Archive for the ‘Musings’ Category


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.”

 


It is a parable that uses a story telling device made famous on CBS’ How I met your mother…a father telling a story to their children to discover. This time around the story invests in theory of change.

There are many theories of change. There is the U theory or the stages of change to name but two. As well these have been adapted into grief work. There are stories of transformation and coming through change like the book parable series, FISH.  For you see change, morale are inter-twined together. It is about coming through the journey from what was to what is. But within the journey being able to honour and include the best of what was, wit the best of the new, or the crystalizing phase as in U theory to become the new norm.

This is the story of Dream Works Boss Baby (2017). For it is the story of actualizing reality beyond the “truth” out of fear, about enough of love (a resource) to go around and as such one group needs to be vilified over another.

“Obviously you have never been to business school!”

“Obviously you have never had a family!”

            -From Boss Baby (2017)

   But there is more. For it is the story of change in dynamics and understanding. The balance of quantitative results and qualitative existence. It is the story of new life. Not a complete abandoning of the old, but rather a building upon what was, to include what is, so what is to become can emerge.

This is the relationship between Boss Baby and older brother Tim on their journey together. A journey of give and take of learning. Learning that transforms each when they each open themselves up to learning from one another.  It was a gem of a surprise when my kids picked up the DVD from our local Wal-Mart for family movie night (and yes have been watching it at least twice a day since).

I am not going to share many plot points because it is a fun ride, and yes you need to experience it. Shape the parable for your own context. For it is time to discover hidden questions on your change journey:

  1. How are you Tim?
  2. How are you Boss Baby?
  3. How do you know you are ready to embrace the new? What from the old is coming on the journey?

But above all…remember you do not end with Ha! But Arrr!

Masts ahoy matey on the change journey!


First, if you are still a user of DVD’s (as I am) and you enjoy the hunt—Dollarama is carrying seasons of t.v. shows of yesteryear for $4 (yes you read that right) okay end PSA for critical thinkers.

So in discovery form, I found Season One of Picket Fences. A staple in our house growing up on Friday Nights. We are currently binge watching through the quirky Rome, Wisconsin adventures with the Brock Family (Sheriff, Town Doctor, 3 kids); Douglas Wambough (everybody’s lawyer); the Judge (who despite his own beliefs, uses justice as the moral/ethical compass for the town)…and so on and so forth.

But just think of the topics covered in the first scant episodes of season one: that pure nicotine can kill instantly; animal cruelty in circuses (a little person steals an elephant and rides it into town); Euthanasia/Dying with Dignity (and not with a nurse; but with a Nun, whose individual was Episcopalian)—cue discussions from all characters around their religious, ethical beliefs, beliefs around life and death…then the Christmas Pageant— not just the discourse on religious celebrations in public space-as a Rabbi challenges a Nativity scene–but then it comes out that the teacher playing Mary is Transsexual.  The exploration from the medical examiner that used to date her; to the parents reactions to the kids reactions of losing a teacher…to the great judgment where the judge admits his own personal bigotry, but when it comes to dismissing the teacher from work…well legally, ethically, morally and constitutionally you cannot due that for she is a good teacher.

Each episode had challenging topics, that built characters by sharing their struggles/beliefs through each topic. Which then bleeds into conversations with the watchers on what they hold to be true, why? what do you think of the resolution?

What sparked this ramble? As discussing with the wife, for the time period the show was not shocking. Dramas, family or otherwise, same as sitcoms, would tackle issues of the day in a way that created conversation. Art and writing were used to continue society’s forward movement into a just society.

Now fast forward 20ish years, and with things like that block feature for controversy on YouTube as just one example. I do not believe this show would make it through its early episodes in this day and age. Why??

We tend to want to have the ostrich effect in regards to controversial or tough subject matters. Anything that can create discussion or discourse, encourage critical thinking we want to shy away from. As a global society we have moved into “safe zones” where we go into our “ideology” caves and like the Croods roll the rock in front for safety. Whatever you want to cover the ideology in whether it is religion, spirituality, philosophy, politics (or another rainbow flavour) as a person you just want to exist within that sphere alone. The downside of this type of existence, is it become impossible to have discussions across the divide. The chasms get dug deeper, bridge building is forgotten, as the only drive is to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that your held ideology is the “TRUTH” and be damned any other.

On this eve of Palm Sunday in my cultural-religious heritage I mourn a little for this dychotomy. It is what 2000+ years ago the Entry to Jerusalem pres session foreshadowed: On one side, the poor and disenfranchised looking for a new way, on the other the oppressors and power holders.

Yet there came a time for discussion that broke down those barriers.

