Archive for the ‘Ancient Teaching, Modern Learning’ Category


A fun lead in that I was reminded of this week, while reading Peter Mansbridge’s latest memoir Off the Record, with reminiscents of his life new to Canada from Britain to being discovered as a baggage handler to entering the world of media through CBC and journalism to becoming the anchor of the National. It shared some different thoughts. The intrigue that may be forgotten of the 1980’s Federal election where the story was broken of a Chretien faction attempting to unseat then Liberal Leader John Turner mid-election. Which led to the ponderance of through machinations that Jason Kenney gets the 50% +1 vote during the Leadership Review April 9 in Red Deer, AB– could this be a plan B of scorched earth to walk away and still look like he has done nothing to cause the carnage? Especially tracking the current exchanges of UCP MLA’s (or their comms staff running the accounts) online.

Aside from that, it was also a reminder, that there was a time in history, when some talent could lead to opportunity and on the job learning, mentoring and equipping for a talent-passion and purpose. It also cultivated loyalty, as Mansbridge would touch on a few times, outisde offers made and turned down that were more lucrative. The thing here is the path into vocation may have shifted, with more formal education necessary. What should not have been lost though, is still seeing the employee as a person, investing in them, and their life long learning, equipping and mentorship to continue to cultivate the talent-passion and purpose into loyalty. An employee should have opportunity to thrive, and be cared for that more organizations are seeing life long careers at one agency, and not multiplicity of organization hopping for opportuniteis or growth.

Which takes us from this idea of purpose, into where that understanding grows. Disney-Pixar’s latest has been getting some press. Some ludicrous rooted in the emergent from under the rock white nationalist culture that a coming of age story within the culture of an Asian family in Toronto is not relatable, really missed the mark of story telling that connects. Which Turning Red does. The other is the “parent choice” religious right anti-menstration league that are having the vapours as the movie deals with puberty, changes in the body, and the period. This fear and anger is rooted in patriachal structures, acted through misogyny, and more than likely, asserted in the weirdness of the oppressive complimentarianism (for more on that fallacy of that theology, Barr’s The Making of Biblical Womanhood is a must read). Yet in all these “red flags’ that try to shame folks within those cultural control groups to turn away, there is a wonderful, honest, age appropriate story the family can engage in:

What is missed in all the obstufucation? That at its core is a story of belonging. Discovering who we are, and the important natural supports (personal circles of support) that aid us in discovering that about ourselves. Belonging in ourselves. For the life coaches out there as well, the removal of the individual and communal gremlins to thrive into who you authentically are. Enjoy the ride! Watch it with multi-generations, and engage in the discussion afterwards of what you do with your “Red Panda”.

The movements of art this week, brought us into the mid-week service at Marda Loop Church, a space trying to engage the faith walk a little differently. As well, as continuing to leverage technology for connection (which as a medically complex family, we are glad to still be able to connect on those days we cannot physically be there). This past Thursday, church was Visio Divinia. Like the practice of Lectio it is rooted in the story, but here after hearing the story, you have 2-3 minutes with an image from the story that an artist has crafted. The beauty of a complete service being shaped in some of the stories from Genesis, is the conversation and discussion connecting points. Those moments noted in the Gospel of sharing, questioning and growing what it means to live the faith, is in the moment. For spirituality, living the gospel life is not a head knowledge game, it intersects our holistic person, and is meant to be experienced and discovered together in community and taken forward. An aside, one of the reasons I resonate with Franciscanism, where learning a biblical teaching is more than memorization of chapter and verses or knowledge, it is the internalized living out. Also, it is always affirming to hear another pastor assert the truth of David-Bathsheba and the sexual assault.

Stories shared and the etchings follow, click on the story title for the scripture in English Standard Version to read, I encourage this to happen within community (more than 1) for discussion, as well, I encourge between generations, we had, as always, our kiddos and it brings different noticings (though my neurodivergence every so often would fixate on the dog, much like why I love the story of Tobit).

Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac:

Abraham casts out Hagar and Ishmael

http://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/373061

Joseph tells his dream (remember Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat? Joseph is the centre here):

What was given as homework, is the story of Purim, that is the book of Esther in the Hebrew Bible, and this etching of The Triumph of Mordecai:

Thank you for indulging the length of this post. Anyone who has been involved in my work, teaching, or many moons ago when I was involved with the ELCIC as a Lay Professional Leader and had a contemplative mid-week service, know how I do enjoy the spiritual practice as part of the spiritual formation. Also through the flow, there is the reminiscient of my own vocational story of making the connections with the Holy and life, the conversations I have had with many clergy and laity that the “canon” of scripture goes beyond the 66 books of the Protestant Bible (first notice is of course Orthodox, Coptix and Roman Catholic Bibles). We also have to take into account the creation we have been called into as caretakers of, the ongoing revelation through the arts, science and other learnings for if the Holy Mystery is in everything and everything is in the Holy Mystery revelation continues second by second.

