Posts Tagged ‘Covid-19’


Ah on a weekend I could have succumbed to the lament I felt late Friday night seeing the funding notice rejection in my inbox, it is time to live into the emotions, but also cultivate optimism, and sometimes it is found in the simple things of a week. So I give you an optimistic ecclecicta, for taking a 7 day experiment of tracking at least 3 things you are thankful/grafeful for (with the rationale) can aid your optimism in resilience. That all to sound “sciency” with simply sharing some fun:

Do you belive a woman can fly?

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It is the first thought that leapt into my mind last weekend as my family settled in for a family movie night to watch our newest DVD- Wonder Woman 1984, with the microwave popcorn popped and dusted with dill pickle salt, and the root beer poured. I know critics and some have panned it, but it is, in my humble opinion, that WB did not do a strong enough job of essentially sharing the joy of this gem– you are entering into, truly, a circa late 1970’s to 1980’s movie with all the tropes that come with it. From the nerdy work woman that cannot walk in heals (Barbara Minerva), the megalomaniac oil business man (Maxwell Lord), to the body swap love (Steve Trevor), to the mall scene, and the soundtrack, to the greed that drove the Cold War, and the under current of fear that existed at that time, and the simplicity of belief in mass media that everyone just needed more stuff or would only care about themselves. Oh, and did I mention the fun little PSA moments built in around young Diana, like movies would have tossed in for kids

The core though is full on Wonder Woman. Discovering that what we wish for (in a twisted stone with Monkey Paw rules), is not necessarily always what we need. Oh, and that little thing of truth that our world finds so hard to understand even now: As a species we do not exist in silo’ed isolation. Every choice we make has ripple effects on creation and/or others. It is truly in understanding interdependence, connection and belonging that we can see the love in our own lives for ourselves (just as we are) and for others.

Yes, as my wife so easily encapsulated with the Steve Trevor storyline, “I hate when super hero movies make me cry”

If you want a movie that reminds you of the fun of the theatre and movie nights at home from the video store (whether Video Show Place, Rogers, Blockbuster, VHQ, etc), or simply, to have a movie that your kids (and yes mine are teens) that will cheer when good wins, it is worth the watch.

The Unicorn Find

A few years ago, while my family was binging the Comic Book Guys, I wrote about that one comic I owned that I no longer did that I wanted to find again. For me, it was one bought when out with my Mum, Nan & Granddad from WoodWard’s Food Store. Back when WoodWard’s existed, and grocery stores had comic book spinner racks (we geeks lament the young not getting into our hobby, yet our hobby is now exclusive to comic shops, not everywhere’s like it was before). Where I found the first comic I really remember owning:

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It was great fun to travel back to being a kid with a comic I literally read to pieces. I had forgotten the smell of a newsprint comic from the era, with many stories of that vintage I currently have being in reprinted editions. As well, it has me with my eyes keenly open for another rare gem, Marvel’s The Last Star Fighter magazine adaptation that my Dad had brought home one night after work for me (and my brother that night had gotten his first BMX Plus magazine I believe).

Pfizered

Ah, yes in the Province of Alberta confusion reigns on who qualifies and who does not with our wonky phased system. I do hope we follow B.C.’s route and shift simply to age groupings to get more shots in arms, and that Health Canada pointing out the AZ is cleared for 18+ will also create more movement, as we desperately need the light at the end of hte tunnel on C-tine (398 days at home).

Today we got our first dose (and yes once a vacinne is cleared for those under 16 years my kiddos will be getting one too) of two of the Pfizer in a quick move through system, and just a 15 minute wait afterwards. Go in, swap masks, register and needle in arm:

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Post Pfizer Selfie

So yes, there are bumps on the road, sometimes even potholes or sinkholes, but we can make it through and see some light. Just a simple musical reminder that came back on my radar as well to close:

What are your good views this week?

A vigil Mulling

Posted: April 3, 2021 by Ty in Spirituality
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Mulling. It was a word that when shared from me, would cause those leaders I served under or communities I served in, to respond with an arched eyebrow that would make Spock proud (and a few, I am sure, unintelligible utterings under their breath). For the time of mulling, usually meant, that my mind would be processing through the usual tasks of the job, while mulling many ideas under the surface. Yes, some days I do miss how my mind would work before the downturn, but the rebooting is still wonderful.

This is what happens in the moments of vigil. Taking time to be in the presence of the Holy Mystery. Which, we are in and is in us throughout daily life. Vigil is taking time to unplug and tune in to the quiet soft voice of creation that speaks to us. At Easter, the Vigil night is simple. It is time spent waiting. For some, during c-tine, it can feel like we have been in a constant vigil. There is deep truth in these statements, as there is yearning for life to return to the normalcy of the before times, yet was that normalcy truly what was of benefit for our communal wellness? For our holiness? Or was it simply the same oppressive systems Brother Jesus lived his life against, that took him to Golgotha. Drove his friends and followers into hiding for those 3 days, the vigil time. Where in the First Century they huddled in fear, afraid of being found and added to the next wave of crosses on the Jerusalem road side as a message.

May be an image of text that says "A church that does not provoke any crisis, preach a gospel that does not unsettle, proclaim a word of God that does not get under anyone's skin or a word of God that does not touch the real sin of the society in which it is being proclaimed: what kind of gospel is that? Óscar Romero"
Remember, the oppressors of Latin America so feared the love preached by Bishop Romero, they had him assasinated during Mass, while holding up the Holy Host.

