Archive for the ‘Archives’ Category


For the archives some relevant, some pithy, some I had forgotten that I had typed, but all include some reflectiveness on life and living (each bolded area denotes a new article):

Sneak Peek of new book: “Rainbow Chapel Unplugged: Leaving Churchdom”

23 August 2014 at 18:34

Rainbow Chapel?

It was what my personal outreach ministry finally became dubbed when I purchased my parents’ home, the home of my childhood for my own family to grow in. Up until then, the ministry had been done in coffee shops, church basements, hockey rinks, basketball courts, streets, alleyways, and restaurants…and the occasional basement movie and game night. Now it was a new hub to be tried to actually live this thing called Love a dude named Jesus taught and spoke about, it was about a house becoming a home not just for those that were “family” of the home, but home for those who came inside and found a place to belong free of whatever labels and “crosses” society has given them to bear.

Unplugged

Because for everything there is a season, and for now it is a season of fallowness as the family learns to spread beyond the home and find new places and ways to belong and spread love. The chapel is still within our own home, and the doors are always open, but for now it is a going out instead of a welcoming in, and one day the two shall balance.

Leaving Churchdom

My journey is at a crossroads, where I am done fighting the same battle for all to be loved and heard within institutions that are more concerned with money, history, dogmatics and doctrines. This work is not a collection of “ohh you’re so wrong” but rather reflections on what love can do, what can it open up, why I have come here. It is sharing personal anecdotes, gospel stories, and meta-narratives I love to enhance the reflections and let them resonate in your soul. For me leaving churchdom is not a negative connotation within this work, it is as my beloved Shawna would say, stepping out in love, no buts attached. For leaving churchdom is throwing off a burden and simply letting four words and a punctuation mark be a guide in life: What Would Love Do? (WWLD?).

I hope you enjoy this collection of reflections, every so often I raise a challenge for you to do your own personal work and reflection, I look forward to hearing how this may or may not have helped you. The one thing about the chapel, all types came, all types shared, and all knew that bread would be broken, a cuppa drunk, kids and animals would play, and we would discover the common ground of our diversity of spiritualities that fed us, created a unity of spirit to step back out into our world in love.

Thank you,

Shalom & Namaste

Rev. Ty Ragan, Psy. D.

Rainbow Chapel Living Room

Calgary, AB, Canada

August 23, 2014

Urban Retreat: She Said Yes

30 December 2012 at 13:53

Hi all,

I am posting this so my friends who know me, have attended things I have done or led may see it and pass it on to their churches or spiritual gatherings to see if you would like to book me. Thank you.

Dear Friend,

It seems within the church there are two schools on Mary of Nazareth, either over veneration or total ignoring. This is not the case for this beautiful young woman of God. Her story is one of liberation, freedom, and living in such a counter cultural way that her world changed as she bore the Christ-Child.

My retreat offering is simply: She Said Yes: Mary for the 21st Century

It is best in the format of a Friday Evening, Saturday morning/afternoon; but can be adapted to several evenings, or Sunday afternoons as the church needs.

The Sessions which are also interspersed with spiritual practices to aid in the formation and growth of participants:

1) The History of Mary of Nazareth

2) The multiple church doctrines of Mary

3) Extra-biblical legacy of Mary

4) Biblical story of Mary

5) Our Yes: Who is Mary for us today?

What’s the cost?

Coming alongside your congregation for the time. A space where tables can be set up for participants to speak in a round. The church making available tea, coffee, juices & water throughout as well as healthy snacks and lunch on the Saturday. As well as an honorarium for myself (I am setting aside my normal $1-1500 retreat leader fee so any church can have this experience for whatever they can afford).

My last two urban retreats book quickly, but the books are still available (Pilgrimage to the Heart of the Sacred, The Bard’s Spirit: Shakespeare’s Social Gospel).

I look forward to hearing from your church, and coming alongside for a weekend of discovery.

Official Bio

Dr.Ragan holds a doctorate in Psychology, a Master’s and Bachelor’s in Leadership & Ministry with a focus on community building, integration, and action.  He has a 25+ years experience as a human rights and peace activist, outreach worker to those experiencing homelessness across mainland Canada that has earned him a shamanic designation of Wisdom Keeper, 2 honourary doctorates and an ordination.  His work history has been centered on working with individuals reintegrating from young offender’s facilities; high risk for dropping out of school; street involved youth; children in the sex trade; close to 12 years of involvement on the front lines with Calgary’s Mustard Seed Society, and working as a vocational counsellor for differently abled adults through Hull Child & Family Services.  He has taught courses in spiritual formation, and vocational discernment at the University of Calgary and Spiritual Directions in Calgary, pulpit supply through a variety of Christian Denominations throughout Western Canada and is the author of 4 published books, and many articles centred on improving practices and building community.

Move Beyond Labels…

May 6 2011

Yesterday’s note “Raibow Cooperative” was the genesis of this idea that I continue to flush out in my heart, soul and mind.  The idea of needing to move beyond labels.  What labels you ask? Well there are the obvious ones: typically/differently abled; hetero-LGBTT sexuality; black-yellow-etc; chinese, canadian, american, etc…all those we use to divide (Buddhist, Catholic, Orthodozx, Hindu, Scientologist, etc) and within my own tradition Lutheran, Anglican, Presbyterian, United, Baptist, etc.

