Archive for the ‘Musings’ Category


“You are right. You can fire me, but you cannot tell me what to do.”

-Jesse Stone to the Town Council (Jesse Stone series)

J.S. Woodsworth was a Methodist minister, a founding member and leader of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation, a labour activist who had the literal beating scars from police to prove it. He had worked tirelessly in his life to get Canada to treat all Canadians as Brother Jesus implored us to. Yet his values of anti-war and stopping evil entered conflict within him as he sat as a MP in Canada’s Parliament when it came time to declare war on Nazi Germany.

See he was against war. More than just conscientious objection, he saw in war for a way of the 1% to get wealthier through munitions and more efficient ways to exterminate human beings manufacturing, and as a way the wealthy used the draft to cull the herds of poor they saw as taxing on the country’s system. Yet, he also believed the horrors against humanity that his fellow caucus members in the CCF reported back about Germany and their program.

So what was he to do?

On that fateful day, Woodsworth would lose his job as leader of his party and movement, and not be elected again. As he would stand on the side of saving lives of poor Canadians and voting against the war. The one vote against, while the rest of his party voted with the other parties to enter the war. It is not about whether Woodsworth’s decision for anyone else was right or wrong, he had a conviction and made a choice. In that choice, he faced the consequences.

In 1990’s Alberta Kevin Taft as a governmental employee would face a similar choice as he recorder in Shredding the Public Interest (1997) where he recounted how one party rule was not for the betterment of Albertans. As it was in shredding documents that showed the government was intentionally screwing over the elders that built the province, and it resulted in a loss of his job.

Another choice of conviction.

These are hard choices to make in life. Yet we are all faced with them. Those moments when we need to decide, is this the hill I die on? Or does this path tie to other values of mine that can lead me forward. A former co-worker once described working with me as an acquired taste, for that resiliency. There was the grand mission of trying to make my corner of the world a better place where I could follow many paths. Yet in those instances where my heart became set on what was right in a situation whether it be for a group, a person or a practice there was no shaking the ground beneath my feet…and yes in those instances it did simply become one of “you as an organization can continue on that path but it will be without me.” Sometimes I chose to end the professional relationship, other times it was chosen for me. Yet regardless of how it ended, I would leave with my head up knowing I had made a choice much like those examples that opened this reflection.

Whether it was choosing communities of full inclusion regardless of gender identity, sexuality, mental health, being differently abled or cultural origin, which was a stand I needed to take on more than one occasion in my service in religions and spirituality.

Putting sitting government’s feet to the fire as a journalist, writer, speaker, activist, and student.

Challenging the norms of an institution to hopefully re-think how they existed to be a more open space.

Even in those moments where a group would pink slip me or so radically change my job description at a public meeting that my role was publicly voted out with me in the room, receiving death threats, being black listed from press access to certain government officials, or  one community having me resign to protect my children, only to have the things we had rattled the establishment to institute slowly roll out those changes that so challenged them (essentially using my family and I as a sacrificial lamb or a scapegoat).

Remembering a famous line, I had used in many battles:

This is about right and wrong for our community. You can fire me, I was looking for a job before I came here and I will find one no matter how I leave here. But what will not change is what those you try to segregate see as the true heart of their community and what they choose.

To the current challenge of where my family worships and the challenge it places on my being. This congregation has been good and inclusive, welcoming and warm. Yet it is part of a tradition that many times knocked me around because it did not want inclusiveness or change, other congregations where literally I had to surrender my ministry because I refused to be apart of acts of segregation.

The value challenge that I can feel Woodsworth must have gone through on vote day. Which value overtakes the other?

Does the brand matter as much as the local practice?

Finding a resting place of inclusion where my kids can be who they are called to be, where the family can be active. Yet part of me, still awaits the other shoe to drop. That tiny voice in the back of my head that can it be too good to be true? A simple way station where we have been apart of many that have just not gotten it. Where words and practice did not align? Perhaps the heart is weary, and this truth has no reconciliation left.

Or perhaps…

Simply perhaps…

Sometimes the battle has ripples that are left unseen for some…and…

Perhaps those ripples outside, need to simply be experienced. Only time will tell with the shattered bridges, burnt souls, and cast aside lives…if there is enough to continue moving forward, but I do know despite the challenges life has laid before me. So yes I have made a choice, one that sits with my values.

Despite the winding roads of life’s journey, one thing will not change.

That is the central core of my faith system.

Inclusion.

And yes my journey of understanding who my neighbour is has made that simple community aspect a non-negotiable.

What are your non-negotiable? Those ones where you literally would put livelihood on the line? In one word, what is that non-negotiable value for you?

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Don’t know if it is the flashbacks to high school law class, talking politics with friends and my Dad, or simply my love of the murder mystery or the destructive shenanigans of political ideology of our southern neighbours, but the rule of law keeps cropping up in my musings. Now, due to a tragic error in logic processing I was never able to perceive the LSAT as do-able so never had a chance to be a Crown Prosecutor and eventually a judge in Canada (although several I have discoursed with in my life time lament I never did and thought I would be admirable at it).

