Posts Tagged ‘Star Trek Deep Space Nine’


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How far away are we from our own sanctuary districts?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


It is unique, and something that things I have taught I was reminded of from a post on the Christian Left this morning that my wife shared. We tend to have the patriachal view of the Easter Events…that is the men that hid, not the women that stayed. How true. From the Gospel of John where we paused the Good Friday services reflection of the Stations of the Cross at this moment:

26When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, here is your son,” 27and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home. (John 19:26-27, New International Version).

Many hear these words, and think it is speaking of John, the writer of tradition, who is being spoken too. Yet we took this moment to do a collective reflection with our family, as Raymond Brown, a Catholic Theologian I read back in my seminary days would point out. The Disciple that is loved (or beloved disciple) is a mystery in the writing, for a reason. It is so the hearer/reader can hear/feel/see themselves in the story. Upon the cross, Jesus is asking us to care for his beloved mummy. To care for others in our world, alone, or cast aside but yet truly belong. The point of view in being connection. Living belonging.

Which is one such example as there is two stories at play from Golgotha to the Empty Tomb. The women, his Mum and the women that had supported the ministry, that were empowered, and brought to the full view of community, society and Empire as people. They remained as he breathed his last, as he was lowered into and sealed in the tomb provided by Joseph of Arimathea (Celtic Lore would share is was this Joseph that would bring boy Jesus in his travels to the British Isles). They remained, they prayed, they prepared, they went, knowing the risk on this morning, as the sun rose.

To find the tomb empty.

To take back the story and the glory.

Those who were seen as nothing, not hated, or forgotten, simply, society did not care about them for they were not people. Yet, in the story of friendship with God, they were as deeply loved as Moses, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Jesus, Peter, Paul… Mary and the women at the tomb (Mary & Martha, Mary Magdalene, Salome are some names of the beloved women in the disciples) were just not cared for in society. It was one of the communal sins exposed that lead to Jesus’ death. A world that forgot everyone belongs, everyone is beloved, everyone is equal… a world that forgot how to care for neighbour, and was lost in its own selfishness, greed, and grasping for power. It is still a self-perpetuating communal sin that today, shows victory over is possible, that c-tine has laid bear in our world. Our collective inability to shape our actions for the health of all, and to realize that all life matters (and that all loss of life, is loss and cannot be rationalized out of on the human heart). We are currently the world, illustrated in the Star Trek Deep Space Nine two parter- Past Tense, that is so succinctly summed up by Dr. Julian Bashir:

In Past Tense Part 1 & 2, these were sanctuary camps in the 2020’s (think our own homeless camps)…and forgotten who our neighbour is, and why we have a crisis of homelessness and poverty in our world.

The women stayed shattered the glass ceiling of the oppressor. The women proclaiming “He is risen”, or for Mother Mary, “My son is alive”. Showed that these systems had no power. Nothing could overcome the simple love of life. As we sing Alleluia! and He is Risen, we truly need to understand what that means, for we were opened up to a very intimate relationship with Brother Jesus. He showed what intimacy, and compassion in action look liked. It is one of the great learnings from Diana Butler Bass’ (2021) Freeing Jesus I love, is how she walks through each way you encounter Jesus in a faith journey, yet the full scope of friend being the foundation. How it is not a puff piece, or pablum, but rather something we have lost in life. Biblically friend, is the terms the Hebrew Bible Patriarchs and Moses used in their relationship to God. For Jesus, Abba, the intimacy is even more than Father, but harkens back to Friend. That type of intimacy that is illustrated with the shredding of the veil in the Temple, the barrier separating what is usually termed the sacred and profane, or more palpable Creator and blessed Creation.

How do we truly understand this scope of friendship? Intimate relationships? Healthy relationships? The concept that family, as was shown in Golgotha is not about blood (genetics), but about love. Currently we have a skewed view of friendship, for social media has shifted it to a voyeuristic pursuit, not an active participation in life. But when we take the Holy Risk to make friends, we create true sacred space in our lives for belonging. When we approach those we do not know as possible friends, it becomes harder to forget how to care. It activates our empathy for the other, because we know how we care for those in our circles, and how we would feel if that was those family members.

We become the women that stayed. Watched. Acted. Proclaimed.

The disciple that is loved, and asked to risk taking someone in. The beloved disciples that wept, that prayed, that risked. The loving Mother, sisters, wives that show us what sacred love and holy friendship is. That if we can truly engage with and live into our world will be transformed as the call of Easter on our hearts.

Are we willing to stay?

Are we willing to risk being a friend?

Easter Reflection Sources:

Facebook post from the Christian Left

What We Left Behind: A Look Back at Star Trek Deep Space Nine (streaming on Tubi TV), watch trailer here.

Bow Valley Christian Church Easter Service view here.

Diana Butler Bass (2021) Freeing Jesus


Since I was allowed to stay up late on Tuesday nights as a little gapher to watch the re-runs on CBC, Star Trek has been a part of my life. The stories, the social commentary, the inclusivity, the knowing of a better future to come. Watching as the technology I have seen on the screen has slowly and then rapidly become a reality. Think of what our Smart Phones (even flip phones) are like communicators, and sometimes tri-corders (and the body scans we can do now, like their med-beds), during C-tine, our video calls I do feel like asking for hailing frequencies to be open on screen. As each new era of the first book of my life emerged, readers know certain stores have resonated from the original, to the Next Generation to Deep Space Nine (DS9) to Enterprise to Voyager, enjoying Discovery, Picard and Lower Decks (looking forward to Prodigy and Strange New Worlds). Yet it is the underlying theme of all belonging, and freely being able to pursue one’s passion as purpose that resonate at the core of the storylines.

Which is why, as this section moves towards a close, this Reading Week as an instructor has been intriguing for what has come into my feeds. Clicked on Crave to watch the next episode of Season 3 of Discovery, and there was a documentary “Woman in Motion” about Nichelle Nicholls (who originated the character of Uhura) and her work with NASA.

