Posts Tagged ‘Presbyterian Church in Canada’


Presbyterian Connection is the quarterly newspaper of the Presbyterian Church in Canada, that took the place of the defunct Presbyterian Record magazine. As some know, I am a firm believer community does not take a lot of money, what it does take is time PCC_RGB_BurningBushand talents of those who want to make a difference. Multiple generations have been positively impacted in our community by the simple act of a Vacation Bible School from this small congregation. This summer I was able to attend my daughter’s celebration (she has been at everyone since it was revitalized a few years ago) and it struck me that it was time to see if I could remind churches of this simplicity of giving and growing. I sent in a short piece with a picture of my daughter, and it was published in this quarter’s paper (on page 23).

It is simple encouragement, enjoy here: PC_Winter18


Related image

Related image

Azeem and child discussing diversity.  Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991)

It was my summer of Writerific, I was 12 years old and with other young writers discovering our voices, strengthening our ability to tell stories…and yes part of that was moving into areas that some would deem controversial. It was also the summer I first picked up A Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. It was the summer as well, with Robin Hood, and this great exchange between Azeem, a Moor from the Holy Land who stood with Robin Hood, and a child, who simply asks about that which she had never seen. It is a simple scene, some may never remember it, yet it is one that teaches so much about dignity and respect in a world of belonging. It teaches, curiosity is never wrong. Conversation is never wrong. Oh, and when one has a question, ask as politely as you can to the one you have the question of.

This is our mission this year (and every year) to raise the level of discourse and dignity within the community of super heroes my son is apart of. The most offensive thing (well maybe not the most, but on the royally ticking off scale) is being out and about, and a parent shuffling their child by saying don’t stare. Let your kid come up and chat with my son, he will be his loving self… Oh and adults…you have questions…don’t bypass my son and speak to us, start talking to him first.

Other pro-tips for the professional and non-professional out there to bring better dignity to our world:

  1. It is “What’s wrong with him?” rather it is, what does he use a wheel chair? What does that gesture mean? or like the child, why did God sculpt him this way?
  2. Anyone with a pulse knows (or should by now) that the R-word is as atrocious as any racial slur…regardless of how you try to use it and needs to cease. The challenge is many do not understand the root of “handicap”. Much legislation and language needs to be updated to speak of accessibility or universal design/barrier free instead of this word. Historically it was the term for those with disabilities, as they were on the lower socio-economic spectrum (poverty class) and would come cap in hand for alms. So much like in the Franciscan tradition when the term Mendicant was tossed at those monastics as a slur, so handicaps root is such…it means beggar, less than, outcast. Words matter in reclaiming dignity and belonging.
  3. Ableism is what happens without dignity (at its worst is Eugenics). The plastic straw ban is ableist, and how the religious and spiritual jumped on board to support shows their lack of understanding around the issue (please see other posts on this topic)… not only the life giving of the plastic straw for some with disabilities, but when the United Church Observer online finally after months of debating their editors changes from “plastic straws evil” to “plastic straws should be available for anyone via a fee” finally a strong stance, but one that does not understand the socio-economic history of persons with disabilities, and goes back to a misreading of the gospel from a spectrum of theology that sees less than, not full belonging (we shall see if they print my challenge to them this coming September).
  4. Diapers!!! ARGH!!! The most indignity we present to persons who are differently abled. Unless you are a newborn or a toddler, it s not a diaper or a nappy. They are undergarments that happen to have incontinence protection. Underwear. (YES CBE AND MEDICAL COMMUNITY AND ALBERTA GOVERNMENT LOOKING AT YOU!!!), the simple things make life livable, do you go around telling people oh I am going to wipe my butt now? Or hey I just left skid marks in my boxers? NO. Why assume we can treat someone else that way.
  5. Grief. Yes it is a scary world for those our society deems “typical”. We like to code to prove cognition and whether or not someone comprehends “death and grieving” for if they qualify for “counselling”. Let’s keep it real (again Alberta Education and Alberta Health looking at you, but also the Church)… at any level any child or person knows when someone was in their life and gone. They cycle through missing them, whether or not they have the ability to vocalize or communicate it in such a way that we understand. It is not on them to enter our world to heal, it is on us as their neighbour to enter their world  This is where the church women’s group from the movie Lars and the Real Girl got it right, it is about just simply being, and yes sometimes it is in the silence.
  6. Do not live in the grief/shame or inflict it upon us. That is to the world in general, and to the family unit. We are given a narrative of what a child’s life is to be. Then when something changes that narrative we are put in this place where if we choose to move out of grief/shame or the “you’re a hero for doing this” or the “it takes a special kind of person” narrative then we are ungrateful. NO! We choose to stand in the beauty of the life before us. Yes, we truly believe this is part of the rainbow of life, the beautiful image of the Holy Mystery. Everyone is who they are meant to be, and they will achieve vocational life and wholeness because we come around as community in love and belonging. The grief/shame is perpetuated when our world stops at only accessibility or inclusion.
  7. yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.

