Posts Tagged ‘Social Gospel’


Beth nods to Moon, a trench coated figure moving in the far back with a ball cap pulled down. Retired Constable Sean James followed the gaze, he knew security was good and would get the individual. Due to the dress looked very androgenous, but they had rounded up many that had decided to cause a ruckus.

Jacobs was in Jacobs form. The Holy Spirit was moving through him, Beth thinks as she continues to scan the crowd. She chuckled at the thought. This old broken down writer turned preacher she knew very little about who looked her in the eye when she was in the Bionic Knight armour and said no to her offer of help. Now today he was holding a parking lot Mass of Hope he called it. The Open Table of Love. It sounded corny as it went through her mind, but the corn bread was real.

Another break out of campfire hymn singing. As it quiets down, Jacobs picks up the bread “On the night he was betrayed, betrayed out of fear and hate for change, for the old ways dying away. For those oppressive powers and control authorities realizing they needed to release and let go and let come the new Holy Love. Jesus took bread and broke it. This is the bread of hope.” As if on cue lunch bags, snacks, you name it started coming out, and a potluck smorg was shared with all. It was St. Jude’s way. Communion was not just a simple piece of bread it was eating, like the feeding of the masses miracle. Jacobs handed the bread to Moon and James who let it out to the crowd, as well as the baskets of sandwiches.

Moon smiled as she watched the bread and food move into the crowd. The other reason St. Jude’s was so relevant and real, as she had begun to understand as the area MLA (Member of Legislative Assembly) wasn’t because of some Platonic, Metaphysical or Western-Constantinian Theology…it was simple love through ensuring folks could get to treatment, medical appointments, kids were cared for, and when months were tight in the socio-economically diverse area bills were covered and food was in pantries. She had once asked Jacobs to see a budget sheet, he burst out laughing and said, “Talk to Elder James, he gets heart palpitations at least 8 times a day with how that thing is bent, broken and abused.” When she pushed on how they still survived.

He gave this grin with a chuckle. It wasn’t cockiness. It was a depth of humility. It was the type of look when he locked eyes on you that you truly believed it was all going to be alright and the good would win. “Because we give.” It made no sense to her political mind, or her basic undergrad economics mind, yet here was the result. The more they gave the more…they had in tangible and intangible ways. Almost like there truly is enough for everyone in the world.

He nodded to Beth Venus. The next part. “Then he took the cup, knowing that his blood was about to be spilled. That he was to lose his life for simply sharing the story of Holy Love and belonging. This is the cup of promise. Drink and be at the table together as family.” Beth got volunteers to begin rolling out coolers with juice, pop and water to share.

Sean James admitted Jacobs has driven him batty the entire time he has known him, from his reporter days forward.  James also knew if he did something it was with conviction and belief of actually helping people. His eyes watched the crowd reacting. Lee held that through love you dissolved hate. James thought he was nuts, and said “I told you so.” After St. Jude’s bombing and as the crowd’s gathered today.

It had looked like it was going to snow, but it had held off.

And now what he was seeing.

She noted tears in people’s eyes at the simple acts. Those in hate garb, some let it drop off as they made eye contact for the food. Simple, kindness.

Moon, James, and Venus note the trench coat drop off, the yellow vest, the cap off…

The costume underneath.

She was already vibrating wanting to dodge at super speed towards Jacobs. Beth could hear her words through magic vibration. “this life took my Johnny.” She had known her friend was hurting. But had been improving, and had entered this place of what Venus believed was contentment. Looking at the situation now it was resignation of having a plan on a place to misdirect her anger and denial.

She had promised no powers.

But here was the Speedster flying towards Jacobs ready to tear him to pieces.

An audible…

“johnny”

“Go now in Holy Love of the Creator, the blessing of Brother Jesus, and the Family of the Holy Spirit. Go. Embrace. Simply say, I love you.”

As a yellow vest falls into the crowd and vanishes.

The pop shattered the moment.

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For those that have known me aside from my love of sci-fi and comics; there has been other constants- history and politics. My travels in Canada were a mix of historical-political pilgrimage and outreach. Loved sitting at the desk where Douglas signed the first Health Act into being; and in Louis Riel House that birthed the first declaration of human rights in Canada…among many others.