It is a hard system to navigate, not because of the criminal code of Canada, or the many tort (civil) laws. No, it is hard for the practitioner because of having to put aside one’s own bias. No matter where you are at work in the Justice System: Politician, police, media, or court…your first obligation is to uphold the rule of law. As such it creates quite a journey for you.

The #Metoo campaign has shown our failings as a society in Canada on this. This is a pattern where the celebrity predator is just the newest manifestation of the ancient predatory evil we have unearthed in the church (Roman Catholic, Jehovah Witness, Christian & Missionary Alliance, and Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Later Day Saints to name a few of the more well known); or hockey (or important sports of the community) coach or teacher.

The challenge in the rule of law is that both the accuser and the accused need to be believed until the judgement/ruling is passed. That is the hard part where folks will attempt to use the media to sway the result, or worse their power and money for the outcome that best gives them the protection they desire. At its worse we have seen it with the church where threats of eternal damnation have silenced victims for too long; in residential schools where political cover up has silenced victims; in sports where coachily authority and being the gatekeeper of dreams and the litany goes on. Then there is the challenge when one has the bravery to share their story and what happens once in the system. The re-victimization is the story shared by many.

This is where our system fails. For we are humans, working in a human system shaped by our own experience and bias, and sadly this comes out. For you see the Justice System is not about right/wrong, revenge/restitution or even restoration…it is about what the law deems legal and illegal. Unfortunately, those that work the system need to understand that and work to suspend their own judgments. They must follow the facts and how the facts connect to beyond a reasonable doubt to guilt, to if doubt exists acquit.

For it to work though, the facts must be investigated and brought forward to the Court, as all parties involved are innocent. That is the victim is believed fully, but while building the case against the accused they are believed to be innocent until the court deems them guilty. When this happens the theory of rule of law creates a just society.  This is what needs to be constantly challenged and asserted to make our system work. It is why the system needs to be invested in so the best and brightest choose to be involved to insure the truth is the proper outcome, not the wealthiest or the one who can out shame the other or over power the other wins.

One just has to look to the current Roy Moore fiasco in US politics or the FLDS Bountiful B.C. challenges of polygamy laws in Canada to see what can happen when our system is not invested properly. When the voice of the victim is stripped by the powerful, that is catastrophic. In B.C., what is being challenged in not polygamy marriage laws…it is trying to force the rule of law in Canada to legalize pedophilia. Which the rule of law will never allow—sorry social conservatives and your arguments against marriage equality with the slipper slope. Pedophilia is not only illegal, but unconstitutional.

However, a true test of polyamory under the rule of law in Canada, much like Dr. Phlox’s people practiced, would pass the test for marriage under proper authority and consent. All that would need to be re-worked is the number allowed in union.  See that is the key that Pierre Trudeau, as Justice Minister when he upgraded Canadian laws was getting at with his statement, “the state does not belong in the bedroom of the people.” What goes on between consenting adults of the same power level and choice is legal. The key words are consenting adults.

So as citizens, we need to ask ourselves: Are we willing to risk a system such as this? Are we willing to risk a critically thought out rule of law that encompasses safety, restoration, accountability and hope for all citizens?

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“You have an overinflated sense of responsibility for others”

            -Dix, Psychologist (Jesse Stone series)

            I have been journeying through neurologically triggered PTSD. Let me tell you it is not a fun set of events to relive the negative of one’s life. This journey is not about bragging or self-aggrandizement. It is for the 99.9% of times my brain reboots and says you have not made a difference in the little corner of your world, I have a critically laid out path to go maybe I did, maybe I didn’t but damn it brains the heart knows I tried.  Hence the walk through the idea of how many times experts/elites, whom we have defaulted to have told me not to bother, or I am wrong and my stubborn streak has gone in the vernacular of my redneck roots, “hold my beer bud and watch this.”

I point out the default to “elites/experts” because it is the shift society has made to the idea of quantitative data only, and zero-based budgeting which makes every person, every story something that must be quantified by a statistical number and/or cash pay out. Essentially a new way of doing the old pedagogy of worthy poor, worthy citizen for aid or elevation. Which I am sorry, if you enter the trenches, bash the knuckles, bloody the soul, wipe the tears away, hold the hand of the dying, cradle the body in the last gasps of the death rattle, these are things that you will always question.

            Why?

Simple, we as people are not a statistical number, we are not a label. Our worth does not come from what we cost or save the system. Our worth comes from something very simple. Being human. Our worth is inherent because of whom we are, a human being regardless of whether it is a spiritual, religious or scientific path that brings you to that understanding.

