Confirmation bias is taking in only the information that fulfills that which you want to believe. Spiritual, deals with the intangibles of life. But what does this have to do with today? It is easy to exist within confirmation bias within religious settings. For anyone that has read the book or seen the movie, Running with Scissors, this is partly the concept of a “Bible Dip” cracking open a sacred text, reading what is there, and pulling out what you want to see. It is not done with extended context, or discussion with others, just simply your own literal reading of the words on the page.

This challenge was raised in our exploration of the Gospel of Luke. See, usually you start with the context of a passage, what came before or after to unpack, that didn’t create a deeper or better understanding. It was just one of those moments in a text that is like a wha huh?

24 “When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it wanders through waterless regions looking for a resting place, but not finding any, it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ 25 When it comes, it finds it swept and put in order. 26 Then it goes and brings seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and live there; and the last state of that person is worse than the first.”

-Luke 11:24-26 (New Revised Standard Version)

It is unpacking that what is the point of healing? For this example it is challenging Jesus’ exorcism that basically yeah the demon was cast out, but then returns with 7 friends and life becomes more hellicious. One reading is for those with mental health concerns, or other chronic health conditions, what is the point of healing or seeking help for it is all for naught. The better cliche, is what is seen where one accepts treatment to a certain point and is feeling better so stops, and guess what happens before healing is complete?

But this passage pulls out another praxis. See, one may not know the original languages, but we live in a time of multiple translations especially in the English language, and I want to challenge you not to simply read the text in your bible. If you can, discuss it in a group (over snacks is always good), but also have diversity in the translations in the group, and so we started to wrestle with this and unpack with a few other readings of it:

24 “When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and finding none it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ 25 And when it comes, it finds the house swept and put in order. 26 Then it goes and brings seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there. And the last state of that person is worse than the first.”

-Luke 11:24-26 (English Standard Version)

24-26 “When a corrupting spirit is expelled from someone, it drifts along through the desert looking for an oasis, some unsuspecting soul it can bedevil. When it doesn’t find anyone, it says, ‘I’ll go back to my old haunt.’ On return, it finds the person swept and dusted, but vacant. It then runs out and rounds up seven other spirits dirtier than itself and they all move in, whooping it up. That person ends up far worse than if he’d never gotten cleaned up in the first place.”

-Luke 11:24-26 (The Message)

Different readings and conversation brought us to the bridge of the key word in the Message– Vacant. The other two spoke of in order, but the concept wasn’t extrapolated. For what happens when you spring clean your house? You not only get the dirt and gunk out, but you remove the clutter, make donations, create more space for the new you emerging. This is what is missed in the conversation of healing from any health concern. Your internal spiritual house has been put in order, in some cases completely rebuilt. The toxic is removed.

Now the challenge has been laid at your heart, do you continue the work? Do you continue the care, and ensuring that your house remains toxin free? Or do you just accept it as a one and done moment. It is in that one and done, my house is in order- vacant, that is the allegory of the demon getting friends, for there is now more room to play. The more room is not only from the removal of a certain level or all toxins and clutter, rather it is also the ego that comes from going through the healing that you have a blind spot.

But is that only all? Well, within the chapter it is a challenge by the religious oppressors of Jesus’ healing. A healing ministry designed and implemented to remove the farcical barriers that labelled any divine image as wrong, and less than any other. It was their attempt to say, yes you may have done this and come and been welcome back— BUT, it is for nought for you will always be what you were. That caste system ideal of not seeking to be healthier or better. In the modern world it is the churches that preach only prayer for healing not to trust medical doctors or psychologists, because this is who you are and only by being holier will you see the glory of God.

See how the religious oppressors still exist? The importance of belonging and community in spiritual growth and discipleship? The importance of belonging in healing and recovery?

These 3 little verses can be devastating, until you read them and realize it is stated to discourage growth and transfiguration into who you are meant to be in the Holy. Once you realize that, it is a case of stepping over it and going, NO. I trust the call on my soul to be whole.

 

Books Between Friends

Posted: December 10, 2019 by Ty in Current Events
Tags: , , ,

Many in Calgary may already know, but we had a hidden gem that aids many charities and non-profits through ongoing fundraising. How?

BOOKS!

