Posts Tagged ‘Christianities’


And Tobias went forward, and the dog followed him, and he lodged the first night by the river of Tigris.

-Book of Tobit 6:1 (Douay-Rheims Bible)

 

Yes, it is a line from the Bible. Why the dog went? Is it some grand theological mystery I am going to unpack for you now? No. Let’s be real, the family goes adventuring the dog goes with. And for my friends in the Protestant version of Christianities you will not find this in your 66 books. It is one of the Apocryphya-Deutero-Canonical. That essentially means extra books, it is found in the Roman Catholic 72 books. See the Bible is not as closed and finite as many believe, it is a varied collection dependent on the Christianity you journey through—Orthodox, Protestants, Catholic, Coptic, Gnostic, etc… each has their own canonical collection.

And within are gems that prove fundamentalist-literalism is truly a newer last 100ish years invention that was never intended to be the lens to read scripture through.  Literalism is taking the black and white word on the page for what it means. By extension that is saying to someone watch Shakespeare literally without the form that shapes the tragedies or Agatha Christie without using your reason and deduction skills to solve the mystery. It removes the humanity from the spiritual experience which leaves ones’ bones dry and dusty on the plains missing the connecting with the Holy Mystery.

Tobit is a story. Full stop. Enter it like you would a short story in your English class from school. Love the characters, read it, analyze it if you want, or just see the different themes that emerge. Themes of the archetype of blindness, oppression, character assassination, the hero’s journey with a needed companion, love and redemption. Read a version of Tobit hear online: http://www.sacred-texts.com/bib/apo/tob.htm

Take time now to read it slower over. A chapter a day through breath-contemplative Lectio Divina.

Read/hear each chapter 3 times. Before you begin to ensure you are comfortable, that there is a journal near by. Whether you journal through colour, drawing, words or all the above, ensure your hands move to answer the questions that emerge from your spiritual heart. For within Tobit we can discover the answers to the question Who is my neighbour?

Light a candle. Sit comfortably. Allow your breathing to slow. Feel yourself traverse time in the way only a story can allow you too. Travel back to the time of Assyrian occupation of Israel, in the ancient town of Nineveh.

First reading: As you hear the chapter the first time, let the words roll through your mind. What word or phrase leaps out upon this reading? Spend time with this phrase? What emotions does it bring forward for you? Sit with that emotion.

Second Reading: As you hear the chapter the second time, let the words roll through your mind. What word or phrase leaps out upon this reading? Spend time focusing on this word/phrase. What memory of your past does it bring forward? Live into the memory for this is part of your own’s hero journey.

Third reading: Upon the third reading spend time with the emotion and memory that have emerged before. Where do these guide you, what revelation on your own journey is opened.

When you are ready, bring your breathing back to normal, feel yourself come back to where you are in space and time.

At the end of the 14-day exploration, reflect back on the images and words in your journaling. Take time to reflect on them.

What has been revealed to you about the journey of being a neighbour in your community?

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It is amazing how an equitable and just community built upon the creation of equality found in Genesis 1 would become an empire of patriarchal oppression. Yet it is the story that happened. Constantine declares he had a vision to conquer under the cross. It was the cross that eliminated the pantheon and transformed the religion of the oppressed into the Empire’s rallying cry around 324 CE. It was also a rallying cry that stripped away many of the traditions, stories and mystics of the time for one that fit Constantine’s Empire narrative. Much was lost. Then came the great schism in 1054 CE between Eastern and Western, and more was shed to fit the surviving narratives on either side of the divide. And the narrative continues through the Crusades, the Reformation, Enlightenment, Restoration, Monastic renewals, Charismatic, New Thought/Metaphysic, Mormon and so on and so forth. Each stripping away narratives that spoke of the inherent equality of the movement.
Each that warned of a world to come if we allowed the power of the money, the power of politic to usurp the dignity of the neighbour, the person we are and the person next to us. Some of these narratives survived but so buried under the mistake of “unworthiness” needing to be saved in the “blood sacrifice” that the narrative of inclusion, love and belonging was lost. Even so much as to strip away the power of the Mary story, by usurping it by the Joseph story, and the God story. Making Mary a secondary or even tertiary voice in control of her own body.
This was not the intent of the sacred story.