One other aspect of history if you are inclined to the social gospel that became codified almost within the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation. The right had their own response in Major Douglas’ economics of Social Credit that settled into the evangelical-charismatic/prophetic Christianity under the tutelage of William Aberhart. His astute student, and successor as Premier of Alberta (a ministry he held for 25 years; then 13 years as a Canadian Senator); Ernest Manning. Note earlier I had reviewed his son, Preston’s Christian Leadership work.

Brian Brennan’s (2008) The Good Steward: The Ernest Manning Story did not contain any shocks or scandals. It is the first collective biography of the longest serving premier of Alberta and one that was in governance from the Great Depression to the early days of Oil. It reflected his family’s devoutness; his faith as moral compass.

It was refreshing to see a biography that focused on someone’s religiosity. Why? Simple, we like to pretend that the spiritual and secular selves are separated once someone enters politics or the workplace. When the opposite is actually true, one’s true belief system inspires and moves their actions regardless of the marketplace. It is not about pushing one’s beliefs on others, but in authentic living them out for the betterment of the world. Though Premier Manning did have times of actual evangelism and preaching while in office with the Back to the Bible Hour ministry, he created a synergy of public service within both his worlds. Much like his mentor, Aberhart had, unlike Aberhart, Manning’s quiet reserve created a different space.

As Manning’s time as Premier and Leader of the Social Credit Party provincially came to a close, he tried to invigorate change in the federal arena by renewing the Progressive Conservative Party (that had lost government) and the Social Credit Party of Canada into a unified Social Conservative Party. Unlike the renewal, and coming together of other groups with the CCF to form the New Democratic Party federally at the time (and have Tommy Douglas as leader); Manning’s attempts to discuss the renewal of the right was thwarted in his estimation by the election of Red Tory Robert Stanfield.

Yes, the Social Credit movement in Canada is quirky (the funny money and dividend bills), but they were an Albertan response to the Great Depression and War, much like the CCF was a Saskatchewan response. Different collective narratives bringing people to a way to make their world better. My first real introduction to Social Credit was at a family reunion in Delburne, AB at 16 years old. My Great Uncle Ed was a true SoCred believer and spent a good 2 hours walking me through the theory and practice and why I should sign up as a member so the party could make a comeback through youth in Alberta. Now remember the party lost governance in 1971, and pretty much vanished shortly after that…and I was 16 in 1995, when one says true believer, and staunch supporter that is the level of belief that had been built within the party.

This was done by using the small group bible study method throughout the province to teach the Social Credit theory before the party reluctantly ran candidates against the flailing UFA party and formed government with a bunch of rookie MLA’s.

As a tomb of knowledge, Brennan hits all the high notes, and struggles within the short 200 pages he has on Ernest Manning’s life. If you are a student of Alberta political or fringe religious history you already know most if not all of it. What was nice, was having it laid out in one volume instead of multiple sources throughout.


Much of my soul work throughout my life has been exorcising an abhorrent SIN from the amazing work of the gospel found in the Monastic Orders (Franciscan, Basillian, Jesuit) and Social Gospels that have formed me. That unnamed SIN (that is denigration of the Creator’s image, and Holy Breath of life in each of us) is EUGENICS. I wrote a response letter to the national magazine of the United Church of Canada. First hand I have witnessed, and taken the brunt of the active ableism and passive eugenics thought still existing in the institution. This has what was published (and they could not even spell my name right) and following is what was submitted…you can judge if the essence was captured or something missed:

Published September 2018:

