Archive for the ‘Spirituality’ Category


One gets a perspective on the world when they are engaged working with those without voice to discover voice. Whether it is a certain population, community, spiritualist, sectarian or political movement… or a child. It is the little moments when kindess can be modeled and taught. It is a proven fact cited by many sources and many times over (learned while a mentor with the Alberta Mentor Foundation for Youth; and re-integration mentor with Calgary Young Offender’s Centre) that an adult committing 1 hour a week minimum in a positive way into a child/adolescent’s life can change that life for the better.

Yet too often as adults we drop the ball horribly. I am not yearning for yesteryear, but publicly there was accepted behaviours, privately–well I am glad the roof has been blown off the private abuse. BUT we still need to understand what it means to be, well, human and to be a good citizen. This is the investment, the colloquially it takes a village, for we all need to participate. Unfortunately the extremism of Right/Left political spectrum helicopter parenting/parents-rights movements have shattered this ability.

What am I speaking of?

We no longer understand the simplicity. And as a community will no longer call out and hold accountable bad behaviour, but rather will seek the most expedient method responsible for ending conflict, even (and usually does) mean removing the voice of the bullied.

If we can’t understand yes means yes, no means no in sharing toys of snacks…

In schools we tackle the “no sharing rule” or the “only sharing with those that you play with outside of school. Yet we do not address the harassment that comes with “No” for the person who brings the snack and maybe does not want to share with someone. It is the movement of independent rights, separated completely from interdependent responsibility.  Reaction is to cancel sharing, or to allow harrassment to continue until the resolution is for the afflicted to give in, or simply feel so scared not to bring something to school as a snack.

This is seen in play groups, when my child would start playing with something, and another child would want it and demand they share. Parents would say our child was mean when they would continue playing until done, then pass on. “That’s not sharing”. Yes, that is sharing, she/he did not want to play with your child, but the toy, the time was up, and passed on to the next in line. Watching your child harass the other child until they are reduced to tears or pass the toy over, or attempt to share only to have your child walk away without you saying anything teaches nothing but that the most important needs in the world are the ones of your child.

Same repeat story in the Public Libraries with technology, the card allows for x numbers of minutes for each cardholder. One child’s time is not more valuable than another, they may choose to play together (kids have a knack for finding friends adults will never see–a maybe or yes to creating a better world), but also no is a proper answer and waiting your turn is a proper answer. Child or adult harassing or shaming the one using the device is not the proper response to no or wait your turn please. Staff watching this behaviour and not interceding shows that this behaviour is acceptable and will be tolerated in public with no repercussions.

The other piece is the “teach abuser grooming behaviour for victim” where the apology is not actually acknowledging what was done was wrong (ala I am sorry you felt that way, or (insert rationale to my behaviour here) or blame the situation or purchase the “sorry you are mad at me present”.

These are behaviours in our children. If we cannot get them before adolescence to understand simple things like Yes means yes, no means no. Taking turns is sharing. You are not the only/most important individual in the world. In a community everyone has value.

HOW ARE WE TO GET THEM TO UNDERSTAND:

  1. Significant others do not owe you sex.
  2. When you ask someone out, you are not entitled to a yes…they can say no…then leave them be.
  3. Domestic violence is wrong.
  4. Emotional/verbal/spiritual harassment-abuse-manipulation is wrong
  5. Involuntary Celibates (or any other hate adjective) really is simply you are the ass no one wants to be around. It is time for self-reflection not violence (so no the van driver in Toronto and the Texas School shooter are not the victims, they are the violence bringers).

Consent is fairly simple. Yes many generations in general have struggled with it to the detriment of humanity, and harm of many persons. We are at a point in time where that needs to change, the movements have been subtle and overt to bring this change. How do I know this? Look at the resistance building to change, it is at a tipping point for a better world for our children.

The better world. That what is to be built upon the world we have for the next generation, 7 generations down.

Let old ideas melt away, new ones take root and grow fully. Learn from what is being born, and be the person.

As our village raises this generation, we need to be part of the positive tipping point.

Will you?

 

 

Advertisements

 

More profound thoughts will come later…but 4 years ago (and it feels like all 14 (?) of your years were here)…when you and a boi fell in insta-love. She never complained, always loved, and was ready with kisses for any child who entered our home…today she decided it was time to be with the Elders and Children who have gone before and is now apart of the Grand Tea Party of Paradise. RIP Queen Diamond (not sure when you entered this world, but onto the next joy May 14, 2018).

