Posts Tagged ‘Social justice’


How’s it going?

How are you?

Innocuous questions asked, that honestly no one truly wants to hear anything but good or getting better.

But then the white noise hits. For the last 48 hours, it can be as innocuous as the hum of a router, or Enmax doing something with the electrical lines in the alleyway or sound system feedback that triggers a cascade…or flashback to those warehouse ceiling fans. Apartment heating systems. Wind tunnels created in urban jungles…want to be safe raves that predators invaded. Amazing how it all sounds the same in memory’s ear.

whitenoise

Yes, I have time now to spend doing things I enjoy—with my kids, my wife, writing, reading—yet the focus it takes for a few scants hours spread out over days, if I get off lucky and it does not trigger different types of mystery neuro events— leaves me knocked for a loop and sleeping.

But why?

Does anyone truly want to know why? Some I am sure do. Some have stuck around and walk with us, some have returned that surprised, more surprising are those you have been there for that have up and broke contact.

Yet life if life.

“It’s my fault. I quadrupled capacity, fire me fine, but I will not judge who lives and who dies in a Canadian winter when I can find space.” 

For almost a decade our shelter system ran in states of emergency during winter time, this was parallel to years of prosperity for certain folks in the province.

How do you explain a rough day? When the neuro events are the simplest part even if the experts aren’t truly sure what it is.

How do you explain the rough days where you weep from a soul pain?

Physical pain like a bite that may or may not have broken skin. A torn up back muscles. Arthritis in the shoulder. Blow out knees. Spit in the face or scalding coffee. Death threats to knives held close to my own throat/stomach could have just as easily been a discarded syringe that may have poked into my skin.

Not a physical pain that is fed by years of trying to be a light for dark paths, or a lamp post to the light.  For hopelessness is not the absence of light in the darkness, it is the belief that there never will be light again in life. A minor spark.

The tears of healing on your shoulder from one who is finding home…finding self…finding belonging…place in a world of chaos and turmoil. Knowing their own intrinsic worth and value goes beyond codes, labels, and monetary value… they matter because they are human–my neighbour.

A minor spark once more. That for me was a passionate blaze to change the world, now is crackling embers not only in brain electricity, but on the heart. For a rough day also brings the sounds, the smells, the sensations of the past.

Church basements.

Fight the urge to request prayer because—well—how would they handle knowing the devastation of the helpers? For the work is to be its own selfless reward.

Under bridges.

Back alleys

Line ups taking names.

Body swinging.

Clicking of a gun.

The smell of combustibles and other narcotics thick in the air.

Miscarriages in washrooms. Girls in shock. Boys traded for sex. The succumbing of addiction to null the pain and the lengths one will go. Why would they see themselves as more than commodities when that is all their government sees them as?

Death rattles.

Death threats.

Cold hands.

Outbreaks.

Cold sweat.

Questioning if they would be loved in heaven.

brain-labyrinth

                LGBTTQ2+ communities disowned and cast out. Veterans- from allied and enemy nations. Child soldiers. Persons without country. Temporary foreign workers cast aside at capitalism’s whim. Men and women. Children. New born babes. Babies born into custody. Institutional releases—mental hospitals, general hospitals, child and family services…. justice system. Systems more concerned with the churn than with creating health in the community. A system of justice more worried about revenge than restoration.

Seniors. Elders. Survivors. Thrivers. Barely literate to PhD’s. Experts. Celebrities. Life takes a course correction. Resiliency wains. Grief. Sorrow. Overwhelm. Addictions found, addictions succumbed to. Survivors of religious abuse. Mental illness and mental wellness. Those who believe they are oppressed, those who are oppressed. Economic refugees. Environmental refugees. Refugees fleeing violence and to save their lives. New Canadians, First Nations. Those seeking the Alberta Advantage realizing the blight. Persons with disabilities.  In a few decades the “Common Sense” revolution and the province that was made will be judged by cultural anthropologists based on the treatment of the most vulnerable, the elders and the children? We will be found failures.

A thousand faces. A thousand labels. All to the same gathering. A true Canadian Mosaic.

The stench of evil in backrooms.

Using skills, words and actions to fight against persons becoming defined by debit/credit columns, codes and commodities to those who wield political and monetary power, wondering if deafness is in institutional genetics.

Having words and lies spewed against you as other scamper for power and to create hold over others.

Lines drawn in the sand to church boards, political parties, gangsters, politicians, believed to be friends/allies, dealers and traders in evil veiled by supposed goodness, rapists, pedophiles, and neo-Nazis.

Times after dark in offices, sharing life. Folks looking for hope.

