The letter carrier who went postaland The Israeli soldier who hesitated

In the past 36 hours, I’ve come across an exceptional number of interesting things in cyberspace. I’d like to call five items to your attention.

1. The letter carrier who went postal

This amusing tale is worth reading in its entirety. It comes from today’s Globe and Mail:

For reasons that are still not fully understood, a mail carrier in Montreal decided that instead of delivering the mail, he would hoard it at home. By the time Canada Post caught on, the carrier had stolen a whopping 75,000 pieces of mail over five years. …

On some days, the carrier would deliver the mail to one side of the street, but not the other. Other days, he wouldn’t deliver to homes on the second floor. Of the mail he stole, he opened only about 100 envelopes, mostly greeting cards containing cash or cheques. …

Most of the mail belonged to residents of the immigrant-heavy district of Park Extension. Yesterday, residents of the district’s De L’Épée Avenue opened the doors to their modest duplexes and grabbed hold of brick-sized bundles of mail, eyes wide.

— i.e., bundles of mail that the letter carrier had been hoarding for months or years, which are now being delivered to the startled householders.

2. The turtle who paints masterpieces

VirtuosoI like abstract art; Mary P. and I proudly display several pieces in our home. But I admit, some pieces could be the creation of a turtle.

According to, Koopa the turtle is developing quite a reputation. Paintings like Virtuoso (pictured) now hang in 46 of the US states.

The sale of Koopa’s art has raised over $9,000 for turtle rescue organizations. (hat tip Web junkie)

3. Surprise! European Muslims actively resist integration

I’ve just discovered Andrew Sullivan‘s blog. Sullivan writes very perceptively on how the USA is prosecuting the “war on terror”, among other subjects.

Today, he shares this quote from the Christian Science Monitor:

Millions of “French Muslims” don’t consider themselves French. A government report leaked last March depicted an increasingly two-track educational system: More and more Muslim students refuse to sing, dance, participate in sports, sketch a face, or play an instrument. They won’t draw a right angle (it looks like part of the Christian cross). They won’t read Voltaire and Rousseau (too antireligion), Cyrano de Bergerac (too racy), Madame Bovary (too pro-women), or Chrétien de Troyes (too chrétien). [Chrétien means Christian.] One school has separate toilets for “Muslims” and “Frenchmen”; another obeyed a Muslim leader’s call for separate locker rooms because “the circumcised should not have to undress alongside the impure.”

Sullivan comments:

This is not a case simply of an ethnic minority denied integration; it’s a case of a religious minority refusing integration, indeed attacking and denying the very values of secularism and liberalism upon which the West rests.

Who can disagree?

4. Burning Man photos

purple headBurning Man is an annual event wherein 25,000+ people travel to the Black Rock Desert to form an experi- mental community for one week. Participants are free to express themselves in ways that are outside the norms that apply elsewhere.

Carolyn was there this year and she has posted a couple dozen photos on her blog. Note:  I can’t link to the photos directly because each photo is a separate post. Click on the purple head photo, above, which will take you to the first set, then scroll down past the first few posts. Click here to view a second set of photos.

The event is intriguing, Carolyn’s photos capture its spirit, and it’s a lot of work to post this many photos! Go, enjoy!

5. An Israeli soldier hesitates … and makes the right decision

Ben Witherington is a Christian scholar who occasionally travels in Israel. On one of his visits, he hired a taxi for a week. Etan, the taxi driver, formerly was an Israeli soldier. Witherington comments, “He was not bitter, but there was a sadness about him, and he had had to grow up much too fast.”

On one occasion, Etan nearly made a deadly mistake that might have haunted him for the rest of his life:

Etan had fought at Jenin. Quietly, and with no vainglory at all, he told of the day that he was attacking a particular Palestinian house thought to harbor Hamas radicals. He had pulled out a grenade, and had pulled the pin almost entirely out when he remembered he had a duty to yell that there was an incoming explosive, in case there were innocents within who deserved a chance to get out of the way. He told me “but we had been fighting hard, and yet something made me put that pin back in the grenade and look inside the house first.”

Inside the house he found nothing but women and children who had been locked into the house by their own people so that they could claim the Israeli’s had commited a horrible atrocity at Jenin. It made him physically sick, and yet he was so thankful that something had stopped him from throwing that grenade. I had no doubt that “something” was God. Then he asked — what kind of people would do this to their own families in order to shame us before the world? It was a very good question and shows that the whole Israeli-Palestinian conflict has always been complex with evil and good on both sides.

Later when Etan had gathered himself, he said to me — “I love my country and this is why I fight, but honestly, if someone would tell me there was a place for us Jews in the middle of a desert where everyone would leave us alone and no one else would claim the territory and we wouldn’t have to hurt anyone by mistake, I would move there today. It is not about living on this piece of dirt for me. It is about shalom.”