-Facebook post upon returning home from the passing

Perhaps the more profound thoughts.

diamondAnyone who has ever gone through a change, transition or loss whether short term or long knows that your system goes through the grieving process. This may be unconscious and quick or longer and drawn out. There is even more of the process when one looses a loved one of their family- whether blood, chosen or fur.

That is the reality that hit our small home once more on May 14, 2018. Our Queen Diamond, beloved rescue who came into our lives after the break in where family heirlooms were lost. The one that shared love with any child of God (creature or human) that entered our home’s light. She chose her time and it was a late-night stay with her and the wife at the 24 hour veterinary hospital, as she chose to join the grand Tea Party in the sky and be Momma Dog with our ancestors and children that have crossed the rainbow bridge before hand.  Laid comfortably with her head on her favourite giant stuffy and covered with a blanket.

A simple memorial stays in our home of her leash and collar (not removed until she had transitioned fully) hang on the wall by the door awaiting her spirit, my son still jingles it before leaving for school.

But how to honour who she was? No, I am not referring to the over priced memorials services drag you into the moment of grieving (still awaiting the over-priced ceramic paw prints that is another 7 weeks out)…but how to honour the personality. Yes, I realize for some they will say you are writing of a dog and this is true. But it is honouring a life lived. And that is the key of any memorial actions. They are there to aid in the grieving and release to enter into the new reality, but they are also there to honour whom the passed individual was and the life they lived.

Which is why we honoured our Momma dog, through actions that were her. Acts of kindness. Her food, treats, toys and dishes given to aid in another dog(s) finding the true home they are meant after trials they should not endure…

And like today’s final step. Finally qualified for that free bag of food from the pet store, and going and getting it to donate to other dogs awaiting forever homes at the SPCA. The comment when we dropped it off from the staff was, “that’s really high-quality food.” Yes, yes, it is. And we know it will help.

When grieving/memorializing/remembering…always remember there is part that is about your healing process, and part that is about a final moment of truly who they are in this world…for the new is across the rainbow bridge, just a cup of tea away.

2015 Ode to Our Diamond


The greatest fallacy of community building is that there is a magic formula one can pluck from one setting and insert into theirs and “voila” numeric and monetary growth happens. The “Eureka” moment. Formulas can be positive or negative for the human condition. Focus on a shining light, or the darkest night. Yet, what is universal is that the community wants something simple to grow numbers without changing their normal operating procedure.

I know this. I have experienced this. For it is the uphill climb that happens when building communities of authentic welcome, and the burning shit storm that rains down on the change agent, even going as far as character assassination. Yet the truth remains the same. A community needs to understand first who they authentically are. What follows is a simple treatise on growing a religious community, and communicating to new, old and inquiring spirits as to how things work and what is available. Most churches in Canada are small to medium sized (less than 200 active members) which leads to falling into the non-communication phase of operations. That is, they are not used to new members, voices, inquiries and assume everyone knows everything already. This needs to be the first step of change. Also, it does not speak into the pilgrimage of spirituality, for what may at one point not spoken to one’s journey may now, and the information is lost in the non-communication abyss.

So yes, this is a religious treatise, but can be adapted to any organization that uses small groups/committees/insert other name for same group here.

Preliminary:

  • Clearly outline governance. Break it down simply, so folks understand who to take ideas to.
  • How does one create a new group? This includes not only the idea, but what it takes to be lead on any new group ideas (i.e. teaching, outreach, community building).
  • What existing groups already exist? Are they Open? Closed? Membership decided on a demographic? This needs to be a simple hard copy brochure, and a tab on the webpage. Outline contact information, and what the group is about.
  • Since worship or web page can be first point of contact for new folks, and existing folks, it does not hurt to keep a current info section. This should include upcoming Sunday (monthly schedule if possible) on the speakers, short 2-3-line bio on the speaker (yes this may seem monotonous to some when it is the cleric speaking, but much can be shared in 2-3 lines so even new things can be learned), and if topic not available, the text that will be used.
  • Social Media presence: If you have a web page, twitter, YouTube, WordPress, blog site, Facebook, etc. ensure they are being used and update regularly as any and or all of these can become what someone new or old views your organization as being.
  • If the building is the hub of activity, ensure you have properly labelled meeting rooms, and directional signs up pointing which way is which (washrooms also visibly signed and directed) and use of whiteboard schedule so new folks know where they are going. If you are without a building, or use folks’ homes to meet in, ensure that information is communicated clearly and the leader is able to share the directions to the space either publicly or when messaged.
  • Any changes need to be clearly and transparently communicated, this also includes why the change was made, and who was there when change was decided (we all understand we miss a meeting thing can change).

