Posts Tagged ‘Religion’

An Ecclectica

Posted: February 21, 2021 by Ty in Current Events
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Ah the polar vortex has lifted, and if not an official chinook arch, the other extreme of climate change has settled in where it is plus 6 celsius on Feb. 21, day 342 of C-tine as I type these words and ponder the state of my province. And wonder, where oh where did the ability of dialogue and critical thought go?

First off, a quick PSA for Albertans to educate yourselves on our Covid-19 restrictions, and how many of our neighbours are in mourning (read here). For the dualistic thinking political ideologue that wants majority party control Federally, and believe you are either Conservative or Liberal– may I point out the Parliamnets that bring the best shifts for citizens (the Constitution Act, 1982, clause of Peace, Order and Good Governance) have been robust minority parliaments, and our pandemic has been no different. I live in Alberta, and know what the Conservatives would have done federally for Canadians (nothing, sorry, neighbour, any aid we have had has come from the Federal level–heal your cognitive dissonance and pitch the anger at the right first minister, our Premier). I also hold, that we would not have seen the same response, if it had been a Liberal majority. I do think the NDP-Greens aided in guiding the response.

A few quick thinks to note on the Federal scene. The media is stoking the Liberals want an election, currently from polls it would be a dicey dice roll that may simply return the status quo of now. If they truly wanted one, it would have been in the Fall of 2020 when they were riding high at close to 50% popularity. So the theatrics of NDP Leader Singh demanding that PM Trudeau not call an election, is simply that theatrics. Yes the PM can go at any time to the Governor General to dissolve Parliament and go to the polls (or currenlty without a GG as we are, to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court), but it is also a minority Parliament, so any time a confidence vote is moved/lost on a bdget matter we go to the polls. Currently, that means the other 4 parties have much more promising to do than the governing party on us going to the polls. What I would say is that Harper & Scheer have both underestimated PM Trudeau in elections (he has a Chretien knack on the trail for connecting), and O’Toole is falling into the same trap. Personally, if the other parties trigger an election during this pandemic because they cannot work it out, I will, for the first time in my life, default to a party vote in my area. If the other parties wanted to be innovative, and truly do not think our current Prime Minister is qualified or has the confidence of the House to govern. Then use the Westminster system, put forward a motion for his resignation and for the Governing party to bring forward 3 names for the house to vote on. But alas, they won’t, because it is not about public service– it is all about power for some in the House (you can decide which, though seeing the filth spewed by Conservative MP |Gallant recently–O’Toole has quite a bit of house cleaning to do before he can say the CPC is a renewed party).

But I digress, as this year Albertans are going to the polls, not to vote on our failed populist experiment perpetuated by anger & denial, that has allowed for rampant individualism, overt racism, oh and tiki torches in the capital with Freedom March organizers sharing images of Charlotte’s nazi march in their propaganda. No, that is another piece of polarization to touch on. We head to the polls for municipal elections, this time around (and I know I say this every time around) it is important to cast an informed vote.

There will be many smoke and mirror isseus brought up to deflect from what actually is necessary. See the smoke & mirror argument coupled with polarization is being leveraged to drive even more voters away. To let apathy shrink the voter support one needs to secure the civic seat, and once secured it is very hard for an incumbent to be unseatedYou will see the polarization/dualist arguments of this candidate or that candidate being a UCP or Lefty slate candidate (which is important to pay attention to, as our polarized lens of the politically) but the deeper question is the character of the candidate. What has their actions show us and their neighbours? The next, is the gun rights (and the new office in Alberta to such), it is a deflection especially rurally, because it removes one from seeing the legislative drive to bankrupt our counties, towns, villages, hamlets and farmers. With all the government money in the O&G basket, our other biggest (and still going) economic engines of farms are being left behind (as well as technology, tourism, education, trades, arts, and the list goes on). Unforutnately it has hit rural Alberta hard, the war on doctors before and even during this pandemic is seeing doctros leaving, which is adversly affecting access to Health Care, the cultivation of division and anti-science is being seen in the rising numbers of Covid cases in an already strained rural hosptial system. The UCP government has said they will not close hospitals as Klein did, yet if there is no staff for them, they cannot function. Discussion on how to attract and retain are a community discussion. How to get the abandoned wells cleaned up, and recoup the lost corporate taxes from the oil companies that our provincial government has said is up to each county to get, or they should just give a by too. The loss of the provincial portion of paying for the RCMP, which adds more costs to the local residents. Plus, the exponential (300-500%) increase in property taxes. A smoke and mirror argument rural neighbours have been sharing is that those in urban centres are seeing the same increase, The new funding formula for public schools gives a slight funding bump to rural schools, if they can retain students but the freedom of choice in education can have private and charter schools move in to take that way, leaving a major hub of community closing (as many communities in Calgary have seen which I will touch on ideas a bit later), we are not, if we were there would be something seriously awry in our system. The question that needs to be asked deeply:

who benefits if our rural neighbours systems go bankrupt? If the hamlet, village, town and county revert back to provincial control? And why does it matter?

In urban elections I am going to come down to the Calgary level. We are already seeing the smoke & mirror B.S. (belief systems) perpetuate. The argument on rampant property tax increases, the cyclical snow removal argument, and the plebiscites (let the incumbents deflect with flouride). We elect councils to make decisions, not to run plebiscites. What will not be discussed at the civic election level, for they do not want full on citizen engagement, what scares incumbents more than anything at the civic level is voter turn out and engagement. The snow removal question is a systems issue. We need a plurality of candidates to win that are pushed to do a complete and independent systems audit of City Management. What roles are necessary? What roles are extrenous? What roles/responsibilities within management can be combined? The fallacy of zero-sum budgetting needs to be removed. It may not be the right term, but with the life that government budgets function like household budgets, it is the practice that unspent money in a budget line from one year leads to the reduction of that budget line the next year. Which truly means that there is no ability to save money. An excellent example, is snow removal, under spending one year should not mean less money the next, it should mean an emergency kitty built up for when–blizzards, Snowmageddon in Septembers, etc. so there is more money to use. As well, has anyone discussed why the city has sold off our equipment to the private sector (a sector that is contracted out for just one pass over a road for clearing, when most in the work know it takes more to do the job properly)? Who believes that when crisis hits the private sector will come in at cost or lower to do the work? We need innovative project leaders in key management roles in the city that can point to the equipment, and envision how it can be used off season, but also know you need to budget for preventative care. Who know, a robust public sector, is actually more accountable to doing the job right, than the private sector. If you have had complaints around roads improperly cleared, or the huge drifts in front of entry points of your block, watch the name on the truck, as I have found with calling in to 311 over the last several winters it is the private contractors. Same with pouring roads, there is a certain way they need to be done for longevity, the private companies that have done and redone and redone and redone 32 ave the last several years show that they are working to contract not to standards.