And let us not forget the beautiful diversity that is the Imageo Dei (the image we are created in), for me, it resonates fo much with the Star Trek ideal of IDIC– Infinite Diveristy in Infinite Combinations. Which brings us to an article I just want to draw your attention to dear reader, around how story and fandoms can aid us in our own discoveries and health as Jay Stobie shares on Star Trek, Lt. Barclay and Mental health here.

Just a final PSA throwback to when Ecclectica used to be an e-mail based Canadian and Alberta political round up: April 9 Premier Jason Kenney is undergroing a leadership review as leader of the United Conservative Party. Where most leaders ahve a 70% threshold to stay on, he has stated, much like the Clairty Act, of it being 50% + 1 vote. I have noted many progressives defaulting to the old Alberta practice of buying PC party memberships to vote in the review to oust Mr. Kenney, and then by proxy vote in the leadership contest for the new “premier” it became engrained in the 40+ years of PC rule.

What I want to note as missing though, is this practice continued to push forward a party that many stated they were unhappy with in power. So why do we want to repeat the cycle? Aside from giving the monetary boost of membership sales. If being involved in other parties one sees a Mr. Kenney led UCP as beatable in 2023 (which polling is bearing out), why give the opportunity for a new leader and snap election?

Change begins by first knowing and naming what needs to change. Then fear, will lead us into repeating the cycle that affirms what has always been. True courage is in breaking the old cycle habits, many outside the UCP continue to say they see the change needed, lets take the courageous steps to break the Alberta cylce of affirming we’re okay with a party, and it’s only one person that has shaped the culture ebing imposed. Parties, like communities, are made up of many that create the culture.

As we flow through this ecclectica, take time to do a check in within your world, and begin to cultivate optimism and some resilience by journalling these 3 questions each day for at least a week:

  1. What are three things you are grateful for and why?
  2. Something new you have learned today?
  3. One thing you will do for self-care (to renew yourself) today?

Oh and after you have watched Turning Red, take time to draw your red panda and ask, is it being a part of me who I am or does it need to leave?

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Writer’s Note:

What you are about to begin is the culmination of a point in time of a journey of helping. This was learned and crafted while doing the work and being in discussion with others-experts, colleagues, and clients. If you wish to know more about my work I direct you to my 2019 memoir, Soul Ripples. It will take you through what it means to be neighbour, what belonging looks like both in yourself and community, have in-services (which is a human services term for learning opportunities) to grow your tool kit to help yourself and others. Oh, and some theology, because there is that intrinsic piece of our existence that we cannot always put into words but when it is experienced it renews us and our world.

Enjoy the journey before you.

Copy Right 2022 Calgary, AB, Canada.

Watch for it….


Challenging the status quo continues over this long discussion. Tradition presents it as one continuous thread over three chapters in Matthew (or many verses in Luke). Quite possibly, many teaching moments condensed to give a form of living to a new community emerging. Stripping away the traipsing of false religiosity and the seeking of Imperial Power. Shredding the idea of “other” from community, to create a space for the family that is humanity, regardless of label. Knowing that each would bring their gifts, and each would need their own interdependent aids to thrive. Together it would move forward.

1“Judge not, that you be not judged. 2For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. 3And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? 4Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? 5Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

6“Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces.

-Matthew 7:1-6 (New King James Version, NKJV).

Judgment. We view it today as being critical. But it was more insidious than that. This teaching was about deflection of one’s own trials by creating a destructive burden upon another. Deflecting harm form self, by setting up a scapegoat (literal practice of the sacrificial system). It is Jesus calling us to be introspective of our own life, to know that when we work into accountability (civil, criminally, communally, personally) it comes from a space of LOVE not fear/hate.

For we are knowing who we are, and standing strong in our own confidence. We are seeing the other person as the holy that resonates. We use justice, not as a system of revenge, but of restoration (sawbonna).

It is truly shattering the idea of fear of other, fear of not being worthy. Knowing we are worthy. Knowing we are in this together. Knowing our actions cause ripple effects that can harm or heal within the moment, and beyond.

7“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. 9 Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? 11 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him! 12 Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

-Matthew 7:7-12 (NKJV)

What was the law? A burdensome system? Know and No. It was a system to lay our cause and effect. Brought in during a society’s pre-adolescence phase, now entering older adolescence/young adulthood the literalism moves to being ingrained as an ethical compass. The Prophets were not about the future, but about pointing to ethical quandaries and the choices that were laid forth. From those choices, the effects were then laid out. And the society chose, and lived the effect.

What happens when we look beyond black and white. Live into the grey of a situation. Resonate with where our internal compass guides us (that moment on oneness with the Holy). Fully knowing cause and effect, and claim our course.

“If I were to set the compass of my heart toward a North Star for this life,what would it be?”

-Jack Kornfield

Too often we spend time chasing that which does not matter. Prestige, power, false ego or we live out of hate and fear that we may “loose out”. Yet what is lost, if we do not set the compass of our passion?

You.

Live into the gifts Brother Jesus is illuminating what will come into your life, yes there will be struggles. But what happens when we shatter the labels. When we remove, “other” and replace it with “neighbour”. What happens when we accept checking into gratitude of our journey? The gifts of faith, peace, hope, joy and Love?