I encourage viewing for everyone, but I also encourage discussion and dreming after viewing. The documentary shares the story of Ms. Nicholls, whose Dad never believed in the word, can’t. She shared of being a teenager, and singer with Count Bassie’s orchestra. How the lead singer, a sultry siren, was no longer there, and she got the nod to take the lead imitating her predecessor during the set. At the end, Bassie came to her, and bluntly asked what she was doing? As well, to knock it off, she had actual talent, so sing. Could you imagine the same advice being given to a young woman in the music industry today?

See the source image

The story of her beginning to work with Rodenberry with a role on one episode of his show, “The Lieutenant” around racism, that was so controversial it has never aired. What began that day though was a friendship of deep discussions on importnat issues of justice. Rodenberry promising he would have something for her. What was that? In a show idea known as “Wagon Train to the Stars” that would become Star Trek. The character? One Ms. Nicholls would help name, Uhura, and create. For the command crew of the Enterprise, represented the mosaic of humanity plus a Vulcan. Though during the first season she would see her role continue to shrink to a simple catch phrase “hailing frequencies open” to the point of resigning. It was during this time, at an event, a fan wanted to meet her. She was tired, and did not want to, but the hosts kept pushing, The Fan- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the message, you can’t resign. The retort, who are you to tell me how to run my career. The rationale by Dr. King, it is the only show he allows his children to watch, that he makes time to watch with his children. She stayed, an African American Lieutenant, the commander of communications.

The story shifts to the convention era, where she met a person from NASA, as they were moving from the Apollo era to the shuttle era, and Ms. Nicholls, once again challenged the norm, for she pointed out she could not see herself in the astronauts. A visit to NASA revealed the rainbow that made space flight possible, but the actual astronauts had a selection bias, and there was 4 months left to go in recruiting for the program…and Ms. Nicholls was hired, one caveat, she did not want to be a mascot. She took in astronaut training so she knew what she spoke about, she also did not have NASA folks with her when she went on her recruiting talks, filmed her PSA’s for television and radio. 4 month, criss crossing the country, receiving threats of harm when she spoke out, challenging the military recruiting process, as she recruited civilians (and those in the military overlooked) to thousands of applicants to the first 35, adn the friendships she cultivated in there to the Challenger in 1986…\

But her message was simple, she saw something that wasn’t right, and wanted to make it right.

An underpinning of Star Trek, in spite of the Prime Directive. Striving for IDIC (Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations), a true courageous space for inclusivity. To move beyond the societal “isms” that were explored in Star Trek Deep Space Nine episode “Beyond the Stars” where Sisko, is back in time as a writer in the 1900s:

Sisko was the writer Benny Russell, who the readers believed was white. The world was very much polarized by colour, at least in the powerful money hands. This is the world that the bridge of Uhura challenged. This is the world that Star Trek in its IDIC continues to challenge, while cultivating critical and ethical thought processes.The shared extended metaphor of Bajoran-Cardassians, in the age of Reconciliaiont, of Settlers-Indigenous. And inspiring folks to discover their passions and pursue them. This is how I shaped the episodes and movies to be used in my teaching with youth and young adults, from exploration nights in youth groups, youth centres, young adult studies, discussion nights, oh and one fun confirmation cycle. It was a pleasure on Friday February 19, 2021 during a video conference out of Costa Rica linking the world (very Trekkie) to be able to thank one of the actors, who states she is a storyteller, Nana Visitor (played Major Kira Nerys in DS9) for the stories that inspired and have been used to inspire so many.

May be an image of 1 person and text that says "TeC ”R Rica Tecnológico de Nana Visitor Friday February 19, 2021, 6pm Costa Rica AORNN SPACE"

A friend and former colleauge in journeying with those in life recovery and exiting homelessness to home, is now at home in Costa Rica cultivating his own passions around space exploration and community building as a teacher. This was a conference part of TEC. The exciting news that kicked off was Costa Rica adopting their own Space Agency (after a long history of working with NASA, and some excellent books co-authored by my friend, Bruce Callow). Their initiatives around education and STEM that has seen them in schools outside of Costa Rica (including Calgary), and having cameos with the books at the last Vul-Con before c-tine (and as rumours/bills from the Town Council of Vulcan the last focused event such as that).

We then shifted to an incredible and inspiring talk by our storyteller. Ms. Visitor shared about those great moments of entering The Flow. That is that moment when everything aligns, and it no longer feels like struggle or work, just going and what amazing things happen within a team when that moment is realized by a team. I have had the pleasure of experiencing those moments in my own writing and teaching, but also in community builidng and spiritual direction with the teams and communities we were a part of, an dyes it is powerful. The challenges thrown out that the way work is done needs to change, understanding work as a person with nothing outside the work is unhealthy and wrong. We need to cultivate a world that allows for healthy balance with work and life, and watch the miracles roll out, just think we have gotten this far with the broken system, how much farther could we go with an unbroken system?

Of course, there was talk of the power of representation within Star Trek, Ms. Visitor sharing when she first read the character of Kira, she thought it was a man, because rolls like that did not exist in the early 90’s for women. And when she found out it wasn’t, she wanted it. She shared on her Women of Trek project, interviewing the actresses who have played the powerful roles. The hope of Ms. Nicholls health holding so after c-tine she will be able to interview her in person for the book/documentary. This was one of the greatest moments, as there was the allusion that inclusivity also involves mental health and disabilities for pursuit of passions. As the character of Tilly in Discovery was brought up, for she is brilliant, yet can be crippled by anxiety, and she is important to show, that we can still be who we are in experiencing the world, and chase our passions.

Which leads us into a reflection for this first weekend of Lent,

If inclusivity was the norm

If you could live your dreams/passions

Who would you be?

*Guess what– that’s who Creator made you to be.