See what deeper conversations are needed? At the community level we have to discuss what we need from our civic taxes to create robust spaces for connection of the generations, cultivating belonging, and removing socio-economic barriers. How do we as citizens work together and use our money to create healthy community? The greatest prevention for things such as addiction, crime, gangs, racism, ableism, sexism and homophobia? These are the questions we need to engage the candidates with. Ones that are not easily answered with a Quote Tweet. Asking them to actually articulate their core values, and how those values align with the communities they are seeking to represent?

There also needs to be a serious discussion around downtown Calgary. Let’s be honest, the big companies are realizing the towers are not necessary. I can see pop up work spaces in communities (many religious groups and community halls looking for rental income on weekdays, this is a great opportunity post covid), but companies realizing the cost of real estate to have someone do something they can from a now established home office? Nope. What I can see the companies retaining- a key office or two on a top floor with 3-4 conference/meeting areas.

What does this mean? We need a way to use space that mainatains tax revenue, but also solves some other societal ills…things like homelessness, disconnect, day care, food security, and in-home supports for our most vulnerable (as well as universal design). What if the downtown core was re-imagined as multi-purpose buildings. Mixed affordable and market purchase aparments from studio to 6 bedroom (yes families need space, and htose need to be some of the key affordable mortgages). The main floors can have effective access to public washrooms, diners and coffee shops. The next floor up, community space, including playgrounds, the 3rd floor a 24 hour day care/pre-school– why? Not everyone works banker hours mate. Then the rest housing. Oh and the 24 hour day care model needs to be expanded city wide.

You can also look at some buildings that are taller and incorporate schools into them. I would also explore the idea of green energy within the buildings to diversify our grid, and vertical farming for food security. As well, part of the mix of units would need to be for our vulnerable populations- those exiting homelessnes, persons with disabilies, mental illness, and our seniors. As you can see some of the ideas for building use, many connecting points for volunteerism within the rejuvanted core (purpose and connections). As well though, each building can also have a support office, where staff are connected to the tenants who need support, and as they age in place, they are not moved from home to a manor or a lodge or longer term-extended care to palliative, rather the teams move to their homes to remove that stressor from their system. Oh and each diner that is licesned for each building– for those over 65 years old or with disabilities (PDD/AISH) are provided a free meal 3 times a day to aid in food security.

As well, our canidates need to have strong ethical and moral character. We have seen the uncontrolled sprawl in Calgary and the unhealthy impact it has had on core infrastructure, with land developers and their deep pockets to fund campaigns. With the new donation limits and PACs allowed civically and disclosure not enshirned until after the fact, we as citizens have to demand transparency. Candidates need to real time be disclosing who is donating, we need to know what machinations can happen after e-day. I would go as far to say, if a canidate isn’t doing this, community has to organize to shut them out of being platformed. Following the money for control has to be a key tenant of engagement.

A lot to take in isnt’ it? But important discussions, instead of being in anger or denial of our changing world, let’s look at the opportunities that abound…

Same within the school boards. It abhors me the disconnect on this one. How many times I hear from folks, well my kids are not in school so it does not matter, or I don’t have kids– yeah but this is the hub for our society. This is the system that prepares the next wave of support within our society. This is where character is key. Will we have Trustees willing to make the hard calls? Risk being fired by the province to stand on values? Aid in educating the citizens on the reality in the classroom or not have our educators back? A board that truly invests and believes in every student, or simply uses the non-upper class students as props when it sutis them to garner favour? I mean we have a crisis in city high schools of no space, yet we are talking about closing under utilized schools? Where is the innovative leadership? Where is the plurarity of candidates willing for the non-partisan systems audit to create a resposnive and innovative system that is needed? That will remove superintendents that refer to children with disabilities as “its” and that families should be happy with what they have (and a despicable eugenics statement). Why can’t we look at low use schools, and the need of the community to use the other space for revenue? What about looking at the empty space for high schools while we a wait more than the cycle of announced builds from the province?

It takes innovative leadership beyond quote tweets and passing an ideological purity test. It takes actual belief that every child matters. That public education is the place to cultivate belonging and connection, discovery of passions and purpose. A space where we need to have locally a robust liberal arts education with core subjects so each students passions and drive to complete schools at the graded level is there.

It ripples up to the braoder conversation of the adoption of the failed American education funding and choice movements. We need to look to the other provinces here, do private and charter schools exist? Yes. Do they receive tax money? No. Home schooling needs to be tied to the public board to ensure those students can easily go on to post-secondary if they have the passion (University, Vocational College, Tech & Trades Schools). Then we need to have the very tough discussion on merging the Separate (Catholic) and Public boards. I say tough, because when you move beyond the polarized assininess, you realize there is a deeper discussion in the divide, where we can easily get there, but the extremes need to be deplatformed. For this is about our children now, and our provicnes future.

A qucik touch on thoughts for 2023 and the key discussions that need to be had. For us to move beyond anger, hate, denial and polarizations. Here are some key observations and tough discussions, open to any party or independent candidate to adopt:

  1. We need an HST to solve a revenue issue. A simple 2% (Federally, they truly do need to raise back the GST to 7%). This would make a provincial HST 7% (5% GST + 2%).
  2. A robust and fully funded public education system.
  3. Full Universal Health Care (including disability and adaptive devices, Dental, optical, Mental Health) and Pharmacare
  4. UBI needs to be on the table.
  5. Raising the Corporate tax rate back to 14% (and tehn indexing higher rates to market share of the company, for many small businesses are incorporated so we have to understand that nuance).
  6. Investment in R&D and implementation of alternative energy sources for Canadian climates
  7. Econimic Diversification
  8. Paid sick time for the worker
  9. Affordable daycare, the idea of sliding scale from 0-$25/day dependent on income, or better yet simply free, plus a tax break for families that can or need to have an adult at home for their child (oh and we truly need this system to be 24-7, as it needs to align with the economic world it is there to support).
  10. All these things being shown to corporations that it removes these costs from the business’ bottom line so it is more profitable to do business in Alberta.
  11. The biggest discussion, as many over 45 years old are shut of the labour market due to liability, we need to have a robust, fruitful and action oriented discussion around the atrocity that is the Worker’s Compensation Board, how to dismantle it, and what to replace it with that supports employers and employees equitably (and perhaps, a more effective partnership with EI disability).True Red Tape reduction.