I personally believe what we need to move to is a simple understanding that we are all created in the beautiful image of our Creator, and that we are all called good and blessed, beloved even… that is we have inherent worth and goodness within.

The challenge before us is to throw down our labels, let go of our petty human pride and look at our world and say, what can we do to work together in harmony to care for the least of these?

To be honest, how many religious institutions whether they be educational or worship are struggling to make ends meet, yet on the land and can be erected affordable and accessible housing for all ages? How many could redirect funds that are being frought to keep the lights on to actually innoculating children overseas? Monies used to keep the building heated that could ensure free public day care?

The big discernment for the religious moving forward is not whether to stay or go, whether to live or die, it is to throw of our institutional shackles, clean out the abusers, and illuminate the light of the Holy Mystery into our wqorld once more through affordable housing, pallative care, day care, basic needs turned into miracles globally by our chjoice to move into what an actual charitable entity is in Canada, more than keeping the lights on, but freeing ourselves to live out our ffaith stories to help our brothers and sisters move out of the struggle of life and into new life. To move from the power base of the world, the oppressor, the opiate of the masses if you will, to be the actual soul of our world. It begins with joint dialogue, understanding our shared story, and not worrying about who is and isn’t seeing paradise, but how to create the world we are called to create here on earth.

SO are we willing to move beyond our own egos? Are we willing to actually walk our talk?

Rainbow Cooperative?

5 May 2011 at 21:22

I ponder next steps in my ministerial journey, prayerfully discerning where the Holy Mystery is guiding next.

I look out at the current landscape of the “church” and see pain, suffering, abuse, that has grown out of  a surface level, indoctrinated faith of “rightness” or “righteousness” not a true discovery of Sacred Practice to commune deeper with the Holy.

I ponder what ifs, and wonder of interest for something that goes beyond westernized academic spirituality to a true communal sharing of experience, a community that comes together.

I wonder if there is interest in a monthly gathering, that goes beyond labels to those that authentically thirst and seek the holy.  Not some academic exercise, or protratcted or elongated dialogue, rather a gathering time.

A simple potluck meal shared.

All ages welcome, embraced.

A time of discovery and learning of a new sacred practice, a new way of understanding ourselves independently, communally and within the Holy Mystery that created us.

Followed by a time of sharing.

I wonder, if there is interest for this? If so, let me know, and we can perhaps dream, or better yet make happen.

Died for our Sins?

1 May 2011 at 10:14

Hmmm…this is a tough ponderance.  See I totally believe in a loving creator, I believe in Christ, Jesus of Nazareth, because his life and teachings have changed so much for the better in this world, and I believe in the Holy that is imminant in each and every one of us, which the Christian tradition calls the Holy Spirit.  Yet I have walked many paths of disovery, or as Matthew Fox states it, drank deeply from many wells of the same River, so I cannot say there is one exclusive way to know the Holy Mystery (and yes to “tick off” my humanist/atheist friends as long as you work to make this world/universe better I do believe you are drinking from one of those wells).

So do I hold to the Orthodox belief that Jesus died on the cross for my sins? and the sins of the world?

Yes and No.

I hold that his teachings, miracles, and way of life to building the Kingdom of Heaven (as stated in the Gospel of Mark, or in the original Araimaic a community of inclusion and empowerment) so upset the seeking after power culture that it led to his death upon the cross.  Why? Simple, the powerbrokers of the day, as Marx would phrase it, the oppressors, were shaken to their very core and seeing a non-violent transformation of society happening, and as such had to end it.

But who would have thought the real end? Jesus came back, and as a result empowered the “non-entities” the women to go forth first to share the message, his inclusive, equal and empowering society kept going. So not even the murder of the “leader” for a western concept, or the guru for an eastern concept, could stop the flow.

So did Jesus die for our sins? We so distorted our world in creating a place where we are more concerned with “Me/I” than “Us/We” that it led to his death 2000 years ago, and even with baby steps forward (2 steps forward 1 back) we are still working to break the back of the old system that killed our Guru, so my friends, is it orthodox, no, is it what I believe, yup, do I expect anyone else to? nope.

Discover life with the Holy Mystery as you are called and drawn to.

Be blessed this first day of the week, a day where we celebrate community and new life in God’s New Community of Love, Hope, Faith and Peace, and ponder how you can change your little corner of the world for the better.

An Open Musing to the ELCIC

27 April 2011 at 19:44

Hello to the Body of Christ that has dubbed itself the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada,

I must say this summer when you meet prayerfully in the Spirit in Saskatoon the church that leaves will definately not be the same one that enters. We are travelling in the Spirit towards inclusion, possibly innovation, and seeking answers to the tough questions, and equally raising more tough questions.

So I muse outloud in this time of transformation, are you seeking new ordained pastors? Y’know those of the backwards collars, and a few times a year dress wearers?

Are you open to a very ecclectic man (geek if you will) who strives for inclusion, reaching out little by little to make his own little corner of the world better?

If so, and you think I am called, shall you let me know if I should apply?

Thank you,

The bald(ing) headed tattooed guy in the back row,

Ty

The Next Reformation based on Experience of the Holy?