13“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. 14 Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.

-Matthew 5:13-14 (NKJV)

“Discover your passion,

Find a way to make a living at it.”

-My Dad.

 

We forget the journey of life to our core is a labyrinth. Winding and turning, but one path to the centre. When we go off the path, or let the fog of EGO edge out our true essence, it can appear it is a maze (many false stops and starts), but those are the blocks of our own creation. Keep true to the journey of the labyrinth that brings you back to your passion. It may change as the journey changes you, but growing from your passion will…well as cliched as it is:

15“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles? 17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them.

-Matthew 7:15-20 (NKJV)

You need the write material to grow the right fruit.

When you live out of your true passion, your narrow path, your fruit will grow and be shared true. Your life will be a beacon of who you truly are.

What does your fruit say about the path you are on?

 21“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you;  depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’

-Matthew 7:21-23 (NKJV)

It is easy to live a false life in the maze. But in the end, are you belonging in community? Or isolated with your EGO toys?

24“Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: 25 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.

26“But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: 27 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.”

-Matthew 7:24-27 (NKJV)

Sit with these four short verses. Read/hear them three times.

  • Reading/hearing One: What emotions rise up for where you are in the journey now? Rest in those emotions. Scribble them out in colours.
  • Reading/hearing Two: Draw the house the emotions lead you too. Which one is it? Is it completely one? Rest within that house, and the creaking.
  • Reading/hearing Three: The hardest moment. What maintains your house where you are? Or begins to shift to the house you want?

Rest in the moment of the art.

Rest in the moment, savour where you have been. Honour the house that has been built. Thank the house you live in.

            What is one simple act of kindness you can do today to move towards the house you want?

 

28 And so it was, when Jesus had ended these sayings, that the people were astonished at His teaching, 29 for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.

-Matthew 7:28-29 (NKJV)

 

 

 


The discourse continues as Brother Jesus attacks the holy acts for the show of importance, not for where they are to come from. True concern/care for neighbour. Matthew 6 (full text at end) explores the idea of showy spirituality. The kind that is out to inflate the ego of the individual, that creates power base and authority. This is done through excluding people.

Think about in. The idea of fasting? Challenging for some due to health conditions, or socio-economics. Yet it was a “height of holiness”, but for this to be the case, you were looking to the already wealthy to show how “blessed” they were because of the power they had stolen by creating outcasts and others (hmm… televangelists, social conservatives, eco-extremists, any fundamentalist/extremist that creates a false us/them dichotomy). Jesus was using the practices that people pointed to show worth, and pointing out the hypocrisy.

Giving alms. How is it from a base of wealth giving to the poor, worthier, than the family subsisting that never turns away someone joining them for dinner?

Fancy words are not what prayers are made of for show? It is the affirmation of your own worth and love, and sharing from the core. Centering first, then living that matters. Not the show, and then raking in the coin. To moving into the place of treasure, some have always said it is in what one can amass money or possession wise, but truly if you have all the toys but no real relationships with another, have you any treasure? If the accumulation has filled you with such fear that you are wiring up bright lights and video cameras to “protect” and place your life on lock down out of fear, is it worth it?

If you have all this wealth, but have never seen another person as worthy of dignity, aid, health care, social assistance, pharmacare, education (the list can go) because they “are not worthy” and need to “earn” it…then are you truly resonating in humanity?

Image result for finger labyrinthThis portion is to take you deeper into your internal self to truly understand that contentment comes from residing fully with the cosmic spark within. It is the journey of the labyrinth to our core.

And being in the core…allows for us to reflect upon our lives, our core values, our own health. Much like a coaching wheel of self-care:

 Click on the image to view. 

The centre is 0 the outer rim is 10, authentically mark out the areas from 0 to 10. How balanced is your life? What does your wheel look like? What is one area you want to focus on, one simple step to moving your number up one space?

I encourage, much like the discourse on the mount, this activity to be done in groups, so you can hold one another accountable, follow up in a week, two weeks on how the challenge is going to keep the momentum up.

As you grow, and transfigure. Know contentment will wane and come. The challenge is…

 

 

Will you risk being content?

 

End Note Matthew 6 (English Standard Version):

6 “Beware of rpracticing your righteousness before other people in order sto be seenby them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.

t“Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocritesdo in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may ube praised by others. Truly, I say toyou, they have vreceived their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let yourleft hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. wAndyour Father who sees in secret will reward you.

The Lord’s Prayer

“And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love xto stand andpray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. yTruly, Isay to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, zgo into your room andshut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. aAnd your Father who sees insecret will reward you.

“And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as bthe Gentiles do, for ctheythink that they will be heard dfor their many words. Do not be like them, efor yourFather knows what you need before you ask him. fPray then like this:

g“Our Father in heaven,

hhallowed be iyour name.1

10  jYour kingdom come,

kyour will be done,2

lon earth as it is in heaven.

11  mGive us nthis day our daily bread,3

12  and forgive us our debts,

as we also have forgiven our debtors.