To have these hard conversations, we have to move beyond polarization where our side can do no wrong. We have to question within our own movements, we have to engage the scholarhsip and thinkers on the other side(s). We also need at least 3 minotirty legislatures in Alberta to get the work done for new vision and dream casting. With the current known leaders, the best Premeir for the minority in my opion is Ms. Notley, but remember we have the other parties: Alberta LiberalAlberta Party , Green Party of Alberta , Communist Party of Alberta , Wildrose Independence Party , but it still comes back to the local candidate and their character, will they share who they are and why they want to be in public service- not simply be an electoral college vote for the leader (and yes I liked what CPC MP Michael Chong’s bill on reform had federally a few years back, we need to move that provincially and federally as a beginning point).

Just some thoughts, but with your cohorts, start the important conversations and blow clear the smoke, and wipe clean the mirror.s


Matthew 1:20-23 (New King James Version)

A rather innocuous passage in Matthew is often overlooked, similarly to the passages within Luke in regards to the visitation and questions of Mary. Here, we have Joseph, doing what any man of his era would be doing in finding out his recently betrothed bride to be (she of approximately 13-14 years old) pregnant. Pondering what to do? Shall he declare the crime? Have her taken by the Edlers outside the city gates and stoned to death? Simply cast outside quietly to turn into a beggar? A play thing of the Empire on the road side? Or quietly divorce her and let her family deal with her?

See, Joseph was struggling with pride and reputation. When Holy Love comes into his life, and this is the key moment for him. Do you hear it? That aha moment in the heart? That moment when he realized the power in his wife to be’s YES to the Holy. The “Yes” that shattered the bastardized topsy-turvy world the Empire and Religious oppression had stripped them of. The love, to feel the true awe of…becoming a Daddy (Abba).

See the source image
Saint Joseph and Toddler Jesus, according to Roman Catholicism, St. Joseph is the patron saint of Realtors, families, fathers, unborn children, expectant mothers, immigrants, travelers, explorers, pilgrims, house seekers, craftsmen, engineers, and workers. He is the patron saint of many villages, towns, cities, churches, and countries including- Canada, Vietnam, Mexico, Austria, Korea, Americas, China, Croatia, Indonesia and Phillipines.

Now this is where fundgelical praxis theology of the lovey-dovey thoughts hits the snag. See, Joseph became a Daddy with Mary’s pregnancy, Jesus grew up in a loving home, learned the faith from the Matriarchs, and the way of work from the Patriarchs in his family. Having grown up in a trades family, I can guess, he probably had a pretty cool experience with all the building things to play with. Unfortunately, instead of reading the gospel stories of Jesus’ family with the lens of love and belonging in family. Too many take the view of “step” or “adopted”, that is they impose an extra layer of distance the relationship with Joseph and Jesus. The default being, well, Jesus spoke of his Heavenly Father.

Except, the Holy Spirit that came upon Mary is usually in the feminine. Except, in the creation story in the Hebrew Bible, both male and female are created in God’s image. Yet, we do not speak of Mary, as the earthly mother, just as Mum.

So why the differentiation? To allow for a perpetuation of unhealthy dynamics, one that harkens back to the genealogy lists within the scriptures that prove ones “pedigree” (or worth) in society. Yet, what is missed, is that the pedigree of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew is of Joseph.

So whose his Daddy?

Is it not time to move beyond this antiquated view of Empire imposed familism?

Do we not yet understand that the point of the birth narrative is to show that the bond of family and belonging is love- FULL STOP- and that Jesus was blessed with an amazing family with both human and divine parentage?

Next time you hear the bad exegesis about Joseph, not being or needing to be his Daddy as Jesus was not his son, simply reply with the theologically best answer I can come up with “bollocks”.

Which is point one of this ecclectica, the other was trying to be politics free on Christmas Day, and only doing spot checks of social media, The United Conservative Party proved my social media musing with the new Covid restrictions/exemptions that had been announced in Alberta a few days before Christmas:

And yes church it was shown once again, for a tweet storm emerged with the UCP sharing of a Christmas greeting:



Found in Revised Common Lectionary Cycle B (found at Vanderbilt University: Year B – Christmas : Revised Common Lectionary (vanderbilt.edu)

Now we can argue over which translation of the Holy Bible was used, and whether the term was government or authority, but it is found within the Revised Common Lectionary for the readings. A lectionary is the reading rhythms that within a two year cycles of Sundays the church will hear all the Bible (and/or major themes) read from the pulpit. This is the example of what the Christmas Day readings looked like this year:

For finding scriptures I suggest http://www.biblegateway.com

Now, there are some things of note.

  1. The meme actually got more air time via progressives attempting to shame, call out, or otherwise put down.
  2. There is some issue with the meme any believer should take, when the Gospel reading of the day is from Luke, the birth of Christ, the scripture should have come from there. Unfortunately, Luke is the gospel written to and for the disenfranchised in society to empower and give voice, it is a rallying cry which with the track record of the government currently would have come across as higher hypocrisy than normal.
  3. The image of the Holy Family used is uber Blonde European. The traditionalist church images used, and not very historic. Some may say minor, some may say major point, but on point for the message.
  4. The use of the government in the quote is to be seen as a nod that the ruling party is there by divine right, yet who is Isaiah? Will share a bit on that.

Isaiah is a major prophet in the Holy Bible, respectfully from the Hebrew Bible portion. His book is 66 chapters in length, which has led some protestants to equate it to the Protestant Bible as an allegory (note I said Protestant as there are many bibles with books in as apocryphal/deutero-canonical or canonical that are beyond the scope of these 66). There was more than likely more than one Isaiah as a writer within the book, through textual historicity, the first writer would be the one who wrote the passage in the meme. Many of the Hebrew Prophets have had moments when their words have been pointed to foretelling the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, or more mystically, the Messiah (for if you are Jewish, he has not yet come). Most of the work was probably written during the Babylonian captivity, around 8th century BCE. The prophets were not necessarily future oriented texts, as much as social justice texts.

