Posts Tagged ‘Neighbour’


Causing people to suffer because you hate them… is terrible. But causing people to suffer because you have forgotten how to care… that’s really hard to understand.

-Dr. Julian Bashir, Star Trek Deep Space Nine (S3,Ep.11 “Past Tense Part 1)

A Saturday morning with coffee and Star Trek, there is sometimes no better way to ease into a Saturday. An arc of three episodes that on the 467th day of c-tine, ties into what is happening within our world today. Or more specifically for me, my province and city. A province, that has decided they are calling a pandemic on July 1 (Canada Day), regardless of what variants of concern such as the Delta has to say. The driving factor of course, being the Calgary Stampede, a major fundraising circuit for Conservative politicians in our province and country. We need some event before the next civic elections in October to pump up the cultish mantra of low taxes, cuts to services, and the individual above all.

Which is what echoes in the two-part Past Tense from Season 3 of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine which is where the opening quote is from. Forgetting how to care, as due to a transporter malfunction Sisko, Bashir, and Dax are transported back in time to 2024 San Francisco. Which is roughly 30 years in the future from the filming date, but for us is only a few scant years away. The story centres on the Bell Riots, a moment of change in history with civil upheaval in what is known as the Sanctuary Districts. Walled areas of approximately 20 city blocks, where the forgotten of society, the sick, the unemployed, the homeless are rounded up and placed.

The rationalization of the time, is the challenge is to insurmountable so here is what we do, so the individual freedoms without communal responsibility can manifest.

Individual rights asserted, as a society has forgotten to care for neighbour.

This mantra is what led to the election of the current provincial government. It has seen us bleed family doctors through unethical negotiation practice. It has led to Residential School deniers writing a K-6 curriculum that will be forced upon our children. And the soon to be unitaletal from Ministerial order change to whom can access and what supports for special needs education will be.

Bringing in a very Americanized style voucher system for education because of the fallacy of “parental choice” in what their child learns, instead of equipping a child with the best fully public education system that will open the world to them. The voucher system has public funds moved from public education to private, to follow teh “student” due to invidualism. As more unmarked graves are found of Indigenous Children at government funded church schools designed for genocide, there is palpatations to continue to ignore or downplay. I graduated high school in the last year of the schools, in the province that had the most per capita, But it is not about the hard conversations, the healing, it is about the individual.

How far away are we from our own sanctuary districts?

Well, there is a hard thing to create affordable housing, there is stalling on a Disabilities Act for Canada, and only about 3 provinces have their own over arching legislation. Care is downloaded onto the non-profit & religious sectors, but means of having income through funds and grants continually are reduced, or switched to fund matching, which leaves organizations going to the same soources over and over.

Which brings us to the epidemic of opioid poisonings (more commonly understood as overdose). In a province that has cultivated polarization of view points, and ideologizing governance into a science we are seeing the loss of harm reduction. At its core, harm reduction is about life preservation, reducing harm we see these through things life contraception, condoms, food banks, masks, free pantries, community gardens, handing out winter gear, the bottled water drives, hand sanitizer, vaccines, needle exchanges, and yes safe consumption sites.

What other forms of harm reduction do you see in your community?

Harm reduction is only successful in the spectrum of care for neighbour (which self is a part of), if we understand our true interdepence with one another. Yet, as a province the vocal have decided for the epidemic it is more important to have an ideological win that care about the person before them. It is more important to show that harm reduction is needed not recovery beds. Recovery needs to be abstinence only. All have the “evidence” to show the path, what is missing is the humanized quality that all are pieces of a healthy spectrum of care for neighbour. We must break the polarized lens to allow the true prism of life to emerge. The prism that can show what Constitutionally we are promised in Peace, Order and Good governance. The prism that is authentic disruption of our ideological driven eugenics experiment, into true heatlhy and authentic community. The greatest prevention for the epidemic, and creating the courageous safe space for response to neighbour in need that activates the spectrum of care for the person before you with the healthy circles of professional and personal support. Or we continue to be okay with the loss in our province of 4 of our neighbours a day.

As the pandemic has shown, Albertans are okay with death, as long as there “independence” is protected. As long as tax breaks go to corporations, as long as their lives and ability for beer and wings is not disrupted. A province where during the height of isolation, our government launched the predatory online casino to ensure revenue flow. Where there is a panic around how to ensure people come out this summer and unmask. The fixation over a piece of cloth is astounding. Where the rallying cry for the anti-maskers, and anti-vaxxers has become survival of the fittest. Where our premier speaks of the frail, disabled and those older than the life expectancy being the dead so who cares. The eugenics experiment continues as we look to opening up July 1.

