Posts Tagged ‘Human rights’

Spirit Loops 1

Posted: December 14, 2018 by Ty in Brunch & Bible
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Paul, an apostle—not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead— and all the brothers[a] who are with me,

To the churches of Galatia:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ,who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

-Galatians 1:1-4 (English Standard Version)

Paul puts quill to paper sometime around late 40’s CE to 60 CE and writes a letter to the people of Galatia. Some believe it is the Roman province, others the Celts living in Asia Minor. It is either written after a missionary visit of Paul to the region, or the First Jerusalem Council designed to address the melding of the Gentiles and Jewish followers… the balance of law and grace. That is what Paul is attempting to get at, as he espouses about the gospel:

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.

10 For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant[b] of Christ.

-Galatians 1:6-10 (English Standard Version)

The term “Gospel” is a political declaration of the way of life that is intended within the Kingdom. Out of this great things have happened- truth & reconciliation committees; human rights (including feminism and LGBTTQ2+); humanitarian organizations; addiction recovery services; universal health care; #metoo; #churchtoo; rooting out pedophiles; working on environmental causes; affordable housing; public education, social safety nets, to name but a few.

These are the Gospel that has joyfully sprung from this ideal of justice and equality, grown out of the fertile soil that is hope, joy, peace, faith and love. The fertilizer for that soil being the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth (and many other spiritual teachers, before and after) in creating a New World. The challenge laid before us is this concept of false gospel. For me, in Twenty-First Century Canada, I see this as the renewal of populism. The concept that “I” and my beliefs matter more than “we” and the community.

What does this mean?

For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man’s gospel.[c] 12 For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. 13 For you have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it. 14 And I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people, so extremely zealous was I for the traditions of my fathers.15 But when he who had set me apart before I was born,[d] and who called me by his grace, 16 was pleased to reveal his Son to[e] me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone;[f] 17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia, and returned again to Damascus.

18 Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas and remained with him fifteen days. 19 But I saw none of the other apostles except James the Lord’s brother. 20 (In what I am writing to you, before God, I do not lie!) 21 Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia.22 And I was still unknown in person to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. 23 They only were hearing it said, “He who used to persecute us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” 24 And they glorified God because of me.

-Galatians 1:11-24 (English Standard Version)

It took Paul to decide to change after a mystic experience. It took a community, willing to step outside of themselves to witness the transformation, and journey with Paul instead of ostracizing. Change can be scary. Existing in multi-cultural Canada is a scary thing for some people, that descend into populism (across ideological spectrums) where their ideal of “truth” becomes the end in itself, and any hate peddled does not matter. This is seen in environmental movements with their ableist push for single use plastic straw bans; social conservatives with the defense of conversion therapy and lawsuits against school GSA’s. The false gospel, rears its head when the outcome is contrary to the large circle of inclusion Jesus danced here on earth to show all were welcome at his table.

It is seen in political wings that accept lies from their leaders, whether governing left wing parties covering up MLA’s accused of sexual impropriety; or Loyal opposition leader postulating hate, and running a party that works actively to exclude; bully and accepts identity theft as has been accused by outgoing candidates, MLA’s and members. Populism is when you blindly follow, and have surrendered one’s ability to critically think and assess.

That is what the Jerusalem Council was about, bringing together the church Elders/leaders (Apostles) to discern what was to happen with what could have been a schism that collapsed the movement. There was entrenched ideologies of Circumcision Party and the Hellenists, to name a few. The voice of a minority driving to stop healthy change and inclusion. We have seen this when extremes enter any healthy movement- the recent controversy over a 1940’s Christmas song, Baby it’s Cold Outside, not listening to understand, but to respond and prove oneself right, thankfully CBC reneged and re-added to the play list. It is this idea that “I” and the way I want the world to be, means more than others around me.

In Vancouver, a hate-filled couple were allowed to re-enroll their child in pre-school and awarded $12,000 by the B.C. Human Rights tribunal (article here), excerpt:

Mangel, who was on the board of directors for the school, wrote an email to other members saying it wasn’t appropriate for preschoolers to celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah or any other “religious/political event” — including, he said, Remembrance Day.