Yet there are examples of warning, of other stories literally stripped from “Canon” depending on which movement branch of the tree of the Christianities you belong to. Here is one example within the Deutero-canonical tradition-the story of Susanna:

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1 There dwelt a man in Babylon, called Joacim:
2 And he took a wife, whose name was Susanna, the daughter of Chelcias, a very fair woman, and one that feared the Lord.
3 Her parents also were righteous, and taught their daughter according to the law of Moses.
4 Now Joacim was a great rich man, and had a fair garden joining unto his house: and to him resorted the Jews; because he was more honourable than all others.
5 The same year were appointed two of the ancients of the people to be judges, such as the Lord spake of, that wickedness came from Babylon from ancient judges, who seemed to govern the people.
6 These kept much at Joacim’s house: and all that had any suits in law came unto them.
7 Now when the people departed away at noon, Susanna went into her husband’s garden to walk.
8 And the two elders saw her going in every day, and walking; so that their lust was inflamed toward her.
9 And they perverted their own mind, and turned away their eyes, that they might not look unto heaven, nor remember just judgments.
10 And albeit they both were wounded with her love, yet durst not one shew another his grief.
11 For they were ashamed to declare their lust, that they desired to have to do with her.
12 Yet they watched diligently from day to day to see her.
13 And the one said to the other, Let us now go home: for it is dinner time.
14 So when they were gone out, they parted the one from the other, and turning back again they came to the same place; and after that they had asked one another the cause, they acknowledged their lust: then appointed they a time both together, when they might find her alone.
15 And it fell out, as they watched a fit time, she went in as before with two maids only, and she was desirous to wash herself in the garden: for it was hot.
16 And there was no body there save the two elders, that had hid themselves, and watched her.
17 Then she said to her maids, Bring me oil and washing balls, and shut the garden doors, that I may wash me.
18 And they did as she bade them, and shut the garden doors, and went out themselves at privy doors to fetch the things that she had commanded them: but they saw not the elders, because they were hid.
19 Now when the maids were gone forth, the two elders rose up, and ran unto her, saying,
20 Behold, the garden doors are shut, that no man can see us, and we are in love with thee; therefore consent unto us, and lie with us.
21 If thou wilt not, we will bear witness against thee, that a young man was with thee: and therefore thou didst send away thy maids from thee.
22 Then Susanna sighed, and said, I am straitened on every side: for if I do this thing, it is death unto me: and if I do it not I cannot escape your hands.
23 It is better for me to fall into your hands, and not do it, than to sin in the sight of the Lord.
24 With that Susanna cried with a loud voice: and the two elders cried out against her.
25 Then ran the one, and opened the garden door.
26 So when the servants of the house heard the cry in the garden, they rushed in at the privy door, to see what was done unto her.
27 But when the elders had declared their matter, the servants were greatly ashamed: for there was never such a report made of Susanna.
28 And it came to pass the next day, when the people were assembled to her husband Joacim, the two elders came also full of mischievous imagination against Susanna to put her to death;
29 And said before the people, Send for Susanna, the daughter of Chelcias, Joacim’s wife. And so they sent.
30 So she came with her father and mother, her children, and all her kindred.
31 Now Susanna was a very delicate woman, and beauteous to behold.
32 And these wicked men commanded to uncover her face, (for she was covered) that they might be filled with her beauty.