13  And olead us not into temptation,

but pdeliver us from qevil.4

14 rFor if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you,15 sbut if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive yourtrespasses.

Fasting

16 “And twhen you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure theirfaces that their fasting may be seen by others. uTruly, I say to you, they have receivedtheir reward. 17 But when you fast, vanoint your head and wash your face, 18 that yourfasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. wAnd your Fatherwho sees in secret will reward you.

Lay Up Treasures in Heaven

19 x“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where ymoth and rust5 destroyand where thieves zbreak in and steal, 20 xbut lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven,where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 Forwhere your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

22 a“The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will befull of light, 23 abut if byour eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then thelight in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!

24 c“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, orhe will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and dmoney.6

Do Not Be Anxious

25 e“Therefore I tell you, fdo not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or whatyou will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, andthe body more than clothing? 26 gLook at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reapnor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. hAre you not of morevalue than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his ispan oflife?7 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how theygrow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, jeven Solomon in all his glory was notarrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is aliveand tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, kO you of littlefaith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For lthe Gentiles seek after all these things, and myourheavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But nseek first othe kingdom of God andhis righteousness, pand all these things will be added to you.

34 q“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious foritself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

 


Ancient laws were fairly simple. Do not wipe out a village for small in fractions. We have an example still today with our Common Laws in Canada, because, well a system of justice makes things orderly. It provides a system that removes vigilantism and revenge. This was the kernel of the writings in the Hebrew Bible book of Genesis around eye for an eye. Jesus was trying to move the world beyond tribalism and revenge when breaking bread on the Mount he spoke:

38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; 40 and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; 41 and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile. 42 Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you.

-Matthew 5:38-42

The challenge being we hear these words and have taken it to mean that we should be push overs, that we should allow for abuse, and be passive. That was not the case. The assertive measures given were a non-violent method of resistance that kept one safe in the times of the Roman Empire. Yes you read that right.

The cheeks: it was a turn of defense that closed the gap and threw the attacker off balance to allow for escape. Anyone that has studied non-violent crisis intervention, or some of the monastic martial arts ala Aikido know about this. It was not retaliatory in the vein of revenge but protecting one’s own life.

Coat/cloak: The simplicity being taught within Franciscans and other mendicant orders 1200 years on was that we are simply holders so do not be afraid to lose consumer items. The protection in these words being that you were already seen as a not entity, and as such if you do not give up the shirt your life is forfeit, so add insult to the one attacking the untouchable and give your coat. Do the holy action upon the holy person to reveal the hypocrisy.

Go the extra mile: Safety- it produces more space, shows you are willing to do more to aid a better society, again opening up the hypocrisy of the bully. No longer being the bullied but taking the reigns and empowering the by standers to come along side which flows into the idea of removing—

Begging/borrowing- truly live in the Jubilee spirit. Give what you give without expecting payment back or out of any other notion than being able to help. What form does helping take in your world today.

What steps of simple kindness can you take that keeps yourself safe, but resists an unjust system? That shines light into a darkness? That shows those who the world still casts aside they are fully persons?

The original eye for an eye law was to reveal we all carry the cosmic dust…these were getting beyond literalism and fundamentalism (and some cases extremism) to remind humanity: we are all in this together. The ripple effect, one little action can change things for the better. Assertive action can create transformation communally.

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers and sisters,[o] what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

-Matthew 5: 43-48

What does prayer do? That is always a deep question, and one constantly explored. I remember sitting in Mass one morning (weekday masses after night shifts in emergency shelters always seemed to percolate the most thought). It was such this day as the priest spoke of praying for the dead. He stated quite emphatically it was not about praying them into paradise, that was done in the moment of death when all that kept them away from full/deep communion with the Holy Mystery was purged away (purgatory-rather instantaneous).

No, praying for the dead was about your own heart. It was about removing the shackles you have placed upon yourself so that you are able to reconcile a new day with you and the Holy within.

Contemplate that. Praying is about reconciling your whole being to the interconnectedness of itself.

Now, re-hear verses 43-48, three times:

First hearing, spend time with what emotions are drawn up out of your core being. Spend time with them, best way to release them is through some form of colour work whether it be paint, chalk, sidewalk chalk, crayons, pencil crayons.

Second hearing, spend time with the memories that wash over. Which one truly resonates and sticks out for this moment in time. Write it out as a truly F-you letter to the enemy. And place it with the colours.

Third hearing—just spend time with you. Remind yourself God is love. You are love. You are not what your enemy has led you to believe you are.

In the release moment when you are ready—destroy that which came out from the first two hearings. Spend a moment to grieve the ending, knowing you may need to come back to this moment, or you may not…but the prayer was about love of yourself, and releasing…so you may love your neighbour as you truly now love you.

Ready to embrace a true F-You moment of life?

Authentically L-O-V-E— YOU.


