Many moons ago, with a Rosary in my weary end of night shift hand in the sanctuary of a Roman Catholic church awaiting the weekday Mass, the still small voice would whisper to me “build my church”, it was an echo sentiment from years before, in a United Church, where I cam back to church as adult with my Nan, after presiding over the Sunday Service, and greeting faith family afterwards, the still small voice would simply say, “you are called”… To scant months before in my first service, where after singing in pre-sing my Granddad’s favourite hymn, the voice, his voice, would simply say “it’ll be alright”, Each of these instances are a piece of book one of three for my life. The book of laying the foudnations and preparing. Experiencing what it means to build the church. That is simply, to create the courageous safe space of connection, purpose and belonging for the beautiful mosaic that is our neighbourhood (the Imageo Dei)

So many bumps along the road. Stories. Pieces of knowledge, ancient wisdom applied to the modern world, and modern wisdom working on the souls of many. Truly striving and stumbling to live out what home is, and having the true open door that I have been told has blessed many. But at my core, I am a simple story teller. That is the core of my parallel multi-career paths, and the core of the calling as book two opens…for what is the core of blessed community but the story of love and hope at its centre?

It is stories that have shaped my life, and still do. Many look at me weirdly in the academic, political and spiritual circles I exist in for the resonance I have to so many of our modern legends and mythologies. Not only the resonance, but how effectively they can be used as points of connection, intersection and discussion… so many ways to meet and understand neighbour. Whether it is the modern super hero stories (I am sure many know of the reflections shared around Spider-Man, X-Men, Batman, Superman, Flash, the list goes on and on) our modern pantheon of gods and demi-gods as found in anceint folklore and mythologies (which I also love). Or the more recent addition of Doctor Who? The Doctor an amazing story of constant curiousity, inspired problem solving, fun and, yes, new life (ah regeneration, since I went through my own health issues, and now into c-tine, it does so feel like a moment of regeneration?). To the inquisitive nature of Sherlock Holmes, the mysteries solved, and the importance of the right partners.

The Arthurian Legends, stories I so wanted to read as a child, and a system said I could not comprehend, and a Dad that said yes he can…and well, the copy of that hardcover from Smithbooks still resides on my bookshelf, never tell a child they can’t when an interest is shown. The wonder, magic and splendour of Camelot. The idea of quest, blessing, calling, and the connection/belonging of the Round Table. To the first movie I ever saw in theatres, Walt Disney’s Robin Hood, and the core truth that all have value, and every role in society is needed for us to be healthy, how easily power can corrupt (and I have seen it happen to far too many good people) for when power becomes the goal like with Prince John– well, the fact it is actually people involved is forgotten for the pursuit of gold (or is it oil?). When a season of life ended, I hope my team at that time understand the blessing of sharing that story book with each of them.

But a core story that has stayed with me throughout my life. From when there was the one night of the week as repeats aired on CBC, Star Trek. A true reflection for me, of what Brother Jesus taught our world was meant to be. Our universe, where all have equity, justice, equality, hope, can pursue who they are meant to be and we affirm the ideal you they are currently and are becoming. Where we aid others. Each of its iterations has brought a new era of story and contemplations into my life. From the Next Generation to Deep Space Nine to Voyager to Enterprise to (Kelvin) Star Trek movies to Discovery to Lower Decks to Picard…each piece introducing new characters, new allegories to our reality now and where we can be, what we can aspire to.

The re-connection to the stories, happened sharply over the last several years as I started to build myself back. As we unearthed, and healed the darkness, smudge and trauma that almost, yes, took my life, though it took me off of one path and opened up an epilogue/prologue upon a new path. A new story. My loving wife and kiddos that have journeyed through much, and we know eyes wide open what has been in all its diverse sorrows to joys, to what we know can be in a hope seen and soon to be lived.

See, for me, as I reflect back on the journey, the long road of getting here. Some may look at the hiccups, the setbacks, the loss, and say, why bother? Or didn’t so and so ruin your life…No they did not. I still remember the day in the early part of my PNES where a congregational cycle of prayer had my son make that statement as I had stepped away a few times from church based ministry to protect him from their heresy & ableism, as with other members of my family at other moments. For me it is about living love, and it is truly about discerning if there is authentic misunderstanding, or simply a desire for a quick apology so one’s own hates are not revealed on the altar for all to see.

But I digress, see there is an understanding that it is not a pollyanic view, especially in our polarized world where many akin the word Christian or Pastor to some device of hatred and exclusion. Or like in Star Trek V when they finally gound “god” and it was revealed to be nothing more than a monster in godcloaking:

Yet, here we are, a long road, some wear and tear, great learnings, lovings, and discoveries.

As was revealed earlier in the movie with the discussion of pain, and the need for the pain to emerge into who we truly are. So it is with each aspect of our life, all the ups and downs, sorrows and joys, losses and wins…they have shaped us…to be with others. To hear the authentic quite voice once more on this journey, one that others have heard.

“it is time to answer hope’s call”

Taking a risk, at this stage of the emegent chapter one of book two, prepared and now stepping in to the uknown. Accepted back to seminary as a student to complete my Master of Divinity. Awaiting the links to open up to apply for funding. To grow my skills, for my writing, community building, and to step back into ministry within the church. And maybe, perhaps, once settled to finish the journey that started with my Psy.D. to finally get my Doctor of Ministry.

To once more, be a pastor.

To aid others in being authentic communities of hope.

To discover honestly, what the quiet voice of the Holy Spirit is whispering to each of us to live out and transform our world for the better.

And yeah, it is one of the scariest steps in my life I have taken.

But also fills me with simply being

content.


13 days to one year, 14 days to the first day of c-tine at home for our whole family (the college I teach at shifted to online delivery March 17, 2020). It’s okay to admit you have hit a threshhold for learning new things.It is okay to breathe.It is okay to take time alone (which is different than being lonely if lonely reach out for phone calls/online calls to folks), for being alone can aid in renewal.It is okay to cultivate new ideas or to simply keep on keeping on with what renews you.It is okay if you haven’t saved any money like the media is saying what a time of savings, cause y’know what being home is costly.It is okay to have ended relationships during this time, because the break made you realize they were toxic, or simply the only thing that kep the relationship going was proximity (nothing positive or negative).It is okay to be tired for no reason.It is okay to admit to not being okay.It is also okay to realize compassion for many in our society who are suffering, who have been excluded, who have been without voice. It is okay to speak about mental health, mental illness, chronic disease death, suicides, and overdoses (for those new to the advocacy call for help, I hope you continue once you no longer have to wear a mask for covid).It is okay to be frustrated/confused/angry due to the restrictions (sorry Alberta still not a lockdown), but end of day, what are you doing to cultivate health and optimism for you and your personal circles of support?It is okay to be okay with the restrictions and masks, and taking extra steps of care for self and neighbour.May as, this time moves forward, and eventually winds down, may we be continue to be okay with discussing tough topics with one another, okay with seeing one another as a full person, and yeah, be okay with doing things for the good of community and neighbour, even if doing that good and support has no direct tie to my own story.Let’s be okay with our journey, our healing, and seeing the good that can be cultivated and emerged from this time.

An Ecclectica

Posted: February 21, 2021 by Ty in Current Events
Tags: , , , ,

Ah the polar vortex has lifted, and if not an official chinook arch, the other extreme of climate change has settled in where it is plus 6 celsius on Feb. 21, day 342 of C-tine as I type these words and ponder the state of my province. And wonder, where oh where did the ability of dialogue and critical thought go?

First off, a quick PSA for Albertans to educate yourselves on our Covid-19 restrictions, and how many of our neighbours are in mourning (read here). For the dualistic thinking political ideologue that wants majority party control Federally, and believe you are either Conservative or Liberal– may I point out the Parliamnets that bring the best shifts for citizens (the Constitution Act, 1982, clause of Peace, Order and Good Governance) have been robust minority parliaments, and our pandemic has been no different. I live in Alberta, and know what the Conservatives would have done federally for Canadians (nothing, sorry, neighbour, any aid we have had has come from the Federal level–heal your cognitive dissonance and pitch the anger at the right first minister, our Premier). I also hold, that we would not have seen the same response, if it had been a Liberal majority. I do think the NDP-Greens aided in guiding the response.

A few quick thinks to note on the Federal scene. The media is stoking the Liberals want an election, currently from polls it would be a dicey dice roll that may simply return the status quo of now. If they truly wanted one, it would have been in the Fall of 2020 when they were riding high at close to 50% popularity. So the theatrics of NDP Leader Singh demanding that PM Trudeau not call an election, is simply that theatrics. Yes the PM can go at any time to the Governor General to dissolve Parliament and go to the polls (or currenlty without a GG as we are, to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court), but it is also a minority Parliament, so any time a confidence vote is moved/lost on a bdget matter we go to the polls. Currently, that means the other 4 parties have much more promising to do than the governing party on us going to the polls. What I would say is that Harper & Scheer have both underestimated PM Trudeau in elections (he has a Chretien knack on the trail for connecting), and O’Toole is falling into the same trap. Personally, if the other parties trigger an election during this pandemic because they cannot work it out, I will, for the first time in my life, default to a party vote in my area. If the other parties wanted to be innovative, and truly do not think our current Prime Minister is qualified or has the confidence of the House to govern. Then use the Westminster system, put forward a motion for his resignation and for the Governing party to bring forward 3 names for the house to vote on. But alas, they won’t, because it is not about public service– it is all about power for some in the House (you can decide which, though seeing the filth spewed by Conservative MP |Gallant recently–O’Toole has quite a bit of house cleaning to do before he can say the CPC is a renewed party).