33 Therefore her friends and all that saw her wept.
34 Then the two elders stood up in the midst of the people, and laid their hands upon her head.
35 And she weeping looked up toward heaven: for her heart trusted in the Lord.
36 And the elders said, As we walked in the garden alone, this woman came in with two maids, and shut the garden doors, and sent the maids away.
37 Then a young man, who there was hid, came unto her, and lay with her.
38 Then we that stood in a corner of the garden, seeing this wickedness, ran unto them.
39 And when we saw them together, the man we could not hold: for he was stronger than we, and opened the door, and leaped out.
40 But having taken this woman, we asked who the young man was, but she would not tell us: these things do we testify.
41 Then the assembly believed them as those that were the elders and judges of the people: so they condemned her to death.
42 Then Susanna cried out with a loud voice, and said, O everlasting God, that knowest the secrets, and knowest all things before they be:
43 Thou knowest that they have borne false witness against me, and, behold, I must die; whereas I never did such things as these men have maliciously invented against me.
44 And the Lord heard her voice.
45 Therefore when she was led to be put to death, the Lord raised up the holy spirit of a young youth whose name was Daniel:
46 Who cried with a loud voice, I am clear from the blood of this woman.
47 Then all the people turned them toward him, and said, What mean these words that thou hast spoken?
48 So he standing in the midst of them said, Are ye such fools, ye sons of Israel, that without examination or knowledge of the truth ye have condemned a daughter of Israel?
49 Return again to the place of judgment: for they have borne false witness against her.
50 Wherefore all the people turned again in haste, and the elders said unto him, Come, sit down among us, and shew it us, seeing God hath given thee the honour of an elder.
51 Then said Daniel unto them, Put these two aside one far from another, and I will examine them.
52 So when they were put asunder one from another, he called one of them, and said unto him, O thou that art waxen old in wickedness, now thy sins which thou hast committed aforetime are come to light.
53 For thou hast pronounced false judgment and hast condemned the innocent and hast let the guilty go free; albeit the Lord saith, The innocent and righteous shalt thou not slay.
54 Now then, if thou hast seen her, tell me, Under what tree sawest thou them companying together? Who answered, Under a mastick tree.
55 And Daniel said, Very well; thou hast lied against thine own head; for even now the angel of God hath received the sentence of God to cut thee in two.
56 So he put him aside, and commanded to bring the other, and said unto him, O thou seed of Chanaan, and not of Juda, beauty hath deceived thee, and lust hath perverted thine heart.
57 Thus have ye dealt with the daughters of Israel, and they for fear companied with you: but the daughter of Juda would not abide your wickedness.
58 Now therefore tell me, Under what tree didst thou take them companying together? Who answered, Under an holm tree.
59 Then said Daniel unto him, Well; thou hast also lied against thine own head: for the angel of God waiteth with the sword to cut thee in two, that he may destroy you.
60 With that all the assembly cried out with a loud voice, and praised God, who saveth them that trust in him.
61 And they arose against the two elders, for Daniel had convicted them of false witness by their own mouth:
62 And according to the law of Moses they did unto them in such sort as they maliciously intended to do to their neighbour: and they put them to death. Thus the innocent blood was saved the same day.
63 Therefore Chelcias and his wife praised God for their daughter Susanna, with Joacim her husband, and all the kindred, because there was no dishonesty found in her.
64 From that day forth was Daniel had in great reputation in the sight of the people.