You can donate books, and then shop to buy new to you books, and all monies raised go to make a positive impact! Here is their latest e-mail I thought I would share, and maybe aid some in their Christmas shopping for the book worm on your list:

Our Christmas book table is loaded with
great seletions. Come in and brows.
Christmas Specials
(Until December 24, 2019)
All Christmas themed books – 10 for $5.
All Hard cover and Large Size Soft cover books – 12 for $15
Gift Cards for stocking stuffers:
    Special Christmas Gift Cards
    Buy a $25.00 gift card for only $20.00
    Buy a $50.00 gift card for only $40.00
    No expiry date
Store location:  #14, 3434 – 34 Avenue NE, Calgary, AB T1Y 6X3
403-291-3855

For some, they assume separatism is a new political action in Alberta. These folks forget the historic, Western Block movement; and in the mid-1990’s the conceptual Cascadia with aspects of BC and Seattle. Right now though, it is achieving enough traction to damage our economy, and is being stoked by the rage-o-thon machine.

What is missed though, is that unlike in Quebec, where the separatist movement could almost be seen as Secular-Socialist, within Alberta we have stuck to our rusted Bible Belt (rusted in my opinion because we truly have missed the mark of the gospels, more the “holy” that avoided love in the story of the Good Samaritan, than the Samaritan). Yet this week in the Star, The Freedom Conservative Party (FCP) has announced it is reaching out to other independent minded provincial political parties for a merger. Some may remember the FCP as the party Derek Fildebrandt founded, and ran in the 2019 election after being booted from the UCP caucus– and they would be wrong.

The FCP has a longer history in Alberta than just this cycle. During a freedom of religion spat (around Mormonism) within the Social Credit Party, saw then leader Randy Thornstein resign and by 1999 the Alberta First Party had premiered to offer a more socially conservative home for Blue Tories (Dark Navy Blue Tories?) in the province. This iteration lasted until 2004, when the noir blue Tories then shifted into separatism, and founded their own Separation Party in 2004 (until 2018 and had basically reinvented the Alberta First Party, until 2013 when they shifted back to name Alberta First Party).

In 2018 they once again re-applied to elections Alberta for a name change, to the Western Freedom Party, and then another re-brand via official Elections Alberta to the Freedom Conservative Party.

Now, they are borrowing from the Wildrose Party Play book. See the Wildrose Party, many forget where this part of the UCP merger came from. We need to go back to 2003, when the Alberta First Party was re-branding, Randy Thornstein was on the move again, and this time it was to craft a provincial party, firmly identified with the entity that had replaced the Federal Reform Party, and had a new leader out of Alberta Cabinet, Stockwell Day-The Canadian Alliance. There’s was the Alberta Alliance Party. Their 2004 inaugural campaign slogan was “I blame Ralph”. By 2005 Thornstein was out as Leader, and Paul Hinnman was in, they had motions in 2006 to merge with the Social Credit party that fell apart, when a renewed vigor in the old SoCreds had them wanting to elect members.

The Wildrose Party of Alberta, disaffected with the ability of the Alberta Alliance Party to beat Ed Stelmach’s Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta, had a founding meeting in June 2007 of just shy of 60 folks in Red Deer, and applied for party status.

In January 2008, the Alberta Alliance Party, merged with the Wildrose Party- to create the Wildrose Alliance Party. In 2009 the Wildrose made some strides. In 2012, Danielle Smith was now leader, and had entered the campaign looking like her party would win– many lake of fire and other corruptions scandals would side line victory. In 2014 the party would start to see defections, first MLA Aglin sat as an independent. Then two other MLA in November 2014 crossed the floor to join the governing PC’s. In December, Smith (Leader) and and 8 other Wildrose MLA’s would cross the floor and join the Prentice led PC’s, reducing the party caucus to 5, and looking as the Wildrose was DOA for the 2015 election.

The 2015 election with Brian Jean as Leader of the Wildrose would see them catapult to Official Opposition, to Notley’s NDP Government, and the governing PC’s reduced to 10 seats. In 2017 the backroom-bully style merger politics seen at the federal level when the Conservative Party of Canada was created came to the province for the Wildrose-PC merger that created the United Conservative Party, that would form the government in 2019. Oh and the SoCreds whose internal strife created the journey of creation for the Wildrose Party, the party of governance of 60 years ago, has now been reduced to a redundant Pro-Life Party of Alberta or some such nonsense, a leader’s vanity project.

