Historians place the writing of the Epistle of James between 62-69 CE.  What does this context matter for the writing of the brother of Jesus? The leader of the Jerusalem gathering of The Way? As with some of the epistles the writing and circulation pre-dates the actual Canonical Gospels (the four chosen to be in the Christian Testament- Matthew, Mark, Luke and John).

It falls into a time of revolution in Jerusalem. Who knew? There was a rise up and eviction of Romans from the city as Judea asserted their control for a scant time (70 CE Rome came back hard and fast, the fall was equivalent to Babylon’s invasion, and was written about in the Gospel of Mark for the fall of Jerusalem). It was a shift from Roman Citizen supremacy. Where those who were not citizens, who were among the conquered were seen as little more than cattle, though given the “local” leadership (the inter-mitten corruption of control to keep the masses passive). Since the movement would be expelled around 85 CE, one has to note it was not happy endings during this time. I mean, let’s be real here, the Empire Religious controlled leaders executed Jesus of Nazareth. Now with the revolution, what could be expected?

The stage was set for this little brother to try and keep the message alive. Moving beyond the letter of law to what it truly means to have a living faith. One that is meant to transform the world. The writing also shows someone that had not meant to be apart of a new religious creation, but rather a continuation for the beginning words of his letter he writes to the diaspora:

James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,

To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations:

Greetings.

-Epistle of James 1:1 (New International Version)

It is a letter written at a time of revolution. That is change. A time when something new could be birthed, status quo maintained or something completely different.

Hmmm…The life of James’ brother showed the completely different at another point in his journey:

Jesus’ transfiguration.

(as told in the Gospels Matthew 17:1–8, Mark 9:2–8, Luke 9:28–36)

For the change in Jesus is what each person undergoes when they come into resonance with the Holy breath within them. This is what James’ discovered and changed his own being from “stop brother” to… Greetings.

Enter into the greetings of your transfigured life…

 

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It was a statement by Jack Knight, Starman (written by James Robinson) in the 90’s that maturity was about beginning to enjoy the Groucho harp solo’s in a Marx Brothers starmanmovie. Perhaps there is something to that. For maturity is about beginning to appreciate the other, the different, or looking into something from a different point of view and growing from it.

Spiritual maturity is something found in the teachings of Brother Jesus (and let’s face it every spiritual teacher/writer in perpetuity). It is about moving from the comfortable and rote, that is from rules based, to intuition based living in the Holy Mystery. That is right.

Jesus taught in parables because of the layers of meanings that could be drawn out of it. Mystic Brother Francis of Assisi taught in wisdom to have internalized a teaching so it was like breathing before moving on. It sounds weird I know, but really it was not about amassing knowledge that mattered, it was about living within Holy Wisdom.

 

Great double talk you say. Okay, so let’s take it to a Trekkie geek level. Think of Star Trek: The Next Generation as a set of parables (not much of a stretch). Then, like most believers we have our favourite parables. Just like in Star Trek. I like the concept of these three, which do you prefer:

  1. Data and Geordi as Sherlock Holmes and Watson battling a Moriarty designed to best Data.
  2. Jean Luc-Picard’s escapades as Dixon Hill, Private Eye.
  3. Worf as Will Scarlett proudly stating “I am not a Merry Man.”

Images, thoughts and lessons can be drawn from each. These jump to your mind whether it is about team work, problem solving, love, family, etc.

Much like the parables challenge us to continue to go deeper. Yet, it is also a challenge for much like the idea of the harp solo as we grow in our understanding of spiritual life lived out a new appreciation and understanding grows. Or as some spiritual writers would state, moving from pablum to meat in the spiritual diet (or for our vegetarian/vegan readers- solid foods).

For those who read my thoughts An Epistle of Straw? this is what I see within understanding the family dynamics of leadership James, son of Mary, brother to Jesus of Nazareth brings out in his words. Striking to the heart of the parables and delivering the hard lessons that some were not willing to move into. Even though the risk could be huge as he was seeking depth of character and caring community, not breadth in numbers. Y’know like some labourer from Galilee had before him.