Notice a parallel in the Jian Ghomeshi or Harvey Weinstein story of today?

I challenge you to spend time with this parable. Break it down like one would in English class. Take it through the plot diagram of preamble, inciting incident, rising action, climax, denouement (falling action) and resolution. Then break down who is the protagonist (hero), antagonist (villain and other challenges the hero faces); supporting cast. Then challenge your world view, what would happen if you flipped the antagonist and protagonist? For we must understand that which we are against. Do this in community and alone. Then each take one of the outlines and re-write the text in 21st century of the community you exist in today (community league, religious gathering, etc.)…

What light has the story of Susanna shed on love for self and love for neighbour in the heart of the Holy?


For the last few days the journey of the Magi has taken you through previous thoughts of mine. Today marks the beginning of a renewed beginning as I continue to move forward into my new reality in this journey of discovery I have dubbed “My Neighbour”. Over the coming days (my brain and emotions willing, and thank you to the blessing of scheduler) you will see new thoughts and different takes from where I currently sit in my view from a pew (okay fabric chair) on what it means to build a better world where all belong.  So enter if you dare…

It is interesting what triggers flashbacks of pain. Yet within the journey of healing as you sit with the pain, you must look at the good. Sadly, in active ministry in the Christianities when it comes to the building of inclusive communities that challenge the oppressive wealth-patriarchy-traditional structure these can be few and far between. It is why I believe in my heart and through narrative evidence there is such burn out and PTSD among clergy and clergy in training. Why we can no longer fill our pulpits in the anthropological traditions of and out of Judeo-Christian.

Unless you break it down to the person. I wrote over a year ago about the dichotomy of acceptance versus rejection when my son was cast out by a “new thought centre” for being his joyous self and contrasted it with the acceptance from the pulpit in a Roman Catholic Church.

celtic crossThis year discoursing with our current pastor around the journey of ministry, it is astounding a year on, we have finally found a placement of celebration of our son person within a protestant church. Two different theologies and sets of doctrines, that show when you do not get lost within the ideology but the let the Spirit reign a community of inclusion is created.

Now this is not saying there has not been communities of warm welcome or belonging within our journey. For there has been. But this time of reflection (yes it takes approximately 4 unknown neuro-events to complete each post of mine currently) that I have pondered the true difference. What has spoken through the heart is the difference between a service/ministry designed to/for an individual or population contrasted to a service/ministry with the individual or population within the broader community. The later being the one where true inclusion takes roots for it affirms the full humanity of the individual and their place in community.

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Much like the Nativity story where the Holy Mystery (that exists within us and us within her) affirmed the full humanity of Mary despite the patriarchal-empire communal sin of her times. A communal sin we carry forward today and the populations become moving targets. This is the type of empire that needs to die, and it begins from the common good, the common teaching. The buzzword currently is holistic, root is whole or holy. It is the understanding the Cosmic Christ is ignited within each us, through the cosmic dust/holy breath as we are all interwoven in the beautiful tapestry of creation that is the Holy Mystery. Where our legends/myths/beliefs tell us the holy narrative of why, and our philosophy-rational-intellectual-sciences tell us the how of being.

Yet it is more. It is understanding the other, as neighbour not other. It is knowing that to be truly inclusive we must meet everyone where they are at and build a community that includes them in how the experience the world. As went enter the journey of the new beginnings of a new year. The question is before each of us individually, communally and interdependently whether in a religious setting or simply a community or a home:

How do we all belong?

 

globalSome of the greatest studies/explorations of faith I have led in my time have been those that have experienced texts cast aside by Imperial Christianities or those of other wisdom traditions, here are some links for further exploration alone or in community:

The Apocrypha, Deuterocanonical, Lost Texts of Christianities, and some Gnostic wisdom: http://www.sacred-texts.com/chr/apo/index.htm

Internet Sacred Text Archive: http://www.sacred-texts.com/

New Thought Library online: http://newthoughtlibrary.com/

 


“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


Have you danced with the devil in the pale moonlight?

-Joker (as portrayed by Jack Nicholson in 1989’s Batman)

There are many catch phrases in Christendom that have grown out of the Pauline, Johannine, James’ and Jesus’ schools of ancient thought (to name but a few, but each of the original 11 surviving men, and 7 women established their own mystery schools and so began the cult of saints).  But I digress. The opening quote does tie into a spiritual practice/discipline. For there are two catch phrases that seem to resonate around again and again within Christendom—that of John 3:16, but also of “Remember who you are.”.

Over the past few weeks in church our minister is doing a series on the Letter to the Church in Ephesus (also known as Ephesians). It was written by a student of Paul’s.  In the early chapters of the letter Pseudo-Paul spends time getting the hearers to remember who they were, what they have come through and who they are now. It is deeper than just what we in the 21st century think of when we hear remember. For it is the pilgrimage.