The Human Rights Tribunal had come to a head after many verbal, emotionally abusive confrontations from the parents including Islamophobia ( another that depicted the World Trade Center in New York with the caption “Atheists don’t fly airplanes into buildings.” -excerpt from CBC article) and Nazi Salutes (see how I have a hard time stating they are Atheists?). The parents were given an ultimatum letter to sign off on their child’s curriculum, they refused, the child was not allowed to enroll. This was the crux of the tribunal’s decision, not that the couple was right but that the ultimatum was a violation of their rights to choose where to send their child.

The flip though, as noted by Paul, is that these parents had bought into a false gospel. The family lives in a multi-cultural country, where all are embraced and celebrated. The school was honouring all traditions. The parents even so much as challenged the validity of Remembrance Day or that children should not sing Canada’s national anthem.

The school was happy the matter was concluded. In future they should probably just issue a cease and desist order to families of this nature. What it shows though is that “faux” rage-o-tron some are so willing to go to. To cause as much harm as possible to get their point across, and in the process not caring what harm is done to those they say they are fighting for. When in fact, there are mechanisms already in place in our pluralist society that would allow for them to home school, or find another educational setting that fit their child, and family’s rather hateful predilections. Instead, we accept that our “gospel” (ideology) is superior and take to the yelling louder until the opponent walks away, not because you are right, but because they are weary with being brow beaten.

For as Paul lays out, our actions follow us. What we say, and write becomes how we are known. It is hard to reverse course and change things once you have been “labelled”. As Paul’s life proves, but it is possible. The first step however, is understanding that just because one person believes something, does not mean that they have a right to bully their way to a win. The false gospels need to be called out, and silenced, if we are to create a new world.

 


“You have an overinflated sense of responsibility for others”

            -Dix, Psychologist (Jesse Stone series)

            I have been journeying through neurologically triggered PTSD. Let me tell you it is not a fun set of events to relive the negative of one’s life. This journey is not about bragging or self-aggrandizement. It is for the 99.9% of times my brain reboots and says you have not made a difference in the little corner of your world, I have a critically laid out path to go maybe I did, maybe I didn’t but damn it brains the heart knows I tried.  Hence the walk through the idea of how many times experts/elites, whom we have defaulted to have told me not to bother, or I am wrong and my stubborn streak has gone in the vernacular of my redneck roots, “hold my beer bud and watch this.”

I point out the default to “elites/experts” because it is the shift society has made to the idea of quantitative data only, and zero-based budgeting which makes every person, every story something that must be quantified by a statistical number and/or cash pay out. Essentially a new way of doing the old pedagogy of worthy poor, worthy citizen for aid or elevation. Which I am sorry, if you enter the trenches, bash the knuckles, bloody the soul, wipe the tears away, hold the hand of the dying, cradle the body in the last gasps of the death rattle, these are things that you will always question.

            Why?

Simple, we as people are not a statistical number, we are not a label. Our worth does not come from what we cost or save the system. Our worth comes from something very simple. Being human. Our worth is inherent because of whom we are, a human being regardless of whether it is a spiritual, religious or scientific path that brings you to that understanding.

How does that change the lens you view things through? Who are your experts/elites? Your gurus? Are they coaches? Clerics? Scientists? Ideologues? Celebrities? Who do you allow to shape your world view? Why do you allow them to shape your world view? The Stanford Experiments tried to prove why the horror of Nazism happened, and the outcome was the default for the human being to believe the man in the white coat. The expert or the elite. The one that has power. Sadly, nothing has changed except whom we give the power in our lives. We forget that behind every “white coat” there is a grass roots movement of support that has bestowed that power on them and can strip it away if we default back to the total truth that worth is inherent and we as a species are in this together interconnected through an eco-system of beautiful mystery.