That same fear does not exist within Canadian Christianities. But there is still a purpose for vigil. For me, it was taking a moment to begin diving into the new DIana Butler Bass book, Freeing Jesus, I first entered her work back in my Youth Monk days with the Anglican church in Calgary with her work Christianity for the Rest of Us. Freeing Jesus’ introduction brought forward sentiments that I have shared (and shared others who have shared similiarly) for quite a while on the state of Christendom, and the Christianities. She dove right in about the many walking away from the Churchdom due to how the power has corrupted and gutted, yet still have a resonance with the life, teachings, miracles, and Easter Morn of Brother Jesus. Yes, as she aptly points out, many traditionalists will say the church is the body of Christ and without the church you are not a believer…

And that is the crux of the Holy Heresy

The Body of Christ is responding to a cancer. That of Christendom (empire, abuse of power, etc), by exorcising it through leaving. It is not the Body that is not wanted, it is the politicized institution of trauma. This is a moment in time in history where c-tine has forced a stop of the inertial force that was Christendom, and has given space where we can actually go.

As we head towards another celebration of Sonrise, under restrictions, lockdown, online or at a distance…where is the Spirit calling you in the walk to the tomb? When we find it empty? What is the calling being heard you have been ignoring? This vigil night, engage in the conversation of renewal of Hope, Faith, Joy, Peace and LOVE for the Body of Christ lived out to our world? Or do we continue the death march out of fear for taking a step into the unknown?

Do we continue or do we transfigure?

Just like the early community around Jesus, in this time of c-tine, what mullings have arisen in your soul during the vigil of awaiting? Unsure of what is to come?

See the source image


Another year of entering into Easter Weekend at a distance. Many decry and wonder why we cannot gather, yet the sacerament of service, is the answer to the lament, and where Alberta is currently in our pandemic journey as I shared on Facebook yesterday (a unique day with Maundy Thursday & April Fool’s Day sharing space). Yes I apologize for the laise fair share of twoof my Facebook screen shots a day late instead of the normal Maundy Thursday reflection, but as the day closed after 381 days of online existence/teaching, weariness won out, so below were the thoughts that brings us into the reality of the Sacrament of Service:

Can you live out a modern foot washing in this pandemic time this Easter Weekend?

On Good Friday we have shared 11,000 new cases. Yes a third wave is here, and some, like those of Grace Life Church and Fairview Baptist use the conept of take up their cross and that they are “persecuted” under the guise of religious freedom to cause harm to neighbour and the Love Message of Brother Jesus. It was during our online Good Friday service, walking the Stations of the Cross Reflectively that we discussed as a family, what the idea of take up the cross looks like. It is not an image to hide our bias, bigotries, prejudices, hatreds, martyr complexes, or communal sins lived out. Brother Jesus lived out a radical servant messiahship, not a might make right, not Jesus with an assault rifle, rather a humble teacher from working class roots, with a calling to serve, to live out what the Imageo Dei was meant to be. It radically shattered the glass ceilings of the time. Lived out, it shifted dynamics, empowered the voices of the voiceless, showed that all had equality, and worth in the Kingdom (our divisive labels were there to divide and harm, and rather useless). There was a celebration of the once known as untouchable, unwanted or “property” of Empire, on Palm Sunday, that on Maundy Thursday, in John Mark’s folks upper room, Jesus would gather with his friends. Share the Passover Meal.

A meal that called back the rememberance of another time of freedom from Oppression from the story of Exodus. Think of the power of the Oppressed being freed, and another Empire publicly exposed for its weakness, and once the oppressed realized they had worth, it crumbled like a house of cards (thinking of any connections to the current era of Reconciliation and Transformation?). That after dinner, Jesus would go to Gethsemane, to the Garden to pray, and there that he would be betrayed, by one of his close friends, with the kiss of greeting.

From there, the fear of the Oppressor was on full display in the journey to the lynching of Brother Jesus. The lies, the propaganda, the falsities, and the gaming of the system to silence the one that chose to challenge what was wrong with society. What did harm and damage to the Imageo Dei. When we talked with our kids about what take up the cross meant, these are the moments we shared. The times when faith led to true and healthy change in our world, when the thin space between the Holy Mystery and Creation overlapped. Times like the Red River Resistance, Indigenous Rights, end of Apartheid, Truth & Reconciliation, LGBTTQ2+ rights, Feminism, Women’s Rights, social safety nets, disability rights, and, sadly, the list goes on, as the societal sin of Christendom (and insert any idealogy or religion that evil has used to hide behind to divide, to cause harm, to perpetuate genocide no one truly has not been used) but it is in those moments when we know we are standing up for the Kingdom value of the blessedness of the Imageo Dei, justice in love, and all belonging regardless of pushback–that is the true moments of taking up the Cross, and walking the path of Brother Jesus to Golgotha.

How does our communities truly transfigure if Christians truly took up the Cross, like Simon of Cyrene did?

We gather a part for the second year, reminiscient of the early followers of Jesus on that first Easter. Our gathering apart shows our care and love in our Sacrament of Service.

In the name of our loving Creator, whose Image we see in one another, the love of our Brother Jesus’ whose cross we carry to the glory of the Sunrise, and the release of the Loving Passion in our communities transfigured through the Loving & Holy Spirit in us, through us and connecting us.

Amen. Amen. Amen.

Some Holy Weekend Resources/Services for your reflection:

Bow Valley Christian Church Good Friday Service.

Culture, Christ and Covid

Stations of the Cosmic Christ

All Saints Lutheran Church Calgary Holy Week Resources, Reflections and Services.


It was a simple tweet last night, but one that really did sum up where our family is after almost four years of a rolled back existence (yes I know covid has only been 370 days– but there was health complexities that slowed our roll and disrupted our normal before that). Simply putting out there, that our home is quieter than it has ever been. We miss the open door, we miss the shared table, the discussions, the tears, the laughter shared by our family (yes biological and those that belong with us). Yet, even as we, as my wife phrases it, are getting tired of each others’ faces it speaks to something that Covid has laid bare in our world, society, communities and chueches. This goes beyond the polarized view in our Christianities or presented in the media. From beyond the local congregation struggles to understand and implement restrictions, or pretend faux surprise when they outright refuse to comply that there is consequences for their actions. Truly that has been the surprise twist in the story of covid, so many discovering that rights are shaped in communal responsibilitiy, and it is not a cancel culture but an accountability.