The prophets were called out of Israel to literally call Israel out. To point out what they were doing contrary to the heart of the Holy. It was framed in contrary to the Law, yet what is at the core of the Law and the Prophets? Love of God/Self/Neighbour. The prophets laid out unabashedly the harm being done under the guise of the name of God, and then what the repercussions were to be (reaping what one sows), in two cases at least the exiles under Babylon and Assyria. Then the inter-testimental period of silence were Rome seized their world. The world that the angels came to both Mary and Joseph to let them know, much like Zechariah and Elizabeth, that they would become parents of blessed children. Blessed children, what Brother Jesus let his followers know was each and every child.

So yes, this is a simple Merry Christmas from a political party. Yes, it is a message of Christendom (the Christianity of Empire) that speaks to a minority seeking to hold power, but lose the gospel, and yes, it is from the actual scriptures.

What is also clearly shows, like the story of Joseph, is a tool that can be of division, scape goating, and used wrongly.

What it leaves us with, is will we take the deeper message of the birth of Christ? The context of the word’s of Isaiah and the prophets knowing that a governing party just did one of the greatest self owns in history by literally turning the finger back on themselves to say- hey guess who isn’t meeting the call of justice? Guess who is willing to enter the exile for power?

Take time, and yes, it is a time when anyone of religious stripes who wants to speak up clearly and honestly. Share your faith, share how it has been used to harm, share how it has helped, and when politicians or religious leaders or fellow congregants attempt to use it to harm, call them out.

For we are all blessed children, loved, with family that embraces and loves us at this time of year, as today we enter the journey of the Magi following the once in hundreds years astronomical event to warn of the impending genocide.

Be the clarion call to end injustice.

Stand in love.

Amen.


In the emerging c-tine I am beginning to gather material for a new book, that I hope to be able to put together in the Spring of 2021. The topic is one that reflects my spiritual life, community-belonging-connection. Now one may ask in a work reflecting on Preston Manning’s new book, Do Something, I would share this. I to ponder, but because there are some points that he writes that speak to health community. Much like I suggested Christians read Irshad Manji’s The Trouble with Islam so I suggest Manning’s new work to those of any political stripe to begin to ponder some key points.

See the source image

Once I as a reader navigated through the conservative partisan bias (which is to be expected for one from a conservative political thought writer), there was some kernels to share. Yes, I had to set aside some of the partisan broadsides, accept there was some kernels of truth in some, some continued bias ideological statements overshadowing seeing the good in other. What was refreshing in Manning’s writings, was his open sharing about third parties moving Canada forward in a healthy way, including his positive reflecting and sharing around other political heroes of mine, Rev. J.S. Woodsworth & Pastor Tommy Douglas, as well as the usefulness of populism section touching on the Famous Five, and other human rights matters but also touching on the chaos it can wreck with separatist movements and “western alienation” to the information of a data and science informed conservatism, that illustrates, how off track the current Alberta government is, the Federal party. As long time readers will also know, I do not give much time to the concept of private encroachment into our just society safety net (whether health care or education). It was beneficial to have an “elder” of current social conservatism, even while arguing against identity politics, point out the need for truth and reconciliation with our history of racism and oppression.

Now into some of the meat if you will, that I found useful in Mr. Manning’s discourses. These would touch on topics of science, political spectrum, religion, preparation, and community involvement. In reading Manning’s words, I was reminded of reading some of the writings of Stanfield and his team in the Trudeaumania era of Progressive Conservatives. Shifting from populist drive of Diefenbaker, to a data and science driven policy approach.

This is a key understanding I think any political group needs to get to, for us to return to healthy discourse in our country (and religious groups, as it is the science that explains the how of creation). For it then shifts from yelling matches, gotcha politics and social media sound bytes to raising the bar back up to policy discussions. Manning’s example was pollution pricing (carbon taxes) and not arguing against the practice, but rather the implementation. His challenge that if one cannot believe in climate science, rather look at environmental impacts and work to solve that which they could understand. For those who may be too young to remember, I believe it was when Jim Harris stepped down as leader of the Green Party of Canada, Manning aided in raising them to prominence. The intertwining of his faith and love of science has led him in my understanding to find ways to be a caretaker of the environment (if only more in his ideological realm would hear the call).

The concept that is also helpful, is the false dichotomies we want to exist within politics (liberal or conservative, left-centre-right), where he would share a 12 axis assessment on issues for aiding in defining what one held to be true. As most Canadians, exist somewhere in the centre, not wanting to make a decision, but wanting to ensure the most possible are included in the decision (a consensus as much as possible) this does raise some ideas. Within the 12 axis were topics such as environment, trust, jurisdiction, values, health act, education, etc.

It does also aid I believe as it moves one from blind ideology to one party, making each candidate needing to work beyond their party affiliation and leader to win the trust of the voter. This speaks to the need for character, and connection within the community. Does the candidate belong? Are they known for being a positive community member and builder? Stepping back into the concept of what public service is to be about– that is service for all citizens for peace, order and good governance. The role of government being to create the best possible life for citizens, and through that, the healthy environment for creativity, and business will happen (in my opinion and experience).

It also speaks to preparation for community leadership. Do we expect people to prepare for a vocation? Manning admirably used the example of Brother Jesus, and for each year of his public ministry, he had 6 years of life (and for some preparation). What would shift and change within our municipalities, counties, provinces and country if for each year of elected office we expected a certain number of years of preparation? Work/service in their local community? Connection. Belonging. The bottom line of the thesis do something is the suggestions of how to become active in community leagues, groups, political parties, research whether as a participant, donor or volunteer…the old adage of giving of time, talent and treasure (from small steps to large leaps depending on personal capacity).

With a final nod to the religious aspect of community life. This section was handled well, had a conservative bent, but could easily be expanded to all parties. Manning shared of those who served of all political stripes and faith. The idea being simple and familiar, we need to acknowledge the harm that has been done in the name of religion. But for those with authentic faith, you cannot separate the value system from who you are (goes back to core character and integrity), but it is not about imposing that on the populace. The other piece, is creating space for discussion, debate and acceptance within political movements.

So yes, is it everyone’s cup of tea this book? Probably not. For the entrenched partisan depending on which primary colour they are in it can be vilified or beatified. Both responses would miss the point of a call to action work. This was a call to action that can be read at the surface level for Canadian conservatism and democracy to what it means to moderate. For any other politico or religious politico, it can be read for ideas and concepts on how others think, how to do a mirror reflection into your own movements, and how to engage at the local community level to grow engagement, connection and belonging.