For more on Nana Visitor, read Bruce Callow’s article here.

My Facebook message after the event:


It could be my 335th edition of ecclectica in all its itirations in life, but truly, it is reflecting more of the 335th day of the current exisence. Some days to bring together thoughts, and things of life in the here and now. Before we shift into what life should be through some reflections I just want to share something cool from a friend, and a former colleague, a dreamer living life building community. During c-tine many have been discovering Star Trek Deep Space Nine on streaming services and being astounded they did not know about the complexity, characters, and discussions that leap from every episode, and so compelling and applicable to our curent world. Bruce Callow, as part of his work in Costa Rica and science/space education was able to sit down and interview Nana Visitor (Kiera Nerys) from the show, read the Costa Rican Times article here.

Our road map as a photo collage, we have touched on living dreams to make the world better, and understanding how life experiences shape a person with our interview with Ms. Visitor. Now we move into the ecclecitca, which includes touching on different topics. The highest streaming in North America is of course, that a President whose words, actions and machinations that incited an insurrection where 5 citizens died could be acquitted at his second impeachment trial. It is some what of a commentary on our world, where accountability is only for some, and not reserved for those who scream “persecution” the loudest.

It has become a staple within the Right to Al-Right to Fascist to Neo-Nazi end of the political spectrum. As the right moves further along the spectrum (which when I was a public school student, was taught in school, but currently is not taught as teachers fear being labelled ideologues and lose their job. The result: a less critical thinking electorate and citizenry). The left which goes from Left to Socialist to Communist to Dictatorship to Stalinist is pulled further into the right end of the spectrum, for nature abhors a vacuum, and so does our political ideological entrenching, the chasm being created is one where many are left politically homeless. Where those left politically uninspired either become apathetically complicit for not voting, or do to the rage on one side or the other enter into a highly dualistic co-dependent relationship with an extremist ideology, that has to be completely good as the other side has created that it is evil, and then we are in the shouting match that with a simple match, the tinders can incite violence.

This was a chance in history, for the supposed leader of the Free World, to re-assert the need for healthy dialogue, for holding to account hate and extremism. Instead, they collapsed under the pursuit of power, and shoring up territorial biases and bases. It was a commentary touched upon recently in Canadian politcs by the Rt. Hon. Joe Clark (read article and link to podcast here), where some key points to be extrapolated is that our political leaders of all stripes have become more social media performers, than thought leaders. We as a nation need to demand better, we need to move beyond territorial entrenchment, and party-colour belonging, to push all our national parties to actually be pan-Canadian, to look at what is needed for our nation as a whole. To vision cast, to move beyond the tweet-byte, lay out a vision/dream. To take seriously the character of the local representatives that are running and serving, do they serve all Canadians and their constituents? If it is only serving the party line, then it is a systematic failure. It creates group think, that makes accountability only faux-shows, where parachutes are aligned after the smoke and mirrors. Or accountability is non-existent as we see in Alberta with MLA Barnes & Pitt joiing the Anti-Lockdown Caucus propagated by the People’s Party Maxine Bernier, a party known to overtly affiliate with the Neo-Nazi’s of Canada, and to be blunt the politicians that affiliate are creating streams of disinformation, and wreaking havoc on governments (many they are in the governing caucus’ of) to get traction on a pandemic (and we shall touch on the epidemics of opioids, meth and homelessness in a second).

Which the silent complicity of party leaders not kicking these members from caucus, leads to non-accountability as we saw on display this past Saturday Feb. 13 at CF Chinook Mall with anti-maskers marching through the mall hoping to spread covid, and comparing restrictions as making them the “new Jews” which opens up a whole lot of “WTF” in my mind that we have allowed once again mainstreaming of anti-semitism and the hate that perpetuated a holocaust only 80 years ago (the lifespan of many that are losing their lives in our pandemic currently). Yet, no ticketing, no arrests. Why?

We have created a world, where the smoke and mirrors of personal rights and performance creation of victimhood/persecution lead to 0 accountability. We have stripped the interdependence, as we make each side the other, and the villain. Instead of entering into dialogue. Having said that, I do state clearly when it comes to where the spectrum connects on Facism/Naziisms-Dictatorship/Stalinism, that needs to be called out. Though, we truly need to understand what that is when it is called out, so that the authentic is placed in the cell of silence it belongs in, and the impact of those terms are not destroyed by screaming it at every point we do not agree upon.

Which brings me into the reading of Irshad Manji’s (2019) Don’t Label Me, as a queer-Muslim writer, she has a dialogue with her beloved pup, Lil, about the state of the world. The challenge being revealed, is that we lose ourselves in labels which perpetuate stereotypes, and do not allow us to meet the person to see who they actually are. It is within her words she shares about moderate Republicans she has met who do not hold to the MAGA/Q Cult. She also shares about her own journey in faith, and the push back from other progressive quarters of atheism that do not want to hear the word faith even on things as innocuous as Facebook, taking offense that someone should not share that for fear of offense. It really is a call to keep ourselves safe, but also to get to know our neighbour and understand the anti-fascist, anti-rascist movements in the light of the impact on the other they have. There is a great story she shared of two friends in Missisipi and the move to change the flag, one a hip-hop artist, who speaks their truth to the symbology and the pain it brings, another, a man in the Confederate lineage that does not see a problem with the flag on their part. But then astutely shares, the hip-hop artist is their friend, and it causes pain, so “I have a choice, to take action to remedy, or not be a part of the change conversation and play the victim afterwards”. A proactive entering into discussion.

As a writer, I appreciate labels and stereotypes. When working a work of fiction they allow for a quick visual or quick reference words to create a word image for the viewer, yet we are living in this world where everyone is defined by the labels and no one wants to move beyond the label to meet the person underneath. Would we be able to shift our world to a better place if the more moderate on the spectrum connected and found the common ground once more? Built the bridge across the chasm that has been created by the extremists?

