Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Issues in Saskatoon: Should Councillors get a raise?

Mayor Don Atchison created a bit of a maelstrom yesterday by suggesting that city councillors needed a raise.  Today's Star Phoenix reports that amongst councillors themselves there is no such desire.  Reasons cited are that similar size cities have similar pay structures.  The interesting part of the Star Phoenix article is found in the comments section where the sentiment is one of overwhelming dissatisfaction with the current council. 

Recently, we've heard lots of discussion about recycling, bike lanes and homelessness.  These are all important considerations.  However, as one poster suggested, what about the condition of our roads?  Of issues that matter to residents, where do roads come in?  Well, recently I did a completely unscientific study that had input from a wide spectrum of residents throughout the city.  It showed that roads and crime are the top two concerns for Saskatoonians:


Based on this, it is not surprising that council recently approved the increased Police funding in the budget. It is surprising that there were two councillors that opposed the increase. In the new budget there is also increased funding for roads; will it be enough to keep residents happy? Time will tell.

So, what do you say, do Saskatoon Councillors need a raise? This post is now up for discussion.

Monday, December 5, 2011

To Tip or Not To Tip

It's probably appropriate that the discussion on John Gormley Live today was on tipping as we are now entering the Christmas Season. Folks, remember Ebenezer Scrooge this season.

But, maybe I have it all wrong.  Who should get tipped? You tell me.

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Saturday, December 3, 2011

Merry Christmas: The Great Debate

2000+ years ago Jesus Christ was born on Christmas Day...or so the song goes. The reality is slightly different. Yes, Jesus was born, but on Christmas Day? That's a little lot less likely. That there was a man named Jesus born in Bethlehem, who then lived in Nazareth, and travelled around Galilee healing people and pissing off the ruling class is undisputed. Why we celebrate his birth on Christmas Day is an interesting story.

Christianity wasn't always a predominant religion--with approximately 2 billion adherents worldwide, I think it is safe to call it predominant. However, initially it was a band of 12 ruffians (well, maybe Matthew wasn't a ruffian...but Peter, James and John...definitely unrefined, red-necks). How they were able to spread Jesus' teachings in their lifetime and then have that teaching carry on so that 400 years later it became the state religion of Rome is beyond the scope of this post...however, it was at about that time that "Christmas" started.

As Christianity grew, it was brushing up against paganism and many folks were still celebrating some of the old pagan holidays. Old habits die hard, so a move was made to have a "Christian" celebration fall at the same time as an old pagan party so that rather than give up a party, the purpose would shift. (Click here for a great discussion on the history of Christmas--I don't agree with everything...but it is in depth.)

And, really, isn't that sort of what's happened in culture today?  For Christians, since about 400AD, there originally had been a focus on the actual event of Jesus' birth. However, as our society has become increasingly secularized, the meaning of the celebration has changed. For some, Christmas is about family. For some, it's about gifts. For business, it's about profit.

Some Christians think that we should fight back and demand that people say, "Merry Christmas" and not water down our holiday with "Happy Holidays." Historically, it is interesting that the predominant cultural norm has always won the day. The December holiday originally was a pagan celebration of nature/sun/solstice. As Christianity became dominant the pagan holiday was co-opted and given a new meaning. Now that commercialism is the predominant force (religion?) of our culture, gifts are taking precedence.

Fighting over a greeting isn't going to win the culture war. Christians should remember that the magic of Christmas is that the King of Kings was born in a manger demanding nothing and giving everything. Christians should be counter-cultural and should be known not for what we are against, but for the love that we show to others...whether they say, "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Holidays."

And, for those that wish folks wouldn't say "Merry Christmas," my suggestion is that, if someone does greet you that way, you simply wish them a "Happy Boxing Day." Or, simply say "thank you" for their wish that you would have a special day, celebrated however you choose to celebrate that particular day.

This post is now up for discussion.