My words of the struggle for a better world dreamed are throughout this site, with the oldest being found in the archives and through these meanderings you can see how even after decades simple battles for inclusion are still being battled. 31 years of my life have been given to this journey, and looking to enter the second decade of my 2/3 of life, I know the journey will continue. But it is a journey where story of the quest needs to re-emerge, where we as societies need to move beyond balance sheets, labels and metrics to understanding what/who is our neighbour. So what follows is some simple musings of issues facing us as a community:

“Don’t call me a saint, I do not want to be so easily dismissed.”

-Dorothy Day, Founder Catholic Worker’s Movement, Single Mum

 

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I encourage you to buy Warren Kinsella’s first fiction work Recipe for Hate, based around true events in the Neo-Nazi-Punk world, for those more of the non-fiction type his seminal work Web of Hate on Canada’s neo-nazi movement in Canada (it inspired me int he `90’s to fight the good fight, and take stands against elites/experts that yes this was a necessary battle)…and why this hit me is seeing the fact that my own hood actually had to have an anti-racist walk yesterday…thank you for those that turned out (my heart was willing–the body and brain decided it was a no sadly)…we are the northeast, we are the world in a few city blocks, we are better than hate, because we know what it means to love your neighbour and be neighbourly. End sermon

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I also encourage reflection for those ideological entrenched on recent Canadian political history as we prepare to repeat in Alberta. In the early 2000’s the PC Canada party was taken over by the Reform-Alliance in media mirrors of a merger vote that saw Red Tories left politically homeless. Some would say it was successful as the Harper Cons eventually won power with their first minority government in February 2006. But just reflect on that for a moment for a party trying to root out corruption, and build inclusion with our First Nations through the Kelowna Accord, lost to a party that sided with the separatists to shut down parliament and strip Canadians of our Constitutional right of Peace, Order and Good Governance. No one else may realize how it will be written by the historians, but also, I do still firmly believe Minority Parliaments are the healthiest forms of governance for our country for it forces the politicians out of ideological blinders to truly what is best for the citizens.

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The fight over Harm Reduction versus abstinence in addiction treatment is just one of the false dichotomies we attempt to foist upon the public. Each treatment resonates with certain individuals (I can just hear the Twitter-soundbite politicos gasp) for it is about understanding the person in front of you and what works for them to be healthy.

It also moves into the idea that triage/silo health care does not always work. The human being is a holistic microcosm that does need to be treated as such. Yes, some things need to be prioritized within medical treatment, but somethings are interdependent, intertwined, co-dependent or simply co-existing. Ala addiction—the use of substance or behaviour creates the label, what causes it is rooted deeper whether you cease or stop the behaviour the actual cause whether emotional, physiological, neurological, etc (or all of the above) needs to be treated or we are setting the neighbour up for failure.

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Housing. Our nation needs a strategy, I know several federal parties at certain points have had policies (as I have been part of writing groups for these parties). Yet what is missing is the fundamental of Housing First principle 1: Consumer choice. (or better yet, citizen choice). It needs to be a policy and action that looks at affordable spectrums of home ownership (types of homes-house, condo, mobile) to apartments to lodges without age restrictions to group homes to supportive housing to hotels (yes hotels, many of the chronically homeless have come to shelters because they lived in hotels that closed down, where some money could have seen these places brought up to code, and some extra monies to the owners could have curbed settling in of unsavoury elements) to name but a few. Also, the idea of rooming houses ran by seniors is also something to be looked at, or on-site living in convents/monastic communities, or in shops/warehouses, mini houses…secondary suites, laneway housing, converted garages, the list goes on and on.

Yet it takes a citizen will to force politicians to challenge city planning back to a community and citizen focus and away from money politics.

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In the case of Health Care especially in Alberta we tend to forget that we were governed by a party set on Privatization (breaking the Health Act) through the Third Way that essentially created a system for failure, never forget history or we are doomed to repeat it. On an aside stating you never voted PC, or never voted does not remove your complicity from the state of our province now, for we are all citizens that allowed a party to run our province. Whether it is oil, health care, AB works or other social safety nets, are designed for those moments in life when you need them, not for when you do not. What we have done as a society is create a shame based system so those in need avoid and costs sky rocket for the person literally comes to the precipice of disaster before access and then is in a full cycle that is harder to get out of. And yes I was forced out of a job by taking a stance publicly for universal health care.