But I digress, as this year Albertans are going to the polls, not to vote on our failed populist experiment perpetuated by anger & denial, that has allowed for rampant individualism, overt racism, oh and tiki torches in the capital with Freedom March organizers sharing images of Charlotte’s nazi march in their propaganda. No, that is another piece of polarization to touch on. We head to the polls for municipal elections, this time around (and I know I say this every time around) it is important to cast an informed vote.

There will be many smoke and mirror isseus brought up to deflect from what actually is necessary. See the smoke & mirror argument coupled with polarization is being leveraged to drive even more voters away. To let apathy shrink the voter support one needs to secure the civic seat, and once secured it is very hard for an incumbent to be unseatedYou will see the polarization/dualist arguments of this candidate or that candidate being a UCP or Lefty slate candidate (which is important to pay attention to, as our polarized lens of the politically) but the deeper question is the character of the candidate. What has their actions show us and their neighbours? The next, is the gun rights (and the new office in Alberta to such), it is a deflection especially rurally, because it removes one from seeing the legislative drive to bankrupt our counties, towns, villages, hamlets and farmers. With all the government money in the O&G basket, our other biggest (and still going) economic engines of farms are being left behind (as well as technology, tourism, education, trades, arts, and the list goes on). Unforutnately it has hit rural Alberta hard, the war on doctors before and even during this pandemic is seeing doctros leaving, which is adversly affecting access to Health Care, the cultivation of division and anti-science is being seen in the rising numbers of Covid cases in an already strained rural hosptial system. The UCP government has said they will not close hospitals as Klein did, yet if there is no staff for them, they cannot function. Discussion on how to attract and retain are a community discussion. How to get the abandoned wells cleaned up, and recoup the lost corporate taxes from the oil companies that our provincial government has said is up to each county to get, or they should just give a by too. The loss of the provincial portion of paying for the RCMP, which adds more costs to the local residents. Plus, the exponential (300-500%) increase in property taxes. A smoke and mirror argument rural neighbours have been sharing is that those in urban centres are seeing the same increase, The new funding formula for public schools gives a slight funding bump to rural schools, if they can retain students but the freedom of choice in education can have private and charter schools move in to take that way, leaving a major hub of community closing (as many communities in Calgary have seen which I will touch on ideas a bit later), we are not, if we were there would be something seriously awry in our system. The question that needs to be asked deeply:

who benefits if our rural neighbours systems go bankrupt? If the hamlet, village, town and county revert back to provincial control? And why does it matter?

In urban elections I am going to come down to the Calgary level. We are already seeing the smoke & mirror B.S. (belief systems) perpetuate. The argument on rampant property tax increases, the cyclical snow removal argument, and the plebiscites (let the incumbents deflect with flouride). We elect councils to make decisions, not to run plebiscites. What will not be discussed at the civic election level, for they do not want full on citizen engagement, what scares incumbents more than anything at the civic level is voter turn out and engagement. The snow removal question is a systems issue. We need a plurality of candidates to win that are pushed to do a complete and independent systems audit of City Management. What roles are necessary? What roles are extrenous? What roles/responsibilities within management can be combined? The fallacy of zero-sum budgetting needs to be removed. It may not be the right term, but with the life that government budgets function like household budgets, it is the practice that unspent money in a budget line from one year leads to the reduction of that budget line the next year. Which truly means that there is no ability to save money. An excellent example, is snow removal, under spending one year should not mean less money the next, it should mean an emergency kitty built up for when–blizzards, Snowmageddon in Septembers, etc. so there is more money to use. As well, has anyone discussed why the city has sold off our equipment to the private sector (a sector that is contracted out for just one pass over a road for clearing, when most in the work know it takes more to do the job properly)? Who believes that when crisis hits the private sector will come in at cost or lower to do the work? We need innovative project leaders in key management roles in the city that can point to the equipment, and envision how it can be used off season, but also know you need to budget for preventative care. Who know, a robust public sector, is actually more accountable to doing the job right, than the private sector. If you have had complaints around roads improperly cleared, or the huge drifts in front of entry points of your block, watch the name on the truck, as I have found with calling in to 311 over the last several winters it is the private contractors. Same with pouring roads, there is a certain way they need to be done for longevity, the private companies that have done and redone and redone and redone 32 ave the last several years show that they are working to contract not to standards.

See what deeper conversations are needed? At the community level we have to discuss what we need from our civic taxes to create robust spaces for connection of the generations, cultivating belonging, and removing socio-economic barriers. How do we as citizens work together and use our money to create healthy community? The greatest prevention for things such as addiction, crime, gangs, racism, ableism, sexism and homophobia? These are the questions we need to engage the candidates with. Ones that are not easily answered with a Quote Tweet. Asking them to actually articulate their core values, and how those values align with the communities they are seeking to represent?

There also needs to be a serious discussion around downtown Calgary. Let’s be honest, the big companies are realizing the towers are not necessary. I can see pop up work spaces in communities (many religious groups and community halls looking for rental income on weekdays, this is a great opportunity post covid), but companies realizing the cost of real estate to have someone do something they can from a now established home office? Nope. What I can see the companies retaining- a key office or two on a top floor with 3-4 conference/meeting areas.

What does this mean? We need a way to use space that mainatains tax revenue, but also solves some other societal ills…things like homelessness, disconnect, day care, food security, and in-home supports for our most vulnerable (as well as universal design). What if the downtown core was re-imagined as multi-purpose buildings. Mixed affordable and market purchase aparments from studio to 6 bedroom (yes families need space, and htose need to be some of the key affordable mortgages). The main floors can have effective access to public washrooms, diners and coffee shops. The next floor up, community space, including playgrounds, the 3rd floor a 24 hour day care/pre-school– why? Not everyone works banker hours mate. Then the rest housing. Oh and the 24 hour day care model needs to be expanded city wide.

You can also look at some buildings that are taller and incorporate schools into them. I would also explore the idea of green energy within the buildings to diversify our grid, and vertical farming for food security. As well, part of the mix of units would need to be for our vulnerable populations- those exiting homelessnes, persons with disabilies, mental illness, and our seniors. As you can see some of the ideas for building use, many connecting points for volunteerism within the rejuvanted core (purpose and connections). As well though, each building can also have a support office, where staff are connected to the tenants who need support, and as they age in place, they are not moved from home to a manor or a lodge or longer term-extended care to palliative, rather the teams move to their homes to remove that stressor from their system. Oh and each diner that is licesned for each building– for those over 65 years old or with disabilities (PDD/AISH) are provided a free meal 3 times a day to aid in food security.

As well, our canidates need to have strong ethical and moral character. We have seen the uncontrolled sprawl in Calgary and the unhealthy impact it has had on core infrastructure, with land developers and their deep pockets to fund campaigns. With the new donation limits and PACs allowed civically and disclosure not enshirned until after the fact, we as citizens have to demand transparency. Candidates need to real time be disclosing who is donating, we need to know what machinations can happen after e-day. I would go as far to say, if a canidate isn’t doing this, community has to organize to shut them out of being platformed. Following the money for control has to be a key tenant of engagement.

A lot to take in isnt’ it? But important discussions, instead of being in anger or denial of our changing world, let’s look at the opportunities that abound…

Same within the school boards. It abhors me the disconnect on this one. How many times I hear from folks, well my kids are not in school so it does not matter, or I don’t have kids– yeah but this is the hub for our society. This is the system that prepares the next wave of support within our society. This is where character is key. Will we have Trustees willing to make the hard calls? Risk being fired by the province to stand on values? Aid in educating the citizens on the reality in the classroom or not have our educators back? A board that truly invests and believes in every student, or simply uses the non-upper class students as props when it sutis them to garner favour? I mean we have a crisis in city high schools of no space, yet we are talking about closing under utilized schools? Where is the innovative leadership? Where is the plurarity of candidates willing for the non-partisan systems audit to create a resposnive and innovative system that is needed? That will remove superintendents that refer to children with disabilities as “its” and that families should be happy with what they have (and a despicable eugenics statement). Why can’t we look at low use schools, and the need of the community to use the other space for revenue? What about looking at the empty space for high schools while we a wait more than the cycle of announced builds from the province?

It takes innovative leadership beyond quote tweets and passing an ideological purity test. It takes actual belief that every child matters. That public education is the place to cultivate belonging and connection, discovery of passions and purpose. A space where we need to have locally a robust liberal arts education with core subjects so each students passions and drive to complete schools at the graded level is there.

It ripples up to the braoder conversation of the adoption of the failed American education funding and choice movements. We need to look to the other provinces here, do private and charter schools exist? Yes. Do they receive tax money? No. Home schooling needs to be tied to the public board to ensure those students can easily go on to post-secondary if they have the passion (University, Vocational College, Tech & Trades Schools). Then we need to have the very tough discussion on merging the Separate (Catholic) and Public boards. I say tough, because when you move beyond the polarized assininess, you realize there is a deeper discussion in the divide, where we can easily get there, but the extremes need to be deplatformed. For this is about our children now, and our provicnes future.

