Thursday, December 25, 2008

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

From Our House To Yours....

House Famous Inc. would like to wish all our friends a carefree Christmas, a humourous Hanukkah, and a krazeee Kwanzaa. Best of luck in the New Year!

Monday, December 15, 2008

In House Famous news these days, a new website has been made by The Simple Way community in Philadelphia called 'Community of Communities'. This is an exciting website as it will help all the communities in North America to connect and learn from one another.
The website can be found here:
Make sure to look for us on the site!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

On Hospitality

"5) I commit to making our house a house of true hospitality. I will strive to make our house welcome to all. This means I will do all I can to serve our guests and our members by keeping the house clean, daily dish washing, cooking, providing meals and shelter, as well as creating welcoming conversations and activities, etc." Romans 12:13

When I first heard about The House Famous I thought that it would be a lot different than it is now. I had this image in my mind, somewhat similar to the later half of the movie “Fight Club”. I envisioned homeless people coming in and out. Everything being a mess, people talking everywhere, laughing and joking abounding, and just having general chaos everywhere.

Having moved in, I have found (with mixed feelings) that this is in fact, incorrect. People move around a lot, but it’s not as chaotic, nor as full as I originally thought it would be. We don’t have homeless folk and friends coming in and out at all hours of the day, and it’s not really like the last part of Fight Club.

This may seem like I’m going on about a very simple revelation but I’m actually going somewhere with this. What I found after living here for a while, is that things seem to go in stages. We generally work with one homeless or needy friend at a time. We spend some time getting to know one friend, we invite them over, and they spend some time with us. Then sometimes that’s where it stops, and sometimes it continues.

But right now, we’re still in that first stage. We have a homeless friend that we’ve spent some time getting to know, and now he trusts us enough to come over and visit us every evening. Almost every night, just after supper, a knock comes at the door and we hear our friends voice of greeting. He comes in, removes his coat and shoes, and takes a seat in our living room. We offer him food or drink, and he usually asks us for a glass of orange juice. After drinking his juice we spend some time asking him about his day and how things are going. In the course of our conversation he usually tells us some amazing facts about things like serial killers, or a story about how Dan Akroyd (“Dan”) nearly ran him over with a car. We all laugh along and enjoy his stories and his company. Then when he feels he’s stayed long enough he’ll remark “Well, I better go” and then he’ll get up, put his coat back on and head back outside.

This isn’t what I was expecting, but regardless of my expectations, whenever our friend leaves, I feel as if in some way Jesus has just left our home.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Something Ain't Right Here.

Like most Canadians I have spent most of my life knowing our interactions with our Aboriginal peoples were not as they should be, but that most of the problems were in the past and that they weren't really my problem. But since my trip with CPT to Ardoch I've started to see things differently. First off, the problems of the past have not been resolved. Canada and the First Nations have signed treaties that outline our relationship with one another. In the treaties Native Canadians were supposed to be consulted on any decision that involved extracting resources or building stuff on the lands they let the settlers use, and they were supposed to be able to fish and hunt on those lands. These treaties were never honoured. Many times, the land that was not even given over to Canada was taken, moving the people that had lived there for thousands of years unceremoniously to less valuable lands. This is how we as Canadians 200 years later are still involved in the problems. Canada is one of the richest countries in the world, and the wealth that has been gathered over the last 200 years has been from extraction of natural resources. Natural resources are gathered from the land. In many cases the land was not even ours. In best case scenerios we did not honour our end of the treaty, ignoring our responsibility to consult First Nations groups about whether we could proceed with exploiting the land. As a result, 200 years later, the average Canadian enjoys comforts unheard of throughout much of the history of the world, while most First Nations communities remain poor. And we continue to benefit from this situation by sticking to archaic laws that work to our advantage and the disadvantage of Indigenous Peoples.

This injustice is manifesting itself again in Algonquin Territory of Ardoch First Nation and Shabot Obaajiwan First Nation. Despite all the environmental concerns about uranium mining, the negotiations, blocking the gate, and doing just about anything to keep Frontenac Ventures from drilling for uranium, on December 1st, money talked and drilling was accepted as a possibility by the Shabot/Obaajiwan First Nation. The situation was made to look like a beautiful collaboration between Frontenac Ventures, Ontario, and First Nations groups; however, Ardoch First Nation has still not agreed to the terms, and Shabot Obaajawin made its deal with 77 million dollar lawsuit hanging over their heads. The deal looks a little more like coersion than collaboration to me.

Bob Lovelace says it better here.

My delegation with CPT

From November 15-23 I had the blessing to be sent by the House Famous to participate on a Christian Peacemaking Teams delegation in Algonquin Territory supporting Algonquin First Nation groups' attempts to keep a Frontenac Ventures Uranium Mine off of their traditional lands.
Throughout the very busy week we met with Ardoch First Nation leaders including Bob Lovelace and current co-chief Mireille Lapointe who taught us much about their claims to the land and how Canada has continued to ignore First Nations claims throughout our history. It seems our province of Ontario has been especially bad with honoring treaties, placing economic interests above right relations with Aboriginal People. We also met with the OPP who taught us about their ART and MELT teams which were developed in response to Dudley George's death at Ipperwash, and have improved the OPP's interaction with First Nation's groups. Finally we met with settlers in the area, some who support the mine and many who were against the mine. It was interesting to learn the full perspective on the situation as too often I read about injustices such as these and then wonder how much of what was said was true, and most often I end up doing nothing. This time will be different.

It seems to me that at the very least, the uranium mine should be stopped for the sake of right relations with the Algonquin people who have claim to the land. They never gave up the land to Canada with any treaty. They have the right then to determine whether a mine should exist.