We know of the long haul symtoms of Covid-19, not a flu (as many want to compare this to the Spanish Flu, a more accurate analogy would be to Polio) in a province unilaterally attacking supports for persons with disabilities and mental illness. As someone who left a field of work due to atypical PTSD, the fact it has been removed from our Worker’s Compensation is creating a poverty class.

Covid has sped up some transformations of work. It has revealed the need to slow our personal lives down and be present. It has reminded some that to grieve is painful, and shown the shallowness of our social media relationships in some cases. It has also shown toxic relationships as deeper conversations in some quarters have happened, and truly understanding how others disvalue life due to health conditions. Knowing selfishness manifest in individualism by the 1 in 5 choosing not to vaccinate themselves of their children. Struggling for those that are caring for self and neighbour in vaccinating in a system by Alberta Health Services where a family cannot book together if some are receiving 2nd and some 1st doses. Think of the complexity on the working class shift workers trying to navigate this system? The eugenics experiment continues with the youngest placed in the cross hairs.

A time of change. Which brings its own grieving. That is, was, and will be the coming months of C-tine, and its wind down.

Whether or not folks when ill or during certain times of year decide to remain masked, in the early months of re-open choose to keep masked. Is not my concern, they are showing care. The key though, is to disrupt the isolation. To connect. To truly cultivate community, to release. To authentically be together as nieghbours, friends, family and loved ones. We are at day 467, July 1 is re-open day for Alberta…Our circle opens up a little with those we love who are vaccinated, but we are also being safe, and ensuring we do what we can to care for self, neighbour, and those that our government has said are expendable for me, they are not, they are fully persons, with intrinsic value in community, because they are lovingly created in the image of the Holy Mystery and called very blessed and very good.

Which brings me into the other episode from today, Fascination (S3, Ep.10), and the Bajoran gratitude festival. The release of that which holds you back, the pains, understanding the good that has come through this time of c-tine, or as Major Kira would state it at the festival opening:

As the scrolls burn, may our troubles turn to ashes with them. And now, for the next twenty-six hours, I expect you all to enjoy yourselves! I know I will. May the Prophets walk with us.

Also, to grow resiliency, aid in grieiving. Take time each day to acknowledge Three (3) things you are grateful/thankful for and the why it matters. This simple task in a journal, each day for at least 7 days will aid in growing optimism, and shift your mindset at this time of disruption, disturbance and transformation.

“Having been to the mid-21st century I do have a question, how could they let it get so bad?”-Dr. Bashir. “That’s a good question, I wish I had an answer”- Sisko (from the end of S3, Ep. 12). We are in 2021, 3 years away from where this episode happened, and Bashir’s questions leaves it in our hands, are we going to let it get this bad?

Or…shatter the lens of individualized polarization for the prism of blessed community?


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


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.


I had mused in the conclusion to my last series to take the scripture thoughts onto a YouTube channel. Well, it is live, so we shall see how this goes. The first video I am still sorting things out but let me know what you think: Finding Neighbour.


The first letter to the Thessalonika closes and many are still thinking rapture time from the words Paul writes. It especially can be come a sacremental battle ground over those that practice infant baptism-christening-confirmation vs. believer (adulting) baptism. Trust me, I know that one where due to my infant baptism an Alliance Church wanted me dunked in their rites to serve…sorry mate doesn’t work that way. Anywho. What is seen though in the words from Paul’s quill is an allegory of the struggle within to emerge from darkness. Darkness created within self by gremlins-saboteurs, illness (of any stripe), outside forces, or societal castes. It is the struggle first to discover the divine, your own inherent worth, to be able to let the light spark, and then shine.

It is these moments I ponder my own journey back to the structured church 21 years ago. I was always a sojourner of the spiritual, but it was a dark heart time for me. It would be the sixth time I chose to attempt to end my life. I was putting my things in order at 19 years old. Getting rid of things. Ensuring that what I thought mattered was done.

Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers,[a] you have no need to have anything written to you. For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief. For you are all children[b] of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness. So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, are drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him. 11 Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.