25 April 2011 at 21:49

It does become a question as we sit and watch our pews empty in mainline Christendom, what does it all mean?  We harken back to the “good ol’ days” when Sunday Schools had hundreds of kids and we were full to bursting. Yet in these times it was more of a mandate for economic survival, and business advancement/networking.  The rise of Christendom from the 300’s CE forward had much more to do with cultural indoctrination, than actual discipleship.

So as we sit and watch the numbers dwindle, yet are they truly dwindling? Have we lost true disciples? My answer would be no, we have lost numbers, basically due to attrition of death or busyness of life where true beliefs emerge and in he hecticness of life, non-essentials are squeezed out. As well the importance for career advancement and community acceptance vanished and the key to why churches thrived, local engaged community dissolved as we became travelling-destinations as opposed to experiential communities.

So all this is to say that there is no brand loyalty in regards to denominations, and the true institutions are struggling to stay funded.  Where does this leave the church? Will it truly realign around the issue of genitalia being placed where? No, it is a deeper question about how we come together as the Body of Christ to experience God.

There is a divide opening up, where you see communities needing to make a choice on how they choose to worship and being true to how God is calling the communty to form, here are the choices I see before us:

How we experience God?

I see two groups forming, those that are tied to the ideal of the church building as God’s home, with the ideal of holiness in the altar, altar rail, baptismal font, pulpit and that the pastor/priest is the vessel for God’s word.

There are those tied to the Bible as the inerrant and literal word of God that needs no further interpretation than the words on the page.

Then there is an emergent group that sees the Bible as the story, the true beginning of our journey with God, and see other aspects of life and understanding being able to deepen our understanding.

The church building and it’s decore are useful tools but should not be stumbling blocks to the experience of God, family, community and Love.

Out of these aspects comes ideas like what the Chinese United Church in Calgary is doing by replacing their building with affordable seniors housing, and putting a chapel space in the main floor.

What if we gave up this lucrative real estate to solve the housing crisis in Canada? What if each main floor contained an interreligious chapel space for use by all stripes of God’s children?

What message would that send about God’s love for the world?

So as I said I see a divide of choice, in which the next church reformation will see brands (denoms) of the mainline church in Canada vanish, and be replaced by how we experience church, experienced within the sacred space of a building, or experienced within the sacred space of the community the believers exist in.  This integral community would actually see people use their gifts to fill roles whether it is music, teaching, preaching, fund raising, activism, spiritual direction, prayer, discipling, and the list goes on…and the paid pastor will be optional, for some a necessity to aid the networking (life a spiritual coach) for some a voluntary calling.

Where will the church be in 5 years? What are your thoughts?

“That’s why we don’t bring children to church”

24 April 2011 at 19:59

No not my words, these harsh words were spoken to a priest at a Good Friday service due to the “behaviour” of my little one, and the priest took it upon himself to apologize for the child crying and disrupting “their worship experience”.

The funnily ironic part?

My boy was crying because he kept saying each time “why Jesus die” He pounded his nail into the cross with gusto because he was resonating with the moment.

When we went to leave he started crying louder, no daddy no, Jesus not back yet.

Sadly all that was heard by most who were giving me dirty looks, tsking, was a child who was having a melt down, and a child that should not be in church.  Yet when we take vows of baptism for our children we promise to raise them in the faith.  We bring my boy to church, my boy who has endured more than anyone his age should, his sister who dances in the isle and states to any who will listen that Jesus is her prince charming.

What is missed in the scowls, the tsking, the dirty looks and the that child should not be here…is simply that it is in the children that the Holy resonates, through his screams and tears on Friday, he was showing true sorrow that his friend (yes as Jesus said to us in the Gospel) had died, and he wasn’t sure what happens with the story. My little boy, decided to live his faith in the moment of Holy Week, experiencing each and every day as if it was the first time, and knew that Jesus’ friends at that time were sad, and so he should be sad too.

“Daddy why did Jesus die?”

So to those who believe a child who emotes should not be in church, for clergy that believe they need to apologize, I simply ask that question my son asked, why did Jesus die?

If not to unite us in love as a family. Happy Easter.

45 days and 25 years

27 September 2010 at 21:23

Wow, in some Anthropology circles my 25 years of ministry would be a generation.

25 years of inclusion work

At four years of age saw Robin Hood and realized that one needed to act what they believed—a belief reinforced and taught by my Mum and Dad…

At 7 years old and my first peace mark to end the Cold War

I have met world leaders

Prayed in ecunemical circles with aboriginal elders, bishops, popes, lamas, imams, prime ministers,  senators, congressmen and women, alderman, city councillors, premiers,Governor Generals, war resistors, draft dodgers…criminals, addicts, differently abled–the rainbow that is God’s children…

written thousands of letters….articles in national-local-international journals and publications–research papers—

Done outreach to the rought campers across a continent—crawled under bridges, identified bodies, performed memorials,

marched for LGBTTQ equality and inclusion, 13 years preaching across the Prairies,

at 16 years old started to work to free sexual slaves in Canada

had individuals convulse—literally die in my arms

Marched and protested injustices against creation and our fellow brothers and sisters as well

Been thrown out of churches

De-licensed as a lay minister in many denominations

Provided birth control and clean needles to those who have wanted to heal but were lost in the spiral of destruction

Walked through my own demons and hells

Presided over celebrations of life for loved ones

blessed weddings

built inclusive ministries

Flunked doctrinal ordination exams due to my beliefs on the love of God for all

Taught Original Blessing

walked within many faiths, from Agnostic through to Zoroastrian and back again…

written and published 4 books–gone for coffee with Canadian Leaders

Ran for office

worked campaigns

written government policy

Honourary Doctorate

Earned B.A, M.A., Psy.D.

