Posts Tagged ‘Aberhart’


The writing of Galatians is Paul writing about coming into his own. The balance within the community between extremes, and coming to the Via Media (middle path). Preston Manning wrote in his leadership book about two pillars of the Christian political world in Canada- Woodsworth and Aberhart- they were two sides of the same coin. Woodsworth with the Social Gospel was focused on the community transformation; Aberhart was focused on personal transformation. Both necessary, yet one movement emphasized only a piece of it.

That is what Paul is laying out here, the danger of extremes, and the danger of exclusion of one piece or one population:

Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along with me.¬†2¬†I went up because of a revelation and set before them (though privately before those¬†who seemed influential) the gospel that¬†I proclaim among the Gentiles,¬†in order to make sure I was not running or had not¬†run in vain.¬†3¬†But even Titus, who was with me,¬†was not forced to be circumcised, though he was a Greek.¬†4¬†Yet because of false brothers secretly brought in‚ÄĒwho¬†slipped in to spy out¬†our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus,¬†so that they might bring us into slavery‚ÄĒ¬†5¬†to them we did not yield in submission even for a moment, so that¬†the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you.¬†6¬†And from those¬†who seemed to be influential (what they were makes no difference to me;¬†God shows no partiality)‚ÄĒthose, I say, who seemed influential¬†added nothing to me.¬†7¬†On the contrary, when they saw that I had been¬†entrusted with¬†the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been entrusted with the gospel to the circumcised¬†8¬†(for he who worked through Peter for his apostolic ministry to the circumcised worked also through me for mine to the Gentiles),9¬†and when James and Cephas and John,¬†who seemed to be¬†pillars, perceived the¬†grace that was given to me, they¬†gave the right hand of fellowship to Barnabas and me, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised.¬†10¬†Only, they asked us to remember the poor,¬†the very thing I was eager to do.

-Epistle of Galatians 2:1-10 (English Standard Version)

The early apostles saw Paul’s change not in his words, but in the journey he had walked. The balance of personal and communal transformation. The balance, not slipping to far into any one ideology. There was movements within the early gatherings of extremes as well…much like we wrestle with today. One would say extremists only exist on the right end of the political-theological spectrum. This is a misnomer, for extremism exists in all types of belief systems and ideologies. Taken to extremes social conservatism and progressiveness can create harm. Now stop the pearl clutching on either side, for it is true.

The horror of eugenics existed and still exists in both extremes. It can take on anti-lgbttq2+ rhetoric, ableism, anti-migration/immigrant, anti-semitism, Islamophobia, or the simple act of so demonizing the other viewpoint they are no longer seen as humans. It is in professionalism that uses coding as the be all and end all for the individual. That is they are nothing more than a number, whether in social services, affordable housing, public education, health care or the justice system. It is about moving language away from citizens to tax payers so that only those that are of the “haves” matter in society. It is about letting a circumstance become the definer of the individual instead of their Imageo Dei.¬†That is, that it is okay to create a caste hierarchy of existence, and such violence is not a problem against the opponent. It also creates an atmosphere of group think, where to protect standing one will succumb to this belief structure.

¬†But¬†when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him¬†to his face, because he stood condemned.¬†12¬†For before certain men came from James,¬†he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing¬†the circumcision party.[a]¬†13¬†And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy.¬†14¬†But when I saw that their¬†conduct was not in step with¬†the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas¬†before them all, ‚ÄúIf you, though a Jew,¬†live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?‚ÄĚ

-Epistle of Galatians 2:11-14 (English Standard Version)

Yes it is not only the outside world that is responsible for curtailing hate. It is within our own movements and institutions. Those pesky ethics, morals and values need to be front and centre. Now I hear some clamouring that there isn’t an issue with this in the Christianities– poppycock (yes a good theological word). The rise of populism, propped up by what is termed the “Religious Right” in North America has seen a rise in hatred. Now the reader will go, yeah but you said it wasn’t right or left.

This is true, for hatred comes from all corners. It comes from those that see any group as less than. It is about overzealous environmentalists that do not see the impact or accept it is okay for a segment of the population not to live. It is those that believe forced sterilizations of persons with disabilities or aboriginals is okay. It is the religious right, upholding those that do not hold to their base values and saying “God’s elect” that allow Nazis back in our streets undeterred.¬† Historically, the rise of the Klu Klux Klan, and today the centre of a revisionist Christ at the core of many white supremacy/alt-right movements. It is progressive faith movements that create a space where leaders feel they have to be disingenuous to who they are because a partner has emerged into their true self whether trans or in the spectrum, even if the partner does not identify on that end of the spectrum. Not knowing you can love, and be friends, best friends, but romance may not be there anymore…or for those questioned who continue within the relationship because they emerge into their own as well. It is allowing blatant lies and cover ups to exist to protect one’s own political or religious power. Regardless of the harm being done- from frauds to bullying to sexual harassment to rapes, because we have elevated a leader or leaders to a messiah like position.

