Posts Tagged ‘Community Building’

An Ecclectica

Posted: February 21, 2021 by Ty in Current Events
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Ah the polar vortex has lifted, and if not an official chinook arch, the other extreme of climate change has settled in where it is plus 6 celsius on Feb. 21, day 342 of C-tine as I type these words and ponder the state of my province. And wonder, where oh where did the ability of dialogue and critical thought go?

First off, a quick PSA for Albertans to educate yourselves on our Covid-19 restrictions, and how many of our neighbours are in mourning (read here). For the dualistic thinking political ideologue that wants majority party control Federally, and believe you are either Conservative or Liberal– may I point out the Parliamnets that bring the best shifts for citizens (the Constitution Act, 1982, clause of Peace, Order and Good Governance) have been robust minority parliaments, and our pandemic has been no different. I live in Alberta, and know what the Conservatives would have done federally for Canadians (nothing, sorry, neighbour, any aid we have had has come from the Federal level–heal your cognitive dissonance and pitch the anger at the right first minister, our Premier). I also hold, that we would not have seen the same response, if it had been a Liberal majority. I do think the NDP-Greens aided in guiding the response.

A few quick thinks to note on the Federal scene. The media is stoking the Liberals want an election, currently from polls it would be a dicey dice roll that may simply return the status quo of now. If they truly wanted one, it would have been in the Fall of 2020 when they were riding high at close to 50% popularity. So the theatrics of NDP Leader Singh demanding that PM Trudeau not call an election, is simply that theatrics. Yes the PM can go at any time to the Governor General to dissolve Parliament and go to the polls (or currenlty without a GG as we are, to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court), but it is also a minority Parliament, so any time a confidence vote is moved/lost on a bdget matter we go to the polls. Currently, that means the other 4 parties have much more promising to do than the governing party on us going to the polls. What I would say is that Harper & Scheer have both underestimated PM Trudeau in elections (he has a Chretien knack on the trail for connecting), and O’Toole is falling into the same trap. Personally, if the other parties trigger an election during this pandemic because they cannot work it out, I will, for the first time in my life, default to a party vote in my area. If the other parties wanted to be innovative, and truly do not think our current Prime Minister is qualified or has the confidence of the House to govern. Then use the Westminster system, put forward a motion for his resignation and for the Governing party to bring forward 3 names for the house to vote on. But alas, they won’t, because it is not about public service– it is all about power for some in the House (you can decide which, though seeing the filth spewed by Conservative MP |Gallant recently–O’Toole has quite a bit of house cleaning to do before he can say the CPC is a renewed party).

But I digress, as this year Albertans are going to the polls, not to vote on our failed populist experiment perpetuated by anger & denial, that has allowed for rampant individualism, overt racism, oh and tiki torches in the capital with Freedom March organizers sharing images of Charlotte’s nazi march in their propaganda. No, that is another piece of polarization to touch on. We head to the polls for municipal elections, this time around (and I know I say this every time around) it is important to cast an informed vote.