For it is the fear induced by the extremists that continues to perpetuate the hate and systematic racisms/injustices in our society. For the purity test on the other extreme just leaves them to default to where they are okay with the norm, instead of creating space to accept in the journey of life a person learns and grows and changes.

This is the message that resounds in the closing chapters of DC Comics’ New 52 Superman. In his final days, where a perfect tri-fecta has left him dying, he sets out to live the hope of his symbol until his last days. To try to lay the groundwork for it to continue. My question though, is do we have to wait until we are in a dire circumstance? Until the match has been lit again and people are dying? Until we are in the last days of life, to understand what it takes to create a legacy? Or can we simply leave each day knowing we have a story, and others we meet will have a story…

This is the challenge when individuals look to government policy as the silver bullet or cure solution. The challenge being in our current world of entrenchment, and each side needing to be able to claim the “holy and good” side, or to the spoils go the victor, much is missed. Framing the idea of ending homelessness. It is a broad and hard topic that hits the grieving of change vectors of individuals and communities. The first challenge is one has to understand how we have done as a society, has been okay, but in the first part of the 21st century decisions made have left many in poverty and homelessness and this is not okay. It is okay to admit we have made a societal mistake and want to move on. It is about being able to bring fresh eyes/heart to something like UBI, where many trip up thinking it is another layer of government entitlements added to the system and this is what trips up on costs of– it is a replacment for the piecemeal approach to support, it is stripping away the money wasted on disproving claims and the appeals process, it leverages technology to simply be. It removes space for individual grants if one has a dream for a small business, and gives space to let that happen, for artisans to flourish, and create new dynamic spaces for meeting, discussion, critical thought, it provides the top up for minimum wage jobs so they become living wage, as the pandemic has shown, each role is necessary for our society to function. The fist step though, is allowing permission to admit the bias and misunderstanding, and accepting that all can change. To shift the discussion from yes-no, to how. But first we have to allow the ability to acknowledge mistakes and change at the individual, the instittutional and the system level.

Permission to acknowledge mistakes is one of the things missing from public discourse. It is what leads to the unaccountability for actions. See, mistakes happen, some big, some minor, and we have to accept the accountability for those actions whether they were intentional or unintentional. I teach my students, each time I pushed the boundaries of the rules or broke them, I fully and rationally understoon what I was doing, and knew that worst case scenario it could lead to unemployment, and I was okay with that. Each person needs to be. Unfortuantely this quest for profit and power over people, has created a world where we do not expect accountability (good or ill) for our actions. We also have created a world where we cannot openly admit mistakes, or when we struggle.

That ties into a blessing I received for a Christmas gift. The complete CBS series of Elementary on DVD. I am a Sherlockian (I belive that is the right term), as I was introduced to the stories first through the ol’ Basil Rathbone movies on PBS, then reading Doyle’s stories, and the comics, enjoyed RDJ’s Sherlock Holmes movies, and Cumberbatch’s Sherlock. But there was something about this imaginging of Holmes in the modern world, with his sober companion Dr. Joan Watson into America. Holmes as we meet him is a recovering addict (the usage is part of the original stories, but was always on the fence for the reader if it went from simple Subtance Use/Social Use to Misuse/Substance Abuse). There is a beautiful scene opening up the first episode of Season 2, with Holmes in a meeting, and he openly talks about his usage, and that he feels he was born 100 to 200 years late, as the world would have been so much quieter, and perhaps then he would not have been an addict. This is also the episode where we meet his brother, Mycroft, and begin to understand the interplay of family in recovery, and what happens for both sides to see the other in their new reality, with new hearts. This is the beauty of Elementary it’s authentic portrayal of addiction, recovery and reconnection. The use of not only purpose in the process of being a part of community, but authentic belonging.

As the life and discography of Johnny Cash would illustrate, purpose is about what resonates deep within us. Belonging is those authentic folks who we connect with. For Cash it was about the music, his faith, and more, the story of his wife, and how that connection turned his life.

This is where we miss the mark in society on our march to end homelessness. We hold it is about upper-middle class developer housing- a house or a condo or an apartment. It goes deeper than that. It is about belonging. The government monies and policies speak to capacity and stock in the system to allow one (or family to be housed), same goes for the donations to non-profits. Decades ago I helped in writing policy for the now non-existant Federal PC Party, that spoke of all types of housing stock to have 10% put on an affordable sliding scale to aid in the stock on affordable housing, which very few took up as it was seen as to out there as what would your neighbour think finding out they are paying this and you are paying that (what does it matter what each of us pays, as long as we are all in community in a healthy way). By providing safe housing, that is designed for the needs of community members, we remove external stressors on their determinants of health, by providing a UBI, which allows for housing and food security, we remove layers of stressors/traumas on one’s healthy that actually burden more expensive systems of care on the emergency response end. As one ages in place, the costs on the system align with other neighbours.

Then it becomes more complex, as it is about moving beyond labels, for what to do with neighbours that may be provocateurs? Disruptors? If they are breaking by-laws/laws, it does not matter if they have lived next door for 20 years, moved in from another community or exited homelessness. This is where accountability for actions matter. What is needed in community is free options for neighbours to connect and get to know one another, so we are able to know what is typical behaviour, and when they need us to be present. This is why public libraries are so amazing, it is the one space left in our Western World where you can exist without having your bank account value checked. It is why I love seeing religious groups opening their doors for community meals, space for neighbours to meet together. A universal approach where there is no means test to access, simply saying come and break bread together. What if community associations created the same space? Are there volunteers out there that would share their skills for knitting circles? Meals? Book clubs? A space for those that live in community to use to connect based on hobbies and interests?

What if this allowed for funding from municipalities so that the halls were not constantly driven for rental incomes, and become spaces to cultivate getting to know one another beyond labels?

Think as we head into our civic elections in Alberta this October, what dream is there for a healthy and robust community beyond NIMBYISM, beyond labels…what does it look like for authentic belonging for all? For connecting? For purpose that is not tied to simply work?