But I digress, for it is also seeing the challenge of our driven highly strutctured and booked world that came crashing down in covid. How do we actually connect with one another? The reality being that we had a busy world, where it was easy to trip into small talk with another, but were we connected? What does connection look like? What does it mean? As restrictions ease in Alberta, many churches are shifting to multiple services to cultivate connection again as we have missed gathering.

Is it connection? Or simply proximity?

My experience is porximity. We have cultivated a cultural dissonance, that being around people means we are connected. Taking the concept of not being physically alone, alleviates loneliness, which is not always true. It is the concept that to be together in community, means mass (or restricted gatherings), but if interaction is not there, is it truly connection? Some will remember my writings and teachings around the belonging pyramid, and the inverted structure supported by Agape. I think this is what is happening as we struggle with our disconnect from busyness, and our lived dissonance of what we believed belonging was. The light has shone into the darkness, and confused it. This is the soul fog we are existing in, and beginning to emerge from. The question though is our desire to return to normal, going to silence and sideline what can (re) emerge in our religious communities?

Will true belonging emerge?

What is being put out there is that simple accessibility is connection and belonging. No, being in the building together (and if a building is up to code being able to enter the building) is not connection. Having a space for the person is not connection (it is rudimentary inclusion). This is what passed for connection and belonging in our hyper-programmed/hyper-business cultivated Christendom in the before times. In the before times where we expected our spiritual leaders to be experts in all things strategic, knowing how to grow numerically, financially, online, and have the key plug and play programs to bring sucess. It cultivated an experience where we sainted the busy, where access and connection happened due to where you were plugged in and giving (experienced this many times in Urban churches, where what level of tithing equated to level of faux belonging, not always treasure/money but also time/talent). Yet, there was no belonging, because you are not valued for your intrinsic worht in the Imageo Dei only for what you can give. In other words, we mock politicians and business leaders that speak of human capital for driving worth, yet as Christians, we have exaclty cloned that belief system into action within our own communities (for some intriguing contemplative thoughts on the history of church, I have been enjoying Dr. Stan Helton’s Caravan series on the blog of my Alma Mater, Alberta Bible College. Read here.).

Belonging takes effort. Belonging takes risk. Belonging takes bringing our Boards/Elders/Pastors back to Christian Testament community. It is scary. It is challenging. It is affirming. It removes polarization/dualism.

It destroys the community sin of Us versus Them.

Which can be scary for it makes community fluid. Responsive to those who are there. It challenges both big and small T traditions. The key question is “why do we do this?” and if it comes down to “it is the way we always have done this” but removes belonging, should it remain? The greatest challenge in the shift, is that it blows wide open our concepts of the image of God, and what the table for Communion/Eucahrist means in bringing together the Family of God?

This mullings have come from rasing a diverse family in Churchdom. Knowing the blessings of being a part of many church families, my kids in pre-school choosing to be baptized a year a part on Palm Sunday because they knew the love of Jesus their Granny taught them to sing about in Jesus, Loves Me, and their Nana shared with them. That they felt in the church families, but also the pain and hate brought to bear upon them in various communities not accepting who they are in the Image of God, because it challenged the big and small T traditions. Also, as I reflect back in some communities, my worth only tied to that which I could give, and in instances where I had nothing more to give no longer being seen as worthwhile within the church (and yes this was experienced by all members of my family).

It is also a challenge, for with the program lens, it can be simply, if you do not fit somewhere, you will not have any social connection. Look at the church coffee or pot/grace lukck times. Is there interactions with many? Do you stay within the scope of the comfortable? It can be challenging when we look at belonging those steps beyond inclusion, those steps that blow accessibility out of the water. This is not a polarized idea stating one type of Christianities is better than another. I have journeyed through the spectrum. Over c-tine, I have witnessed the rise of upperclass privilige within progressive church circles that overlap into the Q-Anon cult, and lower socio-economic challenges in fundamentalism that have overlapped at the same point of the Q-cult that has shone a dark shadown out there that only certain folks matter in the family of God, and many are exependable.

And sadly, the refrain is not Jesus loves me, but boldy from the pulpit, if you die I’m okay for my rights mean more than your life.

It is a struggle within to understand if the still quiet voice being heard within and communally is the Holy Mystery, or our own ego run amuck. For even good can come out of darkness, and that is the hardest challenge.

Yet, I sit here and continue to mull, for I know my family’s journey of joy and sorrow, has shaped us. How we entered c-tine has shaped us. Sadly, entering into a new relationship with church having to be reaching out for benevolent aid so you do not lose everything shapes your reprehension in reaching out to connect. Coupled with it being the same week picking up food hampers for survival from a former parish you were a leader in, humbling, but shaping the wall of protection more. It is something many givers and program makers forget. Especially in church, the socio-economic lens, shapes how connection happens. We are thankful to have cultivated a healthy summer camp relationship with our daughter, but there was another that could have been cultivated by the institution was locked into their socio-economic lens and myth story that broke the relationship. Now, is needing aid breaking a relationship? No, I raise the example, for the shaping then is always the wondering if you are to reach out again will it shape the interaction? Good intents can also be, unfortunately, shaped in the receiving. When the only personalized connection from a church family is in regards to aid, and not simply being. Yes, it is good to reach out to help, but it does shape in the receiver an understanding of relationship dynamics (true or false). How to shift, I am simply raising the contemplation at this juncture.

For part of the risk of belonging, is that sharing the space together- cyber, phone, or physical. The scent in the film Lars and the Real Girl, when the ladies group from the church comes to be, nothing more. Always brings up the concept, that appears to be lost in our busyness cycle of urban church. The fear when we talk about going back to normal, was normal truly that functional for belonging? Or was it functional for celebrating behaviour addictions that did not risk connection, for with connection (belonging) comes the risk of emotion?