-Epistle of 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 (English Standard Version)

It was in the mess cleaning that the broken Gideon’s New Testament I was given in Grade 5 I found with the spine broken. The Universe speaking, the Holy Mystery guiding as the words of red where the spine broke spoke to my heart. Reminding me what was important in life. What had shaped my life journeys to that point:

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

It caused a pause. I had been in churches before and made to feel unwelcome. But I knew a place I was always welcome, and since my Granddad had passed away 3 years earlier, my Nan had returned to a church. I arranged an ancient (ok forever tradition) of spending a weekend with my Nan, and going to church…seeking healing with those you love. Who know how you should love yourself.

The spark that is covered.

Becoming revealed.

We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, 13 and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves.14 And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle,[c] encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. 15 See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise prophecies, 21 but test everything; hold fast what is good. 22 Abstain from every form of evil.

23 Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.

25 Brothers, pray for us.

26 Greet all the brothers with a holy kiss.

27 I put you under oath before the Lord to have this letter read to all the brothers.

28 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

-Epistle of 1 Thessalonians 5:12-28 (English Standard Version)

You may never know that you should love yourself. But hopefully there are those in your life that come through that show you love, so you can love yourself. Aid in your journey to break the negative soundtrack and become who you are. Live into the life giving story of your life, the sacred teaching that causes enlightenment and illumination.

Why?

Simple pleasures…If I had not taken that step…I would not be sitting here singing Christmas Carols with my children; watching Norad Santa. Celebrating my daughter and my son as they spread Christmas cheer– he with Christmas sweater contests with his elders and his joyful “ho, ho, ho”-living his sacred truth, her in her quiet confidence speaking her truth- opening Christmas Pageants, MCing Winter Solstice-teaching her sacred truth.

We are on the eve of celebrating the birth of light…

will you let it spark yours?

Image may contain: one or more people and text

Pinned post from Centennial Presbyterian Facebook Page, how a light can spark.


There are certain things I can recommend about loving your neighbour as a monastic mendicant (the term mendicant means open hand, it was a slur used against Franciscans).  I can recommend the joy and love that comes with simplicity and community. I can recommend being able to discourse and dialogue with those across different belief systems. Aiding those in need to come to their holistic being. Discovering hope anew each day.

I cannot recommend some of the outcomes the journey of life brings, especially after a night where one awakes feeling like you have just lost five boxing matches in a row. I cannot recommend moments of a needle stick. Knives being pulled. Life being threatened. Being on anti-retrovirals at one point many moons ago due to being bit and skin broke. Yet these moments of not recommending come from the brokenness of life when hope fades for the person:

Finally, then, brothers,[a] we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more. For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification:[b] that you abstain from sexual immorality;that each one of you know how to control his own body[c] in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.

Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another,10 for that indeed is what you are doing to all the brothers throughout Macedonia. But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more, 11 and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, 12 so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.

-Epistle of 1 Thessalonians 4:1-12 (English Standard Version)

In the mid-first century Paul understood the root of addiction and lack of impulse control. It was not a morality play of legalism, but pointing out that there was something missing for the person. In a world where everyone had their place, they were either in or out, a citizen or property. Paul was writing about something different. A place where all belong.

See there are many roots to pain, suffering. Roots that one tries to cover up with short term pleasure or relief. In choices that in the end can be seen as self-harm. Survival behaviours that still exist today. For what has become of temple prostitution but not sex trafficking? Addiction is the searching for relief. It is the lack of place. It is not being seen for inherent worth. It is truly not being seen as neighbour, but as a number or a commodity so society can easily say it is okay to throw you away.

It is the root of stigmas still around illness and mental illness. I do not want to share how many have walked away from my family and I during the last few years due to my own health concerns. Why? It is messy. It is hard to see beyond a diagnostic label to the person that is still the same soul.

But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. 15 For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord,[d] that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.

-Epistle of 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 (English Standard Version)

A written letter encouraging the renewal of hope and love. Embracing of the divine in self and neighbour. What do we do? We drill down and weaponize passages that continue to ostracize, shun, remove belonging. The concept of “Rapture” culture has flown and is a heresy. It is a black and white choice from words of an allegorists. It gives the drive for “personal salvation” as the be all and end all of the faith journey. Breaks down the great disciple making, renewing of the community and world to nothing more than a formulaic “Sinner’s Prayer” at an altar call.

But this isn’t about some bad science fiction where clothes are left behind as bodies vanish of the “true believers”. No, Paul is writing about something deeper for those who struggle with belonging. For it is in the Holy Mystery, when our soul palace has been renewed. As we come into wholeness, that we come into a deeper understanding of who we truly are. The Shadows and pains are stripped away, we are doing the work for healing. We are choosing new life. New relationships. New coping tools. We are a new being.

