Posts Tagged ‘Johnny Cash’


It is unique, and something that things I have taught I was reminded of from a post on the Christian Left this morning that my wife shared. We tend to have the patriachal view of the Easter Events…that is the men that hid, not the women that stayed. How true. From the Gospel of John where we paused the Good Friday services reflection of the Stations of the Cross at this moment:

26When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, here is your son,” 27and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home. (John 19:26-27, New International Version).

Many hear these words, and think it is speaking of John, the writer of tradition, who is being spoken too. Yet we took this moment to do a collective reflection with our family, as Raymond Brown, a Catholic Theologian I read back in my seminary days would point out. The Disciple that is loved (or beloved disciple) is a mystery in the writing, for a reason. It is so the hearer/reader can hear/feel/see themselves in the story. Upon the cross, Jesus is asking us to care for his beloved mummy. To care for others in our world, alone, or cast aside but yet truly belong. The point of view in being connection. Living belonging.

Which is one such example as there is two stories at play from Golgotha to the Empty Tomb. The women, his Mum and the women that had supported the ministry, that were empowered, and brought to the full view of community, society and Empire as people. They remained as he breathed his last, as he was lowered into and sealed in the tomb provided by Joseph of Arimathea (Celtic Lore would share is was this Joseph that would bring boy Jesus in his travels to the British Isles). They remained, they prayed, they prepared, they went, knowing the risk on this morning, as the sun rose.

To find the tomb empty.

To take back the story and the glory.

Those who were seen as nothing, not hated, or forgotten, simply, society did not care about them for they were not people. Yet, in the story of friendship with God, they were as deeply loved as Moses, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Jesus, Peter, Paul… Mary and the women at the tomb (Mary & Martha, Mary Magdalene, Salome are some names of the beloved women in the disciples) were just not cared for in society. It was one of the communal sins exposed that lead to Jesus’ death. A world that forgot everyone belongs, everyone is beloved, everyone is equal… a world that forgot how to care for neighbour, and was lost in its own selfishness, greed, and grasping for power. It is still a self-perpetuating communal sin that today, shows victory over is possible, that c-tine has laid bear in our world. Our collective inability to shape our actions for the health of all, and to realize that all life matters (and that all loss of life, is loss and cannot be rationalized out of on the human heart). We are currently the world, illustrated in the Star Trek Deep Space Nine two parter- Past Tense, that is so succinctly summed up by Dr. Julian Bashir:

In Past Tense Part 1 & 2, these were sanctuary camps in the 2020’s (think our own homeless camps)…and forgotten who our neighbour is, and why we have a crisis of homelessness and poverty in our world.

The women stayed shattered the glass ceiling of the oppressor. The women proclaiming “He is risen”, or for Mother Mary, “My son is alive”. Showed that these systems had no power. Nothing could overcome the simple love of life. As we sing Alleluia! and He is Risen, we truly need to understand what that means, for we were opened up to a very intimate relationship with Brother Jesus. He showed what intimacy, and compassion in action look liked. It is one of the great learnings from Diana Butler Bass’ (2021) Freeing Jesus I love, is how she walks through each way you encounter Jesus in a faith journey, yet the full scope of friend being the foundation. How it is not a puff piece, or pablum, but rather something we have lost in life. Biblically friend, is the terms the Hebrew Bible Patriarchs and Moses used in their relationship to God. For Jesus, Abba, the intimacy is even more than Father, but harkens back to Friend. That type of intimacy that is illustrated with the shredding of the veil in the Temple, the barrier separating what is usually termed the sacred and profane, or more palpable Creator and blessed Creation.

How do we truly understand this scope of friendship? Intimate relationships? Healthy relationships? The concept that family, as was shown in Golgotha is not about blood (genetics), but about love. Currently we have a skewed view of friendship, for social media has shifted it to a voyeuristic pursuit, not an active participation in life. But when we take the Holy Risk to make friends, we create true sacred space in our lives for belonging. When we approach those we do not know as possible friends, it becomes harder to forget how to care. It activates our empathy for the other, because we know how we care for those in our circles, and how we would feel if that was those family members.

