Please note: like with other resources I have pointed out the population touched upon can be transitioned to any group seeking belonging, for this article and from my reflections it is persons with disabilities. But it can be the experience of anyone physically or linguistically included, but not belonging.

On March 13, 2018 news broke that Stephen Hawking had passed away. What his passing on the surface revealed is the shallowness of inclusion/affirming culture as the tripe and trout statements for a person with disabilities who had passed were drawn out. “he is finally free of his wheelchair” was one “winning comment”. Showing ableism at its finest. accessibleIt is the type of world where it is okay to still see those who are differently abled as less than; allows the Calgary Board of Education to scape goat children with disabilities for their institutions inability to manage money or tell parents from administrators that there is only stress because you chose to bring THAT life into the world. It is the world where Christianities and other religions easily peddle ideas of “wholeness in heaven” or “if only you believed harder there would be healing”.

These are ideas in inclusive (read—you are welcome, if you do not challenge our notions) and accessible (that is there is adequate close parking, ramps and bars as coded by law) communities. Ones that still allow for the idea that persons with disabilities do not speak; or how wonderful it will be to see them in “heaven/paradise” (pick your form of afterlife) so they will be whole, able to talk, and run freely and really see who they truly are.

This is not belonging. As written about in Risk of Belonging and Risk of Belonging 2 it is about moving beyond these spaces that allow for bullying, allow for entrenchment of us and them. Moving to an understanding that each and everyone of us is different, and as such to fully participate within community as we are called/created to be, means that we need different supports/encouragement/aides. It is belonging by putting value on what the person brings to the community by being there, being apart of, their intrinsic worth and goodness as a person (personhood if you will), and the riskiest of all…that when they are not there…they will be missed.

Missed is the part that creates messiness and awkwardness for human beings. It can be as simple as someone leaving community to join another, moving, or transitioning. When they are an older person struggling with health and a transition to the next life or a new facility happens it is hard, but reconcilable in the lifespan.  Still we are called to allow for humane treatment, and belonging to still exist (something our world needs to work on, check out further thoughts section at the end).

The missing person is grieving the change of their world and what is known, whether our abled world and coding systems state they comprehend or not. The human spirit enters the grief cycle; whichever one your stead fistedly holds to in your theory of change—Kubler-Ross; U Theory, etc. there is a presence on the journey of new and different we have felt the need to quantify. It is hard enough to do when you are adulting. But it becomes even messier when we move into the broader spectrum of family (chosen or blood).

But this is going to hit hard and personal for those families seeking belonging where their child with medical complexities/disabilities/differently-abled is accepted for being a kid. When you have finally found that blessed place. The dramas of driving out the child before belonging because inclusion was enough of a risk… why is belonging riskier? Because you may miss.

How do I know there is a fear of being missed that stops belonging? Simple. To belong, means that individual will be missed. With someone who may not live past toddler years, pre-school, elementary or adolescences it challenges a community’s concept of justice, rightness. It challenges our entire societies basis of quantity of life over quality. It also challenges the ideal that quality comes from being life everyone else in what is termed “typical”.

Even more in our entrenched world it removes the ability for the community to have “the answer” or “the truth” about what happened. For the Christianism (or other forms there of), “well God needed them more than you.” Is going to be vocally called out as “BULL SHIT” whether it is by the family grieving leaving, or fighting back.

Belonging is messy because we risk missing the person who becomes part of our world. That risk of missing means we must be comfortable with having aspects of our world that cannot be explained. We must be comfortable with understanding persons for persons and labels not as defining personality and personhood but rather explaining how the experience the world and what is needed for a strong quality of life. And the greatest fear for those who are spiritual or religious we are confronted with something that conceptually does not make sense, and no one should be able to provide an answer for.

What is the risk of missing?

It is risking being human. It is risking being able to accept tears heal. It is being able to accept that all will morn the empty space in the community regardless of the missing persons age, because damn it, they were part of us.

      AND IT IS BEING OKAY with being in the pain of the unknown.

To risk belonging is hard, because we must risk missing and being missed by one another.


Further thoughts from others:

John Swinton interview with United Church Observer

The Solution is Assisted Life

Sharing a Story about Bullying


A person is a person, because he recognizes others as persons.

-Desmond Tutu

The risk of belonging is that it is using the space now open to all through physical, linguistic, theological—inclusionary lens and accessible building…to move beyond simple existence. It is recognizing one another as persons, with intrinsic value, worth, goodness and blessedness.

This is a risk, because opening one self up then you cannot create an shouting match of hatred. There is no threat to you because of rules governing public space to allow all to exist, for they all are included. Now it is at the more personal level, to be able to engage one another as simply persons. This is the grand risk.



No longer the other. But neighbour.

Once neighbour there is the risk of becoming friend. Then that runs the risk of becoming chosen family.

All three of these risks carry with it the greatest risk of all:

You or the neighbour will be missed (grieved) when you are no longer there.

Children are a wonderful gift. They have an extraordinary capacity to see into the heart of things and to expose sham and humbug for what they are.