Now unfortunately, we are re-creating the barriers. Building the walls higher, digging the chasms deeper, and ensuring the lakes/motes of fire are poured ferociously.

Let’s agree on one thing as we move through this year. Let’s leave where we are now, and perhaps, just perhaps, take some time as families, communities to go back to a little town in Wisconsin, called Rome. A time when we could have space to process stances and beliefs beyond labels, discuss them openly and really figure out what it means to be in this grand adventure of life together.


The following is an e-mail that was sent out to parents of students in the Calgary Board of Education. It is there response to Bill 1- A Reduction in School Fees. Please note my pithy, yet thought out response will follow in bold italics. Also note that it is an organization using tried and true status quo methods of deflection in Alberta—when in doubt blame another level of governance for you inability to actually serve those you are charged to serve. As many have noted government is neither business nor non (not) for profit but a hybrid with a dash of exceptional. For far too long in Alberta we have settled for mediocre, and as the School Board Trustee elections approach in October 2017 I implore all Calgarians to vote for anyone but the incumbents for the future of our kids.

Now without further ado, their status quo deflection:

Update on Fees and Transportation for 2017-18

 

Dear Parents/Guardians

On Thursday March 2, the Provincial Government introduced Bill 1 – An Act to Reduce School Fees. This legislation will impact transportation service levels and fees for CBE families beginning this fall.

As directed by Alberta Education, on March 3, 2017 the CBE forwarded a letter from the Minister outlining some details about changes to transportation. At that time he wrote:

“Bill 1, if passed, will also remove bus fees for eligible students traveling to their designated school. That means that if your child attends his or her designated school and that school is more than 2.4 kilometres away from your home, you will not be charged transportation fees. In some circumstances – for example, if parents choose to enrol their child in a school other than their designated school – fees may still be incurred.”

We still have many questions about this legislation. We are working with the government to seek clarification and work through the details.

Until we better understand the impacts on fees and service levels for our families, transportation pre-registration for the 2017-18 school year cannot begin. We had planned to begin in late April. However, with the introduction of Bill 1 this process will be delayed. Early registration helps us plan our routes more efficiently resulting in fewer changes in the fall. It also allows us to share more accurate route information with our families sooner.

We know this timing may be challenging for our families. During our engagement last year families clearly stated they wanted information on transportation – including service levels, stop locations and timing – as early as possible to begin planning for the next school year. We will do our best to provide information on routes as quickly as possible.

We are also seeking clarification on instructional supplies or materials (ISM) fees. We need to understand if this includes bulk purchase of schools supplies for students in grades K-6.

We will continue to update you once we have more specific details about Bill 1 and what it will mean for CBE families.

 

My Response from my FB status April 7, 2017:

So CBE multi-million dollar organization is told to start doing their work within the grounds of the constitution, and they e-mail parents pleading poverty essentially, and that services may be cut to the kids—- hmmm… or do what responsible service providers do and look where cuts can actually happen– that is between budget disbursement and kids, look at the bureaucracy, the pay of CBE trustees, and quit threatening the educational mechanism on the front lines. Do not tell us you cannot start taking registration for busing, plan routes, or are unclear on being able to purchase supplies for our kids. Oh and did you remember this year to collect all tax money from the city? Bill 1 is not the enemy, Bill 1-an act to reduce school fees– is actually making life affordable for families, now do what you were elected to do and provide quality education, safe transportation for our kids.

P.S. The Bus Fee controversy is the CBE finally being called out on the smoke & mirrors they did a few years back to punish Special Needs kids and families. We never have a say in where our kids go to school, the CBE designates based on support structures (which makes sense). For this we paid a reduced rate. Parents of typically developing kids got uppity, but instead of working towards what the government has now imposed, short-sighted “fairness” un-advocates accepted raising bus rates for special needs kids, to the typically developing kids rates.

Now if you send your child to an non-designated school that is your choice, and yes you should pay for buses. But if the school, regardless of child, is designated and requires to be bused, I agree with the Ministry of Education, there should be no charge.

-30- for now.


Been awhile since I have put together one of these column styles, but I believe it is time to get some fresh thoughts out there within the Canadian Social Justice Context. Since January 20, 2017 when President Trump was sworn in as President of the USA, I have noticed a downturn in the Canadian justice workers’ ability to be reflective about the state of our own nation, province, city/town/village, community and self. We like to project to the Big Bad Wolf to the South and be able to say “well its Trump.”

When truly, we have many stones to repair in Castle Le Canada.