Ordained in a universalist organization

Mentored and discipled over 1000 teenagers and children

Was a Franciscan for a season and learned more about walking in God in full surrender—-

have been disillusioned with God’s Fan Club and Human Institutions…

yet looking back here I sit in silence, and ponder…has it mattered?

I surrendered a call to be “offiicial” because I looked into the heart of an organization that would not accept my son’s call…

As I reflect,

preparing to share my story

I ponder after 25 years…has my own little corner of the world been better because of me in it?

God’s Love=Freedom (my preaching notes from today)

16 May 2010 at 14:43

May 16, 2010

Prince of Faith Lutheran Church

Readings:

Acts 16:16-34

Psalm 97

Revelation 22:12-14, 16-17, 20-21

John 17:20-26

The Psalmist sings of the reign of God here on Earth. John, in exile on the island of Patmos, saw a vision from Christ himself about the world transforming—the transformation of the world from the Empirial oppression of Rome based on dominance, money and control, to the new world, the one that God’s children were commissioned through all our blessings to create here. John’s gospel tells us of what will happen, a prayer for unity throughout time of God and Her children. Which is a message that resounded through the early church that the disciple John planted. For this was a church without hierarchy, no “leaders” or those over another, it was a collection of people living out of God’s love together, the sacrament that drew them together was the sacrament of service to one another and the world—Love as Jesus loved them.

These three texts speak of the love of God lived in this world, creating freedom from evil.

But do we as a church or even a country understand this? The church used to be the soul of Canada, historically we brought about human rights, health care, welfare, employment insurance, the charter of rights and freedoms, immigrant aid, women’s rights, aboriginal rights, and the Metis seen as human beings. Historically also we have destroyed whole societies, cultures and individuals through war, disease, physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and sexual abuse. The church is the living dichotomy of the individual human-created good with free will, called blessed by God, but because of free will, we have the ability for great good and great evil, it comes down to a choice, and that choice can be as simple as doing nothing which allows either to happen.

In the early church there was many flavours of Christianity, kind of like today, and today’s readings reflect that, from the mystical, to the practical to the Jewish roots, in the reading from Acts, the second volume of Dr. Luke’s historical treatise of the early church, we get a flavour of Paul’s “Apostolic Mystery Faith”.

For Paul stumbles into something quite common back then, he stumbles into slavery. I mean let’s face it, one of the great analogies in the Bible outside of sheep for us, is slaves of God. So this is seen as a good thing right?

How does this relate to us today?

Freedom. A freedom rooted deeply in community by throwing off the chains. My question to you is this: What stories do you know where freedom needs to shine through?

Re-read the Acts story.

This story of Paul’s travels has four stories of Freedom against societal norms. The first is the story of Lydia, not only a wealthy woman, but also a leader in the church that Paul accepts lodgings from. Women were not meant to be seen as leaders, with authority over men, over even able to earn an income, at the most they were property, at the least breeding stock. This was one of the scandals of the early church, one that started with Jesus’ ministry where women earned the money for the men’s ministry of healing and teaching, continued here with Lydia.

The next phase of Freedom is a release from indentured slavery. A woman being exploited for her gifts, exploitation-let’s be honest this still exists today. Back then they called it release from the spirit of divination, but how many other young women and men are exploited for other reasons within our world today? People used for what they can get us, whether it is the child working to keep their family housed, the child whose body and soul are sold to the monster for pleasure… is this story of healing truly any different from what we can seek in this world?

What of the teenaged sex trade worker standing outside in the cold waiting the oil tycoon in Calgary? Barely 16 years old, yet we don’t talk of the horror of pedophilia, what we talk of is the need to legalize prostitution-the rape of our children.

What did Paul’s gutsy choice to bring this child of exploitation to freedom earn him?

Prison.

Yet not even prison can hold him, and given the opportunity to run away as the walls shake down and a new freedom abounds, he stands fast with the other prisoners to show the guard—who could be killed for losing his prisoners, that they are staying to let love shine through.

Finally, the guard is released of his bondage, his bondage of fear that kept him following the norms of society, fear of reprisal and fear of being cast aside.

And we sit in church and say, yeah that’s fine, but look at the miracles in that story, of course they could be like…but this is now, and well things don’t work like that.

Let me share you a story of a modern Alberta man, who was struck with polio at age of 8 years old. He could not breathe on his own, but taught himself how to breath. He was wheel chair bound because of paralysis from the polio, yet in 1971 had his brother wheel him out of the hospital to get involved in making his world a better place, in 2006 he ran to be the premier of this province, and throughout his 63 years of life was a tireless crusader for inclusion of all people.

Gary McPherson went to paradise this past week, but his life epitomized the ideal of freedom, like so many others who could have thrown up their arms and said not me—Nellie McClung, Tommy Douglas, Louis Riel, Chief Crowfoot, Desmond Tutu, Dorothy Day, Nelson Mandela—and many many more in the 20th century, normal people who like Paul, like John, Like the psalmist, heard the quiet still voice, or the loud proclamation of God—My reign will come on earth today, except for you.