I bring this up because it is one of the quick arguments of some, as to why we have a means test and work so hard to keep people from accessing Alberta Works and direct to day jobs in construction (which devalues the actual skill set it takes for what is classed as unskilled casual day labour, trust me, if my Dad, a general contractor and Master Electrician is aiding me on a DIY in house, it works, to my own skill set not so much). I am an Albertan and do not believe this ludicrousness. The entitlement is there for those in need. Not once they have cashed out all their savings and retirements then help. It is there for help. Say what we will on the back end of sorting out CERB and the possibility of taxation for those that made too much, at least those who needed it got it. See what shifts when we look at supporting one another in need? Not simply, trying to root out a fraudster?

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Same in our systems of housing, of care– why so much added trauma and stress to access the supports needed for physical, developmental or mental health?

Why not a robust system to allow for thriving, where we trust the family doctors and specialists that what is being asked for is needed?

Imagine how different our world would be?

See, Johnny Cash, found his belonging in his faith…

Others find their belonging through hobbies, interests, politics, philosophies, their faith. As we have moved into more commuter communities we have lost the local connection. We scream shop local currently, but miss a deeper point for health on the other side of c-tine:

Live Local.

For when we live local. When we connect, and know one another’s stories and journeys. It becomes truly hard to stigmatize, or live in fear. We can move through the grieving of change together. For it is in moving forward in understanding root causes we can truly make a difference.

It is in being present, that we live out the evidence.

For in that prescence with one another, we have to see the intrinsic value of our neighbour. The instrinsic value in human life, no matter what path brought you to that shared point of view with so many. Which shifts the discussion then from either or in solving our substance abuse epidemics of opioids and meth, to focus on the person behind the substance and their story. It leads us to understand for some the path is abstinence, for some it is harm reduction in the healing. It is a necesary spectrum, for as each person has intrinsic value, and are the protagontists of their own story, so too does each have a path of healing that touches on the tools of systems, theories and practices we try to create our own silos and chasms with. Instead of understanding, oh so simply, regardless of the theoretical label placed on the tool, it can be adapted for the person before us. The neighbour only finding away to numb the pain or silence the chaos.

Connecting.

Belonging.

Purpose.

Ideals that overlay so many things in our lives. That when truly sought, we can begin to accept the different paths to the same community. When sought healthily so many underlying causes can have truth spoken into them, space held, and reconciliation lived into.

Yet, it begins with you and me, not as an I, but as a We.. Your decision. Your choice. Your voice.

Become…

Our reconciliation. Our dialogue. Our decision, Our choice. Our voice.

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Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is that quirky thematic series in the Trek Universe. Whether on television, in comics or books it explores unique themes. These themes can be as diverse as eugenics, covert operations, war, poverty, illegal occupations, politics, and the role of religion in oppression, trauma and healing. It is this last theme that ties into Una McCormack’s 2009 DS9 novel The Never-Ending Sacrifice explores through the life of a Cardassian child, adopted and raised Bajoran, Rugal is his name.

What are these aliens? Essentially the Cardassians are an Empire that conquered the planet of Bajor for their resources, enslaved, bombed, etc. under the auspices of civilizing and providing for them. It is a meta-narrative seen in colonialism, within the Gulf Wars, and the Israel-Palestine conflict (dang that sci-fi with their allegories, eh?).

Rugal is sent back to Cardassia when it is discovered his birth father is alive, by Commander Sisko, early in his tenure on Deep Space Nine, and coming into his role as the Bajoran Emissary in their religion (think like Buddha or Messiah). It was a black and white decision made. The child had been adopted by Bajorans as they believed his family was dead, family was found, and he was torn away to live back on Cardassia Prime.

The novel then traces Rugal’s life on Cardassia, the Cardassian that never truly fit as Bajoran, but would not let the washing away of genocidal history stand in his new life, so he was the Cardassian that was too Bajoran to be Cardassian. The story is his own journey of belonging and home coming. For some with religious bent it can be seen as a third person testimony.

What it raises though is deeper questions for us as we attempt to tribalize. We want to use labels whether it is gender, race, socio-economic, religious or cultural to identify and divide. Yet what is missing, as in the Emissary’s decision to remove Rugal, the simple question of…

Where is home?

Who is our real family?

Is family and home a point of origin? Biologic? Religious? Political? Or is it a deeper place of sanctuary? Who are your family? What is your home?

Where do you think Rugal truly found his place after years being removed and living through the shifts, war, decimation and poverty all over again now as a citizen within the former oppressors?

How do you know you belong?

____________________________________________________

coverA stone skipping across a pond leaves ripples with each impact.

The joys and life of traumas are the like the skipping stone through the generations.

Soul Ripples

What happens when the helper needs help?

For over 20 years Ty Ragan served his neighbour from the rough camps to the shelters to home and every where’s in-between. The simple life lesson of Jesus of Nazareth to love your neighbour as yourself was the centre question to be answered in his life. In May 2016 his life would begin to change drastically through unknown seizures and strokes.

Enter into the ripples that brought him to 2016, the transformational power of love of family and friends as he seeks new ripples in hope for his soul.

Buy your copy at Amazon.ca today.


Star Trek is always at its best when posing tough questions to answer. Star Trek Deep Space Nine was a series that tackled politics, religion, bio-ethics, and war quite in your face. It wrestled with grieving, PTSD, mental health, and shell shock. It showed the stark contrasts needed for Truth and Reconciliation for the Bajoran people and their planet when the Cardassian occupation ended, and the Federation led by then Commander Benjamin Sisko came to the formerly Cardassian space station Terok Nor (renamed Deep Space Nine) to aid the healing and rebuilding process.