A qucik touch on thoughts for 2023 and the key discussions that need to be had. For us to move beyond anger, hate, denial and polarizations. Here are some key observations and tough discussions, open to any party or independent candidate to adopt:

  1. We need an HST to solve a revenue issue. A simple 2% (Federally, they truly do need to raise back the GST to 7%). This would make a provincial HST 7% (5% GST + 2%).
  2. A robust and fully funded public education system.
  3. Full Universal Health Care (including disability and adaptive devices, Dental, optical, Mental Health) and Pharmacare
  4. UBI needs to be on the table.
  5. Raising the Corporate tax rate back to 14% (and tehn indexing higher rates to market share of the company, for many small businesses are incorporated so we have to understand that nuance).
  6. Investment in R&D and implementation of alternative energy sources for Canadian climates
  7. Econimic Diversification
  8. Paid sick time for the worker
  9. Affordable daycare, the idea of sliding scale from 0-$25/day dependent on income, or better yet simply free, plus a tax break for families that can or need to have an adult at home for their child (oh and we truly need this system to be 24-7, as it needs to align with the economic world it is there to support).
  10. All these things being shown to corporations that it removes these costs from the business’ bottom line so it is more profitable to do business in Alberta.
  11. The biggest discussion, as many over 45 years old are shut of the labour market due to liability, we need to have a robust, fruitful and action oriented discussion around the atrocity that is the Worker’s Compensation Board, how to dismantle it, and what to replace it with that supports employers and employees equitably (and perhaps, a more effective partnership with EI disability).True Red Tape reduction.

To have these hard conversations, we have to move beyond polarization where our side can do no wrong. We have to question within our own movements, we have to engage the scholarhsip and thinkers on the other side(s). We also need at least 3 minotirty legislatures in Alberta to get the work done for new vision and dream casting. With the current known leaders, the best Premeir for the minority in my opion is Ms. Notley, but remember we have the other parties: Alberta LiberalAlberta Party , Green Party of Alberta , Communist Party of Alberta , Wildrose Independence Party , but it still comes back to the local candidate and their character, will they share who they are and why they want to be in public service- not simply be an electoral college vote for the leader (and yes I liked what CPC MP Michael Chong’s bill on reform had federally a few years back, we need to move that provincially and federally as a beginning point).

Just some thoughts, but with your cohorts, start the important conversations and blow clear the smoke, and wipe clean the mirror.s


Since I was allowed to stay up late on Tuesday nights as a little gapher to watch the re-runs on CBC, Star Trek has been a part of my life. The stories, the social commentary, the inclusivity, the knowing of a better future to come. Watching as the technology I have seen on the screen has slowly and then rapidly become a reality. Think of what our Smart Phones (even flip phones) are like communicators, and sometimes tri-corders (and the body scans we can do now, like their med-beds), during C-tine, our video calls I do feel like asking for hailing frequencies to be open on screen. As each new era of the first book of my life emerged, readers know certain stores have resonated from the original, to the Next Generation to Deep Space Nine (DS9) to Enterprise to Voyager, enjoying Discovery, Picard and Lower Decks (looking forward to Prodigy and Strange New Worlds). Yet it is the underlying theme of all belonging, and freely being able to pursue one’s passion as purpose that resonate at the core of the storylines.

Which is why, as this section moves towards a close, this Reading Week as an instructor has been intriguing for what has come into my feeds. Clicked on Crave to watch the next episode of Season 3 of Discovery, and there was a documentary “Woman in Motion” about Nichelle Nicholls (who originated the character of Uhura) and her work with NASA.

I encourage viewing for everyone, but I also encourage discussion and dreming after viewing. The documentary shares the story of Ms. Nicholls, whose Dad never believed in the word, can’t. She shared of being a teenager, and singer with Count Bassie’s orchestra. How the lead singer, a sultry siren, was no longer there, and she got the nod to take the lead imitating her predecessor during the set. At the end, Bassie came to her, and bluntly asked what she was doing? As well, to knock it off, she had actual talent, so sing. Could you imagine the same advice being given to a young woman in the music industry today?

See the source image

The story of her beginning to work with Rodenberry with a role on one episode of his show, “The Lieutenant” around racism, that was so controversial it has never aired. What began that day though was a friendship of deep discussions on importnat issues of justice. Rodenberry promising he would have something for her. What was that? In a show idea known as “Wagon Train to the Stars” that would become Star Trek. The character? One Ms. Nicholls would help name, Uhura, and create. For the command crew of the Enterprise, represented the mosaic of humanity plus a Vulcan. Though during the first season she would see her role continue to shrink to a simple catch phrase “hailing frequencies open” to the point of resigning. It was during this time, at an event, a fan wanted to meet her. She was tired, and did not want to, but the hosts kept pushing, The Fan- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the message, you can’t resign. The retort, who are you to tell me how to run my career. The rationale by Dr. King, it is the only show he allows his children to watch, that he makes time to watch with his children. She stayed, an African American Lieutenant, the commander of communications.

The story shifts to the convention era, where she met a person from NASA, as they were moving from the Apollo era to the shuttle era, and Ms. Nicholls, once again challenged the norm, for she pointed out she could not see herself in the astronauts. A visit to NASA revealed the rainbow that made space flight possible, but the actual astronauts had a selection bias, and there was 4 months left to go in recruiting for the program…and Ms. Nicholls was hired, one caveat, she did not want to be a mascot. She took in astronaut training so she knew what she spoke about, she also did not have NASA folks with her when she went on her recruiting talks, filmed her PSA’s for television and radio. 4 month, criss crossing the country, receiving threats of harm when she spoke out, challenging the military recruiting process, as she recruited civilians (and those in the military overlooked) to thousands of applicants to the first 35, adn the friendships she cultivated in there to the Challenger in 1986…\

But her message was simple, she saw something that wasn’t right, and wanted to make it right.

An underpinning of Star Trek, in spite of the Prime Directive. Striving for IDIC (Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations), a true courageous space for inclusivity. To move beyond the societal “isms” that were explored in Star Trek Deep Space Nine episode “Beyond the Stars” where Sisko, is back in time as a writer in the 1900s:

Sisko was the writer Benny Russell, who the readers believed was white. The world was very much polarized by colour, at least in the powerful money hands. This is the world that the bridge of Uhura challenged. This is the world that Star Trek in its IDIC continues to challenge, while cultivating critical and ethical thought processes.The shared extended metaphor of Bajoran-Cardassians, in the age of Reconciliaiont, of Settlers-Indigenous. And inspiring folks to discover their passions and pursue them. This is how I shaped the episodes and movies to be used in my teaching with youth and young adults, from exploration nights in youth groups, youth centres, young adult studies, discussion nights, oh and one fun confirmation cycle. It was a pleasure on Friday February 19, 2021 during a video conference out of Costa Rica linking the world (very Trekkie) to be able to thank one of the actors, who states she is a storyteller, Nana Visitor (played Major Kira Nerys in DS9) for the stories that inspired and have been used to inspire so many.

May be an image of 1 person and text that says "TeC ”R Rica Tecnológico de Nana Visitor Friday February 19, 2021, 6pm Costa Rica AORNN SPACE"

A friend and former colleauge in journeying with those in life recovery and exiting homelessness to home, is now at home in Costa Rica cultivating his own passions around space exploration and community building as a teacher. This was a conference part of TEC. The exciting news that kicked off was Costa Rica adopting their own Space Agency (after a long history of working with NASA, and some excellent books co-authored by my friend, Bruce Callow). Their initiatives around education and STEM that has seen them in schools outside of Costa Rica (including Calgary), and having cameos with the books at the last Vul-Con before c-tine (and as rumours/bills from the Town Council of Vulcan the last focused event such as that).

We then shifted to an incredible and inspiring talk by our storyteller. Ms. Visitor shared about those great moments of entering The Flow. That is that moment when everything aligns, and it no longer feels like struggle or work, just going and what amazing things happen within a team when that moment is realized by a team. I have had the pleasure of experiencing those moments in my own writing and teaching, but also in community builidng and spiritual direction with the teams and communities we were a part of, an dyes it is powerful. The challenges thrown out that the way work is done needs to change, understanding work as a person with nothing outside the work is unhealthy and wrong. We need to cultivate a world that allows for healthy balance with work and life, and watch the miracles roll out, just think we have gotten this far with the broken system, how much farther could we go with an unbroken system?

Of course, there was talk of the power of representation within Star Trek, Ms. Visitor sharing when she first read the character of Kira, she thought it was a man, because rolls like that did not exist in the early 90’s for women. And when she found out it wasn’t, she wanted it. She shared on her Women of Trek project, interviewing the actresses who have played the powerful roles. The hope of Ms. Nicholls health holding so after c-tine she will be able to interview her in person for the book/documentary. This was one of the greatest moments, as there was the allusion that inclusivity also involves mental health and disabilities for pursuit of passions. As the character of Tilly in Discovery was brought up, for she is brilliant, yet can be crippled by anxiety, and she is important to show, that we can still be who we are in experiencing the world, and chase our passions.

Which leads us into a reflection for this first weekend of Lent,

If inclusivity was the norm

If you could live your dreams/passions

Who would you be?

*Guess what– that’s who Creator made you to be.

For more on Nana Visitor, read Bruce Callow’s article here.