Except for you—the only thing stopping the reign of God today—is you.

Would not it be better to hear God in our hearts declare—My reign is here today BECAUSE of you. How will you change this community for God?

Musings 3

16 April 2010 at 21:17

Drumroll Please….

The Rainbow Chapel is set to launch lol…the house church for those who like the stuff of church, but may not feel comfortable in the pews and building…our inaugural service is at 7 p.m. on Wednesday May 19, 2010 at my place, yes there is a site and a FB group! Look us up, for God loves all creation.

Musing Part 2

10 April 2010 at 18:26

So I am moving forward, going to attempt a monthly house church service–an alternative liturgy style in May, June, July and August with the hope that if it grows will move to a weekly gathering time.

Any and all interested in attending let me know and I will send you the details once they firm up.

Musing

6 April 2010 at 21:23

So I have a couple of friends that have mentioned they would like to gather for times of “church” but do not feel inclined to the current flavours of institutional church, but still want a simple liturgical service.

So why is this a musing for me?

Well I have a fairly empty or soon to be empty basement, and they have approached me wondering if I would plant an alternative mainline service for them in my home…

So here I am prayerfully pondering in a community with more churches per capita than anywhere’s else in North America, if I should or should not?

Comments, thoughts or prayers from folks would be most welcomed.

The Pardon heard around Canada…

5 April 2010 at 18:34

Late last night it broke on CBC, Graham James, pedophile hockey coach of Canada was pardoned quietly in 2007. The PM says he’s shocked, yet it was the head of the parole board he appointed that signed off on the pardon.

This is not simply a run of the mill criminal, this is akin to a pedophile clergy, someone who took a position of authority over someone else’s dreams and made twisted them to a horror show that will re-echo throughout a person’s life.

Yet here we stand, a country that pardons a monster, and then scratch our heads why those victims of horrendous crims such as these will not come forward…we have essentially made the monsters invincible.

An Easter Miracle?

2 April 2010 at 13:25

What if Easter miracles truly happened?

What if the Mainline Christian Church in Canada (in all its flavours) decided that truly caring for communty members was important?

What if they surrendered their lands/buildings to be replaced by high density-multi-generational-affordable housing?

What if they moved their worship gatherings to the local Community Halls?

What if ministry was something that was lived out in the community, and not a program in a building?

What if church gatherings happened around kitchen tables in people’s homes, not board room tables in buildings?

What if a choose was made that it is unChristian for anyone to go to bed hungry or lay their head on a concreate floor or sleep outside or in a church basement?

What if…the church gave the things God blessed us with, that we struggle to maintain, to care for those in our community in most need?

What if Easter miracles truly happened…

1 April 2010 ·

Would the Church be missed?

If all the churches, mosques, synagogues, temples, houses of worship etc…closed in your community and were levelled from the skyline, would they be missed?

Would anyone outside of the members note its passing?

Thoughts?

29 March 2010 ·

A Church Reformation?

For those who may follow the Mainline Church in Canada (be it United, Lutheran in all its forms, Anglican, Presbyterian, Baptist or RC/Orthodox) there is a movement afoot. A changing of the structure of the way we do church.

It can be simple, churches closing, properties evaporating, but what is the church? Is it the building? Or is it truly the people?

If it is truly the people and the gifts they bring to the forefront, then the church needs to discern it’s call?

What you say, that’s what individuals do. But is the church not the “Body of Christ”? Then each congregation needs to discern what they are called to be in the neighbourhood they exist in. Not only discern it, but embrace and live this call. This will lead to the reformation of the mainline church, and a new form to be taken, but also it’s survival…for within the Centre-Left theologians of our times there is a piece of the faith that needs to be there.

Unfortunately it means moving beyond liturgies, beyond denom labels and beyond ourselves…for we are not Lutherans, Anglicans, Presbyterians, etc…We are Christians, declaring a faith of radical communal and personal transformation…are we willing to live this call?

12 January 2010 ·

Clergy Shortage: Is the Church its own Worst enemy?

Mainline Christianity currently, and all of Christianity shortly, will be in the midst of a cleric shortage within a generation. Why is this? Part of it can be the strenous preparation, this is not the discernment process many churches use, rather it could be easily seen as the 4-8 years of scholarly preparation with very little support from local congregations or the denoms as a whole for the individuals preparing.

Couple this with once one stream of education is complete, it needs to be acceptable to the denom that is hiring or ordaining the individual. Now if said individual in their journey is led to one stream of education and then to another denom for ordination, most of the time they need to start at point zero.

Where does this leave us? This coupling is that soon the church as a whole will be in a crisis…we need to move forward in dialoguing and understanding what it means to be a minister.

Your thoughts?

12 January 2010 ·

Who will take up the Campaign?

Our world has had a long history of heroes and heroines that sought to change the world, more and more in the modern era these individuals are passing away. Our world took a huge hit when Mother Teresa and Pope John Paul II passed, so the question arises, who will take up the call when the leaders of change pass?

Who will be the next Nelson Mandela? Desmond Tutu? Phil Fontaine? Bill Phipps? Paul Martin Jr? Bono? Dalai Lama? Peggy Askin? Mikahil Gorbachev? Matthew Fox? John Shelby Spong? Billy Graham? Jimmy Carter? Bill Clinton? Bill and Melinda Gates? Stephen Lewis?