Numerous towns and cities including Kingston, Ottawa, and Perth have declared a moratorium on uranium mining and it's clear that uranium mining is an environmental disaster. By attending this delegation I was able to look on the area that would be affected by the extraction of uranium, and it includes the whole Mississippi River (of Ontario!) watershed. I went on my first canoe trip with Camp IAWAH on the Mississippi and my memories are marked with the stunning beauty of the land we passed as we paddled. That land needs to be protected from being poisoned by uranium byproducts. Some things are more important than economic development.

I learned a lot on my trip about right relations, my own white privilege, racism and even spirituality. I spent a lot of time reflecting on ways I have benefited from ignoring Aboriginal Rights. I then spent a lot of time lamenting and repenting. At that point I was also blessed to learn that guilt will only keep me doing nothing, that moving forward to establish right relationships is far more important than feeling bad. A huge lesson.

is a report on our delegation from Christian Peacemaking Teams

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Barriere Lake: is this Canada?

As all of the recent media headlines worry over the economy, the political posturing of the "coalition" vs Harper, and of course all of the festive preparations for Christmas, there is one story that has not made it to the headlines. But it should.

Peaceful protesters, with children and elderly people present, are tear gassed and beaten by a riot squad. This happens frequently. The issue and the images are shocking, it seems hard to believe that this kind of thing is happening in Canada. The conditions that the Barriere Lake community is forced to live under are at third-world levels; no power, no water, no services such as hospital access, random arrests and puppet leaders installed to be in power with no consultation from the residents. It is sickening and shameful. But we can do something about it.

Watch the video. Check the website. Take Action. Don't allow this insane oppression to continue unnoticed.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Cultivating Goodness by Shane Claiborne

Community is about surrounding ourselves with people who remind us of who we want to become, people in whom we can see Jesus...and hopefully those people rub off on us a little.

Certainly God loves us as we are, not for who we could be - not in spite of our shortcomings but with them. And yet being a Church of and for the broken doesn't mean we stay in our brokenness. We are to be wounded healers. As with Christ, it is from our own wounds and brokenness and humiliation that we are empowered to heal others. And we need to be healers, communities where people can heal. As Dorothy Day says, we have to create an environment where it is easier to be good.

For many of us, the judgmental, arrogant, legalistic Christianity we knew growing up has created a suspicion of discipline and order that can lead to a pretty sloppy spirituality. By reacting to the institutional sickness, we can easily find ourselves with little in place to help us heal from our wounds, create new disciplines, and carve out a space where goodness triumphs.

I just read an article that spoke about one of the parenting gurus who died a few years back. He was one of those psychiatrists who pioneered the movement that taught parents not to discipline their kids but to allow autonomy as kids make mistakes and decisions on their own (let them touch a candle so they learn what "hot" is...). On his deathbed this doctor confessed that the social scientists were wrong, saying, "We have raised a generation of brats" Much of the seeker sensitive, postmodern church is in danger of making the same mistake. We can raise up a generation of spiritual brats, that do whatever we want and no one can tell us otherwise. People come to the altar singing "Just as I am" and leave just as they were - a church that teaches what to believe but now how to live. A church that is scared of spiritual disciplines like simplicity, fasting, solitude, and chastity will not produce very good disciples.

Community is pretty hip these days. The longing for community is in all of us, to love and to be loved. But if community doesn't exist for something beyond ourselves it will die, atrophy, suffocate. "Discipline" and "Disciple" share the same roots, and without discipline we become little more than hippie communes or frat houses, we fall short of God's dream to form a new humanity with distinct practices that act as contrast culture to the rest of society.

Like any culture, we who follow the Way of Jesus have distinct ways of eating and partying, different from the culture of consumption, homogeneity and hedonism of the world around us. There's that beautiful passage (Luke 14) where Jesus tells us when we throw a party we are not to invite our friends but to invite the poor, crippled, lame, and blind...all those who might find themselves on the margins of other parties. Our homes, our living rooms, even our parties can become places of solstice and hospitality for those with addictions and struggles. But it doesn't happen without intentionality.

I long for our community houses to be known as safe places for folks to recover from the temptations we face, for the momentum to move away from substances that are so destructive, or at least numbingly unfruitful, to ourselves and to our neighbors. We are a recovery community, for sinners recovering from all sorts of addictions. Our community should be a place where people can detox - whether that be from alcohol, tobacco, gluttony, shopping, or gossip - where there is a tipping point towards goodness rather than away from it. And may we catch each other with grace when we fall short of who we want to be.

Friday, November 14, 2008

the Advent Conspiracy

The thought of Christmas approaching often makes me feel..... muddled. I feel excited and happy about eating special Christmas foods and treats, seeing family and doing family traditions, like decorating the tree, or going to a candle-light church service on Christmas Eve.

But then I also feel kind of sick and anxious when I think about the mad rush of people throwing money around on meaningless items, the crazy consumption and excessive spending, the emptiness of what our society has turned this holiday into.

Each year, we've attempted to strip away some of the clutter and junk that has become attached to the Christmas season; and each year we've found more and more people doing the same thing, finding hope and meaning without the stacks of presents and insane credit card bills in January.

It's time to re-think Christmas in North America. Click Here if you feel the same.

Or check out this video here.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

A Moment With Taylor....

Hello there. My name's Taylor, and I am the newest addition to the House Famous. I've been enjoying my time here and have been becoming more acquainted with the idea of community living. Though if I have to listen to Todd sing along with Bryan Adams again, I might leave.

Spending the night on the streets of Ottawa was quite an adventure. Despite the cold and not being able to sleep, I found it to be a very beneficial learning experience.
After our group split up, I wandered a bit before settling down on a busy sidewalk to panhandle. This part of the night probably had the greatest impact on me. I realized right away the humiliation that comes with being homeless.