How does that change the lens you view things through? Who are your experts/elites? Your gurus? Are they coaches? Clerics? Scientists? Ideologues? Celebrities? Who do you allow to shape your world view? Why do you allow them to shape your world view? The Stanford Experiments tried to prove why the horror of Nazism happened, and the outcome was the default for the human being to believe the man in the white coat. The expert or the elite. The one that has power. Sadly, nothing has changed except whom we give the power in our lives. We forget that behind every “white coat” there is a grass roots movement of support that has bestowed that power on them and can strip it away if we default back to the total truth that worth is inherent and we as a species are in this together interconnected through an eco-system of beautiful mystery.

My words of the struggle for a better world dreamed are throughout this site, with the oldest being found in the archives and through these meanderings you can see how even after decades simple battles for inclusion are still being battled. 31 years of my life have been given to this journey, and looking to enter the second decade of my 2/3 of life, I know the journey will continue. But it is a journey where story of the quest needs to re-emerge, where we as societies need to move beyond balance sheets, labels and metrics to understanding what/who is our neighbour. So what follows is some simple musings of issues facing us as a community:

“Don’t call me a saint, I do not want to be so easily dismissed.”

-Dorothy Day, Founder Catholic Worker’s Movement, Single Mum

 

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I encourage you to buy Warren Kinsella’s first fiction work Recipe for Hate, based around true events in the Neo-Nazi-Punk world, for those more of the non-fiction type his seminal work Web of Hate on Canada’s neo-nazi movement in Canada (it inspired me int he `90’s to fight the good fight, and take stands against elites/experts that yes this was a necessary battle)…and why this hit me is seeing the fact that my own hood actually had to have an anti-racist walk yesterday…thank you for those that turned out (my heart was willing–the body and brain decided it was a no sadly)…we are the northeast, we are the world in a few city blocks, we are better than hate, because we know what it means to love your neighbour and be neighbourly. End sermon

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I also encourage reflection for those ideological entrenched on recent Canadian political history as we prepare to repeat in Alberta. In the early 2000’s the PC Canada party was taken over by the Reform-Alliance in media mirrors of a merger vote that saw Red Tories left politically homeless. Some would say it was successful as the Harper Cons eventually won power with their first minority government in February 2006. But just reflect on that for a moment for a party trying to root out corruption, and build inclusion with our First Nations through the Kelowna Accord, lost to a party that sided with the separatists to shut down parliament and strip Canadians of our Constitutional right of Peace, Order and Good Governance. No one else may realize how it will be written by the historians, but also, I do still firmly believe Minority Parliaments are the healthiest forms of governance for our country for it forces the politicians out of ideological blinders to truly what is best for the citizens.

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The fight over Harm Reduction versus abstinence in addiction treatment is just one of the false dichotomies we attempt to foist upon the public. Each treatment resonates with certain individuals (I can just hear the Twitter-soundbite politicos gasp) for it is about understanding the person in front of you and what works for them to be healthy.

It also moves into the idea that triage/silo health care does not always work. The human being is a holistic microcosm that does need to be treated as such. Yes, some things need to be prioritized within medical treatment, but somethings are interdependent, intertwined, co-dependent or simply co-existing. Ala addiction—the use of substance or behaviour creates the label, what causes it is rooted deeper whether you cease or stop the behaviour the actual cause whether emotional, physiological, neurological, etc (or all of the above) needs to be treated or we are setting the neighbour up for failure.

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Housing. Our nation needs a strategy, I know several federal parties at certain points have had policies (as I have been part of writing groups for these parties). Yet what is missing is the fundamental of Housing First principle 1: Consumer choice. (or better yet, citizen choice). It needs to be a policy and action that looks at affordable spectrums of home ownership (types of homes-house, condo, mobile) to apartments to lodges without age restrictions to group homes to supportive housing to hotels (yes hotels, many of the chronically homeless have come to shelters because they lived in hotels that closed down, where some money could have seen these places brought up to code, and some extra monies to the owners could have curbed settling in of unsavoury elements) to name but a few. Also, the idea of rooming houses ran by seniors is also something to be looked at, or on-site living in convents/monastic communities, or in shops/warehouses, mini houses…secondary suites, laneway housing, converted garages, the list goes on and on.

Yet it takes a citizen will to force politicians to challenge city planning back to a community and citizen focus and away from money politics.

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In the case of Health Care especially in Alberta we tend to forget that we were governed by a party set on Privatization (breaking the Health Act) through the Third Way that essentially created a system for failure, never forget history or we are doomed to repeat it. On an aside stating you never voted PC, or never voted does not remove your complicity from the state of our province now, for we are all citizens that allowed a party to run our province. Whether it is oil, health care, AB works or other social safety nets, are designed for those moments in life when you need them, not for when you do not. What we have done as a society is create a shame based system so those in need avoid and costs sky rocket for the person literally comes to the precipice of disaster before access and then is in a full cycle that is harder to get out of. And yes I was forced out of a job by taking a stance publicly for universal health care.