There will be many smoke and mirror isseus brought up to deflect from what actually is necessary. See the smoke & mirror argument coupled with polarization is being leveraged to drive even more voters away. To let apathy shrink the voter support one needs to secure the civic seat, and once secured it is very hard for an incumbent to be unseatedYou will see the polarization/dualist arguments of this candidate or that candidate being a UCP or Lefty slate candidate (which is important to pay attention to, as our polarized lens of the politically) but the deeper question is the character of the candidate. What has their actions show us and their neighbours? The next, is the gun rights (and the new office in Alberta to such), it is a deflection especially rurally, because it removes one from seeing the legislative drive to bankrupt our counties, towns, villages, hamlets and farmers. With all the government money in the O&G basket, our other biggest (and still going) economic engines of farms are being left behind (as well as technology, tourism, education, trades, arts, and the list goes on). Unforutnately it has hit rural Alberta hard, the war on doctors before and even during this pandemic is seeing doctros leaving, which is adversly affecting access to Health Care, the cultivation of division and anti-science is being seen in the rising numbers of Covid cases in an already strained rural hosptial system. The UCP government has said they will not close hospitals as Klein did, yet if there is no staff for them, they cannot function. Discussion on how to attract and retain are a community discussion. How to get the abandoned wells cleaned up, and recoup the lost corporate taxes from the oil companies that our provincial government has said is up to each county to get, or they should just give a by too. The loss of the provincial portion of paying for the RCMP, which adds more costs to the local residents. Plus, the exponential (300-500%) increase in property taxes. A smoke and mirror argument rural neighbours have been sharing is that those in urban centres are seeing the same increase, The new funding formula for public schools gives a slight funding bump to rural schools, if they can retain students but the freedom of choice in education can have private and charter schools move in to take that way, leaving a major hub of community closing (as many communities in Calgary have seen which I will touch on ideas a bit later), we are not, if we were there would be something seriously awry in our system. The question that needs to be asked deeply:

who benefits if our rural neighbours systems go bankrupt? If the hamlet, village, town and county revert back to provincial control? And why does it matter?

In urban elections I am going to come down to the Calgary level. We are already seeing the smoke & mirror B.S. (belief systems) perpetuate. The argument on rampant property tax increases, the cyclical snow removal argument, and the plebiscites (let the incumbents deflect with flouride). We elect councils to make decisions, not to run plebiscites. What will not be discussed at the civic election level, for they do not want full on citizen engagement, what scares incumbents more than anything at the civic level is voter turn out and engagement. The snow removal question is a systems issue. We need a plurality of candidates to win that are pushed to do a complete and independent systems audit of City Management. What roles are necessary? What roles are extrenous? What roles/responsibilities within management can be combined? The fallacy of zero-sum budgetting needs to be removed. It may not be the right term, but with the life that government budgets function like household budgets, it is the practice that unspent money in a budget line from one year leads to the reduction of that budget line the next year. Which truly means that there is no ability to save money. An excellent example, is snow removal, under spending one year should not mean less money the next, it should mean an emergency kitty built up for when–blizzards, Snowmageddon in Septembers, etc. so there is more money to use. As well, has anyone discussed why the city has sold off our equipment to the private sector (a sector that is contracted out for just one pass over a road for clearing, when most in the work know it takes more to do the job properly)? Who believes that when crisis hits the private sector will come in at cost or lower to do the work? We need innovative project leaders in key management roles in the city that can point to the equipment, and envision how it can be used off season, but also know you need to budget for preventative care. Who know, a robust public sector, is actually more accountable to doing the job right, than the private sector. If you have had complaints around roads improperly cleared, or the huge drifts in front of entry points of your block, watch the name on the truck, as I have found with calling in to 311 over the last several winters it is the private contractors. Same with pouring roads, there is a certain way they need to be done for longevity, the private companies that have done and redone and redone and redone 32 ave the last several years show that they are working to contract not to standards.

See what deeper conversations are needed? At the community level we have to discuss what we need from our civic taxes to create robust spaces for connection of the generations, cultivating belonging, and removing socio-economic barriers. How do we as citizens work together and use our money to create healthy community? The greatest prevention for things such as addiction, crime, gangs, racism, ableism, sexism and homophobia? These are the questions we need to engage the candidates with. Ones that are not easily answered with a Quote Tweet. Asking them to actually articulate their core values, and how those values align with the communities they are seeking to represent?

There also needs to be a serious discussion around downtown Calgary. Let’s be honest, the big companies are realizing the towers are not necessary. I can see pop up work spaces in communities (many religious groups and community halls looking for rental income on weekdays, this is a great opportunity post covid), but companies realizing the cost of real estate to have someone do something they can from a now established home office? Nope. What I can see the companies retaining- a key office or two on a top floor with 3-4 conference/meeting areas.