This is some musings from the reflective time of Purim (the Hebrew Bible story of Esther) which begun at conclusion of Sabbath yesterday and concludes at sundown tonight. For the story of Esther, click here.  For those readers of regularity of this site, I encourage a reflective Lectio Divina of the text to set your spirit in a-tune-ment to see the state of your world and how it reflects in the Holy Story. 3 questions could be (one for each hearing):

  1. When have I been silent? (sit with this memory)
  2. When have I been Haman in my world?
  3. When have I found a voice like Esther?

The third is where you find the resonating with the love of the Holy Mystery to take forward. Another spiritual practice would be to rewrite the story from the hardest point of view you have: King, Esther, Mortdecai, Ex-Queen, Haman? What truths are revealed for your life?

But I digress as this is not a theology lesson, but rather a time to be eclectic and percolate some thoughts in our souls as Canadians where next steps lay for our Just Society.

Aboriginal Health Care– due to treaty and the colonial-patriarchy of reserves this falls under Federal auspices, yet any Constitutional Act 1982 student (BNA Act 1867) know that this means literal limbo for our First Nations family members as the true provider of health care is provincial. So how do we truly reconcile, move forward in the new and bury to old?  Full signing on of each specific nation as a province under the Constitution Act 1982 and Charter of Rights and Freedoms, with one step forward each nation dependent on population getting 4-8 seats in the House of Commons (not added extra, existing redistributed); and a set 10 block for all First Nations (+2 for Metis, +2 for Inuit) specifically in the senate, again redistribution, not adding.

This then can allow for both the HoC and Senate to be re-worked Constitutionally and perhaps a social charter can be designed that includes housing, health care, education, right of choice in life, death and income guarantees for every Canadian.

Which also flows into the next as #TRC has happened for our First Nations family, yet we have continued to ostracize/demonize another population whose story needs to be told- The Metis (Half-breeds).

The children of colonialism and the fur trade. The Roman Catholic Church forged a cultural community within those of mixed from Aboriginal-French. Which gave our nation Louis Riel and Garbiel Dumont, brought Manitoba into Confederation, first human rights writing in Canada, and a battle for equality. One that as a nation we never saw for this group until the 1930’s when they were finally recognized as human beings. The story of the Half-breeds on the book is much more destructive, as the British (Scottish-Irish) did not have collectivist good, and belief in conquering through inter-marriage but rather through absorbing. Which created the choice the child was either Aboriginal or white, so one culture lost completely. That is just what our history books will tell us, what is the story on the ground? That which has been silenced? We already know of the land tracts and speculators swindling them out of the land for a low price. But what other harm/trauma lies underneath that needs to be told? Held as truth? And then as a true community choosing to move forward as one?

This is why the TRC records with First Nations need to be kept in the national archive, need to be published and shared far and wide, so the story is known. It is part of us. But also part of the story is the choice to move forward as one and write a new story. This is the reconciliation piece of Truth and Reconciliation.

But this also brings down to the microcosm.

Where I have been struggling with my own Truth and Reconciliation within the United Church of Canada.The family pilgrimage for sacred community as has been written about, has brought us into a Northeast congregation of the UCC, where yes our son who is differently abled has found embrace. He is quite empathetic and a good reader of a person’s true energy, so when he goes on his own volition to join other kids you know the authenticity well.

But aiding him to walk as the weather change is making his muscles sore into the Wonderkids, and seeing the mish mash of kids: other cultures, typically and differently abled just together being kids it hit in my heart.

For it was seeing lived out today in church,  what almost 10 years ago got me fired from the United Church Congregation that I surrendered any hope of ordination to choose inclusion.

Just one of those aha moments, that when you start to unpack the day, and realizing the connections of everything…people…nature…energy…the Holy Mystery permeates all, and all is interconnected within it.

So as with the differently abled community coming into full inclusion in the microcosm, I look to the TRC at the more macro level for inclusion at the national level… and to the two national party’s choosing leaders-Conservative and NDP I ask members to look to the core of the beautiful mosaic Canada is, and to vote your conscience for a leader, and for policy that shapes your party in that unity within our diversity to move forward from troubled waters of the past both recent and historic.

Make the choice as Esther did, to find our voice, step out of the silence, and into the resounding thunder of justice, equality and belonging that resonates from the centre that is love. Out of this love, live our lives for a true difference, for a truly better world.

We are thankful for these and all the good things of life. We recognize that they are a part of our common heritage and come to us through the efforts of our brothers and sisters the world over. What we desire for ourselves, we wish for all. To this end, may we take our share in the world’s work and the world’s struggles.

An end note aside: To Bernie Van De Walle (my theology professor at Canadian Theological Seminary)-I finally fully get your comment about reading my theolgoy through the lens of Woodsworth.


As a Christmas gift I got one of those inspirational sayings calendars, this one from a hero/spiritual formation guru of mine, the Dalai Lama. On January 4th the statement was simple: The sharing of food is where relationship begins.  It rings very true.