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Submitted June 2018 via e-mail:
I must say that Rev. Cantwell is right, the UCC (and Christianities in general) have a lot more listening to do. well it is admirable to touch on the much needed work of reconciliation through TRC and affirming ministries there is still a piece of our history we allow to passively exist.
EUGENICS.
More colloquially known in its form today as “Ableism”. It is the belief that Persons with Disabilities (speical needs, differently abled, let the person let you know how they identify) are “less than human”. It is the dark shadow side of the Social Gospel movement that spurred such good societal change such as suffrage, human rights, labour rights, etc. It is the idea because we view them as less than it is okay to hide our neighbour away in institutions, remain silent on their #metoo, do not allow health sexuality to be discussed, in our very recent history in Canada still forcibly sterilized, and encourage aborting. It is also why there is an undercurrent within congregations where they feel it is okay to passively inform families you do not belong here, we do not want you here, we cannot handle your care.
We want to hold onto the justice roots of our historic social gospel, yet we fail to realize to do that means truth about our eugenics history, exorcising our continued ableism (see the call for ending plastic straws not knowing you are calling for ending some with disabilities- ability to drink), and reconciling to move forward as ONE children of God in the blessed rainbow (to paraphrase Desmond Tutu).
it means bringing a new lens to the old, old story. It is not reading a healing miracle as showing a “less than” ableist frame. It is seeing the miracle for the only way belonging could happen: removing of the barriers of society’s imposed cast system. It is what we need to do now. We need to look to the friends in Mark that found a way- even it meant tearing out the roof, so their friend could belong. We must look to what authentic and true belonging looks like. What needs to happen physically is simply one step. Token inclusion does not solve it. it is engaging in conversation, learning, and authentic apologizing.
It is truly understanding Brother Jesus’ statement about the person with disability being there for the glory of God, that is the one pointing the finger going “what is wrong with him?” being pointed out as the one with the issue, for they hate the image of God. The image the holy breath was breathed into on Day 6 and called Holy…in all forms.
So yes it is time to do deeper listening, but also to act to burn down the house of exclusion and fear. To fully admit the atrocity of our past, and to  become the ally for our neighbour we are called to be. It is time to truly understand that we are all different, and all holy. Is your congregation ready to shatter the barriers/traditions that continue the idea any child of God is less than?
Shalom & Namaste,

Dr. Ty Ragan
(Ended discernment for ministry almost 8 yrs ago over ableism in church)

As we move through the Ancient Teaching, Modern Learning series it is quite easy to just look at the teachings and action items as an out there. An attempt to change our broader society and community. This is true, but it is only one part of the learning that must always be kept at the forefront. There is also the interior change. These teachings were challenging societal norms that did harm, and left communities and individuals in intergenerational trauma, only put value on a person for what they could amass as wealth, and anything seen as less than “perfect” as something to be expunged. It was these norms that fed the eugenics movement that would emerge out of what was meant as good with the Social Gospel movement, for it still created category of other.

This is not right. In the global world we must surrender the concept of other.

In our own interior castle though we must surrender other. That is the other rooms we refuse to enter: the dark basement, the attic, perhaps the wing that has been sealed off. Where must the light shine through? Where must we honour the blessings that challenge the norm? Where we hold in tension in change, and see what is true and right to move forward?

These were the unknowns when Jesus started travelling and teaching. He was nothing more than a general labourer from a small village, rumoured at the least to be  a bastard son, at worst half-Roman (due to the concept women were nothing more than receptacles and all non-Empire citizens were property, meant Mary could’ve been with child due to rape). Someone that was not meant to be seen as a messiah, or be as learned as a wisdom teacher.

Yet here was one in communion with the Holy Mystery. Open like many who do not fit the typical mold we state for “humanity”, that was able to speak and live outwards. One who was able (as many are) to recognize, neighbour, in not just those who were the same, but those who were blessedly different in the rainbow. It was this Hodge podge rabble that had begun to collect. Where men, women and children were called as persons. Many meals were shared, money and goods were shared from whomever made it, and whatever role needed to be filled was not fully defined by the gender (note the many times the women take the lead throughout Gospel stories? Including in going to the tomb?). It was here that they had traveled, and come to a Mount.

