of mythical being lurked just around the corner for the better part of a century at least. Popular science media are profoundly unskeptical about their existence, probably because they prop each other up. As Keas documents, taken together, they form an emergent secular religion. For example, cosmologist Paul Davies “along with many other scientists, anticipates that “an encounter with ET will end human-centeredness and cosmic loneliness, ushering in an age of universal spirituality beyond sectarian terrestrial religion.” When people talk that way, we can be sure that it is a new religion (Kindle 2227-2235).

Keas unpacks the key religious characteristics of the AI/ET cult, including the Central Dogma that AI and/or ET (they are hard to separate) are superior to humans. For example, exponents/evangelists Carl Sagan and Arthur C. Clarke agreed in 1973 with the general view of ET that humans are “dumb compared to any aliens that we would potentially meet.” One reason ET and AI are hard to separate, of course, is that many commentators, like astronomer Sir Martin Rees assume that ET has probably already become AI (“long ago transitioned beyond the organic stage”). And that humans will surely follow.  Yes, according to the “new secular Bible story,” humans are moving toward a Singularity too, where we merge with machine intelligence (Singulatarians).

“C. S. Lewis anticipated this bizarre trend in his space trilogy, especially in the last novel, That Hideous Strength (1944). Ironically, several critics have complained about the scientifically unrealistic occult content of Lewis’s space trilogy—it is not scientific (Kindle 2354-2362),” Keas notes.

The critics are right in saying that the occult content is not scientific. But in that respect, Lewis was, ironically, a reliable prophet of the modern AI/ET scene. Many Singulatarians hold that their soon-to-be-realized technology will be indistinguishable by the rest of us from magic.   Are they serious? Well, in 2005, Kurzweil said that the magical Harry Potter stories “are not unreasonable visions of our world as it will exist only a few decades from now” when, due to AI, “the entire universe will become saturated with our intelligence.” (Kindle 2376-2385) Keas warns that this type of thing encourages people “to expect the experiential equivalent of occult phenomena.”

We asked Dr. Keas some questions:

Mind Matters: Do the pundits predicting the takeover of artificial intelligence or our morphing into artificial intelligence-enhanced beings know very much about AI? Do they seem aware of its limitations?

Mike Keas: Some of them know a great deal about AI, but are guided by materialistic presuppositions and so are predisposed to make ridiculous claims about our future. According to the grand narrative of materialism, consciousness already arose out of unintelligent material at least once (here we are), so why not multiple times, including from biological to post-biological life? That's how they think, regardless of how informed they are (or not) about AI.

Mind Matters: The AI Singularity includes a quest for immortality. Is there any equivalent in that religious world of “sin”? Of a "Savior"?

Mike Keas: Sin is reduced to errors in programming. So it is really not a moral concept anymore. Salvation is achieving conditional immortality by making the transition to digital personhood, or something along those lines.

The loosely flowing relationship between AI and ET cults may help believers deal with the ongoing lack of evidence for any intelligent life in our universe other than ourselves. They can endure disappointment because there is always a buzz that inflates the significance of a new AI project to provide a welcome distraction. Anyway, if they are indeed waiting for “magic,” patience is certainly a virtue.

See also: Robotic religion is not just sci-fi anymore.

Can we cheat death by uploading ourselves as virtual AI entities?

Noted astronomer envisions cyborgs on Mars

AI and the future of murder (Jonathan Bartlett)


Artificial intelligence is impossible (Eric Holloway)

Wednesday, February 06, 2019

Light for the Journey

Today I reach into the 'grab-bag' from ‘ancient history,' abbreviated and adapted from one of my column articles from twenty years ago.

The newlyweds were embarking on their life together. It was November, '66. Their wedding ceremony was hours past and they’d left their guests at the reception venue. They didn’t own a car, but now, snug in a rented Austin Mini, they headed towards their honeymoon hotel destination, about an hour and a half’s drive to the West Coast of Scotland.
'66 Austin Mini. Credit: CarGurus.
Same model & colour, but without 
"Just Married" signs and streamers
Despite the late November night’s sleet and snow the little mini – still bedecked with Just Married signs and other hoopla – hugged the road well. Leaving city traffic behind, the couple soon passed through the suburbs, and before long the city lights were far behind.