Most of those passing by did their best to ignore me, which is understandable. No one wants to be caught staring. I've done this one a lot myself. I suddenly need to grab something from my bag, or adjust my coat, or look across the street... anything to avoid eye contact. I realize now that this just adds to the feelings of loneliness those on the street deal with.
Others muttered their opinions of the homeless to their companions.

"He's not a failure at life, just a failure at getting a paycheque!"

Some others, in a greater attempt at politeness contained their laughter and comments until they were a few feet past me.

A few dropped some change into my hat.

No one said a word to me. And why should they have? I was homeless and probably a drug addict, a criminal, the scum of the earth. I’d probably just pester them for some change to blow on any number of my addictions.

I realized how much we have isolated the poor and destitute among us. I’ve been just as much a part of this even though I’ve spent many hours volunteering in soup kitchens. Somehow in the past I’ve allowed myself to amicably interact with street people while volunteering, and then completely ignore them when I pass them on the street.

This whole ordeal allowed me a small glimpse into the realities faced by those who are homeless. I say a small glimpse because although I experienced the frustration of trying to sleep on the cold Canadian streets, I did not and have not experienced the type of situations that many of our homeless friends find themselves in.

The constant hunger. The loneliness. Deteriorating mental health. Lack of money. Rejection. Addictions. Lives full of abuses.

I guess the fruition of my experience is just beginning to show. I am not an outgoing person by any means, but I am trying to interact more with those I pass on the streets. I’ve always respected my grandfather for the way he treated street people. He often felt compelled to help the homeless he came into contact with, but instead of just giving them some small change, he would invite them to sit down for a full meal at the closest fast food restaurant and actually engage in meaningful conversation with them. It’s this sort of creative compassion that our friends on the street need to encounter.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

foxes have holes and birds have nests...

To celebrate the birthdays of Jason and I (Brendan), the House Famous decided to do the whole birthday party thing a little differently. This past weekend we traveled to Ottawa to take part in an experiment of perspective: we slept on the streets of Ottawa.
We arrived in Ottawa around 6 pm and proceeded to enjoy the finer things of life first. We ate dinner at the Clock Tower Brew Pub (their homemade beer is awesome!) and had a more traditional celebration with gifts and whatnot. We then payed our bill and hit the streets. We, along with our friend Liz, walked from the Brew Pub in the Glebe to just outside Parliament where we split up into pairs and separated to go explore our nations capitol. It must be known that it was a chilly night and so the conditions for sleeping on the street were not necessarily ideal, so most of the night was spent looking for things to do until sleep was the only option left. Todd and Taylor panhandled for change (with Taylor racking up an impressive $4), and Jay and I ended up on quite an adventure that certainly deserves a blog entry of its own, but long story short we met up with old friends, walked to Hull and back, watched parts of the baseball game at a homeless shelter and slept in the Ecclesiax parking lot from 3:30 am to about 7 am.
Sleeping was difficult, if at all possible. By the time most of us tried to sleep there was already frost on the ground and even those of us with sleeping bags and large coats got very little sleep as we spent most of the time shivering and wiping our noses. The following morning all of us reunited back in the Glebe at a lovely establishment called the Wild Oat where we ate breakfast and told stories of the experiences we had had the night before. Afterward we went to Ecclesiax for church and then drove home.

Although we haven't fully debriefed our night of homelessness as a house I think it's safe to say that the experience had a big impact on all of us. As winter approaches it's become very clear to us that we don't want anyone to sleep on the street in the cold and we will be particularly aware of helping those who may be in a similar situation this coming season. Oh, and Jay and I agreed that this was by far the most interesting birthday we have yet to have :D.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Welcome Taylor!

Well, we're not too quick around here, but my Grandpa always used to say "better late than never!".

The House Famous would like to officially welcome Taylor Eby as our newest member. Taylor will be doing an internship for a few months with us here in Kingston. We are already really enjoying having him around the house, and are excited to see what kind of mischief he will get into!

We don't have any pictures of Taylor yet, but in the meantime, here is a picture of what you get when you search "taylor eby" on google images. It's relatively accurate, what with Taylor's interest in music; thats my opinion. Welcome Taylor!!!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


This past weekend, House Famous took a step back in order to get some perspective and look forward. We retreated to Ben's grandparent's cottage (Thank you Gresiks!!!), where we spent some time reflecting on the past few months, and dreaming about what the future could hold. We looked into God's word, prayed for each other and discerned the direction of our next few actions. We also ate really well, and watched awesome movies. For your viewing pleasure, here is a snapshot of what our time away from home was like:

Sunday, September 7, 2008

ever onwards

The House Famous is now 1 year old. I thought it was worthwhile to acknowledge that since it seems like only yesterday that 4 of us moved in together in downtown Kingston with really no idea of what was going to happen or if this community was going to last any amount of time at all. But, nevertheless, God has kept us here on York and we now start this year with a full plate and we pray that He continues to bless us and have mercy as we try to find Jesus in the people and places that have been ignored by the broken culture we live in.

So we shall continue to progress with joy in the faith as we continue to ask God to change us and free us into the people He wants us to be.

Here we go again!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


In 2006, Lockheed-Martin (an American weapons manufacturer and direct profit-maker from the war in Iraq) was paid millions of Canadian tax-dollars for census data collection software and services. If you don’t want this American bomb-maker profiting from the next Canadian Census (coming soon!), let our government officials know!

SUNDAY AUGUST 17th 1pm to 11pm
@the Sleepless Goat Café
91 Princess Street, Kingston
Come write or sign letters, learn more about Lockheed Martin and tell our elected officials your opinion on this important issue!


Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Joseph's Coat of Many Colours

Tonight we prayed through a passage of Genesis 37 using a form of prayer called Lectio Divina. We read the passage a few times through, once to listen for a word or phrase, a second time to capture an image of scene of scripture, and a third time to hear what sense the Holy Spirit could make of it all for us.

The passage of dealing with Joseph getting thrown into a well and then getting sold to the Ishmaelites is one we had heard often in Sunday School, however with some prayerful reading in a community of believers, it became all the more rich. We thought about how money was able to appease the bloodlust of Joseph's brothers, much like it does in the rich, materialistic Western World, where we look down on poorer nations for their barbaric killing. Perhaps it's only the comfort of our money that lets us seem peaceful towards one another. We also pondered who the man was who met Joseph when he was wandering in the fields, he knew Joseph's name and where his brothers were staying. Most of our thoughts ended up pointed right at ourselves and our own situations. This is a good thing as if scripture is supposed to be living and active, sharper than any double edged sword, I imagine that sword is best put to use when pointed at our own hearts.

Friday, July 18, 2008

If someone asks you for a ride out of town and you suspect they might be running from the police, do you do it? Would Jesus?

I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

More news on the census

Chelsea, Brendan and I went court on Friday. Again, it was pretty uneventful, but I was able to speak to the Crown Prosecutor who offered me a deal if I would fill out the census. It was kind of exciting. I told him I would rather not do that...

I was also interviewed by the Canadian Press on Friday. It was nice but scary as the Canadian Press gets a lot of exposure... Anyway, this time the article avoided anything about the Christian motivation behind our census refusal, but it's still very helpful as our reasons are getting a lot more exposure than they were previously.

Here's the article:

We also got another encouraging letter to the editor in the Whig:

Friday, July 4, 2008


And it made sense to me on my last night in the Dominican Republic as I descended the hill into the village: I still haven't found what I'm looking for. It's been this idea that's followed me around for a while, the first time it came across me was the first night we had stayed here at The House Famous, this idea that no matter what we accomplish in the name of Jesus will not compare to the Glory that awaits us, it's a feeling that always leaves me with this craving for more and more and it always reminds me that we truly are refugees from our Father, looking to fill the void with whatever we can until the day of Judgement.

But this really doesn't explain my trip too well...

I was in the Dominican Republic for 2 months, I was with my friends Katie, Amber and Taylor and we lived a Haitian village called Ascension. My official "project" while there was to work at the Mustard Seed orphanage and to work with Rachel at the fair trade co-op known by everyone as La Tienda.
The Mustard Seed is a beautiful place. They are an international organization and have many orphanages in the Carribean and elsewhere and they house abandoned children with severe mental and physical handicaps. Without using words or other means of normal social interaction it was amazing to make connections with these kids and to see their personalities come out in ways I wasn't used to. The great thing about this place is that they also hire locals to work in the orphanage as well which is a great way to employ the people living there.
Everything you've heard about La Tienda is true. It was odd finally going to a place that I had heard about for 2 years, but it was a joy to be there. And working alongside Rachel was a particularly great job to have, I learned much from her.

I realize as I type these words down how limited I am in explaining this trip to you. It is frustrating to have feelings that can't be named or described. But I experienced a new culture and the new temptations that came with it, I experienced real community in that Haitian village, I experienced real beauty in the children's faces and their laughs, I was pushed to my limits, I experienced more of God's truth, I fed widows and orphans, I witnessed a people who have had to leave their country and live in a place that's not their home. In other words, I was changed.

I have been blessed with what I have seen, and maybe one day I can make sense of it all...

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

What about Romans 13?

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience. This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God's servants, who give their full time to governing. Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.
Love, for the Day is Near. Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. The commandments, "Do not commit adultery," "Do not murder," "Do not steal," "Do not covet," and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: "Love your neighbor as yourself."Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

As expressed in earlier posts, I have been withholding my census from StatsCan due to StatsCan's outsourcing of technology upgrades to Lockheed-Martin, one of the world's largest arms manufacturers. I decided I wanted to be on the side of the Prince of Peace, and that meant making a hard decision that could have consequences. Through the processing of all of this I have struggled with the passage of Romans 13 which calls Christians to submit to the authorities. I struggled to reconcile a the self-sacrificial resistance of Jesus and the idea that Paul may have written Romans 13 in Jail, with the idea that we should submit to the authorities. Other Christians have pointed it out to me and I haven't always been able to give a good answer. Last night Chelsea, myself and 3 other Kingston friends went to see Shane Claiborne and the Psalters in Toronto (who have both been inspirational to the House Famous) make a presentation called Jesus for President (Prime Minister?). All of them have been jailed for Peace Activism, and all of them are very inspiring Christians. I asked them about their take on Romans 13 was and they pointed me to their website which gave the best defense of civil disobedience in light of Romans 13 that I have heard. Their key arguement was that Romans 13 was speaking to a group of people who had already decided that their loyalty was to the Kingdom of God rather than to the State, therefore Paul needed to caution them not to try to overthrow the government, and thus taint themselves with power. They also demonstrate how one can be subordinate to the state without blindly obeying it at all turns.

“The conscientious objector who refuses to do what a government demands, but still remains under the sovereignty of that government and accepts the penalties which it imposes, or the Christian who refuses to worship Caesar but still permits Caesar to put him or her to death, is being subordinate even though not obeying” (John Howard Yoder, The Politics of Jesus [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1994], 209).

Read it for yourself here:

Saturday, June 28, 2008


Hi friends!

Well, if you're going to go see a documentary this summer, you should see THIS ONE!

Very interesting, both fun and serious, "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed" is an important discussion starter for people on any side of the creation-evolution-intelligent-design debate, and people interested in freedom of speech concerns. Check it out at a theatre near you!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

We've been in the news....