I still firmly believe active eugenics may have stopped in Alberta, but seeing how easily the Calgary Board of Education can blame special needs students for budget short falls, how hard it is to access AISH or lack of mental health supports, that passive eugenics is still practice.

And let us not forget the closure of the horrid institutions that if proper protocol was followed would have seen transition of those folks to proper home, group home or smaller care home placements in the community…but instead say nothing but shelter beds…because…eliminating the debt.

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Calgary City Hall is looking to cut preventative programs for at risk youth and seniors while continuing the shadowy no firm numbers exploration of an Olympic bid. Makes you wonder where following the money trail would take you? Also makes you wonder in a generation with these policies how our city will be judged by the way we have treated our young and elders?

Yet this is not new practice at City Hall, for when the Child Sex trade exploded in our city in the mid-90’s what the response was—cover up, cutting vice unit budgets… hmmm…. Lip service, not actions. My high school law teacher asking me when presented with the facts about the child sex trade saying the assignment was to show what is controversial about it? My response led me to being kicked from class that day when I simply stated, “the only wanker that can’t see the controversy based on the facts is the one that goes to the pizza parlour back room in our hood and asks for the child.”

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Political party vetting when I ran in 2006 that saw the questioner unable to comprehend how I could be pro-choice on abortion without using the buzzwords. Yes I believe in a woman’s control over their own body, yes I believe in the family, and I believe we need to build a world in which every child conceived should be wanted and until that happens then this needs to be free and open to all who desire, need or want.

I also believe that the government needs to invest in a system or pre- and post- procedure counselling and healing of the holistic person. I believe we need a freer adoption service. I also believe the pre- and post-procedure aid needs to be open to the one that gave the egg, the one that gave the sperm, and those that may be affected by the ripples within the family.

But I will never say I am anti-abortion for. Yes, this is after coming from a position where an ex who was so lost in addiction made the choice to abort and her only rationale was to inflict pain on me who chose to not come second to a chemical.

I also firmly state I am pro-life with dignity. Which is why I so easily can stand and argue that medically assisted death is a necessity within our system so human life is one with dignity, for it I would not let my fur baby suffer in such a way, why would I let my loved one.

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The continual move away from city accessibility. In Calgary our at home garbage/recycle/compost system is designed for new communities with attached garages, and condos. Yet also falls short in understanding challenges of constantly carrying out buckets of compost in established neighbourhoods. The reduction in garbage pick up removing dignity of the person for those with continence challenges as their garbage output is not reduced but now the overflow is on view for the whole of their neighbours to see.

Yet with some thought, and work at a provincial wide level perhaps we could expand the recycle from house program, thus truly reducing garbage so the bi-weekly pick up can work. The expansion could shift as other provinces have done so the monies from recyclables pay for the program, thus  reducing costs to citizens. Then expand to multi-unit dwellings so it becomes cost neutral so this type of bylaw does not increase rents.

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That at the end of World War 2 my Great-Granddad Lewis who was a veteran of both wars battled for the Commonwealth to care for its veterans appropriately, and during my tenure in the world I have fought the same battle in the 21st century. This is a staunch reminder, war needs to be the last resort, and one that we enter into realizing that we need to be prepared to care for those that give some, and those that give all…also this needs to carry through to those we send out to peace keep for they enter the hell mouth as well.

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Look to the Alberta Government looking at removing age restrictions on housing stating it is a human rights issue. The realization is not understanding the complexity of the issue when it comes to congregate (condo/apartment living).

At the very least, if a person or couple have moved to a building believing it is kid free, and they chose to live there because of this a new family that moves in you are setting them up for harassment and complaints. A situation that may only end with one side or the other being evicted. Sadly, an eviction for whatever reason creates an issue on re-housing.

At the worst, you are setting up a place for predators. Sadly, those that abuse children and prey on them do not spend their life in jail. Upon release, they need to be housed, with this new legislation you are removing a housing option that keeps our communities’ safe…yet…

It is also short sighted, in that there are also many folks with the psychological predilection for children (due to trauma or neurology) that choose to work with Alberta Health to keep themselves and others safe. Using pharmaceuticals and other therapies, but also building a life that keeps them away from children as much as possible. Now comes this new bill…and…

Sound bites and twitter politics over critical thought of the best of the whole.

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That over 20 years after I got my knuckles bloody defending my op-ed piece in the Calgary Sun over a person’s right to love and marry whom they choose (and multiple thousand death threats) …both our governing and Loyal Opposition parties still distract by fighting this battle over again thus distracting from more core issues. (yes, for those doing the math, my 18th birthday was when the editorial I wrote in support of marriage equality came out). Why did I write this? I remember sitting with my Nan, when US President Bill Clinton announced he was against it, and her tears and simple statement that maybe if our world were more accepting and Christian as Jesus taught her lovely cousin would not have taken his life. So I took a stand, and took the lumps that came with it.

I am going to be blunt, when it came to clubs I was a part of in public school, the only time my parents needed to be contacted was when we were leaving the school so both sides were creating news and not holding true to the sanctity of learning, growth and discovery of the child. The only time parents were contacted about school behaviours were when they put myself or another at risk.