-Desmond Tutu

This is why children are so wonderful in seeing beyond our worldly imposed bull shit. They see each other, and everyone already simply as they are.

And you know what happens when we take the risk of stepping outside our own boundaries? What happens when we acknowledge the included as persons? When we acknowledge them as neighbour? Perhaps become friends or chosen family?

We belong.

And it is in belonging…that is the greatest risk.

Are you ready for the greatest risk taken in your community? Home? Self?

Are you ready to open yourself up to belong?

For others to belong?

For with the risk of belonging comes a deeper risk.

The risk of being grieved.

Are you willing to open yourself up to the circle of life?

The circle of belonging?

Stories are a slice of life. A set time span in the character’s existence. That is why characters can exist for so long with minor or major aging all dependent on when the writer wants them to exist. As I have shared previously, my Bionic Knight character was the first super hero character I created circa 8 years old. 31 years on he still is starring in pulpy hero adventures.

Recently over the past 6-7 months the story has been laid out of his struggle through health issues, and PTSD symptomology caused by his exposure to environments, stimuli and circumstances in his life in religion, journalism, outreach, and super heroics. It has led to him being “shelved” as another hero took up the mantle. In the lingo of super heroics, a legacy character stepped in.

Mostly it is the youngster that take over, as we have noted with new Johnny Power, Speedster and Bionic Knight within the transformation of the Great Crime Fighters. With the “Weird Tales of Rick Saturn, formerly the Bionic Knight” (for this and other arcs enjoy the Bionic Knight Pulps category); two new aliens were introduced. But these five characters are not the thrust of this point in Saturn’s lifespan. It is the interplay between William “Shotgun” MacKay and Rick Saturn.

For it is the closing on one chapter in the book of one’s life journey, and officially opening oneself up to what is possible to come with the new chapter starting. Literally an epilogue to one life, and the chapter one of a new book. For when folks ask why I put this four-part story together that did not have much action, it was simply showing that transition and acceptance can happen. Hope can spring forth.

Or in the observation of Rick at the end of part four:

Shotgun stepped back into the restaurant towards George and Dragon. “Look, we have a need to fill on the team with a few more members. Since you both appear to know of this imminent threat, how would you consider joining the newbies?”

Rick had to grin as he heard his friend extend the “offer”, how often he had those conversations over the years. The best conversation to have with a new or old hero, to find belonging and community. To become part of something bigger than themselves.

The world was in good hands. Rick knew it was about more than simply him, it was about taking his new life. His new book of life, one chapter at a time.

Simply a new chapter, watch for future adventures/mysteries as Rick transitions into who he is meant to be now in his life. Who knows where the stepping stones have led, and where the new chapter…new first word will lead him.





My Neighbour: The Risk of Belonging

Posted: March 14, 2018 by Ty in Spirituality

Be curious.

-Stephen Hawking (1942-2018)

We live in a world that has paused at the simplest steps of life. I know reading that spongwill infuriate more people of all ideologies, but it is true. The simplest steps of life are inclusion/accessibility/affirming. They are physical transformations of space, or nods to language change or nods that a person can exist, well because of birth. These are the simple steps, and yes we do struggle, because to be crass some human beings are obstinate dumb asses or easily led down the garden path of hate.

Yet if we can move beyond that fear of the unknown, there is more to examine within our own selves and our communities. I state the fear of the unknown that is created through labels. Yes, communities can use these to identify themselves, but then they become points of segregation, an us and them motif. This is wrong.

I’m not comfortable with the idea of setting people apart, because when you set them apart as holy innocence, what you’re really doing is creating another level of difference, another level of segregation. It’s just another way of pushing people to the margins.

John Swinton

But it is about moving beyond the simple choices, the acts of language or money. As much as we make noise about these being so difficult. Why is this noise existing? If this noise exists, the true risk does not need to be assessed. It is why with those who are differently abled, or struggling, we hold to the healing miracles. We miss the setting in history where the only way belonging would be allowed in the ancient mind scape is if everyone was the same. For that is the truth of the tales, whether Jesus is spitting in eyes, or casting out demons or cleansing lepers. It was about removing barriers for INCLUSION, but it did not mean the newly healed belonged, only they could attend (I will not go on a long discourse here, as there is many on this thread in other areas of my site).

           To include people in society is just to have them there. All we have to do is make the church accessible, have the right political structures, make sure people have a cup of tea at the end of the service or whatever. There is a big difference between inclusion and belonging. 

John Swinton

The risk of the heart is belonging.

It involves two parties. The one wanting to belong, the newcomer or the one who has been “included” and the other, the community or other individual/family (add any grouping). There is risk of inclusion in space and number, but exclusion in every other way. Humans need connection.

Belonging is risky because you have to open yourself up to someone else, and see nothing more than who they are in all there blessed goodness.