That is the preliminary. Moving forward how do things happen?

Figure out types of groups happening and yes this includes one off events.

Outreach I view as volunteer groups. This is things such as volunteering as a group for this project (i.e. volunteering at a local homeless shelter, seniors’ manor, school, making sandwiches, community meal, etc.) something that anyone of any age can be involved in, but are outside the local church community or things within the church that are for the broader community (i.e. clothing giveaways, church garage sales, community cupboards, community gardens).

Service is also volunteer groups, one off, or ongoing, but it is basic running of the building or background services. This can be someone willing to take on IT trouble shooting, running the social media or webpage, hospitality for worship or other church functions; grounds keeping, maintenance, does the church have a library? Keeping that up; cleaning, any other project within the grounds that needs folks and their time.

Social is well social events. Games nights, outings, recreation leagues sports teams; BBQ’s, movie nights, books clubs, craft clubs, etc… a social event that may or may not have a spiritual component but is about getting people together to get to know one another. Please note these can and do intersect with the next one, so there may be a layer of leadership required dependent on what your church deems necessary.

Educational/Formational featured speakers, conferences, book groups, spiritual studies, movie nights, what is colloquially known as Sunday School, Church Camps, Vacation Bible School, Youth (or other age specific groups), etc. What are the qualifications to form and lead? What is the purpose? Who is welcome? Also this looks to specific sacramental teaching and membership groups.

Worship – these are the ones that bring us the smallest portion of the church week, but the one the most time can be spent on. Who shares the pulpit? How is music groups designed/chosen? How do we advertise? How are all generations connected with? What are key points that need to be communicated/explained if there is someone new attending even if they have a history in church but not our church? What are terms we use others may not?

Political– This is whatever leadership group heads up your church body (i.e. synod, board, committee, etc).

Beyond the headings?

This gives a group of headings to break up information in for people to understand. It also allows for ease of communication (i.e. we have a choir new member accepted from Sept-November or Raj’s Bible Study always open coffee is on Thursdays).

Also, breaking down who can lead which type of group. What are qualifications? Membership? Baptism? Sacraments? Who can be involved in worship? Who can spearhead a social gathering? Who can take lead in an educational/formational group? Who is allowed to have a seat in the political spectrum? Outreach and service? These are questions for your community to address, answer and advertise transparently. The other piece that will need to be addressed is what happens when someone bucks the system, what honestly is the community willing to do about it?

Beyond all this though the deepest question to be answered when entering a process of growth is answering authentically: Which type of growth? Spiritual? Numeric? Monetary? Most will say all, but being authentic states knowing what your community honestly values and it may surprise them.


I have been hearing a lot about church break-ins and/or vandalism lately, but it is a unique time for there is also things filtering my way about how to make our buildings welcoming for new comers or those who may not normally darken the door (or should that be lighten?). At first blush it would appear these are exclusionary topics from one another. Yet they can go hand in hand, for the best security is not a lock down approach but a “we are a home in the community” approach is my idea.

I approach the idea of part of the community not separate, because my hypothesis is that most vandalism stems out of hatred/boredom; and most break ins of institutions such as this at this point in history could be tied to the opioid crisis and other economic factors where literally it is smash and grabs for quick cash and valuables that can be dumped through those “gold/silver for cash joints”. Much like the break in at our own home a few years back.

These are just some thoughts from a community planner, not a security expert, but what could be possible, and may change trends. There are some factors that cannot be changed:

  • Location of the church building. It is where it is, so amount of traffic by will not change usually.
  • Varying of schedule of comings and goings as there is set times for events, office hours, etc. In fact, for safety of staff in an urban setting unless there is a plan for multiple folks to be there at varying times I would not encourage.

What can be done, some thoughts on the possible?