The struggle between shadow and self; the unity of anima/animus; yin/yang. Both sides of a coin. The pieces that need to find unity for completion, and those parts we need to work beyond (ala Cosmic Christ moving beyond Ego).  Or as Levi reminds us in the Aquarian Gospel:

  1. The living waters always leap and skip about like lambs in spring.
    8.The nations are corrupt; they sleep within the arms of death and they must be aroused before it is too late.
    9. In life we find antagonists at work. God sent me here to stir unto its depths the waters of the sea of life.
    10. Peace follows strife; I come to slay this peace of death. The prince of peace must first be prince of strife.
    11. This leaven of truth which I have brought to men will stir the demons up, and nations, cities, families will be at war within themselves.

Aquarian Gospel 113:7-11

The war within. The eternal struggle between angelic and demonic ways. The stardust and chakra sludge. Giving in to the easy journey of selfishness and independence instead of striving for selflessness and interdependence. Now before you say how does the Joker show us this? Think back to any portrayal of Batman-Joker you have seen; or Superman-Lex Luthor, Wonder Woman-Ares; heck even Captain America-Red Skull, (Robin Hood-Prince John/Sheriff of Nottingham) and what you see in these tales that keep going over and over again that become our archetypes to show that unity means wrestling with the darkest pieces of ourselves manifested. And yes, in those instances as noted above the darkest shadow self, is our greatest strengths twisted when we are at our most lost in the wilderness of our interior castle.

  1. And Philip said, Must men and women suffer in the flames because they have not found the way of life?
    14.And Jesus said, The fire purifies. The chemist throws into the fire the ores that hold all kinds of dross.
    15. The useless metal seems to be consumed; but not a grain of gold is lost.
    16. There is no man that has not in him gold that cannot be destroyed. The evil things of men are all consumed in fire; the gold survives.

-Aquarian Gospel 116:13-16

Let those words resonate as you begin or continue your pilgrimage to the sacred heart within you. To get to gold the fires must burn away the crud and sludge, that which stops the shine and shimmer. So is the pilgrimage to our interior castle to live out of it. The crap must be burned away, a purgatory if you will (and yes there is some Roman Catholic theology around purgatory as this type of thing) that only leaves the truly good, very blessed creation continuing to live forward. Also, sometimes the sludge we have built up that has been cast on us is not due to our own actions, but the abuse of others, but in the process we also need to allow the purging of this crap to be able to shine forward as we truly are.

  1. Go forth and take possession of the unclean quadrupeds.
    20.And they, and all the evil spirits of the tombs went forth and took possession of the breeders of the plague,
    21. Which, wild with rage, ran down the steeps into the sea, and all were drowned.
    22. And all the land was freed of the contagion, and the unclean spirits came no more.
    23. But when the people saw the mighty works that Jesus did they were alarmed. They said,
    24. If he can free the country of the plague, and drive the unclean spirits out, he is a man of such transendent power that he can devastate our land at will.
    25. And then they came and prayed that he would not remain in Gadara.

-Aquarian Gospel 118:19-25

An ancient story of Jesus casting out the torments of Legion into the unclean animals, showing that even when we take this as a story of the pilgrimage we can be like the people of Garda standing on the precipice of unification with our Cosmic Christ only to push back and away.

But is this the point there is two paths to choose, and we must contemplate which one as we literally/figuratively and allegorically dance with our own personal devil in the moonlight?

  1. And Jesus said, We cannot look upon a single span of life and judge of anything.
    27.There is a law that men must recognise: Result depends on cause.
    28. Men are not motes to float about within the air of one short life, and then be lost in nothingness.
    29. They are undying parts of the eternal whole that come and go, lo, many times into the air of earth and of the great beyond, just to unfold the God-like self.
    30. A cause may be a part of one brief life; results may not be noted till another life.

-Aquarian Gospel 114: 26-30

The role of life and decisions. The build up of karma when we choose the path of selfishness/ego for this life, next life or past lives… BUT when we choose the path of angelic/Cosmic Christ and living into and out of L-O-V-E (Dharma) our selves and our localized world transform for the better. Much like the pebble in the pond creating cosmic ripples through the stardust that connects everything into the Holy Mystery and the Holy Mystery into everything.

Today, as we celebrate the giving of sacred life with those who are our mothers; grandmothers; crones whether by birth, choice or tribal roles given. Take time to decide if you are going to choose the path of light or dark?