Any thoughts as the older generation leaves us, is their anyone attempting to achieve that level of change in our world?

9 January 2010 ·

Communion?

It is known by many names depending on the church strain you are in: Communion, Eucharist, Lord’s Supper, the Snack, etc…it has many beliefs around the bread and the wine/juice (usually grape) whether it literally becomes the body and blood of Christ (transubstantiation) to nothing more than just a symbol done as a reminder, and everything in between. A Franciscan Friar once said after blessing the Eucharist (the Great Thanksgiving if you will), that as a Catholic Priest he should believe Transubstantiation, but could not. He did not know what happened, but all he knew for sure was that it was a community gathering in the Holy Spirit that renewed God’s children for the coming week of incarnational ministry in the workplace and world.

My brothers and sisters in the Salvation Army do not celebrate traditional communion (this came historically from originally only alcoholic grape juice a.k.a wine was used), so their theology developed along the lines of each meal being a time of communion.

A United Church I used to attend celebrated communion once a month, and it usually fell on potluck Sunday. Those moments blew my mind and enriched my Spirit. Talk about making the words of the story:

Matthew 26:26 (The Message)

The Bread and the Cup

26-29During the meal, Jesus took and blessed the bread, broke it, and gave it to his disciples:

Take, eat.

This is my body.

Taking the cup and thanking God, he gave it to them:

Drink this, all of you.

This is my blood,

God’s new covenant poured out for many people

for the forgiveness of sins.

“I’ll not be drinking wine from this cup again until that new day when I’ll drink with you in the kingdom of my Father.”

RELEVANT! During the meal Jesus did this, so WHAT IF….each time the church gathered together and had communion, also truly ate together as a time of fellowship (potluck meal time) being a true family within God…Hmmm…I wonder….

Sacrament of Service

4 September 2009 at 13:55

Dedicated to

The street level community

Of Calgary’s Mustard Seed Street Ministry

You have shaped me to be the minister I am today.

Gospel of John 6:1-14

Bread and Fish for All

1-4After this, Jesus went across the Sea of Galilee (some call it Tiberias). A huge crowd followed him, attracted by the miracles they had seen him do among the sick. When he got to the other side, he climbed a hill and sat down, surrounded by his disciples. It was nearly time for the Feast of Passover, kept annually by the Jews.

5-6When Jesus looked out and saw that a large crowd had arrived, he said to Philip, “Where can we buy bread to feed these people?” He said this to stretch Philip’s faith. He already knew what he was going to do.

7Philip answered, “Two hundred silver pieces wouldn’t be enough to buy bread for each person to get a piece.”

8-9One of the disciples—it was Andrew, brother to Simon Peter—said, “There’s a little boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But that’s a drop in the bucket for a crowd like this.”

10-11Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” There was a nice carpet of green grass in this place. They sat down, about five thousand of them. Then Jesus took the bread and, having given thanks, gave it to those who were seated. He did the same with the fish. All ate as much as they wanted.

12-13When the people had eaten their fill, he said to his disciples, “Gather the leftovers so nothing is wasted.” They went to work and filled twelve large baskets with leftovers from the five barley loaves.

14-15The people realized that God was at work among them in what Jesus had just done. They said, “This is the Prophet for sure, God’s Prophet right here in Galilee!” Jesus saw that in their enthusiasm, they were about to grab him and make him king, so he slipped off and went back up the mountain to be by himself.

(From the Message)

Gospel of John 13:1-17

Washing His Disciples’ Feet

1-2 Just before the Passover Feast, Jesus knew that the time had come to leave this world to go to the Father. Having loved his dear companions, he continued to love them right to the end. It was suppertime. The Devil by now had Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot, firmly in his grip, all set for the betrayal.

3-6Jesus knew that the Father had put him in complete charge of everything, that he came from God and was on his way back to God. So he got up from the supper table, set aside his robe, and put on an apron. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the feet of the disciples, drying them with his apron. When he got to Simon Peter, Peter said, “Master, you wash my feet?”

7Jesus answered, “You don’t understand now what I’m doing, but it will be clear enough to you later.”

8Peter persisted, “You’re not going to wash my feet—ever!”

Jesus said, “If I don’t wash you, you can’t be part of what I’m doing.”

9″Master!” said Peter. “Not only my feet, then. Wash my hands! Wash my head!”

10-12Jesus said, “If you’ve had a bath in the morning, you only need your feet washed now and you’re clean from head to toe. My concern, you understand, is holiness, not hygiene. So now you’re clean. But not every one of you.” (He knew who was betraying him. That’s why he said, “Not every one of you.”) After he had finished washing their feet, he took his robe, put it back on, and went back to his place at the table.

12-17Then he said, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You address me as ‘Teacher’ and ‘Master,’ and rightly so. That is what I am. So if I, the Master and Teacher, washed your feet, you must now wash each other’s feet. I’ve laid down a pattern for you. What I’ve done, you do. I’m only pointing out the obvious. A servant is not ranked above his master; an employee doesn’t give orders to the employer. If you understand what I’m telling you, act like it—and live a blessed life.

(From the Message)

Introduction

It is rather funny that the church community that emerged from the writings of John, Christian Gnostics, we call heretics. Yet in evangelism it is the Gospel of John we give people, and yes in the Liturgical year, Maundy Thursday comes from, you guessed it, the Gospel of John.