The census stuff I've been involved with has gotten me into the news. Front page news. It was a little embarrassing but in the end very helpful to the cause. Here are some of the articles from the Kingston Whig Standard:

Let me know what you think.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Freedom Sale

Come one, Come all to the House Famous Freedom Sale at 49 and 51 York Street this Saturday from 7am to 1pm!!!!

We are raising money for the Kingston Crisis Pregnancy Centre by selling some of our possessions. You're welcome to come and drop off some of your own as well! Or come and support a good cause by picking up a few trinkets!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


Most of our discussion of Genesis 19-21 focussed on 19: the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. We lamented Lot's lingering, his plan to send his daughters out to the rapist crowd, and his eventual fathering of Moab and Ammon, perpetual enemies of Isreal, who eventually get destroyed in the end anyway. I would also like to point out that Moab and Ammon would have grown up like wild inbred hillbillies based on their isolated homeland in the hill country! I wonder how often they went back to check on their mom.

We discussed how living in a town like Sodom would make you the lingering type. The people of Sodom had gone so far wrong that they had the gall to accuse Lot of being judgemental for not letting them rape his houseguests. They were a liberal and progressive city unencumbered by the prudish morals of their forefathers!

We also talked about Abraham and how he must have felt after he saw the ruins of Sodom smoking in the distance only days after his bargaining with God in hopes of their salvation. Did he feel disappointment, resignation? As far as we could tell, he had no news of Lot either, so would he assume Lot was destroyed as well? I imagine he had a hunch that Lot was headed down a bad path and was quite worried about him.

Later our discussion moved to the recurring Old Testament theme of treating women like dirt. Abraham tells 2 major leaders that Sarah is his sister, saving his life by leaving her to their lusts. Lot offers his virgin daughters to the crowds. It's amazing how prior to the fall, men and women equally walked with God, and then the curse allowing men to rule over women sent things to such an awful tailspin. Praise God that in Christ there is now no Jew or Gentile, Male or Female, Slave or free. The curse is broken.

Finally we discussed the blessing of Ishmael the supposed father of the Arabs and Islam. The fact that God blessed Ishmael presents an interesting problem: if both Isaac and Ishmael are blessed, could all the religions of Abraham be blessed? We didn't really want to go there, but it got us thinking. We'd love input if you have some!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The God Who Sees...

El Roi. The God who sees.
Hagar, a mistreated slave impregnated by her mistress's husband, runs away from her oppressor with no other plan but to escape. This story sounds familiar. It happened in the USA on numerous plantations. It happened in Canada in residential schools. It happens in brothels and sweatshops. I hate that it has been happening since before the writing of Genesis. But it continues to happen no matter how much I or any human hates it. It continues to happen whether we fight it or not. And that is why we need a God Who Sees.
Though the oppressor wins time and time again. Though the enemy of the oppressed encroaches on territory that includes their very bodies. There is a God Who Sees.
And He is on the side of the oppressed. Justice will be served. And there will be a better world.
Our job is to live like that Justice is obvious, that the better World is already here, and that though we seem to fail, our attempts at this Life are worth the effort.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

A Tale About Genesis 13-15

Abram sat down on the dusty, dry ground as he surveyed his days work. What a day it had been. First the LORD told him to track down a bunch of three year old animals and 2 birds and kill them. That wasn't so bad but the birds made life a little difficult. But then he had to cut them all in half. It seemed like it would be easy at first but then he discovered that a bone would not easily yield to his axe of bronze and that made life very difficult because cows have a lot of bones. It took him most of the day to get through the cow, the goat, and the ram but at last he was finished with that.

He wiped some sweat from his brow and looked over the odd scene; animals laid out, cut and mangled into two rough halves, and a pair of birds laying out. He wondered how long it would take for God to do whatever it was he intended to do. He had no doubt that this God would do something but he just wasn't sure when. Maybe it would be like that time when Melchizedek came out to bless him but only AFTER he started walking home. God always had his own timing for blessing for Abram, as long as Abram followed God.

After a while when the sun began heading downwards, the vultures began to circle overhead of Abram and he wondered if they would go after the gruesome scene before him while he was seated here. Sure enough, a little while later one of them got daring and headed for the heifer. Abraham got up and chased after it, yelling. It looked at him for a moment and then flew away. He returned to his seat but as soon as he had gotten comfortable, another one swooped down and headed for something hanging out of the ram. Abram leapt to his feet and chased after it, once again yelling. He decided it would be best to stay standing near the animals.

Then came night and Abram grew tired of standing. He sat and looked up; no vultures. He found the ground to be quite comfortable now and laid down to have a nap. He was sure God would wake him when he came.....

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

I'm going to court on Friday

Why I refused to send in the 2006 census...

As a Christian I believe a big part of my witness for Christ is to take a stand for the gospel of peace wherever the opportunity arises. Jesus taught us that peacemakers will be blessed, and so I try to live my life in a way that would receive some of that blessing. So when I discovered that the 2006 census was being counted by Lockheed-Martin (a producer of weapons of war, a corporation benefitting from the war in Iraq, and a producer of depleted-uranium weapons that make civilians and soldiers sick), my wife and I felt our consciences gave us no other choice but to withhold our census in non-violent action, understanding we were at risk of a $500 fine or 3 months jail time.

We, however, are not against the census itself in the least. We see it as a legitimate and useful tool for the government when used correctly. We feel that the government made a bad decision based on the bottom line, largely that Lockheed Martin could count the census more efficiently or cheaper than StatsCan could. When we eventually did hand in our census it was because we felt a census was useful, however, we defaced it's bar codes in hopes that it could only be counted by StatsCan rather than Lockheed-Martin technology. We also expressed our outrage in the comments section of the census and in a letter detailing our reasons for withholding.

