Faith. Hope. Joy. Peace. Love. These are the gifts of the Advent season. The awaiting for the brightest light at the darkest time of year. Regardless of the western religion that is adhered to, there are many foundation stories of this time of year.

Within the Christianities, Advent is the time to prepare for the Nativity, the manger, the creche.

The creche, the time end of the beginning of a new story if the community would only accept. One that was not told in blood shed. It is the story of a peasant girl, that the Holy Mystery came to directly for consent to carry a child. A woman who’s contractually obligated betrothed a labourer, Joseph was contemplating the “holy” choices of death by stoning or simply tossing her and the unwanted pregnancy out of bounds of the city (basically destitution and sex trafficking for survival). Divine intervention brought peace into Joseph’s soul, for he became enlightened to truly understand family was not about blood, it was about the existence within the Holy Mystery.  But that is more an aside, for the peace of the story is the story of a girl who had become a woman and created a scandal.

inuit nativity

Mary took a stand for what she believed to be true even though it contradicted everything she was ever taught. She took a stand with one simple word. A leap of faith to transform her world. A leap of faith to shatter the chains of oppression under the Empire and the Empire’s pets (Sanhedrin). It was a leap of faith her family and village/hamlet would be shocked by. For it was a leap of faith they could not see coming from their tribal-patriarchal understanding to one that was cosmic in scope that spoke of personal, communal and world transformation. It was not the warlords that had arisen around the country sides, it was not the zealots or other extremists.

mary

                It was one teenage girl who struggled through shattering the chains of her own oppression. Finding her inner strength. Her inner peace. To speak her faith. And let the divine feminine energy bring light into the world. A light whose teaching, life and actions would so scare the Empire and powers that they would lynch him.

She may or may not have known the outcome. But she knew her yes was the first step of a new world of justice, equality and love…or as the gifts flowed from the Holy Mystery of the time: Hope, Peace, Faith, Joy and the greatest of all, that Mary’s yes, and her baby boy’s life embodied in all that is holy:

L-O-V-E

How will you be Mary this advent?

For other thoughts on Mary:

There’s Something about Mary: A Liberation Theology for the 21st Century

There’s Something about the strength of her YES

 

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Unconsciously I must have known this allegory of me as Bionic Knight (read B.K. pulps here) was needed as 18 months of unknown physiological and neurological symptoms that two previous visits to ER saw everything come back as normal. Mysteries persisted and sick time evaporated, culminated in the ER cluster storm of my 39th b-day forward. A new reality that has seen symptoms evaporate due to attrition of time, not medical intervention while others persist. Yet it is in the writings of the story of a middle-aged hero that was my first super hero creation that I could begin to unpack what was going on within my own mind, heart and soul.

labyrinth

I love writing, as many who know me know… Whether it is fiction, non-fiction, poetry or plays I just love to share worldviews and percolate thoughts…I dislike recently after a good run the beating my own brain gives me as tonight I feel like I was on the losing end of a boxing match. And left outside in a winter storm. #neurolife (Facebook post from December 4, 2017)

brain-labyrinth

“4 months since 39. 9 weeks since “I can’t”.

and my faith broke.

For it is within the allegory of Super-hero we can honestly look at those that serve those in most need go through, without having to just yet look at our society in a mirror and go: we collectively decided that it was okay for this level of poverty to exist within our society, for our children, youth, young adults, elders, seniors and neighbours to live like this as we worshiped the zero-based budget.

Yet that choice, as with every choice, is like a pebble in a pond or a butterfly flapping their wings. No one can know what those ripples or wings will cause down the line, but know it is a question each of us most be prepared to ask.

It was easily summed up with these for words and punctuation many a time over:

Who is my neighbour?

stepping stones

And today we MUST continue to ask:

And how shall we live justly, safely and healthily together in community?

Where is hope found in my life?

How does my faith heal?

Advent of something new?

heart


It is interesting to spend time with Kevin Taft’s new book, Oil’s Deep State, on the same week Dr. David Swann tables Bill 214 in the legislature to reign in the havoc wrecked by PACs on our democracy. For it is PAC’s in my hypothesis that continue the deep state, and create new pockets of control.

The book explores the journey of oil. It will define for you the difference between a Petrostate (when the companies create the state’s infrastructure) and a deep state (when the companies seize control of the democratic institutions- government, crown corporations, bureaucracies, media and academia). It is intriguing in the book that he touches on the shift that happens with deep state. That shift being from the resource belongs to the citizens, to the resource is an investment for business and governments need to get out of the business of being in business (the transformation of Lougheed’s citizens first approach, to the Klein Revolution).