What does this mean? We need a way to use space that mainatains tax revenue, but also solves some other societal ills…things like homelessness, disconnect, day care, food security, and in-home supports for our most vulnerable (as well as universal design). What if the downtown core was re-imagined as multi-purpose buildings. Mixed affordable and market purchase aparments from studio to 6 bedroom (yes families need space, and htose need to be some of the key affordable mortgages). The main floors can have effective access to public washrooms, diners and coffee shops. The next floor up, community space, including playgrounds, the 3rd floor a 24 hour day care/pre-school– why? Not everyone works banker hours mate. Then the rest housing. Oh and the 24 hour day care model needs to be expanded city wide.

You can also look at some buildings that are taller and incorporate schools into them. I would also explore the idea of green energy within the buildings to diversify our grid, and vertical farming for food security. As well, part of the mix of units would need to be for our vulnerable populations- those exiting homelessnes, persons with disabilies, mental illness, and our seniors. As you can see some of the ideas for building use, many connecting points for volunteerism within the rejuvanted core (purpose and connections). As well though, each building can also have a support office, where staff are connected to the tenants who need support, and as they age in place, they are not moved from home to a manor or a lodge or longer term-extended care to palliative, rather the teams move to their homes to remove that stressor from their system. Oh and each diner that is licesned for each building– for those over 65 years old or with disabilities (PDD/AISH) are provided a free meal 3 times a day to aid in food security.

As well, our canidates need to have strong ethical and moral character. We have seen the uncontrolled sprawl in Calgary and the unhealthy impact it has had on core infrastructure, with land developers and their deep pockets to fund campaigns. With the new donation limits and PACs allowed civically and disclosure not enshirned until after the fact, we as citizens have to demand transparency. Candidates need to real time be disclosing who is donating, we need to know what machinations can happen after e-day. I would go as far to say, if a canidate isn’t doing this, community has to organize to shut them out of being platformed. Following the money for control has to be a key tenant of engagement.

A lot to take in isnt’ it? But important discussions, instead of being in anger or denial of our changing world, let’s look at the opportunities that abound…

Same within the school boards. It abhors me the disconnect on this one. How many times I hear from folks, well my kids are not in school so it does not matter, or I don’t have kids– yeah but this is the hub for our society. This is the system that prepares the next wave of support within our society. This is where character is key. Will we have Trustees willing to make the hard calls? Risk being fired by the province to stand on values? Aid in educating the citizens on the reality in the classroom or not have our educators back? A board that truly invests and believes in every student, or simply uses the non-upper class students as props when it sutis them to garner favour? I mean we have a crisis in city high schools of no space, yet we are talking about closing under utilized schools? Where is the innovative leadership? Where is the plurarity of candidates willing for the non-partisan systems audit to create a resposnive and innovative system that is needed? That will remove superintendents that refer to children with disabilities as “its” and that families should be happy with what they have (and a despicable eugenics statement). Why can’t we look at low use schools, and the need of the community to use the other space for revenue? What about looking at the empty space for high schools while we a wait more than the cycle of announced builds from the province?

It takes innovative leadership beyond quote tweets and passing an ideological purity test. It takes actual belief that every child matters. That public education is the place to cultivate belonging and connection, discovery of passions and purpose. A space where we need to have locally a robust liberal arts education with core subjects so each students passions and drive to complete schools at the graded level is there.

It ripples up to the braoder conversation of the adoption of the failed American education funding and choice movements. We need to look to the other provinces here, do private and charter schools exist? Yes. Do they receive tax money? No. Home schooling needs to be tied to the public board to ensure those students can easily go on to post-secondary if they have the passion (University, Vocational College, Tech & Trades Schools). Then we need to have the very tough discussion on merging the Separate (Catholic) and Public boards. I say tough, because when you move beyond the polarized assininess, you realize there is a deeper discussion in the divide, where we can easily get there, but the extremes need to be deplatformed. For this is about our children now, and our provicnes future.