The road was quiet, and they zoomed nicely along the country roads, negotiating numerous twists and turns. But it wasn’t long before dazzling lights of an oncoming vehicle met them on a bend in a heavily wooded area, and the groom, who was driving, switched to the dimmed lights. Blackout – no lights at all! Total darkness, except for the dazzle spots temporarily burned into his vision from the vehicle that had just passed them.
He tried to concentrate on the road ahead, and struggled to keep on course in the darkness as he switched back to the full beams. Mercifully, the couple reached their destination in safety. Apparently, a problem with the electrical system of the car meant that whenever the dimmer switch was operated, every light went out. Well, the couple is still together, and you won’t need twenty guesses as to who they are.

 Signing her life away! Good ol' B&W photography, eh. 
It’s very difficult to find one’s way in the dark without a source of light – especially when caught by surprise, as we were. Likewise, as we find our way through life, on and into the uncharted territory of a new year, it is a whole lot easier when we have a source of light and are properly prepared. 

I knew very little about cars at that time. If I’d checked the car’s systems out earlier I would have discovered that problem. We were young then, but are now more cautious about preparing.
How important to prepare for our journey through life, and for our exit from it. The psalmist, in Psalm 27 wrote, The Lord is my light and my salvation . . . The Lord is the strength of my life. And, in Psalm 25:9-10  He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way.  10  All the ways of the LORD are loving and faithful for those who keep the demands of his covenant.

While the year is still quite young, let us open up our hearts and minds in humility to the Holy Spirit, and let the Scriptures speak to our hearts, trusting the grace of God to help us safely negotiate the bends in the road of life, with the Lord Jesus Christ as our companion, who lights up our life – even if the lights should go out.
The original edition was published as a newspaper column article in January, 1999
Peter is a retired pastor  well, sort of retired – as he is currently engaged as an associate volunteer pastor. He lives in Southwestern Ontario with his wife, May, and writes a weekly inspirational newspaper column and occasional magazine articles. Peter is author of two books: "Parables from the Pond" (Word Alive Press) and "Raise Your Gaze . . . Mindful Musings of a Grateful Heart" (Angel Hope Publishing). He and May are also engaged in leading nursing home / residential chapel services and music. ~+~