As with any Taft work it is readable, much like a newspaper, well referenced, touches upon history and ties together the threads like a good mystery. It is a work that one can use to inform their understanding, or as many an investigative journalist will say to find the truth follow the money. And Taft did follow the money to lay out the capture of our collective good by the 1% with deep pockets. There is a look to a greener future, but also a frank look at the loss to the citizen on how much has been taken from the land and resources during this capture that lined other pockets while citizens suffered (just look to the state of education, health care and the good buzz term for Albertans, the Heritage Trust Fund) and I do not even want to open the subject of our crumbling nuts and bolts infrastructure, the high debt load carried by the average Albertan simply to keep up to the affordability of life.

It is interesting to have read this work while following the Alberta Liberal feed spear headed by grass roots, vocalized by their leader David Khan (current by-election candidate in Calgary Lougheed) and the actual legislation tabled by the party’s only sitting MLA.  Now many will say will this make a difference with one person doing this. To those I point out Laurie Blakemen’s bill on GSA’s.  Every so often there is a spark lit by opposition.  When well thought out, researched and presented creates an ember. This is an ember that all parties need to get behind to fan into flames of change for our democracy.

The Deep State of big money running our politics needs to change in Alberta (and Canada). The PAC bill is but one step, I have written previously about other steps that can be taken. Remember citizens, we are guaranteed peace, order and good governance in our nation by our Constitution Act 1982. The regulation (and hopeful removal) of PAC’s is a starting pointing of reversing the capture and deep state.

Other things need to happen, but I encourage you to contact your local MLA and/or sign the petition here to press them to support Dr. Swann’s bill. Let’s continue positive change in our province, let us show that Albertans matter by showing that we want to have our voice back in our democracy.

-30-


How’s it going?

How are you?

Innocuous questions asked, that honestly no one truly wants to hear anything but good or getting better.

But then the white noise hits. For the last 48 hours, it can be as innocuous as the hum of a router, or Enmax doing something with the electrical lines in the alleyway or sound system feedback that triggers a cascade…or flashback to those warehouse ceiling fans. Apartment heating systems. Wind tunnels created in urban jungles…want to be safe raves that predators invaded. Amazing how it all sounds the same in memory’s ear.

whitenoise

Yes, I have time now to spend doing things I enjoy—with my kids, my wife, writing, reading—yet the focus it takes for a few scants hours spread out over days, if I get off lucky and it does not trigger different types of mystery neuro events— leaves me knocked for a loop and sleeping.

But why?

Does anyone truly want to know why? Some I am sure do. Some have stuck around and walk with us, some have returned that surprised, more surprising are those you have been there for that have up and broke contact.

Yet life if life.

“It’s my fault. I quadrupled capacity, fire me fine, but I will not judge who lives and who dies in a Canadian winter when I can find space.” 

For almost a decade our shelter system ran in states of emergency during winter time, this was parallel to years of prosperity for certain folks in the province.

How do you explain a rough day? When the neuro events are the simplest part even if the experts aren’t truly sure what it is.

How do you explain the rough days where you weep from a soul pain?

Physical pain like a bite that may or may not have broken skin. A torn up back muscles. Arthritis in the shoulder. Blow out knees. Spit in the face or scalding coffee. Death threats to knives held close to my own throat/stomach could have just as easily been a discarded syringe that may have poked into my skin.

Not a physical pain that is fed by years of trying to be a light for dark paths, or a lamp post to the light.  For hopelessness is not the absence of light in the darkness, it is the belief that there never will be light again in life. A minor spark.

The tears of healing on your shoulder from one who is finding home…finding self…finding belonging…place in a world of chaos and turmoil. Knowing their own intrinsic worth and value goes beyond codes, labels, and monetary value… they matter because they are human–my neighbour.

A minor spark once more. That for me was a passionate blaze to change the world, now is crackling embers not only in brain electricity, but on the heart. For a rough day also brings the sounds, the smells, the sensations of the past.

Church basements.

Fight the urge to request prayer because—well—how would they handle knowing the devastation of the helpers? For the work is to be its own selfless reward.

Under bridges.

Back alleys

Line ups taking names.

Body swinging.

Clicking of a gun.

The smell of combustibles and other narcotics thick in the air.

Miscarriages in washrooms. Girls in shock. Boys traded for sex. The succumbing of addiction to null the pain and the lengths one will go. Why would they see themselves as more than commodities when that is all their government sees them as?