I still firmly believe active eugenics may have stopped in Alberta, but seeing how easily the Calgary Board of Education can blame special needs students for budget short falls, how hard it is to access AISH or lack of mental health supports, that passive eugenics is still practice.

And let us not forget the closure of the horrid institutions that if proper protocol was followed would have seen transition of those folks to proper home, group home or smaller care home placements in the community…but instead say nothing but shelter beds…because…eliminating the debt.

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Calgary City Hall is looking to cut preventative programs for at risk youth and seniors while continuing the shadowy no firm numbers exploration of an Olympic bid. Makes you wonder where following the money trail would take you? Also makes you wonder in a generation with these policies how our city will be judged by the way we have treated our young and elders?

Yet this is not new practice at City Hall, for when the Child Sex trade exploded in our city in the mid-90’s what the response was—cover up, cutting vice unit budgets… hmmm…. Lip service, not actions. My high school law teacher asking me when presented with the facts about the child sex trade saying the assignment was to show what is controversial about it? My response led me to being kicked from class that day when I simply stated, “the only wanker that can’t see the controversy based on the facts is the one that goes to the pizza parlour back room in our hood and asks for the child.”

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Political party vetting when I ran in 2006 that saw the questioner unable to comprehend how I could be pro-choice on abortion without using the buzzwords. Yes I believe in a woman’s control over their own body, yes I believe in the family, and I believe we need to build a world in which every child conceived should be wanted and until that happens then this needs to be free and open to all who desire, need or want.

I also believe that the government needs to invest in a system or pre- and post- procedure counselling and healing of the holistic person. I believe we need a freer adoption service. I also believe the pre- and post-procedure aid needs to be open to the one that gave the egg, the one that gave the sperm, and those that may be affected by the ripples within the family.

But I will never say I am anti-abortion for. Yes, this is after coming from a position where an ex who was so lost in addiction made the choice to abort and her only rationale was to inflict pain on me who chose to not come second to a chemical.

I also firmly state I am pro-life with dignity. Which is why I so easily can stand and argue that medically assisted death is a necessity within our system so human life is one with dignity, for it I would not let my fur baby suffer in such a way, why would I let my loved one.

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The continual move away from city accessibility. In Calgary our at home garbage/recycle/compost system is designed for new communities with attached garages, and condos. Yet also falls short in understanding challenges of constantly carrying out buckets of compost in established neighbourhoods. The reduction in garbage pick up removing dignity of the person for those with continence challenges as their garbage output is not reduced but now the overflow is on view for the whole of their neighbours to see.

Yet with some thought, and work at a provincial wide level perhaps we could expand the recycle from house program, thus truly reducing garbage so the bi-weekly pick up can work. The expansion could shift as other provinces have done so the monies from recyclables pay for the program, thus  reducing costs to citizens. Then expand to multi-unit dwellings so it becomes cost neutral so this type of bylaw does not increase rents.

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That at the end of World War 2 my Great-Granddad Lewis who was a veteran of both wars battled for the Commonwealth to care for its veterans appropriately, and during my tenure in the world I have fought the same battle in the 21st century. This is a staunch reminder, war needs to be the last resort, and one that we enter into realizing that we need to be prepared to care for those that give some, and those that give all…also this needs to carry through to those we send out to peace keep for they enter the hell mouth as well.

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Look to the Alberta Government looking at removing age restrictions on housing stating it is a human rights issue. The realization is not understanding the complexity of the issue when it comes to congregate (condo/apartment living).

At the very least, if a person or couple have moved to a building believing it is kid free, and they chose to live there because of this a new family that moves in you are setting them up for harassment and complaints. A situation that may only end with one side or the other being evicted. Sadly, an eviction for whatever reason creates an issue on re-housing.