I was deeply moved by his testimony. He had grown up fast and hard as a teen in the Israeli army, and he had seen the worst that humanity can do, and yet there was still a little hopefulness left in him. The human spirit, created in God’s image is resilient, and I am thankful that Etan listened to that still small voice on that crucial day in Jenin. He said “If I had not stopped and looked on that day, I would never have slept again.”

It’s a hard thing to be a soldier with an actual conscience because all war is hell, and yet this story shows what a difference it can make in a case by case basis.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem, and pray for my new friend Etan.

For the record:  I believe, as Witherington believes, that it was the Spirit of God who prompted Etan to put that pin back into the grenade.


11 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. aaron
    Nov 17, 2005 @ 21:50:00

    Quite an interesting assortment of stories you culled today. Thanks for sharing.


  2. Jack's Shack
    Nov 18, 2005 @ 02:11:00

    Nice collection. I liked it.


  3. Mrs.Aginoth
    Nov 18, 2005 @ 09:18:00

    Lots of stuff there. Two that I feel moved to comment on:

    French Muslims refuse to…..
    but, but, but, how do they refuse? What happens when they refuse? How can a country that banned headscarfs in schools because of the strict seperation of Church & state then have seperate toilets for Muslims & Frenchmen? How can that be legal?

    Isreali soldier hesitates – One of the saddest things I found in Israel is how all the youngsters there were forced to grow up & see the world in the worst possible light so young. I spoke to many ordinary people there & they all had horror stories to tell. War dehumanises all of us. The vast majority also said that they wanted to live somewhere, anywhere, peacefully. Yet we seem further away from that now than we did then!


  4. Cheryl
    Nov 18, 2005 @ 14:09:00

    What a great bunch of info. The Isreali story is so moving–I think it was God also. Our world can be so twisted.


  5. Q
    Nov 18, 2005 @ 14:19:00

    Thanks for the feedback, everyone.

    • Mrs. Aginoth, I hadn’t thought about your last point before. Mandatory military service in a country where conflict is continual makes for a lot of scarred young people.


  6. Mrs.Aginoth
    Nov 18, 2005 @ 14:52:00

    I had a boyfriend out there. he was 24. he once showed me a picture of him with his four buddies from full time national service. It was a typical picture, 5 lads, dressed in fatigues, arms round each other, waving glassess of beer at the camera. they do national service usually between 18 & 21 years. he was the only one still alive.

    At 24 years old, he had lost all of his best mates, all to violence.

    He was a normal, average citizen. IMO that’s no way for a society to function.


  7. Q
    Nov 18, 2005 @ 15:01:00

    Surrounding nations force Israel to order their society militarily. Military service is mandatory because it is the policy of countries like Iran that Israel should be annihilated:

    Prime Minister Paul Martin joined the United States in scolding Iran on Sunday for the Iranian President’s remarks that Israel is a “disgraceful blot” that should be “wiped off the map.” …

    “Canada will not stand for such hateful speech or its implications,” said Mr. Martin, echoing statements he made after Mr. Ahmadinejad’s comments Oct. 26. …

    In a speech in Israel, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice gave her strongest rebuke yet to the renewed hard-line Islamic leadership of Iran, saying that “no civilized nation” can call for the annihilation of another.

    Her words drew applause from politicians, diplomats and others gathered for a U.S.-Israeli symposium.

    “No civilized nation should have a leader who wishes or hopes or desires or considers it a matter of policy to express that … another country should be pushed into the sea,” Ms. Rice said, speaking slowly and sternly. “It is unacceptable in the international system.”


  8. Bill
    Nov 18, 2005 @ 16:23:00

    Nice collection of articles. I soo want to join in the burning man experience one day I saw it some time ago it looks like so much fun.

    I don’t think I can convince PHAC that it is a health conference though. )-;


  9. Heather
    Nov 18, 2005 @ 19:37:00

    The French-Muslim integration issue intrigues me. Its like self imposed segregation. Its indicative of an under current of us vs them from the Muslim and from the french community as well. Oppression and marginalization are indeed forces to be reckoned with!


  10. Q
    Nov 19, 2005 @ 09:18:00

    That’s a perceptive observation. It appears that French nationals and Muslim immigrants have the same goal, to minimize Muslim integration. No surprise, then, that the challenge appears to be greater in France than elsewhere in Europe.


  11. Carolyn
    Nov 21, 2005 @ 13:54:00

    That reallyw as a great collection of stories to review (and I’m not just saying that because my Burning Man photos were among them). 🙂 Glad you liked them!

    I particularly enjoyed the Isreali story.


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