As a native Calgarian-check that- as someone born, bred and raised in NE Calgary, and has lived my entire life in Rundle-in the same home even where the 3rd generation of my family is now being raised…I must say I remember 1989.

I remember the electricity coursing through my city as a child as the Flames fought their way back to the Stanley Cup Avenue, hearing of the mysterious Electric Avenue. Watchning the games as the Flames played the Habs, and Lanny McDonald who my Dad went to school with for a time in Hannah, score on the way to the Cup.

I remember my Dad taking us to the celebratory parade.

The Name Song faux pas when they reached Hakan Loob: “Hakan bo Bakan mana fano fo F—” well you get the picture.

Fast forward to the 2014-15 edition, the rebuild year of younglings. Too young, too inexperienced the hockey analyst would say to expect more than a cellar finish for a few years.

Well,

Professionals like many policitical polls of recent yore were wrong.

Welcome to the Duck Hunt of Round 2 of the NHL Playoffs 2015 edition.

Honestly as a city tax paying Calgarian and homeonwer, even though I am a Habs fan, no matter how far these kids make it as a city we need to throw a parade and a party that ends with them White Hatted, in Olympic Plaza (just watch the names you toss into the Name Song).

For they have truly shown what team and heart can do.


This is not going to be a post going down the path of pointing out the horrors visited upon the world due to the Jude0-Christian religion, for that one just needs to open a Western History book, or catch the current events in the Middle East. No, this is a reflection on the understanding of the Holy Mystery over the past 6,000 years since Oral tradition shared the story of Abram and Sarai’s call.

See it was a tribal religion when it began, steeped in the oral tradition for thousands of years. Stories shared to understand the how and why of the world (currently our world’s meta-narrative is science). That is where the truth lay, in the story and understanding one’s own life. This tribal oral tradition eventually codified into the Hebrew Bible texts. Through this there is thousands of sects of Judaism the 3 most common known post-World War II are Orthodox, Conservative and Reform. Yet before the distruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE there was a few more famous sects: Pharisees, Saduccees, Zealots, and Essenes. Inspired by their culture’s meta-narrative of the Holy Mystery.

This meta-narrative under the Roman Empire’s occupation bread many messiahs, the most notable for the transformation of the world being the peasant labourer Rabbi born out of wedlock, Jesus of Nazareth, whose teachings would inpsire a fifth way within the Temple that would go on to become its own religion: Christianity thanks mostly in part to the winning writings of Paul of Tarsus. In the 300’s Constantine became Emperor of Rome and shrewdly knew poltiically monotheism would allow for better control than many gods, and made Christianity the Empire’s Religion.

So as he forced a Canon of the “holy Scriptures” three hundred years of mystery, Gnosticism and variance vanished from the world.

In 1054 CE a schism shattered Christendom as the Pope of Rome and Patriarch of the East drew the line in the sand for power and control of the people and mutually excommunicated one another.

Over the next 500ish years mystics in both traditions would found Religious orders to get to the heart of the Holy Mystery and free the people from religious oppression. Most notably being the Mystics of Assisi: Clare & Francis; the Jesuits, etc. This period would also show the territortial might of another tradition shared through Abram and Sarai, that being Islam and the Qu’ran which would lead to many Crusades to be fought for control of the Holy Land (kinda like today).

Yet in the 1500’s CE a perfect storm would brew with the rise of indulgences in the West, Kings wanting control over their own kingdoms and church lands, the printing press, and coming through the Bubonic Plague that saw 30% of the population wiped out and saw clerics preach it as God’s wrath for sin yet even clergy were wiped out by it. The people were not ea

ting the pablum no more.

Enter the Reformation which would shatter the Vatican’s political control outside of Rome and see 8 books stripped from the Holy Bible to bring the number to 66, not to mention the rise of the state church that saw Kings decried to be ruling by divine right in Germany (Lutheran); Switzerland (Zwingli); England (Church of England; Cramner, Henry the 8th) to name but a few.

This period would see the craziness of multiple denominations establish through the next four hundred years, each with their own flavour and understanding, and the strongest defining belief being that they were not “Papists”. Unique movements of note being Calvinists; Anabaptists; Methodists; Quakers (Society of Friends).

Within Islam there grew synergy with already exisiting Middle Easter Mystics known as the Sufi Movements.

There was also the rise of what is colloquial known as Mormons in 1830-known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Later Day Saints, with the mystic Joseph Smith.

Then there was the broad strokes of Christian Science, which diverged into many paths today encapsulated under the banner of “New Thought”. Those being Church of Christ Scientist; Divine Science; Religious Science; Science of Mind and Unity to name but a few.

Within both Islam and Christianity univeralism gained footholds and specific expressions: Bahai; Universalist; Unitarian-the last two would merge mid-20th Century.

Also the 1900’s saw the launch of the Salvation Army, a militaristic structured church for social outreach and impact. It also saw the rise and decline and re-rise of the Social Gospel which later in the century would return as Red Letter Christians or Liberation Theology. As well as the Catholic Worker’s Movement synergy with the Labour Movement in the 1900’s and the collective living movements.

These are simple broad strokes to reflect on the history of a faith tradition that has shaped the Western World, where will it take it next?

Where will it take you?

How does your own faith journey tie into the journey Abram’s people?


The following posts for the archives are part of the site consolidation for simplicity, they come from Recycled Franciscan that was at yycfranciscan.wordpress.com (now deleted). Enjoy as these were part of the family daliance with Roman Catholicism before my Mum’s passing.

Transitions…

Hey Fearless Reader,

So I have taken back to the keyboard, and am finding a challenge keeping up with 2 blog sites, so I invite you back to one of my better known ventures A Robin Hood’s Musings. Join the adventure!

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Revisiting the Parables of Jesus: A Review

A the uniqueness of social media, in which former co-workers and friends can find you, when at other times of human history the connection would be lost. Through Facebook messages Lisa Lopez Smith who I served with years ago on Street Level at the Mustard Seed contacted me about her new book.

What a blessing this work was, Revisiting the Parables of Jesus: Ancient Stories, Contemporary Audience or found on her site as well as other ponderings, www.lisalopezsmith.com. Dear readers, let us encourage this new writer by purchasing copies.

Here are my simple thoughts on this good resource for personal and group reflection, that comes with reflective statements and a simple resource guide:

Lisa Lopez Smith writes as she served the homeless of Calgary, with passion, integrity, curiosity and authenticity. I had the privilege to work alongside her on the streets and witness these traits as she was called in that time to live Christ for others, her keyboard know brings her journey it would seem into the stories of Christ that inspire.

Lopez Smith lays open a true depth of spiritual understanding of the stories within the Gospels. She raises discussion, debate, storytelling, open interpretation…mysticism if you will mixed with rabbinical flare. These ancient stories of Jesus rediscovered for today’s western “enlightened” mind, but Lopez Smith’s work reawakens a truly enlightened approach to well heard, if not well known stories. I have been pondering recently who would be picking up the torch for a new generation of progressive/community/justice orientated Christian writers, and this is one of those new lights.

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Aboriginal Lord’s Prayer

Just thought I would share this prayer, so simple:

Aboriginal Lord’s Prayer,

You are our Father,

You live in heaven,

We talk to You, Father,

You are good.

We believe Your Word,

Father, We Your children,

give us bread today

Others have done wrong to us

And we are sorry for them,

Father, today

We have done wrong,

we are sorry,

Teach us Father,

not to sin again

You are our Father,

You live in heaven

We talk to You,

Father You are good .

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Playin’ 4 Keeps 2014 Rolling in Support of Children`s Wish

That’s right  the 2nd Annual Playhouse Community Tour officially kicked into high gear today at Tilley, AB…watch your local parades and fair grounds for the cabinsales.ca converted play house/piggy bank for donations and a chance to WIN!!!

Here is last year’s recap for the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation: Playin4keeps2013

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Whose voice should be heard?

“Well what do you expect of our world since we took God out of the classroom”, or some variation, is becoming a Christian refrain to remove oneself from the world around them, and true horrors that media is reporting. It has become the 21st century equivalent of the shrug. Whether it is incessant online bullying leading to suicides; gang rapes; child pornography or sports coaches/teachers abusing those in their charge (note how Church Inc. Turns a blind eye in these statements to their participation in Indigenous persons genocide; and the ongoing rapes/abuses of charges by clerics as we know these roles of power are sought by the monsters, but I digress).