At the worst, you are setting up a place for predators. Sadly, those that abuse children and prey on them do not spend their life in jail. Upon release, they need to be housed, with this new legislation you are removing a housing option that keeps our communities’ safe…yet…

It is also short sighted, in that there are also many folks with the psychological predilection for children (due to trauma or neurology) that choose to work with Alberta Health to keep themselves and others safe. Using pharmaceuticals and other therapies, but also building a life that keeps them away from children as much as possible. Now comes this new bill…and…

Sound bites and twitter politics over critical thought of the best of the whole.

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That over 20 years after I got my knuckles bloody defending my op-ed piece in the Calgary Sun over a person’s right to love and marry whom they choose (and multiple thousand death threats) …both our governing and Loyal Opposition parties still distract by fighting this battle over again thus distracting from more core issues. (yes, for those doing the math, my 18th birthday was when the editorial I wrote in support of marriage equality came out). Why did I write this? I remember sitting with my Nan, when US President Bill Clinton announced he was against it, and her tears and simple statement that maybe if our world were more accepting and Christian as Jesus taught her lovely cousin would not have taken his life. So I took a stand, and took the lumps that came with it.

I am going to be blunt, when it came to clubs I was a part of in public school, the only time my parents needed to be contacted was when we were leaving the school so both sides were creating news and not holding true to the sanctity of learning, growth and discovery of the child. The only time parents were contacted about school behaviours were when they put myself or another at risk.

For those that try to blind with extremism, ideology or religion, let the war bride’s words ring in your ears. If our world was more Christian…love would win, and whom you love would not matter.

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The constant reminder that user fees are a flat tax on the working and poverty classes. A reminder that when political parties speak of the middle class, it is an innocuous term used to gain votes, but pragmatically roles out to households making over 100K a year, thus not the average Canadian.

A reminder that our natural resources do not belong to companies or politicians but to the citizens and need to be leveraged for OUR benefit above all else. That our Constitution Act 1982 does need to be re-opened, a social charter that was originally removed at the behest of Lougheed needs to be reinserted, and the division of powers in Section 91 & 92 needs to be looked at for the reality of Canada in a globalized world and things like Health Care and Education need to be in Federal jurisdiction as we are stabilized at about 30ish million people.

We need to take a serious look at the abolish of the reserve system and either incorporating into the Constitution territories of provinces for First Nations depending on population size (ala Nunavut).

We also need to realize that we only get the representation we are entitle to as Canadians, when we realize the local representative should hold the power of the vote. Party whips and Cult Leader politics are the Americanizing of our democracy to our detriment. As well, for it to work properly the elections acts need to be amended so the candidate needs to live in the electoral district at whichever level it is defined; PACS, union and corporate donations are abolished. Actually, all donations are. Each candidate must attend a set number of debates, public media must carry local candidate ads, interviews and discourses so that the public can be informed. If we really want a throw back perhaps the UFA system should be implemented in which a leader is not elected until all MP’s or MLA’s are elected (like the Constitution dictates) …but let’s take some giant baby steps first. Once the system functions the way it is laid out to, then we can look beyond a first past the post system to other voting systems.

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These thoughts continue to crop in my mind like I said as I look back on a life of work to try and build a new world, then the reboot hits and the brain lies to the heart stating that it has all been for nought.

On the grand scale still seeing the pain that exists within our world, yes it may appear as failure. Yet the failure is in stopping to raise the issue that we are all in this together.

These are musings that rest on my heart and are leading me to another pragmatic spiritual work as I look back on history of the sector I have worked in. If one spends time with the writings of J.S. Woodsworth and how his shelter functioned in Winnipeg at the turn of the 20th century, and then look at our system today you can come to a simple conclusion, all that has changed is our mats are thicker. 100+ years on, what needs to change?

We still haven’t answered the core question of his work, for we still look at the person in need, in pain, in sickness, in jail and in our homes, communities’ and lives.

The central question?

The one I have spent a life attempting to unpack, and will be the focus of my next pragmatic memoir?

Who is My Neighbour?