I am not here to debate with you whether or not Gnostics are heretics, at one point and time all Christendom was viewed as Jewish heretics, Islam was a Christian heresy, Mormons and Jehovah Witnesses too. The Roman Catholic Church is an Eastern Orthodox heresy, Protestants are Roman Catholic heretics, and I bet each of you in your own church if you’re a Protestant have a church that you view as “not there yet”.

Yet what is missed within all these labels, is the beautiful diversity that the children of Yahweh have and that we are all called to service:

Matthew 22:34-40

The Most Important Command

34-36When the Pharisees heard how he had bested the Sadducees, they gathered their forces for an assault. One of their religion scholars spoke for them, posing a question they hoped would show him up: “Teacher, which command in God’s Law is the most important?”

37-40Jesus said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them.”

(From the Message)

Did you catch what Jesus said? To love God with are all, we must also love the blessed creation we are in God’s image, and our neighbours as well. Otherwise it is an empty confession of our lips and not our hearts.

That is what the two passages at the beginning are talking about. See the Johannine Community attempted to live these principles; there was no hierarchy of leadership as in the “one Holy and Apostolic Church” that Paul, Peter and James served in. No, John’s church was closer to that of the Quakers (Religious Society of Friends) today, that is, based on the leadership model of a circle, not a ladder. All are equal, all come to the table.

For Jesus did not call us slaves or students at the Last Supper but…Friends, and it is friends that we serve. The Community of John practiced communion, but the purpose of the meal was to serve one another, in other words as the Gospel of John records, to wash one another’s feet.

The lowliest of jobs in society, yet the most intimate moments. The major sacrament for this early church community, connection of house churches if you will was the Sacrament of Service.

This is never more evident than in the two stories that began this reflection, feeding the masses and washing feet for these lead into intentional living of the Sacrament of Service for the child of God today.

Feeding the Masses

This season of my life I have been drawn to reflect more and more on this story of Jesus feeding the five thousand men in John (please note the patriarchal oppression of this count, with women and children we are looking at closer to 30,000). Now it is up to your faith if you say it was a miracle of a little being multiplied by Jesus of Nazareth of the inspiration of a child willing to share all he had that had everyone open up their lunch bags as well. Regardless of how you read it, the key truth is that all were fed.

This story for me shows so many realities for the believer today. First off there’s Brother Jesus who notices a crowd following him as he teaches and heals. His first impulse is not “Oh crap, better secure my own food.” Nope. Jesus’ response is, let’s feed them.

Pause and think on that for a moment, faced with 30,000 hungry mouths to feed would that be our first impulse? Ensure that the basic needs of all are met?

Philip, ah God love him, he reminds me of a church treasurer for his first impulse isn’t trust God and let’s do it. Nope, his first impulse is “Not bloody likely, do you know how much that would cost?”

Can you not just picture Jesus’ bemused expression at this point in the tale? Remember this is happening in the springtime, Passover, the Jewish celebration of God rescuing the people from bondage and oppression is close in coming. And here is poor Philip thinking small. Probably how God chuckles at us today with our petty squabble about never having enough money or about building maintenance over caring for the community.

So up next is Andrew, this is Simon-Peter’s brother, you all remember Peter, the one who inserted foot into mouth more often than not. His brother was likely the same, family traits and all that. Andrew pipes up that there’s a boy offering up his bag lunch, think of the bag lunch an eight year old would take to school, then even Andrew realizes what he has said for children were non-entities back then, and here’s a grown up listening to one. Feeling a mite dumb he quickly backs pedals and says there is not enough.

But oh Jesus he won’t let him. Just like when we take Communion today in our churches, Jesus takes the bread, and gives thanks (hmmm…foreshadowing the Last Supper perhaps?), and does the same with the fish.

A bedraggled mass of thousands of folks always being told they were not good enough, used to being segregated in worship by gender, age and race, now all of a sudden on a grassy plane together they are all equal. All one people, and are being fed.

Community, equality, trust, respect and dignity for these are the gifts that little boy’s offering gave to the crowd, that is the call Jesus placed on his disciples hearts in this story to see all are the blessed and beloved Rainbow Children of God, called to One Table.

Washing Feet

Have you ever gone to a traditional Maundy Thursday service? One where you rolled up your sleeves and hunched down and actually washed one another’s feet—stench and all. Not very appealing to human sensibilities is it?

In my vocation I have washed people’s feet and the whole person on the streets of Canada, I have shown care, but it still blows me away with what Jesus did at this meal.

He took the worst job, and with a smile showed his followers all were the same to him. The foot washing, not the meal, was the true thing he wanted to pass on. This idea of living out of love for one another that is the true sacrament (the outward action of an inward belief).

Intentional Living

For terrorists (no I cannot claim they are of any faith that preaches a loving God) the Western World is “The Great Satan”. Well I can abide with that, if we are using the Judean belief of Satan as the tester from Yahweh that through trials purifies the believer (just read Job in the Hebrew Bible, or Jesus temptation in the wilderness from Matthew 4).

There are a lot of things in the west that can pull us away from the way that God has called us to live, and the root of it all is the love of material wealth. Not material wealth itself, but the pursuit, coveting and love of it where it consumes you so that you are no longer living out of God’s love in community.