A mount where the Decalogue (10 Commandments) had been brought down by Moses to those escaping another unjust society, seeking a just society, but had interior work to do as well. Now Jesus, sat, ate, talked, laughed, I would say with kids around probably played. Let’s be honest his followers had families or not, there is a high probability Jesus had a wife and kids to at some point. This was a family picnic and a chance to begin to unpack what it meant to live in the Love Covenant. And Jesus opens up with what are seen as blessings (Beatitudes):

When Jesus[a] saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 “Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely[b] on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

-Matthew 5:1-12 (New Revised Standard Version)

Who are the poor in spirit? And why is the Kingdom theirs? The Kingdom is not the next life, it is the world created here and now where everyone belongs. Who were the poor in spirit? The ones the religious stated were not holy—the disabled, the sick, the poor, the single parents, the widows, the orphans (any oppressed group)—basically the victims of a world that wanted the non “pure” wiped away. Sounding familiar? What soundtrack is playing in the poor in spirit’s mind if everyone around them is telling them hate? What happens when the action is turned, a community welcomes? We ponder how to extremism, gangs, addictions (the list can go on)…and it comes from a place of being welcomed, loved and accepted. Something society has always resisted as we resonate on the “other”. Living in fear not hope. Living in hate, not love. For to accept the other as a whole person, then in our own mind means we have to accept that there is diversity in creation and it is okay. Belonging is not about being homogenous, it is a heterogeneous mixture of all peoples, where belonging happens due to the complexity that brings into community.

Who are those who mourn? The ones that society says do not deserve comfort. It may be the citizens caught in a bombing run. A Doctor’s without Borders targeted hospital. It may be a criminal. Or it may be a child with disabilities that the education system says their staff and friends do not deserve the mourning journey because “that’s life”. It can be rationalized on so many levels, but being able to rationalize does not make it right. Those who mourn will be comforted…because all who have suffered loss, change, transition, death…deserve the embrace of compassion and equity of care. Your tears, as the tears of others, have value and should be honoured in your personhood.

Who are the meek? They are not the zealots, or the activists or the wealthy or those who are seen as the powers that be. They are the ones that keep plugging along, in survival mode, or just making ends meet. Those that we have stripped voice from because they have not “earned” the “right” to speak. These are the meek. They are not weak, or without intellect or without skill. They are the ones that are the untouchable, the poverty class, the working class… the ones the world ignores for it is not flashy what they do. Yet when their voice is heard change happens. Just look at any human rights movement—those are the meek.

WTF with Righteousness? We live in a world of the self-righteous build the wealth using religion as the opiates of the masses. Who twist religion and ideology in such a ways to create their own fiefdoms at the cost of the other (neighbour) and sometimes destroying their own interior castle if they succumb. The hunger and thirst, is the base desire of knowing something better is possible and needs to happen. That is the drive that allows the others. Remember there is many ways to build poetry and rhythms. Could the Beatitudes be that in seeing as those actions of loving self as you love neighbour, tying into this literary concept of righteousness that takes us into the next blessings.

The merciful? The reciprocity of actions being returned upon you. Not necessarily from the one you showed mercy too, but being able to ease the burden of your own guilt for not helping (the bystander effect) but also in a time of need there is always that synchronicity when help comes. Whether we are aware of it or not. This is a moment of discovery to become aware of gratitude. To know when there is good that comes into your life, no matter how inconsequential some may say it is. This part of the laws of creation.

Pure in heart? This is not some nursery rhyme or fairy tale concept. It is the idea of pureness of one’s own heart. What is still allegorically believed today to be the source of mercy, compassion, kindness, empathy and love (to name but a few). The pureness and ability to see God is simple. If we live our lives with our highest good and those of others (one simple act of kindness at a time) even in the darkest most stumbling moments you will know the cosmic dust that formed you. The energy that binds you to creation and creation into you. You will know the depth of L-O-V-E (the greatest gift) in your darkest time, and that light will shine through and confound the darkness.

Who wants to be a peacemaker? As then, so today, the mediator, the peacemaker, is the one in the midst of the conflict. Whether it is armed, domestic, civil/tort, or within self. You are in the middle holding the factions at bay. Using whatever means necessary from restraint to powerful questions to get to the core of what resonates for all sides to move forward. This is how healthy change happens. In the moment of conflict when one (or many) assesses what of the old needs to pass away, what of the new needs to be accepted, and how to bring the pieces together within the new reality. In “U theory” it is the prototyping phase of change. Trying out new concepts to see what works, but also have the prototypes implode/explode. This is in the outward world, but also inwardly when you journey.