    1. -James 4:14 (English Standard Version)
    2. As the words of the brother of Jesus- James, Bishop of Jerusalem, the man who was because of the love of his Mother, Mary of Nazareth, says it directly. In our world we too often let the labels, the coding, the diagnosis become the prognosis or script for life. It is time to shatter the glass ceiling for everyone in our world, and to simply know that each and everyone of us belongs. That, and the life that appears and is lived is shaped within the community from those who are blood and chosen family to broader neighbours. Are we willing to live life with out barriers?
  8. Oh, and if we are not a service being paid for out of pocket by the government or ourselves, it is not something “FOR”… if you are an elective community group (community association, church, sports leagues, etc), you are doing things “with” the person. For they are a part of the community, and as such are a full member, who like any member just needs different things to belong. Hell, even if there is a pay… the activities better be WITH, as everyone’s communication (voice however it is found) and life has value and worth…as such, deserves dignity. (Special shout out to the Presbyterian Church in Canada for using “with” language in your justice documents for persons with disabilities, and acknowledging the poverty and socio-economic disparity that exists in the community)

These are but a few ways to show love to your neighbour, and yourself. These are but a few ways to understand the answer to the child’s question to Azeem.

Better yet, look at yourself in the mirror. And simply let the inner-child ask you the question:

Did God paint you?

How does your inner Azeem answer?

Now be with your world, as the child, and as the answer.


Ecclectica a random compilation of thoughts/commentaries on this point in history.

Equalization:

It amazes me how many Albertans hold an opinion on equalization payments, without understanding equalization (including those politicians who supposedly have worked out formulas). Back to basics of poli-sci. First it is not money out of provinces, but money from federal taxes. It is a system designed for balance to aid have not provinces. It is not a screw job on Alberta, in fact for many years before the boom squandered by our then PC Government, we were a “have-not” province receiving more equalization money. So what is someone who used to receive aid, now complaining about someone else in need receiving aid known as?? Inquiring minds want to know. *cough*hypocrites *cough*

Oh and the current formula that was renewed by the Liberal Government was negotiated by our Opposition Leader, Jason Kenney, when he was in Government.

Kids in Camps (and not the good kind):

Trumps’ attempted authoritarianism. His executive order sham. He does not care about kids, he cares about how much strength and stamina is left in the resistance, only reason for the smoke and mirror back pedal. The First Lady’s jacket revealed his true thoughts to the kids in camps. Same as the EO moving it from a simple civil violation, to a criminal one.

Oh, and for Canadians who are supporting Trump and slamming out government. There was a practice from 2012-2015, when it was under the portfolio of United Conservative Party Leader Jason Kenney (ahem, Alberta). It is abhorrent, and quit slamming the government. Right you MP about it, if it is still happening call the government to stop. If it isn’t but there is still a law it needs to be abolished. This is not a partisan issue, it is a human issue, and needs to be an all party issue.

Single Use Plastic bans:

Yes we need to be good stewards of our environment, yes we need to reduce consumption. We also need to stop dumping the crap in our oceans, and find ways to recycle what we do use, and reclaim what damage has been caused. Before these are phased out, we need viable replacements at same costs. Yes, this is a pointed argument at the ABLEIST environmental movement of the straw-ban (and note it is driven by industry of other types of reusable straws, for there are much more harmful products to target). But for some with disabilities the elimination of the plastic straw is literally a difference between drinking or not:

infographic created by a disability advocate, screen shot from a re-tweet on twitter.

In regards to plastic bags. Companies (ala Wal-Mart) charging 5 cents a bag does not discourage use, your tills are not designed for me to pack my own. Also, it is a serious socio-economic question I have. Many food banks use plastic bags for their hampers (and yes these are also hampers given to children in public school to ensure they get food). What is the plan? What is the replacement? What costs of donation does this take from the bottom line of aiding those in need?

