Saturday, May 24, 2008

I am, after all, Canadian

Some years ago, I developed a particular . . . er . . . connection? . . . to that strangest of strange birds, the penguin.

I don't really know how it started, but the first penguin artifact was a sweatshirt bought on vacation in Vermont - and now sadly lost.

Eventually, I was offered an explanation for this affinity I felt with the flightless denizens of Antarctica. As outlined in the book The Penguin Principles: A Survival Manual for Clergy Seeking Maturity in Ministry, one of the many commonalities of priests and penguins is the shared talent of "looking dignified and ridiculous simultaneously."

Eventually, this affinity led to some more practical choices.

As a young child in English Canada, I was a fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs hockey club. (To non-Canadian visitors, that is not a typo. Maple Leafs - not Maple Leaves.)

Now that simply isn't practical. The last time the Maple Leafs won a Stanley Cup was 1967. Lester Pearson was Prime Minister of Canada. Lyndon Johnson was President of the United States. The Canadian Book of Common Prayer was still "the new book." And the Canadian Church had just recently ceased to be "the Church of England in Canada."

No. No point cheering for the Make Beliefs. After all, it ain't Spring until the Leafs are out.

But if not the Leafs, then who?

Well, logically, if I felt a connection with penguins, I should cheer for Pittsburgh.

Tonight, I had the opportunity to bond with my son. He's actually a Canadiens fan - like his step-mother and his uncle. (Also not a typo. The team's name est en francais.) But with the Habs dispatched by Philadelphia in the second round, my son has to cheer for someone. I don't know if he's cheering for Pittsburgh because he likes his dad or because he likes Sydney Crosby, but I don't really care. We got to spend the evening together, and we had fun - despite the Penguins losing Game 1 to Detroit 4-0.

So this affinity for Penguins has brought me closer to my son.

It occurred to me later in the evening, that perhaps this is one other thing that Bob Duncan and I might agree on.

Bob and I agree on the entire Nicene Creed - though I think Bob may not believe that I believe it.

But as the Bishop of Pittsburgh, surely Bob must be cheering for the Penguins - at least a little.

(Would it be uncharitable to note that +Bob bears a startling resemblance to a particular type of penguin? - Remember that I have great affection for penguins.)

To a very large extent, the nastiness of contemporary Anglicanism is driven by two things.

First, we don't really know as much about each other as we think we do. Much of the invective and vitriol from all sides is based on assumptions - often inaccurate - about what "those people" think.

Second, we spend all our time focusing on what divides us rather than on what unites us.

I close with a little bit of liturgical dance. As the Bob Duncan like character says part way through the video, "Turn to the penguin next to you, and give him a great big hug."


Country Parson said...

Many thanks. What a great way to start a Sunday Morning.

Anonymous said...

that was a great time dad, after you've met my friends and all, I wonder if you're less disappointed that I, unlike Sid, spend all my time in a bar and can't skate for the Penguins.

Malcolm+ said...

While it would have been nice to have you making that kind of money - to support your step-mother and me in the lifestyle to which we would like to become accustomed - your current trajectory of working your way into and through university is no disappointment at all.