I take it back that I said, “summer time is not blogging time” as recently some community events have prompted me to write some thoughts for public reflection. I wrote last week about the Gay Pride Parade. Today, as military jets roar overhead I’m prompted to reflect on the Abbotsford Air Show.
I know that the air show has been a problem for many in the Mennonite community because a large part of the show is a display of military might in the air. Thus it seems ironic that the air show is held in a community that includes a sizable minority of proclaimed pacifists, although most proclaim very quietly. There used to be a protest event right next to the air show called the Fraser Valley Arts and Peace Festival but it morphed into a more educational event during the spring or fall, perhaps with the realization that in the long term education is more effective at stopping war than protest.
A blog is not the place to discuss all the theologies and philosophies of war, but as the jets roar overhead I put myself into the shoes of a family in Syria today. The roar of jets overhead does not signal the advent of a city’s largest entertainment event of the year. Instead of looking up in awe they cower down in fear that it might drop a bomb on them. In this frame of mind, I cannot attend the air show or even look up in amazement.
I did attend another community event last weekend – the annual “Agri Fair.” My son wanted to ride a roller coaster and I remembered that we had taken our older children when they were his age. With an agricultural heritage I can support the various activities showing animals, farm machinery, etc. Unfortunately, the midway did not include a roller coaster, but he did go on a ride and we did enjoy a few side shows such as the “wall trampoline.”
The problem I have with the fair is that it is a money pit. We took our bikes since it was a nice day but parking cost $5, then you pay $10 for admission, and rides cost between $6 and $8 each. The food is also very expensive, especially considering the cheap quality of corn dogs and fries. We did bring some food along so saved ourselves a bit but still forked out $5 for a glass of lemonade slush! If we had wanted to attend the rodeo it would have cost another $5 each. This does not yet include those stupid contests where you pay a few bucks for the chance to hit a target or something so you can win a cheap stuffed animal. Thankfully, our son didn’t even beg to enter.
So here’s my reflection on these community events. How much do we participate in them? The Empire lures us with all kinds of things we can spend our money on and things are glorified that are questionable at best as far as Christian values go. Christians often participate in the name of evangelism and relevance but at what price? Have we sold out just to be like everyone else? Do we have anything unique to offer if our activities and expenditures are the same as everyone else’s? Maybe monks of old and my Mennonite ancestors were on to something when they tried to take literally the command to “come out from among them and be separate.” At the least, they challenge me to be discerning in my worldly involvements.