At this moment in time, will you choose the path of the hero or the villain? What will you need to do to be able to change direction of your path. To be able to become your own Batman/Superman/Wonder Woman?

Are you willing to dance in the moonlight?

 

 


emblem of the Papacy: Triple tiara and keys Fr...

emblem of the Papacy: Triple tiara and keys Français : emblème pontifical Italiano: emblema del Papato Português: Emblema papal. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I know, I know, very few of the Christianities would like their “brand” reduced to nothing more than a twitter hashtag, yet let’s be honest, that is what in the new marketing schemata is what they are attempting to do.  What has been my brand allegiance in Canada thus far?

#RC #ELCIC #LBC #NOND #UCC #PCC #CMA #Restoration #Druid #Buddhist #ACC #TSSF #OEF #ULCM #ULC #AGC #Cursillo #Alpha #Shaman #CiM and I am sure there is a litany I have forgotten.

Recently in the midst of a cycle of questioning, and knowing a history within Protestant affiliations of spiritual abuse geared at my family I felt the call back to communion with the Roman Catholic Church. My soul mate and I started attending Mass, and I began prayerfully discerning where I was meant to be.  But it was a desire (albeit possibly a selfish one) to travel back into a time that was a blessing for my spiritual development.

Yet like the old proverb, you cannot step in the same river twice. So as I continue on this journey of making a non-sectarian Franciscan it has become evident that there is deep truth within this. There are many blessings within the Mass, liturgy, daily prayers, saints and social initiatives that is the living body of Christ out of Rome.  However, one of the greatest blessings for me is the piece of the body that is Franciscans.

It is within the heart of the rule of the Secular Franciscan Order that hit me upon reflection and discernment. Lay Franciscans are called to care for their families as the drive of their vocation.

Wow. Here I was constantly moving the family for what I thought was protecting them, but by not being able to grow deep roots it was leading to a shallow faith.  Do I regret any choices to leave churches with my family? No, because it was ultimately to protect them.  But I know that in this moment and time re-initiating a journey of catechism for all of us within #RC would not be conducive, my son and daughter partake with us currently in communion of the open table, and they would struggle with losing this piece of their faith experience for the time it took us to become full members.

Besides, currently we are nestled into a rather ecclectic church within our own community, a non-denominational charismatic church joined with a lutheran brethren congregation to share ministry and service to reach out to the community… truly a church moving beyond the hashtag to replace it with the hashtag that truly matters #4Jesusloves.

So are there many things I love within the history and tradition that is #RC? Yes. Has it been a blessing within my journey? Yes, and will continue to be.

BUT and this is the biggie for all believers (as I like to cast my net o’ weirdness wide): the “brand” is irrelevant. What it comes down to is simply the local body and whether or not it is living Christ, making disciples, and aiding discernment of vocation… if this is happening then the Body of Christ is present and the community and individual will be transformed (Salvation).

What’s in a denominational #hashtag?

 


The answer is…

NEITHER

As much as I would like to sit here and say that the Conservative or fundamentalist Christianities were dying and at death’s door…they are not.

Nor can one stipulate that the liberal branches are.

This is the sticky point as some will say, surely you jest writer, just look at the numbers of people leaving in droves, the building sell off, congregation closings…except that is the traditional-conservative-fundamentalit structures that the new inclusive Christianities are stepping out of.

You see, the buildings may go away, traditional style congregations and positions may fade… yet there is a movement of faithful through works, through devotion to fellowship and through syncronicity of faith, holy stories and called to vocation and learnings… that are not quantifiable by any stretch of the imagination.

So unfortunately to the screaming headlines, and butts in pew counters out there, neither of broad tents of the Christianities will go away… why?

Like all other forms of spirituality, ideology, and religion… each of the veins of Christianities draws different individuals into the Holy Mystery.

The question shouldn’t be who the winner will be…

The question needs to be… how do we work together to create the just reign of God here on Earth that Christ called us too in the Gospels?