A qucik touch on thoughts for 2023 and the key discussions that need to be had. For us to move beyond anger, hate, denial and polarizations. Here are some key observations and tough discussions, open to any party or independent candidate to adopt:

  1. We need an HST to solve a revenue issue. A simple 2% (Federally, they truly do need to raise back the GST to 7%). This would make a provincial HST 7% (5% GST + 2%).
  2. A robust and fully funded public education system.
  3. Full Universal Health Care (including disability and adaptive devices, Dental, optical, Mental Health) and Pharmacare
  4. UBI needs to be on the table.
  5. Raising the Corporate tax rate back to 14% (and tehn indexing higher rates to market share of the company, for many small businesses are incorporated so we have to understand that nuance).
  6. Investment in R&D and implementation of alternative energy sources for Canadian climates
  7. Econimic Diversification
  8. Paid sick time for the worker
  9. Affordable daycare, the idea of sliding scale from 0-$25/day dependent on income, or better yet simply free, plus a tax break for families that can or need to have an adult at home for their child (oh and we truly need this system to be 24-7, as it needs to align with the economic world it is there to support).
  10. All these things being shown to corporations that it removes these costs from the business’ bottom line so it is more profitable to do business in Alberta.
  11. The biggest discussion, as many over 45 years old are shut of the labour market due to liability, we need to have a robust, fruitful and action oriented discussion around the atrocity that is the Worker’s Compensation Board, how to dismantle it, and what to replace it with that supports employers and employees equitably (and perhaps, a more effective partnership with EI disability).True Red Tape reduction.

To have these hard conversations, we have to move beyond polarization where our side can do no wrong. We have to question within our own movements, we have to engage the scholarhsip and thinkers on the other side(s). We also need at least 3 minotirty legislatures in Alberta to get the work done for new vision and dream casting. With the current known leaders, the best Premeir for the minority in my opion is Ms. Notley, but remember we have the other parties: Alberta LiberalAlberta Party , Green Party of Alberta , Communist Party of Alberta , Wildrose Independence Party , but it still comes back to the local candidate and their character, will they share who they are and why they want to be in public service- not simply be an electoral college vote for the leader (and yes I liked what CPC MP Michael Chong’s bill on reform had federally a few years back, we need to move that provincially and federally as a beginning point).

Just some thoughts, but with your cohorts, start the important conversations and blow clear the smoke, and wipe clean the mirror.s


Out of coffee with a friend/mentor comes a recommendation to explore George Monbiot (2017) Out of the Wreckage: A New Politics for An Age of Crisis which encapsulates many of the thoughts around community renewal, postulates some new ones, but truly percolates what is needed in our divided times (see my reflections on Rabbi Sacks works)– that is discussion, discourse and community building. For I see this work as something that harkens back to use during a simpler time, that when Pastor Douglas was growing the CCF and Pastor Aberhart was growing the Social Credit (yes I realize there was many involved in growing/educating these movements, I am using the two historical premiers as a short hand not as an all inclusive they did it independently fallacy).

See, they had their resources, for Aberhart it was social credit, for Douglas it was the Regina Manifesto if you will. It happened a household at a time, over tea and coffee times, with friends invited for study and discourse (much like a church plant if you will, growing and learning together as healthy community has the same points of genesis). This is how I can see this book work, over a few weeks of meeting together with then each small group choosing an activism activity that has come to mind from the text.

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It is at once a political science-political economics primer couched in cultural study which is easy to read and follow. Monbiot takes the reader through the short history of the shift from Keynesian theory underlying public policy and economics to Neo-Liberalism and its affect on the worker, community and shift from collectivism to exploited independent contractor to celebrity culture as they explore alienation. The continued exploitation and redefinition of the commons, whom it is actually to benefit. The writer touches upon what this looks like in ripple effects, and how it has impacted voting.