Come into December 2019, and see Brian Jones, President of the FCP stating the party would be looking for a merger with other separatist parties in the province- Alberta Advantage Party, Wexit Alberta, and Alberta Independence Party to create a unified separatist political party to appeal to voters. The question on the table if this movement unifies will it create a cycle of Separatist-Federalist party in Alberta that does not matter where it falls on the spectrum ala Quebec up until the last election?

As one can see though, splintering and unifying is normal modus operandi on this side of the political spectrum. The challenge for Albertans who are currently struggling in the grief cycle economic change brings upon one’s life and economy is to not allow movements such as this to prey upon us in the anger & denial phases of grief. For this type of ideology does more economic harm, than healing. The challenge is to limit the theatrics, and show the media it is not a story worth covering for we need to re-assert Alberta as a place for citizens, where public education and public health care are great assets for companies to come and invest, where cost of living and quality of life are in harmony, and where we look at full scopes of budgeting which involves looking at not only expenses but incomes (taxes).


My family has been reading through the Gospel of Luke this Advent season. It is a great way to engage with the Jesus story, lots comes at you each night in the one chapter to unpack, and work with our kids so they renew or come to new understanding of passages with where they are at in life. Who are the outcasts of our world that Jesus would have come to? Who would the ones being challenged by John the Baptist and Jesus be today?

How would you feel as Mary, taking all your you and saying “YES” to God? Would you? Was it a step of faith? Hope?  Was Elizabeth wrapped in joy with her late term pregnancy? What implications did this have on the drive of John the Baptist? Could he have been one with Asperger’s (which is now fully wrapped into the Autism Spectrum)? Was Jesus married? Does it increase or decrease your faith if he was?

And the parables. The wonderful stories of what it means to be the light, the sower. That is where our light shines and our seeds fall, how are we to love our friends, family, community, neighbours? How do we shine our light when our friends are locked into a negative thought cycle? How do we love when a friend gets disowned? What does it mean to have a home that lives the core values of Advent? That is a sacred safe space for all?

These are the stories that come to mind. Then you hit on belonging, and Luke provides.

17 One day as he was teaching, Pharisees and religion teachers were sitting around. They had come from nearly every village in Galilee and Judea, even as far away as Jerusalem, to be there. The healing power of God was on him.

18-20 Some men arrived carrying a paraplegic on a stretcher. They were looking for a way to get into the house and set him before Jesus. When they couldn’t find a way in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof, removed some tiles, and let him down in the middle of everyone, right in front of Jesus. Impressed by their bold belief, he said, “Friend, I forgive your sins.”

21 That set the religion scholars and Pharisees buzzing. “Who does he think he is? That’s blasphemous talk! God and only God can forgive sins.”

22-26 Jesus knew exactly what they were thinking and said, “Why all this gossipy whispering? Which is simpler: to say ‘I forgive your sins,’ or to say ‘Get up and start walking’? Well, just so it’s clear that I’m the Son of Man and authorized to do either, or both. . . .” He now spoke directly to the paraplegic: “Get up. Take your bedroll and go home.” Without a moment’s hesitation, he did it—got up, took his blanket, and left for home, giving glory to God all the way. The people rubbed their eyes, incredulous—and then also gave glory to God. Awestruck, they said, “We’ve never seen anything like that!”

-Luke 5:17-26 (The Message)

Many hear this story as a passion for these gents to get their friend healed, and what they were willing for that to happen. But that is a superficial, ablest read of the passage. Much like what we bring to many of the disability passages within the Gospels. See, the world of the time, as sadly today, saw folks with disabilities as less than, those to be hidden away, not engaged with, gawked at, the question being what did they or their parents do to be cursed like this.

But that is never how Jesus ends. Jesus challenges assumptions, yet this story starts even before Jesus. He is doing his thing, in a local home, many are going, crowds are growing. These guys hear what is going down, and want to be a part of it. But one of them is missing, the proverbial shut in, or institutionalized or child with disability whose family does not want to deal with the headache and hurt of being in a church. They know it will not be the same without their friend.

