Archive for the ‘Current Events’ Category


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

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

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

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 Whether it means francophones shut out; refugees; children in the system losing their advocate; sexual education repealed back to the dark ages or removing human rights from gender minority groups.

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

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

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

 

Yes a fun play on words from the black/white cats of Mouseland…yet by using “coolcats” they are now identifying with those not in it for the citizens.
Hopefully, just a misnomer, and not a sign of the drift of a once decent party.
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Yes reflecting on this is late. Yet is it truly to late to think of our veterans, the families and the impact they made. How inclement weather did not stop the march…how lives were changed. How many became war grooms or war brides in the true beginning of globalization?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

poppies

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


Ah the heckling for change from the Federal Level (discussed previously here) has continued its journey within our nation. This time coming out of the governing party of Alberta, the New Democratic Party with Calgary-East MLA Robyn Luff’s recent announcements of a toxic culture within caucus due to leader control (here). Obviously the breaking of the thin caucus line led her caucus to “unanimously” boot her last night.

Image result for alberta NDP logoIt seems odd that an elected official would “strike” by not showing up for work as her statement said. Yet it has zeroed in attention that sitting as an independent or crossing to another party would. She has already declared she is not running again as her family wants her to spend more time with them. Yet in the parting shots she has opened up some intriguing things.

First- all political parties need to examine their toxic cultures. Yes one becomes members, and believes some (usually not all) of the party policies/ideologies. As the party is made up of smaller collectives different pockets can function differently due to the local make up. Yet, and this is a big yet, it is about power, and as such can bring out the worst in people. This was noted with why Sandra Jansen joined the NDP from the right, and now has Luff leaving the NDP. It is time for a gut check reflection of the party process, and a re-look at purpose. It is not power for powers sake, but rather serving citizens (that pesky first line of our Constitution Act, 1982: Peace, Order and Good Governance).

Second- Leaders are not be all and end alls. Within the Westminster System, as previous posts have exposed, Canada has done the reverse of other Commonwealth Nations. Wherein other countries Caucus health/direction/freedom is first; in Canada at Federal and Provincial it has become very top down. The advent in the 1970’s of the in-camera Question Period has led to more control and dramatics that do not actually support the first line of our Constitution.

This control extends further. With the UCP we saw it with the “bathroom runs” to avoid discussion on bills; and their leader tossing his grassroots guarantee. Now with the NDP in MLA Luff’s response to being removed from Caucus (Full statement here), she has two instances of control beyond the legislature:

For instance we were told that if we had any information on opposition members who had behaved inappropriately towards women that it was best not to go public with it because our party wasn’t completely without fault on the matter. This statement was never explained further, which is extremely problematic.

The thin caucus line of every political party that creates silence. Silence like we have seen within other power structures to protect (church, sport and entertainment to name but a few). Good Governance means opening up for full transparency. The challenge also illustrates why there possibly was not a full audit of financials of the government bureaucracy and MLA’s when the NDP took over after the 40+year PC dynasty (especially with the suspicious shredding by outgoing government). Could the same fear of loss be what drove the decision, not what was best for the people?

As well that this directive would come down:

When Jagmeet Singh was in town we got a text message saying not to be photographed with him.

Singh is the Federal NDP leader. Members are members of both parties, this is an outgrowth of the old social gospel-labour-human rights movements that founded the CCF which became the NDP. The provincial party has been trying to distance itself from the mess of the federal party recently, but to explicitly dictate that MLA’s could not be photographed with him, well…

I have always encouraged members of each party to call out the B.S. within their own party that harms. That takes away representation of citizens for leader control. It is hard enough to function for your constituents with the leader controls our system has moved to.

It is even harder when you are under constant duress and threat of loss of vocation. As with back benchers that have stepped up Federally to discuss and point out these concerns. It is now time to realize that these conversations cannot happen in isolation, and at a provincial level they need to happen. Members need to drive change within their parties. So do elected members, they need to speak up, and work if necessary against the cult of leader to produce the best service of citizen possible.

So thank you, Ms. Luff, for having the bravery to speak up and may your letter to the Speaker begin the process.


Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Internalized trauma. We know it is a reality in soldiers, abuse survivors, first responders. Now King and Mann bring this reality to the world of super-heroes. Some will toss it aside as yet another hero deconstructed story. There is more to it than that however. For it is also about the hero as person. Understanding that their decisions, lives and experiences craft who they are.

Welcome to Sanctuary. A specialty location built by the Trinity (Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman) for the utmost privacy in debriefing, and healing. It is  a place with a computer therapist that allows for complete autonomy. Supposedly no recordings, it is there for health. We are 2/9 issues in and so far it is a strong character driven story.