The question for you in your daily practice, and for me, is are we willing to see the otherside?

Are we willing to be with the harp solo?

Be with Holmes & Watson, Dixon Hill and Worf as he discovers to be a Merry Man?

Will we journey to the heart of the Sacred,

And be better for it?


Image result for mouselandThere are many things in my social gospel journey I look to as inspiration and formation. One is the story of Mouseland (listen here). It is a simple story of how one should vote. Not political ideology or brainwashing some on the right of the political spectrum may say. Rather it is about pointing out that when it comes to voting we look at our society as a whole, and care and growth for all those we call neighbour.

The story is about Mouseland that keeps electing cats, and can’t figure out why they are always seen as “less than”. Until one brave mouse points out, perhaps it is time to vote for a mouse– that is one from the local community that gets them and will look out for them.

This is a good message moving into elections as we note the resurgence of nationalism, populism, fascism, and hate around the globe and at home.

In Ontario we see Premier Ford’s PC Government that have left behind the proud heritage of the Progressive Conservative Party, and are out to cut for retribution. Whether it means francophones shut out; refugees; children in the system losing their advocate; sexual education repealed back to the dark ages or removing human rights from gender minority groups.

In Alberta we are seeing what is beyond social conservatives digging their nails into the official opposition with their militant anti-LGBTTQ2+ rehtoric; anti-abortion; privatize healthcare and education march. An official opposition that is also pictured partying with white supremacists.

Yet we also have a governing party from the left, the NDP that covered up 2 accusations of sexual misconduct by sitting MLA’s (and yes you can disclose the accusations and investigations without outing the victim). They also have 2 MLA’s that have left caucus, one for another party after a stop in indepenence, and another as an independent. Robyn Luff from Calgary East citing bullying.

But beyond that, the party whose one of their key leaders brought Mouseland into oration so powerfully for generations… that share the story in schools…has MLA’s who are having adventures in missing the point (from Twitter w/NDP MLA Michael Connolly, and shared by NDP MLA Deborah Drever):

 

Yes a fun play on words from the black/white cats of Mouseland…yet by using “coolcats” they are now identifying with those not in it for the citizens.
Hopefully, just a misnomer, and not a sign of the drift of a once decent party.

Saturday Morning Retro

Posted: November 18, 2018 by Ty in Musings
Tags: , , ,

It’s funny that this comes into one’s mind. Thoughts around cartoons. Yes, I still love them and enjoy them with my kids. There are those that are easy to enjoy- anything Disney, Disney-Pixar, Dreamworks (Shrek or Kung Fu Panda anyone?) and of course the grand Loony Tunes or other Hanna Barbera fun. As well as a nod to the greats of my Image result for hanna barbera characterschildhood, He-Man, She-ra, Thundercats, Transformers, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Gi Joe, etc. (with those fun PSA’s at the end to really hit home the message of the story). Or the real oldie but goodies like Zorro, Lone Ranger, Spider-Man and Star Trek.

There are some new ones you can easily say sarcastically “are of Satan” that being Peppa Pig, Max & Ruby or Caillou.  Then there are new ones that have ruined a franchise of my youth years worse than the New 52 reboot of the title (Teen Titans Go anyone???).

But then there is that which you want to hate. In the era of cable television not existing and streaming services. Where your children are enamoured, and have streamed over and over again.

When the title song plays and you cringe a little.

Image result for power rangers super megaforceYet a little you are drawn in. For new animation that sometimes lacks, it does produce a storyline with some character, and a moral/message. So yes, I have wanted to avoid and hate or at the very least not acknowledge it exists…but over the last few years it has become part of my daughter (and my son’s) life.

What is it?

For those who may not know its main characters are Twilight Sparkle, Pinkie Pie, Fluttershy, Rainbow Dash, Rarity, Applejack and Spike. The basis is about kindness, compassion and friendship…sadly, it is My Little Pony.

But with some of the shows that just seem to have no random point, the fact my kids Image result for my little pony rainbow powergravitate towards MLP and Power Rangers (which teaches about team work, and helping others) there are worse things they could be streaming on binge.

