Tragic

tragic

Let me play devil’s advocate for a moment regarding the recent news about the price gouging for the last run of the Tragically Hip, a well-loved Canadian rock band out of Kingston, Ontario.
For background, let me quickly explain what’s been happening: The Tragically Hip recently announced that it’s lead singer and front man, Gord Downie has sadly been diagnosed with inoperable brain cancer and will die. The band decided that a last Canada-wide tour this summer was in order – a class act from the band, and a brave gesture from Gord.
The tickets went on sale and were quickly snatched up by organizations like Stubhub and Ticketmaster, who are now re-selling the tickets at highly inflated prices. Fans of the band are not happy about this to say the least, sighting that this shows complete greed over what will be the band’s last concert tour ever, and forces loyal followers of the band to pay exorbitant prices to see them one last time.  It’s not how we envisioned this Canadian iconic bands last tour to go down.
This is all true, but there’s a few things that don’t sit right with me about all of this. Agree or disagree as you see fit.
  • every party in this situation has the freedom to do exactly what they want. The ticket resellers can buy up huge volumes of tickets because the purchasing system allows it to happen (they’re in business to make money, don’t forget), the ‘scalpers’ can jack up the prices because they know people will pay (supply and demand), and the fans can decide if they want to pay the market rate to see the band one last time. If they do, they become unwitting participants in the price increases.
  • the bands management should have seen this as a potential outcome when the announcements were made, and should have known that this was going to happen. They could have offered to sell the tickets only at the actual box offices where the band will be playing, and limiting the number of tickets any one person could purchase…but they didn’t.
  • the band could have offered to play one or two final shows in a large open-air venue for free, or offer the profits up to cancer research or something classy like that. Maybe they will.  Maybe they could have done a great Canadian deed and offered a concert benefiting the families and businesses in Fort McMurray.
  • no one HAS to pay $2,000 for tickets. This whole thing has dissolved down to greed and selfishness both on the part of the scalpers and on the fans who would pay these prices.  If we all decided that we’d only pay face value and not a penny more, there would be no market for the scalpers.
ACID TEST: If the tickets were put up to auction at face value and they were bid up to $2,000, would we still be as outraged? Would we still call people ‘scum-bags’?
My 2 cents worth. I would love to see the band play their last concert in Kingston, Ontario, but I probably won’t.
My prayers go out to Gord Downie, his family and the band.

The Miracle of Miracles

Miracle

This past weekend, the world watched an historical event take place in Rome, where 2 popes were canonized as saints, while being proceeded over by 2 living popes.  This has never happened before in the history of the Roman Catholic Church, and is unlikely to ever happen again.

I bet the souvenir shop at the Vatican made a killing!

Part of the ‘sainthood’ vetting process is the verification of the act of performing miracles.  I think that most people outside of faith belief systems see the concept of miracles as one that’s limited to ancient writings in the Bible.  Was it just that the people who lived thousands of years ago were more in-tune with the the manifestation of such supernatural events, or was it just a lack of modern knowledge that led them to believe that common things were considered ‘godly’ back then?

I have to admit, I get a bit squeamish when people throw the ‘miracle’ word around, especially when they’re talking about having a parking ticket lost in the government systems or their favourite sports team came back from certain defeat to win a series.  These are probably not the types of miracles that would get anyone designated as a saint (unless your team’s name happens to be the ‘Saints’).

Basically, in our modern and enlightened society, we have managed to relegate miracles to the same interest and legitimacy as fortune tellers and circus side shows.  Miracles to most of us are nothing more than facts that haven’t been explained yet.  I think that’s a mistake.

Miracles, big and small happen all the time.  I know people who have had miracles happen to them over the years.  Some were true medical mystery healings that have happened without explanation – an incurable condition, suffered for years is suddenly absent.  Gone forever.  Others were more practical – someone suddenly and permanently quitting smoking after praying about it.  No withdrawal, no nicotine fits.

Sometimes miracles are as simple as having prayers answered.

I still think though, that miracles get bad press – or worse, no press at all.  It’s because of this that the idea of miracles happening in our digital world isn’t given much credit.

I to get caught up in the cynical side of miracles at times.  I’m not likely to build a shrine in my living room if I found a dust-bunny in the shape of the Virgin Mary.  It’s more likely, my finding a dust-bunny in my living room at all would be a miracle, since I’m never the one to clean under the couch.

But something happened last weekend that made me revisit my belief in miracles.  At the end of our church service, during the announcements, the minister asked if there were any updates from the congregation.   A little girl, about 10 years old, timidly put up her hand.

Her mom has been battling cancer for the past year, and has had a terrible time with it, as you can imagine.  Every time things would look up for her, more devastating news would follow, and she would be sent back to the hospital for more tests, chemotherapy, biopsy’s, and so on.  Mom was brave beyond belief.  Her Maritime strength kept her pushing for any help the medical establishment could offer, but in reality, the prognosis was not very good.

The church has a prayer chain – a group of people who dedicate enormous energy to praying for whatever is given to them, and this mom was at the top of the list. She was added to the prayers at every Sunday service as well, and others who know her said quiet prayers during their day or as they sat for meals.

She was an open book about her pain, suffering, strength, and even the unpleasant details of the extremes the doctors were taking to try to fight this terrible disease.

This Sunday, the little girl who put up her hand was invited to come to the front of the church to speak.  She was too short for the microphone, but it turns out she really didn’t need it.  She loudly and proudly announced to everyone in attendance that her Mom had cancer, but it now it was just gone.  Mom doesn’t have cancer any more.  The entire congregation was in tears.

The back story is that when ‘Mom’ was to have a biopsy on the 10cm tumor last week, the radiologist could find nothing to test.  Just scar tissue remained.  The tumor was completely gone.  A miracle.

And now here we are, you and me, faced with a decision to make.  Do we raise our hands to God and say ‘Thank you for answering our prayers’, or do we scramble for tangible reasons that this tumor could have disappeared naturally, in order to discredit the power of prayer, and any proof of this miracle happening.

It’s not unlike conspiracy theories, isn’t it?  Any doubt is proof.  Maybe she never really had cancer. Maybe the chemotherapy killed the tumor.  Maybe.  I have no doubt the skilled doctors played a role.

Maybe this Mom and her daughter have a little more time to spend together at home planning for the future, instead of sitting in hospitals wondering if there will even be a future.  Maybe, like the 2 popes, a real-life miracle happened, and we should thank God for it.

Maybe you’ll think a bit differently about miracles too, like I will.