Sisko who would become the Emissary in the Bajoran religion. The wormhole that opened between the Alpha and Gamma Quadrants that the Bajoran people saw as the Celestial Temple in their faith, and the shape shifting aliens existing within as their Prophets. But I digress from my theological geek ways, to focus on another tale that is tackled well within Deep Space Nine.

David R. George III (2017) The Long Mirage brings forward an intriguing question. Especially with the rise of hate filled populism thinly veiled in religious language today in our world. The original DS( has been destroyed and replaced with a shiny new Federation station. A Bajoran Federation officer is now Captain, Ro Laren, and she is sweet on Quark (the Ferengi Ambassador, former barkeep on DS9 and hub of creative financial opportunities). They are searching for a missing patron of the station.  Kira Nerys, former first officer, is now on a spiritual quest that has taken her through time and space literally at the will of the Prophets. She has seen and learned things that may be a benefit to some factions in new Bajor.

What as a believer do you do with what you have learned? She is caught between the Federation rules of silence on time travel, her religions free will on disclosure, and those who want to use the faith of the people as a political tool.

Then Quark and Ro find Morn (the patron) and he is caught with illegal holograph technology…. Why?

Vic Fontaine.

Image result for vic fontaineTrapped in a program buffer since the original station was destroyed. The holodeck program has had some glitches, and Easter Eggs that have put Fontaine’s life at risk. So what you say, hit reset and carry on. Only Fontaine’s 1940’s era Vegas casino and act has been a place of community building, healing, and sanctuary for many on DS9. Quark’s nephew, Nog, when as a cadet lost a leg in the Dominion War lost himself in the world and Fontaine became his therapist to work through the PTSD and Shell Shock.

The core question raised throughout the caper narrative,

is one as old as time,

What makes a friend? A member of the family?

And the core question, is Fontaine a sentient being (person) or not?

Enjoy the read, and wrestling through the questions.


Related imageFor many the title may sound quite oxymoronic. Star Trek & Spirituality? Star Trek & religion? Is it not the great humanist journey? Yes and no. It is about a wonderful mosaic, learning to co-exist together (yes there’s still dark times and conflict). It is also about exploration, and chasing the soul centered vocational passion you have as you do not have to worry about life giving necessities. It literally shows how a multi-cultural mosaic honours everyone’s beliefs and heritage, but also how beliefs and customs change through sharing space. Creating courageous and safe space to explore.

It has also been on of those shows for me at each different point of my own spiritual questing if you will. During my PTSD-PNES recovery (still ongoing) it was a Star Trek Deep Space Nine novel I picked up in shaky hands to retrain my brain on reading.

The original Star Trek I fell in love with on CBC watching re-runs, I was allowed after all to be up 1 hour past bed time on the nights it was on so it became must see t.v. I wanted to be a space cowboy ala Kirk in my early elementary school years. I was gobsmacked in Wrath of Khan when Spock gave his life (yes I loved Spock as a character)…my wife says in my middle-age years I can come across more as a Dr. McCoy however lol…it showed you can have fun adventuring, and that there is truly a no-win situation. Though for some in my work a day life, it was more Mr. Scott, the Miracle Worker I have become known as.

The Next Generation took a bit to get in too, but it was a group of folks I clicked with in Junior High School. Data, Geordi and Worf were my favs, what can I say, the philosophical questions raised by Data, Worf seeking ways to connect with his religion with his new enlightenment from being raised in the Federation I felt echoed in my own search for Jesus and God. Geordi, well I loved how his mind worked. No, I have never asked anyone who they would see me as in characters, though my daughter has said Picard because we are both bald and drink tea.

Deep Space Nine was the spiritual quest through the Catechism. It was exploring a society rebuilding, religion and spirituality, literally an outsider (Sisko) merging his own beliefs into Bajoran religion. There was sexual identity diversity (Garak); Odo and Quark with their cops/robbers routine, neuro-diversity shown with Rom, PTSD and mental health was tackled, Worf was back. Sisko punched Q (and yes the online quizzes put me as a Sisko in which Star Trek Captain are you). Ethical questions around medically assisted death, capacity and is spiritual wisdom true knowledge. Also dragged you into discussions around torture, occupation, just war theory, what does it mean to fall away or re-enter your faith in a new way. Eugenics. Addictions. Racism was squarely hit. Truth and Reconciliation. These were all but some of the story lines explored over their seven seasons.

I had a passing dalliance during this time with Enterprise and Voyager. Fast forward though to my healing over the past year.

What was Enterprise? It was the first warp 5 ship leaving our solar system to go out and explore. First steps into a new reality. Not understanding what laid ahead, apprehensive, but willing to take a leap of faith. Captain Archer and his crew became the galaxy’s conscience. Working through xenophobias and paranoia’s between Vulcans and Andorians, discovering what it means to fall victim to pirates. T’Pal and Trip’s love. Dr. Phlox showing that in plurality there is different ways to be family. Each character had their own challenges, fears and goals to move through. Sato being the one developing the universal translator as a linguist, Merryweather having been raised on supply ships breaking with his family tradition to join Starfleet. Reed learning what it means to be with family, as he broke his family’s tradition of Naval service. Captain Archer, with his trusted beagle, Porthos, figuring it out as they go day by day.

A book series and t.v. series that helped me wrestle in my core about what it means to start fresh. Whole new life laid out before with new challenges to overcome.

Also the time I revisited Voyager. Two separate factions pulled 75 years away from our quadrant by the Caretaker. The Maquis (freedom fighters or terrorists depending on your point of view) and Starfleet, now on one ship, one crew, Voyager. What does it mean to be lost with no chance of getting back to familiar?

Just let that question rest. One is going into the unfamiliar, knowing home is close, in Enterprise. Voyager is being lost, heading back, but not knowing if you ever will make it. The journey in the Delta Quadrant of Janeway, Chakotay, Torres, Paris, Kim, Seven, Neelix, Doctor and Tuvok to grieve, to release the old, and journey into the new reality before them.

It is a winding life path.