Statistically our world is less violent per capita than at any other point in recorded human history; per capita there are no more sexual predators about than there was in the early to mid-twentieth century. What has changed? Something that God has been trying to get through to us since the stories of the Hebrew Bible were actual current events.

The opening refrain feeds our reading of the Hebrew Bible and Christian New Testament, when we look at scriptures of horror like David & Bathsheba as a story of weekend sexual moral, and adultery…instead of the story of power; rape and murder that it truly is. Then we try to clean it up more, by pointing to the repentance of David after confronted by Nathaniel and stipulating, see a contrite heart makes him one after God’s own heart. BUT this is not the point of the tale, for I reflect the point was lost on ancient Israel and us today. How do I know? Simple, in the post-exile sanitized versions of the histories (1&2 Samuel, 1& 2 Kings) known as 1 & 2 Chronicles these things do not appear. For they are not of God’s heart!!!

In fact, I am emboldened to say that the message behind this horror story is what truly happens when a V-I-C-T-I-M loses their voice to tell their story. Bathsheba fades into the background; vanishes if you will. It is recorded that the child created by the rape died; some scholars and writers postulate in a fit of insanity David commits infanticide to clean up the last reminder of his unkingly acts; some may think that Bathsheba did to remove the reminder; but she enters into the household of the king as yet another conquest, left silent to whatever whim David wants, for within the time she is nothing more now than damaged property. The union produces Solomon, who obviously understood the atrocities visited upon his mother, the cover ups of the king wrapping it in a very fundamentalist understanding of YHWH and leveraging spiritual and temporal authority to keep it all quiet. How do I know this? Simple, reflect on Solomon’s reign he sought many other roads to the Holy Mystery and only a part of it was the Temple he built for God, there was also other imaginings and reflections, Solomon was not comfortable with his father’s understanding or use of God and was trying to shake the bondage off.

This Hebrew Bible narrative shows us what happens when the victim is stripped of justice and voice, where the assailant is stripped of ability to be properly healed and held accountable.

This is where our world is at, we as a society are no longer David and his court with heads in the sand protecting the abused. We may not fully have proper justice, and healing for all parties involved, but be thankful to media forums (social, traditional, and grapevine if you will) that the victim’s voice is finding ground, and we are moving beyond the blame the victim mentality. Are we as a world there yet? NO! Why? Simple, old school religious understandings like the naive understanding of the David and Bathsheba story as adultery with equal partners strips the horror story of its power to address true societal justice issues, strips it of the power for the hearer and reader to ask, what if David was held accountable and Bathsheba was allowed to tell her tale? Would things be different?

What if in our world today we finally moved beyond the Patriarchal oppression that protects abusers, or downplays the trauma throughout generations their actions create, and actually move to a holistic approach of justice. One that restores the victim to full being and empowered but also does the same to the abuser to shatter the cycle and heal our world.

We like to say our world is horrible because we removed God from public piety, yet it was never public piety God wanted, Jesus warned us not to be like the show, but rather to let the Holy Spark shape our inner most beings so that our world be transformed into the world of equality, justice and health that we are called to live in.

Horrors still happen because as religious we are choosing the side of David as holy, instead of walking alongside Bathsheba and simply being.

Which side do you want to walk along?

Whose voice will you allow to be raised up, heard and believed?

How will you break the cycle today? Tomorrow? Ongoing?

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Official Prayer of Pope St. John XXIII

Prayer to St. John XXIII

Dear Pope John,

Your simplicity and meekness carried the scent of God and sparked in people’s hearts the desire for goodness. You spoke often of the beauty of the family gathered around the table to share bread and faith: pray for us that once again true families would live in our homes.

Without outstretched hands you sowed hope, and you taught us to listen for God’s footsteps as he prepares a new humanity: help us have a healthy optimism of defeating evil with good.

You loved the world with its light and darkness, and you believed that peace is possible: help us be instruments of peace at home and in our communities.

With paternal gentleness you gave all children a caress: you moved the world and reminded us that hands have been given to us not for striking, but for embracing and drying tears.

Pray for us so that we do not limit ourselves to cursing the darkness but that we bring the light, bringing Jesus everywhere and always praying to Mary. Amen.

john23

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Churches Need to Call a “Gang Truce” in Order to Reach Youth | Romal Tune | Red Letter Christians

Sharing this article not as a…hey look how messed up our American cousins are that they let labels get in the way of living Christ’s love of neighbour, but as a call to Canadian churches that we do the same. We sit in churches 1/3 to 1/2 full surrounded by other churches of similar holy huddles and bicker over how to afford to keep our lights on and pay utilities rather than reaching out to one anther to be able to help the communities around us. Youth crime rises because they are seeking a place of belonging and being able to be who the world thinks they are. When done right, church (as I have seen in my years doing youth outreach), can create a place of belonging for youth where they can discover who they are meant to be. But we as the generation involved need to surrender our ego, and our label and truly seek the guiding of the Spirit in what we are called to be for our neighbour in love.

Churches Need to Call a “Gang Truce” in Order to Reach Youth | Romal Tune | Red Letter Christians.

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The Story continues…

a productive vacation night of writing…

Prologue

10 years ago.

            A scorched prairie farm land was where the shots first rung out. The team had come in to rescue a diplomat’s child. Shotgun’s teeth clenched tightly around the stub of his cheap cigar, in each hand a sawed off 12 gauge. His short cut crew cut was starting to show a little gray around the temples, as through gritted teeth he barked.

            “Slick, kid’s in the quansahut!” Jake “Shades” Slick dive rolled out of the Gator’s passenger seat that Kyler Storm was driving. As slick rolled up to a  crouch and started crab running towards the hut, through his black Ray Bans, the Gloc slipped into his hand. Three quick shots and the man with the rifle behind the fencepost wrapped with barb wire is no longer an issue.

            Slick’s ponytail whips around as he motions Kyler to keep driving. The young goth kid was the newest in the unit, his ear piece unit squawks from the chopper command centre. “Slick what’s the scoop?”

            “One Neo-FLQ taken out, cover fire being laid down. We’ll need extraction in 10 minutes C.D.” speaking of young whipper snappers, ten years before C.D. was the first of teens to emerge as hackers into the agency system, it was Louis that brought him in. French-Canadian Asian lady, part phantom/part ninja some would say. Slick watched as Shotgun made his way behind the work shed. They had made a triangle around the quansa, and on the roof climbing was Louis Regis.

            C.D. squawks that Omega Squad was coming in via F-150.  The roar of the truck engine.

There are probably eight gunmen in black bala clavas whose attention moves to the incoming truck. Daemon’s crew, old scarred face (his mother lit him on fire in her death scene free basting). Reesa, a lovely raven haired woman, Malcolm the token Albino hanging out the box with the heavy artillery. One the running board is Grizz, literally a man the size of a bear and enough hair to be mistaken as one.

            Kyler is bringing the Gator straight up the middle to the two doors of the Quansa. Louis slices through the roof and drops in as the Gator bursts through and he starts firing. Shotgun pops up and lays down buck shot, as Slick opens up and six gun men go down quick.

            Gun fire in the back.

Reesa’s eyes lock on the diesel tank. She aims through the sniper scope and fires. The explosion blows heat and debris across the field as the cover fire from the truck takes down the last of the shooters on their way to the Quansa.

            The Gator inside the Quansa flips. Kyler rolls out, and rises with his old six shot. Two gun men left, one holding the kid by the throat gun to the head.

            Shotgun and Slick step through the twisted metal doors. A quick shot and the second gun men’s chest explodes. The one with the kid steps back as Louis rises up behind him out of a straw stack, her long knives slip lightly across his throat spraying blood as he crumples to the ground.

            The sound of the chopper extraction coming in, Slick taps his earpiece. “We got the package C.D.”

            The screech of truck tires as the four and the kid walk out of the Quansa. The chopper touches down behind the truck, C.D., a 6’2” bald man that maybe weighed 150 lbs soaking wet in a completely black suit walks towards the Quansa, his eyes surveying the bodies and carnage around the farm in Manitoba where this alleged Francophone separatist terrorist group had taken the Prime Minister’s son. Through black sun glasses that wrap around his head C.D. looks at Slick.

            He lightly tugs on the black gloves as he motions for Kyler to bring the child to him. C.D. and Kyler walk back to the chopper, load the kid in. C.D. turns, smiles.

            Malcolm from the back of the F-150 aims and fires.

Kyler’s brains splatter the prairie soil.