Like the straws, this comes from a place of upper-class wealth and pushing new products. All for new products. All for environmental care (hell I am formed as a Franciscan). BUT– Ableism and socio-economics need to be taken into account with any change, and that includes these ones. How are we going to ensure belonging and care of neighbour without adding extra-burdens to fixed or poverty/working class incomes?

CBE Lisa Davis

I am going to admit to being pissed about CBE Trustee Lisa Davis exploring a UCP run and possibly leaving the CBE Trustees. Why? She was an ALLY for kids with disabilities, and aided us in getting our voice out during a busing mess that put kids lives at risk last summer. A mess that CBE administration and then sitting trustees blamed on our community, and as parents we should be happy with what we got BECAUSE WE CHOSE TO HAVE THESE KIDS.

Trustee Hrdlicka’s twitter responses quoting CBE policy just illuminated the board is not there for students or families.

Though it does give a microcosm of the NDP/UCP Dichotomy.

By-Elections

Two by-elections in Alberta are set for July 12, 2018 provincially. There has been a number since the 2015 change of governments that saw the 44 year PC dynasty end. Most notably election night when Jim Prentice who won his seat, but lost his government resigned.

By-elections have become “accepted”. It has become acceptable to not fulfill your elected obligation, and walk out on your citizens. I would love a political scientist to do an accounting on how much these cost us each term, and which parties have cost us the most (my hunch this time is they have all come from one source- UCP “PC/WRP legacy”).

There obviously is some things that cannot be foreseen. The unforeseen and sad death of MLA Bhullar. A massive health crisis. As with any vocation this cannot be foreseen, and as such a penalty for the by-election should not be imposed.

Otherwise, there needs to be a penalty. By-elections are expensive.

Some thoughts are a penalty paid by the elected official. Monetary may work. Not being eligible anymore for any type of pension is another. An inability to run for any office for a set length of time (5-10 years to encompass most levels of governance).

But there also needs to be a penalty by the party so they do not seek to trigger the by-election by bullying or shunning a member out. That penalty is simple, they cannot run a candidate in the by-election, and any one who wins and crosses the floor to joint he party triggering the election forfeits their seat, and the party loses the ability to run a candidate in that riding for two election cycles.

Another option is the party causing the by-election must pay for it out of party coffers.

But by-elections should not be something we are comfortable with, for it says we are okay with elected officials opting out of the oath they sign when they run.

Eugenics History

Has anyone else noted that the thrust for eugenics (purifying of the race; forced sterilization of those with disabilities; experimentation on those with disabilities/mental health concerns; forced institutionalization) grew out of a biblical concept of less than for the person who was not seen as whole or typical. Yet governments and churches have not apologized as with other groups? They do not seek truth and reconciliation?

Where is the words of repentance from the Salvation Army? Evangelicals? Anglicans? Catholics? United Church? Presbyterians? Jehovah Witnesses? All the Christianities who have supported teachings such as this?

It is quite simple, I love the social gospel movement. It has brought many beautiful and positive changes in our world– feminism, human rights, labour rights, birthed other movements. But within that heritage one also has to wrestle with eugenics (which has stayed around passively as Ableism)… is the church willing? Or is this the last group that can be ignored/shuffled to the corner with impunity?

2019 and 2020 elections

Just your friendly PSA that Canada is not a locked 2 party voting system. We have multiplicity provincially and federally. Please look at your local candidates, and their parties closely to what aligns with your core.

ALSO VOTE. The only vote that does not count, is the vote not cast. Ontario has a PC Government, but 48% of eligible Ontarian did not vote. So yes technically 60% of the 52% did vote non-PC, but you still do not have a true encapsulation of what all eligible voters would be.

VOTING

When the government consults on voting, ensure you take time to speak for those accessing homeless shelters, who may be in hospital, long term care, lodges, hospice and any other facility they may not have mobility to get to a polling station to have the polling station brought to them.

Also remember constitutionally to vote in Canada (and run for office) you have to be in the country for 6 months and over 18 years old.