Sunday, February 03, 2019

The Art of the Insult by Rose McCormick Brandon

I love a witty put-down. I know, I know, what kind of Christian am I to get my giggles at another’s misfortune. It's an inherited trait (I think). I doubt I can change now. I would have to want to. There lies the problem. So, when I found amongst a heap of used books one titled, The Book of Insults, I had to have it. I put it on the coffee table for my family to enjoy – poor things, they’ve inherited my trait. 
Before people shrieked out their disagreements in sentences laced with cursing and hatred, they used wit to make a point. Writers, like Mark Twain, were especially adept at this. On a woman unacquainted with the conversational pause, Twain wrote:
“The fountains of her great deep were opened up, and she rained the nine parts of speech, forty days and forty nights, metaphorically speaking, and buried us under a desolating deluge of trivial gossip.” (Roughing It)
Mark Twain to a reader: 
Suppose you were an idiot, and suppose you were a member of Congress; but I repeat myself.
For some writers the dictionary didn't provide enough insulting words. They invented their very own.
Algernon Swinburne’s description of Ralph Waldo Emerson: A gap-toothed and hoary-headed ape . . . who now in his dotage spits and chatters from a dirtier perch of his own finding and fouling: coryphaeus or choragus of his Bulgarian tribe of autocoprophagous baboons.  
Henry Arthur Jones on Bernard Shaw: A freakish homunculus germinated outside lawful procreation. 
The best writers are adept at using a few carefully chosen words:
Oscar Wilde: The English country-gentleman galloping after a fox – the unspeakable in full pursuit of the uneatable.  
Alfred, Lord Tennyson on critic Churton Collins: A louse in the locks of literature.  
Would anyone write this in a note thanking a hostess for dinner?
Edmond de Goncourt: “A very tasty dinner . . . including some grouse whose scented flesh Daudet compared to an old courtesan’s flesh marinated in a bidet.” 
Of an enemy John Sparrow wrote: “If only he’d wash his neck I’d wring it.”
Robert Louis Stevenson: “Poor Matt (Matthew Arnold). He’s gone to heaven, no doubt – but he won’t like God.”
William Faulkner: Henry James was one of the nicest old ladies I ever met. 
A writer could almost appreciate these rejection letters:
Samuel Johnson: Your manuscript is both good and original; but the part that is good is not original and the parts that are original are not good.
Oliver Wendell Holmes: You may have genius. The contrary is, of course, probable.
Insults sometimes lead to curses:
An Irish curse: May the curse of Mary Malone and her nine blind illegitimate children chase you so far over the hills of damnation that the Lord himself can’t find you with a telescope. 
An Arab curse: May your left ear wither and fall into your right pocket. 
Politicians used to engage in wit. Now, anyone who does is immediately forced to apologize and those who laugh are maligned. 
Lady Astor (English MP): Winston, if you were my husband I should flavour your coffee with poison. 
Winston Churchill: Madam, if I were your husband, I should drink it. 
Winston Churchill on Neville Chamberlain: He looked at foreign affairs through the wrong end of a municipal drainpipe. 
History habitually adores the long-gone and basks in their accomplishments, but Abraham Lincoln was disliked on a par with the present leader of the United States. 
General George McClellan on Lincoln: The President is nothing more than a well-meaning baboon . . . I went to the White House directly after tea where I found “the original Gorilla” about as intelligent as ever. What a specimen to be at the head of our affairs now!
Abraham Lincoln to General McClellan: If you don’t want to use the army I should like to borrow it for a while. 
Even Canadian politicians used to be witty.
John Langton on William Lyon Mackenzie: He is a little red-haired man about five feet nothing and extremely like a baboon.
William Lyon Mackenzie on Sir Peregrine Maitland: He is one of the lilies of the field; he toils not, neither does he spin. 
Sir John A. MacDonald in an election speech: I know enough to know that you would rather have John A. drunk than George Brown sober.
Sir John A. on Donald Smith: I could lick that man Smith quicker than hell could fizzle a feather.
John Diefenbaker on Jean Lesage: He is the only person I know who can strut sitting down.
Pierre Trudeau: The honourable member disagrees. I can hear him shaking his head. 
Agnes McPhail was asked by a man, “Don’t you wish you were a man?” to which she replied, “Yes. Don’t you?”
Stephen Harper: People stop me on the street all the time and ask me, "What’s the secret of your charisma?" Well, the secret is to surround yourself with people who have even less … why do you think I was so anxious to make a deal with Joe Clark? 
Stephen Harper: I’m sure the NHL lockout is on a lot of your minds … but if bored Canadians want to watch pampered millionaires who only work in 45 second shifts they can sneak into the Senate.
Some of the best of Canadian political wit came from John Crosbie. Newfoundlanders possess a clever humour admired by all and Crosbie is a good example.
John Crosbie, Lieutenant-Governor, Nfld-Labrador 2011: This fellow said, ‘I was so depressed last night thinking about the economy, wars, jobs, my savings, social security, retirement funds, etc., I called a suicide hotline and got a call centre in Pakistan. When I told them I was suicidal, they got all excited and asked if I could drive a truck,’” 
Like all wits of the twenty-first century Crosbie was forced to issue an apology. 
When Crosbie stood to speak in Parliament, MPs on both sides of the aisle knew they could depend on him for a zinger or two. A good laugh eases the weight of heavy arguments. Crosbie nicknamed a quartet of female MPs, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. One of them, Sheila Copps, he individually labelled “Shrieky Sheila.” Oh for the days when everyone wasn't over-anxious to play the victim. 
Profuse, apologies to those who found any or all of these quips inappropriate, offensive, or in any way incorrect, unfortunate or unsuitable. I shall try to improve, but I'm not optimistic about it.
Rose McCormick Brandon writes mainly on faith, personal experience and the child immigrants who came to Canada between 1869 an 1939. She's the author of four books, including, One Good Word Makes all the Difference and Promises of Home - Stories of Canada's British Home Children. She has two blogs: Promises of Home and Listening to my Hair Grow. 