We become the women that stayed. Watched. Acted. Proclaimed.

The disciple that is loved, and asked to risk taking someone in. The beloved disciples that wept, that prayed, that risked. The loving Mother, sisters, wives that show us what sacred love and holy friendship is. That if we can truly engage with and live into our world will be transformed as the call of Easter on our hearts.

Are we willing to stay?

Are we willing to risk being a friend?

Easter Reflection Sources:

Facebook post from the Christian Left

What We Left Behind: A Look Back at Star Trek Deep Space Nine (streaming on Tubi TV), watch trailer here.

Bow Valley Christian Church Easter Service view here.

Diana Butler Bass (2021) Freeing Jesus


It could be my 335th edition of ecclectica in all its itirations in life, but truly, it is reflecting more of the 335th day of the current exisence. Some days to bring together thoughts, and things of life in the here and now. Before we shift into what life should be through some reflections I just want to share something cool from a friend, and a former colleague, a dreamer living life building community. During c-tine many have been discovering Star Trek Deep Space Nine on streaming services and being astounded they did not know about the complexity, characters, and discussions that leap from every episode, and so compelling and applicable to our curent world. Bruce Callow, as part of his work in Costa Rica and science/space education was able to sit down and interview Nana Visitor (Kiera Nerys) from the show, read the Costa Rican Times article here.

Our road map as a photo collage, we have touched on living dreams to make the world better, and understanding how life experiences shape a person with our interview with Ms. Visitor. Now we move into the ecclecitca, which includes touching on different topics. The highest streaming in North America is of course, that a President whose words, actions and machinations that incited an insurrection where 5 citizens died could be acquitted at his second impeachment trial. It is some what of a commentary on our world, where accountability is only for some, and not reserved for those who scream “persecution” the loudest.

It has become a staple within the Right to Al-Right to Fascist to Neo-Nazi end of the political spectrum. As the right moves further along the spectrum (which when I was a public school student, was taught in school, but currently is not taught as teachers fear being labelled ideologues and lose their job. The result: a less critical thinking electorate and citizenry). The left which goes from Left to Socialist to Communist to Dictatorship to Stalinist is pulled further into the right end of the spectrum, for nature abhors a vacuum, and so does our political ideological entrenching, the chasm being created is one where many are left politically homeless. Where those left politically uninspired either become apathetically complicit for not voting, or do to the rage on one side or the other enter into a highly dualistic co-dependent relationship with an extremist ideology, that has to be completely good as the other side has created that it is evil, and then we are in the shouting match that with a simple match, the tinders can incite violence.

This was a chance in history, for the supposed leader of the Free World, to re-assert the need for healthy dialogue, for holding to account hate and extremism. Instead, they collapsed under the pursuit of power, and shoring up territorial biases and bases. It was a commentary touched upon recently in Canadian politcs by the Rt. Hon. Joe Clark (read article and link to podcast here), where some key points to be extrapolated is that our political leaders of all stripes have become more social media performers, than thought leaders. We as a nation need to demand better, we need to move beyond territorial entrenchment, and party-colour belonging, to push all our national parties to actually be pan-Canadian, to look at what is needed for our nation as a whole. To vision cast, to move beyond the tweet-byte, lay out a vision/dream. To take seriously the character of the local representatives that are running and serving, do they serve all Canadians and their constituents? If it is only serving the party line, then it is a systematic failure. It creates group think, that makes accountability only faux-shows, where parachutes are aligned after the smoke and mirrors. Or accountability is non-existent as we see in Alberta with MLA Barnes & Pitt joiing the Anti-Lockdown Caucus propagated by the People’s Party Maxine Bernier, a party known to overtly affiliate with the Neo-Nazi’s of Canada, and to be blunt the politicians that affiliate are creating streams of disinformation, and wreaking havoc on governments (many they are in the governing caucus’ of) to get traction on a pandemic (and we shall touch on the epidemics of opioids, meth and homelessness in a second).