JS


With each new passing or announcement of retirement from the progressive theological movements I share with my wife, we ask, who will take up the torch?  And no, Rob Bell is not the answer or the Emergent Church movement. Yes, they are doing good things in pushing boundaries in their traditions, but compared to where Labour Church, Social Gospel, Creation Spirituality, Progressive Christianity, Liberation Theology, Feminist Theology, Queer Theology, Truth and Reconciliation resonances, Human Rights, Social Justice, New Thought, Metaphysics, Jesus Seminar, Philosophy, history, Anthropology, Sociology, Psychology, science and ecumenical dialogues (to name but a few) have brought us, they are reinventing the foundation stones, instead of adding new floors to the towers already standing tall and strong.

I have been trying lately due to some health challenges of the holistic being to reclaim the towers, and not have to reinvent the foundation stones (I am stubborn that way). After the first night of decent rest in months it hit me, that part of continuing to build the towers is to go to your own spiritual roots.  Within myself, and my family those roots are the Hebrew Bible and the Christian Testament. I will be the first to admit, the Hebrew Bible can at first blush appear to contain stories of hate, genocide, blood lust and horror. They are foundation myths and legends of their time speaking to the people then and what they had gone through. The challenge for us is not to take a 21st century lens back to the historical story, but rather bring the story into a 21st century lens.

Huh?

A 21st century lens pushes these stories to obscurity, or that which should not be spoken about.

Yet bringing the story into a 21st century lens allows us to see what we have missed and continued to repeat due to our literal, fundamentalist or non-reading of the text.

This is one of the things that struck me as I sipped on my fourth cup of morning coffee. It pertains to the horrid collection of laws found in the Third book of the Torah (or Pentateuch for those Greek types), Leviticus.

Really these are laws about how to keep yourself alive, don’t spark wars with your neighbours and by bringing the story into the 21st century lens that abuse shall not happen without consequence (as seen with the hard passages around abuse of women in Leviticus 19:29:

c“Do not profane your daughter by making her a prostitute, lest the land fall into prostitution and the land become full of depravity.

(English Standard Version)

            For me speaks directly to the abolishment of the Sex Trade. All of us are either children of someone’s daughter, or have a daughter, and forcing anyone to do what they choose not to do, or to make profit from the dehumanization of another is reprehensible evil.

This method also brings a different reading into those infamous few of Leviticus 18:22-23:

22 hYou shall notlie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination. 23 i And you shall not lie with anyanimal and so make yourself unclean with it, neither shall any woman give herself to ananimal to lie with it: it is jperversion.

(English Standard Version)

 

These texts have nothing today with the LGBTTQ2+ community. They are a direct redaction into what is legendarily believed to be the writings of Moses post exile from Babylon. In Babylon, the free and slave were forced into sexual predatory worship within the temple. It was led by the Clerics and to show worship after providing the usual animals and money forced participation for absolution was found in sexual penetration through varied orifices of animals, and/or human beings by the worshipper or with the Cleric (yes historical anthropological context can be disturbing).

But wait…removing the literal sentiment, what type of warning does this sound like for the people?

That your worth as you are created matters.

Do not let one in authority force you to that which you do not want to do.

When one in power forces you under the auspices of atonement, absolution, because God said, because you will make first line, I will ensure you get an A, you will get the role only if you….

Hidden in a text we have argued over a literal understanding of, we have missed a millenniums long warning of metaphor and allegory going:

Children,

You were abused in captivity, and were not allowed to flourish healthily into the true you. Do not repeat this pattern of abuse. Be the ones that shatter the cycle, know that you are loved, equal, and belong together in loving communities, loving relationships with whomever you choose.

BUT (and this one is important) you must choose the path of new and love, not the path of known hurt and abuse.

I implore you as you lick the wounds of leaving slavery and abuse, PLEASE, speak the truth, then CHOOSE to move forward as a healthy community by throwing off the monsters and casting them out.

Choose L-I-F-E.

Choose L-O-V-E.

Amazing what happens when you contemplate deeply into the Holy Mystery and attempt to answer the WTF as to why this passage exists.

So as community in the Christianities, are we going to answer the Levitical warning and:

           Choose L-I-F-E?

           Choose L-O-V-E?


Canadian history has a way of showing us what we have forgotten. There has been many horrors revealed around passive genocide and the fur trade. There is also dislocation and generational trauma. Yet there is some truth of good to be revealed. One simply has to look to the Metis people. For it is a positive that came out of atrocities of the past.