My Facebook message after the event:


I will admit, my heart is raised a little in the ongoing free fall of the United Conservative Party with just shy of 2 years in office, the billions they have added to deficit/debt, the lack of response to aid citizens in a world wide pandemic, one scandal after another, one crisis after another, and the missteps, the constant barrage of negative change patterns to benefit the corporation not the citizen. The actual anti-thesis from lived experience in the New Alberta, and reporting, for the constitutional promise of Peace, Order and Good Governance. For some light reading on what got us to this point, and where we are at for those who do not toe the line of the party in power I suggest you read: The End of Alberta Conservatism, A Word to my Haters, and Laying it Out (for a quick primer). We are living, what the Wildrose Party (a source party for merger with the UCP), branded anger is (as one mentor of mine in ministry phrased it, he just could not see that much anger sustaining much good for the citizens). We are there. An election cycle in 2019, that saw the loudest voice in the room shape the life and economic recovery diversification discussion for a province, not one of vision and leadership, but rather of anger, fear, hate and a drive to reclaim what has once been.

The pitch worked. We are now living it.

I am not shocked where we are. My property was vandalized in many election cycles for not backing the anger. I have debated federal CPC candidates, who would not answer questions but simply read from their policy manual and repeat their then leader, Stephen Harper’s speeches. This is what came to Alberta for political discourse. In the local candidates forum, when the UCP candidate would not answer questions honestly–such as the opener as to why he personally wanted to represent our riding, he verbatim gave one of Jason Kenney’s speeches. A woman in the audience called him out, his party members started making threats, I raised my voice to call him and them out…the response from the moderator was silence for he could not understand why people wanted an answer. The response from the newly minted UCP faithful was to threaten my children, to state “we’ll fight you in the parking lot”. Some media spoke to me, I spoke honestly and from the heart as I always do about what engaged citizenship, and being an Albertan means to me and how this party and their behaviours were an anti-thesis to a healthy democracy, not much if any was published as the take was I was an “NDP Plant”, though my local incumbent could tell you I had not given any support to him.

See, there was change in 2015 with the NDP as the new governing party. Yet, the same challenge for me locally happened then, as with this new UCP MLA, neither of the MLA’s would respond to any communications. Mine in the NDP government was an anomaly, what I am hearing more from Albertans is with the UCP it is the normal practice. One should not have to only communicate with Cabinet Ministers, opposition MLA’s, or as one former colleague suggested, reach out to UCP MLA’s I used to work with to talk as they’d respond (the idea is based on a pre-existing relationship) which isn’t how our system is to function. An MLA is to respond to the citizens.

Then the litany of things to harm citizens, and why one asks? Is it blind ideology? Profiteering? All of the above? One thing is certain, with the constant barrage what it is designed to do, is strip away, or simply break one simple thing we need to thrive (instead of survive), that word: H-O-P-E. It is lost with a government whose actions are literally a threat to life, home and livelihood. Many are calling for our Premier Kenney to resign, that does not give me hope. He has a large caucus that has run roughshod without accountability, no, I do not want a leadership race to give this jalopy a fresh coat of paint before a snap election to continue the cycle. I want a one and done, with each of these incumbents to face the electorate on their record.

So is it hopeless in Alberta?

See, in the world of life recovery, which is where Alberta is in with this great shift away from oil and gas. It reminds me of the hard working person, that didn’t have to worry about budget or other things because they could always put in the overtime to make the gaps or cover the shortfalls, until that one day when either the over time or their physical ability was no longer there to do that. That is what our mismanaged citizen’s resource is at now.

Now it is a time, as the last gasp of the old oil oligarchs, as another colleague in Reboot Alberta, phrases it. Our quiet revolution in Alberta is not just about the last gasps of Christendom, but corporation control as well. See I find hope not just in the falling polling numbers of the UCP, I find hope in what this means for our political discourse heading to the election in 2023 (if Premier Kenney holds to the election law, sadly he can also do what PM Harper did in his tenure, and hold to the Constitution instead, which means 2024). Yes, with the way the televised debates are shaped it is looking like Mr. Kenney and Ms. Notley as we are currently a two-party province for elected representatives. But it is the other parties that can leverage the local. Strong locally involved community members and leaders, not parachutes, not just vote tick boxes for the leader’s office own personal electoral college. Let’s bring back the independence of the representative within the Westminster system.

Let the parties know you expect engaged and active candidates, encourage independent candidates as well. We have a chasm that needs to be healed in our province, we need to re-open dialogue with citizens and move beyond labels. This is the part smaller parties can play in engaging the citizens. Shaping the importnat discussions on policy for all Albertans and showing the spectrum of ideas out there to cultivate a move forward plan, a vision cast.

A plurarlity of seats for a plurality of parties and independents, released from party whips to see if they can actually work together. Build consensus, and work together to re-imagine and reboot Alberta for the next 100 years. Yes, I would love to see a few minority legislature terms as a palate cleanse from the 40 years of Tory Rule, and the toxicity of 2018-present (and yes, the passion and leadership to guide that minority I believe is Ms. Notley). One where public servants truly understand they serve at the pleasure of the constituents, but also where our Premiers, truly understand they serve not only at the pleasure of their party, but of their caucus and the gathered Members of the Legislative Assembly.

Essentially, break the echo chamber.

Create the courageous safe space to work together.

To dream and realize a new province.

These are the parties that have the ability to bridge the chasm, especially as many are in renewal of policy, rationales as to why they exist, in listening exercises on how to build connection and belonging, electing new leaders:

Alberta Liberal, Alberta Party , Green Party of Alberta , Communist Party of Alberta , Wildrose Independence Party

These are the active players on the board, outside the two. They have an opportunity to dream big, to empower local candidates, and to move our province forward by shaping the discussion at the local constituency association, local communities, local candidate forums a true grassroots up change factory.

The question is, is there enough energy for Albertans to engage with these parties, for the politically homeless to come to a home, and begin restoring, renovating and landscaping for the now, but also for seven generations from now?

Is there hope for and in Alberta politics? The power is within your community.


It could be my 335th edition of ecclectica in all its itirations in life, but truly, it is reflecting more of the 335th day of the current exisence. Some days to bring together thoughts, and things of life in the here and now. Before we shift into what life should be through some reflections I just want to share something cool from a friend, and a former colleague, a dreamer living life building community. During c-tine many have been discovering Star Trek Deep Space Nine on streaming services and being astounded they did not know about the complexity, characters, and discussions that leap from every episode, and so compelling and applicable to our curent world. Bruce Callow, as part of his work in Costa Rica and science/space education was able to sit down and interview Nana Visitor (Kiera Nerys) from the show, read the Costa Rican Times article here.

Our road map as a photo collage, we have touched on living dreams to make the world better, and understanding how life experiences shape a person with our interview with Ms. Visitor. Now we move into the ecclecitca, which includes touching on different topics. The highest streaming in North America is of course, that a President whose words, actions and machinations that incited an insurrection where 5 citizens died could be acquitted at his second impeachment trial. It is some what of a commentary on our world, where accountability is only for some, and not reserved for those who scream “persecution” the loudest.

It has become a staple within the Right to Al-Right to Fascist to Neo-Nazi end of the political spectrum. As the right moves further along the spectrum (which when I was a public school student, was taught in school, but currently is not taught as teachers fear being labelled ideologues and lose their job. The result: a less critical thinking electorate and citizenry). The left which goes from Left to Socialist to Communist to Dictatorship to Stalinist is pulled further into the right end of the spectrum, for nature abhors a vacuum, and so does our political ideological entrenching, the chasm being created is one where many are left politically homeless. Where those left politically uninspired either become apathetically complicit for not voting, or do to the rage on one side or the other enter into a highly dualistic co-dependent relationship with an extremist ideology, that has to be completely good as the other side has created that it is evil, and then we are in the shouting match that with a simple match, the tinders can incite violence.

This was a chance in history, for the supposed leader of the Free World, to re-assert the need for healthy dialogue, for holding to account hate and extremism. Instead, they collapsed under the pursuit of power, and shoring up territorial biases and bases. It was a commentary touched upon recently in Canadian politcs by the Rt. Hon. Joe Clark (read article and link to podcast here), where some key points to be extrapolated is that our political leaders of all stripes have become more social media performers, than thought leaders. We as a nation need to demand better, we need to move beyond territorial entrenchment, and party-colour belonging, to push all our national parties to actually be pan-Canadian, to look at what is needed for our nation as a whole. To vision cast, to move beyond the tweet-byte, lay out a vision/dream. To take seriously the character of the local representatives that are running and serving, do they serve all Canadians and their constituents? If it is only serving the party line, then it is a systematic failure. It creates group think, that makes accountability only faux-shows, where parachutes are aligned after the smoke and mirrors. Or accountability is non-existent as we see in Alberta with MLA Barnes & Pitt joiing the Anti-Lockdown Caucus propagated by the People’s Party Maxine Bernier, a party known to overtly affiliate with the Neo-Nazi’s of Canada, and to be blunt the politicians that affiliate are creating streams of disinformation, and wreaking havoc on governments (many they are in the governing caucus’ of) to get traction on a pandemic (and we shall touch on the epidemics of opioids, meth and homelessness in a second).