Two quick case examples are used, Trumps win in 2016 due simply to the fact that a plausible alternative could not be demonstrated to the Labour loss in the UK in 2015 to the Tories, simply because they had produced a till receipt platform (costed to remove their “threat” as seen in the media and corporate world) but forgot the connecting narrative of Hope that voters were looking for (wonder if this can be extrapolated to the NDP loss in 2015 in Canada federally?). Also a bonus snapshot later on is looking at Bernie Sanders, and how to empower volunteers and actual talk with folks to propel movements.

Why does this matter? Whether Monbiot is writing about economic choices, the balance between corporate or state control (actually more of a balance, with each having their own sphere of influence). To exploring what democratic reform needs to look like in its simplicity (single transferable vote) to online direct civic democracy like in the Nordic countries (quite a case study of rapid feedback and impact). Yet as you wind through the democratic reform what emerges is a topic I am familiar with, the important of co-operates, interdependence of citizens; fair taxation; belonging– more pragmatically for Canada is a renewal of the Constitution Act 1982 that would see an abolishing of the provinces to empower/equip the Federal and civic governments appropriately. It reads as the need for governance being local, known, and impactful (as well as held accountable).

It is not just a book for a bookshelf. I will be using ideas within my research on community building for my 2021 writing project. For the political activist though now, who wants to affect positive change I law out a simple path.

  1. Online or within your cohort (it is covid times) establish a coffee-tea book klatch to read-discuss and activate.
  2. As we head towards municipal elections, borrow from my 2006 playbook (which I borrowed from Rt. Hon. Joe Clark in Calgary City Centre 2000) and establish healthy rainbow coalitions of teams to run for the positions in your municipal or country councils; and school boards.
  3. Ensure it is not the candidate with the most money you are voting for (especially with election donation rules changing), but the one most connected to your local communities.
  4. Leverage the network of the rainbow coalition to renew community association, non-profit, community, sport league and if you have religious members, their boards for new vitality health and working together for the best of the communities you exist in and the households that make them up.
  5. Take time to understand and discover who your neighbours are, and how different ideas of co-ops and alternative economics may benefit everyone.

Just a few thoughts to begin percolating your thoughts. Healthy community based transformation is possible, it literally begins one household at a time rejecting the concept that our governance bodies are for sale.

What’s your first step out of the wreckage and into the rebuild?

P.S. if you haven’t already Albertans check these folks out who are doing great work, Reboot Alberta,


In the emerging c-tine I am beginning to gather material for a new book, that I hope to be able to put together in the Spring of 2021. The topic is one that reflects my spiritual life, community-belonging-connection. Now one may ask in a work reflecting on Preston Manning’s new book, Do Something, I would share this. I to ponder, but because there are some points that he writes that speak to health community. Much like I suggested Christians read Irshad Manji’s The Trouble with Islam so I suggest Manning’s new work to those of any political stripe to begin to ponder some key points.

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Once I as a reader navigated through the conservative partisan bias (which is to be expected for one from a conservative political thought writer), there was some kernels to share. Yes, I had to set aside some of the partisan broadsides, accept there was some kernels of truth in some, some continued bias ideological statements overshadowing seeing the good in other. What was refreshing in Manning’s writings, was his open sharing about third parties moving Canada forward in a healthy way, including his positive reflecting and sharing around other political heroes of mine, Rev. J.S. Woodsworth & Pastor Tommy Douglas, as well as the usefulness of populism section touching on the Famous Five, and other human rights matters but also touching on the chaos it can wreck with separatist movements and “western alienation” to the information of a data and science informed conservatism, that illustrates, how off track the current Alberta government is, the Federal party. As long time readers will also know, I do not give much time to the concept of private encroachment into our just society safety net (whether health care or education). It was beneficial to have an “elder” of current social conservatism, even while arguing against identity politics, point out the need for truth and reconciliation with our history of racism and oppression.

Now into some of the meat if you will, that I found useful in Mr. Manning’s discourses. These would touch on topics of science, political spectrum, religion, preparation, and community involvement. In reading Manning’s words, I was reminded of reading some of the writings of Stanfield and his team in the Trudeaumania era of Progressive Conservatives. Shifting from populist drive of Diefenbaker, to a data and science driven policy approach.