Which the silent complicity of party leaders not kicking these members from caucus, leads to non-accountability as we saw on display this past Saturday Feb. 13 at CF Chinook Mall with anti-maskers marching through the mall hoping to spread covid, and comparing restrictions as making them the “new Jews” which opens up a whole lot of “WTF” in my mind that we have allowed once again mainstreaming of anti-semitism and the hate that perpetuated a holocaust only 80 years ago (the lifespan of many that are losing their lives in our pandemic currently). Yet, no ticketing, no arrests. Why?

We have created a world, where the smoke and mirrors of personal rights and performance creation of victimhood/persecution lead to 0 accountability. We have stripped the interdependence, as we make each side the other, and the villain. Instead of entering into dialogue. Having said that, I do state clearly when it comes to where the spectrum connects on Facism/Naziisms-Dictatorship/Stalinism, that needs to be called out. Though, we truly need to understand what that is when it is called out, so that the authentic is placed in the cell of silence it belongs in, and the impact of those terms are not destroyed by screaming it at every point we do not agree upon.

Which brings me into the reading of Irshad Manji’s (2019) Don’t Label Me, as a queer-Muslim writer, she has a dialogue with her beloved pup, Lil, about the state of the world. The challenge being revealed, is that we lose ourselves in labels which perpetuate stereotypes, and do not allow us to meet the person to see who they actually are. It is within her words she shares about moderate Republicans she has met who do not hold to the MAGA/Q Cult. She also shares about her own journey in faith, and the push back from other progressive quarters of atheism that do not want to hear the word faith even on things as innocuous as Facebook, taking offense that someone should not share that for fear of offense. It really is a call to keep ourselves safe, but also to get to know our neighbour and understand the anti-fascist, anti-rascist movements in the light of the impact on the other they have. There is a great story she shared of two friends in Missisipi and the move to change the flag, one a hip-hop artist, who speaks their truth to the symbology and the pain it brings, another, a man in the Confederate lineage that does not see a problem with the flag on their part. But then astutely shares, the hip-hop artist is their friend, and it causes pain, so “I have a choice, to take action to remedy, or not be a part of the change conversation and play the victim afterwards”. A proactive entering into discussion.

As a writer, I appreciate labels and stereotypes. When working a work of fiction they allow for a quick visual or quick reference words to create a word image for the viewer, yet we are living in this world where everyone is defined by the labels and no one wants to move beyond the label to meet the person underneath. Would we be able to shift our world to a better place if the more moderate on the spectrum connected and found the common ground once more? Built the bridge across the chasm that has been created by the extremists?

For it is the fear induced by the extremists that continues to perpetuate the hate and systematic racisms/injustices in our society. For the purity test on the other extreme just leaves them to default to where they are okay with the norm, instead of creating space to accept in the journey of life a person learns and grows and changes.

This is the message that resounds in the closing chapters of DC Comics’ New 52 Superman. In his final days, where a perfect tri-fecta has left him dying, he sets out to live the hope of his symbol until his last days. To try to lay the groundwork for it to continue. My question though, is do we have to wait until we are in a dire circumstance? Until the match has been lit again and people are dying? Until we are in the last days of life, to understand what it takes to create a legacy? Or can we simply leave each day knowing we have a story, and others we meet will have a story…

This is the challenge when individuals look to government policy as the silver bullet or cure solution. The challenge being in our current world of entrenchment, and each side needing to be able to claim the “holy and good” side, or to the spoils go the victor, much is missed. Framing the idea of ending homelessness. It is a broad and hard topic that hits the grieving of change vectors of individuals and communities. The first challenge is one has to understand how we have done as a society, has been okay, but in the first part of the 21st century decisions made have left many in poverty and homelessness and this is not okay. It is okay to admit we have made a societal mistake and want to move on. It is about being able to bring fresh eyes/heart to something like UBI, where many trip up thinking it is another layer of government entitlements added to the system and this is what trips up on costs of– it is a replacment for the piecemeal approach to support, it is stripping away the money wasted on disproving claims and the appeals process, it leverages technology to simply be. It removes space for individual grants if one has a dream for a small business, and gives space to let that happen, for artisans to flourish, and create new dynamic spaces for meeting, discussion, critical thought, it provides the top up for minimum wage jobs so they become living wage, as the pandemic has shown, each role is necessary for our society to function. The fist step though, is allowing permission to admit the bias and misunderstanding, and accepting that all can change. To shift the discussion from yes-no, to how. But first we have to allow the ability to acknowledge mistakes and change at the individual, the instittutional and the system level.