It never hurts to pause, and re-examine the core beliefs you were indoctrinated with in life. At different steps in life. That is what the discussion of the Sermon on the Mount was about. Shattering/obliterating the old that needed to go; preserving that which is true to you, and building upon that to flavour a new future. Being blessed in the tension of transfiguration, and knowing that no matter what the world, your community, your family or your own inner saboteur/gremlin may tell you—YOU ARE COMPLETE AND WORTHY JUST THE WAY YOU ARE. It may sound corny, but corny is because we know it’s the true we do not want to accept.

The journey of interior/exterior change continues. The laws and lawyer classes had made things convoluted (hmmm…) and no one was sure where different groups stood on what was allowed or not, what was true or not. In fact, the family that ruled between the Empire and the Religious Oppressors maintained authority by constantly playing all sides of the conflict (like a modern day dark money PAC will).

What is resonating of the past where these words were spoken, that is true in your world today?

Take a moment and mind map it out or draw it or journal it—whatever creative process you use to let go of the rational, and let the creative energy flow. What in your world today is holding you captive so that you cannot live into the best you? What is the gremlin trapping within you?

33 “Again, you have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but carry out the vows you have made to the Lord.’ 34 But I say to you, Do not swear at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. 37 Let your word be ‘Yes, Yes’ or ‘No, No’; anything more than this comes from the evil one.[n]

-Matthew 5:33-37 (NRSV)

So much rhetoric was destroying the ability to trust one another. People were taking on things not because they wanted to. It was out of fear of losing out. Fear of being kept out. Fear of not keeping up. Building one’s own prestige. One’s own “holiness” or reputation…and the list can go on and on.

The core though was they were being untrue to themselves. They were keeping up with whatever voice was sabotaging them, they had to prove/disprove things that did not matter.

We all hear a voice like this at times, or many times. What rings in your head that keeps your word from being simply yes or no?

Pause on that.

Name it. I like Clyde, but what name resonates with you.

Draw them, and spend a moment or perhaps several. When you are ready to silence the false voice. The Gremlin/Saboteur. Dispose (tear up, burn up, throw out)…but only when you are ready. For this is a step into the authentic you, not just a per functionary check box on a spiritual bucket list.

Are you ready to destroy the false promise of you and enter the true assertion of you?

Burn a Gremlin.


The conversation/debate on what to salt of the past and the present for the future continues. It is no different than debates that rage today. Look at eugenics, there is passive ableism in the ban the plastic straw movement as the “cult of enviro-extremism” above all else. Not led wholly by science, but by whatever MBA has designed for best advertising (that is not a solution of reclamation, and what is causing more harm, how to reduce but support all parties ability to, well, drink)… to active atrocities such as provincial government and school board policies that see those with disabilities as less than, and those that walk the journey with them as not cognizant of having the same supports as others because it is the “life chosen”. Let that settle in as you hear the words that come, and some discourse for the 21st century around them.

It will also be hard to ingest, when you see how clearly the true intent of the teaching had been used even back then, twisted, to literalist laws that created caste systems of “worthy” for aid and esteem and those to be cast aside or “not worthy”. A myth that still perpetuates today. I could just imagine Brother Jesus (or any of the saints) speaking out on the anit-vaxxer campaigns. Debunked science that stated vaccines lead to disability. Or to be more direct “your entire argument is the worst thing in the world is not a horrible death by measles/small pox or being patient zero in such a calamity—but to be neuroatypical.” Try to tell me eugenics is not alive and well. The scary part is the drive within parental choice of health care and refusal of care of children how much is driven out of the Christianities. Pause and think as you read the discourse on what was causing harm to the people of Jesus’ day. Pause and ponder what has been twisted to harm our world today.

Who is the outcast/untouchable of our modern caste system?

21 “You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not murder’; and ‘whoever murders shall be liable to judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister,[e] you will be liable to judgment; and if you insult[f] a brother or sister,[g] you will be liable to the council; and if you say, ‘You fool,’ you will be liable to the hell[h] of fire. 23 So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister[i] has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister,[j] and then come and offer your gift. 25 Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are on the way to court[k] with him, or your accuser may hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. 26 Truly I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.

-Matthew 5:21-26

Anger to murder. That literal law is fairly clear. The outcome action of murder was covered in the Hebrew Bible in the eye for an eye, etc (the pro-life explanation of death penalty support). But what if its more? Avoid escalation. Use collaboration. Discuss. Open up the view points, look for common good. Know that when an offense happens, once the debt is paid it is paid, but that does not remove the kernel of what caused the original murder. What started the anger or pain that began the plotting?

What allowed you to see the other as the most vile thing possible in the world? What allows you to see the other as deficient? What allows you to hide behind laws passed that state a caste system of value for the person? It is seen across political spectrums still today, and administrators may say “yes it is needed, but”…apologists for the existing system come in all forms, even from those that may require the system do more. It is beaten in apathy. How do we understand so much about abuser cycles? It happens so much communally, we allow it to be accepted.

The root of anger is the battle for belonging or superiority.

What battle is the one worthy?

What wolf as the ancient teaching goes should we feed?