(P.S. especially with the new Pony season eight on Netflix that very apptly deals with the concept of the harm/evil of Nationalism and White Supremacy through the concept of who can and cannot attend a school).


Consider that in the history of many worlds, there have always been disposable creatures. They do the dirty work. They do the work that no one else wants to do because it’s too difficult or too hazardous. And an army of Datas, all disposable… You don’t have to think about their welfare, you don’t think about how they feel. Whole generations of disposable people.

-Guinan (Star Trek: The Next Generation, Season 2, Ep. 9 “Measure of a Man“).

1989 Star Trek once again explored a topic as old as time itself, and as recent as ones own Twitter feed today. What makes a person? That is how does one know they are equal with others whom they exist with. Now one will say the Charter of Rights and Freedoms dictates we are all equal. Yet is that the praxis within Canada?

Just as in this episode where an overzealous researcher tries to claim Lt. Commander Data as nothing more than property that can be experimented on. It leads to a trial that pits Picard and Riker against one another in the debate of whether or not Data is sentient.

Now one will argue, we already know all humans are sentient. That may be a fact, but is it a practice?

I look to Toronto, Ontario’s St. Michael’s College sexual assault this past week. Parents responses to the media were not gratitude in discovering a barbaric and horrific practice (sodomizing a student with a broom handle that went viral on social media); but attacked the media for besmirching their student and school’s reputation by breaking a story the school itself had not reported to police. Let that sink in, a child raped, and a school covers up. Parental response is not anger at the institution, but at the media who advocated for the victim.

Is the victim sentient? Seen as having the same rights as the alleged rapists? What does parental and school response tell us?

Same as official opposition leader in Alberta, Jason Kenney (leader of the United Conservative Party) stating he would “keep an open mind” in regards to a ban on conversion therapy if it is brought forward in the sitting of the Alberta Legislature.

Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987)What is conversion therapy? A process to remove same-sex attraction by any means. In essence it is convincing the individual to deny who they are. And yes it is barbaric.

But one party won’t stand with equality, and sentience of all. Rather they are willing to “keep an open mind”. That in itself speaks volumes.

We pretend we are enlightened. We pretend we are better than others by throwing labels around.

But as a society have we moved much beyond the overzealous researched who sees Data as less than, and as such not as equal as others?

Does the quote of Guinan when applied to our world make sense to you?

We still have a false hierarchy of disposability. May not be along the lines of slavery as overtly presented by Guinan, but it still is there.

It is not about challenging another’s beliefs. It is about moving into the understanding of shared equality, and that no one is less than or disposable. No one is property as the episode put it.

As one contemplates stories they hear in the media, and are ready to respond in haste or anger or defense…just once…take time and consider the humanity involved.


It is weird what launches into a rebooting mind. That is where these words come from, and possibly a few more posts in the series. It is from my favourite Epistle (letter) in the Christian Testament. That tradition tells us is from the teachings of James; brother of Jesus of Nazareth. That statement in itself creates some shock waves, not as many as when things like the Jesus Seminar first started, but still some.

It is hard for some to wrap their head around Mary and Joseph having children after Jesus. Part of it even for liberals/progressives or Protestants is our undiagnosed hold onto Roman Catholic doctrine around Mary of Nazareth. That being Immaculate Conception and Perpetual Virginity. Which has relegated the gospel mention of siblings, to be that Joseph had a family before Mary, hence half-siblings, or that these were cousins being raised in Joseph’s house due to extended family having passed away. The rationale being that Mary could not be “sullied” by sexual intimacy (perpetual virginity) and extended further was conceived and birthed without sexual intercourse (immaculate conception).

Which makes James’ claim to being the brother of Jesus problematic. Some would state it is nothing more than Christian euphemism of us all being brothers and sisters. As well, by claiming to be Jesus’ brother, he shows to be a later convert (as in the gospel narrative they try to bring Jesus home) and has risen to such a high station as the leader (bishop) of the early gatherings in Jerusalem. This is problematic for a patriarchy structure because it shows strongly the leadership role given to women in the early church, and that Mary of Nazareth’s opinion held quite a bit of sway (even in Acts her presence during the choosing of the replacement of Judas).