  • Ensure you have connected with the neighbours in a positive way. An example of this is signage around property- is it negative (i.e stay off the grass) or welcoming (i.e. free library at door).
  • Are there known offerings within the community that the building uses so many people who may never attend service, know the building exists and when there is usually and not usually activity. That is, if they notice activity around non-active times they will call at least non-emergency CPS or the office. On a quick smash and grab any sound will change rhythm.
  • Locks- not a fan of them. Yes I understand exterior locks need to happen, but when you have locks throughout the building on doors, etc. you encourage more damage to happen with break ins. For a lock to someone in desperation means wealth lies behind.
  • In church signage. Seems a weird thing, but it allows for proper streaming of traffic. Simple signs posted with arrows showing which rooms are where, in the foyer post a white board with that night’s activities and where they are before closing up for the day. That way those that come in know where they are going, anyone new to those events also knows where they are going. A simplicity act of welcome that shows value to an individuals time.
  • Lines of sight. This is a big one. I remember from being apart of the family general contracting company talking with what businesses want and what police would recommend. Is the interior visible and easily so, or is it cut off some how. This can be art work or an unnecessary barrier blocking eye sight. For most churches I have noted it is shrubbery. How do you deal with it? Simple, if it is around windows how about a shift from shrubbery to tea/coffee spot? Remove the shrubs, build a simple floating deck with sitting artistic benches (partner with local disability groups, schools to craft these) so folks have a spot to sit and enjoy, rest, and be. The simple act of welcome also encourages the varying of those around without changing staff/volunteer schedules. Also, you will find repaint/staining of benches a lot cheaper that replacement costs on property breakage.
  • Security systems- understand why they exist, understand insurance asking for them. Not a fan, simply like a safe in a store cast the look that there is valuables. Although from retail what can be learned is the decals on the door- no money on premises. Simple to the point, and cheap way.
  • Offer some fun community events (many can learn from the Baitun Nur Mosque at Prairie Winds Park or Robert McClure United Church) whether it is a stampede breakfast, Canada Day fun, Farmer’s Markets, food cupboards, garage sales, free giveaways, seniors teas, an open house to meet your (insert religion here) neighbours… the list can go on as you get creative, perhaps like Crossroads Community Church a Community Meal? Get out and discover where your community can have points of intersection for people to gather and get to know one another—these are the opportunities to build a healthy community watch where one looks out for one another.

Some thoughts along the journey, one can also implement in their own home with some adjustments for healthy community, and belonging that will reduce those activities that harm.


Judas Goat

A Judas goat is a trained goat used at a slaughterhouse and in general animal herding. The Judas goat is trained to associate with sheep or cattle, leading them to a specific destination. In stockyards, a Judas goat will lead sheep to slaughter, while its own life is spared. Judas goats are also used to lead other animals to specific pens and on to trucks.

-urbandictionary.com

Wild Wild Country (Netflix 2018) the last 3 episodes one begins to ponder as evidence mounts whether Sheela was Osho’s Judas Goat. A role designed as the movement/settlement began to be confronted by vitriol hatred, and violence as noted in the first reflection is what radicalized the movement. Where it was about drawing together, the confrontation and harassment, breaking of the laws of the land to root out that which was different undercut the principles of this new religion growing a city in the heart of farm country.

It is a series that can be used for personal or corporate discussion and reflection. Key questions to come during this time of Pentecost:

  • Welcoming of the stranger at your gates? (a theme out of J.S. Woodsworth’s writings of the social gospel).
  • Who is my neighbour? How do I love my neighbour as myself?
  • How do I respond to that which is different from my norm, but is not harming the disenfranchised?
  • Where do I stand when the wave of hate begins?
  • How does my own grief of loss of what was, shape my reaction to what is becoming?

The series is a winding road, of a 4 year span that has been exorcised from the story of Osho and the Rajneeshis. It is the loss of what was a time of tribulation, and raises questions around who was set up? Who knew what was happening in the darkness? What happens when dark responds to dark? When silence is broken, and it is not the message of love and acceptance that is vocalized, but pain, hatred and jealousy?

It also speaks to what happens to true believers as is seen in two of the members, Sheela and Philip Toelkes (a.k.a Swami Prem Niren; 2nd Mayor of Rajneespuram and lawyer of Osho). Two sides of a coin in their response to the whirlwind around them. Yet clinging to what they had learned on the journey and still living the core of the teaching after the accountability dust settles.

For the question in the early 1980’s Oregon (and before in India that drove the movement International) is what happens when the world responds to love with hate?

It is a microcosmic battle within each of us, in Islamic studies it is the Jihad, within Christianity it is Pentecost…will the Holy Spirit shine through or not in the moment of choice to reside an acknowledge the Holy Mystery? Yet as seen, it also is a macrocosmic struggle when the world interacts.

Judas

An individual whom sells out his/her friends for their own personal benefit

-Urbandictionary.com

It is as the dust settles and the Osho International emerges, a Judas moment if you will, tracking through, you are left to ask the question:

  • Who betrayed the movement?
  • Who was the true Judas of the story?
  • Who held true to Love?

Sometimes the mirror held up to our own movements, institutions and journeys is through viewing and being the third party in a discourse about another’s pilgrimage to the heart of the sacred.