Death rattles.

Death threats.

Cold hands.

Outbreaks.

Cold sweat.

Questioning if they would be loved in heaven.

brain-labyrinth

                LGBTTQ2+ communities disowned and cast out. Veterans- from allied and enemy nations. Child soldiers. Persons without country. Temporary foreign workers cast aside at capitalism’s whim. Men and women. Children. New born babes. Babies born into custody. Institutional releases—mental hospitals, general hospitals, child and family services…. justice system. Systems more concerned with the churn than with creating health in the community. A system of justice more worried about revenge than restoration.

Seniors. Elders. Survivors. Thrivers. Barely literate to PhD’s. Experts. Celebrities. Life takes a course correction. Resiliency wains. Grief. Sorrow. Overwhelm. Addictions found, addictions succumbed to. Survivors of religious abuse. Mental illness and mental wellness. Those who believe they are oppressed, those who are oppressed. Economic refugees. Environmental refugees. Refugees fleeing violence and to save their lives. New Canadians, First Nations. Those seeking the Alberta Advantage realizing the blight. Persons with disabilities.  In a few decades the “Common Sense” revolution and the province that was made will be judged by cultural anthropologists based on the treatment of the most vulnerable, the elders and the children? We will be found failures.

A thousand faces. A thousand labels. All to the same gathering. A true Canadian Mosaic.

The stench of evil in backrooms.

Using skills, words and actions to fight against persons becoming defined by debit/credit columns, codes and commodities to those who wield political and monetary power, wondering if deafness is in institutional genetics.

Having words and lies spewed against you as other scamper for power and to create hold over others.

Lines drawn in the sand to church boards, political parties, gangsters, politicians, believed to be friends/allies, dealers and traders in evil veiled by supposed goodness, rapists, pedophiles, and neo-Nazis.

Times after dark in offices, sharing life. Folks looking for hope.

Constant on call awaiting the worst for years not sleeping soundly.

Sharing words at memorials. Baptisms. Weddings. In visitation rooms in prisons. Speaking with patients with advance Alzheimer. Sitting in rooms in schools working with students to choose life over quick cash.

Fighting with communities that preach love and inclusion yet spend more time caring about money and buildings, and who/how to segregate those that aren’t pretty enough for their idols.

The pain of a child pondering why God takes his buddies.

Words of finality spoken as earthly life ends. Hundreds of times over.

Jingle of keys into a new homes door.

Hope the predators will stay away this time.

Going through tables.

Knuckles into body.

The burn of bear and pepper spray.

The throat closing with chlorine gas exposure and other mysterious chemicals.

A body that physically aches upon awaking. A mind that cannot be trusted to function as it always has been.

The past haunts the present. Freezing one from the future.

Watching new and old colleagues alike, thrive and feel pain.

Wondering the whole time of life at a crossroads…has it mattered? Has anything or anyone’s life been changed for the better?

Asking your neighbour—yourself— how goes it? Only matters if you are ready for an honest answer.

I may choose to walk into the darkness and make a difference. I may choose self-care. But then things happen outside of our control and it cascades down and what is left is reliving…not the joys of life’s triumphs…but what rends the soul into one’s own personal hell:

The failures. The times when you couldn’t. The times when you are left standing in the valley of the shadow of death in the many forms it takes—relapse, recycle, crime, abuse, trauma, assault, eviction, unemployment, and worse of all loss of hope.

So how goes the day?

Depends on the day. Depends on the moment of the day.

The challenge moving forward in each moment is to keep grounded, and know who I am.

I am in a good place in the world.

I have walked through darkness, and yes sometimes the light may not be there but I still hold to hope that the light will come—until that moment I don’t.

What doesn’t fade is the white noise that holistically blocks me to accept me.

That moment when even I will lie to myself that it is okay because what is staring back from the void of the soul is darkness in need of light. Light that begins not with a lie to myself, but with affirming that light and beauty exist in the world.

Just a moment of peace is what is thought in the soul.

Just a moment of peace that can be found when my brain cooperates.

Just want that moment…

                                To feel like me

                                                                Once more.

For I am sorry I am not there to save you…

My neighbour….

     Spiritual thought of the week of Hope:

In the liturgical season of Hope this week…light in the darkness. A line from JL movie last night– hopelessness is not the absence of light in the darkness, it is the belief the light is never to return (Lois Lane). So the journey is in finding a way for those without hope to believe the light will return—for some it is companionship, some mindfulness, some community, some spirituality/religion, some need psycho-pharmaceutical intervention or therapy, some need all of the above…but ya wanna know something– regardless of the solution the individual needs, we are all in this together, and without loving acceptance of one another just the way we are hopelessness wins…so take time this week to shine your light of acceptance and let hope win, eh?