What I have learned from c-tine, is confirmation of where I have existed. What I mourn in c-tine, is facing into the cup, and seeing revealed the dissonance we accepted to simply have a butt in a pew. What I pray emerges truly out of c-tine, is not how church was in the before times. I truly pray, communities of belonging are cultivated, with all the beaufitul risks that come with it.

My scariest moment, is my family standing with me, to take the step forward to risk belonging, and answering the call fully.

Amen.

Some intriguing reads for Lenten contemplation as we head towards Palm Sunday, the day Kingdom of God (belonging) met Empire Parade of Power, Money and Careers: Your Addiction to Outrage is Ruining Your Life | by Pete Ross | The Bad Influence | Medium


13 days to one year, 14 days to the first day of c-tine at home for our whole family (the college I teach at shifted to online delivery March 17, 2020). It’s okay to admit you have hit a threshhold for learning new things.It is okay to breathe.It is okay to take time alone (which is different than being lonely if lonely reach out for phone calls/online calls to folks), for being alone can aid in renewal.It is okay to cultivate new ideas or to simply keep on keeping on with what renews you.It is okay if you haven’t saved any money like the media is saying what a time of savings, cause y’know what being home is costly.It is okay to have ended relationships during this time, because the break made you realize they were toxic, or simply the only thing that kep the relationship going was proximity (nothing positive or negative).It is okay to be tired for no reason.It is okay to admit to not being okay.It is also okay to realize compassion for many in our society who are suffering, who have been excluded, who have been without voice. It is okay to speak about mental health, mental illness, chronic disease death, suicides, and overdoses (for those new to the advocacy call for help, I hope you continue once you no longer have to wear a mask for covid).It is okay to be frustrated/confused/angry due to the restrictions (sorry Alberta still not a lockdown), but end of day, what are you doing to cultivate health and optimism for you and your personal circles of support?It is okay to be okay with the restrictions and masks, and taking extra steps of care for self and neighbour.May as, this time moves forward, and eventually winds down, may we be continue to be okay with discussing tough topics with one another, okay with seeing one another as a full person, and yeah, be okay with doing things for the good of community and neighbour, even if doing that good and support has no direct tie to my own story.Let’s be okay with our journey, our healing, and seeing the good that can be cultivated and emerged from this time.

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


We as a world are changing gears and being stuck in the cycles of grief most congruent with anger and denial. I believe, and have observed, as it is the only thing that makes sense for the rise of hatred, and entrenchment in our world that for my side to be right it must be wholly good, and the other side needs to be completely evil, and the majority that usually exists in the pragmatic middle in most belief/ideological spectrums need to be viewed as weak, traitorous or complicit. Those are some political thoughts as we are hopefully at the end of the Polar Vortex here in Alberta, with normal winter returning. Another sign, that the environment is trying to keep us moving slower to allow for space for more healing, I mean, the pandemic hasn’t slown us. In fact it has illustrated the rise of faux labels we apply for prestige or perhaps, attempting to cry persecution for what is simply accountability and expectations of good citizenship. The current thought world of dualism, has created this weird space, where we so desperately want to assert our independent rights, but do not want to take on the interdependent communal responsibilities that come with those.

When I would speak on the history of povery and homelessness in my province, it was a key challenging question I would lay out to the first year students:

How did you get here today?

Many would postulate good grades, and hard work. I would stop them short and challenge them, did you appear fully grown and educated? Was there no adults who provided guidance and the necessities of life for you? Did you build your own house? Dig your own sewers? Treat your own drinking water? Grow your own food? Write and publish your own textbooks? Train your instructors? Build the school?

In the literal sense, one of the few times I like using the literal, did you pour the road? Make the bus/car? Drive the bus?

You didn’t?

But you had just told me that you got here through your own hard work, nothing more?

It is a simple truth our world has lost. An understanding of community, at times such as now, a leaving behind of the before times that perpetuated this fallacy, it should be a moment of renewal. Yet… fear that drives anger and denial… stops us…and creates more chasms between, silos, and perpetuates things such as the QAnon CULT (yes, cult, not in the anthropological senses of any religion, but rather the 20th century mainstream understanding ala NXVIM, Branch Davidians, Raelians, Moonies, Jonestown) all the pieces that perpetuated those tragedies brought to life online, and to bear on Jan. 6 with their faux Messiah, Donald Trump, still flexing his rage muscles against accountability at his impeachment trial (but shouldn’t this also be a criminal matter? The world is watching).

But it touches on what has been noted in Alberta during the pandemic, yes some decisions can be and are driven by the science (though lacking the transparency of knowing the CMOH recommendations fully to the UCP governing caucus this is an unknown). What is apparent is there are pockets within our province, that keeps talking personal responsibility and education in regards to restrictions, 333 days in it is time for accountability. Whether the small pocket of church or business or Member of the Legislative Assembly (alohagate, Anti-Lockdown Caucus to name but a few), need to be held to account. Business and non-profit licenses pulled, the full organizational ticket levied, coupled with those in attendance receiving full charges and tickets for breaking health orders. In regards to the MLA’s that do not comprehend crisis leadership, communal support, and health orders, they need to be expelled from Caucus. FULL STOP.

Yet, we live in a bizzarro world, like an elementary school playground that plays appeasement for the bully, instead of accountability.