Constant on call awaiting the worst for years not sleeping soundly.

Sharing words at memorials. Baptisms. Weddings. In visitation rooms in prisons. Speaking with patients with advance Alzheimer. Sitting in rooms in schools working with students to choose life over quick cash.

Fighting with communities that preach love and inclusion yet spend more time caring about money and buildings, and who/how to segregate those that aren’t pretty enough for their idols.

The pain of a child pondering why God takes his buddies.

Words of finality spoken as earthly life ends. Hundreds of times over.

Jingle of keys into a new homes door.

Hope the predators will stay away this time.

Going through tables.

Knuckles into body.

The burn of bear and pepper spray.

The throat closing with chlorine gas exposure and other mysterious chemicals.

A body that physically aches upon awaking. A mind that cannot be trusted to function as it always has been.

The past haunts the present. Freezing one from the future.

Watching new and old colleagues alike, thrive and feel pain.

Wondering the whole time of life at a crossroads…has it mattered? Has anything or anyone’s life been changed for the better?

Asking your neighbour—yourself— how goes it? Only matters if you are ready for an honest answer.

I may choose to walk into the darkness and make a difference. I may choose self-care. But then things happen outside of our control and it cascades down and what is left is reliving…not the joys of life’s triumphs…but what rends the soul into one’s own personal hell:

The failures. The times when you couldn’t. The times when you are left standing in the valley of the shadow of death in the many forms it takes—relapse, recycle, crime, abuse, trauma, assault, eviction, unemployment, and worse of all loss of hope.

So how goes the day?

Depends on the day. Depends on the moment of the day.

The challenge moving forward in each moment is to keep grounded, and know who I am.

I am in a good place in the world.

I have walked through darkness, and yes sometimes the light may not be there but I still hold to hope that the light will come—until that moment I don’t.

What doesn’t fade is the white noise that holistically blocks me to accept me.

That moment when even I will lie to myself that it is okay because what is staring back from the void of the soul is darkness in need of light. Light that begins not with a lie to myself, but with affirming that light and beauty exist in the world.

Just a moment of peace is what is thought in the soul.

Just a moment of peace that can be found when my brain cooperates.

Just want that moment…

                                To feel like me

                                                                Once more.

For I am sorry I am not there to save you…

My neighbour….

     Spiritual thought of the week of Hope:

In the liturgical season of Hope this week…light in the darkness. A line from JL movie last night– hopelessness is not the absence of light in the darkness, it is the belief the light is never to return (Lois Lane). So the journey is in finding a way for those without hope to believe the light will return—for some it is companionship, some mindfulness, some community, some spirituality/religion, some need psycho-pharmaceutical intervention or therapy, some need all of the above…but ya wanna know something– regardless of the solution the individual needs, we are all in this together, and without loving acceptance of one another just the way we are hopelessness wins…so take time this week to shine your light of acceptance and let hope win, eh?

John 1

 


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?


Been awhile since I have put together one of these column styles, but I believe it is time to get some fresh thoughts out there within the Canadian Social Justice Context. Since January 20, 2017 when President Trump was sworn in as President of the USA, I have noticed a downturn in the Canadian justice workers’ ability to be reflective about the state of our own nation, province, city/town/village, community and self. We like to project to the Big Bad Wolf to the South and be able to say “well its Trump.”

When truly, we have many stones to repair in Castle Le Canada.

This is some musings from the reflective time of Purim (the Hebrew Bible story of Esther) which begun at conclusion of Sabbath yesterday and concludes at sundown tonight. For the story of Esther, click here.  For those readers of regularity of this site, I encourage a reflective Lectio Divina of the text to set your spirit in a-tune-ment to see the state of your world and how it reflects in the Holy Story. 3 questions could be (one for each hearing):

  1. When have I been silent? (sit with this memory)
  2. When have I been Haman in my world?
  3. When have I found a voice like Esther?

The third is where you find the resonating with the love of the Holy Mystery to take forward. Another spiritual practice would be to rewrite the story from the hardest point of view you have: King, Esther, Mortdecai, Ex-Queen, Haman? What truths are revealed for your life?

But I digress as this is not a theology lesson, but rather a time to be eclectic and percolate some thoughts in our souls as Canadians where next steps lay for our Just Society.

Aboriginal Health Care– due to treaty and the colonial-patriarchy of reserves this falls under Federal auspices, yet any Constitutional Act 1982 student (BNA Act 1867) know that this means literal limbo for our First Nations family members as the true provider of health care is provincial. So how do we truly reconcile, move forward in the new and bury to old?  Full signing on of each specific nation as a province under the Constitution Act 1982 and Charter of Rights and Freedoms, with one step forward each nation dependent on population getting 4-8 seats in the House of Commons (not added extra, existing redistributed); and a set 10 block for all First Nations (+2 for Metis, +2 for Inuit) specifically in the senate, again redistribution, not adding.