            Slick goes to shoot at C.D. as he steps into the chopper and it launches. “Damn terrorists infiltrated us.” Was the last thing C.D. said as the chopper flew away.

            Daemon steps out of the truck with his black trench coat billowing in the breeze looking at Louis, Slick and Shotgun. “There are two ways this can go down.”

            Shotgun smirked, took his cigar in two fingers, walked up to the youngster and pinged it off his forehead. “Yea, my boot goes up your ass, or my gun.”

            Daemon goes to draw. Slick smiles, grouped together in a truck, young and dumb and him with one bullet left. The old F-150 given by the agencies ran on propane. He fires quick and true. The bullet ruptures the tank.

            Daemon turns as Shotgun’s right hand levels him towards the explosion that sends his men careening in the field.

            Slick’s eyes fall on a Dodge Caravan back by the farm house. Louis laughs as he taps his ear piece one more time. “This isn’t over C.D.”

Chapter One

            The rain had soaked into the alley of Gothic City, just off their Electric Avenue party district. The rain was cleansing. It made the usual aromas and stains of the alley vanish. The Gothic Gargoyles were in the run for Lord Stanley’s Cup, just first round, but the party was loud, the women’s breasts were flashing and things were happening under the street lights the police had long since given up trying to keep a lid on.

Malcolm’s body still ached from ten years previous in a farmer’s field in Manitoba when they were supposed to be heroes. Instead the agency had written them off. He had barely found work as a bouncer at a club back home in Gothic City, AB. Which was good, because how much work would there be for a one legged spy adventurer. Yes his resume got to read that he was part of a covert operation team that rescued the Prime Minister’s son from a group of home grown terrorists, if he was allowed to even speak of it. But it had been their handler’s time to change the guard as C.D. had phrased it. If they wanted to be Alpha Squad, they would need to deal with the old guard.

It was to be their moment of glory, yet Grizz had miscounted the damn shots from Slick’s gun. They thought he had fired nine, nope had been eight, and the ninth found the propane fuel tank. So sure, he had sniped Kyler and put the protégé in a grave, but the explosion had claimed his leg, given Daemon more scars and a stay in Panoka, no one had seen Grizz’s body as he had vanished, and it had placed Reesa in a coma.

Bunch of great heroes, taken out by a crew of over the hills. That was his legacy, and now he was trying to keep pandemonium at bay. It had been the girl’s scream that had brought him from his bar’s door way next to the alley into the alley way. It had sounded through the rancorous party noise and actually sounded like someone in dire need. Yet in the dark and dank of the alley, there was nothing to be seen.

Malcolm turns on his prosthetic leg to exit when he heard what sounded like a tape measure unfurling. He feels the jerk on his stump as his prosthetic flies off. He attempts to keep his balance as a low whistle signals a throwing knife through the water finding his jugular spraying walls and ground red, making an eerie Kool-aid to run out of the alley into the streets as he grips at the knife and feels his life run out of him.

Chapter Two

            Whoopee shit about the Gothic Gazette’s headline, Albino bouncer shanked during playoff party. Pond scum is what he was; if I had known he was in Gothic would have done him myself. I shift uneasily in the booth at the Nottingham Pub as I lay the paper down on my table. Pubs are places of comfort, but as a recovered alcoholic, the comfort once found on a scotch double neat needed to be replaced by something else, and today I was not in the mood for a ginger ale so I am torturing myself with pub coffee—black. It is an anthropological study when there is a new waitress who has started at the Nottingham. The one in her mid-thirties that’s been around for years dressed like 50’s glam; the two in their early to mid-twenties all tits and tats hanging out, the newbie whose probably barely twenty trying to fit in, but looking more than uncomfortable in the micro skirt and tank top. Lunch hour is the busy time, comes from the cheap Alberta steak sandwiches.

The coffee has a burnt taste that is mixed with weakness because they pulled it out before percolation ended. Thankfully they had just renovated their table and chairs.  The click of old army boots on the old tile floor.  The leather trench coat, with long greying red hair, with the eye patch, so my old friend looked more like a pirate than the killer he used to be. “Jake.”

He nods to me as he sits down ordering the special and a Guinness. “Will.”  The way he said my name means that the type of things we used to do would be coming back. Maybe a time I wish I had not given up alcohol.

Leaning back and steepling my hands, “it has been a while since Calgary.” Jake is not aging well, but these conversations do not go well and usually end up with gun play or me running through a field with him from a mad husband of some sort with a gun.  So I guess it all comes back to gun play a truly un-Canadian endeavour.

“Will we need some focus here, something has happened to…” Okay have to keep remembering that Jake is not a conversationalist. “Louis.”

Ah shit. Louis Regis, she who shalt never be named within our intrepid duo (trio up until 10 years past). Jake’s on-again-off-again-pop on by lover of sorts. Also one of the deadliest knife wielders alive, and surprisingly one of the clumsiest individuals we have ever had the privilege to work with as well, I have a scar on my left butt cheek thanks to her hatchback and a misplaced eagle handed blade.

“Jake seriously, she probably just ran out of gas in Regina again.” Whenever Louis is involved, Jake loses perspective, and then probably, okay more than likely because we are pre-school friends till now I will follow suit, and as noted earlier, gun play will ensue.

Jake slides a tattered piece of lined paper across the table to me. I know I am going to kick myself for doing this, but I pick it up and look at it. Brown stains that do resemble blood. A time and an address, judging from the address it is in the industrial park. Why could there be something go down that didn’t happen in a warehouse? “I think that’s where she’s gone.” Jake said.

Where she’s gone? A scrap of paper covered in blood? How do we know she isn’t dead at this time? The waitress tops up what is passing for coffee and I swear I choke a little when I sip it, it is now that tepid temperature from a pub when they want you to move onto something harder, but that was years ago when I would do that. “So what do you want?” I glance at the time on the paper, and at my watch, forty-five minutes until whatever is to happen there.

Jake with the crow’s feet around his eyes, the greying red hair, and his one un-patched eye gets that twinkle, and his side ways grin. “Saddle up, Will let’s ride one more time.”

Aw damn it, I know I am going to live to regret this, but when it is your best friend and there is bad pub coffee involved, what choice in life is there than the simple ones.  “Let’s go.”

Drop a ten on the table and leave. The upside of life after the agency is that there are no fancy cars involved, for you simply want to blend into the background. Jake still drives a small hatchback. From the trunk of my own P.O.S. sedan I grab my gear bag and hop into his car. One would think after 30 years of misadventures together I would learn to slow things down, ask questions, double check new stories, but no, my friend asks for help and well, I am there. The down side of using his car, is his music, still had not acquired a taste for late seventies-early eighties metal, but to each their own. Not to mention he drives like a distracted Mario Andretti, and I have to remember the name of the Holy I am praying to this week to save my ass as Jake’s passenger.

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2014 the year of my next novel

Yes I wrote many novels as a older adolescent/young adult that revived pulp fiction style writing amongst my generation in the Properties in Calgary, and some of the stories have become epic and legendary (still remember having one award winning one in the CBE banned during “Freedom to Read Week” due to having a bi-sexual character); tackling how the deconstruction of a human being could create a pulp hero, the fun of Canadian espionage, and what actually one does when they finally conquer the world to name but a few. It was a time of re-inventing characters I had been creating and writing on since I was 9 years old in a little thing I dubbed the “Tyverse”… so yes it was also a super hero backdrop with mysticism, magic and some religious overtones as I used my writing as allegory to sort out my own spiritual understandings.

Over the last few years I have concentrated more on my spiritual formation writing and poetry, but that has waned a bit in my life, I had even taken active steps in 2013 to step away from my active speaking and writing schedules. Which left time for the Spirit of Creativity to move within me once more, and to reflect on what made writing fun. What was that you ask?

The adventure.

So this is the year I am hoping to craft a new office space or at least discovering a new coffee shop to write in at the very least as I craft a new fiction… here is something that popped out of the keyboard during Christmas, some long time followers may recognize the older characters:

Pubs are places of comfort, but as a recovered alcoholic, the comfort once found on a scotch double neat needed to be replaced by something else, and today I was not in the mood for a ginger ale so I am torturing myself with pub coffee—black. It is an anthropological study when there is a new waitress who has started at the Nottingham. The one in her mid-thirties that’s been around for years dressed like 50’s glam; the two in their early to mid-twenties all tits and tats hanging out, the newbie whose probably barely twenty trying to fit in, but looking more than uncomfortable in the micro skirt and tank top. Lunch hour is the busy time, comes from the cheap Alberta steak sandwiches.