Which the silent complicity of party leaders not kicking these members from caucus, leads to non-accountability as we saw on display this past Saturday Feb. 13 at CF Chinook Mall with anti-maskers marching through the mall hoping to spread covid, and comparing restrictions as making them the “new Jews” which opens up a whole lot of “WTF” in my mind that we have allowed once again mainstreaming of anti-semitism and the hate that perpetuated a holocaust only 80 years ago (the lifespan of many that are losing their lives in our pandemic currently). Yet, no ticketing, no arrests. Why?

We have created a world, where the smoke and mirrors of personal rights and performance creation of victimhood/persecution lead to 0 accountability. We have stripped the interdependence, as we make each side the other, and the villain. Instead of entering into dialogue. Having said that, I do state clearly when it comes to where the spectrum connects on Facism/Naziisms-Dictatorship/Stalinism, that needs to be called out. Though, we truly need to understand what that is when it is called out, so that the authentic is placed in the cell of silence it belongs in, and the impact of those terms are not destroyed by screaming it at every point we do not agree upon.

Which brings me into the reading of Irshad Manji’s (2019) Don’t Label Me, as a queer-Muslim writer, she has a dialogue with her beloved pup, Lil, about the state of the world. The challenge being revealed, is that we lose ourselves in labels which perpetuate stereotypes, and do not allow us to meet the person to see who they actually are. It is within her words she shares about moderate Republicans she has met who do not hold to the MAGA/Q Cult. She also shares about her own journey in faith, and the push back from other progressive quarters of atheism that do not want to hear the word faith even on things as innocuous as Facebook, taking offense that someone should not share that for fear of offense. It really is a call to keep ourselves safe, but also to get to know our neighbour and understand the anti-fascist, anti-rascist movements in the light of the impact on the other they have. There is a great story she shared of two friends in Missisipi and the move to change the flag, one a hip-hop artist, who speaks their truth to the symbology and the pain it brings, another, a man in the Confederate lineage that does not see a problem with the flag on their part. But then astutely shares, the hip-hop artist is their friend, and it causes pain, so “I have a choice, to take action to remedy, or not be a part of the change conversation and play the victim afterwards”. A proactive entering into discussion.

As a writer, I appreciate labels and stereotypes. When working a work of fiction they allow for a quick visual or quick reference words to create a word image for the viewer, yet we are living in this world where everyone is defined by the labels and no one wants to move beyond the label to meet the person underneath. Would we be able to shift our world to a better place if the more moderate on the spectrum connected and found the common ground once more? Built the bridge across the chasm that has been created by the extremists?

For it is the fear induced by the extremists that continues to perpetuate the hate and systematic racisms/injustices in our society. For the purity test on the other extreme just leaves them to default to where they are okay with the norm, instead of creating space to accept in the journey of life a person learns and grows and changes.

This is the message that resounds in the closing chapters of DC Comics’ New 52 Superman. In his final days, where a perfect tri-fecta has left him dying, he sets out to live the hope of his symbol until his last days. To try to lay the groundwork for it to continue. My question though, is do we have to wait until we are in a dire circumstance? Until the match has been lit again and people are dying? Until we are in the last days of life, to understand what it takes to create a legacy? Or can we simply leave each day knowing we have a story, and others we meet will have a story…

This is the challenge when individuals look to government policy as the silver bullet or cure solution. The challenge being in our current world of entrenchment, and each side needing to be able to claim the “holy and good” side, or to the spoils go the victor, much is missed. Framing the idea of ending homelessness. It is a broad and hard topic that hits the grieving of change vectors of individuals and communities. The first challenge is one has to understand how we have done as a society, has been okay, but in the first part of the 21st century decisions made have left many in poverty and homelessness and this is not okay. It is okay to admit we have made a societal mistake and want to move on. It is about being able to bring fresh eyes/heart to something like UBI, where many trip up thinking it is another layer of government entitlements added to the system and this is what trips up on costs of– it is a replacment for the piecemeal approach to support, it is stripping away the money wasted on disproving claims and the appeals process, it leverages technology to simply be. It removes space for individual grants if one has a dream for a small business, and gives space to let that happen, for artisans to flourish, and create new dynamic spaces for meeting, discussion, critical thought, it provides the top up for minimum wage jobs so they become living wage, as the pandemic has shown, each role is necessary for our society to function. The fist step though, is allowing permission to admit the bias and misunderstanding, and accepting that all can change. To shift the discussion from yes-no, to how. But first we have to allow the ability to acknowledge mistakes and change at the individual, the instittutional and the system level.

Permission to acknowledge mistakes is one of the things missing from public discourse. It is what leads to the unaccountability for actions. See, mistakes happen, some big, some minor, and we have to accept the accountability for those actions whether they were intentional or unintentional. I teach my students, each time I pushed the boundaries of the rules or broke them, I fully and rationally understoon what I was doing, and knew that worst case scenario it could lead to unemployment, and I was okay with that. Each person needs to be. Unfortuantely this quest for profit and power over people, has created a world where we do not expect accountability (good or ill) for our actions. We also have created a world where we cannot openly admit mistakes, or when we struggle.

That ties into a blessing I received for a Christmas gift. The complete CBS series of Elementary on DVD. I am a Sherlockian (I belive that is the right term), as I was introduced to the stories first through the ol’ Basil Rathbone movies on PBS, then reading Doyle’s stories, and the comics, enjoyed RDJ’s Sherlock Holmes movies, and Cumberbatch’s Sherlock. But there was something about this imaginging of Holmes in the modern world, with his sober companion Dr. Joan Watson into America. Holmes as we meet him is a recovering addict (the usage is part of the original stories, but was always on the fence for the reader if it went from simple Subtance Use/Social Use to Misuse/Substance Abuse). There is a beautiful scene opening up the first episode of Season 2, with Holmes in a meeting, and he openly talks about his usage, and that he feels he was born 100 to 200 years late, as the world would have been so much quieter, and perhaps then he would not have been an addict. This is also the episode where we meet his brother, Mycroft, and begin to understand the interplay of family in recovery, and what happens for both sides to see the other in their new reality, with new hearts. This is the beauty of Elementary it’s authentic portrayal of addiction, recovery and reconnection. The use of not only purpose in the process of being a part of community, but authentic belonging.

As the life and discography of Johnny Cash would illustrate, purpose is about what resonates deep within us. Belonging is those authentic folks who we connect with. For Cash it was about the music, his faith, and more, the story of his wife, and how that connection turned his life.

This is where we miss the mark in society on our march to end homelessness. We hold it is about upper-middle class developer housing- a house or a condo or an apartment. It goes deeper than that. It is about belonging. The government monies and policies speak to capacity and stock in the system to allow one (or family to be housed), same goes for the donations to non-profits. Decades ago I helped in writing policy for the now non-existant Federal PC Party, that spoke of all types of housing stock to have 10% put on an affordable sliding scale to aid in the stock on affordable housing, which very few took up as it was seen as to out there as what would your neighbour think finding out they are paying this and you are paying that (what does it matter what each of us pays, as long as we are all in community in a healthy way). By providing safe housing, that is designed for the needs of community members, we remove external stressors on their determinants of health, by providing a UBI, which allows for housing and food security, we remove layers of stressors/traumas on one’s healthy that actually burden more expensive systems of care on the emergency response end. As one ages in place, the costs on the system align with other neighbours.

Then it becomes more complex, as it is about moving beyond labels, for what to do with neighbours that may be provocateurs? Disruptors? If they are breaking by-laws/laws, it does not matter if they have lived next door for 20 years, moved in from another community or exited homelessness. This is where accountability for actions matter. What is needed in community is free options for neighbours to connect and get to know one another, so we are able to know what is typical behaviour, and when they need us to be present. This is why public libraries are so amazing, it is the one space left in our Western World where you can exist without having your bank account value checked. It is why I love seeing religious groups opening their doors for community meals, space for neighbours to meet together. A universal approach where there is no means test to access, simply saying come and break bread together. What if community associations created the same space? Are there volunteers out there that would share their skills for knitting circles? Meals? Book clubs? A space for those that live in community to use to connect based on hobbies and interests?

What if this allowed for funding from municipalities so that the halls were not constantly driven for rental incomes, and become spaces to cultivate getting to know one another beyond labels?

Think as we head into our civic elections in Alberta this October, what dream is there for a healthy and robust community beyond NIMBYISM, beyond labels…what does it look like for authentic belonging for all? For connecting? For purpose that is not tied to simply work?

I bring this up because it is one of the quick arguments of some, as to why we have a means test and work so hard to keep people from accessing Alberta Works and direct to day jobs in construction (which devalues the actual skill set it takes for what is classed as unskilled casual day labour, trust me, if my Dad, a general contractor and Master Electrician is aiding me on a DIY in house, it works, to my own skill set not so much). I am an Albertan and do not believe this ludicrousness. The entitlement is there for those in need. Not once they have cashed out all their savings and retirements then help. It is there for help. Say what we will on the back end of sorting out CERB and the possibility of taxation for those that made too much, at least those who needed it got it. See what shifts when we look at supporting one another in need? Not simply, trying to root out a fraudster?

See the source image

Same in our systems of housing, of care– why so much added trauma and stress to access the supports needed for physical, developmental or mental health?

Why not a robust system to allow for thriving, where we trust the family doctors and specialists that what is being asked for is needed?

Imagine how different our world would be?