It is also a super hero story. As Sanctuary is not safe, someone has attacked and murdered those who sought healing. There are two suspects who survived of those that were supposed to be there. Was it an outside attack? Did the missing survivors have a psychotic break and kill?

Within those that are now dead, there are chilling full page confessionals sharing the effects of the life. These that show how out of control Blue Jay’s shrinking powers have become during his flashbacks. Truly showing how internalized trauma affects the whole self, whether it is convulsions, sweats, hypertension…the list can go on as no one patient is identical, same with the stories of the heroes seeking aid. Coming to the place that is supposed to be safe to decompress.

The heroes lay themselves bare.

Then the idea of stigma is so well handled. As even the big 3, the Trinity, use Sanctuary. Guard down, masks off. Who is the ones that use it for help? Who are the ones that continue to squash and avoid emotion? The answer may surprise you as tears flow.

Then the hack and the revelation that someone has the stories. The double standard is shown as the first story leaked is Arsenal (formerly Speedy), a recovering addict. The shock and dismay of the public on the hero laid bare.

Stigma.

Why someone would not seek help for trauma?

Laid out well in the shock of the public that a hero would have demons to battle. Even as walls come down around mental health support, old stigmas, internalized dialogues still persist.

The greatest fear of seeking help:

What if someone finds out?

What will the world think?

Will my loved ones see me as weak?

What will I lose by diagnosis?

 


Two is too many (Father Tran/Father Malcom). Yet there has been two alleged monsters that have come close to my family. The clerical sexual abuse that only broke in the United States this century, has been known about in Canada longer. Yet we still do not comprehend how to stop the devils in the temple. One can zero in on the Roman Catholic Church and cry it’s due to celibacy, or like hard line Catholics have said “gay priests”; both are wrong. It is monsters, either created (due to enduring their own abuse and assuming it is normative) or born (true Pedophilia) that choose their power of sexual assault over another.

I have sat in many different religious circles that have struggled with this, sadly have made apologies for the devils or shamed the victims. I have also sat in many religious circles that have made the right decision to exorcise the devils, and allow the law to do what the law is empowered to do. The one’s that clearly work with the law, also understand that all the screenings organizations can do are a first wave of defense only, as they screen out the, what I colloquially call, the dumb devils– the ones previously caught and still trying to destroy lives.

What is needed is the open dialogue and conversation. Where no matter the denomination (Alliance, Restoration, Catholic, United, Mennonite, etc…) the clerics are not placed on holy pedestals but are seen as community members, and human beings. Thus not only approachable, but held accountable to the same standard and laws as everyone else.

The story that scrolled across my wife’s feed during the early hours this morning of Father Malcolm D’Souza has left me heart broken for those that suffered in silence until now. He served at St. Mark’s in NE Calgary from 2010-2016. We had attended mass there during a time our family needed a respite. My wife did not understand my love of liturgy in my Anglo-Catholic Soul. She got it after the Mass, and hearing the homilies of this man that cut so clearly to the heart of the gospel message. Neither of us knowing what has been alleged to the man offering blessings and sacraments.

A large Filipino congregation, they embraced children. I had written earlier of the elders who stood with inclusion for my son who is differently abled. The fun potlucks, and children game festivals. How children were loved on, and how all were welcome regardless of label. We had discussed at that time going through the RCIA and coming into full communion with the Vatican. Then my Mum’s health took a more drastic turn and we were not able to attend the classes as we wanted to spend as much time as possible in Bassano with her, and mid-week trips were frequent.

Devils can come in any shape and form. They can be ones that appear to guide us, let when the light of day is shone upon them it confuses and begins to drive it back. Shadows disperse, and words emerge. Healing can begin. Thoughts and prayers have become empty words in these dark times, yet that is what I am left with in the shell shock. I pray that those who were harmed get the help they need. I also pray that those who harmed are held accountable by the law, and also get the help they need for this evil needs to end.

I encourage anyone who has been a victim of these priests to contact the Calgary Police Service with information (403-266-1234).

*Jesus boots- my Granddad’s term for sandals.


The Constitution Act 1982 does not speak of political parties, what it does promise is that at each level of governance Canadians are guaranteed peace, order and good governance. In fact it has been a transformational journey of our young Westminster Parliament compared to others, but we can still learn a lot from the “Mother” parliament of the UK, and other styled parliaments within the Commonwealth.

Australia Broadcasting Corporation poked fun at their system in the Fifth and Final season of Rake, that saw Cleaver Greene as a senator, and a rapid succession of Prime Ministers as the party caucus members that controlled kept cycling through to find the one that “worked”.

Canada has been seen as one of the most “party” controlled parliaments, in fact, more likely, Leader and their circle controlled. Now you can rebut and say party members elect the leader, yes, but after that what happens? What if the person in the House or Legislature is not up to the job? Do elected members have an ability to make a good change? How is the first minister chosen? We have defaulted to the leader of the party with the most seats.