            The coffee has a burnt taste that is mixed with weakness because they pulled it out before percolation ended. Thankfully they had just renovated their table and chairs.  The click of old army boots on the old tile floor.  The leather trench coat, with long greying red hair, with the eye patch, so my old friend looked more like a pirate than the killer he used to be. “Jake.”

            He nods to me as he sits down ordering the special and a Guinness. “Will.”  The way he said my name means that the type of things we used to do would be coming back. Maybe a time I wish I had not given up alcohol.

            Leaning back and steepling my hands, “it has been a while since Calgary.” Jake is not aging well, but these conversations do not go well and usually end up with gun play or me running through a field with him from a mad husband of some sort with a gun.  So I guess it all comes back to gun play a truly un-Canadian endeavour.

“Will we need some focus here, something has happened to…” Okay have to keep remembering that Jake is not a conversationalist.

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Election Reform

English: Pic for WikiProject Political parties...

English: Pic for WikiProject Political parties and politicians in Canada (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is election season in Calgary, we are one week away from voting on Councillor,Mayor and school board trustee. Yet with it now set for every for years, and the second Monday of October for civic elections, a thought entered my mind for electoral reform made simple.

What if each province’s civic election time line became the election time line? That is on that vote day every four years that province voted for school board trustees, councillors, mayor, MLA and MP?

Now you say, what about federal disruption in Parliament? What disruption? It actually makes one’s local MP relevant, and ensures they are more in line with their constituent wishes, and actual Canadians than what the party whip wishes… Another side effect is that the PMO would be forced to be collaborative with all parties for the betterment of Canada (that Constitutional promise of Peace, Order andGood Governance)…how you ask?

Well let’s look at Harper’s current slim majority of 8 seats, if we were voting on MP’sacross Alberta currently, and he lost 8 seats (which current polling suggests is a possibility) he either gets a slimmer majority, or moves into minority territory. It makes all 17 parties and any independents running relevant for the electorate.

Provincially it allows votes to become discerning from the civic leaders they elect, and then who they believe would best work or balance that out. Think of the pre-2000’s when provinces would elect opposite provincial governments to who was in Federally.

Then to cap the elections off period, you put in place a two term limit on anyone running, once they have served their two terms, before running at any level again they must spend one election cycle back in the private sector. It eliminates retirement plans from the table as it truly transforms public office back into a public sector.

As with any reform however it takes the will of the winners under the old dysfunctional system to make it work.

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Remembering My Mum & one of my best friends

Mum’s Online Obituary

Mum’s Memorial October 4, 2013

Centennial Presbyterian Church 2 p.m.

Call to Rememberance:

Mum had a tapestry that hung in her home, and still hangs there that she liked in the simplicity of explaining what we are to do.

“We are visitors on this planet. We are here for a short time. During that period we must try to do something good, something useful, with our lives. if you contribute to other people’s happiness, you will find the true meaning of life.”
― Dalai Lama XIV

Mum:

Rosemary Ragan was many things within her life, with many beloved names, but what she was first was a compassionate friend living out her beliefs on compassion, and contribution to the community.

She is a beloved wife, friend, Mum, Nana and Nanny to many, and these are just a few of the terms of love used to describe her.

Whether it was the neighbourhood kids she “adopted” as her own, her own kids or grandchildren friends she met and did likewise with. Lifelong friendships she formed at work, volunteering in local schools, for the CNIB, teaching Sunday school as a teenager, or in the altar guild as a young lady, as a babysitter both growing up and for neighbours, helping customers and the seniors as the candy lady at the local Co-op as the candy lady.

Mum would not us to mourn, for by simply looking into the eyes of the lives she’s touched, into their hearts and watching their own actions of compassion her dreams live on.

Readings

BAS p. 599 the words of St. John

Rosemary started dating her beloved Wayne 44 years ago. Just like Cinderella, her favourite Disney movie she shared with her granddaugheters, bipity bopity boo, their love story would stretch into 43 years of happily ever after marriage, 2 children grown to four, 2 sons, Trevor and Tyler and their wives, Carmen & Shawna,  now 2 daughters; with five blessings, Nicholas, Eric, Emilee, Leland and Justina.

44 years of adventures, shenanigans, stories, joys, concerns; happiness, sadness, moments of immense pride, and hiccups of life. Times when she would give one that look whether they were cherbling their candies, or going t.v. shopping without motherly supervision to bicycle jump mishaps and triumphs of education, dale Carnegie diplomas; Trevor’s BMXworls; Nicholas’ youth of distinction awards and having children chase their dreams, and thanks to the loving home built by Wayne and Rosemary their children’s dreams grow.

A home whether in Calgary or on the farm, regardless of what life choices or circumstances one found themselves in, one knew that they would always be accepted with love. For when Mum talked of her 4 kids, and 5 blessings all that radiated was pride and joy.

The work of love that is now commissioned to all of us to continue. The work of love that began in her small Anglican church in Montgomery with her favourite story.

The words from the heart of Jesus Christ that shaped my Mum’s love:

Mark 10:13-16

13 People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. 14 When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 15 Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” 16 And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them.

Mum welcomed all into her heart and home as this story says, regardless of what was needed, she was there to help and love.

Prayers:

BAS p. 602

BAS 599 continue service.

Benediction:

My Mum was a woman of prayer, she would say how could she not be with me and Trevor as her sons, and she prayed for her family, this she would share with me. A simple blessing as we go forth, to join Rosemary, for she is having high tea with Jesus, and our loved ones who have gone before, we shall go and have high tea and continue to share.

The Lord bless you and keep you.
May He show His face to you and have mercy.
May He turn His countenance to you and give you peace.
The Lord bless you!

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Arson unit investigating early morning garage fire in Rundle | CTV Calgary News

Arson unit investigating early morning garage fire in Rundle | CTV Calgary News.

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Playin’ 4 Keeps Family Day! September 28

poster 1poster 

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Whose your lightning rod?

Tanaka Rei from Legends of the DC Universe: Cr...

Tanaka Rei from Legends of the DC Universe: Crisis on Infinite Earths. Art by Paul Ryan and Bob McLeod. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is a unique question, now some people can journey through life and never discover the “one”; or never want to be with the “one”. Yet our literature ancient and modern is filled with stories of love. From failed lovers in Romeo & Juliet, to Robin Hood and Maid Marian, Lancelot & Guinevere who ended paradise. The greatest mythology shaped in the modern world is the comic book, and in the Post-Crisis (1985-2011) era of DC Comics they took the original super hero’s mythos to the next level with the Superman/Clark Kent/Lois Lane love triangle fully resolved, because simply Superman became the disguise for Clark Kent, and it was Clark that wooed Lois. In the DC New 52, they are borrowing from ancient mythology with their Superman/Wonder Woman romance (sky god/mother earth) yet there is still a root for the hero/heroine.

The clearest form though of defined love actually comes out of The Flash comics. Where the “Speed Force” if a speedster goes fast enough, will merge with them unless they have their own lightning rod to humanity. This was clearly defined in the relationship of Flash III (Wally West) and Linda Park-West, who Wally stated was his one, his lightning rod that would always bring him back home and center him. This concept was then  expanded with Flash I (Jay Garrick) and his wife, Joan… and definitely redefined when after a 23 year absence due to dying to save the universe inCrisis on Infinite Earth Flash II (Barry Allen) left the speed force due to the love he held for Iris.

So why the romantic turn? Well a, I am a huge comic geek, b, I am a huge Robin Hood nerd, but mostly this past week celebrating the greatest life choice with my family. Looking into the eyes of my soul mate, and realizing that the best term is more than just best friend, or even soul mate, she is quite literally, my lightning rod, the one that keeps me sane, centered, and brings me home regardless of how crazy life can become.

Thank you my beloved.

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Spiritual Potluck

Dove of the Holy Spirit (ca. 1660, alabaster, ...

Dove of the Holy Spirit (ca. 1660, alabaster, Throne of St. Peter, St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is kind of funny how sermons/homilies months apart can connect. A few months ago we heard a priest speak on theEucharist as spiritual potluck, for every believer comes to the table and brings their own Hodge podge of giftings together in the community joined together through the mystical meal. It is potluck because in no one location can we be completely sure of what gifts or more apt, children of God will be gathered together.