 

 

 

 


I have always enjoyed reading the practical current events spiritual magazines/newspapers published in Canada. Most are denominationally specific. Among my top 3 were: United Church Observer, Anglican Sower and Presbyterian Record. The last two I also had the privilege to write for and share thoughts, unfortunately they are also no longer publishing (the fact they carried my works has nothing to do with the ceasing of publication I believe). One can also trace in my spiritual journey, denominations or religious traditions have not been high, I have drank and do drink from the many wells the one river feeds, yet it is the one river that I thirst for.

As I wrote a few days ago after a cascade of flashbacks triggered by a denominational prayer cycle (Read post here) it is unique that the latest issue of the United Church Observer in their Question Box column, Spiritual Solidarity, touched upon clerical unionization.

                “Clergy conflict reflect the ongoing turmoil and anxiety within the wider United Church.”

-Christopher White

Workplace and community conflicts are part of existing together. They are to be expected, what is not to be expected in civilized society is such harassment, haranguing and trauma that individuals leave their employment, or wind up with deep rooted scars. This article triggered flashbacks, part of the work of trying to rise above my flashbacks is acknowledging the pain, but also acknowledging the good I have seen and been apart of.

Obviously, the article is centred on the organic transformation within the United Church on this issue, but I can attest it crosses Christianities tradition and denominational lines. Following is a few thoughts on the good and bad I have been apart of.

“I also believe that more and more…is moving from primarily seeing ministry as a covenanted relationship to seeing it as a contractual one.”

-Christopher White

  1. The small congregation that hired me as a youth leader leaving my first experience, and then a minister. Both with contradicting missions. The congregation responding to the pain their abuse had caused catastrophe with previous ministries, allowing those with the money to run rampant. Online abuse existed before social media it was done via cc and bcc on e-mail as my character and personhood were attacked by those in the church that did not like their children/youth thinking. The harassment also continued through the office of clergy towards me, and some youth with mental health concerns. Meetings were held; then it went up to the Presbytery level to meet with the congregation and even though these meetings concerned me I was not allowed to attend. Eventually they beat you down, and I chose to surrender my ministry—yes the majority wanted to bring me on as minister, but even with mechanisms to sanction the vocal minority bullies—they refused. How did the organization reward this community? With more money, bigger space…message sent to those targeted—you do not matter.
  2. Being a Lay Professional Leader in a congregation doing things such as contemplative worship services, pulpit fill in; leading a bible study. Yet the wealthy in the aging congregation got their tempest in a tea pot over kids at play, noise, and the online attack campaign begun. Unwillingness again to call out a spade as a spade from those higher due to—yup you guessed it—money at play as donors.
  3. Stalked on and harassed via social media by a congregation and their pastor—why? As a family, we attempted to advertise our home bible study and potluck on the church Facebook page. My wife encouraged to distance herself from me and my unChrist-like influence. When she refused, and we chose to leave as a family those that said they were our “friends” shunned us like leaving a cult.
  4. My son’s joyful noise at a Santa Clause service being called out in vehement anger by the minister and called to leave service. Shunned by the supposedly “inclusive” spiritual home. In the moment those who preached standing up for injustice became the bystanders while the bully postured and the bullied was left believing he was on Santa’s naughty list.
  5. In Bible College having a professor point blank tell the class when I answered in favour of inclusion “that is why your church must die”…and being taunted in the halls as the “fag church member” still standing strong and up as best I could, leaving the learning environment to be battered in my “church homes” as I tried to build ministries.
  6. Para-church directors head hunting to fire me for my political and/or theological beliefs not aligning with their personal understanding.
  7. Being the family scape goated by an ill-equipped children’s educational ministry, because we had the “special needs kid” and not looking seriously at the bullying issue by the children of the long term generational members, and having the “r word” used to describe my son.
  8. Hearing during service a priest being called out on the rug because he took a stand for inclusion of God’s children, and love for those who are differently abled.

That is the darkness. Some can see through that a need for the mediating voice, but a union is not just there for the darkness, they are there to create a support network for successes. A place where the story can be shared for what has transformed, what has been overcome, and can create a relationship where clergy can easily move between denominations.