The symbolism of Baptism is going into a tomb and coming out, a new life in the Cosmic Christ. Entering the community to be new. The dead shall rise, for we will become new, and our old self shall die. We shall be able to step out of the darkness because of the Holy Lights that shine with us, in us and through us.

Are you and me ready for the ultimate home makeover? The renewal of a Soul Palace, the hardest journey we will ever embark upon, and continually re-enter?

Are we ready to acknowledge hope?

 


It is intriguing for some who view what I share in regard to media. Once you remove the political and true crime geek side of me, what is usually shared is tied to the world of cults, and not the innocuous ones that in a 100 years society will just accept as standardized religion-spirituality, but rather the abusive-murderous ones.  The question arose this week as to why? And was there a central theme within.

I am a student of human behaviour. I believe it comes from being a fiction writer that enjoys science fiction and mysteries (which is an out growth of the world of literature the comic writers of my youth opened me up to). To truly write well, you have to understand the subject which is the world. But why the cults?

Let’s accept a few things first which may be hard to stomach (and no it is not repeating the academic definition of cult that it is a collective of like minded individuals):

  • All current religions at one point or time were viewed as a heresy/cult of the mainstream when they started.
  • As one comic book writer phrased it while they were putting together Lex Luthor’s run for president in 2000. A great villain like Lex Luthor does not make his decisions based on him knowing he is the villain of the story, no, Lex is great at being a villain because he truly believes he is the hero of the story and can do no wrong for in his world he is the pure of heart.

We enter stories such as the Oasis centre in Edmonton; the Fundamental Church of Jesus Christ of Later Day Saint’s in Bountiful, B.C.; Nvixm in British Columbia, and Raelism in Quebec to name but a few close to home.  This does not touch upon the more mainstream of hale bop, Japan’s suicide cult, Jamestown, or Waco, Texas. The weird side note aside of L. Ron Hubbard’s Scientology. It does not touch upon the smaller movements that go unnoticed or unreported.

Yet it also does not touch upon those that may not end in sexual abuse or death, but those that leverage a person’s belief system for financial abuse. Whether it is driving a prosperity gospel, a “those who are deserving will get wealth” or the 20th century indulgence peddler that was the televangelist that fell from grace.

In the moment, they all shared their own theme, much like Lex Luthor they were out for power, prestige and yes, they believed and currently believe they are doing right.

In the moments, they become cautionary real-life parables for those that we in trust our intrinsic worth too. Yet, for the clear majority that enter helping professions or cleric roles this will never develop for there is something within the person that takes them down that path. It is a switch that may have switched before they started the journey or during the journey that allowed them to see the world through the lens that they are the supreme being and the only way.

It is patterns within cults you can see within mass murderers, spree killers and serial killers. To the lesser point, the break that causes the one that acts in isolation. To those that partner and you will see escalation (look to the case of Bernardo-Homolka, from serial rapist to serial killer once he partnered with her).

But even more than those that run these movements or partnerships, what is even more astounding one can say is how they attract followers?

That is not a hard question to answer. Anyone who has studied the hate movements or youth gang movements fully understand what drives these groups thriving even with all the reality shows, media coverage, documentaries, studies, criminal cases, and academic literature on the subject.  It is one simple desire for the human being that our world has slowly been pushing out since the mid-20th century with the drive to keep up the Jones’:

B-E-L-O-N-G-I-N-G.

Think about that. We have created such an isolating society that allows for isolation, segregation and loss of worth that these groups can proliferate. It is what happens when we shift from an understanding of a person as having intrinsic worth because they are a person, and want to treat them with dignity simply because they are our neighbour and not a number or a budget line.

Why my fascination with cults?

Simply put it shows when we fail as a society to compassionately respond with a Just Society to the question of who is my neighbour?

It shows when as a person we fail to be a compassionate neighbour to our neighbour. And yes it can be as simple just being friendly, a simple smile, a hello.

What is being a neighbour about?

Building a world, a country, a province, a city, a neighbourhood, a home that moves beyond labels to define and segregate. It is about creating space of belonging.

This week, what are you going to do to be a neighbour?


tommy1

 

Brad Paisley & LL Cool J Accidental Racist video: https://youtu.be/QPl-Ss-iJLo

I remember learning the trade of script writing. Whether it was for comics, theatre or cinema it definitely was the challenge of showing over telling anything. It is a medium that the viewer or reader needs to instantly identify where someone’s role falls (for the comic reader this was in the era when 1 to 2 pages would take the story in places that today would see 3-6 issues needed). Enter the love of the stereo type.