Permission to acknowledge mistakes is one of the things missing from public discourse. It is what leads to the unaccountability for actions. See, mistakes happen, some big, some minor, and we have to accept the accountability for those actions whether they were intentional or unintentional. I teach my students, each time I pushed the boundaries of the rules or broke them, I fully and rationally understoon what I was doing, and knew that worst case scenario it could lead to unemployment, and I was okay with that. Each person needs to be. Unfortuantely this quest for profit and power over people, has created a world where we do not expect accountability (good or ill) for our actions. We also have created a world where we cannot openly admit mistakes, or when we struggle.

That ties into a blessing I received for a Christmas gift. The complete CBS series of Elementary on DVD. I am a Sherlockian (I belive that is the right term), as I was introduced to the stories first through the ol’ Basil Rathbone movies on PBS, then reading Doyle’s stories, and the comics, enjoyed RDJ’s Sherlock Holmes movies, and Cumberbatch’s Sherlock. But there was something about this imaginging of Holmes in the modern world, with his sober companion Dr. Joan Watson into America. Holmes as we meet him is a recovering addict (the usage is part of the original stories, but was always on the fence for the reader if it went from simple Subtance Use/Social Use to Misuse/Substance Abuse). There is a beautiful scene opening up the first episode of Season 2, with Holmes in a meeting, and he openly talks about his usage, and that he feels he was born 100 to 200 years late, as the world would have been so much quieter, and perhaps then he would not have been an addict. This is also the episode where we meet his brother, Mycroft, and begin to understand the interplay of family in recovery, and what happens for both sides to see the other in their new reality, with new hearts. This is the beauty of Elementary it’s authentic portrayal of addiction, recovery and reconnection. The use of not only purpose in the process of being a part of community, but authentic belonging.

As the life and discography of Johnny Cash would illustrate, purpose is about what resonates deep within us. Belonging is those authentic folks who we connect with. For Cash it was about the music, his faith, and more, the story of his wife, and how that connection turned his life.

This is where we miss the mark in society on our march to end homelessness. We hold it is about upper-middle class developer housing- a house or a condo or an apartment. It goes deeper than that. It is about belonging. The government monies and policies speak to capacity and stock in the system to allow one (or family to be housed), same goes for the donations to non-profits. Decades ago I helped in writing policy for the now non-existant Federal PC Party, that spoke of all types of housing stock to have 10% put on an affordable sliding scale to aid in the stock on affordable housing, which very few took up as it was seen as to out there as what would your neighbour think finding out they are paying this and you are paying that (what does it matter what each of us pays, as long as we are all in community in a healthy way). By providing safe housing, that is designed for the needs of community members, we remove external stressors on their determinants of health, by providing a UBI, which allows for housing and food security, we remove layers of stressors/traumas on one’s healthy that actually burden more expensive systems of care on the emergency response end. As one ages in place, the costs on the system align with other neighbours.

Then it becomes more complex, as it is about moving beyond labels, for what to do with neighbours that may be provocateurs? Disruptors? If they are breaking by-laws/laws, it does not matter if they have lived next door for 20 years, moved in from another community or exited homelessness. This is where accountability for actions matter. What is needed in community is free options for neighbours to connect and get to know one another, so we are able to know what is typical behaviour, and when they need us to be present. This is why public libraries are so amazing, it is the one space left in our Western World where you can exist without having your bank account value checked. It is why I love seeing religious groups opening their doors for community meals, space for neighbours to meet together. A universal approach where there is no means test to access, simply saying come and break bread together. What if community associations created the same space? Are there volunteers out there that would share their skills for knitting circles? Meals? Book clubs? A space for those that live in community to use to connect based on hobbies and interests?

What if this allowed for funding from municipalities so that the halls were not constantly driven for rental incomes, and become spaces to cultivate getting to know one another beyond labels?