  1. I have been apart of wonderful churches that have had no actual building. Where ministries and retreats for youth were sponsored by church family members (with or without kids) in their own homes.
  2. I have been there when seniors have continued to answer the call to serve our children as they closed in on 100 years old, as we created “Elders Time” where a big comfy chair was created and the Elder could share the story, and then have the youth be their hands and legs for the activity.
  3. I have seen the passion of inclusion, where walls were broken down and churches laughed off the “tradition” of church youth/community youth time tables to have open youth group for all where spiritual formation was encouraged, and critical thought.
  4. I have seen youth and young families forego the “contemporary” service to be apart of the old liturgical service because it is where the seniors were, and allowed those without grandparents to find that role in their life in church.
  5. I have broken bread, shared meals, lifted many families and friends within my own home around simple things as movie discussion nights, bible studies…where life was done for those shunned by churches they did not fit the mold for due to life circumstance, simple acts of kindness and love allowed the journey to continue… and yes, the noise of children is apart of that.
  6. A Children’s Ministry coordinator coming and speaking directly to my son about coming and being part of the group, not asking us, asking him and listening close for his body language and spastic voice if he wanted to come.
  7. Having a priest during High Mass while blessing the host pause, as my son cheers loudly, and state to the congregation overflowing, “May we all have that excitement to be one with Jesus!”
  8. A minister that contacts my son about if he wants to be in the Christmas pageant, and then the congregation learns about inclusionary communication tools.
  9. Simple things, like a free half day Vacation Bible School that I was blessed to be apart of growing up, and then my teacher asking if my daughter would attend as they are re-launching (and yes, this past summer she learned some French!).
  10. Offering scholarships for VBS’s that have a cost so no child is turned away.
  11. Celebrating the diversity in our unity as spiritual beings from who we are to where we are from…whether it is being Affirming or Dancing our Offering to the Altar to everything in between and not even dreamed of yet.
  12. A Priest taking the flack for replacing offering over two weeks of masses to ensure the food cupboard is overflowing with blessing.
  13. A nun that gathers toys to deliver with food hampers to families in need, and when families without homes sleep in the church ensure that even the volunteers have what they need.
  14. A priest that is troubled by persons with mobility issues not being able to get to the dining hall with dignity for church meals, installs and elevator.
  15. A priest that volunteers with homeless families and realizes they do not have the opportunity to shower in the parish before going out for their day. Installs showers, and announces offering from that weekend needs to be generous to pay for it.

For every horror story there is good stories, even great ones. Yet we cannot say the good outweighs the bad. We cannot say “this is church” to allow for the bullying. People are essentially good. We need to be generous in our ability to do what we can to build a better world, one simple act of kindness at a time.

A union for church employees on the surface may be something to be scoffed at, but it creates a mediating body, removes the ability of congregations or higher church authorities to cover up for PR reasons. It creates an environment with standardized codes of care and conduct that cannot be shouted down due to the “wealthy donor” paradigm. It levels the playing field, much like the gospels pointed to.

This is my story, my experience, my opinion. My act of reconciliation as the story stands, the truth told…now it is time to move forward…into a new day, and a hopeful healthier relationship in the congregation we have settled in.


Since our decision on December 18 the family has entered contemplative discussion on what is spiritual community? Holistic Community? Yes some may find it surprising that we are going to rest in a Presbyterian congregation starting in the new year until we get an urging from the Spirit, but then the Presbyterian Church in Canada has materials available to aid congregations in including God’s differently abled children as blessings to community life.

But I digress, part of this path laid out is understanding that the wife and I will need more to fill the cup if you will, and that means setting aside time in the week to listen to progressive spiritual thought and discuss, this led to an internet search of Canadian content. Yes there is a difference when you listen to American or European thought, compared to Canadian, we have a middle path (actually very Anglican when you figure we are a former British colony)…so I did some digging which turned up some places offering progressive thought and podcasts/youtube (if you have any more please share).

This list is unvetted, just so you are aware, but feel free to click and leave your thoughts in the comments:

http://www.mcctoronto.com/video/sunday-services-archive

https://soundcloud.com/observerdocs/observer-podcast-episode-5/recommended

https://www.firstmetvictoria.com/first-met-live-archives/

http://gnosticwisdom.net/spiritual-temples-the-liberal-catholic-church-2/

http://revolutionchurch.tumblr.com/   (yes this is American, but Jay Bakker has an interesting preaching style)

http://www.unityofvancouver.org/listen-to-services/

http://www.unityofvancouver.org/unity-tv-2/

http://beaconunitarian.org/index.php/category/sermon/

http://unitarianfellowshipregina.podbean.com/

http://livingspirit.ca/sermons-2/

http://www.themeetinghouse.com/teaching/podcasts/

http://www.friendschurch.ca/messages-podcast/

Now we are not naive, and we know that not any one community can be all. Now the googling did lead to searches for things in our hometown. And yes it was interesting that it was way south (we are trying to be community centered once again and trying not to be destination based).