For some, they will point to trauma awareness or being trauma informed. Both these lenses are highly important for creating the courageous safe spaces for healthy change and healing of a world on pause. Wondering and readying for re-imergence and knowing what has been shown as smoke and mirrors of our society before. What these lenses do not stop is accountability. They do not let one now have repercussions for actions. They aid us in understanding the actions of the person, and how to support them in the accountability for what they have done. The appropriate applications of these lenses in our public schools would have continued the powerful work of WE Days and Challenge Days in Anti-bullying, creating healthier and safer communities, instead of tying the hands of those responsible for shaping the future of our youngest citizens and leaving the bullied with the bad maxim “snitches get stitches” as they know what they share there will be no aid. A true shift needs to happen, and not just policies and false platitudes, actual resourcing and capacities needed.

Just as we need in our public health system in the prevention to treatment to cure of all that falls under health umbrella for holistic beings (emotional, physical,spiritual and mental)–or as some may see it, a Medicine Wheel, as our Indigenous siblings would guide us away from a quick triage model to an interdependent living and healing model.

Which bounces back to the yo-yo effect of open schools during a pandemic, without proper resourcing. This is not only speaking to PPE, or staffing to lower class numbers to allow for breaks, and proper distancing. It is the rolling effect of quarantine of classes after exposure (reactive measures), the lie of resilience being put forward on our children. Yes, they can be, but true resilience, well watch the brains….

See? Understand? We are creating the space for perpetuation of a complex trauma due to our desire for Twitter byte driven policy and practice decisions as adults. Instead of actual robust discussions, and reality of what is needed to ensure health and true resilience within our youth, and the adults that support and facilitate their learning. The key reason I hold, is this drive of grieving where we are lost in this tantrum like a toddler, of “my rights” instead of “our community responsbilities to one another”…

The fatigue is showing, and so is the strain, and the ripple effects. Most notably with my boy, I do not blame his school, he was on recovery day from some of his neurological conditions with barometric pressure changes and missed school. On that day he missed, his very secure cohort for medically complex kiddos was exposed. His support crew in the cohort, and the larger school are exhausted (we know and feel this). We were not called as he was not there that day. In the actual protocols this was appropriate. In a system with proper capacity (seeing the actual human supports necessary for thriving, not the false argument on human services as a debit on the lie of debit-credit household budget banksheet budgetting for governance that our Conservative populist governments try to push), there would have been enough fresh eyes to make the call to those that were not there. For those that were not there, still had a choice, to understand it was safe for their child to come, but that they would have 1 aide, and be by themselves in the classroom connected to the others via video conference. The call was not made, my son went to school, he came home, and the first thing stated to me was “they all died” and then later “I don’t want any more dead buddies”. See, in my son’s lived experience, when his chums go missing for a few days from school, he has learned at his young age, and about 16-18 times, they are now at the Tea Party in Paradise (our analogy for death, and the afterlife, our tradition calls Heaven, we created when our kiddos experienced the loss of their Granny at 5 & 6 years old).

See where proper interdependence creates robust health? Creates space for calmness? For healing? Space, where trauma is minimized, and healthy choices can be made. In the case of my son, it could have been proactive discussions on what school was to be like, or to keep him home and function with the rest of his class online. Instead we are now in a fear and grieving cycle that disrupted his learning and kept him home for the 2 days before the Teachers Convention break, and we have made the choice he will return to class when the class does.

There is no malice. We as a community are in uncharted territory, and mistakes happen. The difference between a mistake and harm, is the intent.

Which leads me to share a simple reflection from reading this week of James L. Gorman’s (2017) Among the Early Evangelicals: The Trans-Atlantic Origins of the Stone-Campbell Movement, for those unfamiliar with this version of Christianities it is collectively known as the Restoration Movement (Churches of Christ, Christian Church, Disciples of Christ, and my undergraduate alma mater, Alberta Bible College). The book explores the formation of the founders, and their, what is classed historically as primitive, but read through a 21st century eye…ecunemical. The movements within missionary societies, key traditions/denominations (what corporations would call brands) such as congregationalists, Anglicans, Presbyterians, Baptists, etc. coming together on core values to accomplish, in this case evangelizing and building the Kingdom. It also touches on the challenges that began to arise, as the focus narrowed, and it became more about, what kept others out (perceived heresies) rather than what bonded.

See the source image

Made me ponder, as we move through c-tine, and I re-affirm a calling to ministry (and some equipping to come, your prayers are appreciated). Through things such as the Religious Right, Alt-Right, QAnon, other conspiracy theories,Domnionist, anti-masks, anti-vax, anti-lockdown, sadly- white supremacist and Neo-Nazi movements, MAGA that have all become aligned and affiliated with evangelicalism and Christendom (the term for Christianities tied to political power, Empire since Constantine). That is even before we touch on the horrors of Jehovah Witness, Mormon, Roman Catholic and Quiverfull child abuse scandals, Fundamentalist Mormon trafficking across borders of minors, Residential Schools, Truth and Reconciliation for the heresy of the Doctrine of Discovery and Dominionism., and Churchtoo (ala Willow Creek, RZIM, Southern Baptist Convention, and the list goes on). Obviously some labels and brands are broken beyond recovery.

To paraphrase a teaching of St. Paul, if a name on a building or a label on a baptism certificate causes one to stumble (or a chasm be opened)– perhaps, it is time to let it go (and can you tell Frozen was played a lot in the house). As we move through c-tine, worshipping and connecting at a distance and online what is to be on the other end? Is it things such as Conservative or Orthodox? House? Institutional? Liturgical? High? Low? Primitive? Evangelica? Pentecostal? Baptist? Anna-Baptist? Emergent? Progressive? Creation Spirituality? Anglican? United? Victory? Red Letter? Salvation Army? Monastic? Gnostic? Mystic? Methodist? Alliance? Missionary? Holiness? Lutheran? Restoration? Missing any? (Probably quite a few).

But what if, we take a lesson from those who came to be in Jesus company back in the writings of the Gospels, or as reflected in Gorman’s work, or really the stories of saints and others. It is rarely an independent faith of one modality or formation. Rather it is interdependent community (family, chosen, sometimes biological) to grow in and with.Which brings me back around:

The challenge in church, is the same grieving as with society.