To extend a metaphor from the c-tine. Where we live is our household, each of those households creates a community, each community a village/town/city, and those a province and then a country. How are we creating health households, then communities? How are you choosing to do something to create a healthy ripple in your pond? What simple action- step are you going to choose to do?

To do something to effect positive change in your world.


I wasn’t that old, it was at a family dinner at my Nan and Granddad’s I remember. The image on the screen, the man in blue and red catching the helicopter…and yes I believed what I had seen on the spinner rack at the Mac’s stores— a man could fly. Christopher Reeve was the embodiment of hope. Superman and Clark Kent. There was a time with this meta-myth I would easily say one was born knowing who Superman was, with the advent of social media and algorithms, and those that only chase “gloomy realness” I am not so sure anymore. There has been many movies (I discount Man of Steel and Batman versus Superman), t.v. shows, cartoons, radio shows, novels, comics (monthly, weekly, comic strips, graphic novels, and collections out there)–and a host of family-Supergirl, Superboy, Bippo the Super-monkey if you will.

Yet at the core, is a hero designed by two Jewish boys. The original iteration was a villain, but by the time Action Comics #1 (1928) hit the newsstands, it was the familiar hero we know today. Superman started out fighting corporate corruption, as a voice and hero for the disenfranchised, the other. He was in PSA’s against racism, and fought the KKK. He would save the multi-verse, and fight to sexual trafficking as well in his career. My most familiar version was the post-crisis one crafted by Calgarian, John Byrne.

But I digress (can you see the fan boy coming through). What is the origin of the Man of Steel? The Man of Tomorrow? And how does it tie into the ancient wisdom stories of the Hebrew Bible and our modern world discourse around climate change today?

The Moses story was the meta-narrative used to craft the origin. Moses as the Hebrew Bible’s book of Exodus, tells us there came a crisis for the Hebrew people in the land of Egypt. Pharaoh did not know the patriarch that had settled them, and he became fearful of the nation within his walls (hearing anything about our current political climate in those words? Fear generation?). As such, Pharaoh set out on an program of genocide by eliminating all male babies of a certain age to ensure a culling. Moses’ family set Moses out in a basket on the river for a safer life, a new life, they did not know if it would work, but they hoped.

Moses was raised as an Egyptian, and upon discovering his roots, became a voice and actor of hope and emancipation for his people.

Jor-El, saw a world ending crisis coming to Krypton. He took his scientific data to the governing council that did not want to act. Did not want to create a panic in the populace. Did not want to believe that nature would conspire to rebel against their unethical dominionist ways. They laughed, they mocked, they used media to discredit him as hokey, call it a farce, fake news, fake facts, that this is all about the normal rhythms of space and their world.

Jor-el and his wife built a rocket to save their son from this self-inflicted genocide of the planet Krypton driven by ignorance. For what would have been the cost to listen? What would have been the cost to make their world and their people healthier by transitioning industries? Supporting one another? Why they would have to change the great Kryptonian ethos of “we’ve always done it this way.”

Kal-el was rocketed to earth. As he grew through puberty and his powers emerged, technology allowed for him to connect with his heritage. He grew, with the support of the core values he was raised with as Clark Kent, into a symbol of hope, and an emancipator for Earth from fear and corruption though the battle was a bit more cyclical than what the Hebrews had–wait—having read the Hebrew Bible, nope it was just as cyclical as that ancient wisdom works share with us.

Both Moses and Superman became hope. Jor-el is a symbol of what happens when we ignore science and truth because it is inconvenient, or disruptive to an echo chamber narrative we want to craft. I may not think climate change will be as catastrophic as the young are predicting, but I am no scientist. Though I have to ask, if we shift gears to a healthier relationship with creation, more of a caretaker than the strip mine dominion approach, back to the actual relationship and entrustment God gave us in Genesis 3 what is the worst that can happen? Cleaner air? Cleaner water? More equitable relationships between nations? Healthier holistic life? Being able to see and be with one another as neighbour?

If it is true and we ignore the end game is Krypton’s. Though there is another end game in the journey no one is addressing, by the voracious and bully focus of climate denial, we are doing something else. We are telling a generation of youth, our leaders now and in the future, that we did not equip them, we do not trust them, they are not valid or valued as members of society. Let that sink in. Aside from austerity measures that are harming the most vulnerable:

we through our lack of ability to discourse and change, are telling our young that they do not matter and then became outraged when their response to Gen X to the Baby Boom is the middle finger.

The question before us on planet earth is simple, who in the origin story of hope do we want to be:

The Kryptonian High Council or Jor-el?


It is something I have pondered throughout my journey. Those younger, the next and now leaders. What are we constantly teaching them? Do we teach them their inherent worth? This is more than simply words spouted towards them, it is the actions of those around us, and what the see. It is not simply do as I say, rather it is they will do as we do. So how do we act? What is the current meta narrative of our world?

In Calgary, AB 2019 a Nine-year old girl was bullied so badly in her Calgary Board of Education public school she took her own life. 2-0-1-9. The Board’s response, we investigated, nothing to see here. Bullocks. Multiple stories that may not have ended with a taken child’s life, but of the board, principals and teachers turning a blind eye. Nothing to see, don’t rock the boat. It is the anti-thesis of the WE Day movement, World Youth Day and Challenge Days. We LET BULLIES WIN!! And when it is called out, our “managers” (we have a leadership/statesperson deficit) do everything to deflect, and cover up.

But why do our children act this way?

This is a time to quote former Premier Jim Prentice:

“Albertans (and all world citizens-my add) need to take a hard look in the mirror.”

Why? We have created a world where anger and hate (white supremacist, Alt-Right, Fascists, Extremists of all stripes) are courted by political parties to gain and hold power. When in the world of social media you are censored for hate speech, it is an infringement on your rights of freedom of speech. Nope, sorry. Non-starter. Hate is hate. I don’t care if the bully has cloaked it in Conservative or Liberal rhetoric, in Sikh, Islam and Christian Theology, it is hate. It needs to be called out and shut down.