How? It was a journey, it was back when religion quasi-understood their role in society. See “country wives” were one of the horrors visited upon the First Nations under the fur trade. That is, Europeans forcing themselves onto Aboriginal women. For those whose “Husbands” were English or Scottish it was a divisive choice: The child would be European raised and never know their Aboriginal roots, or choose to return to the village with the child and raise them as an Aboriginal.

For those of mixed heritage of French and Aboriginal descent, the Roman Catholic Church kept the groups together. It raised up a uniquely Canadian culture, a mixture of First Nations, New France and Catholicism. A great people and nation grew up within a new land.

Unfortunately, it was also an oppressed people. People left on the outside. Oppressed. In fact, a new, hateful, definition of the term Metis (mixed blood) emerged- – One and a Half Man.  In the vernacular of the 19th century to early 20th century that was one half white, one half Indian and one have demon. Not exactly an honouring term, yet it was one the community would overcome.

Yes it would take two rebellions, and almost five decades after the Battle of Batoche that ended in a near genocide by Gatling gun. This people, who at the Red River Rebellion issue the first declaration of human rights in Canada. Yup, it wasn’t Saskatchewan under Premier Douglas, but Louis Riel, Prairie hero and freedom fighter (and from my perspective one more worthy in my mind to be our patron saint than Jean Brebeuf).

So five decades after the failed second rebellion, the Metis people would finally win the right to be seen as full persons in Canada. A community that came together, shaped a culture, endured oppression and being seen as less than. A group that endured, stayed together, and overcame.

So what does the story of the Metis hold for us today? That it is in common shared experience, and seeing one another as full citizens, and persons in which we excel. Also, it is through the voices from the oppressed and the margins that the story of justice and equality emerges.


A garden statue of Francis of Assisi with birds

A garden statue of Francis of Assisi with birds (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It has been a blessing to re-enter a relationship with the Roman Catholic Church, I still look fondly upon my time there as a lay minister of praise. One of the great resources that has come to me is Elizabeth Rapley’s The Lord as Their Portion: The story of the Religious Orders and How they shaped our world. I am not done this work so there may still be more musings afoot. But what has come to mind is when I hit the section on the rise of the Mendicants, and more earnestly her snapshot of Francis The Poverello.

She points out his failure as a merchant (more enjoyed spending of the money, than the makin of) and then his less that successful soldiering, where on his first mission he was injured, captured and became a prisoner of war for  seven years. See Francis of Assisi is my patron, and one of the reasons I am attracted to his mysticism and story is that he lives. Meaning that there is no hiding what he truly was.

Rapley raises a new question to show the relevance of the story of saints today (ancient or contemporary as with Dorothy Day or even the 14 year old girl shot by the Taliban). After Francis’ return from captivity he entered a spiral of self-destruction, addiction, partying, thieving, etc… hmmm…a spiral of self-destruction with erratic behaviours…

I am pondering if Francis doesn’t hold another story of redemption and healing for today, with all those that have suffered trauma and now live with the mixed blessing of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  Why? Simple, he responded as one returning from war time. Yet in the midst of it, there was a point of clarity where he discoverd a true purpose for life.

A true purpose, the rise of the mendicants that followed him into poverty to care for the world, a reflection of the true life of Christ, the true gospel.

How does this story reflect on those we journey with who may have encountered trauma and are still living through and into the darkness? How can we shine the light? How did Francis leave the darkness?


Smith changes her tune and is completely off-key.

Do not know which is scarier–that she has said this, or that she continues smoke and mirror practices during this election to hide it.  What is most disturbing?

-End of Abortion

-Abomination of Gay Marriage

-Or that they (politicians-sync WRP) will be wily enough to violate any charter right they want without due process…

Should the list go on?

What about social conservatism micromanagement of an individuals value life or that the judiciary is not necessary?

These are the behind the line context of the truth behind her happy go lucky moderate campaign persona.

On April 23 be informed before you vote.