As we move forward, let’s draw the circle wide. Let’s grieve the loss, the change, the Transfiguration and then boldly step into it, not as fractured brands, but as a means together in renewal.

For me, what hit my heart as I thought of what can come as we let go, and prototype, a new term came clearly into view for the church ahead:

The Divergents.

Let’s become a beacon of healing, and doing life differently. Authentically, together in community, in the beautiful rainbow splendor of the Imageo Dei. Be the soul, that we were called to be for and of our world.

This past week, many have hit the c-tine wall. Lockdowns in some areas, restrictions in others, seeing neighbours die, and wondering if something will shift couppled with the sweeping cold of the polar vortex pushing us more into hibernation. One begins to wonder, ponder and mull.

As we rest in c-tine, what is the still quiet voice revealing about your experiences?

What calling is on your heart, and are you ready to step into it?


All to often we let the day to day needs for survival (whether it is actual needs or wants being driven to be filled, and the socio-econimic/psychological discussion around this component of what is colloquially called the “Rat Race” can be explored later). We focus on entitlements in our world designed to keep people out of help, rather than looking at our taxes, and the funds to aid those in need be specifically and easily accessed by those in need when needed (and then leverage our Canada Revenue Service at the other end to deal with the fraud or any income overruns). That has been exposed in c-tine as many have now had to access the system of government entitlements (whether montly stipens, grants or other aides) and realizing what the neo-liberalist conservative world has built. In some sectors, under the faux guise of a cross or crucifix. Yet at each turn, with many left behind, we have celebrated our public servants. Yet, we have believed that what matters more than anything is debit and credit columns on a budget spread sheet, not the person in front of us, regardless of the challenges/barriers/blessings in their life, has intrinsic value.

Intrinsic value, simply because they are human. No matter how you reach that truth- through religion, spirituality, ethics, morality, politics, science or all of the above. Yet, it does leave us a question then what does matter?

Why does this matter?

Think of who you are. How you exist in the world. The world does not have to be the globe (yes, flat earthers, it is a globe/sphere), but can be as small as the communities you live and work in. Think of how you introduce yourself. What are the things that you include in your introduction? Is it labels? Is it roles? Volunteer work? Paid work? Education levels? Family ties? Where you came from? Where you live? What you believe in? What your core values are? Hobbies? Interests? Political leanings? Religious affiliations? Does where you are asked to introduce yourself shift the introduction? What pieces of you does society view as having value to share? Is it true?

Why does this matter?

It speaks, much like how we qualify to access the social safety net, how we place value on one’s life, and our own. Are we simply human capital in the capitalist economic enterprise? Are we simply the good we can do in the world? Or the harm we have or may cause? It becomes harder to understand, especially in moment to moment life where the ground underneath us can feel like it is constantly shifting. It raises the importance of ongoing reflective practice. It is about understanding who we are, and in the still quiet moments, understanding that there is an ideal self we can attain and a journey to become, but also, there is the ideal self we are in the here and now living and being our life based on experience and the professional and personal circles of support around us.

But how to reflect, every so often it is good to think long game. What do we want to be remembered for. Some will point to death markers like tombstones and point to the dash between dates and ask “what does the dash represent?” In other words, what happened in the time on earth? For, I will be honest, with each death I do reflect on my beliefs around death, during c-tine there has been 8 that I know of in my circles. All I know for sure is there is a continuation to our story, but what that looks like. Well, as the old joke goes, I am sure when I reach that new prologue, and meet the greeter, and discover, I will spend the first chapter laughing about what was held to be true in the here and now.

But I digress. See in preparation for ministry or monasticism or life coaching, there is the reflective practice of writing your own obituary. Distilling down what you will be remembered for into less that 100 words (they are expensive to print); in other human services fields in academics as you progress there is the practice of writing one’s own eulogy. Same sort of thing, but the ability to be more verbose, and expose life goals laid out. Maybe this is why my goals have always been so simple, centered on making my own corner of the world a better place, and being a voice for those without…perhaps it is due to the reflective exercise and the conciseness of the nature I was given in the formation of book 1 of my life.

Yet, as I would encourage these exercises for you, they can be a tad morbid during a world wide pandemic with so much death around us. Instead, take time to think, of what it will be like to turn 100 years old. A milestone where the Queen, Governor General, Prime Minister (and if you’re Roman Catholic, Pope) will send you greetings. A time to celebrate all that you have experienced over this life. As I have been blessed to be a part of a few of these momentous occassions, media also comes to interview. Features are written. Short 250 word pieces, with pictures of your school days. Take time to curate this, what picture from your grade school or trade school or post-secondary would be used? Maybe one from your very first work day? Or day as….

Then…what do those 250 words say. Who are you in the life ahead? What is the true core you that will be celerbated? That will inspire others?

Does it resemble anything that is used for our maudlin introductions in the here and now? Or do we completely miss the mark?

My guess, and experience…we miss the mark.

Because our ideal self is now. Our ideal self is becoming.

250 words on who you are at 100 years old?

Who is the true you?


“I think of one little buckaroo” – Gabby Hayes

The above quote is from Tuttle’s (2019) Exactly as you Are: The Life and Faith of Mister Rogers, and is part of a story of the early days where Rogers’ was a producer on the Gabby Hayes Show in the 1950’s and asking the lead, in they empty studio and with only Rogers’ there when he was talking to the camera what he thought of. It is a quote that opens up a reflection for me, in a life of community building. Where too often we can be side tracked by the numbers game. How many attended? Sadly, in some ministries, how many baptisms? How many confirmations? And completely missing the point of the one little buckaroo. What happened, happened, and who was meant to be in that part of the journey was meant to be in that part of the journey whether it was 100’s, 1000’s or simply, 1.