It wraps up speaking about rejoicing in being persecuted. WTH? Jesus is reminding those gathered that a new path is being chosen. A path where the formally “non-person” was going to assert their “personhood”. In this assertion much was to come down upon them, but to know that this is the time to stand proud in who you are, and that this is what was supposed to exist.

The beatitudes like the concept of the Greatest Commandments, have been the basis of many “theology of the margins”, and this includes many monastic movements and the Social Gospel. Sadly, there is much darkness within those movements that also needs to be expunged for it took these pieces to create another concept of “worthy poor” and eugenics that too must be dismantled.

Within that dismantling though is the interior calling of these words for each of us. Where we are here to get the external home in order. What are we to do with our interior sanctuary?

Write out who you and others see you as today…then…

What affirmations are you going to take up to re-writer you internal dialogue from commodity to worthy person?

What acts of kindness will you share with your neighbour, but also show yourself?

Will you pick up the habit of simple time of gratitude no matter how mundane others may see what you are grateful for, it still is the good in your life?

Try for 30 days (time to build up new habits)…what is the new writing of who you are say?

Are you blessed?


Progressive spirituality/Christianities within their current context I find tedious.  There is no scholarship building upon what has come before, rather it is a re-treading of old battles already fought. Why is this? I blame the regressive state of Western Culture. The loss of the ability to critically think, coupled with the conglomeration of media and the commodification of the human experience has led us down a rabbit hole. There is also the drowning with knowledge overload, and opinion as fact that has removed the ability to discourse, and discover wisdom.

It is a sad state on my journey as I look upon those writers that have shaped them, death, illness and retirement has stripped away those that have crafted cornerstones we should be building upon. The voice of progress, universal love and inclusion, liberation and social gospel is shrinking. Thinkers such as Marcus Borg, Desmond Tutu, Peter Maurin, Dorothy Day, Agnes MacPhail, Pierre Trudeau, Padre Pio, Leonardo Boff, meta-physicians; Dalai Lama, Pope Francis I, transcendentalists, Pope John Paul II, Pope John XXIII, Multiple saints & mystics, Mother Teresa, Nikos Kazantzakis, Stuart A. Schlegel, John Dominic Crossan, Matthew Fox, Martin Luther King Jr., Tommy Douglas, J.S. Woodsworth and the list goes on and on. The voices of and for the marginalized have been relegated back to the beginning of a cycle still debating that which human rights and suffragettes should have dealt with.

Yet “Progressive Spirituality” much like “Conservative Theology” got subsumed by “Prosperity Gospels” and “Salvation/Sanctification” (look at a Joel Osteen for the epitome of the lost track of universal love for the progressives). This is why during my time of medical sabbatical I was excited to find out post-stroke Bishop Spong had written a new book, but saddened as I read his preamble to it that this was definitively his last. It is his call for reformation, for the work already done and grow upon it.

He touches on the different times the Christ experience has been mislaid. The Fourth century experience we had codified as “Christendom” which would be as unrecognizable for the original community as it is to us in this day. He also touches on the Reformation, which aside from the land and power grab of the princes/royals to break the state hold of the Vatican. It was possible as well do a shattering transformation of cultural understanding as the plagues had shown that even the “Holy” lost a 1/3. The peasant class was open.

We are in a time like this. Even if traditionalists keep fighting against it. Holding to outdated understandings. Science has revealed much on creation, maybe not the why, but the how. We are in a world where we are taking control over our own destinies. Where we can accept equal marriage, we can accept medicine, accept being able to transplant organs, understand different ways of experiencing life. We can see through new eyes, yet we bring the old eyes leaving our understanding of the intrinsic piece that makes us whole left out in the old patriarchal imperial cycle. And yes, progressive thinkers who are emerging today instead of referencing what came before and building, are trudging up the same mountain again.

This is where Unbelievable (2018) rises. It is still American-centric, but Spong roots his 12 Thesis firmly in what has come before, and lays out a path forward. A new starting point for dialogue and discourse, being able to let go of what is no longer working or that which is harming.