27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.[l] 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to go into hell.[m]

31 “It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32 But I say to you that anyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchastity, causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

-Matthew 5:27-32

The most abusive texts ever used. The only way to cease a marriage is due to adultery. Failing to realize that it is adultery upon the “property” in the ancient marriage contract-the woman. These are the words challenging the status quo of the day, and are still used within circles to say that the only way to dissolve a religious marriage is due to infidelity.

Really? Or is it the challenge that the only reason the marriage contract existed then was to ensure propagation of breeding rights, and the just payment to family, and insurance shame would not be brought upon the selling family by the woman being cast out? Essentially, it was all about purchasing the one you believed would create the best-off spring for your family legacy. What kind of practice does that sound like?

The teaching here is driving home the point the contract is not about this. It is about care, belonging, home, family whether or not children were possible. It is about equity, equality, and justice. Why else would he bring right hand in? The dominant hand used for assault (domestic violence) or the eye (seeing that leads to forcefully taking something else)… and even the legal mechanism being a farce for it leaves one party less than the other.

Are the words burning? The inequity of the world back then? Does it resonate in our world today? What would the words be in these teachings today? What is the literal law of the land that perpetuates violence, hatred and less than-person-hood?

What do you hear from your world?

How does the circle of accountability need to be drawn wider?

How does the circle of healing need to danced?

How does the circle of belonging change for your living room?


The hardest part of any change within is being present during it. For good or ill, the journey always has more points of discovery than when the destination is finally reached. But also in the journey one needs to realize when they have reached a point of a new journey beginning. Jesus opened up about the internal transformation, and how the ripples would affect the community.

13 “You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot.

14 “You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. 15 No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.

-Matthew 5:13-16 (NRSV)

Salt? What a complex thing to be compared to as a change agent. Complex how you say? It is about being a flavouring in the world. It speaks of salt of the earth. Creation. Being in the here and now. Salt has been used in at least 3 ways:

  • Preserve for meats (protein, needed sustenance)
  • To bring flavour out of foods.
  • Agent of destruction. Yes, you read that right. When an invading army had completed the burning down, proving their “god” was more powerful. The men all killed, children enslaved, women raped to eliminate the last vestiges of the previous people. Crops burned. Then the ground was salted so nothing could grow.

What does this mean to your own journey of self transfiguration? What are pieces of you that need to be preserved? Other pieces that need some flavouring (care and cultivation)? And pieces that just need that destruction (wiped out/healed of/moved on from)? The salt metaphor is for your journey, it is about you and the salt that is to be lived into. Then taken out into your community in love of neighbour. Personal transfiguration to communal transformation.

Are you feeling salty today?

The three-fold use of salt removes the muck that hides your true self. Transfigured and continuing to transform your light begins to shine. People notice, wonder why the change. Will you share what it feels like to take self-care seriously? To embrace your true worth? To stop listening to the exterior that has become interior monologue? Do not accept abuse. You are worthy. You are salty and that will continue to transform the good, and destroy the…well destructive crops planted long ago and today to stop you from being you.

17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter,[c] not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. 19 Therefore, whoever breaks[d] one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

-Matthew 5:17-20

crossanIt is rather simple. We tried for centuries, millennia even (up to this point in history how long had Homo Sapiens walked the earth?). All the ancient stories had pointed to this self-worth, love of neighbour by embracing the whole self (spiritual and physical). Not living in hate or our of fear, but in a more offensive four letter word:

L-O-V-E.

We used all the teachings to create a caste system of oppression, hatred and violence that is still perpetuated today.

That is the system being smashed. The Love thread is what is to be fulfilled.

The question is:

What will you do to let your saltiness shine outwards in Love?

 


As we move through the Ancient Teaching, Modern Learning series it is quite easy to just look at the teachings and action items as an out there. An attempt to change our broader society and community. This is true, but it is only one part of the learning that must always be kept at the forefront. There is also the interior change. These teachings were challenging societal norms that did harm, and left communities and individuals in intergenerational trauma, only put value on a person for what they could amass as wealth, and anything seen as less than “perfect” as something to be expunged. It was these norms that fed the eugenics movement that would emerge out of what was meant as good with the Social Gospel movement, for it still created category of other.

This is not right. In the global world we must surrender the concept of other.

In our own interior castle though we must surrender other. That is the other rooms we refuse to enter: the dark basement, the attic, perhaps the wing that has been sealed off. Where must the light shine through? Where must we honour the blessings that challenge the norm? Where we hold in tension in change, and see what is true and right to move forward?

These were the unknowns when Jesus started travelling and teaching. He was nothing more than a general labourer from a small village, rumoured at the least to be  a bastard son, at worst half-Roman (due to the concept women were nothing more than receptacles and all non-Empire citizens were property, meant Mary could’ve been with child due to rape). Someone that was not meant to be seen as a messiah, or be as learned as a wisdom teacher.