Each series, and individual show, breaks down a fun adventure, but also some deeper questions if you so wish. In my ministry life I have used the shows and movies multiple times to get groups of all ages to think differently about issues before us.

In my healing journey, the story therapy to has touched upon thinking differently about the journey before me. One day at a time. The good grieving to a new reality.

Want to read more of the Spirituality of Star Trek?

Check out my new book, Soul Ripples, Coming 2019.


Captain Sisko: You want to know… you *really* want to know what my problem is? I’ll tell you: Las Vegas 1962, that’s my problem. In 1962, black people weren’t very welcome there. Oh sure, they could be performers or janitors, but customers? Never.
Kasidy Yates: Maybe that’s the way it was in the real Vegas, but that is not the way it is at Vic’s. I have never felt uncomfortable there, and neither has Jake.
Captain Sisko: But don’t you see? That’s the lie. In 1962, the civil rights movement was still in its infancy. It wasn’t an easy time for our people, and I’m not going to pretend that it was.
Kasidy Yates: Baby – I know that Vic’s isn’t a totally accurate representation of the way things were, but… it isn’t meant to be. It shows us the way things could’ve been – the way they should’ve been.
Captain Sisko: We cannot ignore the truth about the past.
Kasidy Yates: Going to Vic’s isn’t going to make us forget who we are or where we came from. What it does is reminds us that we are no longer bound by any limitations – except the ones we impose on ourselves.

-Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, season 7 episode 15 “Badda-bing, Badda-bang” (1999)

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is another overlooked gem. It lasted seven seasons and tackled many relevant issues during the 1990’s. If you remember the 90’s there was the challenges of marriage equality (yes it began then); the repercussions of the end of the Cold War; Gulf War I, and the rise of the Serbian-Bosnian war that almost created a draft in Canada, and yes sadly, the Rwandan Genocide, to Albertans being confronted by our Eugenics history of forced sterilizations of persons with disabilities and mental illness, to name but a few historic events. It also began the repercussion of revelation of the church sexual abuse of children within Canada. There was hope, but also healing needed, and evil rooted out.
This is the world that Deep Space Nine premiered into. The first Star Trek not on a space ship exploring, but a Cardassian space station taken over by Bajor and the United Federation of Planets, by a wormhole to another quadrant. Bajor is a former planet that was occupied by the Cardassian, who finally surrendered. Sisko’s journey to lead is about losing his wife in a battle with the Borg. A Borg led by Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Locutus, ST:TNG Best of Both Worlds), whose ship brings him and his son to the station. A journey where he begins to wrestle with forgiveness and reconciliation with the man who under control of the Borg executed many of his friends, and his beloved.
The meta-narratives of the series looked at movement from resistance to governance; role of spirituality-religion in sustaining through occupation and healing/reconciling after. The Wormhole to the Federation, was the Celestial Temple to the Bajorans, one saw wormhole aliens, the other Prophets of their religion. It was a show that used time travel, and alternate reality shows to challenge perceptions. Commander (then Captain) Benjamin Sisko’s role as leader of the station, but also Emissary of the Celestial Temple (he also punched Q). It explored commerce and the black market, inter-species relationships; eugenics, horrific treatment of persons who are different (those that were augmented that could pass and function in society, and those that cannot). As the series continued, the Dominion War storytelling caused many Trekkies’ to balk because war as part of Star Trek. A bi-sexual Cardassian former assassin, Garak, and his hiding of open affections for Dr. Bashir, and a Ferengi engineer, Rom, that if you watch him, is neuro-a-typical and the life he lives while belonging (Best episode is in Season 7, take me out to the Holo-Suite!).
Yet the war story line allowed for other explorations. Exploitation of any belief system for violent gains. The world of PTSD, what young soldiers go through who go off to war to “prove themselves”, but do not live completely or die, but return injured and the healing process. It also showed what life meant. Through the character of Vic Fontaine, a holosuite program singer, from Las Vegas, Earth 1962. A program that became conscious. A program that helped Ensign Nog (first Ferengi in Starfleet) heal from his PTSD of losing his leg on the front lines.
This is the program Sisko and his new partner are discussing in the opening quote.

Nog: The news just keeps getting better, doesn’t it?
Captain Sisko: What news?
Colonel Kira: Oh… nothing, sir, we’re, uh, talking about a holosuite program.
Doctor Bashir: Vic Fontaine’s hotel’s just been bought by… gangsters.
Captain Sisko: I see. When do you plan on going back to work?

-Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, season 7 episode 15 “Badda-bing, Badda-bang” (1999)

It is a take on an old Star Trek story, Piece of the Action (Original Series), but pays homage to the Rat Pack’s Ocean’s 11 (sorry Clooney Gang, nothing beats the original). As the leadership crew understands this constantly running lounge’s importance to the crew’s mental health, Sisko wrestles with what happens if we forget the past?

Chief O’Brien: Robbing casinos isn’t part of any Starfleet job description I’ve ever read.

-Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, season 7 episode 15 ”Badda-bing, Badda-bang” (1999)

A Jack In The Box program has allowed gangsters to take over, and change the program, the only way that technically can be found is to reboot. Reboot erases Vic back to factory settings. What makes a person? Is it flesh and blood? Or the sum of our experiences?
The other way? Beat the intruders.
They fail to beat the intruders, gangsters shoot Vic. He dies in the program, he vanishes completely.
What an option. Now the question asked is, is Vic a person? Does he deserve a chance to continue to live and thrive even if the outside world sees him as only a hologram?
Are we cursed to not be able to move from our past history?
Can we move beyond, reconcile, and if we do, and present it as anything less than it was, are we forgetting?
What about critical thought?
Same as the balance of spirituality-science throughout the series. The balance of subtlety of belonging for each of the characters and their stories. It is a series I encourage one to watch, and reflect on. It makes a great discussion night for different episodes over meals for all ages. I have used episodes with youth to tackle tough topics such as dying with dignity, belief systems, war, and belonging.
And ask yourself in your journey what this statement means:

“Going to Vic’s isn’t going to make us forget who we are or where we came from. What it does is reminds us that we are no longer bound by any limitations – except the ones we impose on ourselves.”