What’s that you ask?

C’mon. We all have them. Alberta politics created Harry and Martha as the stereotypical Albertans in the 1990’s. For most of the pre-21st century you know that if a nun in a habit or a collared priest enters a scene it is for a religious reason. A rumpled trench coat-probably a detective. A corrupt politician- thy of the heftier set with the rumpled suit big stone pinky ring and ruddy complexion from imbuing too much “holiday cheer” if you will.

There are also other stereotypes that have emerged in how a gang member dresses depending on the era, type of speech used by certain classes (just think of the Newfie jokes in Canada or Southern jokes in the U.S.)…yet each of these set a specific tone when used in a medium to convey something quickly.

The challenge we face as we continue to sanitize our history, remove critical thought and discourse from the education system, move away from the arts and sciences as the basis for education, and do not allow for free and easy ways for neighbours to gather..well…what happens?

The stereo type takes over the reality. In a world where someone can get their “facts” based on a meme or 140-280 characters in social media the stereotype becomes the facts of life. Even more so, you take in to play isolation, segregation due to labels, and other life struggles where you may believe you are the only one. Then these stereo types can drive further wedges.

What comes from these wedges?

Collaboration. Community. Belonging. Become impossible.

Instead we see a repeat of history. Things we figured out how to solve we throw up our hands as  a society and saw we don’t know what to do.

Whether it was Nazis, KKK, Neo-Nazis, Irish Republican Army, youth gangs, extremists of hatred in all shades and sizes, religious zealots and currently terrorists…. What lies at the core?

Being labelled constantly as the other. Being segregated and stripped of worth. That simple intrinsic worth we all have for simply being human beings and key pieces of the eco-system. We are not people, each of us is an individual person, with a separate story and journey, a separate set of skills, calling of vocation, and place in society. This role moves beyond any stereo type the world wants to place upon you, and is you. Live into the you, you are meant to be.

In fact: Be the person that extends the hand of welcome to the stranger.  For as the old saying goes, there is no strangers just friends we haven’t met yet.

Or from my mentoring days with youth in public schools, churches and the youth criminal justice system it spoke of the transformative power of investing an hour a week in the life of an adolescent for huge results. What does this have to do with breaking down stereotypes you ask?

Simple. There is more wisdom in this than any other idea. A stereotype exists because we are unwilling to see beyond. How do you see beyond? You build a bridge not a wall.

Who is your neighbour?

It can be as simple as the one you share a cup of coffee with to discover about who they truly are beyond the social media stereotype.

What stereotype do you need to step outside of and break bread with to move forward together as one community?

The challenge for you…which stereotype are you going to enter into a discourse with the reality of?

Let’s change our world one cuppa at a time.

tommy2


poor

This past week’s of reflections from the Aquarian Gospel have wound around a similar theme of faith in action. That is actually living out that which we profess to live inwardly. In Franciscan Charism it is the sacred practice of open hand, knowing that which we are given is not ours, but we are stewards for a time until the true purpose comes to fruition.

This Facebook meme I posted three years ago screamed this, and came to mind as I re-read Levi’s re-imagining of these teachings have remained true to the way presented in Canonical Gospels found in the Aquarian Gospel 142 It is the wealthy asking what more they must do than follow rules and profess creeds. To which Jesus aptly replies:

22. The young man asked, To which commands did he refer?
23. And Jesus said, You shall not kill; you shall not steal; you shall not do adulterous things; you shall not falsely testify;
24. and you shall love your God with all your heart, and you shall love your neighbour as yourself.
25. The man replied, These things I have observed from youth; what lack I yet?
26. And Jesus said, One thing you lack; your heart is fixed on things of earth; you are not free.
27. Go forth and sell all that you have, and give your money to the poor, and come follow me, and you shall have eternal life.
28. The man was grieved at what the master said; for he was rich; he hid his face and went in sorrow on his way.
29. And Jesus looked upon the sorrowing man and said, It is so hard for men with hoarded wealth to enter through the door into the kingdom of the soul.

-Aquarian Gospel 142:22-29

The wealth wasn’t the challenge for being in unity. Look at the word: HOARD. That is keeping things beyond logic and reason, beyond usefulness simply for having. That is what wealth had become, something that must be so held on to it could no longer be used for its intended purpose.