Today’s message was on coming to the table, and how growth of the spiritual community cannot be centered on a formula, ala all in pews need to be homogeneous,  or centered on growth simply to ensure the butts in the pew will increase offerings to meet budget. It has to be deeper, and more centered onChrist, together in the blessed meal (an yea, today was our local Presbyterian minister who brought us this message).

So with this why the post?

Simply think about it. Both were on the same focus, we never know who will be brought together by the Holy Spirit to be family, to live out our faith together to transform our communities into the just world that Jesus called us to build in the Gospels. We do not know a family or individual’s socio-economic, spiritual, cultural, educational, or even personal experience/reality when they come to the table with us.

All we know for sure, is that each and everyone of us (whether we acknowledge it or not) had the divine spark of life breathed into us, and has shaped our moral compass of good works, helping, and justice. The true answering by a church of the gospel clarion is not an altar call; full pews; overflowing offering; or even having the right “thou shalt/shalt nots” espoused… the true answering of the gospel clarion call in my estimation is a community that supports, encourages one another to use our diverse gifts and experiences to transform our world for the better. To end localized oppression & poverty that will create a true trickle out effect into the world.

Simple acts of kindness, not worrying about ever getting paid back for them, simply doing them because there is a baseline of love for our neighbour because we recognize the same divine spark within them that exists within us and know, that it is just to help and support one another.

But will we answer the gospel call of compassion, or will we simply continue to muddle the waters with magic growth formulas and money mongering?

-30-

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Playin’ 4 Keeps

It is quite a simple concept, thanks to Cabinsales.ca in Southern Alberta and other sponsors, a log cabin playhouse has been converted to a giant piggy bank and is going through small towns to collect donations for Alberta Children’s Hospital via parades (our kids have loved riding on the cabin or the 1923 Hehn Fire Truck courtesy of Countess Country Museum), rodeos, and main streets.

This has been a summer of seeing the love and care of Albertans through our many emergencies, yet there is still care being shown via donations for the hospital at one time or another every family in Southern Alberta ends up coming through.

This coming weekend it will be in the Elnora-Delbourne-Lousanna area, but this great shot came from our time at Strathmore Heritage Days (photo courtesy of Wayne Ragan, 2013):

rcmp playing 4 keeps

So when you see the cabin rolling through help out like the RCMP did :)

Oh…and here’s a little secret…September 28, 2013 you could win it for your kids or grandkids…just enter when…yup you got it…see the cabin or donate here.

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After 2000 years…

English: Icon of the Resurrection

English: Icon of the Resurrection (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The ship may have lost its rudder, when almost 2000 years after the Eastermoment, the church is shocked by a pope, that is dubbed the “slum pope”, and one that finds it necessary to speak out about standing firm against evil.

Even better during Rio’s WYD, a message in regards to “making a mess” in one’s diocese…that is actually moving beyond the sealed churches, schools, institutions of the formal church and getting back into one’s community.

Think about this for a moment? What is the state of the church that for many these are calls of renewal instead of simply a daily lifestyle?

Is it not the call of the faith to step out into the world outside your front door? To love one’s neighbour as themselves? To feed the hungry? To clothe the naked? Care for the sick? Visit the prisoner? Essentially to build a just and healthy world one interaction at a time?

YES! and what is so scandalous and refreshing of the “slum Pope“, that he reminds all believers of the heart and soul of the Gospel and what it means to be in the Body of Christ.

Imagine 2 billion people living these values?

Will we answer?

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Anglican Church enthusiastic about homeless housing project on its Terwillegar land

Anglican Church enthusiastic about homeless housing project on its Terwillegar land. Love it when the Holy Spirit moves a group of people to love freely and share the blessings of treasures they have built with those in need.

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Callings? Answering or hanging up?

It came to pass tonight, we messaged the church office in regards to the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) program. Time to take the next step in the exploration process. But it is also a week for reflecting deeper.

Why you ask?

Well, Francis I, this week talked about how it hurt to see priests and nuns driving the newest cars. This tended to confuse some, but let’s think about this for an instance. This is a challenge to those called to humility (in some religious orders, poverty) and to service of the gospel (which is quite clear on its call to serving the poor, the disenfranchised of society).  How can you take vows and state this is your life even vocational calling, yet spend money freely to have a luxurious life. Yes, one can look to the Vatican oppulence, but also to protestant/charismatic faith leaders of today with their own private jets, islands, million dollar pay days. The point in my heart of the car comment, was pointing out the wasting of resource within our world, that if we just distributed fairly, the gospel call of alleviating poverty would be answered.

This reflection was followed by a challenging homily by Father Malcolm at our home parish, the challenge was simple though one that believers need to hear, that if this is our call of faith, then we need to respond. VOLUNTEER is the first step, within and without our church, it should not just be a 10-15% of the same faces, but each and everyone of us should be active, and we should be raising up the young within our communities to be as responsive.

Or simply put the action of every believer was laid out in the Epistle of James (New Revised Standard Version) 2:14-18:

14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters,[e] if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? 15 If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,” and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? 17 So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.

18 But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith.

Our faith as stated this week in Francis I’s new encyclical (co-written with Benedict XVI) from Lumen Fidei Prologue: 5

The light of faith is unique, since it is capable of illuminating every aspect of human existence. A light this powerful cannot come from ourselves but from a more primordial source: in a word, it must come from God. Faith is born of an encounter with the living God who calls us and reveals his love, a love which precedes us and upon which we can lean for security and for building our lives. Transformed by this love, we gain fresh vision, new eyes to see; we realize that it contains a great promise of fulfilment, and that a vision of the future opens up before us. Faith, received from God as a supernatural gift, becomes a light for our way, guiding our journey through time.

Our faith if the light of love of God, the divine spark is in each and everyone of us. Through our works of transformation, our faith will be alive and known.

The question for us, coming through this week, and the one that led me to a Franciscanvocation in the first place, is:

Are we willing for our lives, what we spend, what we do, to show our gospel life call?

If we are, then let’s take the leap of faith, not into the darkness, but into the light of unbelievable love of a transformed life and let it actually transform us from our competitive western ways, to the collaborative gospel of the living Cosmic Christ.

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#YYC Flood- Love on your neighbour

Who would have thought that just over a week ago our city’s downtown would be darkened and empty? That the Bow & Elbow River‘s would remind us on how fragile our human built civilization is? But it happened.

The cool part during all this, is watching how socio-economic, cultural, religious, pretty much any label one could place has been wiped away as we simply love on one another as we would like to be loved on during this time of emergency.

My hope and prayer coming out of this crisis is simple, that we never lose this sense of comraderie, community and neighbour once the crisis has passed. May the #YYC that rises above the flood waters be truly reborn with that small town communal spirit firmly rooted once more.

And I am sure there are many non-profits looking for donations to help out the victims.. Neighbourlink and the Drop In Centre have been great hubs for this during this time as well. As well, as we have seen in Bowness and Mission the simple act of walk on volunteerism for clean up. Give how you can, and know that any little bit does help renew the city’s spirit at this time.

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Welcome

Pope Francis met with media

Pope Francis met with media (Photo credit: Catholic Church (England and Wales))

“How beautiful it would be if each of you, every evening, could say: Today at school, at home, at work, guided by God, I showed a sign of love towards one of my friends, my parents, an older person! How beautiful!”
Pope Francis

The new journey has begun. My family has stumbled into enjoying the Mass, and allowing this mystery to speak to us, many have…asked…what the Roman Catholic Church? Surely it’s not because I am oh so “conservative” theologically…no that’s not why…it’s about a Pope calling out the world on actually loving on one another and eradicating this thing we call poverty. Locally, it’s this little parish that welcomes my children as who they are, children, and priests/elders that inspire my soul mate and I with authentic talk of community, of discipleship, embracing the mystery of our faith… and to be honest…there are scrumptious potlucks. Did we see this turn in our faith journey? Nope, but beloved community finds you in the heart of God when you least expect it.

So the journey of endings, but renewed beginnings with new light and love. A new site to discover new calls, new communities, and share new insights that have been bubbling up within my soul as we have walked this path together.

This is different that “A Robin Hood`s Musings“ (tyragan.wordpress.com) or even Soul Pilgrimage (http://tyragan.blogspot.ca/) both good sites with decent writing, but for me at this point and time, I needed something with a fresh canvas to share my gift of writing, and reflection in the way of personal memoiric journey and transformation.

As during this part of our family`s walk we discern, but also within myself as I discern what it means to be a recycled Franciscan, coming back around to the vocational call, and whether or not to take the steps necessary to complete vows anew.