The aftermath of Jonestown put the Religious Right and Christianities on their heels. Jones was a minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)-one of the most progressive wings of Christianity, and part of the triad that makes up the Restoration Movement. It was also during this time, that Eastern Mysticism/thought/spiritualism was entrenching deeply into a the disenfranchised by the institutions of government and western religiosity of society. Netflix’s Wild Wild Country (2018) brings one into the moment.

India was a lighthouse in the moment, but fundamentalists there were attempting to put the spiritual genie back in the lamp if you will, and the more openly progressive/fringey spiritualists were under persecution. Osho was one of these with a grand following in India, that attracted thousands the world over, and he needed out. Enter 17 year old Sheela off to the USA to study, and discover a place where Shangri-la could be built on earth.

Shangri-la was a 63,000 acre ranch outside of what Oregon termed a city (would barely be a hamlet in Canada) of Antelope (population 40). The purchase and building for a self-sustaining city began. And then the fear led hatred as well. I am half way through the series, but in the first three episodes, one can begin to understand how radicalization happens from one point of spirituality, into entrenchment of violence. I am not to the point of the worst mass poisoning in USA history, but from evidence following to the mid-way point one is left asking if it started in the commune or by those that fought against it. The Rajneeshis became a vortex of hatred. They did everything by the state law to establish and build.

Those that hated the new, did everything to stop them outside the state law. They faced harassment by town folks, shots fired over their heads, and lives threatened. They were accused of take over, when to balance out rights, they bought up what had been on sale in the City of Antelope for years, paying asking price, to be able to vote and have their voice in local politics. Following laws of the state they were able to establish their own state trained “Peace (police) force”.

We had no weapons until they bombed our hotel that had our children in it.

It wasn’t even a localized movement, as it is shown internationally as having communes of this nature throughout the world and thousands of members, and when adherents were taken in in the early 1983 was coming close to 500,000 members. Pretty good growth for a new religion. Even today, when Antelopers were being interviewed, they saw nothing wrong with their actions, they spoke of fear of the unknown, and wanting to stop the darkness that had changed their way of life (noting any dog whistles out there that are still used? Notice any speech patterns against inclusion/belonging).

But when they decided to really ramp up and send buses out to bring in those that were hungry, abandoned, homeless (y’know that whole Matthew 25 thing) the media heat really came as they started wondering why these “homeless were invading” the state. Even to the point where voting laws for these new citizens were suspended. Suspended to protect an established protocol of hatred against something new. Suspended so that those that found a place of welcome and belonging were not allowed to exercise their inalienable right.

As those living into their hatred ramped up attacks, stripping away rights, ignoring laws, and holding to an ideal of “they brought change” or “why would they do that” or “they ran for office how dare they.” As violence against intensified (starting with hate graffitti, threatened assaults, gun shots, then bombing)…the free love-spiritualist religion became militarized.

One has to wonder what we do in our communities to create spaces of hatred and fear where others choose radicalization, militarization, gang or drug life over living peacefully. A new world does begin by looking into our own hearts first and checking the motivation for our words and actions.

Half-way through, and it is a series that begins the discussion around belonging, outcast and my neighbour… and how it can all go terribly wrong when fear and hatred replace love.


Chiwetel Ejiofor in Come Sunday (2018)Netflix has entered the faith film market. It maybe the production of essentially the faith story of a Unitarian-Universalist, but the vibe of the feature is very much that of any Christian movie production. It is the journey of transformation, for what happens if as someone that always has preached they are the messenger of God– they get a message from God?

That is the true story of Bishop Carlton Pearce, who for 25 years was the rising star of Pentecostalism; Oral Roberts “adopted son” (and the university’s alumni) and the shepherd of a mixed race mega-church. Come Sunday   (2018) is the story of his mystic experience as he hears of the Rwandan genocide and begins to wrestle with the fundamental drive of the evangelical endeavour. Salvation of the sinner from Hell. And the voice he hears tells him simply, there is no hell all are saved that is what the cross was about.

The collapse of the fear enterprise, and what it cost him in the form of pride, money and prestige. But also what it meant for his authenticity, and for the next steps in understanding Brother Jesus’ Gospel of Inclusion. It is a transformative journey as it forces the hearer, Pearce, to not only wrestle through the idea of true love, but also what it means for the here and now world. Decisions of inclusion, and belonging for people. It is a struggle out of a faith and ethic compass based solely on fear to belong, and the ultimate risk of belonging. For Pearce to risk losing the fear, he had to accept losing his comfort zone, friends he believed he had, and being labelled as a heretic (and ostracized). No journey is easy, especially one that is rooted in true belonging.

It poses the question for your own journey:

What happens when you remove the fear?

Trailer here.