Friday, February 01, 2019


          Can you imagine learning one day, at the age of 66 that the life you have been living during the last 27 years of a 47 year relationship has all been a lie? That was the interruption that my friend, Marie (name changed) faced. 
            Although Marie was an American, the family had made their home in Paris, but the disclosure that interrupted everything took place during a five-week trip to China, where she and her husband were being shown many different parts of the country by personal guides. 

            Over lunch in a small village a dispute arose between them over the soup and Mark (her husband) flew into a rage, calling her cruel names, and making hurtful, derogatory comments about her as he stalked off and left her trying to grasp what was going on. As she sat reflecting, she realized that this pattern of behaviour was manifesting itself frequently and wondered if it might not be symptomatic of a deeper problem. 

            Thus it was that evening as they sat down to talk things over together. Mark admitted that he had a secret, but was reluctant to share it with Marie. Confidently, Marie assured him that there was nothing they could not face together and overcome. Her reassurance gave him the courage to open up. She was shattered when he told her, “There is a woman who I have known for 27 years. I love her and she loves me.”

            Their relationship had been rocky at times, but never had Marie suspected that there was another woman involved. They had lived quite independently, each with their unique expectations of what the relationship should look like and apparently neither finding the fulfillment they desired, yet both believed that it was possible. 

            It was clear they could not continue in this impossible situation. At first there seemed to be reason for hope. Mark had confessed what was troubling him and was free from the burden of the secret. He was willing to move forward and rebuild their relationship. 

            Although Marie was still reeling under the shock and struggled with absolute disbelief that this could be happening, she was willing to push through her feelings of anger, humiliation, betrayal, rejection, and misunderstanding of what she felt was a profoundly repugnant and disturbing situation and make the effort to get through this together. 

            The whole matter came to a head in a counselling session where Mark admitted that he did not want to give up the other relationship. Marie knew that she had to make her own choices and opted to rebuild her own life, imposing on them both a ban to any live contact, that is in person, by telephone or electronically (Skype or FaceTime). All business matters between them would be carried on by email.  

            While the disclosure of the double life Mark had been living was a shocking interruption in Marie’s life, the final consequences have revealed some benefits for her. Although she had to process a ton of emotions and sift through her many experiences with a new perspective to discover what was true and what was not, she now feels that she is becoming more and more who she used to be and who she really is. In the process of all this, her faith was impacted and she had to work through a new understanding of the ways of God and her relationship with Him. Having done the necessary work to explore all of this, Marie finds that she feels better about herself now than at any previous time in her life. 

         Although it seems that this story can be recounted quickly, the actual events involved are much more complex and there are many more aspects to Marie’s saga, some of which I will be looking at in the upcoming book I am writing about a variety of people who have experienced significant interruptions in their lives. I believe what they have shared can help each of us as we encounter those unexpected events in life that change the course of our personal history.  Stay tuned.
Word Guild Award

Eleanor Shepherd from Pointe Claire, Quebec has more than 100 articles published in Canada, France, the U.S.A., Belgium, Switzerland and New Zealand. Thirty years with The Salvation Army in Canada and France including ministry in Africa, Europe, Haiti and the Caribbean furnished material for her Award winning book, More Questions than Answers, Sharing Faith by Listening as well as her Award winning stories in Hot Apple Cider and Christmas with Hot Apple Cider. She co-authored with her husband Glen the Bible Study book Why? Families. Eleanor recently retired from being a pastor in Montreal with The Salvaton Army.
Word Guild Award
Word Guild Award

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Have you received your DNA results yet? By Carol Ford

For Christmas this year, I asked the family for DNA testing from  I just received the results this week.  There was very little surprise and nothing exotic about my background—60% England, Wales, North Western Europe; 33 % Ireland and Scotland; 7% Sweden (This last piece was the only reveal.)