Which as I read Tuttle’s book, the reflections on my time in children and youth ministry, how the work I did, was counter to the prevailing ideas of the time (and still run counter to many of the prevailing ideas). See it doesn’t worry about serving those part of the established conclave or community, it doesn’t worry about reaching out to the broader community. It focuses on the welcome of the person that has stepped into the space, and being present to ensure belonging and discovery. It is not about flashiness, or about creating emotional highs through the use of images/music, or about events that excite. It truly is about belonging. These concepts tied in with dumping quite a bit of money into the idea of pre-canned curriculum can create a false sense of spiritual growth for the younger members of the faith family, yet a mark is missed at a community level for we are not building disciples, rather we are building consumers.

Which always did not sit well with me. Though I am the first to admit I was not raised in “proper church”. So that piece of indoctrination never took into the DNA. I was a part of a Vacation Bible School, which was focused on discovery of the stories and belonging, and had relatives that lived their faith that has led to a different lens when I first started out. The other piece is I never believed in the gender fallacy of it being weird if men stepped up to teach Sunday School or youth; or that there is a functional best before date when it comes to being a youth pastor (as I was continually past that) or that one would ever be too old to serve, it was up to the ministry to create space for our elders, and in so many ways it happened as 90 year olds in different settings would provide food and teaching or create the story telling space and then have youth aid taking the youngsters through the activities to reinforce the story.

But I digress, see it is about community, belonging and purpose. For other pieces that shaped my understanding was stories and television. As I reflect back there was pieces of Mister Rogers (though he was more my brother’s favourite than mine), but there was also pieces of learning to do things from my favourite show growing up that stuck- Mr. Dressup, who had worked with Fred Rogers’ before landing his own show in Canada.

Both shows took subjects, and spoke to children where they were at, included creativity, and other pieces that re-inforced the learning. They also both communicated clearly that you were already the ideal you and becoming the ideal you as your grew.

Which brings me to some thoughts on creating the courageous safe space for inter-generational discovery and learning with those 0-17 years old in our churches. I have already shared that which I did not buy into, and I can already feel those reading this going with the “yeah but”. The discomfort is okay. A quick aside, if you are using pre-canned curriculum it is not a time saver, you still need to invest time in your volunteer teachers/leaders on how to use the curriculum, roll with resistance, leverage silence, and create the courageous safe space for discovery.

This is the first step when gathering community. Create the Courageous Safe Space. It does not mean topics are avoided for safety, but rather how do we enter into the difficult conversations, how do we wrestle with ideas/concepts, how do we have respectful dialogue. This can be taken and crafted age appropriately, as you explore with the children or youth what it looks like to them, and provide some prodding or own ideas as well. It also gives a reference back as guideposts. I want to touch on the idea that some will just default to “Christian behaviour”; or something similar. This is the discomfort, for it is a subjective catch phrase– What does it mean? Unpack, wrestle with key teaching points (scripture stories) as pillars and what it looks like in action.

In cultivating belonging, a great piece of fun is naming the space. Take time to discover what names mean including members, then have them look at the courageous safe space, if someone was asking what was happening here what ideas/names arise? Move beyond the age groupings to what actually is (and yes this can be revisited each September, another aside, I realize many spaces use the outdated school year rhythm for children/youth, what I encourage and have shown each time, is that having these ministries open year round provide space for different learning activities, and different generations to engage, so yes September as a renewal, but not a re-start/boot).

Now, how do we teach/disciple?

For children, I love the concepts Patricia Bays’ (1997) shared in her Great Adventure. It is this rotational model, where there is 3-4 stations per story, and it takes a month to go through each story. Why do I like it? A superintendent or children’s pastor can spend time with core volunteers/families brain storming the stories. Then break it down into 3-4 teachings (for larger groups they can all be live at the same time, for smaller groups, I would have a station a week). The stations? Simple, share the stories and see what talents (passions/skills) emerge from the faith community to facilitate. This is where the idea of Elders’ chair came from as an elder in a church who had almost 80 years of teaching Sunday School but couldn’t keep up. We created space each month where she would read the story, and bring her ideas for song/activity, and then our youth partnered to ensure it happened (things like puppet theatre). Some may share ideas around age appropriate First Aid teaching (Good Samaritan). But yes, it is about creating belonging through connection of various adults within the child’s life.

Before leaping into youth, I do want to pause to discuss the courageous safe space, and what may appear at first blush as accepted safety. Sadly, not always. The concept of police/vulnerable sector checks for those that serve. Yes, these are a necessary step. I know some may balk as they are church members and “we know them” (but honestly how much can you know of someone?) and then some may dive full bore with even more restrictions (this is where gender/age/sexual orientation can be demonized in the equipping phase) as they see a pedophile within every adult. Neither scenario is helpful in creating the courageous safe space. The checks are in place as they weed out the scared/caught predator. Those that are scared of making anything official, or those already caught. It also creates a courageous safe space for conversation/equipping for volunteers (yes this training needs to be ongoing in the church) for adults, and Junior Leaders (more on those later) to understand what healthy boundaries, consent, the mandated adult/child ratio by government and duty to report are (and yes I have facilitated these trainings, and worked with churches in developing healthy policies). By normalizing these conversations, it also creates space for conversations that are open and courageous before and after the ministry with the correct and appropriate vocabulary.

Now with that intermission, we move into the idea of Junior Leaders, these are older youth (possibly Junior High to High School) that want to be involved in the nursery and Children’s ministry. It is designed for those who feel a passion to help, and are willing to work with the adults, learn, and serve. It not only creates a healthy intergenerational approach, but equips the leaders of now. The key is not to turn over running of the younger ministries to the older (for they are still growing as well), but to create healthy partnerships with the volunteers, and see what develops. For Grade 11 or 12 students I also expand Junior Leadership into Youth Group opportunities to officially bring them into leadership and learn/develop a skill set. The boundary conversation here is key, as with all leaders, but especially in pointing out that this step will preclude them from dating members of youth group as they begin to learn and understand authority, power differentials and the law.