For those that try to blind with extremism, ideology or religion, let the war bride’s words ring in your ears. If our world was more Christian…love would win, and whom you love would not matter.

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The constant reminder that user fees are a flat tax on the working and poverty classes. A reminder that when political parties speak of the middle class, it is an innocuous term used to gain votes, but pragmatically roles out to households making over 100K a year, thus not the average Canadian.

A reminder that our natural resources do not belong to companies or politicians but to the citizens and need to be leveraged for OUR benefit above all else. That our Constitution Act 1982 does need to be re-opened, a social charter that was originally removed at the behest of Lougheed needs to be reinserted, and the division of powers in Section 91 & 92 needs to be looked at for the reality of Canada in a globalized world and things like Health Care and Education need to be in Federal jurisdiction as we are stabilized at about 30ish million people.

We need to take a serious look at the abolish of the reserve system and either incorporating into the Constitution territories of provinces for First Nations depending on population size (ala Nunavut).

We also need to realize that we only get the representation we are entitle to as Canadians, when we realize the local representative should hold the power of the vote. Party whips and Cult Leader politics are the Americanizing of our democracy to our detriment. As well, for it to work properly the elections acts need to be amended so the candidate needs to live in the electoral district at whichever level it is defined; PACS, union and corporate donations are abolished. Actually, all donations are. Each candidate must attend a set number of debates, public media must carry local candidate ads, interviews and discourses so that the public can be informed. If we really want a throw back perhaps the UFA system should be implemented in which a leader is not elected until all MP’s or MLA’s are elected (like the Constitution dictates) …but let’s take some giant baby steps first. Once the system functions the way it is laid out to, then we can look beyond a first past the post system to other voting systems.

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These thoughts continue to crop in my mind like I said as I look back on a life of work to try and build a new world, then the reboot hits and the brain lies to the heart stating that it has all been for nought.

On the grand scale still seeing the pain that exists within our world, yes it may appear as failure. Yet the failure is in stopping to raise the issue that we are all in this together.

These are musings that rest on my heart and are leading me to another pragmatic spiritual work as I look back on history of the sector I have worked in. If one spends time with the writings of J.S. Woodsworth and how his shelter functioned in Winnipeg at the turn of the 20th century, and then look at our system today you can come to a simple conclusion, all that has changed is our mats are thicker. 100+ years on, what needs to change?

We still haven’t answered the core question of his work, for we still look at the person in need, in pain, in sickness, in jail and in our homes, communities’ and lives.

The central question?

The one I have spent a life attempting to unpack, and will be the focus of my next pragmatic memoir?

Who is My Neighbour?

JS


Why can’t there be a big red button?

-War Doctor

           Like any good science fiction questions around the essence of us (humanity) should be brought forward. This is at the bedrock of the Doctor Who 50th anniversary movie (watch trailer here), Day of the Doctor.  It is the deepest plunging into the hardest thing to  comprehend for any person… ourselves.

As the regeneration who chose themselves undeserving of the name, but asks the question as in the clips above, the Warrior Doctor, “I am looking for the Doctor.” The one who is called to heal, to help to aid…or as Clara will note the thrum of the Tardis is a sound of hope. But this is about that corner of the mind of the Doctor, no, the heart where hope has gone out.

For it was in the 9th regeneration that the fabled time war happened. When Daleks and Time Lords went to war to end all wars. Where the rest of the universes saw the Time Lords just as evil as the Daleks who view anything outside their race as need to be exterminated, which this mini-episode Night of the Doctor expertly portrays as the Doctor must make a choice to not be apart of the war or to be apart of the solution?

The haunting begins.

Much like we make choices within our own lives at any given moment with the information available. Whether it is good, bad, horrible or indifferent. It is what is possible and probably for us at that moment. Much like moments in human history (very hard to bring 21st century morals onto situation 400 years old or 150 years old as we try to erase instead of critically teach history so the cycle can be fully broken. Just ask any abuse survivor, the story and triumph need to be spoken so that it will not be repeated, in all its darkness).

This literally becomes the story. As the device designed to end the Time War by the Doctor is AI with a conscience and brings the Doctor to begin interacting with his decision. The decision? At that moment and time in war as the Daleks are all gathered at Gallifrey—to end it all, Daleks and his people. The haunting ripples this will bring through time.

The decision driven by the motto burned into a wall by him “No More.” The war must end.

The journey forward form that choice showing the grief cycle. The short regeneration shortly after not even there. The true shock.

But the struggle between who are known as the Tenth (David Tenant) and Eleventh (Matt Smith) Doctor’s to forget this period in time. How it shapers personality. One who lives in pained regret and the other who lives to forget, to move forward.

The haunting question answered by 2.41 billion.

But with the Eleventh Doctor being 400 years out…is there another decision that can be seen?