Belonging- he is known, he is acknowledged, he is wanted, and he is missed when not there.

They go back and get him, and bring him along.

Yet, as with many holy sites, the house and crowd were not accessible. Folks were unwilling to give up their space to let their friend through. Ever had the– but this is where we sit conversation? Or this is where we park? Or any claiming of sacred space as proprietary? This is what they were hit with.

But they persevered. They took accessibility into their own hands. Could you imagine being there as these gents built their own lift to get their friend to the Holy? Love drove them.

Jesus did not heal first off. First off he affirmed the divinity of the person. He did this by pointing out like everyone else, he had done good and ill (one cannot have sin without the dichotomy), but then said he was cleansed. The shock, was the shock against the religious caste system that tried to place deficiency, and non-personhood upon this man to make themselves, “HOLY”. Jesus was the nullifier of this unholy religiousity. Who are those we try to place non-personhood upon now to make ourselves feel HOLY?

To abate their shock, Jesus heals.

Why?

So the love his friends had for him, could be extended into the whole community.

Today, we do not need this.

We need to get the message of the love of the divine. That all are in the divine image. The Imageo Dei.

The challenge is letting go of the fear of change, the grieving of loss. For what have we lost with belonging?

What has been healed in belonging?

The Holy, Beloved, and Blessed Image of God that each one of us is created in.

What is healed, is the false rifts, separations and castes our fragile human ego (sin) have placed within our world.


It is interesting in the world of business and non-profits (religious included) we float the idea of “Core Values”, yet how often do they just end up as brochure buried on a shelf or bulletin board? How often have we heard, we value all being welcome with dignity– yet accessibility projects are deferred for things such as security systems (or whom holds the power decrees is more important)?

It can be challenging during this time of year not to fall victim to the chimera created by the religious right of the war on Christmas…I have yet to meet anyone who vehemently hates Santa, or the idea of generosity. What is challenging is the man-made hate monger created image of Jesus is challenged–for these are not the core values he professed. It was never about exclusion, in fact most of the challenging teachings were directed at the religious of Jesus’ day for missing the mark– the mark? We can quote Matthew 25 around care for the poor, sick, elderly, widows, the ones society felt were toss away, but we are in the Holy Season of Advent for Christians, and it distills the core values fairly clearly:

Hope*Faith*Joy*Peace*Love

These are the core that come from the common truth, that goes back to the Creation story, and that the Prophet Isaiah reminds us of:

Image result for house of prayer for all nationsA phrase many religious gathering in the faiths of Abraham use. This idea of inclusive, but flexed for exclusion for not fully unpacking the full story:

 “And as for the outsiders who now follow me,

working for me, loving my name,

and wanting to be my servants—

All who keep Sabbath and don’t defile it,

holding fast to my covenant—

I’ll bring them to my holy mountain

and give them joy in my house of prayer.

They’ll be welcome to worship the same as the ‘insiders,’

to bring burnt offerings and sacrifices to my altar.

Oh yes, my house of worship

will be known as a house of prayer for all people. (The Message, Isaiah 56:6-7)

It is laying out clearly, that all are welcome, not only welcome, but are a divine image (Imageo Dei) and authentically belong as one of God’s children blessedly created.

One cannot claim a divine-holy presence, if their presence is not open to all of the divine image, and love of God-Self-Neighbour (the Covenant– the Law & The Prophets summarized and lived out).

What is lost in belonging? What is lost is the bondage of fear, prejudice, bigotry, conflict, hate, constant grieving and greed.

What is gained?

Hope, Peace, Faith, Joy and Love.

Further resources on Inclusion/Belonging:

There was a powerful video shared about this congregation at Shelly Christensen’s speaking at the International Day of Persons with Disabilities at the JCC Calgary today, unfortunately I was unable to track down the specific link, here are some others though to provoke conversation and thought.