In 2019 Alberta on April 16, 2019 we showed our children bullies win. That the ends justify the means. No, this isn’t just heaping on the investigation of voter fraud (Both ongoing with Elections Alberta and the RCMP) with the UCP (United Conservative Party). The proven times of stolen/vandalized signs, the bullying of local citizens at candidate debates, and the attack/smear ads. It is also pointing out that the Government seeking re-election of the New Democratic Party which should have been campaigning on their record and their ideas, launched pre-writ drop on the low road with their own attack ads (yes it was using candidates’ own words and actions, but still negative); on the attack of Jason Kenney, which was a whistle to their own base as those that had issue with these character items of Kenney had already decided not to support him and the UCP based on that.

Both our Governing Party and the Loyal Opposition went low. The conglomerated media and social media allowed and cheered it on. Within the world of algorithms it is infinitely easy to never have to look critically at your own or another’s point of view for your feeds will only ever bring you what you believe. When the other parties attempted to raise policies of vision, and debate they were shut out and belittled (much like the other two were doing with one another). Parties like the Greens, Alberta Liberals and Alberta Party that should have elected MLA’s– the fear and anger machine of entrenched ideology within this historic voter turnout (64% officially, highest turnout since 1982) delivered us the anger machine Legislature.

That is two parties, their roles reversed. Is this peace, order and good governance as our Constitution Act, 1982 promises? Or is it a province within the stages of grieving trapped in the denial and anger phases unwilling to let go of what was, and discover what is to come and live into it, support one another in rebuilding and renewing. A statesperson or leader with a vision would cast it– unfortunately we got angry yelling middle managers quibbling over a budget line and seeing citizens only as a number, not as the person before them. Two parties, unwilling to admit that a province needs to heal, instead they stoke the anger and denial to hold to or win power. They become the bully.

Our children see that bullies win. Those that don’t lose.

It is exacerbated more in the USA under President Trump, and yes I have been around the USA a bit and have seen the divided community. It is one of the things that I am intrigued by Marianne Williamson running for President. Anyone can win in 2020, but someone entering the race to change the tone of discourse is always a good thing. I did pick up her book from our local library, Politics of Love (2019) and once read will post a reflection.

But back to Canada… we also show that there is no need to respect one another, we can belittle. Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition, the Conservative Party of Canada, has shown this in Parliament’s Question Period recently where they refuse to refer to our Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, as Prime Minister, instead it is Liberal Party Leader. Sorry gents and ladies, whether you like the outcome of 2015 or not, he is the office holder and as such deserves respect for that. If anyone had done this to PM Harper when he was in Question Period the media would be all over it. Instead the base swells with pride and cheers, wears shirts and waves signs calling for our Prime Minister to be hung for treason (which shows an understanding of Canadian Law at least, for treason and cattle rustling are the only two offences that can still carry the death penalty). But hyperbolic anger theatre is the norm. Denigrating the other from personhood to hated. To a guillotine being brought to an anti-populist Premier Ford rally in Ontario.

If this is free speech, I am glad in our Charter of Rights and Freedoms Canada has Freedom of Expression, and it is time the RCMP and local police started enforcing that differential. It is all used to create this atmosphere that you vote against something, not for something. You choose lesser evils, and if you refuse the dichotomous narrative then you are an “idiot”, and will not be able to stop the other.

Any wonder why voter turn outs are so low? Yes, 64% though historic is bloody low. Any wonder why we have an increase in bullying?

Extremism exists across spectrum and theologies. It is disgusting, and needs to be called out. Not covered up, not excused, or at worse accepted. It needs to be called out, and exorcised like a demon in the Exorcist movie-pea soup and all.

But we have glimmers of hope. Thankfully. In a recent Abascus poll on the up coming Federal election, 4000 Canadians were interviewed. Yes, I realize I dislike polls and 4000 is a small sample size, but hey you work with what you got for hope. Of those questioned 40% were in support of the fifth place party in our House of Commons, the Green Party of Canada. Why is this a sign of Hope? It shows that people are thinking beyond the usual dichotomy in the Canadian mind for Federal governance of Liberal-Conservative. It also shows that the usual protest vote of Bloc Quebecois, or conscience vote of New Democrat is not resonating. Could the old parties be being rejected? Could new ones get a kick of the tires and a spin for 4 years in October? Only if conviction is held to vote for what one believes in, not out of fear against stopping something. Nothing has ever been stopped or ended by undermining or selling out one’s own inherent values.

On this too, I have to touch on the Prince Edward Island provincial election. True the projected Green government did not happen. But let’s look at it. In the waning days of the election sadly, a candidate for the Greens and their son lost their lives in a canoeing accident. All the parties ceased campaigning for the remainder of the election. Class. Hope.

On election night, all the leaders were together from what I could see from the media feeds, and hugged after the results (yes older men). It is a minority government, with the Progressive Conservative Party being the government, but the Greens are the official opposition. Hope. Something has changed. Also the PC government not joining the anger train of the mainland populist movements speaking of listening to citizens. Hope.

Listening. Hearing. Acting on behalf of another.

Things that breed hope.

Seeing others, as neighbour, as a person.

And then reflecting, even in opposition life, what matters most in the discourse? What is the ends that is truly supposed to be and do the ends really justify any means possible?

The now and future leaders learn behaviours by how their adults (parents, extended family, neighbours, elders) behave, not by what we say.

What do your actions teach?

Are you creating ripples of hate or HOPE?


Ah the reviews of “scary” or “terror inducing” for me were a bit over the top, but Haunting of Hill House (Netflix series, 2018) was good. Now, I must admit we will not be talking about the paranormal aspects of the show (perhaps another post, as I do love what was shown for the negative/dark side of paranormal, much like the Exorcist television show), but there is another topic that emerges within the confines of the 10 episodes and that is:

A-D-D-I-C-T-I-O-N.

And within the confines of addiction, the shame hierarchy of addiction so other addicts can hide and believe they are healthier than the other. The Crain family is the centre of the story.  A shared trauma when the 5 siblings were children,  which as they grew up each took their own path of suppression/repression/projection and psychological denial.

Luke’s addiction was the one that the rest could look down upon, as it was heroin. The eldest brother, Steven, dove into denial and repression through turning everything into a story to cover up what he believed was family psychosis and as a result created emotional walls to keep everyone out, and self-sabotage. Theo to avoid touch, wrapped herself in her work and the only release being one night stands not knowing how to love. The eldest sister became obsessed with death running a funeral home, and Nell became lost in trying everything to feel “normal”. Each had their own addiction…and while Luke chose the quickest way to numb the pain, each sibling as well showed that when their own path was no longer working they had no issue supplementing with hard liqour.