Paul risked all by calling¬† out Peter, the one given the keys to the Kingdom. Think of the courage that took knowing it could lead to a termination of his association with the movement he had converted to. It truly was a “going for broke” mentality to ensure integrity of leadership.

 We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; 16 yet we know that a person is not justified[b] by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.

17 But if, in our endeavor to be justified in Christ, we too were found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not! 18 For if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor. 19 For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness[c] were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.

-Epistle of Galatians 2: 15-21 (English Standard Version)

A trImage may contain: outdoor, text that says "#i Happiness can be found in even the darkest of times, if only one remembers to turn on the light. J.K Rowling @YahushuaJourney"ue lesson for any movement as a gut check. If in the process of attempting to craft a new world, one is called into the darkness…then it is darkness you are reaping. Harm you do to achieve the goal, it is harm you are birthing. The old adage of the ends justify the means, is one of Empire, not Transfiguration.

Transfiguration means, even if it takes longer, it is about communal transfiguration and independent transfiguration not as independent events. They are interdependent lights that burn brightly into the darkness.

Will you be that light in the darkness at the doorstep?

 

 

 

 

 


A non-Western-centric view of the spread of Christianity shows the tree branching out from the roots in the Middle East (Judaism), into a trunk that is Orthodox, to branches of many different flavours (i.e. Coptic, Mormon, Jehovah Witness to name but a few), from the Roman Catholic branch breaks out Protestantism, and then subdivides from there (Anglican, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Baptist, and on we go, then those break down more into the more esoteric-metaphysics movements such as New Thought, Christian Science to the spiritual-aesthetic ala Unitarian-Universalist).

As well off R.C.’s comes the religious life.

That is the beginning of the tree of Christendom. Yet there is two prevalent branches that happened in the Western World that is a thrown into the mix as overarching branches, especially in the microcosm that is North America, and more specifically the Untied States of America and Canada, that has back benched some shaping of national identity: Prosperity and Social gospels.

Now these may look at first blush as new movements starting late 19th-early 20th century.  BUT they are not, they actually can be found in the very root system of the tree. A cursory contextual-anthropological reading of the Hebrew Bible books of Judges-Prophets shows both systems at play.

  • Prosperity Gospel- Those who are in tune with God, and are blessed will thrive and grow in riches.
  • Social Gospel- A community centered movement to care for all of God‚Äôs children (widow, orphans, aliens, etc.) in a just world.

What would usually happen is that the blessed nation would get off track in the social gospel end, embracing the prosperity above all, thus creating the cycle of deserving/undeserving of blessing, and a judge or prophet would interject to get them back on track. The wisdom books tried to show the cycles of life detached from this ideal of prosperity being blessed, with the best example being the use of the Satan character to challenge the devout Job to show that bad things happen to good people, and it is what happens in the midst and how the community responds that matters. Are we a Job or his friends that scatter?

It is this dichotomy that can be seen within the religious movements that have shaped social policy in both Canada and the USA.  The official writing of the social gospel came from a writer in New York named Rauschenbush.  In later 20th century in America the movement would latch onto the idea of Red Letter Christians, in Latin America it would become Liberation Theology, still other dubbed theology of the margins would also crop up that would fall into the broad category of Social Gospel.

The Religious Right though would take the strong road of prosperity, and one just needs to look at how the social system of the U.S.A. has been developed, and barriers created to see that outcome. Especially in the battle for something as simple as universal health care, and acceptance of refugees. It underlies the drive of the meta-story of America of coming in to independently achieve the American dream.

In Canada, the Social Gospel really took root in church basements sprouting out labour movements, suffragists, and tied strongly into socialism which brought about politically Progressive Party, Labour Party, eventually convalescing into the CCF federally whose ideas so shook the status quo that it forced the two major parties to shift their focus onto just society, and yes labour rights, women’s rights, indigenous rights and universal health care.  It underlies the Canadian story of working together in a mosaic to create a home for the world.  Highlighted by such stalwarts as J.S. Woodsworth, Tommy Douglas, William Aberhart, Pierre Trudeau, the Famous Five and many others who should be named openly…and I would say continues with many most notably, Elizabeth May.