See, Johnny Cash, found his belonging in his faith…

Others find their belonging through hobbies, interests, politics, philosophies, their faith. As we have moved into more commuter communities we have lost the local connection. We scream shop local currently, but miss a deeper point for health on the other side of c-tine:

Live Local.

For when we live local. When we connect, and know one another’s stories and journeys. It becomes truly hard to stigmatize, or live in fear. We can move through the grieving of change together. For it is in moving forward in understanding root causes we can truly make a difference.

It is in being present, that we live out the evidence.

For in that prescence with one another, we have to see the intrinsic value of our neighbour. The instrinsic value in human life, no matter what path brought you to that shared point of view with so many. Which shifts the discussion then from either or in solving our substance abuse epidemics of opioids and meth, to focus on the person behind the substance and their story. It leads us to understand for some the path is abstinence, for some it is harm reduction in the healing. It is a necesary spectrum, for as each person has intrinsic value, and are the protagontists of their own story, so too does each have a path of healing that touches on the tools of systems, theories and practices we try to create our own silos and chasms with. Instead of understanding, oh so simply, regardless of the theoretical label placed on the tool, it can be adapted for the person before us. The neighbour only finding away to numb the pain or silence the chaos.

Connecting.

Belonging.

Purpose.

Ideals that overlay so many things in our lives. That when truly sought, we can begin to accept the different paths to the same community. When sought healthily so many underlying causes can have truth spoken into them, space held, and reconciliation lived into.

Yet, it begins with you and me, not as an I, but as a We.. Your decision. Your choice. Your voice.

Become…

Our reconciliation. Our dialogue. Our decision, Our choice. Our voice.

See the source image

We as a world are changing gears and being stuck in the cycles of grief most congruent with anger and denial. I believe, and have observed, as it is the only thing that makes sense for the rise of hatred, and entrenchment in our world that for my side to be right it must be wholly good, and the other side needs to be completely evil, and the majority that usually exists in the pragmatic middle in most belief/ideological spectrums need to be viewed as weak, traitorous or complicit. Those are some political thoughts as we are hopefully at the end of the Polar Vortex here in Alberta, with normal winter returning. Another sign, that the environment is trying to keep us moving slower to allow for space for more healing, I mean, the pandemic hasn’t slown us. In fact it has illustrated the rise of faux labels we apply for prestige or perhaps, attempting to cry persecution for what is simply accountability and expectations of good citizenship. The current thought world of dualism, has created this weird space, where we so desperately want to assert our independent rights, but do not want to take on the interdependent communal responsibilities that come with those.

When I would speak on the history of povery and homelessness in my province, it was a key challenging question I would lay out to the first year students:

How did you get here today?

Many would postulate good grades, and hard work. I would stop them short and challenge them, did you appear fully grown and educated? Was there no adults who provided guidance and the necessities of life for you? Did you build your own house? Dig your own sewers? Treat your own drinking water? Grow your own food? Write and publish your own textbooks? Train your instructors? Build the school?

In the literal sense, one of the few times I like using the literal, did you pour the road? Make the bus/car? Drive the bus?

You didn’t?

But you had just told me that you got here through your own hard work, nothing more?

It is a simple truth our world has lost. An understanding of community, at times such as now, a leaving behind of the before times that perpetuated this fallacy, it should be a moment of renewal. Yet… fear that drives anger and denial… stops us…and creates more chasms between, silos, and perpetuates things such as the QAnon CULT (yes, cult, not in the anthropological senses of any religion, but rather the 20th century mainstream understanding ala NXVIM, Branch Davidians, Raelians, Moonies, Jonestown) all the pieces that perpetuated those tragedies brought to life online, and to bear on Jan. 6 with their faux Messiah, Donald Trump, still flexing his rage muscles against accountability at his impeachment trial (but shouldn’t this also be a criminal matter? The world is watching).

But it touches on what has been noted in Alberta during the pandemic, yes some decisions can be and are driven by the science (though lacking the transparency of knowing the CMOH recommendations fully to the UCP governing caucus this is an unknown). What is apparent is there are pockets within our province, that keeps talking personal responsibility and education in regards to restrictions, 333 days in it is time for accountability. Whether the small pocket of church or business or Member of the Legislative Assembly (alohagate, Anti-Lockdown Caucus to name but a few), need to be held to account. Business and non-profit licenses pulled, the full organizational ticket levied, coupled with those in attendance receiving full charges and tickets for breaking health orders. In regards to the MLA’s that do not comprehend crisis leadership, communal support, and health orders, they need to be expelled from Caucus. FULL STOP.

Yet, we live in a bizzarro world, like an elementary school playground that plays appeasement for the bully, instead of accountability.

For some, they will point to trauma awareness or being trauma informed. Both these lenses are highly important for creating the courageous safe spaces for healthy change and healing of a world on pause. Wondering and readying for re-imergence and knowing what has been shown as smoke and mirrors of our society before. What these lenses do not stop is accountability. They do not let one now have repercussions for actions. They aid us in understanding the actions of the person, and how to support them in the accountability for what they have done. The appropriate applications of these lenses in our public schools would have continued the powerful work of WE Days and Challenge Days in Anti-bullying, creating healthier and safer communities, instead of tying the hands of those responsible for shaping the future of our youngest citizens and leaving the bullied with the bad maxim “snitches get stitches” as they know what they share there will be no aid. A true shift needs to happen, and not just policies and false platitudes, actual resourcing and capacities needed.

Just as we need in our public health system in the prevention to treatment to cure of all that falls under health umbrella for holistic beings (emotional, physical,spiritual and mental)–or as some may see it, a Medicine Wheel, as our Indigenous siblings would guide us away from a quick triage model to an interdependent living and healing model.

Which bounces back to the yo-yo effect of open schools during a pandemic, without proper resourcing. This is not only speaking to PPE, or staffing to lower class numbers to allow for breaks, and proper distancing. It is the rolling effect of quarantine of classes after exposure (reactive measures), the lie of resilience being put forward on our children. Yes, they can be, but true resilience, well watch the brains….

See? Understand? We are creating the space for perpetuation of a complex trauma due to our desire for Twitter byte driven policy and practice decisions as adults. Instead of actual robust discussions, and reality of what is needed to ensure health and true resilience within our youth, and the adults that support and facilitate their learning. The key reason I hold, is this drive of grieving where we are lost in this tantrum like a toddler, of “my rights” instead of “our community responsbilities to one another”…

The fatigue is showing, and so is the strain, and the ripple effects. Most notably with my boy, I do not blame his school, he was on recovery day from some of his neurological conditions with barometric pressure changes and missed school. On that day he missed, his very secure cohort for medically complex kiddos was exposed. His support crew in the cohort, and the larger school are exhausted (we know and feel this). We were not called as he was not there that day. In the actual protocols this was appropriate. In a system with proper capacity (seeing the actual human supports necessary for thriving, not the false argument on human services as a debit on the lie of debit-credit household budget banksheet budgetting for governance that our Conservative populist governments try to push), there would have been enough fresh eyes to make the call to those that were not there. For those that were not there, still had a choice, to understand it was safe for their child to come, but that they would have 1 aide, and be by themselves in the classroom connected to the others via video conference. The call was not made, my son went to school, he came home, and the first thing stated to me was “they all died” and then later “I don’t want any more dead buddies”. See, in my son’s lived experience, when his chums go missing for a few days from school, he has learned at his young age, and about 16-18 times, they are now at the Tea Party in Paradise (our analogy for death, and the afterlife, our tradition calls Heaven, we created when our kiddos experienced the loss of their Granny at 5 & 6 years old).

See where proper interdependence creates robust health? Creates space for calmness? For healing? Space, where trauma is minimized, and healthy choices can be made. In the case of my son, it could have been proactive discussions on what school was to be like, or to keep him home and function with the rest of his class online. Instead we are now in a fear and grieving cycle that disrupted his learning and kept him home for the 2 days before the Teachers Convention break, and we have made the choice he will return to class when the class does.

There is no malice. We as a community are in uncharted territory, and mistakes happen. The difference between a mistake and harm, is the intent.

Which leads me to share a simple reflection from reading this week of James L. Gorman’s (2017) Among the Early Evangelicals: The Trans-Atlantic Origins of the Stone-Campbell Movement, for those unfamiliar with this version of Christianities it is collectively known as the Restoration Movement (Churches of Christ, Christian Church, Disciples of Christ, and my undergraduate alma mater, Alberta Bible College). The book explores the formation of the founders, and their, what is classed historically as primitive, but read through a 21st century eye…ecunemical. The movements within missionary societies, key traditions/denominations (what corporations would call brands) such as congregationalists, Anglicans, Presbyterians, Baptists, etc. coming together on core values to accomplish, in this case evangelizing and building the Kingdom. It also touches on the challenges that began to arise, as the focus narrowed, and it became more about, what kept others out (perceived heresies) rather than what bonded.

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Made me ponder, as we move through c-tine, and I re-affirm a calling to ministry (and some equipping to come, your prayers are appreciated). Through things such as the Religious Right, Alt-Right, QAnon, other conspiracy theories,Domnionist, anti-masks, anti-vax, anti-lockdown, sadly- white supremacist and Neo-Nazi movements, MAGA that have all become aligned and affiliated with evangelicalism and Christendom (the term for Christianities tied to political power, Empire since Constantine). That is even before we touch on the horrors of Jehovah Witness, Mormon, Roman Catholic and Quiverfull child abuse scandals, Fundamentalist Mormon trafficking across borders of minors, Residential Schools, Truth and Reconciliation for the heresy of the Doctrine of Discovery and Dominionism., and Churchtoo (ala Willow Creek, RZIM, Southern Baptist Convention, and the list goes on). Obviously some labels and brands are broken beyond recovery.