What if that decision can be tried?

What if in your moment of darkness your future selves could stand with you and you would not have to be alone?

What if, you live in acceptance of the choice and find hope in spite of it to move forward in a better life for yourself and others?

This may seem like nothing more than a toss away sci-fi movie from the BBC. Apart of geek culture and nothing more.

Yet we live in a time of reconciliation.

A time when groups who have been oppressed and the former oppressors know that something needs to change.

But how do we get there?

Sometimes a science fiction story can show us the interior and exterior journey in a way that creates conversations that can create the space for critical discussion and active listening, that other venues cannot.

Just think of using this in a religious or political or classroom setting with the Time War as the metaphor for residential schools, Canadian Eugenic practices for those with disabilities, the destructive LGBTTQ2+ laws; the dying with dignity or abortion laws; slavery, the list can go on…

For what questions would haunt our journey where the answer 2.41 billion could just be as haunting.

But even more so.

What is the new life?

What is the regeneration that awaits each one of us?

Where does hope exist?

Do you hear the thrum of the TARDIS? Or are you blocking it out?


Lectionaries are designed within liturgical/mainline churches to have the entire Hebrew Bible and Christian Testament heard within the community in a 2 or 3-year cycle depending on the lectionary used, Other liturgical prayer book resources will take a daily reflective practice for the person through the whole of these two scripture compilations usually within a year.  It is unique that in this part of the lectionary cycle this is the reading that came up in the Roman Catholic lectionary, in the midst of the rise of fascism, Nazism, extremism (at the point of extremism the qualifier of right-left or religiosity is removed for it is simply about hate, power and control, nothing more).

But, this reading also struck on my own renaissance of the past months with my Trekkie ways (that many previous posts have touched upon) and it reflects the Healing Journey of James Tiberius Kirk as seen in the Star Trek II to VI.

As you hear the words of the gospel whether you read within your heart or with your lips, may they embed upon yourself. And the old Franciscan idiom of living it as nature before moving on touch upon your soul:

21 Then Jesus left Galilee and went north to the region of Tyre and Sidon. 22 A Gentile[e] woman who lived there came to him, pleading, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! For my daughter is possessed by a demon that torments her severely.”

23 But Jesus gave her no reply, not even a word. Then his disciples urged him to send her away. “Tell her to go away,” they said. “She is bothering us with all her begging.”

24 Then Jesus said to the woman, “I was sent only to help God’s lost sheep—the people of Israel.”

25 But she came and worshiped him, pleading again, “Lord, help me!”

26 Jesus responded, “It isn’t right to take food from the children and throw it to the dogs.”

27 She replied, “That’s true, Lord, but even dogs are allowed to eat the scraps that fall beneath their masters’ table.”

28 “Dear woman,” Jesus said to her, “your faith is great. Your request is granted.” And her daughter was instantly healed.

-Gospel of Matthew 15:21-28 (New Living Translation)

Brother Jesus is a prick in this telling, let’s be honest. The man that has been teaching to rest in the love does the dance of ignorance based on race superiority. His non-chalant I am not here for you people, does come across as a supremacy statement at first blush.  Especially with a child’s life hanging in the balance. It would definitely be jarring for his disciples to hear.

Jarring because it was Brother Jesus espousing what they held to be true of their beliefs as the children of Israel. The Messiah was there for them not those who were actively supportive of the Empire.  I mean one of the many rumours (or truths depending on the narrative of Jesus’ early life you follow) is that Roman soldiers raped Mary and Jesus was the result, but was blessed, others would hold he was born directly from God, and many other stories as the Gospel of John tell us that would be too many to keep up with. Yet the gentiles, or Empire were non-Jews, mostly in this age they were ones that had sold out Israel, battled with Israel, or were Romans in general who only saw Israelite’s outside of the wealthy and religious leaders (that could be used to keep control of the people) as property to be used and/or abused as they wanted.

This is not even touching upon the general view of women across all nations at this time. A view that Jesus’ circle had shattered with their egalitarian equality, equity and justice.  Yet when this woman came upon them and they reverted to old ways. The ways that Jesus mimicked.

“Only Nixon can go to China”

-Spock, Star Trek VI: Undiscovered Country

 

Within the cold war height of hysteria, Star Trek’s original crew was in their movie arc. It was this future used to reflect the destructive ways that seeing American or Soviet as the other or capitalist-communist as the other and building fear would lead to.

Within Star Trek it was the Federation-Klingon Empire.  Star Trek II saw Spock give his life to save the Enterprise, quoting the famous line, the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few or the one. And the genesis bomb went off on the planet Spock’s body was left to rest on.  Kirk had found he had a son, David, yet his best friend, his moral compass was left behind dead.

Now, as we go through quick touchstones of the others. I do encourage you to watch the movies and see other gems available, as this is just quick points and not as in-depth as could happen with these storylines.  As another aspect these movies could touch on would be the grief cycle of 5 stages, or the U theory of change, but again, those are for another time.