The most telling  scene being at a funeral viewing with Luke even though 90 days clean, still struggling with his own grief. The family’s liqour use on full display for drunkenness.

This is the question it raises. Addiction is not formed in a vacuum. It is not a choice. It is a coping mechanism for life, for trauma, for loss, for grieving, for lack of belonging. Feeling the eternal outsider and not knowing how else to silence the demons, or make the pain go away.

It is why 12 step programs still persist, because they draw people into community, and provide support on the journey. Create a safe port o call when the storms of life get too much. DBT/CBT (ala Smart Recovery) do the same, as it provides tools. Things that allow working through the symptoms, but it is striking at the heart of cause that brings release. How many do that?

In that journey, how many communities/families are willing to journey with the addicted?

It is in the journey when light is shone into the darkness that creates healing and ends addiction.

Recent studies on front line workers in homelessness/housing first have shown high rates of PTSD (higher than sexual assault victims) and currently peg 46% of active staff living/working with symptoms. One has to ponder, and possibly explore what is the functional/non-functional addiction levels of these staff for coping? As one struggles with flashbacks/anxiety/depression/pain and the darkness, reaching for what ever will bring relief/unconsciouness can be easier than working the healing. Discovering the light that the darkness has buried takes a lot (and requires a wraparound industry of support).

Yet for that light to shine, one has to look at their world…and do those around them create a safe port o call or simply a place where you can rationalize usage? Reflecting on Luke, he could very easily have looked at the other addictions and rationalized usage not healing. For the only difference in addictions, was legal/illegal.

The purpose behind was the same– numbing the pain of loss.

And that is the challenge for when it comes to addictions healing, we as the outsider do not necessarily want to admit perhaps our behaviours need to adjust for safety on the journey. The communal responsibility over personal right. It is a fine line, but one that shows the living breathing eco system within ourselves is how the community interacts with those in pain.

Are we going to be a part of the healing?


Judas Goat

A Judas goat is a trained goat used at a slaughterhouse and in general animal herding. The Judas goat is trained to associate with sheep or cattle, leading them to a specific destination. In stockyards, a Judas goat will lead sheep to slaughter, while its own life is spared. Judas goats are also used to lead other animals to specific pens and on to trucks.

-urbandictionary.com

Wild Wild Country (Netflix 2018) the last 3 episodes one begins to ponder as evidence mounts whether Sheela was Osho’s Judas Goat. A role designed as the movement/settlement began to be confronted by vitriol hatred, and violence as noted in the first reflection is what radicalized the movement. Where it was about drawing together, the confrontation and harassment, breaking of the laws of the land to root out that which was different undercut the principles of this new religion growing a city in the heart of farm country.

It is a series that can be used for personal or corporate discussion and reflection. Key questions to come during this time of Pentecost:

  • Welcoming of the stranger at your gates? (a theme out of J.S. Woodsworth’s writings of the social gospel).
  • Who is my neighbour? How do I love my neighbour as myself?
  • How do I respond to that which is different from my norm, but is not harming the disenfranchised?
  • Where do I stand when the wave of hate begins?
  • How does my own grief of loss of what was, shape my reaction to what is becoming?

The series is a winding road, of a 4 year span that has been exorcised from the story of Osho and the Rajneeshis. It is the loss of what was a time of tribulation, and raises questions around who was set up? Who knew what was happening in the darkness? What happens when dark responds to dark? When silence is broken, and it is not the message of love and acceptance that is vocalized, but pain, hatred and jealousy?

It also speaks to what happens to true believers as is seen in two of the members, Sheela and Philip Toelkes (a.k.a Swami Prem Niren; 2nd Mayor of Rajneespuram and lawyer of Osho). Two sides of a coin in their response to the whirlwind around them. Yet clinging to what they had learned on the journey and still living the core of the teaching after the accountability dust settles.

For the question in the early 1980’s Oregon (and before in India that drove the movement International) is what happens when the world responds to love with hate?

It is a microcosmic battle within each of us, in Islamic studies it is the Jihad, within Christianity it is Pentecost…will the Holy Spirit shine through or not in the moment of choice to reside an acknowledge the Holy Mystery? Yet as seen, it also is a macrocosmic struggle when the world interacts.

Judas

An individual whom sells out his/her friends for their own personal benefit

-Urbandictionary.com

It is as the dust settles and the Osho International emerges, a Judas moment if you will, tracking through, you are left to ask the question:

  • Who betrayed the movement?
  • Who was the true Judas of the story?
  • Who held true to Love?

Sometimes the mirror held up to our own movements, institutions and journeys is through viewing and being the third party in a discourse about another’s pilgrimage to the heart of the sacred.


Luke 1 (New Living Translation): https://www.bible.com/bible/116/LUK.1.nlt#!

Tradition holds that Luke was a travelling compatriot of Paul, until a dispute separated them. He is most likely from an upper-crust family as he was a physician, who has sought to write an “orderly account of the history of the early church”. Luke is what is known as a synoptic gospel, stating it used material from the Gospel of Mark (believed to have been scribed by John Mark, whose parents owned the Upper Room, from the stories of Peter—yes that Peter) and the mysterious Q document. Q is allegedly a document of the sayings of Jesus that Matthew, and Luke used to complete their gospels. It is quite a leap of academic belief, unless, you begin to understand the possibility that Q could be bits and pieces of oral history, and from the non-canonical gospels that were used to flesh things out. Much easier to assume a Q than to answer how those cast aside as not part of the meta-narrative got into the meta-narrative.

Aside from that, the writings of Luke show that the drive was to change the status quo, and challenge the concept of patriarchy and authoritarian rule (the empire itself).

The first step is the call to Zechariah and Elizabeth, an elderly barren couple. Both in the priestly lines, and high up in the religious structures, that at this point were being used as part of the Empire’s oppressive structure via the Herod Family. This couple was already an outlier, seen as how can God call them to the Holy of Holy Mysteries (and yes Zechariah when he entered this physical space would have a rope tied around his ankle just in case he dropped dead due to not being worthy), yet not have blessed them with a child (read son due to cultural patriarchy). Zechariah and Elizabeth are a new reality allegory of Abraham and Sarah. Zechariah is struck silent for not believing. And by such, the feminine voice of the journey emerged through Elizabeth.