            To risk, as Swinton and others have pointed out, is to risk being missed and missing when they are no longer there. It is not simply the story of aging in place, and dying well as was discoursed with aging leaders in community, most famously discussed with the passing of Pope John Paul II. For true belonging comes without age, especially in a world where 1 in 3 Canadian children will be born with or acquire a disability.

The greatest risk?

The challenge to community to answer why when a child’s seat who belongs, is filled one time, and empty the next.

Let that sink in as you begin the journey to true belonging.

How does your community understand death?

What trite phrases are thrown out that will do more harm than good? That will shatter belonging for those who grieve deep in the soul?

The risk of belonging, is the risk of re-examining the stock answers for the reality of now.

This is the beginning of a discussion for any group or person that says they include or affirm. These are true statements, and true steps on the journey.

But do they open up to belonging?

            If they are open to belonging?

Are they open to grieving the loss without an answer?

Thank you, Dr. Swann

Posted: March 13, 2018 by Ty in Current Events

Alberta Liberal MLA David Swann has confirmed he does not plan to run for re-election in 2019. Swann faced questions from reporters Tuesday after cabinet minister Kathleen Ganley announced she plans to seek the NDP nomination in Calgary-Mountain View, Swann’s riding, next year. He said while he hadn’t made an official announcement, his plan not to run…

via David Swann confirms he won’t seek re-election — Calgary Herald

My politician’s mind is not yet ready to comment on the gong show of “what the” that was the Ontario PC leader vote (may never, as it did seem like reality television run amuck without the fun of a RuPaul Drag Race challenge). But, there has been some thoughts on new readings and thoughts in the religious world I feel like sharing.


Bart D. Ehrman’s Triumph of Christianity: How a Forbidden Religion Swept the World (2018) is the latest in his scholarly look at the life and times of Jesus, but also the New Testament World, and ancient Christianity. This is the exploration of the long-held claim that the reason Christianity took over the world, was due to the Conversion of Constantine and thus decriminalizing and promoting the religion. It has a good examination of how gods were interacted with back in the ancient world, belief of their daily interventions or causalities of history. Examination of other monotheistic religions that did not make the “cut” if you will.

The idea though of an exclusive monotheistic religion. Yes, there is power in that. But it was also an Emperor interjecting in theological debates. Ideas held that followers were writing cover letters for early apostles’ writings (idea of Pseudo-Paul letters, as covers for the collection of letters of Paul). How many active writings were out there, and what was to be held. What was to be included in the Nicene Creed, even though an Apostle’s Creed predated. There was already rigorous debate, and an exponential growth. How?

Think of the patriarchal/matriarchal dynamic. If a male household head converted, all in the household (including servants and slaves) became part of the religion. If a wife converted it may be slower, but soon would happen as well. It was communal growth, that moved people away from their localized deity to a universal meta-narrative.

Whether you choose to read it for yourself, part of a book group, or like other historical accounts to understand context of where your religion grew from…it is worth the read.


For those facilitating conversations that are looking for a different way in. I suggest CW’s Black Lightning for an exploration on family, vocation, addiction, and the difference between inclusion and belonging.

I would also highlight Netflix’s Marvel’s Jessica Jones for those above noted, as well as mental health and trauma, what it means to find who you are and where you fit within the world


Reza Aslan’s God: A Human History (2017) does not bring much new to the table on the idea of the evolution of God as a concept crafted by humanity. If you have followed anthropology, or progressive religious writers the concept is not new. Why this makes my thought pattern is that the brilliant way he presented the journey of Adam & Eve in context within evolution, is worth a discussion group and reading.


There is an argument fallacy in Christian apologetic and evangelism I wish to address.  It is the idea that the Christianities are not a religion but a “relationship”. This is the basis of the turn-burn movement. It is also the misinterpreted and misunderstood idea of choosing a narrow path in life, a life lived with respect and love for self and others and divinity.

Let’s be honest, people choose to be apart of something that is usually culturally significant or part of their family life. If they move outside that circle of influence, it is because they feel included. But just being included, or having the secret handshake or password is not what keeps them. They authentically must feel that they belong. That is, that if they were not there they are missed. It is the key. It is the missing piece of indoctrination. If one does not know what they believe, why they believe it, how it impacts their life (basics of mentoring in any movement or religion or business) they will not stay the course.

One can find belonging in any religious movement that gives their life meaning, fills the intrinsic piece. Why? Because relationships exist in the divine we meet before us. God is in everything, and everything is in God. It is God who we meet in our neighbour, and God we share to our neighbour through the life we live, and how we belong and aid others in belonging.

Basically, relationship drives every religion, so do rules and rituals…do not lie to yourself otherwise. What grows anything though is: do members feel safe?

Do they authentically belong?

Interview with John Swinton

Posted: March 12, 2018 by Ty in Spirituality

From Ty- The Root of the Gospel beyond our culture of labels—belonging…and to belong you need to be missed, which means you are seen as fully human, with intrinsic value…here are some other thoughts

Scottish theologian and former mental health chaplain John Swinton talks about disability and dementia — and why churches have got this “inclusion” thing all wrong

Source: Interview with John Swinton