I hope you enjoy these readings, and join in the conversation when something pops up that piques your curiousity and interest.

francis


To consolidate my sites, and make life simpler, here are the postings from my daliance with Unitarianism for the Archives:

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Convergence?

It is interesting as my family continues this pilgrimage to discover a community within the Holy Mystery where we can, well be, US!

Thanks to a connection with Rev. Haffner I received some current UUA thinkers to explore, the first work I cracked open revealed a deep theological connection as to why this movement is resonating. Buehrans and Parker’s A House for Hope: The Promise of Progressive Religion for the Twenty-First Century correlates the growth of UUA as they continued building upon the blocks of the Social Gospel movement in the U.S.A.; knowing how the Social Gospel movement in Canada became ingrained in politics and such churches as the United Church to the point that labels of Anti-God/Christ and communist were thrown about I can see that this growth is not just one country but continent wide.

The Social Gospel is a belief system within the Christianities that has resonated with me for years, the idea of creating the world that Jesus’ taught us to. This was also a kernel that Latin American Christianities would hold onto with the birth of Liberation Theology; in areas after apartheid’s  genocides, and wars in the Truth and Reconciliation movements… all movements that main stream church movements tend to shy away from.

Yet there is also within the progression, the idea of avoiding the much abused patriarchal language, and name of God that has been used in the Progressive/post- Christianities circles espoused by such as Gretta Vosper and John Shelby Spong still more of the shaping of my soul on this pilgrimage that shows resonance with me.

But also the tying to the Indigenous wisdom traditions, which I have also found resonance within my journey and was awakened to the reality of such existing harmoniously with Christ through the work of Rev. Dr. Matthew Fox and his Creation Spirituality & Original Blessing.

So much to unpack, but instead of unpacking that which has been bottled up and suppressed, and opportunity to release my soul and fully live into beliefs actualized, with the Holy Mystery permeating through the DNA of the gathering even if the much abused name is never used.

The Pilgrimage continues…

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

A New Journey?

I have been blogging for many years, with many different sites. For my more formalized writing (fiction & non-fiction) please check out https://tyragan.wordpress.com

So why a new blog site one may ask?

Simple, this is the site for reflecting on my journey out of main stream Christianities and dancing with Unitarian-Universalism. These will be raw reflections on what joining this progressive faith is like from my own perspective.

Life is a pilgrimage of our soul, that when we journey to the centre of ourselves we discover the Holy Mystery. The Holy that exists within us, and that we exist in.  Hope you enjoy these musings.

Monday, 28 January 2013

Spiritual Rebirth?

Forrest Church’s Love & Death: Journey through the valley of the shadow enters into an uncomfortable topic for most of us. Death. The end of our own grand stories here in this reality.

It is a memoir of his own experience with the topic, and a journey through esophageal cancer, yet in the midst of it all he raises some points for us to ponder. As a Christian Universalist he touches upon which event if you could be only in church for one is more important: Christmas or Easter, for him it is Easter, because Easter is at least tied to death. Sounds a wee nip morbid I know. Yet there is more to it than that.  Church touches upon the Easter event, alluding to he is not sure if he believes in a truly physical resurrection or rebirth of Jesus on Easter morning, no, for him what is important is the spiritual rebirth of Christ’s followers.

Quite simple really, if we are always focused on celestial events, or things on the grand scheme, or splits of doctrine, we miss the true miracle that resides within our souls that exist within the Holy, and the Sacred that exists within us (yes the word God has become too loaded with oppression to easily tumble onto the page for me)…we miss the miracle of true renewal/rebirth/resurrection of us…

Continue this journey with me, as my rebirth continues I believe, but no longer in a separate corner of cyberspace…join me on my usual site, A Robin Hood’s Musings.

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Reminder’s

Reading the short 104 page The Seven Deadly Virtues by F. Forrester Church (1988), part of his Humane Trilogy in response to Dante’s Divine Comedy wasn’t so astounding again, as just having some hidden gems. The one that I loved was one that I have taught, and had used in the past as a spiritual practice to find a new way to understand the Holy Mystery.

That is the reminder that we hear the story from one point of view, he uses the old chestnut, the wolves tell Little Red Riding Hood differently. It is true, sit with a legend, myth, fairy tale or sacred story you love. Then spend time writing it from each of the main character’s point of view in such a way that the character telling the story is the sympathetic one.

It can be quite difficult, but it allows you to enter into the story fully and feel/experience it as others do. Life is like this, how easily do we draw blinders down onto our own situations much to the exclusion of other’s experience? Are we able to sit with the story of what happened and then tell it from another’s point of view?

It ties into the idea of purgatory as Church lays out, one that resonates with me, it is not flames of pain, or torment, but the flames are metaphorical for whether we are trying to do good, or have distorted good (to make evil)…it is in the purgatory– the purge, that these things that separate us from existence within the Holy Mystery and the Holy Mystery within us and it is not necessarily an afterlife experience, again relying on story and pointing to the truth found within Dickens’ A Christmas Carol where Scrooge has a purgatory night and changes, or Jonah with his three days in the fish belly…all purgatory events that radically change a life in the here and now.

What is our purgatory moment that has shattered our life for the better?

Friday, 25 January 2013

Better than Chocolate…a First Contact

It has been five days since the first UU service my family attended. It was a unique first service for us to go to, as well, it was about sexuality. Which in itself is not a new topic for the youth ministries I would run, but rather, for a service of worship and discovery to be shaped around it was a new one on us. My soul mate noted the piqued curiosity of the intern minister when she mentioned it was our first time at the Unitarian Church of Calgary, the rather, what a unique Sunday to come.

The family portion was wonderful, with a full showing of the power of story through the RE coordinator leading the children in a story time around healthy love (And Tango Makes Three) about two penguins of the same persuasion that fall in love, and adopt an orphan egg as their own.

The beauty of singing blessings to our children as they departed to discover the virtue of Kindness within their own community gathering (and I admit a knowing glance as we descended the stairs and were greeted by the peace rainbow flag to which my daughter goes, “it’s just like going into our basement at home Dad”).

To the service itself, that proved to be challenging, not so much on the belief of the whole person around sexuality presented, but for us experiencing it in the context of a service and not a small group (or is it just the residual of our journey of being abused by churches that have simply left a bad taste of church in our mouths?)…yet it was presenting lived experience from those that make up this certified welcoming congregation that affirm all people regardless of any human made label to being complete individuals deserving and having a right to the ideals of intimacy, love, care, and sexuality…it was a beautiful time to be in a community that where some would see my children as the labels society thrusts upon them, what is seen is just two beautiful children that are to grow into full human beings. What at first experience seemed like a shotgun effect of information and snippets, was a wonderful service designed to draw you deeper into community by joining the groups that would connect on the topics that possibly interested you: choirs, meditation, Our Whole Lives for Adults, membership exploration, chalice groups…and the list goes on…the service being just a small piece of what it meant to be a healthy and active community.

A sense of welcome that was hard not to get over, as service ended, and I went to get the children from RE, and bring them up, just being able to watch that it wasn’t just the teachers interacting with my blessed son, but rather all the kids just simply being kids, not something I have been used to seeing…so beautiful. Upon returning to the coffee time upstairs (ah how we had missed thee with our recent churches), children playing as kids, and such a non-invasive way to connect people “if you are looking to meet new friends, please use a blue mug”… all the blue mugs were gone, but that didn’t stop the meeting and greeting of new people who authentically appeared pleased we were there.  Sharing stories, laughs, concerns, current events, chatting of the service.

Is this home? I cannot say, it was one Sunday, I know the belief structures and openness’ resonate, but I also know the bruises left upon my soul from previous church involvement had burst and left lesions that are still scarring over. But that is the pain of the past, that even though there are marks left, open wounds even, the One Light of Love is attempting to burst through, cauterize and let the fading begin.

Church is Story?