In the bible, King David called a census once to count his available soldiers for future wars. The scriptures state that God was very displeased with this test of military strength, as our God would rather us trust in him than weapons or soldiers. In the end David wished he had never called the census and repented of his actions. In a similar fashion I hope that the Canadian government would repent from its use of a census intimately tied to a weapons manufacturer. In the future I hope our government will choose what is peaceful and responsible rather than what is financially efficient.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

The Nimrods discuss Genesis 10-12

Nimrod. I wonder when his name got associated with being a dimwit? As we discussed Genesis 10-12, it was hard to ignore a name like Nimrod, and to discover his name was full of honour in his day. A mighty hunter before the Lord. We pondered what that might mean together. Our best answer came with the idea of fully accepting and being the man God created him to be. He must have been given supernatural gifts in the area of hunting and he used them to their fullest. I imagine that brought glory to his Creator. I wonder if he was a righteous fellow...

We also discussed the geneologies and got a whole lot more out of them than one would expect. They helped explain a potential contradiction we thought we had found where some of Japheth's descendents seemed to have developed their own languages before God confused the common language at Babel. But upon reading the boring lists of names a little more deeply we found that Japheth's 3rd generation would have lived around the time of Babel. Hopefully this will encourage us to keep reading closely.

Finally we got to Abraham and discussed how he likely would have worshipped other gods before the one true God called him and told him to leave his homeland. There must have been something special that convinced him this voice was better than the voice of his idols (which I proposed were blue, with 3 eyes!). I imagine the voice of the Creator would have resonated more deeply in his bones and soul.

We were also inspired by Abram as he figured out how to have a relationship with God. It must have been pretty interesting starting from scratch without 4000 years of other people telling you how to do it! This was our conclusion as to why he was able to lie to Pharoah about his true relationship with Sarah - God hadn't told him he couldn't lie.

We also think Pharaoh probably did sleep with Sarah, which we were not told about in Sunday School. Things could have been so much more interesting.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Genesis 7-9 and all the rabbit trails

I'm not sure what got us onto the discussion of whether a Christian should use force to protect him/herself and his/her family, but we went there. It was probably 9:6-7, the curse God brings against people who shed human blood... Regardless of the curse, our discussion lead us to thinking about whether a Christian should defend themselves from murderers. Some of us thought that to defend our family a Christian has the right to use any means necessary. Some of us thought we should defend our family, but not kill. I don't think we'll come to a definitive answer anytime soon. One thing we did agree on is that killing another human does something to your soul, and you are never the same again.
I found it interesting that God brings up murder after the flood. It's almost as if the whole flood thing was to wipe out the murdering line of Cain. I wonder if God felt like he didn't take a hard enough line with Cain, letting him produce murdering progeny...

We also pondered the idea that it hadn't rained prior to the flood, that somehow all the water of the world was contained in two domes, one in the sky and one under the ground. I imagine when water started falling from the sky, it must have seemed quite ominous to Noah's generation, similar to what the people of Chernobyl felt like when the sky dropped black rain on them.

We also puzzled over what Noah being the most righteous in his generation meant. Was he just a moral fellow? Why then did he get so hopelessly drunk? If Jesus was the most righteous man who ever lived, we get a very different idea of what Righteousness was: here is a guy who was known as a glutton and a drunkard, who constantly mocked authority, turned the most sacred building in the country upside down, and even told one of his disciples to get away from him because he reminded him of Satan... Righteousness is more than not doing bad things!

We're just unsure of what more it is.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Theological Discourse

Last night was another fine house meeting where we discussed house issues, resolved conflict, discussed decisions, and studied scripture. As a house we are currently reading through that first book in the bible known as Genesis. Genesis is an interesting book to study because so many crazy things come up in the early part of it and we had some thoughts about it.

We focused particularly on Genesis 4-6 last night which is the story of Cain and Abel, the Genealogy of Noah, and the early part of the story of Noah. In our time of study, we discussed the many references that Genesis seems to have to a physical manifestation of God (Genesis 3:8, 21;4:3, 31:24-28) and thought about how it might be possible that this was in fact an early manifestation of Jesus, who was with God from the beginning (John 1:1-2). This helped us to explain things like Adam thinking he could hide from God when God was walking in the Garden (Genesis 3:10) and Jacob's experience of wrestling with God.

Chelsea, in her response to the reading, mapped out the genealogy of Cain, and Seth, and pointed out that it's important to remember that Noah, who's line was the only one that survived the flood, was part of Seth's line and not Cain and Abel's. She also pointed out that 7(a recurrent number in the bible) generations after Cain's first murder, his line died off in the flood.

Someone else pointed out that it was not until after Cain was banished for his first murder and Seth was born that "men began to call on the name of the LORD" (Genesis 4:26) thus raising the question, what was God's relationship with man before that if they did not call on his name until after the birth of Seth? Was God physically present with man during the first few generations of mankind and then distanced himself once Adam and Eve had established a family and sons or did people just not realize that God was one to be called on until later on in their years?

This related a little bit to a point Ben brought up, that Eve gave birth with no forknowledge of how that process happened (imagine the shock when her water broke and when she began experiencing labour pains for the first time) and Adam had to invent agriculture from the ground up (no pun intended). If God existed in some form of physical manifestation early on in Humanity's history then these tasks would have been considerably easier for Adam and Eve who were probably already quite frightened after being sent out from the Garden of Eden.

And then we moved on in our meeting but with the lasting impact of the discussion we had just had on this passage holding a place in our minds. I think it is safe to say that one of the benefits of discussing scripture passages community is that you end up bringing out ideas that you would not have thought of individually and thus help each other in gaining a fuller understanding of scripture.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Clean up the block!!!

Pitch-in Kingston missed us...

So it's up to the House Famous and Friends to clean up the Fruit Basket!