Saint Paul writes to Timothy as tradition teaches:

For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows.

-1 Timothy 6:10 (New Living Translation)

So then what is the purpose of wealth?

To spend, to help, to grow, to live, to build—

to

L-O-V-E.

So this ruler was unwilling to let that which held his soul in EGO to be released so he could finally have freedom and understand what are tools, and what is unity. He had made his tools his Holy Mystery, and for that he was truly drowning in this life.

Are we ready to rediscover what is the true rhythm of life?

Where do we travel?

Are we the Rich Man or are we Lazarus?

35. A rich man lived in splendid state; he wore the finest garments men could make; his boards were loaded with the costliest viands of the land.
36. A beggar, blind and lame, whose name was Lazarus, was wont to sit beside the waste gate of this home that he might share with dogs the refuse from the rich man’s board.
37. It came to pass that Lazarus died, and angels carried him away unto the bosom of our father Abraham.
38. The rich man also died, and he was buried in a costly tomb; but in the purifying fires he opened up his eyes dissatisfied.
39. He looked and saw the beggar resting peacefully in the bosom of his father Abraham, and in the bitterness of his soul he cried,
40. My father Abraham, look down in mercy on your son; I am tormented in these flames.
41. Send Lazarus, I beseech, that he may give me just a sup of water to cool my parched tongue.
42. But Abraham replied, My son, in mortal life, you had the best things of the earth and Lazarus had the worst, and you would not give him a cup of water there, but drove him from your door.
43. The law must be fulfilled, and Lazarus now is comforted, and you are paying what you owe.
44. Besides, there is a great gulf fixed between your zone and us, and if I would I could not send Lazarus to you, and you cannot come up to us till you have paid your debts.
45. Again the man in anguish said, O father Abraham, I pray, send Lazarus back to earth, and to my father’s house, that he may tell my brothers who are yet in life, for I have five of them, about the horrors of this place, lest they come down to me and not to you.
46. And Abraham replied, They have the words of Moses and the seers, let them hear them.
47. The man replied, They will not hearken to the written word; bit if a man would go up from the grave they might believe.
48. But Abraham replied, If they hear not the words of Moses and the seers they would not be persuaded even though one from the dead stood in their midst.

-Aquarian Gospel 142:35-48

St. Francis of Assisi has been derided as non-scholarly for many a century, in comparison to other monastic movements ala Jesuits that focused more on scholarship. But what Francis taught was that each gospel story need not be only understood, but internalized, and then externally lived out through almost muscle memory before moving onto the next. For he knew the story is more than the words spoken or on the page. The story is life. And life lived is how we connect-unify with the Holy, and nieghbour, as the Shema tells us through Love that resonates from self.

So where does this lead us? You? Me?

To simply answer a question, what does it mean to internalize and externalize this story for us, here and now?

Are we ready for such a leap from page to life?

 


woodsworth

J.S. Woodsworth was a Methodist minister, who was a labour and human rights activist, pacifist, during the general strike in Winnipeg would be beaten by authorities and imprisoned. He would lead the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation during the hey day when they almost reached popularity enough to form government if not for machinations by the two mainline parties working the first media campaign.

He wrote Canadian Social Gospel theology out of his time as the superintendent of the Winnipeg Mission, the gateway to Canada for new comers where mats were provided, health care, employment training, education, and then tracts of free land on the prairies.

Over his lifetime his theological beliefs would transform from Christian to Social Gospel to finally surrendering his ordination, as he became a universalist that moved close to if not truly becoming a Pantheist. Though judging by reading the liturgies he would craft for his Labour Church would show much more of a Panentheist, understanding the inter-connectedness of all of creation within the Holy Mystery.

He comes to mind as we simply touch upon some readings from the Aquarian Gospel for your own reflection on answering Woodsworth’s question above.

Am I that Neighbour?

Where does the following stories resonate in your own life?

How are you called to be a neighbour?

Aquarian Gospel:

Chapter 132

Chapter 133

Chapter 134

Chapter 136

34 But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. 35 And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

-Gospel of Saint Matthew 22:34-40 (English Standard Version).

Loving God and neighbour, starts with loving yourself as the connected very blessed being you are created to be.

Out of this love that connects your core within and throughout the Holy Mystery, is that which connects you with your neighbour.

So as you step into your daily life, reflecting, praying and meditating on the 4 chapters above…now what is your action steps?

Are you that neighbour being called out in Holy Love?