This is what the Sacrament of Service is about; it is about living out of God’s love, like the boy on the grassy hill, or Jesus at the Last Supper. Our creator calls us all blessed and very good, but do we understand what that means? Do you truly understand what it means that the Holy Mystery breathed life into you? That her loving essence beats within your heart?

The Sacrament of Service is about the little things close to home, for by taking care of the little things, by living intentionally in God’s love within our communities, cities, provinces and countries the Reign of God will be built here on earth.

But it takes us to be like the child, I have a little and I want to share…

8 November 2008 ·

Ordination Road 4

Hallejuah! The Inquiry for Discernment was accepted by Presbytery, and a representative from the Presbytery has volunteered, let the discernment for this year begin!!!!

One step closer.

11 October 2008 ·

Ordination Road 3

Okay so the committee is filled. Now the members of the committee need to be accepted by council and then put forward for this whole process to be accepted by Calgary Presbytery…whooo…almost there.

7 September 2008 ·

Ordination Road 2

Well it’s been 10+ years in the making, but this Tuesday is the church council meeting that will decide if I can continue in the ordination process by entering discernment.

All of you who pray please keep me in mind Tuesday between 7-9ish p.m. when the council votes!

23 July 2008 ·

Oridnation Road

Well last time I chatted to a ton of people about being ordained as a minister in the United Church of Canada the rules said I had to wait two years before discernment, but my amazing faith family (Foothills United) and Minister, dug around and my membership has been valid for the past ten years as a confirmant, so I was able to submit my letter of inquiry for ordination.

It was a nerver wracking Sunday, but with the paperwork and letter wrote, I now wait for the September Council Meeting to be questioned in further exploration.

I first received my call about 10 years ago (the minister of the church when I was 16 said she saw one but i was more buddhist then)…if the council sees evidence of a calling to ordination (and there’s support expressed from the congregation) then a discernment committee is struck to meet with me for a year to discern what type of ordination I am called to:

1) Word & Sacrament

2) Diaconal Minister

3) Lay Minister

After the discernment process if one is evident, and all educational requirements have been met then the big day. So a bit of a nervous year as I practice my patience in moving towards this time as it is moving faster than i thought, but not fast enough…but it will be a good time of learning and growing.

So there’s the update.


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From the Beginning...writings up to Autumn 1996

From the Beginning…writings up to Autumn 1996

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

Transitions…

Hey Fearless Reader,

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

Posted in Life Lived | Leave a comment | Edit

Revisiting the Parables of Jesus: A Review

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

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

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

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

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

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Aboriginal Lord’s Prayer

Just thought I would share this prayer, so simple:

Aboriginal Lord’s Prayer,

You are our Father,

You live in heaven,

We talk to You, Father,

You are good.

We believe Your Word,

Father, We Your children,

give us bread today

Others have done wrong to us

And we are sorry for them,

Father, today

We have done wrong,

we are sorry,

Teach us Father,

not to sin again

You are our Father,

You live in heaven

We talk to You,

Father You are good .

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

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

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

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Whose voice should be heard?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Which side do you want to walk along?

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

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

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Official Prayer of Pope St. John XXIII

Prayer to St. John XXIII

Dear Pope John,

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

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

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

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

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

john23

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

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

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

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The Story continues…

a productive vacation night of writing…

Prologue

10 years ago.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

            Gun fire in the back.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kyler’s brains splatter the prairie soil.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chapter One

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

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

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

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

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

Chapter Two

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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2014 the year of my next novel

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

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

The adventure.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Election Reform

English: Pic for WikiProject Political parties...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Remembering My Mum & one of my best friends

Mum’s Online Obituary

Mum’s Memorial October 4, 2013

Centennial Presbyterian Church 2 p.m.

Call to Rememberance:

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

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

Mum:

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

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

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

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

Readings

BAS p. 599 the words of St. John

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

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

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

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

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

Mark 10:13-16

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

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

Prayers:

BAS p. 602

BAS 599 continue service.

Benediction:

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

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

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

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

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Playin’ 4 Keeps Family Day! September 28

poster 1poster 

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Whose your lightning rod?

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you my beloved.

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Spiritual Potluck

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

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

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

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

So with this why the post?

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

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

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

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

-30-

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Playin’ 4 Keeps

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

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

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

rcmp playing 4 keeps

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

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

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After 2000 years…

English: Icon of the Resurrection

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

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

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

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

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

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

Imagine 2 billion people living these values?

Will we answer?

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Anglican Church enthusiastic about homeless housing project on its Terwillegar land

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

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Callings? Answering or hanging up?

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

Why you ask?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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#YYC Flood- Love on your neighbour

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

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

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

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

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Welcome

Pope Francis met with media

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

francis


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

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Convergence?

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Pilgrimage continues…

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

A New Journey?

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

So why a new blog site one may ask?

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

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

Monday, 28 January 2013

Spiritual Rebirth?

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

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

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

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

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Reminder’s

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, 25 January 2013

Better than Chocolate…a First Contact

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

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

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

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

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

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

Church is Story?

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

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

Thursday, 24 January 2013

One Light through Many Windows

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

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

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

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

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

Reflecting on A House of Hope

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

UU Principles

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

The Principles and Sources of our Religious Faith

Principles

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

Sources

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