This is a key understanding I think any political group needs to get to, for us to return to healthy discourse in our country (and religious groups, as it is the science that explains the how of creation). For it then shifts from yelling matches, gotcha politics and social media sound bytes to raising the bar back up to policy discussions. Manning’s example was pollution pricing (carbon taxes) and not arguing against the practice, but rather the implementation. His challenge that if one cannot believe in climate science, rather look at environmental impacts and work to solve that which they could understand. For those who may be too young to remember, I believe it was when Jim Harris stepped down as leader of the Green Party of Canada, Manning aided in raising them to prominence. The intertwining of his faith and love of science has led him in my understanding to find ways to be a caretaker of the environment (if only more in his ideological realm would hear the call).

The concept that is also helpful, is the false dichotomies we want to exist within politics (liberal or conservative, left-centre-right), where he would share a 12 axis assessment on issues for aiding in defining what one held to be true. As most Canadians, exist somewhere in the centre, not wanting to make a decision, but wanting to ensure the most possible are included in the decision (a consensus as much as possible) this does raise some ideas. Within the 12 axis were topics such as environment, trust, jurisdiction, values, health act, education, etc.

It does also aid I believe as it moves one from blind ideology to one party, making each candidate needing to work beyond their party affiliation and leader to win the trust of the voter. This speaks to the need for character, and connection within the community. Does the candidate belong? Are they known for being a positive community member and builder? Stepping back into the concept of what public service is to be about– that is service for all citizens for peace, order and good governance. The role of government being to create the best possible life for citizens, and through that, the healthy environment for creativity, and business will happen (in my opinion and experience).

It also speaks to preparation for community leadership. Do we expect people to prepare for a vocation? Manning admirably used the example of Brother Jesus, and for each year of his public ministry, he had 6 years of life (and for some preparation). What would shift and change within our municipalities, counties, provinces and country if for each year of elected office we expected a certain number of years of preparation? Work/service in their local community? Connection. Belonging. The bottom line of the thesis do something is the suggestions of how to become active in community leagues, groups, political parties, research whether as a participant, donor or volunteer…the old adage of giving of time, talent and treasure (from small steps to large leaps depending on personal capacity).

With a final nod to the religious aspect of community life. This section was handled well, had a conservative bent, but could easily be expanded to all parties. Manning shared of those who served of all political stripes and faith. The idea being simple and familiar, we need to acknowledge the harm that has been done in the name of religion. But for those with authentic faith, you cannot separate the value system from who you are (goes back to core character and integrity), but it is not about imposing that on the populace. The other piece, is creating space for discussion, debate and acceptance within political movements.

So yes, is it everyone’s cup of tea this book? Probably not. For the entrenched partisan depending on which primary colour they are in it can be vilified or beatified. Both responses would miss the point of a call to action work. This was a call to action that can be read at the surface level for Canadian conservatism and democracy to what it means to moderate. For any other politico or religious politico, it can be read for ideas and concepts on how others think, how to do a mirror reflection into your own movements, and how to engage at the local community level to grow engagement, connection and belonging.

To extend a metaphor from the c-tine. Where we live is our household, each of those households creates a community, each community a village/town/city, and those a province and then a country. How are we creating health households, then communities? How are you choosing to do something to create a healthy ripple in your pond? What simple action- step are you going to choose to do?

To do something to effect positive change in your world.


As I am more in the quiet during c-tine, what has always been laid on my heart by the Holy Mystery continues to bubble to the surface even more. Healthy and whole communities that allow for authentic connection and belonging, for no other reason than simply, we are created in the Imageo Dei, and as such have inherent worth and are called to love and be loved. It is a mouth full I know, and definitely bucks the trend of the quick and pithy vision/mission leadership mantras of our time. Truly though if we are called to be in community, called to holy interdependence, then idea of celebrity and cult of leadership need to break down (points from Barringer and Mcknight’s new book, A Church Called Tov (2020)).