Yet for those in the South, this came up in my google searches, from Woodcliff United Church from an early mentor whence I returned to Christendom in my late teens, Rev. Linda Hunter:

A Message from Rev. Linda:
THE MAN AT THE BACK OF THE STABLE….
I have always been rather intrigued by Joseph, the father of Jesus. Have you ever noticed in nativity scenes that he is usually found near the back of the stable, close to the cows and sheep and camels. The center of attention is, of course, the wee baby Jesus laying on a bed of straw, with his mother Mary hovering over him. Joseph looks rather neglected back there.
Who is this man named Joseph, to whom an angel came and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.” Let’s give credit to Joseph here. What the angel was asking of him was unheard of in his culture. When Joseph discovered that Mary was pregnant, the cultural norms of his day would have demanded that she be sent back to her family because she was “used” property. He had every right to refuse to marry her, abandoning her to the mores of her day—ostracization or death. But he did not.
Now I may doubt the veracity of this story, and in many ways it enrages me because of Mary’s position in her world, but one thing I don’t doubt is that to stand up to the cultural norms of your day is a courageous act. Joseph engaged in a courageous act by taking Mary into his home and marrying her.
When you look around our world today, do you see quiet, unheralded acts of courage in the challenging of unjust cultural norms? I see it everywhere. Folks refusing to give in to bullying. Folks refusing to give in to racial stereotyping of groups of people because of the colour of their skin. Folks striving for peace when it is so much easier to rush to war. Folks demanding human rights for the LBGTQ community.
Such courage is everywhere and I think we have, in part, Joseph to thank for setting a strong example. Let’s take that fellow from the back of the stable and place him closer to the action.

For those who have followed my speaking and writing career, know this is very close to my take on the Nativity story.  And it shows a strong inclusive message based on the core of creation, Love…all that is missing for me is that the demand of human rights is not just our family in the LBGTQ community, but also for the family in the differently abled community.

In this Holy Season of the 12 Days of Christmas…please let this be the prayer of action in your heart and being…building a house of inclusion (and by the looks of Woodcliff online, if you are in the south of Calgary pop by on a Sunday Morning and see if this is the family for you!).


Or will we. It has been quite a year for the lil clan Ragan in the Properties. It was a year that opened without the Matriarchs of our family for the first time as my Mum joined Nan in transitioning to Paradise in the fall of 2013. But the bumpy ride would not continue, as another member of the family’s “Greatest Generation” would transition, our kids beloved Dido in early 2014.

It would create a whirlwind time as my wife’s Mom would come live with us for a time.

It was a year where I continued to grow my renewed vocational call of serving to create homes, and continue teaching. Yet it was also a year that saw a renewal of my writing and a renewed passion to enter back into the work. Yes for those that have noticed I have put out a new spiritual e-book or two, and revisited the original super heroes in a universe I played with in my writing for decades, it was a fun tale to put out as I trimmed away decades of additions to bring the character back to what the Bionic Knight was originally. Will there be more? More than likely.

It was another spring-summer on the Alberta Parade Circuit for the kids to help wishes come true for Children’s Wish, as well as the summer the family made it to Drumheller for the first time so the kids could see the Dinosaurs and stay in a hotel.

But wait, first’s did not end there, for it was the first camp trip of the kids as we stayed in a cabin at Countess Country Museum and from there discovered Dinosaur Provincial Park.

A year of welcoming new family members.

Friends from Ontario visiting and sharing a coffee.

My sister coming over to hang out as the family journeyed through a tough time.

Personal and familial health issues, some sorted out, others not.

A return to medication so my mind no longer betrayed me.

Directly answering false accusations and being stronger for it.

It was a year where we continued our journey in institutional Christianity until the Summer, and eight months after the last visit to the pulpit for my Mum’s funeral, I was in the pulpit once again pushing the boundaries of the established church. For regular readers you know the journey and the challenge myself and my family have had with the religion of our heritage. It was the last church I preached at, that we journeyed with, that we needed for it was a good Christianity experience finally of being accepted, yet as regular readers can attest I tend to not only push the boundaries of the faith, but am beyond liberal/progressive to simply universalist. Or as the spiritual centre we discovered put’s it: What Would Love Do?