Yet here was one in communion with the Holy Mystery. Open like many who do not fit the typical mold we state for “humanity”, that was able to speak and live outwards. One who was able (as many are) to recognize, neighbour, in not just those who were the same, but those who were blessedly different in the rainbow. It was this Hodge podge rabble that had begun to collect. Where men, women and children were called as persons. Many meals were shared, money and goods were shared from whomever made it, and whatever role needed to be filled was not fully defined by the gender (note the many times the women take the lead throughout Gospel stories? Including in going to the tomb?). It was here that they had traveled, and come to a Mount.

A mount where the Decalogue (10 Commandments) had been brought down by Moses to those escaping another unjust society, seeking a just society, but had interior work to do as well. Now Jesus, sat, ate, talked, laughed, I would say with kids around probably played. Let’s be honest his followers had families or not, there is a high probability Jesus had a wife and kids to at some point. This was a family picnic and a chance to begin to unpack what it meant to live in the Love Covenant. And Jesus opens up with what are seen as blessings (Beatitudes):

When Jesus[a] saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 “Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely[b] on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

-Matthew 5:1-12 (New Revised Standard Version)

Who are the poor in spirit? And why is the Kingdom theirs? The Kingdom is not the next life, it is the world created here and now where everyone belongs. Who were the poor in spirit? The ones the religious stated were not holy—the disabled, the sick, the poor, the single parents, the widows, the orphans (any oppressed group)—basically the victims of a world that wanted the non “pure” wiped away. Sounding familiar? What soundtrack is playing in the poor in spirit’s mind if everyone around them is telling them hate? What happens when the action is turned, a community welcomes? We ponder how to extremism, gangs, addictions (the list can go on)…and it comes from a place of being welcomed, loved and accepted. Something society has always resisted as we resonate on the “other”. Living in fear not hope. Living in hate, not love. For to accept the other as a whole person, then in our own mind means we have to accept that there is diversity in creation and it is okay. Belonging is not about being homogenous, it is a heterogeneous mixture of all peoples, where belonging happens due to the complexity that brings into community.

Who are those who mourn? The ones that society says do not deserve comfort. It may be the citizens caught in a bombing run. A Doctor’s without Borders targeted hospital. It may be a criminal. Or it may be a child with disabilities that the education system says their staff and friends do not deserve the mourning journey because “that’s life”. It can be rationalized on so many levels, but being able to rationalize does not make it right. Those who mourn will be comforted…because all who have suffered loss, change, transition, death…deserve the embrace of compassion and equity of care. Your tears, as the tears of others, have value and should be honoured in your personhood.

Who are the meek? They are not the zealots, or the activists or the wealthy or those who are seen as the powers that be. They are the ones that keep plugging along, in survival mode, or just making ends meet. Those that we have stripped voice from because they have not “earned” the “right” to speak. These are the meek. They are not weak, or without intellect or without skill. They are the ones that are the untouchable, the poverty class, the working class… the ones the world ignores for it is not flashy what they do. Yet when their voice is heard change happens. Just look at any human rights movement—those are the meek.

WTF with Righteousness? We live in a world of the self-righteous build the wealth using religion as the opiates of the masses. Who twist religion and ideology in such a ways to create their own fiefdoms at the cost of the other (neighbour) and sometimes destroying their own interior castle if they succumb. The hunger and thirst, is the base desire of knowing something better is possible and needs to happen. That is the drive that allows the others. Remember there is many ways to build poetry and rhythms. Could the Beatitudes be that in seeing as those actions of loving self as you love neighbour, tying into this literary concept of righteousness that takes us into the next blessings.

The merciful? The reciprocity of actions being returned upon you. Not necessarily from the one you showed mercy too, but being able to ease the burden of your own guilt for not helping (the bystander effect) but also in a time of need there is always that synchronicity when help comes. Whether we are aware of it or not. This is a moment of discovery to become aware of gratitude. To know when there is good that comes into your life, no matter how inconsequential some may say it is. This part of the laws of creation.

Pure in heart? This is not some nursery rhyme or fairy tale concept. It is the idea of pureness of one’s own heart. What is still allegorically believed today to be the source of mercy, compassion, kindness, empathy and love (to name but a few). The pureness and ability to see God is simple. If we live our lives with our highest good and those of others (one simple act of kindness at a time) even in the darkest most stumbling moments you will know the cosmic dust that formed you. The energy that binds you to creation and creation into you. You will know the depth of L-O-V-E (the greatest gift) in your darkest time, and that light will shine through and confound the darkness.

Who wants to be a peacemaker? As then, so today, the mediator, the peacemaker, is the one in the midst of the conflict. Whether it is armed, domestic, civil/tort, or within self. You are in the middle holding the factions at bay. Using whatever means necessary from restraint to powerful questions to get to the core of what resonates for all sides to move forward. This is how healthy change happens. In the moment of conflict when one (or many) assesses what of the old needs to pass away, what of the new needs to be accepted, and how to bring the pieces together within the new reality. In “U theory” it is the prototyping phase of change. Trying out new concepts to see what works, but also have the prototypes implode/explode. This is in the outward world, but also inwardly when you journey.