Bet Shalom Congregation: https://disabilitiesinclusion.org/exemplar-congregations/bet-shalom-congregation/

Apirl 2, 2009 Inclusion Video: https://youtu.be/D72NKCZlNNA

Inclusion Innovations: http://inclusioninnovations.com

 


The black gauntleted hand smashed hard into her golden helm, the Bionic Knight was reeling. She had not had a throw down challenge of someone as strong or stronger than her in her short career. Beth Venus shook her head hoping the com-link had remained in. Retired Constable Sean James was in the old F-150 200 million K white pick up relaying best he could from the tracking off a tablet. Their van had been stolen and torched.

Pastor Lee Jacobs was next to him. Sean had used his previous undercover guise of Sean Williams to track the stolen van to a crew of thugs attempting to re-ignite the spree killing hate group inspired by the departed villain- Killer Face. The six were easy to incapacitate, and drop a line to the police for round up. As Beth took flight to leave the ware house imploded and the black armoured figure streaked through the night air and in a burst of blue flame energy his fist met with her face.

“B.K., duck and weave girl.” Sean said.

“That’s what you got for me?” Beth said as she tried to shake her mind back to reality and track the black armoured  figure against the night sky. The new style street lights city council brought on were supposed to reduce fake light pollution to allow the stars to light the night. They failed horribly a few decades back not purchasing the shade as an “austerity cost saving measure”, so you were not only left with enough light pollution to block out the stars, you were also left with not enough light to illuminate the roads.

She ran a golden gauntleted hand down her helm, she felt the green energy through a crack. The dude had cracked her armour. How was that possible?

Lee slipped on a pair of night vision goggles to track the fight. For some reason in his mind he was running through the Norse Myth of the Mistletoe. A legend of under-estimating what horrors an innocuous plant could cause. Word had come down that Baldur was to die, the Gods got everything in the world to promise not to harm him, but had forgotten the innocent looking Mistletoe. They created a game, of hurling things at Baldur and seeing them bounce off, his brother, though blind and left out, was found by that trickster Loki, and encouraged to participate. See Loki had spoke with the Mistletoe, who also felt left out. It was the Mistletoe that Loki placed in Baldur’s brother’s hand to throw…and fatality ensued.

Death due to surprise. Not thinking beyond what was presented. The literal. The trickster mind. “Sean, look closer at that armour. Remind you…”

“The Ionic Knight.” Sean said. Lee knew, they both knew, the Ionic Knight had been the original Bionic Knight’s ultimate nemesis. Powered by the magics that had wanted to destroy Camelot…that being Morgan La Faye and Mordred, that which corrupted Lancelot. The original Ionic Knight had been the original Bionic Knight’s twin brother. Yet, Beth’s brother was dead.

The mystery of who was a problem to solve later. The first thing to solve was how their girl was going to survive.

“Mistletoe.” Lee said.

Sean looks at his friend. “You feeling the need to kiss strangers?”

Lee shook his head and grabbed the com from Sean. “B.K. draw him in close, then power down and up rapidly.” Mistletoe took Baldur and the Gods by surprise. This new player was underestimating the rookie hero in how he was manhandling her.

Lee heard B.K. gurgle as a choke hold was placed around her neck, and the black sword known as Chivalry was drawn by her opponent. It was shifting from long sword to dagger. He was going to shiv her through the chink in her armour, and then grow killing her. The original Ionic Knight had been redeemed by giving his life to save the world. This one was out for blood. “He’ll kill me if I do.” was choked through the com. Lee got the child’s worry, but it was the hail Mary that was needed. It was what St. Jude’s did on a regular.

“For your life… Please…Beth.” Lee said.

The tip of the black magic dagger Beth felt it cut through her chain mail and break skin. Her hear was groggy from the lack of oxygen flow. Spotlight from a news helicopter and a police helicopter.

“bionic off.”

Green and blue energy explode around the two fighting armoured figures.

A blood tipped dagger explodes to full length…

Armour pieces fly away into the night…


Alberta’s public-sector spending ins the lowest in the country in proportion to our economy. We have the lowest number of people working in the public sector as a proportion of our labour force than any other province. So where is the money going and where isn’t it coming from? Alberta is technically out of…

via UCP Lie #2: Government is Spending Beyond Our Means — Reboot Alberta

Sharing the great work from our friends at Reboot Alberta, and the thoughtful Ken Chapman.

Quote  —  Posted: December 6, 2019 by Ty in Alberta Politics
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