At age 50 I found my birth family but my birth parents had both died by that time. I recently wrote a piece about my birth father; a father who was in my life until I was almost five. I think it helps demonstrate the void that can exist when families are severed.

Who is my Father?

Was he a hero leading the brass band; a sad clown seeking crowd approval; or Santa Clause on the last float? A parade of memories are all that I have left.

I was adopted at age five, and my only remaining  information comes from the Children’s Aid documentation, photos, historical data, and conversations with my adoptive and birth family members.

My birth father’s given name, John, dates back seven generations to our United Empire Loyalist roots. John Sr. and his son John Jr. fought with the King’s Rangers on the side of the British in the American Revolution between the years 1775-1783. At the end of that war, the family fled to Canada and received payment from the British in the form of 200 acres in Eastern Ontario. John Jr. served as a sergeant in the War of 1812 out of Kingston, Ontario. On a recent trip to this region I hiked into an old graveyard, pushed back the overgrown grass, and strained to read washed-out grave markers. The names on these old stones had blackened with age.
Did my father ever ponder or reflect on his Canadian heritage?

As I was growing up, my adoptive mother, in a critical and disapproving tone, shared her limited knowledge about my birth father and mother. Her statement was always the same.
“Your father was lazy and couldn’t keep a job.” She said.
Then in a gentler voice she added, “They told me your mother was a tall, attractive woman and she had no choice but to give you up because your father couldn’t provide for the family.”
Was my father a loser and my mother the victim?

At age 50, I received my Non-Identifiable information from the Children’s Aid.  My maternal grandmother said my birth father failed to provide for his family, and that he was the cause of the separation between him and his wife.
I also learned from this document that I was fourteen-months old when my birth parents separated. My mother kept my two-year-old birth brother, and my four-year-old birth sister went to live with our paternal grandparents.  The document also recorded that my father tried, over a three-year period, to place me with two different families, but both families decided not to follow through with an adoption. As a consequence, when I was four, the Ontario court stepped in and made me a Crown Ward.  
Did these efforts mean that my birth father cared about me?

When I met my birth brother and birth sister they had strong and conflicting views of our father.
My birth brother, a man who typically made allowances for just about everyone, became noticeably irritated and angry when I asked about our father. His facial expression showed disgust.
“What father? He wasn’t a father to me. I remember as a kid that he promised to take me to a movie, but he didn’t show up. He was never in my life growing up. However, when my son was born, he wanted to be a grandfather and came over all the time with gifts and toys. I couldn’t get rid of him.”  
My birth brother spew out these words that revealed a deep hurt of abandonment and an open wound.
Was my birth father sorry for his past behaviour?

.According to my birth sister, who was brought up by my birth father’s parents, our father would visit regularly with clothes and gifts. When she spoke of him, I sensed her love and admiration.
 With pride she said, “He was a strong swimmer and jumped in the water on a couple of occasions to save people who were drowning.  He was very well liked and when he died, a large crowd of friends came to his funeral.”
Shortly after I met my birth sister we took a road trip back to our grandparent’s home town. I saw the small grey house where she grew up. The Canadian National Railway train tracks ran through their back yard, and my grandfather and uncle had lifelong jobs working on rail maintenance in this location.
Why didn’t my father get a job like this?

 After my birth sister’s death, her daughter brought me a worn maroon- coloured box  and inside was a bible with an inscription from our father to my birth sister on her twelfth birthday.
Did he ever go to church? Was he thinking of my birth sister’s spiritual wellbeing?