The principle of compassion lies at the heart of all religious, ethical and spiritual traditions, calling us always to treat all others as we wish to be treated ourselves. Compassion impels us to work tirelessly to alleviate the suffering of our fellow creatures, to dethrone ourselves from the centre of our world and put another there, and to honour the inviolable sanctity of every single human being, treating everybody, without exception, with absolute justice, equity and respect.

It is also necessary in both public and private life to refrain consistently and empathically from inflicting pain. To act or speak violently out of spite, chauvinism, or self-interest, to impoverish, exploit or deny basic rights to anybody, and to incite hatred by denigrating others—even our enemies—is a denial of our common humanity. We acknowledge that we have failed to live compassionately and that some have even increased the sum of human misery in the name of religion.

We therefore call upon all men and women ~ to restore compassion to the centre of morality and religion ~ to return to the ancient principle that any interpretation of scripture that breeds violence, hatred or disdain is illegitimate ~ to ensure that youth are given accurate and respectful information about other traditions, religions and cultures ~ to encourage a positive appreciation of cultural and religious diversity ~ to cultivate an informed empathy with the suffering of all human beings—even those regarded as enemies.

We urgently need to make compassion a clear, luminous and dynamic force in our polarized world. Rooted in a principled determination to transcend selfishness, compassion can break down political, dogmatic, ideological and religious boundaries. Born of our deep interdependence, compassion is essential to human relationships and to a fulfilled humanity. It is the path to enlightenment, and indispensible to the creation of a just economy and a peaceful global community.

Sign the Charter: http://charterforcompassion.org/site/


The Incompatibility of Religion and War

October 7, 1990  

            This document is an attempt to set forth a vision of non-violence within the context of an emerging global civilization in which all forms of violence, especially War, are totally unacceptable as a means to settle disputes within and among nations, groups and persons. This new vision of civilization is global in scope, universal in culture, and based on love and compassion, the highest moral, spiritual principles of the various historical relgions. Its universal nature acknowledges the essential fact of modern life: the interdependence of nations, economies, ecologies, cultures and religious traditions.

            As members of religious groups throughout the world, we are increasingly aware of our responsibility to promote Peace in our age and in the ages to come. Nevertheless, we recognize that in the history of the human family, people of various religions, acting officially in the name of their respective traditions, have either initiated or collaborated in organized and systematic violence or War. These actions have at times been directed against other relgious traditions, groups and nations, as well as within particular religious traditions. This pattern of behavior is totally inappropriate for spiritual persons and communities.

              Therefore, as members of world religions, we declare before the human family that:

            Religion can no longer be an accomplice to War, to terrorism, or to any other forms of violence, organized or spontaneous, perpetuated by the human will against any member of the human family. Because this family is one, global and interrelated, our actions must be consistent with this identity. We recognize the right and duty of governments to defend the security of their people and to relieve those afflicted by exploitation and persecution. Nevertheless, we declare that religion must not permit itself to be used by any state, group or organization for the purpose of supporting violent aggression for nationalistic gain. We have an obligation to explore social and political alternatives to actions and reactions which inflict suffering and destruction, and to promote a new vision of society–one in which War has no place in resolving disputes between and among states, organizations and religions.

In making this declaration we, the signatories, commit ourselves to embrace this vision. We call upon all the members of our respective traditions to embrace this vision. We urge our members and all peoples to use every moral means to dissuade their governments from engaging in War, terrorism, and violations of fundamental human rights. We strongly encourage the United Nations Organization to employ all available resources toward the development of peaceful methods for resolving conflict among nations.

Our declaration is intended to choose and sustain an emerging global society in which non-violence is pre-eminent as a value in all human relations. We offer this vision of Peace, mindful of the late M.K. Gandhi’s “Truth Weapon,” Satyagraha, and of the words of Pope Paul VI to the United Nations in October of 1965: “No more War; War never again!”

Signatories

His Holiness the Dalai Lama of Tibet

Fr. Thomas Keating

Monastic Interreligious Dialogue,

Bro. Wayne Teasdale

Barbara Fields Bernstein

AGNT Leadership Council