This twigged in my mind reading Forrest Church’s The Cathedral of the World: A Universalist Theology kept causing Robert Fulghum’s words about his church as a minister being the bookstores, resonating with me. This tour of society in Church’s culmination of writing’s to illustrate where his theology has grown from and into, lends itself to this idea. It is not a shallow theology, but one informed by the full blessings of humanity, the source is the one love, the Creator.
It is the marvel of story, whether we term it history, religion, philosophy, literature, cinema, theatre… there is a meta narrative that permeates us, and it is within the stories we create and live through that the Holy Mystery shines through. We exist within it, and it within us.
This is the beauty of the metaphor of the book store as church/congregation. The culmination of Our story, it is where the Holy Mystery is revealed, it is at once personal, yet also communal.
It is how I have approached my faith my whole life, as a writer, always seeking out more of the story, how I have always read scripture…yet it has never resonated so clearly…

“Humanity is not a species, it is a state of mind.” – Annie (the ghost), Being Human (BBC) season 3… or more to the point of this reflection, humanity is a state of heart.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

One Light through Many Windows

Just devoured Buhreans and Church’s A Chosen Faith it is a “quasi” primer on Unitarian-Universalism. There was no “aha” as in that really made me change direction on what I have always believed, what it more was, is the feeling one gets when they ease themselves into their comfy chair or couch after a long hard day of work, or a long road trip, that “ahhhh” as the tensions evaporate and the homey feeling sinks in.

Two highlights for me were their story on marriage, that it isn’t about the governmental certificate (which far too many Xianities have made it about), for that is just to be filed at the court house in case you do not take the vows before and in the Holy and Loving Community seriously, so you can sue for divorce. Even the sacred service is just a blessing upon that which has already been created.

And the other that truly resonated was simply the metaphor of Unitarian-Universalism:

One Light (Unitarian) through many windows (Universalist).

Like I said, it was not so much a challenging, as simply an affirming text on where I currently rest my soul.

Reflecting on A House of Hope

Buehrans and Parker’s A House for Hope: The Promise of Progressive Religion for the Twenty-First Century is quite the work and percolated some thoughts in my second post. I have to admit I devoured this short book in one sitting over a cuppa with Ellery Queen on in the background. There are many things one can reflect upon that was brought up in why the old norms of the Christianities no longer fit where we are as a species.

I want to touch on a few provocations here. The first being the concept of violence in religion, let’s be honest we have all heard the rhetoric with the war on terror, and the Al-Qaeda rhetoric back to the west, very much involved God (that word that creates images of a patriarchal controller). Yet the issue goes deeper, I had some trouble putting my finger on the source, but this work hit it on the head.

If the thrust of our salvation language is a violent and vengeful God who out of “love” causes his son to suffer, and be murdered upon a cross as a sub-human, then we have created a theology of suffering for the victims of abuse that make their perpetraitors closer to God, and that the abuse should be endured because, well Jesus suffered. Now before you balk that this is completely out of context, have you ever entered into any kind of domestic violence situation with the Xianities, how many times are sides taken because one has to be proved “right”eous or holy(ier) than the others? A winner and a loser. What if instead of this hierarchy, we had a communal circle that looked at the situation and said, GOD IS NOT IN THAT (sadly, we would need a word different from God, because well, we have given God a penis and anger, which is not what the Holy Mystery is about). What needs to be understood is that an oppressive system wanting power and control is what killed Jesus of Nazareth and it was the Holy Mystery’s love bursting into life that breathed justice into it through the story of the resurrection.

But it doesn’t end there, as we reflect back on the system that the Empire used to supplant local tribal and pantheistic deities to assert control, build power and grow control out of fear…this is not the faith of love, justice, peace, hope, and joy of the peasant labourer from Nazareth, what spread out of the death throes of the Roman Empire was a methodology to keep the masses in check for the upper classes. This is what is finally being rebelled against, in Canada we saw this as the Xianities birthed the Red River Rebellion, the Suffragettes, Social Credit, Labour Church, Unions, human rights, Indigenous as human beings, Metis as human beings, LGBTTIQ equality, ending of the residential schools, modernizing of divorce laws, children’s rights, fights to end poverty, peace movements, the addictions recovery movements, shelters, food banks, environmental healing, Cooperative Commonwealth Federation, Socialism, mixed economies, arts communities, community centers, public schools, YM/WCA’s, social safety nets, universal health care, and the list goes on and on… our liberal theology became ingrained within our public sphere so much that when our constitution was repatriated in 1982, God was added to the first line to give a nod to the spiritual drive of care that built our nation; all spirituality and cultures were given an opportunity to speak into our Charter of Rights and Freedoms.  The core of these things did not start with a violent/vengeful God or even that humanity is depraved.
It began with the kernel of love and that in this love the Holy has called us blessed and beloved.
It is within this context the reordering of understanding of the character of Eve in the foundation myths of the Hebrew Bible is so beautiful. No longer the one that caused the fall, but a catalyst figure, the original theologian, a blessed questioner that bites and eats of the apple of knowledge. Much in line with what I have always seen the first three chapters (actually all of Genesis) being…a lifespan psychology of humanity… the idea that we grow, we learn, we are not cursed and thrown out in anger, rather a loving parent sees us enter adolescence and loose’s the apron strings a little so we can discover the world and learn what is right and wrong. Put into practice that which has been taught to us. Much like the system of rites of passage in tribal societies (that we as modernistic westerners are so thirsting for) that saw the mothers, aunts and grandmothers teach the children up until they went out and became adults and took their place in society. So the exiting of the garden is the vision quest for Adam and Eve entering into a new reality as they begin to internalize that which they have been taught.
These are just some of the profound thoughts rolling around, and with like all beliefs, and our Holy Mystery, nothing is static or set in stone, it is living and breathing, it is constantly changing, growing and adapting. These musings are simply a snap shot on the journey.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

UU Principles

Normally I would post the beliefs of a denomination and reflect upon them as I struggle through what I can actually agree to.  This covenant is beautiful in its simplicity, inclusion and grace, so here I share it (retrieved from: Canadian Unitarian Council, for those who know me how do these fit?):

The Principles and Sources of our Religious Faith

Principles

We, the member congregations of the Canadian Unitarian Council, covenant to affirm and promote:
  • The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
  • Justice, equity, and compassion in human relations;
  • Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;
  • A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
  • The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;
  • The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;
  • Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.

Sources

The living tradition which we share draws from many sources:
  • Direct experience of that transcending mystery and wonder, affirmed in all cultures, which moves us to a renewal of the spirit and an openness to the forces which create and uphold life;
  • Words and deeds of prophetic women and men which challenge us to confront powers and structures of evil with justice, compassion, and the transforming power of love;
  • Wisdom from the world’s religions which inspires us in our ethical and spiritual life;
  • Jewish and Christian teachings which call us to respond to God’s love by loving our neighbours as ourselves;
  • Humanist teachings which counsel us to heed the guidance of reason and the results of science, and warn us against idolatries of the mind and spirit;
  • Spiritual teachings of Earth-centred traditions which celebrate the sacred circle of life and instruct us to live in harmony with the rhythms of nature.
Grateful for the religious pluralism which enriches and ennobles our faith, we are inspired to deepen our understanding and expand our vision. As free congregations we enter into this covenant, promising to one another our mutual trust and support

Yes we are that stubborn family that still hold to children do not belong at funerals. Once they are 12 years old, then they may make the chocie whether or not they wish to attend the funeral for the loved on who transitioned. And yes even with a British heritage, I still do not get or bother attending viewings of those who have transitioned or the open casket phenomenon, like I want my last memory of my loved one to be them in a box about to be loaded in a Cadillac and driven to a hole to be covered with dirt. When it is the remains unseen then I know the true essence has transitioned to truly be one unimpeded with the unvierse and reborn as it is meant to be with the Holy Mystery.

In my pastoral life I have done life celebrations for many clients and residents. I have also celebrated the lives of my Great-Uncle Red; Grandma Ragan (Dad’s Mom); Nan (Mum’s Mum); and my Mum (kid’s Nana). In their short lives they have lost their fish She-Ra; their Dido (Wife’s Grandpa); Granny (My Nan); Nana (my Mum) and many chidlren from my Son’s school, most recently one of his best friend’s/little girlfriend from the past four years. My son is in the special needs school system with classmates with many complex health issues, so sadly his friends transitioning have become a way of life.

What has this meant for my kids is at a young age living through grief, but also being open to the spirit world. When their Granny passed my daughter came home from Kindergarten to come home and tell us that Granny flew down in an airplane to visit her and tell her not to be sad, for she was on her way to a tea party with Jesus & Granddad and all her loved ones who transitioned before.

It is times of full moon and high spiritual times of the year when my son awakes at 2 a.m. to play and read as his ancestors visit with him, sharing his heritage, joys and fun. Yes these are even grandparents he never met like my Grandpa Joe and Granddad. Yes I know these are happening as the household energy shifts, but also the things he comes out of these times knowing are not things he has ever had shared with him.