Think about it.

When do people usually relax the most?

Pub over nachos. Cheap burger joint. A kitchen table (heck its why most house gatherings eventually wind up there).

It is why I have always held the firm belief in my spiritual journey that communion was never about the grape juice/wine and bread/host, that was not what Brother Jesus was instituting as sacrament.

These thoughts were renewed when my daughter and I went back to our Presbyterian church home on January 1 and it was a communion service for us to partake in.  You just need look to the earliest church writings from St. Paul, where he is chastising people for abusing the communion (community) meal, where some gorge and some starve, and you begin to see the true institution.

A new way of life was being called for. It would lead to the structures executing Jesus. He was saying, take time together, slow down life, break bread, eat and drink so all are cared for. Take this time to get to know one another, and like Sabbath, refresh and renew.

BUT…

Yes it is a big but, and I cannot lie. Like the Dalai Lama pointed out, for building community/family it was not the be all and end all.  This is meant to be the beginning where new life transformation emerges.  The breaking of bread is the beginning for the most radical transformation of ever…beginning to truly love one another authentically.

So who will you invite for a quick bite to start life with?

A great commercial to see, #Eattogether


The minister this Sunday noted how weird it first appears that Matthew 25:31-46 and Ecclesiastes 3:1-13 were paired together. But a bit of reflection and listening you can see the connections. For in Ecclesiastes, the Teacher (who tradition says is Solomon, which adds a whole layer of thought here) is laying out in the poem the rhythm of life, but in the work as a whole lays out that all that matters is living within, through and out of the Holy Mystery we are one with.

Which brings us into the Gospel of Matthew’s story of the sheep and the goats:

31 “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy[a] angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. 33 And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35 for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; 36 I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? 38 When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? 39 Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40 And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, in as much as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’

41 “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels:42 for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; 43 I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’

44 “Then they also will answer Him,[b] saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ 45 Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ 46 And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

-Matthew 25:31-46 (New King James Version)

A much-maligned passage as people focus on the judgment aspect, which the separation is a piece of it, but not the full scope of the passage. For it can be an interior separation as well where the ego (sin) that keeps the connection from the Holy Mystery hidden is finally cut off, and in humility true actions of love are revealed. Those true actions are what is seen in the “When did we see…” And the actions laid out appear simple, but all too often are ignored in our world of deserving/undeserving it calls us all to a different level of living, feeling, acting and experiencing. That is the level of a life lived out of love.  When there is a need, we fill it and build the relationship from there. It is the action of interdependence.

But how do we get there?

It comes from a deeper listening of the words of Ecclesiastes. So let us enter the Lectio Divina to see how the Holy Mystery speaks into our hearts. Get comfortable for you will be with the poem three times. Breathe deeply feeling the stress of the day wash away from your system, the sludge blocking your energy burn away. Relax into the chair, feel it as it evaporates into a cushion of years past, as you are within the midst of others listening and learning this teaching.

Prepare yourself for the first hearing, as you hear these words sit with them. What memories/images of your life of joy come up? Sit with those memories for a time.

Now hear these words:

To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven:

A time to be born,
And a time to die;
A time to plant,
And a time to pluck what is planted;
A time to kill,
And a time to heal;
A time to break down,
And a time to build up;
A time to weep,
And a time to laugh;
A time to mourn,
And a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones,
And a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace,
And a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to gain,
And a time to lose;
A time to keep,
And a time to throw away;
A time to tear,
And a time to sew;
A time to keep silence,
And a time to speak;
A time to love,
And a time to hate;
A time of war,
And a time of peace.

What profit has the worker from that in which he labors? 10 I have seen the God-given task with which the sons of men are to be occupied. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.

12 I know that nothing is better for them than to rejoice, and to do good in their lives, 13 and also that every man should eat and drink and enjoy the good of all his labor—it is the gift of God.

-Ecclesiastes 3:1-13 (New King James Version)

Now hear the words a second time, and this time see what images/memories of hope come to your mind. Sit with these a time.

And on the third and final hearing, see what images/memories of you having been loved and expressing love come to the surface, sit with these for a time.

Slowly bring your breathing back to normal, feel the bustle of the past, and the cushion dissolve bringing you back into the now. When you are ready, open your eyes.

Now you may ask how the two connect? Simple those memories, emotions, feelings and images of joy, hope and love you have experienced? That is the Holy Mystery within, that is the wall (ego) that separated you torn down a little. This is where you live out of for the humble answer to “When did I see you…” and know the answer is simply four little letters:

L-O-V-E.

Welcome to 2017.