An aside of experience, is during the rise of the social gospel movement, the movement created a ‚ÄúChristian Flag‚ÄĚ to rally behind in protests showing the lie the oppressive forces of the day chasing prosperity no matter the human cost stating it was ‚ÄúChristian‚ÄĚ and ‚Äúordained by God‚ÄĚ. The movement shook the establishment and walked with all to craft a different story.

Years ago in Arizona I was witness to a very fundamentalist church saying a pledge to the Christian flag. It was driven as a pledge with the underlying beliefs that they were to out breed the other religions. It was said as a pledge to support shooting the illegals crossing the boarder as the Gospel of Christ proclaimed. The rallying cry was used for exclusion to ensure their own prosperity would continue. I almost did not get out alive pointing out the history of this artifact and what it was meant for, the fact I was an ‚Äúill-informed‚ÄĚ Canadian in their mind is probably what saved my life.

That is a small story that shows what happens in the extremes of forgetting who our neighbour is and what it means to love our neighbour and ourselves as we love our God. A very linked triangle that shows all pieces need to be in place for healthy self and society from a faith perspective.

The question in the dichotomous and dogmatic world we live in is one right or wrong? That is dependent upon one’s point of view. Yet is it worth being prosperous, if it means leaving behind many in poverty and pain where they need to decide on simple matters like food/heat or rent? Setting a broken limb of a child or homelessness?

There is shift’s happening, and yes, the prosperity mind set is taking root in the world, but should it? What is the counter? What changes if all move forward healthy and prosperous? What if, as has become a movement in our schools we move from ME to WE not just locally, but hold to our roots and truly live it?

You see, this is the underlying narratives within our nations, though not founded on ‚ÄúChristian principles‚ÄĚ as many want us to believe, the stories crafted the narratives of expectations of the people. Now we are in a time when the narratives have allowed hate in some circles to over shadow love in the pursuit of money‚Ķ

So, what choice will you make for yourself, your family, your community?

If you state you are of faith, what will you choose, prosperity or social gospel?

Individualism or community good?

To end, it is a question asked by Rev. James Shaver Woodsworth, when he was the superintendent of the Winnipeg Mission that was the open doors for the immigrants and refugees to populate the prairies. It shaped his view, his founding of the labour church, his stance against the money-making war machine, and eventually to surrendering his vocation. It is a simple question for you to answer:

Who is my Neighbour?


It is funny as both the former Official Opposition, NDP, try to secure candidates for leadership, and the current Official Opposition, Conservative Party of Canada have a robustness of anglophones running to lead a bi-lingual mosaic of a nation…both decry the Liberals who are currently forming the government.

Yet…

How did Trudeau and his team win the government?

It was by changing the tone of rhetoric. Finally moving away from mudraking and playground bully sounds– to positivism. They chose a term that caught on as most Canadians, regardless of actual socio-economics latched onto as their truth “Middle Class”. It was the sound of something new, and yes there has been movement on some things, back tracking on others as what happens when new Governments begin within their first term, and their first quarter.

But this is not about whether or not I agree with Trudeau’s leadership. It is about what is missing from the public discourse in my country. We have given up expecting vision and excellence in leadership. If you have time, find the archives to listen to past leaders federal and provincial like Tommy Douglas, J.S. Woodshworth, Joe Clark, Pierre Trudeau, Robert Stanford, John Diefenbaker, Lester Pearson, William Aberhart to name but a few. Leaders that did not need soundbites. They had conviction, dreams and visions that were cast, worked on and fulfilled that created the Canada that became a benchmark for the world at large.

Then as a populace we began to accept less from our prospective leaders. And they met where we set the bar.

We have finally pushed it to a level of civility, let’s push it higher. Let’s expect our leaders to leave the sandbox and enter the podium of vision casters once more. CPC/NDP/Greens and the other 13ish available parties federally, are you listening?

Don’t choose the blusteriest person or settle– choose the one that sees the greatness that is the mosaic of Canada, the land of the Just Society, a home for all. Find the one that speaks from the heart, with conviction, and vision that excites to build forward from the foundation laid.

Your party in waiting wants to form the next government, it has to offer those steps beyond just positive politics…. so show us your vision. Show us your heart. Show us your conviction.

For the parties. Know who you are as a gathered community, and find the leader that resonates that outwards brightly, not the other way around.

So politically it is not what is your tweet or sound bite…but truly—

What is your heart for your nation?