So yes my kids experience sadness at the loss of the physical life here. Yes they are open to embracing the new life of their loved ones and the return visits. No, they will not be coming to the hospitals during the end times of the funerals for they still need to see the joy of the person’s life.

Being a parent has been the hardest vocation of my life, especially with the loss my little ones have faced in their short lives, especially as we enter the years when the last 3 in our family of the Greatest/Builder Generation will pass. But the truth of love in this time, is once these three have transitioned, I know the them unencumbered by physical, mental and cerebral earthly realities will come back and visit, and share a new adventure.

So what have I learned from my children during times of loss…it is not the end of the book, just the closing of a chapter, so a new one can unfold.


Yup you read that right, my dog, Diamond, a beautiful 7.5 dog years old American Bulldog cross with mutt and a dash of pitbull, is a Francsican. She is a rescue dog. Walking her this morning her true attitude came forward by the downed political signs she chose to bury or relieve herself on. But more is the joy seen when she hits the grass on her back rolling around, tongue out, big smile on her face, it is like catnip for my pal’s soul.

Why you ask?

Diamond is a California rescue that has found home in Chateau Ragan ala Rainbow Chapel. She came into our home when I finally caved (please no comments on the irony of a Franciscan being anti-pet lol) to my family’s wishes for a dog post break in to our home. Diamond was the first dog when met to drop onto her back and expose her belly for my son to roll around with her.

Her love and patience with children who are differently abled as she greets them with loving kisses until they erupt in fits of laughter. She is jus like a twin sister for her Jazzy twin sister in our home (me daughter).

She is the world’s biggest suck, who maybe has barked once and that was to chase away a woodpecker, as those she meets on walks or into our home she is more apt to greet with huge tail wags and kisses.

Seems like this rescue would have come from a good background right?

Know, my little furry mendicant baby with her love sharing came from hell…the Gethsane spoken of by Brother Jesus, the garbage dump of torture.

She was a pupply mill breeding dog, bread so rapidly and harshly that her “official spaying certifcate” from the U.S. simply states she can no longer have puppies; sadly due to an infection a few months back when she entered heat much to ours and her surprise we discovered this and had to follow through on having her properly spayed.

There’s a strong possibility she was used as a bait dog for dog fights at one point.

The previous owners wanted her to look more pitbull that bulldog and so butchered her ears by cutting them that she now requires bi-weekly ear drops to cleanse the dirt and blockages that develop.

There is also physical scarring and trauma’s that shows some sick humans who had her sodomized her forcibly, organically and with foreign objects.

She mourns the puppies she has had that were stripped from her; and she has night terrors until one of our soft voices remind her she is home and beloved.

She is not referred to as our property; she is a member of our family, my kids call her sister; she is one of our kids. In spite of the horror visited upon her, Sister Diamond has not stopped responding to the world with the simple question:

What Would Love Do?

Sister Diamond


For those that have followed my winding writing career, they may recall a short-lived e-letter I published in the ealry 2000’s that covered general thoughts, politics, current events, and some short writings. So riding back from Red Deer, AB road trip with the family, and thinking of all the writing projects in my mind, this came to mind as the best format… so without further ado welcome to Ecclectica 2015 edition dear reader.

Spiritual Life April 2015:

It is astounding the liberation of the soul that came over me, as I stood before the Calgary Centre for Spiritual Living on April 19 with my son, and wife. As each of us was asked to share our thoughts around the Centre, my son, who has inspired me to ensure the love of the Cosmic Christ always comes first, scooped the mircrophone, brought his vocal spasticity under control, and very clearly said to the crowd at SAIT’s Orpheus Theatre “Thank you for welcoming me, love you.” And yes the long night of the soul for a journey of home has been found.

It is also unique as this was the month at Unity of Calgary, that the wife and I stumbled across the Metaphysical Bible Courses offered by SEE Outreach, and yes, it has invigorated our family’s historic faith story, with the new fork in the road we are following.

Alberta Votes 2015

  • Election called a year early and reveals the cracks in the 44 year dynasty of PC’s. Not the least of which being Education Minister Gordon Dirks blaming school boards for his decisions, or Premier Jim Prentice showing his sexism at the leader’s debate.
  • Greg Clarke leader of the Alberta Party released a great policy platform that I hope other parties will adopt and make a reality, a reduction of Legislature seats from 87 to 61. I would go even further and say cut them directly in half.
  • It is becoming more and more evident the major cost for the social safety net, health care and public education is the command and control bureaucratic infrastructure. So the easiest way to redirect monies to the core services needed would be to abolish the administrators and management tears between the minister and the local administrator. As well, merge seperate/charter/public schools into one public institution, and force private schools to fund themselves 100% NO PUBLIC FUNDS (oh and the same for private health care inititatives).
  • Please Alberta Liberals, Alberta Party and Green Party following this election cycle aid all citizens and MERGE into one centre-left option.
  • Remember this election has come 1 year early. It was called after poltiical backroom shenanigans that saw the Official Opposition gutted by a mass floor crossing (Yes Wildrose and PC’s why should we trust?), and a budget that put the middle, working and lower Class Albertans ability to afford to live clearly in the target sites, while allowing corporations and the wealthy to continue growing their wealth.
  • May 5, 2015 please make this the election you vote in.

Before May 5, I encourage you to gather with neighbours and friends in your living rooms and kitchens over tea and coffee and discuss the issues, and question the local candidates about what you need from an MLA.

Robert B. Parker Paperdoll

This is just an aside as I have been working at collection Robert B. Parker novels since his passing (I loved them from high school forward). And the re-read of Paperdoll was a great scene that shows how literature can normalize life. It is a scene with Spenser and Farrell (a cop) discussing Farrell’s life partner dying of AIDS. The just is beautiful, as Spenser the penultimate thug, basically lays out to Farrell what a crappy situation he is in to be loosing the one he loves.

Canada Votes 2015

Six months until voters go to the polls Federally, so I encourage you to begin meeting with your neighbours to discuss the state of our Confederation, and how to make it better (remembering the first step is always marking your X on election day).

One of the out there ideas for reform that came from a coffee klatch I was apart of is abolishing the Senate, Governor General and House of Commons altogether and replacing these federal bodies with an annual meeting of provincial and territorial leaders, the 13 gathered would need to elect a chairperson, and then through consensus craft the budget for the coming year.

Taxes: a progressive income tax would be good, increased corporate tax rates, and an simplification of tax structures. Canada Revenue knows if they owe you or you owe them. April 30 just have a bill or cheque come to one’s mail box. In regards to small business and GST, just have it collected and sent. For rebates to private citizens, just knock it off, what a wasteful bureacracy.

Harper continuing Mulroney Era sell off of Canada with this week’s fire sale of the WCB to Saudi Arabia.

Finding Joe–the Hero’s Journey

Calgary Centre for Spiritual Living’s Friday Night Happy Hour was movie night, and the movie was inspiring as it tied modern day teachers, actors, and entrepreneurs into Joseph Campbell’s teachings around the Hero’s Journey.

This brought out two thoughts on my part:

  1. I am re-entering the fun of the late 1980’s run fof Justice League International the era of “One Punch”, “Bwahahahaha”, “Blue  & Gold”, and “oreos” to name but a few. It was a team of quirks that each story cycle had something new discovered, look them up for a fun read.
  2. For my own journey and passions. Chase one’s bliss, the family is working on recreating our vision at home after a few bumpy years of forced sabbatical, and that is moving to a home that is a community hub. Which if all goes as planned will include a little living library in our front lawn, and the back yard being redeveloped as community garden, with a metaphysical bible study in the fall, and sporadic movie nights ourselves.
  3. But the second thought coupled with the Spiritual homecoming, has led to a sense of coming discernment for renewing my pastoral vows within New Thought, and which well of this stream of the river is to be drank from.

Paddington the Movie

The family road trip today that sparked this throw back, enjoyed a trip to Red Deer’s cheap cinema where I could share a piece of my childhood, Paddington Bear, with my kids with the new movie that came out. The prognosis, if you want a fun movie watch it. If you want a movie for a spiritual movie discussion night–watch it. If you want a movie for a family movie night–watch it.

The Paddington Movie is a hero’s journey to discover one’s bliss of belonging in a home and family.

A story all to familair in the West for how ofter it is not achieved. So this week dear reader, spend time discovering and following your bliss.

Spend time, living into and out of a sense of home where ever you find yourself.

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