Image result for turning parliament inside outAre there ideas for changing things? A multi-party work came out in 2017 that shone some lights on change: Turning Parliament Inside Out: Practical Ideas for Reforming Canada’s Democracy (Douglas & McIntyre); editors: Michael Chong, Scott Simms and Kennedy Stewart. The book was forwarded by Bob Rae, Ed Broadbent and Preston Manning. It has submissions from Members of Parliament across party lines (including Elizabeth May). For most politico it is nothing astonishing, it is a solid collection of 8 ways to give power back to elected representatives and decentralize from the leaders (and by extension PMO in governance) office. The eight essays are easy to follow, well laid out, and easy to discuss for those involved in the systems of politics and those not.

For EDA’s; and parties I would encourage reading and discussion groups on the topics. For the non-partisan, get a few friends together to read and discuss the ideas. Even better is that it can be used as a starting point for discussions on what reforms (minor to major) that need to happen.

Such things as the “official party” seat number is just a function, not a rule. How are questions taken/answered in question period? How to get more people involved as candidates? And the list can go on.

What are your thoughts on Parliamentary/Legislature reform?

What steps can happen at the local level?

What can happen within parties?

The conversation of change that threatens power can be a scary one. Mostly because it comes down to the reality that moving forward there will be those accessing power, you were not allowed access to in the same moments of your journey. Yet for constitutional health of our nation, it is a conversation that leads to action that needs to happen.

And it simply begins with talking over a cup of coffee…like so many political movements that shaped our nation and world….

One cup. One conversation.


Ah the reviews of “scary” or “terror inducing” for me were a bit over the top, but Haunting of Hill House (Netflix series, 2018) was good. Now, I must admit we will not be talking about the paranormal aspects of the show (perhaps another post, as I do love what was shown for the negative/dark side of paranormal, much like the Exorcist television show), but there is another topic that emerges within the confines of the 10 episodes and that is:

A-D-D-I-C-T-I-O-N.

And within the confines of addiction, the shame hierarchy of addiction so other addicts can hide and believe they are healthier than the other. The Crain family is the centre of the story.  A shared trauma when the 5 siblings were children,  which as they grew up each took their own path of suppression/repression/projection and psychological denial.

Luke’s addiction was the one that the rest could look down upon, as it was heroin. The eldest brother, Steven, dove into denial and repression through turning everything into a story to cover up what he believed was family psychosis and as a result created emotional walls to keep everyone out, and self-sabotage. Theo to avoid touch, wrapped herself in her work and the only release being one night stands not knowing how to love. The eldest sister became obsessed with death running a funeral home, and Nell became lost in trying everything to feel “normal”. Each had their own addiction…and while Luke chose the quickest way to numb the pain, each sibling as well showed that when their own path was no longer working they had no issue supplementing with hard liqour.

The most telling  scene being at a funeral viewing with Luke even though 90 days clean, still struggling with his own grief. The family’s liqour use on full display for drunkenness.

This is the question it raises. Addiction is not formed in a vacuum. It is not a choice. It is a coping mechanism for life, for trauma, for loss, for grieving, for lack of belonging. Feeling the eternal outsider and not knowing how else to silence the demons, or make the pain go away.

It is why 12 step programs still persist, because they draw people into community, and provide support on the journey. Create a safe port o call when the storms of life get too much. DBT/CBT (ala Smart Recovery) do the same, as it provides tools. Things that allow working through the symptoms, but it is striking at the heart of cause that brings release. How many do that?

In that journey, how many communities/families are willing to journey with the addicted?

It is in the journey when light is shone into the darkness that creates healing and ends addiction.

Recent studies on front line workers in homelessness/housing first have shown high rates of PTSD (higher than sexual assault victims) and currently peg 46% of active staff living/working with symptoms. One has to ponder, and possibly explore what is the functional/non-functional addiction levels of these staff for coping? As one struggles with flashbacks/anxiety/depression/pain and the darkness, reaching for what ever will bring relief/unconsciouness can be easier than working the healing. Discovering the light that the darkness has buried takes a lot (and requires a wraparound industry of support).

Yet for that light to shine, one has to look at their world…and do those around them create a safe port o call or simply a place where you can rationalize usage? Reflecting on Luke, he could very easily have looked at the other addictions and rationalized usage not healing. For the only difference in addictions, was legal/illegal.

The purpose behind was the same– numbing the pain of loss.

And that is the challenge for when it comes to addictions healing, we as the outsider do not necessarily want to admit perhaps our behaviours need to adjust for safety on the journey. The communal responsibility over personal right. It is a fine line, but one that shows the living breathing eco system within ourselves is how the community interacts with those in pain.

Are we going to be a part of the healing?