John 1

 


The journey has been completed, with a new one to start in 2018. That is the book journey through Levi’s Aquarian Gospel. Section XXI brought closure to the circle of the journey of Brother Jesus, and laying out what is known in sacred teachings from time immemorial (and even some science). It is a new age text of universalism, that I encourage group exploration of the work to see connections, and how similar we truly are as people. It also speaks to the idea of metaphysics, which for those who may not know is the simple study of being (our next sacred text study will explore the Qu’ran beginning in 2018).

Many good conversations came out of the discussion, but one piece of text struck me. It is a tie back by the writer to the foundation myths of Genesis 1-11. Yes, they are myths, not because they are false or fiction, but foundation meta-narratives that share the why of existence (how is and should be left to science, but the why discourse begins and continues with our foundation and trans-formative myths). Within these myths is the story of Noah’s Ark. It is the story of world wide destruction. Yet after this event a rainbow of promise is placed in the air as the new creation starts.

Through the original sin lens the event is punishment. From original blessing, it can be seen as something more. It is the transformation of life that happens within each one of us. That transformation of adolescence to young adulthood. Think of the changes that happen within your life as you move out of grade school into the world, whether it be post-secondary or work. Relationships that end, relationships that begin. Things that are seen for what they truly are warts and all.

Yet amid what be chaos and catastrophic world destruction, here is a blessing in the sky. A rainbow, a promise that life is not wiped out without love and love to come. The transformation of life. Here is how the Aquarian Gospel ties in:

  1. Brought immortality to light and painted on the walls of time a rainbow for the sons of men; and what I did all men shall do.

Chapter 176:14

For me it resonated with the line in the Apostle’s Creed of Jesus descending to the dead. Other early church writings point out this is a razing/releasing of the souls in hell. Yet hell for the early community was not what Dante or Milton would have the “enlightenment era” Christian believe it was as a place of torture. There was two-fold ways to be looked at:

  • The Gethsemane garbage where lost and “unclean” folks were discarded to. Could it be stating that a final place of inclusion is created and they were welcomed into belonging.
  • Metaphysically, the idea of Greco-Roman Hades was a storehouse of souls that stopped life after death from happening or in Ancient Hebrew Sheol, literally a warehouse. So the razing was the release of souls to new life, new energy, renewal. Something to hope for beyond the veil of death.

Both tie nicely into what Brother Jesus spoke of in the canonical Gospel of Mark 1:15:

“The time promised by God has come at last!” he announced. “The Kingdom of God is near! Repent of your sins and believe the Good News!”

(English Standard Version)

The unity of the holy breath (spark) breathed into us at creation. The Cosmic Christ/divinity that ties us into the Holy Mystery. It is the divine source of love within that when we acknowledge and live into it, we truly love the creator and then our self and our neighbour. The Shema, the Greatest Commandments.

The cascade of transformational love.

Beautiful unity in diversity reflected as light beyond darkness as a promise bow in the sky.

As the Kingdom being here and near.

The end of segregation by labels. The end of casting aside the neighbour. The understanding all are loved.

Whether physically or metaphysically. It is not a false dichotomy, or the false arguments of either-or. Rather it is the Holy Mystery literally showing us that it is both-and. We are not separately spirit and flesh, but rather blessedly both. The life and teachings of Brother Jesus laid the path for a just society, because it showed the blessings of the flesh and spirit as holistically one.

Look upon the rainbow and know one simple thing about the Holy Mystery when lived out is four simple letters:

L-O-V-E.

And simply ask yourself, will you live into and out of that love today.

______

End Notes-Apostle Creed Text:

creed

 


It is intriguing for some who view what I share in regard to media. Once you remove the political and true crime geek side of me, what is usually shared is tied to the world of cults, and not the innocuous ones that in a 100 years society will just accept as standardized religion-spirituality, but rather the abusive-murderous ones.  The question arose this week as to why? And was there a central theme within.

I am a student of human behaviour. I believe it comes from being a fiction writer that enjoys science fiction and mysteries (which is an out growth of the world of literature the comic writers of my youth opened me up to). To truly write well, you have to understand the subject which is the world. But why the cults?