There's lots of garbage and dirt on the street that needs tidying, so bring out your gloves, garbage bags, rakes, etc to NeXt Church this sunday, May 4th and help us clean up the neighbourhood! We'll get together after church, eat a quick lunch, and hit the streets by about 1:30pm.
If you're late, come looking for scruffy folk with garbage bags in the York, Colborne, Raglan, Barrie, Main area of that tangled mess of streets we like to call home!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

I went to my first AA meeting tonight. I'm not alcoholic, but I almost wish I was (maybe not...) as I spent an hour with a room packed with people dedicated to honesty and truth. I had to confront myself with ways I haven't been honest with myself and it was powerful... It's no wonder so many people have found sobriety through this organization. There's something really raw and beautiful about introducing yourself as an alcoholic (sinner?) - that's gotta be helpful towards living an honest life before God. We Christians could learn alot from alcoholics!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

...your progress and joy in the faith.

Things are looking busy at The House Famous. It seems that the 4 of us are now wrapping up the first leg of this journey as we'll be having 3 more members join us in this thing called community. As of May 1st, we will have not one but two houses to call our home! We have taken the other half of our house, 51 York, and we're expanding this house of hospitality...for better or worse :D.
In addition to these things, our summer is shaping up to be a big change for all of us. I (Brendan) will be going to the Dominican Republic for a little less than 2 months, and Jay will be at Camp IAWAH for the whole summer. I think our goal is try and keep giving this house to God, and to try not to get in the way of His plan for us. Ever onward!

Change is not easy for me, but I take comfort in knowing God calls us to change and to progress in our faith with Him.
May this progress bring joy as we march on...

Saturday, April 5, 2008

the more you consume the less you live

So, I've been reading alot of Adbusters lately, as well as a book by John Piper called "Don't Waste your Life"; so those are some of my immediate influences for my thoughts lately about consumerism and life. But mainly I'm becoming increasingly convinced that our society and our economy and our media have developed and shaped an entire cultural system bent on "stuff". Getting stuff, selling stuff, buying stuff, owning stuff. Stuff is marketed as the answer to any problem. Stuff is style, stuff is comfort, stuff is spirituality. Owning things is important, not just to your comfort, but to your status as a human being. Lets face it, people who don't own things, who live on the street or in shelters are considered "lesser": they haven't got their lives together enought to have a house and fill it with stuff. Ownership and the power of being able to buy and sell things is becoming the most defining feature of North American society: did you know you can buy and sell your 'friends' on Facebook? Now, thanks to such fantastic 'social applications' as Frends For Sale, you can put an actual dollar amount on the value of a human being, "own" that person and then raise or lower their value depending on when you put them on sale (all with virtual money). Wow.

If this is not a huge warning signal on how sickly obsessed the world has become with money, consumerism and junk, I don't know what is. We are so obsessed and addicted to our stuff that economists, world leaders and corporations are refusing to recognize the destructive impact of our spending on the environment: modern economic theory takes almost no account of 'externalities', or the fact that the world is not an endless source of raw ecological resources.

What will your life count for? At the end will you be able to put your most important things into boxes or into beautiful memories? Will your heart be set on comfort and style, or justice and truth?

Enough is enough; no more stuff. Or as a truly radical man once said "If you want to give it all you've got, go sell your possessions; give everything to the poor. All your wealth will then be in heaven. Then come follow Me." It's the only way to break the addiction.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


Resurrection Sunday is my favorite day of the year - every year. It's become special ever since I began taking lent seriously. In my Bethel years, Easter was a day I got to baptize some of my friends. At Iawah, Easter meant a trip into Kingston.

Now that we live in Kingston, it was an extra special Easter. We started it off with a sunrise service in which the liturgy was timed perfectly with the first rising of the sun. We all got a little misty with wonder as we saw that burst of light reminding us of our Savior's resurrection.

After the early service we had breakfast at NeXt church and we got to eat with some of our friends from the shelter. Wolfe Island Bakery supplied us with more food than we could have ever imagined, so everyone ate really well!

The Eleven O'clock service was also really special with all sorts of rainbow streamers, and colourful crosses, and really good music belted out with passion. But the thing that moved me most was the amazing blessing of being able to sit in the same pew as all the different homeless guests we've had at the House Famous. God does everything so beautifully.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Oh, Friday

It was very cold, to begin with. This must be distinctly understood, or nothing wonderful can come of the story I am to relate...

We did a Good Friday service with Josh and Corky that took place in Skeleton park at nine o'clock Friday night. It was a service that involved interactive reflection and thought on the different reactions of Jesus' disciples on the night He was betrayed. The reactions we interacted with were denial, fight or flight, betrayal and despair. We had different stations for each reaction where we attempted to experience how the disciples would have felt on that scandalous night. For example, at the station for despair we had setup two couches in the park with pillows that had 'STAY AWAKE' and 'DON'T FALL ASLEEP' stitched on them, there were also scrap books of things you could pray for to look through.
In addition to these stations we had a labyrinth setup. I can say it provided powerful moments, and I recall praying harder than I had in a long time. This night was beautiful for me because I was quickly reminded of my need for God, and I think it really set the tone for this incredible weekend. I'm thankful God has made us to need Him.
After the service was over we returned home deeply cold and deeply tired. It was the kind of exhaustion that can only come from searching for God. But all of it was worth it, we had done this to glorify God and I hope we did.

Thursday Night

This past Thursday evening we had a prayer meeting. We were hoping to capture some of the mood of the night Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, while his disciples slept. We had no idea how similar our nights would end up...
Before the meeting even started, one of our friends was asleep on the couch. We continued the meeting right around him. As the meeting continued, a few more of us dozed off. Half an hour later, three friends joined us, returning home from work.
Finally, we ended abruptly and left in silence, some in confusion, some a little frustrated with themselves. It was scripture come to life, and it was a great beginning to our very special weekend celebrating our Hero's death and resurrection.