This is the journey of healing and transformation as the inciting incident of this arc was Spock’s death. In the third film, it is revealed that Spock’s essence is within McCoy. The Klingons want genesis, David and Saavik find a reborn Spock due to the Genesis bomb (life from lifelessness).

This is the rising action that sees Kirk and crew determine the needs of the few or the one can outweigh the many. They break Federation protocol, steal the Enterprise and head back to Genesis to get Spock. Before ultimate win though, the Klingons kill Kirk’s son, David.

Blind rage and grief move from a Cold War battle with the Klingon Empire, to a personalization of hatred for the other within Kirk.

Star Trek IV has Kirk and crew using a stolen Klingon cruiser to go back in time to save humanity from our own shortsightedness as the Klingon Empire sabre rattles for the “war criminal Kirk” to be turned over to the Klingon justice system.  But saving the universe must come before politics as the Crew on their newly christened HMS Bounty go back in time to well, bring back a lost species to communicate with a probe—the Humpback whale.

As Scotty would chime before the jump forward, “We got whales here!”.

It is truly a connecting of the Cold War of the `80’s into the Star Trek universe. It is also a trip where Kirk gets to experience Spock’s new entry back into his life, and learning what it means to be a person of two worlds…both Vulcan and Human.

In fact, the outcome of his Federation court martial is to be stripped of his admiralty and given to be Captain of the new Enterprise A. That is even the Federation realizes the best place for Kirk is as a captain of a star-ship out there exploring and discovering, much to the anger of the Klingon Empire.

Star Trek V has Kirk entering into a search for God thanks to Spock’s half brother Sybok. But the challenge of the search for God is a loss of pain. It is within this journey that Kirk begins to understand that pain is not what is the problem, but when Sybok takes the pain he takes the learning, the growth, the understanding. The intangibles that created who each of the crew were.

Also it raises the question when they are face to face with the entity pretending to be the Creator. It is petty, mean, and separatist. It is the being that extremism creates to give credence to their hatred. Kirk sums it up greatly on his transformational journey at this point, “Why is God angry?” Truly, if you are seeking wisdom, answers and truth. If you are seeking to love and include…then yes, why is God angry?

Which brings us to the end of the rising action and to the climax in Star Trek VI where this exchange happens between Kirk and Spock about the Klingons:

Spock: They are dying.

Kirk: Then let them die.

Sound familiar? Almost like the disciples with Brother Jesus. All this personal discovery, learning and transformation. Yet when the climax came to make a choice, Kirk almost took the path of the comfortable instead of healthy change. Yet it is within the Undiscovered Country that Kirk reaches the point with the Klingons that Jesus brought his disciples to with the woman in 15:28:

28 “Dear woman,” Jesus said to her, “your faith is great. Your request is granted.” And her daughter was instantly healed.

Kirk was at peace and heading to retirement, as was many of his friends on the crew. The denouement. Then the final resolution of his life was seen in Star Trek VII: Generations as he saves the Enterprise-B and falls into the Nexus, and then with Picard and crew will save the universe again. He imparts this wisdom to Picard: You are where you need to be. The best place, the Captain of the Enterprise, do not let them take it away, do not let them promote you. Stay there for it is the best place. Completely understanding the need to find your passion, and then live it and not let your ego or others building the ego to create a false you that removes you from that path.

Even with detours as seen in Kirk’s life can get back on track, things will thrive and grow. Healing will happen. Transformation and release of the pain associated with your own story. The shadow blocks can be removed for a better world, that begins with a better you.

Much like Kirk.

As Brother Jesus played a mirror for his disciples in how they were still not getting it.

And as trite as it maybe you will live a life, that will make your own part of the world a better place for you being a more complete and you- you.

Do you choose this you?

“It was fun.”

-Captain James T. Kirk, Star Trek Generations, last words.


“I am going back because I am a coward. Sometimes it is easier to go back, than to walk away.”

-Wild Bill (Hickock, 2017 movie)

Westerns and Star Trek, it has been a childhood mythology renaissance in my house lately. Star Trek shares so many values that I hold dear around equality, exploration, peace, greater good (and the list goes on) as well as friendship, and the power of the intrinsic unnameable piece of the human experience that heals us and moves us forward.

Just look to Star Trek Deep Space Nine. The thrust of the whole series is essentially Truth and Reconciliation for a colonized, oppressed and almost genocide people—the Bajorans (at the hands of the Cardassians). It is the story of the Emissary, Benjamin Sisko who goes on his own healing journey with his dual role in Starfleet and now Bajoran Religious leadership. Releasing his own anger and pain at the loss of his wife at wolf 359 (for non-Trekkies, that is the major Borg battle where Captain Picard was assimilated and led the charge).