To paraphrase a teaching of St. Paul, if a name on a building or a label on a baptism certificate causes one to stumble (or a chasm be opened)– perhaps, it is time to let it go (and can you tell Frozen was played a lot in the house). As we move through c-tine, worshipping and connecting at a distance and online what is to be on the other end? Is it things such as Conservative or Orthodox? House? Institutional? Liturgical? High? Low? Primitive? Evangelica? Pentecostal? Baptist? Anna-Baptist? Emergent? Progressive? Creation Spirituality? Anglican? United? Victory? Red Letter? Salvation Army? Monastic? Gnostic? Mystic? Methodist? Alliance? Missionary? Holiness? Lutheran? Restoration? Missing any? (Probably quite a few).

But what if, we take a lesson from those who came to be in Jesus company back in the writings of the Gospels, or as reflected in Gorman’s work, or really the stories of saints and others. It is rarely an independent faith of one modality or formation. Rather it is interdependent community (family, chosen, sometimes biological) to grow in and with.Which brings me back around:

The challenge in church, is the same grieving as with society.

As we move forward, let’s draw the circle wide. Let’s grieve the loss, the change, the Transfiguration and then boldly step into it, not as fractured brands, but as a means together in renewal.

For me, what hit my heart as I thought of what can come as we let go, and prototype, a new term came clearly into view for the church ahead:

The Divergents.

Let’s become a beacon of healing, and doing life differently. Authentically, together in community, in the beautiful rainbow splendor of the Imageo Dei. Be the soul, that we were called to be for and of our world.

This past week, many have hit the c-tine wall. Lockdowns in some areas, restrictions in others, seeing neighbours die, and wondering if something will shift couppled with the sweeping cold of the polar vortex pushing us more into hibernation. One begins to wonder, ponder and mull.

As we rest in c-tine, what is the still quiet voice revealing about your experiences?

What calling is on your heart, and are you ready to step into it?


All to often we let the day to day needs for survival (whether it is actual needs or wants being driven to be filled, and the socio-econimic/psychological discussion around this component of what is colloquially called the “Rat Race” can be explored later). We focus on entitlements in our world designed to keep people out of help, rather than looking at our taxes, and the funds to aid those in need be specifically and easily accessed by those in need when needed (and then leverage our Canada Revenue Service at the other end to deal with the fraud or any income overruns). That has been exposed in c-tine as many have now had to access the system of government entitlements (whether montly stipens, grants or other aides) and realizing what the neo-liberalist conservative world has built. In some sectors, under the faux guise of a cross or crucifix. Yet at each turn, with many left behind, we have celebrated our public servants. Yet, we have believed that what matters more than anything is debit and credit columns on a budget spread sheet, not the person in front of us, regardless of the challenges/barriers/blessings in their life, has intrinsic value.

Intrinsic value, simply because they are human. No matter how you reach that truth- through religion, spirituality, ethics, morality, politics, science or all of the above. Yet, it does leave us a question then what does matter?

Why does this matter?

Think of who you are. How you exist in the world. The world does not have to be the globe (yes, flat earthers, it is a globe/sphere), but can be as small as the communities you live and work in. Think of how you introduce yourself. What are the things that you include in your introduction? Is it labels? Is it roles? Volunteer work? Paid work? Education levels? Family ties? Where you came from? Where you live? What you believe in? What your core values are? Hobbies? Interests? Political leanings? Religious affiliations? Does where you are asked to introduce yourself shift the introduction? What pieces of you does society view as having value to share? Is it true?

Why does this matter?

It speaks, much like how we qualify to access the social safety net, how we place value on one’s life, and our own. Are we simply human capital in the capitalist economic enterprise? Are we simply the good we can do in the world? Or the harm we have or may cause? It becomes harder to understand, especially in moment to moment life where the ground underneath us can feel like it is constantly shifting. It raises the importance of ongoing reflective practice. It is about understanding who we are, and in the still quiet moments, understanding that there is an ideal self we can attain and a journey to become, but also, there is the ideal self we are in the here and now living and being our life based on experience and the professional and personal circles of support around us.

But how to reflect, every so often it is good to think long game. What do we want to be remembered for. Some will point to death markers like tombstones and point to the dash between dates and ask “what does the dash represent?” In other words, what happened in the time on earth? For, I will be honest, with each death I do reflect on my beliefs around death, during c-tine there has been 8 that I know of in my circles. All I know for sure is there is a continuation to our story, but what that looks like. Well, as the old joke goes, I am sure when I reach that new prologue, and meet the greeter, and discover, I will spend the first chapter laughing about what was held to be true in the here and now.

But I digress. See in preparation for ministry or monasticism or life coaching, there is the reflective practice of writing your own obituary. Distilling down what you will be remembered for into less that 100 words (they are expensive to print); in other human services fields in academics as you progress there is the practice of writing one’s own eulogy. Same sort of thing, but the ability to be more verbose, and expose life goals laid out. Maybe this is why my goals have always been so simple, centered on making my own corner of the world a better place, and being a voice for those without…perhaps it is due to the reflective exercise and the conciseness of the nature I was given in the formation of book 1 of my life.

Yet, as I would encourage these exercises for you, they can be a tad morbid during a world wide pandemic with so much death around us. Instead, take time to think, of what it will be like to turn 100 years old. A milestone where the Queen, Governor General, Prime Minister (and if you’re Roman Catholic, Pope) will send you greetings. A time to celebrate all that you have experienced over this life. As I have been blessed to be a part of a few of these momentous occassions, media also comes to interview. Features are written. Short 250 word pieces, with pictures of your school days. Take time to curate this, what picture from your grade school or trade school or post-secondary would be used? Maybe one from your very first work day? Or day as….

Then…what do those 250 words say. Who are you in the life ahead? What is the true core you that will be celerbated? That will inspire others?

Does it resemble anything that is used for our maudlin introductions in the here and now? Or do we completely miss the mark?

My guess, and experience…we miss the mark.

Because our ideal self is now. Our ideal self is becoming.

250 words on who you are at 100 years old?

Who is the true you?


“I think of one little buckaroo” – Gabby Hayes

The above quote is from Tuttle’s (2019) Exactly as you Are: The Life and Faith of Mister Rogers, and is part of a story of the early days where Rogers’ was a producer on the Gabby Hayes Show in the 1950’s and asking the lead, in they empty studio and with only Rogers’ there when he was talking to the camera what he thought of. It is a quote that opens up a reflection for me, in a life of community building. Where too often we can be side tracked by the numbers game. How many attended? Sadly, in some ministries, how many baptisms? How many confirmations? And completely missing the point of the one little buckaroo. What happened, happened, and who was meant to be in that part of the journey was meant to be in that part of the journey whether it was 100’s, 1000’s or simply, 1.

Which as I read Tuttle’s book, the reflections on my time in children and youth ministry, how the work I did, was counter to the prevailing ideas of the time (and still run counter to many of the prevailing ideas). See it doesn’t worry about serving those part of the established conclave or community, it doesn’t worry about reaching out to the broader community. It focuses on the welcome of the person that has stepped into the space, and being present to ensure belonging and discovery. It is not about flashiness, or about creating emotional highs through the use of images/music, or about events that excite. It truly is about belonging. These concepts tied in with dumping quite a bit of money into the idea of pre-canned curriculum can create a false sense of spiritual growth for the younger members of the faith family, yet a mark is missed at a community level for we are not building disciples, rather we are building consumers.

Which always did not sit well with me. Though I am the first to admit I was not raised in “proper church”. So that piece of indoctrination never took into the DNA. I was a part of a Vacation Bible School, which was focused on discovery of the stories and belonging, and had relatives that lived their faith that has led to a different lens when I first started out. The other piece is I never believed in the gender fallacy of it being weird if men stepped up to teach Sunday School or youth; or that there is a functional best before date when it comes to being a youth pastor (as I was continually past that) or that one would ever be too old to serve, it was up to the ministry to create space for our elders, and in so many ways it happened as 90 year olds in different settings would provide food and teaching or create the story telling space and then have youth aid taking the youngsters through the activities to reinforce the story.

But I digress, see it is about community, belonging and purpose. For other pieces that shaped my understanding was stories and television. As I reflect back there was pieces of Mister Rogers (though he was more my brother’s favourite than mine), but there was also pieces of learning to do things from my favourite show growing up that stuck- Mr. Dressup, who had worked with Fred Rogers’ before landing his own show in Canada.

Both shows took subjects, and spoke to children where they were at, included creativity, and other pieces that re-inforced the learning. They also both communicated clearly that you were already the ideal you and becoming the ideal you as your grew.

Which brings me to some thoughts on creating the courageous safe space for inter-generational discovery and learning with those 0-17 years old in our churches. I have already shared that which I did not buy into, and I can already feel those reading this going with the “yeah but”. The discomfort is okay. A quick aside, if you are using pre-canned curriculum it is not a time saver, you still need to invest time in your volunteer teachers/leaders on how to use the curriculum, roll with resistance, leverage silence, and create the courageous safe space for discovery.

