Saturday, February 25, 2012

Some Observations on the Secular World

Occasionally I leave that cloister that is Barry’s Bay, OSB. Today I left to pick up a friend at the airport in Ottawa. I did, not only because I like my friend, naturally, but because it gave me a chance to return some books to the Carleton University Library, and, moreover, to see another dear friend and to do some shopping – mostly for my daughter’s upcoming birthday. Life is good. I like getting away here and there, despite that I sometimes feel like a conjoined twin suddenly separated, that is, from Anne-Marie and the kids. I lean over to one side. Where is my twin’s foot? Technically I guess more like a suddenly separated conjoined septuplet.

Paganism does impose on Barry’s Bay. Certainly it does. We have TV, radio and internet. But one is easily able to keep these influences to a minimum with the endemic relaxed pace and charming quaintness of the people, and, moreover, the prevalent religiosity.
I jump in the car and sail off early in the morning, looking for deer – hoping finally to see a moose. The radio is on, and the further I get from the Madawaska Valley, the clearer in come the Ottawa radio stations. They contrast distinctly from the two we get in town – the local country music station and “The Bear” from Bancroft (south, 80 kms or so). The city-ness of these stations shines through. The DJs talk about television shows I have never seen, nor care to see.

Ultimately I arrive in Ottawa. First to Carleton. It is 8:50 and surprisingly quiet. It must be Spring Break here too. Despite the fact that the parking metre charged me for a whole day when I only wanted an hour’s worth, I am pleased to be here. One of the first things one notices is the brown faces – not many of these in Barry’s Bay. And you’ll notice the clothing, sometimes the lack thereof; but all is fashionable, not like back home. Not a bit of camo. I miss camo; I miss orange safety vests.
Then I leave the university to look for some books for my soon-to-be ten-year-old. Off to Chapters to meet the real intellectuals, not the riff-raff one encounters in a predominantly undergraduate setting like Carleton! For, Chapter’s patrons (especially the people sitting lattes on the Starbuck’s side, are aficionados of the finer thing, unlike those undergrads who simply don’t want to work at Macdonald’s their whole lives.

Latte + laptop (or ipad) + Wired magazine = high culture.

The theologian scans his eyes across the offerings in ‘Christianity.’ Why is this section always next to the ‘Occult’ and the ‘Lifestyle’ (i.e. homosexualism) sections? Are they trying to broaden my horizons without my permission?! Or, is this what they think of the One True Faith, that it – like the occult and homosexuality – is about made-up stuff?
In the kids’ book section, in the midst of shiny, expensive toys, I listen to a woman reason with her young child about leaving soon. Wouldn’t it be good? I imagine the child’s name is Madison. Boy or girl? – it doesn’t matter! How long did it take to coax Maddie? Don’t know. I’m off...

It snowed, heavily. Cars spinning as they start up at the green lights. No winter tires. In the country we use winter tires.
I am very far away from the world of snowmobiles, ice fishing, wood splitters, and yes, camo. I was born and raised in a city, but once I took that blue pill (Matrix reference) there is no going back for me. I am a country boy.


  1. Oh so true. Going home to my parents for Christmas (and they live in the country in southern Ontario) I couldn't get over how everyone was in a big, darn rush! Things are so much more laid back up here...I don't miss that frenzied activity. (Although I wouldn't mind a few more 'luxuries' like a Tim Hortons or a Walmar...I know...I'm a pagan heretic.)

  2. better than being a unitarian congregationalist like i am!

    yes, slooooooow pace of life is godly.

  3. And I am a country girl - an answer to Dave's prayers. And to Sarah: Tim Horton's is coming - they drilled the geothermal well just the other day - I nearly peed my pants in joy.

  4. It's still 'the country' with a Tim Horton's, right?

  5. just a quick side, the radio station in Bancroft is "The Moose", and "the Bear" is the rock station in Ottawa. Silly.

  6. Sorry, anonymous. I get my mammals confused on occasion :)

  7.'s not really a Canadian town in my mind until there's a Tims. You know, roll up the rim and all. I don't even drink their coffee, but somehow I feel....isolated.