Let’s accept a few things first which may be hard to stomach (and no it is not repeating the academic definition of cult that it is a collective of like minded individuals):

  • All current religions at one point or time were viewed as a heresy/cult of the mainstream when they started.
  • As one comic book writer phrased it while they were putting together Lex Luthor’s run for president in 2000. A great villain like Lex Luthor does not make his decisions based on him knowing he is the villain of the story, no, Lex is great at being a villain because he truly believes he is the hero of the story and can do no wrong for in his world he is the pure of heart.

We enter stories such as the Oasis centre in Edmonton; the Fundamental Church of Jesus Christ of Later Day Saint’s in Bountiful, B.C.; Nvixm in British Columbia, and Raelism in Quebec to name but a few close to home.  This does not touch upon the more mainstream of hale bop, Japan’s suicide cult, Jamestown, or Waco, Texas. The weird side note aside of L. Ron Hubbard’s Scientology. It does not touch upon the smaller movements that go unnoticed or unreported.

Yet it also does not touch upon those that may not end in sexual abuse or death, but those that leverage a person’s belief system for financial abuse. Whether it is driving a prosperity gospel, a “those who are deserving will get wealth” or the 20th century indulgence peddler that was the televangelist that fell from grace.

In the moment, they all shared their own theme, much like Lex Luthor they were out for power, prestige and yes, they believed and currently believe they are doing right.

In the moments, they become cautionary real-life parables for those that we in trust our intrinsic worth too. Yet, for the clear majority that enter helping professions or cleric roles this will never develop for there is something within the person that takes them down that path. It is a switch that may have switched before they started the journey or during the journey that allowed them to see the world through the lens that they are the supreme being and the only way.

It is patterns within cults you can see within mass murderers, spree killers and serial killers. To the lesser point, the break that causes the one that acts in isolation. To those that partner and you will see escalation (look to the case of Bernardo-Homolka, from serial rapist to serial killer once he partnered with her).

But even more than those that run these movements or partnerships, what is even more astounding one can say is how they attract followers?

That is not a hard question to answer. Anyone who has studied the hate movements or youth gang movements fully understand what drives these groups thriving even with all the reality shows, media coverage, documentaries, studies, criminal cases, and academic literature on the subject.  It is one simple desire for the human being that our world has slowly been pushing out since the mid-20th century with the drive to keep up the Jones’:

B-E-L-O-N-G-I-N-G.

Think about that. We have created such an isolating society that allows for isolation, segregation and loss of worth that these groups can proliferate. It is what happens when we shift from an understanding of a person as having intrinsic worth because they are a person, and want to treat them with dignity simply because they are our neighbour and not a number or a budget line.

Why my fascination with cults?

Simply put it shows when we fail as a society to compassionately respond with a Just Society to the question of who is my neighbour?

It shows when as a person we fail to be a compassionate neighbour to our neighbour. And yes it can be as simple just being friendly, a simple smile, a hello.

What is being a neighbour about?

Building a world, a country, a province, a city, a neighbourhood, a home that moves beyond labels to define and segregate. It is about creating space of belonging.

This week, what are you going to do to be a neighbour?


 

woodsworth

J.S. Woodsworth’s follow up to My Neighbour, was Stranger’s at the gate…a treatise on New Canadians. Our nation is built upon multiculturalism. Yes there is a darkness to the beautiful mosaic that we as Canadians need to acknowledge as part of our discourse. Yet reflecting on my own life during this time of neuro uniqueness has opened myself up to an image that sticks in mind from child hood.

We camped at Skunk Hollow just outside of Water Valley. Back in the day it was the still run that may or may not have been run by relatives who also appeared on itinerant preacher rolls of the Methodist Church. Yet it was also how you got across the creek (pronounced crick, just cause we loved driving our mother batty with bad English).  Recent posts one can see in me the journey of now, mixed with the journey of the past.

But like crossing the crick to the other side whether hiking or biking once you stepped on the stones the only way to make it through as the crick flowed swift (and bloody cold) was to move forward or get wet (and not in a fun way). This struck me as I reflect on the idea of neighbour.

We each have our own path that has brought us to the here and now. For some it has been traumatic, others blessing, others a mixed bag…yet it has brought each of us to the NOW.

The challenge of getting to turn the “stranger at our gate” into our neighbour is to accept the now, and make a choice:

Go back over the slippery mossy rocks and get chilly wet or keep moving forward into the new adventures ahead.

What do you choose?

What makes your community better?

What makes you better?

So the water or the adventure?

stepping stones

(with a nod to my inner child that has never left the exterior me).