Within the scope of Youth Ministry, the creation of Courageous Safe Space, naming of the community are key. Taking time, to ensure what is being learned in that night, and the activity portions tie together to re-enforce and take the message deeper. I have always used a balance of Salvation Army understanding of communion (eating together, even if its snacks); spiritual formation (learning and practicing different ideas/techniques of service, prayer and study); taking time each 1/4 to have the youth take time to brainstorm what books of the Bible they want to learn, and what topics they are curious about in learning how a gospel formed life understands/responds (which may lead to guest speakers); as well simple things of giving as I always loved a spare change jar where each month youth picked a cause to support. This way they learn about the good in their world, and get in the rhythm of giving.

Seeing how, regardless of the form (small community, or larger group with small groups break outs) there is a rhythm given of the call to reach through the thin space between here and the Kingdom of God, and learn to live out the bringing the Kingdom here. It is active discipleship. It is working with those who are called to be leaders, to learn, discover and apply the skills of discipleship and being spiritual guides for the youth. A ripple effect model of servant leadership. It is getting the leaders comfortable with hard topics, and when to pause the guided discussion, and dive deep when a hard topic is thrown out. It is never a simple throw away comment, youth are looking to see if we are living the courageous safe space we profess. Or as one put it to me, “seeing if you actually give a damn about me”.

These are the thoughts that emerge, as I reconnect with stories of others in creating community. As during this time of being a part, technology has been leveraged to keep us together. As we await the next steps, when we can fully be together. What has been heard in the still quiet time? As we emerge out of c-tine, is it about doing the same old same old, or igniting something new, that equips and grows one another?


Ah, it is astounding how many will flock to a political party or ideology because they state it supports their religious beliefs and freedoms. Regardless of the morals or ethical character demonstrated by the leaders or elected representatives when it comes to behaviours, abuses, bullying, frauds, etc. It does give clear case study examples of the last gasps of Christendom with the ventilator removed in the Christianities if you want a visual. Truly the Quiet Revolution of ending Empire Christianities is rolling nicely, and for those who are not driven by power but the Holy Call to love, it is renewing communities on what is important.

These last gasps are becoming evident and clearly on display as Covid restrictions to lockdowns are levied across the world, and what effect it has on worship gatherings. We are living in a time of real-time scientific learning and discovery, with a virus (and its mutations) that is doing what virus’ do, thrive for survival. This is why we are seeing push back. Too many have bought into the fact the church should have and/or still has power, is not bound by worldly laws, or that freedom of religion and gathering are no couched in corporate/communal responsibilities. This is also tied in with a rampant selfish individualism, and sadly, a perpetuated idea that the church building is God’s House. That is one point and place in time to connect with the Holy.

Now, pause. For, as everything else has to close, and churches (religious centres) were allowed to remain open (though with a less than 15% occupancy), is a political move from our government to set them up as a scape goat, and in some instances it is working. Sadly, the Shepherds and Sheep within the congregations living into this are not seeing it. Across Canada we have seen certain church’s flout the laws (and yes Health Orders are laws, and the way our system functions they supersede every other law). We have seen in Manitoba churches break gathering restrictions, here in Alberta two have joined a lawsuit, and one, Fairview Baptist, is just not getting it (and the local community schools are now having battles with the virus…) note how we do not exist in isolation. Decisions and choices matter. Though the attitude within some does not shock me, there is sociological, social psychology and theological reasons as to why. We have churches that exist on a spectrum that fall into 3 large categories: 1) completely online, 2) hybrid (online, with booked in person attendance in line with protocols) and 3) the law breakers. Sadly, the third category so far appear to not being held to full account within our province.

There is a key thing at play though that needs to be addressed for these communities, and one that is difficult. See it is not about the things alluded too around freedoms, or conscience, or individualism…the key cornerstone issue that needs to be addressed in our transfiguring Christianities as Christendom is finally placed in the grave, is the building.

Which is why I love the song shared earlier, some may say it is a song about rampant individualism and not getting the Gospel. Whereas I look at it as the circle being drawn wide, for the show, theatrics, false prophets are thrown aside, our numbers may be small, but it is authentic in US LIVING HOLY LOVE in our world and community, gathering in places and embracing them Holy. Not simply because it was purposed as a church. Now I am not against buildings, they are wonderful tools (same as money, same as our vote) to create a better world. To allow Courageous Safe Spaces for people to grow, serve, learn and discover.

BUT it can’t all be about the building. Too many wonderful faith family’s are on life support because the albatross of the building. Whether it has been deemed a historic site, and now they cannot pivot with it for needed modernization or simply the socio-economics of members have shifted and the ability to keep up with preventative maintenance has lagged. Yet it is amazing when you connect to discuss options, a congregation would rather disperse than lose their building and continue in a different way in community.

Let that settle in when we cannot understand why some cannot understand worshipping online or in other ways. It is that change is hard, change brings grieving, and hard conversations and discovery. It is easier to push back on the shift, than live into the shift. It is about discovering what each congregation is called to be, and it is not about the sin checklist, or about the smoke and mirror issues that politics uses to create block voting. It is simply about the Great Commandments- Love God, Love Neighbour, Love Self. True holy interdependence. One cannot exist in a healthy way, without the others. When understood a religious community’s response to their C-tine life shifts as well.

Now, with this understanding, that it is about people not buildings (or power or money, all useful tools but the love of each of these three corrupt and lead to evil) how does one’s heart shift on mission and life in c-tine?

As you hear the words of a new version of Tom T. Hall’s Me and Jesus is there something in there for your faith family wherever you are, however you gather, and live out your faith?