Think as we head into our civic elections in Alberta this October, what dream is there for a healthy and robust community beyond NIMBYISM, beyond labels…what does it look like for authentic belonging for all? For connecting? For purpose that is not tied to simply work?

I bring this up because it is one of the quick arguments of some, as to why we have a means test and work so hard to keep people from accessing Alberta Works and direct to day jobs in construction (which devalues the actual skill set it takes for what is classed as unskilled casual day labour, trust me, if my Dad, a general contractor and Master Electrician is aiding me on a DIY in house, it works, to my own skill set not so much). I am an Albertan and do not believe this ludicrousness. The entitlement is there for those in need. Not once they have cashed out all their savings and retirements then help. It is there for help. Say what we will on the back end of sorting out CERB and the possibility of taxation for those that made too much, at least those who needed it got it. See what shifts when we look at supporting one another in need? Not simply, trying to root out a fraudster?

See the source image

Same in our systems of housing, of care– why so much added trauma and stress to access the supports needed for physical, developmental or mental health?

Why not a robust system to allow for thriving, where we trust the family doctors and specialists that what is being asked for is needed?

Imagine how different our world would be?

See, Johnny Cash, found his belonging in his faith…

Others find their belonging through hobbies, interests, politics, philosophies, their faith. As we have moved into more commuter communities we have lost the local connection. We scream shop local currently, but miss a deeper point for health on the other side of c-tine:

Live Local.

For when we live local. When we connect, and know one another’s stories and journeys. It becomes truly hard to stigmatize, or live in fear. We can move through the grieving of change together. For it is in moving forward in understanding root causes we can truly make a difference.

It is in being present, that we live out the evidence.

For in that prescence with one another, we have to see the intrinsic value of our neighbour. The instrinsic value in human life, no matter what path brought you to that shared point of view with so many. Which shifts the discussion then from either or in solving our substance abuse epidemics of opioids and meth, to focus on the person behind the substance and their story. It leads us to understand for some the path is abstinence, for some it is harm reduction in the healing. It is a necesary spectrum, for as each person has intrinsic value, and are the protagontists of their own story, so too does each have a path of healing that touches on the tools of systems, theories and practices we try to create our own silos and chasms with. Instead of understanding, oh so simply, regardless of the theoretical label placed on the tool, it can be adapted for the person before us. The neighbour only finding away to numb the pain or silence the chaos.

Connecting.

Belonging.

Purpose.

Ideals that overlay so many things in our lives. That when truly sought, we can begin to accept the different paths to the same community. When sought healthily so many underlying causes can have truth spoken into them, space held, and reconciliation lived into.

Yet, it begins with you and me, not as an I, but as a We.. Your decision. Your choice. Your voice.

Become…

Our reconciliation. Our dialogue. Our decision, Our choice. Our voice.

See the source image

Suggested listening: Johnny Cash’s Man in White (listen here). FYI Johnny Cash was the worship leader for many Billy Graham Crusades, and boasted a collection of every English Bible Translation.

There is 13 letters accredited to Saint Paul within the Christian Testament. Of these 7 (Romans, 1 & 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, 1 Thessalonians, and Philemon) are viewed by scholars as being authentic works of the convert the Physician Luke wrote of in the Acts of the Apostles. Another 6 (Ephesians, Colossians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus) were written by students and those that came later. Assuming a teacher’s name to write is not plagiarism within the time, but a way to continue legacy, as these pseudonymic works will show. It shows not only touchstones with original thought, but growth out of that original thought. Much of the school’s of philosophy of the era.

Paul, was originally Saul, one who went from being a lead inquisitor and executor to Apostle. It would bring him into conflict with others such as Peter and James to name but a few. For Paul was not about a reforming sect of Universal Judaism, but rather striking a new cosmic understanding of mysticism of Jesus the Christ. His transformation away from legalism is powerful as his life became formed, he had many disciples of his own, as he worked with them to understand and grow in faith. Each letter he wrote, and Pseudo-Paul’s wrote was to address issues of personal and communal discipleship and transfiguration.