So as we seek to understand the love triangle of My Neighbour, I leave you with excerpts for this work to see if it is something you wish to purchase for your journey, or to explore within your community:

John Shelby Spong (2018) Unbelievable: Why Neither Ancient Creeds Nor the Reformation Can Produce a Living Faith Today (HarperOne).

“what we must do is find the meaning to which the word “God” points.” P. 31

“Is the denial of theism the same as atheism? Is there no other alternative?” p. 38-39

“That is the universal human experience that our ancestors once called “Original Sin”. The experience was real; the interpretation was false. We are not “fallen sinners”; rather, we are incomplete human beings. Our old theology is dead. The door begins to open on a new way to tell the old, old story.” P. 89

“Every Jew would know that to refer to a grown man in Jewish society as “the son of a woman” was to suggest that his paternity was unknown. … we might infer a covert reference to her being pregnant outside of marriage, for there was no estate more lowly in in first-century Judaism that that of an expectant mother with no male protector.” P.112

Atonement theology, especially in its most bizarre “substitutionary” form, presents us with a God who is barbaric, a Jesus who is victim and it turns human beings into little more than guilt-filled creatures. P.153

Bulletins during Lent in many churches look as if they might have been purchased in a local sadomasochism shop. They feature whips and nails, and if they elicit any emotion at all, it is guilt. P.162-163.

In Jewish worship, however, the lamb was a symbol, not of a sacrifice that an angry God required, but of a human yearning to achieve the fullness of human potential. P. 165

The Easter experience in the new Testament, contrary to what we have traditionally been taught over the year, is not about bodies walking out of graves. It is far more profound than that. It is about God being seen in human life. By “God” I do not mean a supernatural, invasive God, who violates the laws of nature in order to enter time and space. I mean a transcendent dimension of life into which all can enter, an experience in which life is expanded, love is unlimited and being is enhanced. P. 188

The ascension story is both powerful and real, but it is not, and was never intended to be, literally true. P.196

Before prayer can be made real, our understanding of God, coupled with our understanding of how the world works, must be newly defined. P. 249.

I have no use for life after death as a tool or method of behaviour control. P.258

We are called by this new faith into radial connectedness. P. 270

When I contemplate the meaning of Jesus I come back again and again to his image as the ultimate boundary-breaker, in whom what it means to be human is constantly being expanded. P.278


I am not even going to pretend what I write is without bias. I know this. I was raised in Canada in a working-class family that was taught to give a damn about their neighbour. Pretty much the lens I bring to life, as a minister I read my gospel through the lens of the Charter, why? I was one of those pesky Social Gospellers dreaming a better world every minute of every day. I also hold an unwavering belief that people are mostly inherently good, and despite evidence to the contrary, will make the best decision they can possibly make in a given circumstance. It is the one that does not learn as they grow that stagnates.

Due to my wonky brain, it has been a while since I have been able to provide comment to some political happenings, with clarity comes a moment to provide some clarity so here goes:

  • Women’s March: Sad it still needs to happen, but looking at our world we know why it needs to happen until we have truly moved beyond this label to being true equals on our planet. Ideologue extremists on both sides remember that you have the right to express these views because your grandmas and further back took up the fight for equality, so let us always keep the eye on moving forward as one family, humanity, not on bickering, tearing down and regressing.
  • Jason Nixon, MLA and the Sexual Harassment bill (Google it, or even just check #ABLEG feed on twitter). I am not going to discourse on the ethics of whether a sexual harassment claimant should be fired, it is the 21st century and that discussion should be null (for those who believe it is not the answer is no they should not be fired). But where the ball was really dropped was in governance as the case could have created a bridge for discussion and better laws for all. This happened because there were loopholes, and what I have read pressure from a bigger corporation on a small business owner. The bill put forward was to close loopholes for the abused, BUT and this is where ideological pissing matches hurt all…there was an opportunity for the Official Opposition Party Leader to come prepared speaking from his own experience where wrong was done and wanting to ensure another company owner was not placed in this position by a larger corporation and in inter-provincial gray areas. These are the amendments proposed to aid all Albertans for a better, safer future. That did not happen (if it did and I will gladly publish them).
  • Summer Student Job form and Reproductive Rights clause. Ah more virtue signalling from extremists (Virtue Signalling a new term I learned from friends in the religious right attempting to show your piety). They want you to believe it is about being pro-abortion. Read the form, all government RFP’s are online and able to read the clauses. The short 3-4 sentences is a check box stating you will adhere to charter rights, gender rights, sexuality rights and reproductive rights. This was done for many things, one that has come to light is that extremists groups have been using government funds (anyone of my generation or older probably remember the W-5 expose when the Canadian government funded the Neo-Nazi movement on our shores—so do not want a redoux of that)…but more it shows the quickness to literalness:
    1. Laws and freedoms are written in such a way for interpretation, and many things have started by test cases being floated, norms being accepted (e.g. equal marriage, dying with dignity). But also modernization and fights from the brave like Dr. Morgentaller, made abortion de-criminalized and funded—which leads to it being include in charter rights under gender rights. BUT Reproductive rights are more than just abortion. This speaks to autonomous control of your body. It speaks to things like honouring the choice of birth control (contraceptive, external, rhythm); to have or not have children; and thanks to Alberta’s (and Canada’s) horrendous Eugenics history, not forcefully sterilizing persons with disabilities, as we have and had a history of doing.