When do barriers and labels break down?? When we break bread and share life together.
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The new book opens up sharing, something I had sadly pointed out to many non-Roman Catholic Churches, during my time in bible college and seminary–that crisis and abuse will exist, so will cover up–for it is about the positions of power that attract the monsters. Many balked, the work walks through what creates toxic cultures using real time examples from Willow Creek, Harvest Bible Chapel, Sovereign Grace Ministries and the Southern Baptist Convention. It works around the fear culture these spaces cultivate, the ones that discourage and disparage the abused. The same tactics of silence and spiritual abuse overlaying the sexual abuse, as witnessed within Roman Catholicism, Jehovah Witness, and other religious movements.

It is laying the ground work, so if one does not understand they can begin to see how the church has strayed. Long time readers are familiar with my own lived stories, and sadly how different theologies have gone after my children and others. It is what happens when the purpose of the gathering shifts from healthy community and family, to the numbers game of tithing, attendance, how many conversions? baptisms? confirmations? All these types of reports in my time as a pastor I did have to file. The next step, is also having the abused needing to face 1 to 1 the abuser by misusing the Christian Testament Matthew 18, which adds more layers to the silence.

Follow that up, with non-disclosure agreements for staff (oh how those have been used to silence the struggling, with a survival pittance to go away) to the rationale in American civil court (with duty to report in Canada, and other judicial changes I do not think they hold the same wallop, sadly though does the average person in the pew know that?).

The membership covenant that literally grooms (yes I am using those words) church members, whether the bullied/abused or the bystander to keep it behind and underneath the thin crucifix line, not to take it to the proper authorities.

The work takes one through a helpful 8 point false narrative that perpetuates suppression: discredit the critics, demonize the critics, spin the story, gaslight the critics, make the perpetrator the victim, silence the truth, suppress the truth, and issue a fake apology. Does it sound like an abusive spouse? Or how about political or religious zealots/extremists or white supremacists? Yup, hate and abuse take the same form when boiled down. Ever experienced any of these things in the workplace? Your place of worship? What have or were the ripple effects in your own life?

Note, it was not your fault. Stand in the truth, and reconcile to move forward in your own life. Get the health supports you need to heal. The book then shifts to the concept of Tov, and this cultivation of a culture of goodness within the church family. Which is nothing new, in fact it has been laid out many places over the last 6,000 years- the Hebrew Bible, Christian Testament …and many that have come since. It is the heart of Jesus life.

It is the cultivation of an interdependent and healthy community. The TOV has points as well. The writers use the concept of church (obviously), but it speaks to community as well in what needs to be nurtured: empathy, grace, people first culture, truth, justice and Christlikeness. For those going–whoa–that is an awfully religious end one to say that all communities should nurture, keep it simple, what did Brother Jesus live and teach? Love, acceptance, connection and belonging.

What ends most of societies ills?

Connection, belonging, acceptance and love.

If you want to explore more around the ideas this book presented read the full book, but I also would suggest exploring others. St. Basil the Great, St. Francis & Clare of Assisi, Dorothy Day & the Catholic Worker’s Movement, Jim Wallis and the Sojourners, Tommy Douglas’ writings, Larry Crabb, William Aberhart’s writings, Pierre Trudeau’s writings, Desmond Tutu, Rowan Williams, Saint John Paul the Great, Tony Campolo & Red Letter Christians, Eugene Peterson, the Emergent Christianity writers, writings on missional living, J.S. Woodsworth, Matthew Fox (and Creation Spirituality), John Shelby Spong, Saint Teresa of Calcutta and Henri Nouwen to name but a few that speak into this idea of community of all.

But don’t just read, and contemplate- that is the starting point.

The next step is what next?

What is one tangible thing you are going to do to build a community of caring and goodness in your community? Your home?


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.

francis

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/