My birth mother’s sister told me that my parents met picking apples. My birth mother was seventeen and my birth father was twenty-three.  My aunt gave me a picture of my birth parents on their wedding day. 
In the photo my father is dressed in a long wool overcoat and a felt hat with a brim. The hat is tipped to one side in a nonchalant manner. There’s a cigarette dangling from his right hand and he wears a detached expression on his face. My mother looks quite chic in her coat and hat. She has a slight smile on her face but they are not holding hands and there doesn’t appear to be any sign of two people in love. I know that she was pregnant with my birth sister. As I study the picture and their facial expressions, I think she must be feeling relieved to have the ‘problem’ solved while he looks more like he is just going through the motions. 
My birth mother’s youngest sister told me on a couple of occasions, “Your mother adored your birth father and she was heartbroken when he left her for another woman.
But, did he adore her?

My birth parents on their wedding day 1939

I will never know this father, and the parade of people and memories has now passed out of sight. I’ll have to be satisfied with the images that remain.

I was blessed with an adoptive father who adored me; I was his blue-eyed, blonde little girl, and I loved him dearly.  My adoptive father also taught me about God and I learned that my heavenly father would never leave me or forsake me. This knowledge is all that really matters.

“... I will be your Father, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the LORD Almighty”
2 Corinthians 6:18
Carol Ford - published author, speaker

 Carol combines her background as a corporate trainer and her Christian faith in her writing and speaking. She writes articles for local newspapers, Christian magazines and on-line webinars.  She has two short stories published in the Hot Apple Cider series -  My Mother’s Gift and My Forever Home 1948. She is also a co-author of: As the Ink Flows: Devotions to Inspire Christian Writers & Speakers.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Memories That Last by Susan Harris

I'm writing this blog minutes before the clock strikes midnight. When you read it I will be collecting the final few memories of a business/promotion tour in my birth country of Trinidad. So many they are - the ocean view from the seventh floor of the Hyatt Regency and the glass bathroom that steals privacy; the warm welcome and service of the staff; the foods, music and friendly, helpful people of my country; the kilometres walked; the balmy air and hundred of things that melt together to produce an experience that cannot be captured in isolated descriptions.

Yet there's one memory that trumps the ones of my trip. It revolves around a quiet man who said no to every question I posed, until he said yes to the one that truly counted.

Last month my husband and I shared Christmas supper with close friends. Their brother whom I'll call Sam sat on the fifth chair. All evening long he politely declined my offerings. "No, thanks" to fruit punch, coffee or water. No thanks to the hor d'oeuvres over which an impromptu game took on. No thanks to a second helping of potatoes and the many dishes that crowded the delightful table. No thanks to photos.

After the meal Sam went to his room. When it was time to leave I donned my Santa hat to brave the cold, cold air. Then suddenly Sam appeared.

Without planning or preliminaries I was propelled to ask, "Have you invited Jesus into your life?"
Can you guess what Sam said?
"No." He shook his head as he replied. (Take 10 points if you guessed correctly.)
"Would you like to invite Jesus into your heart?" I was impelled to share Christ with the quiet man even though I anticipated "no".

I continued, "God loves you and has a wonder--"
"Yes, yes, I would like to invite Jesus…" Sam was saying.
I was momentarily stunned. Did he say Yes?
Yes, he did say yes. Lead him in the prayer my heart instructed excitedly.

I did. Sam repented of his sins and invited Jesus into his heart. Then he turned to his sister and explained that about 10 years ago when she had taken him to a Christmas service at church, the pastor had given a call for salvation but he had disregarded it. He also turned down her offer to walk with him to the front of the church.

He explained further: "That night the "spirit" came to me right here (he touched his chest) and said 'Why didn't you go up?'"

Holy, holy God! Conviction had torn at Sam for 10 years. He had been waiting, hoping, longing for the opportunity to ask Jesus into his life for ten long years, and on December 25, 2018, a lady with a Santa hat had finally brought that moment to Him. This memory will never be erased.

We rejoiced that evening. Sam's smiled from ear to ear after he invited Jesus and received a Bible from his sister.