It also speaks to a medical practitioner not being able to force their religious views upon you when it comes to treatment. If you as a man or a woman elects for a vasectomy, tubal ligation or hysterectomy regardless of age and whether you have kids or not, you should be able to access. To the other end, regardless of above mentioned if medically it would solve an issue the doctor should not be able to use your age, or whether you still want kids to stop you from choosing the treatment (e.g. hysterectomy) as an option instead of suffering for years with a medical condition.

Do not let literalism sidetrack and important conversation. And if you as a group truly feel reproductive rights is the hill you want to die on, take it to court as a charter challenge, I have a hunch there is a great machination for clear addition of this to the charter through praxis, and eventual Supreme Court Decision.

 

  • Saint Ralph Klein is an Albertan myth. Many are wanting to herald back to those “halcyon days” of yore. Yet I challenge you to speak with your grandparents and baby boomer parents about the state of their health care. The Klein Government in the mid-90’s pulled a fast one on our elders. Treated them with disregard and disrespect, removing excellent medical care, and then played a shell game to replace it (check out Kevin Taft’s Shredding the Public Interest for more on this) will a for pay Blue Cross and cost-share prescriptions. Each Premier and Health Minister since Klein has been complicit in this disregard for our elders (and yes NDP this includes your current government). Think of it, each generation that retires has added to the building up of our communities and social contract, they deserve the best. The message sent is poverty and stress is okay. Both of those we know are huge factors in worsening health. I call on Premier Notley and our Health Minister Hoffman to not only return our coverage for seniors’ health care to Pre-Klein levels, but exceed and renew this social contract with our Elders, for it is the right thing to do.

Finally, the greatest division I see happening within Canada is how easy we like to throw immigrants and refugees under the bus, and/or shelter users. Bullocks. For those that have settled the prairies before the prairie provinces were made, and shortly after remembering your family came here, went through settlement shelters where they were given education, money, health care, and land grants on the prairies for settlement. Our forebears knew we were all in this together and did not allow division based on religion or country of origin break them apart. They settled our provinces, grew prosperous together as Canadians. Let us keep building this dream together.

P.S. always remember political parties and ideological affiliations are perfunctory constructs, constitutionally the legislatures provincially and federally are to be elected bodies of independents working collaboratively to provide Peace, Order and Good Governance for Canadians. We have two elections coming up- 2019 provincially, and 2020 federally prepare to vote for the Alberta and Canada you want for yourself and your neighbour, but also stay engaged in between holding our elected officials to their role in governing in the best interest of the citizen.

How do you want your neighbour to treat you?

How do you treat your neighbour?


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

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

Huh?

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

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

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

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

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

(English Standard Version)

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

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

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

(English Standard Version)

 

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

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

That your worth as you are created matters.

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

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

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

Children,

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

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

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

Choose L-I-F-E.

Choose L-O-V-E.

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

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

           Choose L-I-F-E?

           Choose L-O-V-E?