This then can allow for both the HoC and Senate to be re-worked Constitutionally and perhaps a social charter can be designed that includes housing, health care, education, right of choice in life, death and income guarantees for every Canadian.

Which also flows into the next as #TRC has happened for our First Nations family, yet we have continued to ostracize/demonize another population whose story needs to be told- The Metis (Half-breeds).

The children of colonialism and the fur trade. The Roman Catholic Church forged a cultural community within those of mixed from Aboriginal-French. Which gave our nation Louis Riel and Garbiel Dumont, brought Manitoba into Confederation, first human rights writing in Canada, and a battle for equality. One that as a nation we never saw for this group until the 1930’s when they were finally recognized as human beings. The story of the Half-breeds on the book is much more destructive, as the British (Scottish-Irish) did not have collectivist good, and belief in conquering through inter-marriage but rather through absorbing. Which created the choice the child was either Aboriginal or white, so one culture lost completely. That is just what our history books will tell us, what is the story on the ground? That which has been silenced? We already know of the land tracts and speculators swindling them out of the land for a low price. But what other harm/trauma lies underneath that needs to be told? Held as truth? And then as a true community choosing to move forward as one?

This is why the TRC records with First Nations need to be kept in the national archive, need to be published and shared far and wide, so the story is known. It is part of us. But also part of the story is the choice to move forward as one and write a new story. This is the reconciliation piece of Truth and Reconciliation.

But this also brings down to the microcosm.

Where I have been struggling with my own Truth and Reconciliation within the United Church of Canada.The family pilgrimage for sacred community as has been written about, has brought us into a Northeast congregation of the UCC, where yes our son who is differently abled has found embrace. He is quite empathetic and a good reader of a person’s true energy, so when he goes on his own volition to join other kids you know the authenticity well.

But aiding him to walk as the weather change is making his muscles sore into the Wonderkids, and seeing the mish mash of kids: other cultures, typically and differently abled just together being kids it hit in my heart.

For it was seeing lived out today in church,  what almost 10 years ago got me fired from the United Church Congregation that I surrendered any hope of ordination to choose inclusion.

Just one of those aha moments, that when you start to unpack the day, and realizing the connections of everything…people…nature…energy…the Holy Mystery permeates all, and all is interconnected within it.

So as with the differently abled community coming into full inclusion in the microcosm, I look to the TRC at the more macro level for inclusion at the national level… and to the two national party’s choosing leaders-Conservative and NDP I ask members to look to the core of the beautiful mosaic Canada is, and to vote your conscience for a leader, and for policy that shapes your party in that unity within our diversity to move forward from troubled waters of the past both recent and historic.

Make the choice as Esther did, to find our voice, step out of the silence, and into the resounding thunder of justice, equality and belonging that resonates from the centre that is love. Out of this love, live our lives for a true difference, for a truly better world.

We are thankful for these and all the good things of life. We recognize that they are a part of our common heritage and come to us through the efforts of our brothers and sisters the world over. What we desire for ourselves, we wish for all. To this end, may we take our share in the world’s work and the world’s struggles.

An end note aside: To Bernie Van De Walle (my theology professor at Canadian Theological Seminary)-I finally fully get your comment about reading my theolgoy through the lens of Woodsworth.


The answer is…

NEITHER

As much as I would like to sit here and say that the Conservative or fundamentalist Christianities were dying and at death’s door…they are not.

Nor can one stipulate that the liberal branches are.

This is the sticky point as some will say, surely you jest writer, just look at the numbers of people leaving in droves, the building sell off, congregation closings…except that is the traditional-conservative-fundamentalit structures that the new inclusive Christianities are stepping out of.

You see, the buildings may go away, traditional style congregations and positions may fade… yet there is a movement of faithful through works, through devotion to fellowship and through syncronicity of faith, holy stories and called to vocation and learnings… that are not quantifiable by any stretch of the imagination.

So unfortunately to the screaming headlines, and butts in pew counters out there, neither of broad tents of the Christianities will go away… why?

Like all other forms of spirituality, ideology, and religion… each of the veins of Christianities draws different individuals into the Holy Mystery.

The question shouldn’t be who the winner will be…

The question needs to be… how do we work together to create the just reign of God here on Earth that Christ called us too in the Gospels?


A fun social justice pulp adventure in the tradition of Doc Savage and the Shadow, with a Tyverse twist!

street priezt