This is the first step when gathering community. Create the Courageous Safe Space. It does not mean topics are avoided for safety, but rather how do we enter into the difficult conversations, how do we wrestle with ideas/concepts, how do we have respectful dialogue. This can be taken and crafted age appropriately, as you explore with the children or youth what it looks like to them, and provide some prodding or own ideas as well. It also gives a reference back as guideposts. I want to touch on the idea that some will just default to “Christian behaviour”; or something similar. This is the discomfort, for it is a subjective catch phrase– What does it mean? Unpack, wrestle with key teaching points (scripture stories) as pillars and what it looks like in action.

In cultivating belonging, a great piece of fun is naming the space. Take time to discover what names mean including members, then have them look at the courageous safe space, if someone was asking what was happening here what ideas/names arise? Move beyond the age groupings to what actually is (and yes this can be revisited each September, another aside, I realize many spaces use the outdated school year rhythm for children/youth, what I encourage and have shown each time, is that having these ministries open year round provide space for different learning activities, and different generations to engage, so yes September as a renewal, but not a re-start/boot).

Now, how do we teach/disciple?

For children, I love the concepts Patricia Bays’ (1997) shared in her Great Adventure. It is this rotational model, where there is 3-4 stations per story, and it takes a month to go through each story. Why do I like it? A superintendent or children’s pastor can spend time with core volunteers/families brain storming the stories. Then break it down into 3-4 teachings (for larger groups they can all be live at the same time, for smaller groups, I would have a station a week). The stations? Simple, share the stories and see what talents (passions/skills) emerge from the faith community to facilitate. This is where the idea of Elders’ chair came from as an elder in a church who had almost 80 years of teaching Sunday School but couldn’t keep up. We created space each month where she would read the story, and bring her ideas for song/activity, and then our youth partnered to ensure it happened (things like puppet theatre). Some may share ideas around age appropriate First Aid teaching (Good Samaritan). But yes, it is about creating belonging through connection of various adults within the child’s life.

Before leaping into youth, I do want to pause to discuss the courageous safe space, and what may appear at first blush as accepted safety. Sadly, not always. The concept of police/vulnerable sector checks for those that serve. Yes, these are a necessary step. I know some may balk as they are church members and “we know them” (but honestly how much can you know of someone?) and then some may dive full bore with even more restrictions (this is where gender/age/sexual orientation can be demonized in the equipping phase) as they see a pedophile within every adult. Neither scenario is helpful in creating the courageous safe space. The checks are in place as they weed out the scared/caught predator. Those that are scared of making anything official, or those already caught. It also creates a courageous safe space for conversation/equipping for volunteers (yes this training needs to be ongoing in the church) for adults, and Junior Leaders (more on those later) to understand what healthy boundaries, consent, the mandated adult/child ratio by government and duty to report are (and yes I have facilitated these trainings, and worked with churches in developing healthy policies). By normalizing these conversations, it also creates space for conversations that are open and courageous before and after the ministry with the correct and appropriate vocabulary.

Now with that intermission, we move into the idea of Junior Leaders, these are older youth (possibly Junior High to High School) that want to be involved in the nursery and Children’s ministry. It is designed for those who feel a passion to help, and are willing to work with the adults, learn, and serve. It not only creates a healthy intergenerational approach, but equips the leaders of now. The key is not to turn over running of the younger ministries to the older (for they are still growing as well), but to create healthy partnerships with the volunteers, and see what develops. For Grade 11 or 12 students I also expand Junior Leadership into Youth Group opportunities to officially bring them into leadership and learn/develop a skill set. The boundary conversation here is key, as with all leaders, but especially in pointing out that this step will preclude them from dating members of youth group as they begin to learn and understand authority, power differentials and the law.

Within the scope of Youth Ministry, the creation of Courageous Safe Space, naming of the community are key. Taking time, to ensure what is being learned in that night, and the activity portions tie together to re-enforce and take the message deeper. I have always used a balance of Salvation Army understanding of communion (eating together, even if its snacks); spiritual formation (learning and practicing different ideas/techniques of service, prayer and study); taking time each 1/4 to have the youth take time to brainstorm what books of the Bible they want to learn, and what topics they are curious about in learning how a gospel formed life understands/responds (which may lead to guest speakers); as well simple things of giving as I always loved a spare change jar where each month youth picked a cause to support. This way they learn about the good in their world, and get in the rhythm of giving.

Seeing how, regardless of the form (small community, or larger group with small groups break outs) there is a rhythm given of the call to reach through the thin space between here and the Kingdom of God, and learn to live out the bringing the Kingdom here. It is active discipleship. It is working with those who are called to be leaders, to learn, discover and apply the skills of discipleship and being spiritual guides for the youth. A ripple effect model of servant leadership. It is getting the leaders comfortable with hard topics, and when to pause the guided discussion, and dive deep when a hard topic is thrown out. It is never a simple throw away comment, youth are looking to see if we are living the courageous safe space we profess. Or as one put it to me, “seeing if you actually give a damn about me”.

These are the thoughts that emerge, as I reconnect with stories of others in creating community. As during this time of being a part, technology has been leveraged to keep us together. As we await the next steps, when we can fully be together. What has been heard in the still quiet time? As we emerge out of c-tine, is it about doing the same old same old, or igniting something new, that equips and grows one another?


Ah, it is astounding how many will flock to a political party or ideology because they state it supports their religious beliefs and freedoms. Regardless of the morals or ethical character demonstrated by the leaders or elected representatives when it comes to behaviours, abuses, bullying, frauds, etc. It does give clear case study examples of the last gasps of Christendom with the ventilator removed in the Christianities if you want a visual. Truly the Quiet Revolution of ending Empire Christianities is rolling nicely, and for those who are not driven by power but the Holy Call to love, it is renewing communities on what is important.

These last gasps are becoming evident and clearly on display as Covid restrictions to lockdowns are levied across the world, and what effect it has on worship gatherings. We are living in a time of real-time scientific learning and discovery, with a virus (and its mutations) that is doing what virus’ do, thrive for survival. This is why we are seeing push back. Too many have bought into the fact the church should have and/or still has power, is not bound by worldly laws, or that freedom of religion and gathering are no couched in corporate/communal responsibilities. This is also tied in with a rampant selfish individualism, and sadly, a perpetuated idea that the church building is God’s House. That is one point and place in time to connect with the Holy.

Now, pause. For, as everything else has to close, and churches (religious centres) were allowed to remain open (though with a less than 15% occupancy), is a political move from our government to set them up as a scape goat, and in some instances it is working. Sadly, the Shepherds and Sheep within the congregations living into this are not seeing it. Across Canada we have seen certain church’s flout the laws (and yes Health Orders are laws, and the way our system functions they supersede every other law). We have seen in Manitoba churches break gathering restrictions, here in Alberta two have joined a lawsuit, and one, Fairview Baptist, is just not getting it (and the local community schools are now having battles with the virus…) note how we do not exist in isolation. Decisions and choices matter. Though the attitude within some does not shock me, there is sociological, social psychology and theological reasons as to why. We have churches that exist on a spectrum that fall into 3 large categories: 1) completely online, 2) hybrid (online, with booked in person attendance in line with protocols) and 3) the law breakers. Sadly, the third category so far appear to not being held to full account within our province.

There is a key thing at play though that needs to be addressed for these communities, and one that is difficult. See it is not about the things alluded too around freedoms, or conscience, or individualism…the key cornerstone issue that needs to be addressed in our transfiguring Christianities as Christendom is finally placed in the grave, is the building.

Which is why I love the song shared earlier, some may say it is a song about rampant individualism and not getting the Gospel. Whereas I look at it as the circle being drawn wide, for the show, theatrics, false prophets are thrown aside, our numbers may be small, but it is authentic in US LIVING HOLY LOVE in our world and community, gathering in places and embracing them Holy. Not simply because it was purposed as a church. Now I am not against buildings, they are wonderful tools (same as money, same as our vote) to create a better world. To allow Courageous Safe Spaces for people to grow, serve, learn and discover.

BUT it can’t all be about the building. Too many wonderful faith family’s are on life support because the albatross of the building. Whether it has been deemed a historic site, and now they cannot pivot with it for needed modernization or simply the socio-economics of members have shifted and the ability to keep up with preventative maintenance has lagged. Yet it is amazing when you connect to discuss options, a congregation would rather disperse than lose their building and continue in a different way in community.

Let that settle in when we cannot understand why some cannot understand worshipping online or in other ways. It is that change is hard, change brings grieving, and hard conversations and discovery. It is easier to push back on the shift, than live into the shift. It is about discovering what each congregation is called to be, and it is not about the sin checklist, or about the smoke and mirror issues that politics uses to create block voting. It is simply about the Great Commandments- Love God, Love Neighbour, Love Self. True holy interdependence. One cannot exist in a healthy way, without the others. When understood a religious community’s response to their C-tine life shifts as well.

Now, with this understanding, that it is about people not buildings (or power or money, all useful tools but the love of each of these three corrupt and lead to evil) how does one’s heart shift on mission and life in c-tine?

As you hear the words of a new version of Tom T. Hall’s Me and Jesus is there something in there for your faith family wherever you are, however you gather, and live out your faith?