That’s right the summer saw us soulfully home is the best word I can use to describe it. Walking into a theatre at SAIT Poly Technic due to road construction keeping us from a return visit to Unity of Calgary, and needing a spiritual service. We found ourselves in the Calgary Centre for Spiritual Living.

The Science of Mind teachings we discovered became the culmination of a journey for my family of belonging, where we could hold our views, but did not have to discard others or hold to false pretenses of salvation, recite creeds that did not ring true. Instead finding solace in One Power and knowing that there is an open door for all.

It was a journey that took me to qualify for a scholarship and take my first course (See Bridge Project and the 12 Powers of Robin Hood for more on this). This journey that resonated within me and realized that the calling of ministry/monasticism was not wrong, but the soul was resting in the wrong spaces. For resting here in this teaching it was affirming what I had always battled about being true and others looking on as sacrilegious or heretical and here it just grooved.

But the course’s opening was not good for my family as it was the time of ultimate violation, our house was broken in to and the heirloom jewelry of my family was taken. My family was left shaken, and the journey of healing and rebuilding began. Out of this shock came a huge blessing as my family adopted our new fur-baby, a 7 year old rescue lady, mixed pitbull and bulldog that had a first love moment with my son, Diamond came home late November, just 3 weeks after the break in, and became a Ragan.

Yup those that visit cannot imagine our household without our third child.

And as the year wound down it was a time of family. Christmas was hard to get in to, cards were mailed late, and there was something missing, but I am fairly certain on Christmas Day Morning those missing from the celebrations were in the room visiting as presents were unwrapped and children played. It was realizing that as a family we have inherited much in our Christmas traditions and decor, but over the next year creating new traditions and decor that reflect who we are as a family and the journey we have taken.

When midnight tolled to ring in 2015 looking back thinking 2014 was finally done, and glad it was gone. Much stress, much sorrow, much emptiness…

But then, the therapy of the words on the screen.

2014 was bumpy, and there was tears shed, but when it comes down to it, the family is blessed for having had this journey as as 2015 opens the transformation continues.

We are home.


It is amazing the outcry towards Mainline denoms currently. Since 1988 in Canada we have bore withness to the nastiness and visceralness directed at the United Church of Canada because of their inclusion of LGBTTQ in the holy orders of God (essentially the idea that God calls to the ministry whom God calls and humanity needs to accept in our own narrowness).

The United Church of Christ in the US has come under fire for not only ordination, but also a full “marriage” for those of the same gender.

Recently the Episcopal Church not only took the route of the UC Canada, but also has issued a liturgy to bless same gender unions; and accepted transgendered individuals into the priesthood.

The ELCA/ELCIC are dealing with upheaval for their own moves to tear down patriarchal ladders and redraw a circle of inclusion.  Same as the Presbyterian Church (USA) and in some ways the Presbyterian Church in Canada.

There are other traditions (actually smalled congregations) that are moving beyond the idea of academic qualifications for ministry, and an understanding that everyone and anyone is called to the office of the ministry (the priesthood of all believers anyone?). By removing the academic stumbling blocks all God’s children are able to affirm a call to ministry whether it is in the marketplace, social enterprise or pulpit.

But hear the earth shattering cries of heresy, apostasy, abomination…and yet we are left to ponder this story from Peter in the Acts of the Apostles:

Acts 10:9-16

New King James Version (NKJV)

Peter’s Vision

The next day, as they went on their journey and drew near the city, Peter went up on the housetop to pray, about the sixth hour. 10 Then he became very hungry and wanted to eat; but while they made ready, he fell into a trance 11 and saw heaven opened and an object like a great sheet bound at the four corners, descending to him and let down to the earth. 12 In it were all kinds of four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, creeping things, and birds of the air. 13 And a voice came to him, “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.”

14 But Peter said, “Not so, Lord! For I have never eaten anything common or unclean.”

15 And a voice spoke to him again the second time, “What God has cleansed you must not call common.” 16 This was done three times. And the object was taken up into heaven again.

Simple point: Give up the bloody labels and know God loves everyone. Yeesh!

(because please remember it wasn’t very long ago (less than a hundred years, some less than a generation: that women; aboriginals; metis; half-breeds; non-whites– were seen as abnormalities, abominations and unable to be called by God to serve in the church as fully equal and included members…just sayin’).