It is also more, as many have panned the finale of this series for pulling out the old trope of writing where it appears you have so written yourself in a corner that the only way out is to state “the Gods saved us.” Or some other miracle.  Yet, when you are dealing with a people who have had their worth shattered, and are bearing witness to reclaiming/learning their spiritual/cultural heritage it begins to make sense. Think of a whole planet colonized and people living through a healing journey of PTSD, and what finally ends the new war with the Dominion, the evil that has emerged from the Celestial Temple (wormhole) like an Anti-Christ…why it is the Prophets that save.

Could the society have healed without coming to terms and embracing that intrinsic missing piece? How can one heal from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder of their entire cultural identity being stripped away by generations, if it is not by truly embracing their truth? Truly, to embrace the old light that shines through the new cracks of the pain to finally shatter the bonds.

It also led to thinking of a youth retreat where we discussed bio-ethics. How? Star Trek Deep Space Nine’s 5th season episode, Rapture wrestles with a child who has a parent that may be dying and needing to make a decision that may or may not be within the parent’s wishes on life and death and calling. The other was Spock and Sarek’s relationship in Star Trek’s Journey to Babel as the father has fallen ill, they are estranged, and duty calls Spock, a logical reaction is to follow duty for the needs of the many should outweigh the needs of the one?  What does one choose? Which part of themselves do they listen to…

It flows, there are many different ethical conversations that emerge from movies and shows. Hickock (2017) was a birthday present from my son, and is the fictionalized look at the time Wild Bill was sheriff of Abilene. A good movie with decent pacing as you explore what it means to follow your actual heart. To leave the comfortable trail, and to see the new calling laid out before you. That is what Wild Bill was speaking to. He was not being a hero or brave by going back to Abilene on his normal path as a gunslinger. He was taking the coward’s way. For it was the comfortable path, as the one that was calling him was the unknown—scary, and would take too much bravery. So, it was easier to simply go with the comfortable road.

These musings have meandered a might but they all speak to wholeness of self and community. For that to happen it means standing at the crossroads and making a choice. The choice that matters is the one that speaks to personal transformation.

The choice that matters, and which part of yourself you listen to…where you seek the intrinsic wholeness of self, whom your Prophets are if you will. These are only questions you can answer.

The question before you are much that same as what Wild Bill had to answer:

Will you be a coward or a hero in your own story?


Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its continuing mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no one has gone before.

-Captain (Admiral) James T. Kirk opening monologue to Star Trek; Star Trek the Animated series and Star Trek I thru VI

Ah Star Trek, a good sci-fi world to explore many things of morals/ethics and yes, even spirituality.  Thanks to the wonders of Netflix Canada I have had the fun of re-discovering the animated series, a simple 22 episodes from 1973-74. It was a show designed as a continuation of the original Star Trek series, though declared outside of canon. Which frankly I don’t give a damn about, I enjoy good stories with characters I love, this idea of which is to be paid attention to is simply a pain in the butt. Anyways, I digress and back on point. (Full episode guide here.)

The show was fun because with animation instead of live action many more aliens could be added to the crew and worlds, as well, many new things could happen. Many of the scripts were adapted from those that were too costly to make a go on the original show. Much like the comics series and book series that followed the shows, it opened up new alien worlds explore.

The series was voiced by most of the original crew, sans Walter Koenig due to financial constraints, but Leonard Nimoy refusing to be apart of the series if the rest could not speak to a high volume of community and friendship. Yet Koenig was not absent from the series, he was the first Trek actor to writer a Star Trek story in season one’s episode The Infinite Vulcan.

It is a story of creation of a master race, imposition of peace and what truly emerges as a choice between control and free will.

Is the reader starting to see what can happen with these 23-minute episodes over a 22-week period? They work for all ages with viewing, a group of them could be used during specific times of the church year as well (ala Advent or Lent) as a special discussion series.

They are stories that can be tied into discussions, teachings for all ages, or used to craft a specific children curriculum for a part of the children’s ministry as each episode would lend itself to game/craft creation out of the story, and can easily tie into different topics from the epistles.

Considering season one’s episode Mudd’s Passion is a treatise on living as you were truly created (a nod to St. Paul’s writings in Romans that have been oh so misinterpreted as scriptures of pain over time).  There are 21 other short stories like this, that are accessible for all ages.

Basically, I do not want to offer up what a curriculum could look like for spiritual growth and direction. I do not want to say it should only be tied to the Christian Bible, for it can be used within any religious or humanist settings (as Gene Rodenberry was a rationalist humanist). What it is, is another medium for discovery and learning that can be overlooked so easily.

What it takes is someone willing to be creative. Someone who is good with craft/game/music creation or working with kids/adults to create these things on their own. Tying it into some discussion questions and launching. One thing I always stood on when I was working in churches was that money is not what was needed to create multi-generational communities. What was needed was passion, fun and purpose that when lived out becomes contagious. It creates the space for belonging for all, and that is the space that is needed.

Here is some thoughts on a simple tool that can be used.

And to quote Captain Jean-Luc Picard…

“To Boldly go where no one has gone before.”