I believe that Sam would have made it to Heaven even if someone had not led him in a prayer. Back up, you might be saying. How could that happen? This is how it happens…Acts 16:31 tells us, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved…" Sam had believed ten years ago as he lay on his bed and the "spirit" came to him. We do not see the heart. But God does. Sam did not know that he could turn his life over to Christ on his own. In his simple way he assumed it had to be done through a third party. But his heart had yearned for God, and God "spirit" had come to him. And a decade later God had allowed him to find the assurance in person.

I believe Heaven will be filled with people who have yearned for the true and living God in secret. Only in Eternity will we truly discover what lasts.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Where the Lost Things Go

During the recent holidays I took my nine- and seven-year-old granddaughters to see Mary Poppins Returns. In anticipation, them with popcorn in hand, one asked why we were there so early, the other answering her question, to be prepared. “At some movies, there’s a line-up of people,” I said.

Indeed the popcorn was disappearing into their mouths as we waited to get into the theatre. We talked about other movies going on there and about waiting until the staff was done getting the space ready. (How much popcorn lay on the floor?) It seemed like we were the only ones at that door, a bit surprising after all the previews for this movie.

The clean-up was done; we could go in. We’d talked about where we’d sit — not too close to the screen or at the back. Now it was time for them to choose the row. One wanted the aisle seat and so we found our place. Here we sat in a quiet and empty theatre, me and my granddaughters. They wondered if others were coming. I said I was sure more would come and speculated that the theatre might not be full (which turned out to be true). Most of their popcorn and drink was gone by that time. The girls had counted rows and seats across the middle. I didn’t expect them to sit still just yet or to be perfectly quiet. The popcorn and drinks diminished even more. Would we have to make an exit to the washroom in the middle of the movie? No, it happened before, while previews played and the feature was not yet begun.

One asked if the movie would be scary. I said, “I don’t think so, but if it is, close your eyes and hold my hand.” She nodded her head, that was okay.

Other people came in, snacks and drinks in hand. Women who may have seen the first Mary Poppins in the ‘60s, and a family in front of us with children the same age and younger as my granddaughters, maybe with a grandma in charge, like me. As far as I could tell there might have been no more than 30 people in the theatre by the time the feature began. Perhaps we didn’t need to come so early.

I wanted to see the movie just as much as the girls did. I’d seen the previews and the original on television and was glad we could come together. We weren’t disappointed.

 I loved the music from the start. The characters were intriguing, the story of a family challenged without a mother and the home in need of repairs. To make things worse, two men knock on the door, giving the father only days to come up with mortgage money he owed the bank.

I won’t spoil the story for anyone who hasn’t seen the movie, but I will tell you that Mary Poppins returns, which of course is what the movie centres on. In one scene, the children had just awoken from a disturbing dream and miss their mother who used to calm their fears.

This is where Mary sings the song “The Place Where Lost Things Go.” It was sweet and gentle, like a lullaby and it brought tears to my eyes. It’s where I thought of my own Mom, so recently deceased, not lost as people often say, but not with us in person anymore. It reminded me of so much, and the tears rolled down my face. Still it was a gentle and peaceful song, that spoke of a loved one looking on to see how they’re doing, yet not close beside them.

Near the end, the younger one asked if the movie was nearly over. I suspected another washroom trip was imminent by the wiggling around in her seat.

The movie is well done with its animation, suspense, giddy and darker characters accompanied by many playful and serious tunes. While I appreciated so many of the songs, “The Place Where Lost Things Go” remains my favourite so that I had to look it up and listen to it again and again.

What’s my take-away? It’s fun to suspend reality for a while and enjoy a good movie with my granddaughters. But also, that what we miss, what feels lost, maybe isn’t so far away. That comfort is ours to be had, in the words of friends who care, in the knowledge that one day we will again be reunited with those who’ve gone “beyond the clouds.” Child-like perhaps, simplistic for sure, but sometimes it’s just what we need.


 Carolyn R. Wilker is an editor, author and storyteller from southwestern Ontario, Canada.

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