The last three Pseudo-Paul letters address leadership in the church at a time when new sects were growing within the quasi-new sect of the Way. Timothy was a young leader in Ephesus, and Titus in Crete. The Epistle of First Timothy originally thought having been composed circa 58-64 CE, has been dated by scholars circa 1130-155 CE, as it appears to respond to many of the teachings of Gnosticism of that time period. Aside from the Gnostic touch point, the church structure used in the epistle speaks to a later writing as there is formal Elders; and Prophet/Apostle have been replaced with Bishop/Archbishop.

Timothy was an evangelist, his father was Greek and his mother Jewish, mentored by Paul, and was with him on many of his travels listed in Acts of the Apostles. Timothy also ministered to Paul during an imprisonment. Timothy would be with Paul approximately 17 years until Paul’s death.

I urge you, as I did when I was on my way to Macedonia, to remain in Ephesus so that you may instruct certain people not to teach any different doctrine, and not to occupy themselves with myths and endless genealogies that promote speculations rather than the divine training[a] that is known by faith. But the aim of such instruction is love that comes from a pure heart, a good conscience, and sincere faith. Some people have deviated from these and turned to meaningless talk, desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make assertions.

Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it legitimately. This means understanding that the law is laid down not for the innocent but for the lawless and disobedient, for the godless and sinful, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their father or mother, for murderers, 10 fornicators, sodomites, slave traders, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to the sound teaching 11 that conforms to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me.

-Epistle of First Timothy 1:3-11 (New Revised Standard Version)

As noted earlier, Christianity, what was termed The Way, was a new sect. With the later writing of this epistle the expulsion from the Synagogues (85 CE) had happened; and so had the razing of Jerusalem (70 CE). There was persecution in some areas, as Emperor Nero (64 CE) had shown how the newbies on the religious block could be easy scapegoats for what ailed the regions. It was not just divisions made within communities around religious lines, but economically for one did not know if they could trust members of this religion in business because they would not be apart of the temple practices and festivals of the polytheistic pantheons (Judaism had always been viewed in the Empire as weird, but old enough that it was tolerated).

The Paul voice is reminding the young leader to centre his work on Love. It appears some in the community were sliding into legalism, the branch of religion Paul was quite familiar with from his own life and he knew the destruction that brought to the individual and the community. It was a reminder that those things they were being challenged on were not bad things. The members were basically stepping away from the darkness of society. They were caring for those that could be seen as outcast and cursed (Not killing mother and father) or being sodomites (an allusion to the town of Sodom that was destroyed for in hospitality after attempted gang rape of visitors). Fornication was the celebratory festival practices of orgy. That is removing the different types of love whether it be comrade, family, erotic or neighbourly from all acts and using them only to satisfy one’s own lusts for power and control. The ability to prove themselves “righteous” by making the other less than and property to be done with as they pleased.

12 I am grateful to Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because he judged me faithful and appointed me to his service, 13 even though I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and a man of violence. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, 14 and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 15 The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the foremost. 16 But for that very reason I received mercy, so that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display the utmost patience, making me an example to those who would come to believe in him for eternal life. 17 To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever.[b] Amen.

18 I am giving you these instructions, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies made earlier about you, so that by following them you may fight the good fight, 19 having faith and a good conscience. By rejecting conscience, certain persons have suffered shipwreck in the faith; 20 among them are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have turned over to Satan, so that they may learn not to blaspheme.

-Epistle of First Timothy 1:12-20 (NRSV)

The Paul voice points out his own story of transfiguration. That is becoming something new within the love the gospel brings. He then points to Timothy to hold to his conscience, knowing ourselves and what we value. If at our core we live out of the Love that is the Holy Mystery, that is the love that will be reflected. The writer does touch upon two that have turned away from the conscience (one can see it as the Holy Breath renewed within them) and are living in the shadow. That is they have gone back to seeking for the love of power, not the power of love.

This opening is meant as an encouragement to a young leader. Someone who has seasoning in travels and faith, but is taking a leap into their own. The wisdom is to remember what the core belief is. To live into that and out of that.

Is your life about love of power or the power of love?