The first step showing the backwardness of oppression. The next was literally the messenger, Gabriel speaking directly to Mary. Someone who had no voice in her own culture outside of a bargaining/contract for child bearing of men. But seen as even less valued by the Empire where literally soldiers of Roman citizenry could use the peasants however they were seen. The hometown of the girl was the equivalent size to Bassano, AB, and if lucky people would travel at most 40 kms away from home in their life time. Her betrothed, Joseph, was a carpenter-though a better translation would be labourer, more of what we would see as a handyman, not necessarily a finish carpenter. Those with that expertise in the lower classes were used to craft forms of execution for their own people.

Mary’s voice had never been heard or found. Yet this was the voice the Holy Mystery wanted to hear. One can only imagine the conflict and off-screen dialogue that took place when Gabriel came to empower the equality of creation as told in the ancient Eden myth on Day 6. The gospel of Matthew shows this through Joseph’s needs and voice being second to that who would carry the Son. A story that is often missed in meaning in the patriarchal world that continues. Mary had a decision to wrestle through.

Think/mull it through spend time drawing or writing the conversation out from Mary’s perspective (and Elizabeth’s from hers). What would be going through your mind? Your heart? What about your understanding of faith?

As this chapter progresses and Mary is put out to visit relatives. How often is the pregnant child without support sent off still today to other relatives? In a tribal ancient society, where no matter the function faith/religion is taught by the women as children do chores. Think of the reality of the story the grandmotherly Elizabeth is sharing about the life growing in her? The dichotomy of old and young wisdom keepers carrying those that would shake their world.

Why else when John the Baptist/Harbinger was birthed would the men not believe the name of the baby and must go to Zechariah? Why? Without the voice of the man, they probably assumed Elizabeth had gone nuts. Yet Zechariah confirmed the wisdom of his wife.

Mary’s song was confirming the shaking of the establishment to come. She knew who she was carrying, and even in these early weeks could grasp the earth shattering changes to come.

John the Baptist, why would he go to the wilderness? Born into two priestly lines. More than likely would have fit within the Pharisee and Sadducee sects, yet he opted to leave. Why? My contemplation tells me that the set sects in authority did not like the birth story that did not fit their tradition. Their tradition that kept them within power, under the Herod family, under the Empire. For John’s story did not fit.

Which left John to choose between two other paths (obviously these 4 paths had many sub-sects, but for ease historians usually only speak of the four).

The Zealots. Those that held to Maccabean tradition that there would be a Judas Maccabeus to physically over throw the Empire through a blood war. This is why at this time in history in any given moment there was approximately 400 active war chiefs like this leading the charge, and would routinely be rounded up and their crucified bodies would litter by-ways and highways to holy sites to warn off Jewish rebellion.

This was not the sect or path that John chose (though a Zealot would choose his cousin’s).

Chances are from the description he was an Essenes, one who chose a wilderness exile to be away from the corrupt structures. A hermitage life (think a Thomas Merton type or the ancient desert fathers, an aesthetic) where the time alone of growth was to commune deeper within the Holy Mystery.

This was the group that called to John, and John joined to continue his growth, so that he could lay the foundation work for something different. Not war, but a resistance of non-violence, equality, justice, hope, faith, joy, peace and L-O-V-E.

This was the first chapter of a gospel (gospel is a political statement, it is declaring the agenda of an Emperor, so by writing using that term the early followers of the Way knew they would be targeted as they were calling out Rome)…

The women led in a resistance of defiant change.

For all were people.

All were worthy.

Brunch & Bible is a simple gathering, sharing a potluck meal, and exploring the text in group, and sharing wisdom. Our journey has chosen the writings of Luke from the Christian Testament, watch for more thoughts as we continue every 2 weeks.


…Jesus son of Mary, honoured in this world and in the next, and of those granted nearness to God.

-Sura 3:46

                The Crusades were a horrific time within the Empire phase of Christianity. It was about anti-Semitism (travelling to and from the Holy Land was a great excuse for the warriors to cull the Jewish in the lands) and to let blood run high in the Holy Land battling the “infidel”.

During one such crusade time a disgraced Crusader received a call to something different. Francis was a party animal, one of those wealthy ne’er do wells many towns and communities know of. He thought to increase his lot by bravery in the Crusades…suffice to say he was not a good Knight, and wound up injured in a burnt out church where Jesus spoke to him through the San Damiano cross calling him to rebuild his church. After stealing supplies from his father, and rebuilding 3 fine parishes he was once again revisited and redirected to actual community based around hope and loved. Even beaten and imprisoned by his own parents, just emboldened this man to cast of (literally) the clothes of wealth and walk naked into the world.

The Franciscan movement is what began. Part of the life lived that receives little mention outside of the international circles (as most just know Francis for his love of animals, not activism) so he has been reduced to the garden statue or fountain. Yet it was in the midst of crusade times this rabble rouser and friends upset the apple cart, and not just in the challenge for equity and justice for the poor. Nope, he also crossed treasonous lines by going back onto the Crusader path to meet with Sultan.

Why?

To pray together.

To talk.

To share bread.

To be community.

Abraham was neither a Jew nor a Christian, but he was ever inclined to God and obedient to Him, and he was not of those who associate gods with God.

-Sura 3:68

Francis and his community understood an eternal truth. God is the source of all that is, all that exists within and through and lived out of the Holy Mystery. The source-Love- was not to be confused with the manifestations. That is…the wells are not the river.

We want the labels to divide. Those in power hope that we allow the labels to divide. Yet, there is another way. A way where we acknowledge the One River, and sample one another’s well water in a safe place of community, sharing prayers, sharing discourse, sharing bread. Being like Francis and the Sultan. That piece of light in the darkness.

And he will teach them the Book, and The Wisdom, and The Torah and the Gospel.

-Sura 3: 49

This is why my family hosts an inter-faith Questing through the Qur’an; and a Brunch & Bible (where we travel the roads of the Gospel of Luke & Acts of the Apostles) on alternating weeks. To share the foundation stories. To see where we connect. To hear where we differ.

To know  we are still united in our diversity.

                Much like Francis’ call to bring the gifts of peace, hope, faith, joy and love to Sultan. But also to receive these same gifts from Sultan.

For, what are we in humanity,

if not neighbours….

francis

The Gospel story, the faith story has not ended. It is not sealed. Each of us in our journeys, our lives continue to write in the book of life about how we live within, through and out of the love that is the Holy Mystery. So what is the new chapter you are starting in this moment?


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.