Friday, March 21, 2008

And they rose early to go to the tomb, but Jesus wasn't there...

Easter Sunrise Service: Sunday March 23rd, 6:15am onward to sunrise!
Meet at Murney Tower, near the corner of Barrie and King St.
Free Community Breakfast to follow from 8am to 10:30am at Next Church, 89 Colborne St.

Come celebrate together!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Thursday night prayer meeting

On the Thursday of Holy Week, Jesus washed His disciples' feet, instituted the Holy Eucharist, agonized at Gethsemene and was then betrayed by one of His own. It's the night before things get crazy.
In light of this week, we'll be having our prayer meeting on Thursday night at 10:30 pm, instead of our normal Friday morning prayer.
This can be a time to prepare ourselves for this Easter weekend.
Click here to see more about events happening at Next Church for Good Friday and Easter Sunday.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

One of the things I find the hardest with running our little house of hospitality is when people leave unannounced. We have a frequent guest who comes and goes very freely, and when he goes I always wonder if we've done something wrong or bored him out of his skull. I usually find out later that it's more that he doesn't want to overuse our hospitality, but I still wish things ended with more closure.

Another insecurity I have with our homeless friends is how uncool I am. I don't know how to talk in ways that will be relevant to someone living in the shelter; and when they come to stay with us, I don't know how to entertain them as guests. I don't know the first thing about street drugs, I don't get drunk, I haven't been in a fight since I was 12, I don't really get UFC, we don't have a tv, and I think video games are a waste of time... The only things I really find interesting are books, nerdy board games, movies and Christianity. BOR-ing!

I really hope kindness and hospitality are enough.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

where will apathy get us?

hi Friends; this is chelsea contributing. I have a conundrum, so if anyone can help me out, that would be lovely.

I'm involved with helping plan the Good Friday and Easter services at neXt church, and I've signed up to come up with an interactive way to explore the topic of the disciples falling asleep when Jesus asked them to pray in Gethsemane. But this is turning out to be much more difficult than I thought.

Are the disciples having a moment of apathy when they fall asleep instead of praying and waiting?
Or, are they just overwhelmed with distress, and fall asleep out of despair?
Are despair and apathy the same thing?
Did the disciples miss out on something Jesus wanted to show them by being apathetic?

I'm not sure what to think about the disciples; is this section of scripture meant to warn us against not listening to God, or is it simply the way things were meant to unfold in order for Jesus to go to the cross? How do we explore this in an interactive way?

If anyone has any ideas or insights for me, please click the comment button just below.

Friday, February 15, 2008

When I was hungry...

This last Thursday I was talking with a co-worker as we waited for the IT guy to get off the phone. She asked if I had picked up any more work as I'm only working part-time. I said I didn't have the time to work full time as I have this little house project thing going on... She was horrified to hear that I drive homeless folk around and invite homeless friends over to eat dinner with us. Her biggest concern was that I didn't get paid for this extra "work". I didn't bother telling her we had a friend I had met at the shelter living with us for the past two weeks.

I would never take money for what we've gotten to experience over the past two weeks. We had really gotten attached to our new friend and his heart-melting dog; but after 7 years of waiting for a place of his own, he moved into his first apartment tonight. It took alot of waiting for a messed up system to get it's act together, but in the end it seems it will be a happy ending. My heart soared to see how proud he was of his new home. The feeling we all got from actually helping someone get off the streets, and treating them like our Saviour has treated us, could never bought or paid for. I feel like I'm finally doing something worthwhile with my life.

We're sure going to miss having him around...

Friday, February 8, 2008

we love photoshop

We know you've been dying to know our Charasmatic nicknames...

Jason 'Dragon Fruits of the Spirit' Woudsma
Todd 'Hallelujah' Stelmach
Brendan 'Gold Dust from Heaven' Lorimer
Chelsea 'Praise and Worship' Stelmach

And with that in mind, our Spirit Animals (with reasons why) are as follows:

Todd - Bear (Glutton, strong south-paw-edness, brutish)
Chelsea - Turtle (Subdued, protective, thoughtful)
Jason - Wolf (Fear-ocity, leadership, brotherhood, loyalty)
Brendan - Giraffe (Awkward, tall, gentle)

Please browse our human-animal pictures.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

sidewalk mazes are against the law

It was the storm by which all other storms would be measured. February 2nd, 2008. We probably got 3 feet of snow. After waking up late and eating a large breakfast, we, our friend Sean and his dog Star went outside to conquer the snow. The odds were against us...and so were the elements.
Perserverance prevailed and Jabba was created, right on our front lawn. We also created a number of super-fun sidewalk patterns so that people wouldn't have to walk in boring old straight lines. Some people seemed to enjoy our maze-like structures, but others were less than appreciative. In fact, we think that someone may have called in a hit on our sidewalk maze: when the city sidewalk plow machine finally came (four days after the storm) they only plowed our section of the street! Hmmmm, definately suspect.
So, in total, we spent 3 hours creating a Jabba, a sidewalk maze and a fort in our backyard. All in all, it was a very sucessful day, even though we may have raised the wrath of people who prefer their sidewalks straight.

in the beginning...

We are the House Famous, we started in September 2007. There is Jay, Brendan, Chelsea and Todd. Jay is the affable one, Brendan, the amicable. Chelsea's amiable and Todd, well Todd is abominable.

On a good day, we're a community. On a bad day, we're roomates. But we love Jesus on both.
We try and serve the poor and share our stuff, and we believe that Christ meant what he said. We want the Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.

This will be our story...'n stuff...