It wraps up speaking about rejoicing in being persecuted. WTH? Jesus is reminding those gathered that a new path is being chosen. A path where the formally “non-person” was going to assert their “personhood”. In this assertion much was to come down upon them, but to know that this is the time to stand proud in who you are, and that this is what was supposed to exist.

The beatitudes like the concept of the Greatest Commandments, have been the basis of many “theology of the margins”, and this includes many monastic movements and the Social Gospel. Sadly, there is much darkness within those movements that also needs to be expunged for it took these pieces to create another concept of “worthy poor” and eugenics that too must be dismantled.

Within that dismantling though is the interior calling of these words for each of us. Where we are here to get the external home in order. What are we to do with our interior sanctuary?

Write out who you and others see you as today…then…

What affirmations are you going to take up to re-writer you internal dialogue from commodity to worthy person?

What acts of kindness will you share with your neighbour, but also show yourself?

Will you pick up the habit of simple time of gratitude no matter how mundane others may see what you are grateful for, it still is the good in your life?

Try for 30 days (time to build up new habits)…what is the new writing of who you are say?

Are you blessed?


Ancient tradition stipulates the Gospel of Matthew was written by the repentant tax collector called by Jesus, who was renamed from Levi to Matthew (Matthew means gift from God). Depending on theology you read for this synoptic gospel, either Matthew or Mark is the earliest. Material lines up with 3 of the Canonical (those Imperialist chose under Constantine to be in the Christian Testament)-Matthew, Mark & Luke. Some suggest another mystery source, Q, which has never been found, or could be snippets from other pseudepigraphal texts.

What happens though is that Matthew is written for a Judaic audience. Though an audience that was in synagogue, and still willing to hear the political statement of change. A change that can be seen in how the text was structured, yet still clinging to historic means that may no longer fit. To mark placement of importance there is a genealogy enclosed. It is a genealogy that includes victims, and voiceless, but traces to the line of David (many messianic complexes of the day would provide proof. The way Jesus did through Bathsheba, #metoo, shows the need for equity, equality and believing the victims) …to Mary of Nazareth, the bride sold by her family to Joseph. It still holds to the outdated archaicness of the patriarchy, in which Joseph was the one the messenger came to. Yet in this, much like the rape of Bathsheba, it was to show how twisted the creation of equality had become. That this man would hold the fate of another in his hands for following her faith. Joseph could cast her out to be stoned to death, or cast outside the gates to be a survival sex worker with child to pass away into nothingness. Joseph, unlike the David story (David killed the offspring, and Bathsheba’s husband) chose to live as family.

It was not shepherds that came in Matthew’s account, but astrologers, other faiths who saw love enter the world and barriers break down. Much like within Solomon’s temple, a peaceful co-existance of the many wells within the birth narrative (again redeeming the story of the temple collapse). To Jesus going to his cousin, one calling out the institutional structures of segregation, an Essenes most likely, one who chose to remove themselves from the corrupt society. It was here Jesus showed more interconnectedness by partaking in their ritual of connectedness and washing away the dirt of Empire existence.

To a battle in the desert. A battle with Satan. Who is this metaphoric angel? (A great example is the show Lucifer, though I do prefer the original comic representation in Sandman and Lucifer). A tempter, tester, and trickster (seeing other resonances of ancient wisdom). Though also metaphoric as the one that gets those seeking justice to sell out for personal glory (resonate with any personalities of today? Wealth and power to give up principles?)… a metaphor for Herodians, and those in the Sanhedrin? For Roman Empire, tax collectors’ (perhaps a private metaphor on the internal battle within the author Matthew? Or the struggle to come later with Judas?).

From this struggle, the first followers come. Those out of the desert, those that saw something different from what was being put forward. Those that saw someone unwilling to be swayed by the powers that corrupt causes every day.

23 And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people. 24 So his fame spread throughout all Syria, and they brought him all the sick, those afflicted with various diseases and pains, those oppressed by demons, those having seizures, and paralytics, and he healed them. 25 And great crowds followed him from Galilee and the Decapolis, and from Jerusalem and Judea, and from beyond the Jordan

-Gospel of (St.) Matthew 4:23-25 (English Standard Version)

To the healing texts so abused today. Yes there was healing, the first universal public health care around illnesses. Yes there was probably exorcisms and energy healings, we had seen the ground work laid for these.

BUT

For those with disabilities, the only way to understand for the people of the time authentic belonging was to “heal”. So they would become part of the community, truly belong for it began to shatter there understanding of segregation, and causality.

There is a reason why this essentially becomes the prologue to the Christian-Judaic version of the Law—the Sermon on the Mount—for it began to show that those cast aside by society and doomed to death was societies’ wrongs, not the individuals’. It was to show that belonging, began with those pointing the finger of blame saying it was the person’s fault.

But no one was ready in this early movement for what blessing meant. Keep in mind at the time, Blessing (beatitude) was assuming good health, wealth and prosperity due to being a good law follower and believer only in one God.

Brother Jesus’ prologue actions shattered ancient ableism, and the words to follow were ready to start the reflective pondering of societal change…a change that would culminate in a lynching.