Which is part of the reason James’ letter has been problematic. Another is that Martin Luther termed it an epistle of straw, because in the Reformation as they battled against corrupt indulgences the Reformers did not like the concept of faith/works being intertwined. It rung to them of a salvation earned, not freely given. Which as you study the history of the Reformation, rise of Nationalist church, Ana-baptist and Free Church responses creates a quagmire outside of the text.

But this is a dialogue on the text.

What is shown is a close relative of Jesus’ growing up, has risen to leadership and presents a very succinct Gospel message. One that mystics and monastics have discovered and attempted to get the church universal back on track with. Or as Brother Francis phrased it:

Preach the Gospel everywhere you go, when all else fails, use words.

Our life of compassion and kindness is what shows our faith. It is our gospel story that we right. For the term gospel is about a political life proclamation. For good or ill.

That is what James’ words are trying to get the community then and now to understand. What story do your actions tell?

What proclamation is your life lived writing?

What is your gospel?

14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good[a] is that? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

-James (English Standard Version) 2:14-17


Yes reflecting on this is late. Yet is it truly to late to think of our veterans, the families and the impact they made. How inclement weather did not stop the march…how lives were changed. How many became war grooms or war brides in the true beginning of globalization?

The 100th anniversary of the Armistice that ended WWI was on Sunday. As usual, churches honour those who served, and some who gave all. These are hard services to be a part of. Could it be because the first funeral I attended and was a paul bearer at was a military funeral for my Granddad? Could it be that a few years ago I performed the graveside service for my Nan, one of my best friends, on Remembrance Day in the field of honour in Calgary? (She was laid to rest with my Granddad).

Could it be after decades working with folks to find homes, working in some cases alongside Veterans Affairs I have seen how Veterans fall between the cracks in our nation? How governmental policy can do harm for the quick tweet quip that sounds so good…one time pay outs… such a sham. Or the sometimes horrible hoops to jump through to prove veteran-hood.

Could it be knowing friends who have gone out, and never come back.

Or those whose lives were changed forever, and not in the best way.

Could it be knowing how much Veterans Affairs does for our Vets compared to other countries– for the office will match benefits from other allied nations and then seek recompense from those nations.

An organization that aided my Granddad with medical supports, and when his last post came time, my family did not want in honouring his life for a man loved by not only his family but many in the community whose lives he touched.

Could these be some of the reasons my body responds as it did on Sunday with the mysterious convulsions and left hand tremor. It has been a row back to the land of functionality. The ripples in the pond of connectivity within our world.

We have a shadow box on our wall in our family home that shares a little bit of our famiy’s history on my Mum’s side. It holds pictures from my Granddad’s time; the Union Jack that draped his coffin when I was 16 years old. It also holds medals of my Great-Granddad Lewis, the man who served in both World Wars (the second as my Nan reports, cause they couldn’t win without him he would say).

It is the press clippings that are telling about the military industrial complex. For after two World Wars, my Great-Granddad could not rest on his laurels. For he had to lead the fight for veterans supports.

Lest we forget is not just a refrain to remember lost lives, broken lives, but those lives that thrive and live on. It is a refrain that needs to be remembered that it also means caring for our community afterwards. Rebuilding lives, and whole persons who exist within the community.

For each person was someone before they are a soldier, and they are someone after.

(Fun fact: my Great-Granddad Lewis would ring out the morning hymns at Arley King Church in Stourport on a Severn).

As we remember– it must be of the full circle cost.

Thank you to all those who served and do serve within the Commonwealth in many ways from war to peacekeeping to humanitarian work to maintain our earth’s fragile peace.

poppies

8,000 poppies crocheted to mark the 100th anniversary of the Armistice. Image from: http://www.anglicancathedralcalgary.ca/new-blog/2018/10/23/poppies-on-and-in-the-cathedral