-Kasidy Yates


Some Sundays even when one is healthy they cannot pull it together to get to church with the family. It can even be harder after a night of neuro-events, that left your own son checking on you to make sure “Daddy was still alive”. This was the night that I had come through, and was not well rested when I awoke. But needed to fill up the spirit over my cheerios and cuppa, which led me to accept a challenge from a friend. Re-look at JJ Abrams 2009 Star Trek reboot.

See, the challenge is, I am not a huge fan of Star Trek XI-XIII. I understand a series rebooting, new generation, new ideas. Yet I was one of the Trekkies’ pulling for a Worf led Enterprise movie; or a Riker/Troi USS Titan or a DS9 or Voyager…or even and Enterprise series movie…if there was to be something new what about looking at Enterprise C or B? Or another ship completely in the Star Trek Universe. Why re-cast iconic characters (and yes I realize this happens with James Bond, Conan, Batman, The Doctor, etc.). But this was the original cast being, well, re-cast. It is also a bit of Trekkie cognitive dissonance because I may not be completely infatuated with the new movies Boldly Going, but have enjoyed the re-cast in the IDW comic series. Soooo….

So addled brained, lethargic and somewhat hypothermic I settled in to be filled.

I am part of an endangered species.

-Spock (2009)

The death of Romulus leading a time travel narrative, a nod to Remus’ demise in Star Trek: Nemesis. Nero seeking vengeance for loss of his family, and destroying Vulcan. The act of travelling back creating an alternate reality where not everything is the same (and Vulcan is destroyed by an act of Zealot-Terrorism). New imaginings of each character.

Yet core precepts remain the same.

You are now, and will always be my friend… I am emotionally compromised, I lost my people, you need to get others to see.

-Spock (TOS in 2009).

Scotty talking about beaming Admiral Archers dog into somewhere when trying transwarp teleporting. Elder (Other-reality) Spock doing a tongue-in-cheek nod to Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, by giving Scotty a formula he would invent to move along a problem-solving plot point.

Kirk’s beating of the Kobayashi Maru (the no-win situation) a test designed by this reality’s Spock who chose Starfleet realizing he would never fit within Vulcan world fully. Playing out a more human side to the child of both world’s that followed Spock throughout the original.

Bones sharing his venture outwards to space, due to a loss of his family.

The ultimate no-win scenario to beat the drive of vengeance as Vulcan is in ruins, only 10,000 survivors and Nero has set his sights of Earth. The travel back in time to destroy the Federation (A Star Trek: First Contact nod), and red matter if it was the 1980’s you could hear the word “Genesis” ringing…life from lifelessness, lifelessness from life.

But it raises an allegorical point. Vulcan was the epicentre of where the Federation was birthed. A zealot not tied to any group officially lost something and took revenge by blowing up Vulcan (are you seeing terrorist parallels in our world?)…and how easy it would be to move to escalation instead of focusing on the need for a measured response while continuing to build relations. Even by bringing out a darker tone, as the story is being birthed in the world of uncertainty (more precarious than I would say the Cold War world, and post-Cold War world that birthed the original shows and spin-offs)…but still trying to bring hope to the front.

How is hope brought forward?

Through guidance of the elders to the core values of each character. That even if it appears everything may be different, choices can still be made to create a community of belonging.

The question the movie raises is whether Kirk and company this time will let the inclusion principles of the Federation win out, or succumb to the darkness being spread by Nero?

Are you Spock or Nero? Or Spock? Each decision creates a point in time of change.

What is your choice?

 


Liturgically I am informed we are in the week of Joy in the journey to the creche. It is also the moment of the Winter Solstice, where we encroach on the shortest/darkest day of the year, after which light begins to grow once more. In each of the cultural-religious celebrations at this time of year it is about light and new life from the darkness.

Which is the struggle in joy.  Hope well, a few weeks back I wrestled with that. Peace-faith, though broken have wrestled through because of the story of a peasant girl. Now we enter joy in the gifts of the season. Perhaps the burden of 2017 finally reached the straw that broke my back. We are taught in seminary to look to prayer and the “Word” to find solace and answers.

And yes even some pablum like answers repeated as mantras of “God brings you to it, he will bring you through it.” Or “God gives you only that He can trust you can handle” or better chestnuts around suffering and being blessed twice fold after (bastardized out of the ancient story of Job).

Discernment for me goes deeper, and that is the challenge this Advent. For Joy is the story of the shepherds—the least of society, one step from the cast outs being the first told of the joy to come into the world:

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”[a]

15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. 17 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

-Luke 2:8-20 (English Standard Version)

spong

A story over 2000 years old. Yet one that still rings with justice-political truth today. I knew this on Sunday in the Christmas Pageant at our church that re-told it with a Canadian twist. The movements of political oppression that caused movement, and economic injustices that lead to poverty. The parts my children and I played as the ranchers, a strong work force the backbone of an economy that can so easily be forgotten. My son through his adaptive technology being able to speak lines, my daughter over the course of her acting and caroling in the week finding her strong assertive voice to project what she knew to be true.

A hint of the inclusion the story echoed us to, 2000 years on should not be a “what a great time” but should simply be normative.

To struggling through brain fog for 4 days as I attempt to put words as the brain glitches, and tears flow. Pain released. Not joy. As Norad reminds us today, 3 days until sleigh launch. Yet is there joy? A hard thing to find even when getting to experience the season through the heart of children.

Then a simple image struck me as a television show ended. Star Trek Deep Space Nine Season 5, Episode 26 “Call to Arms” in which after 5 years and with the threat of invasion by the Dominion imminent, Sisko and the Federation must leave the station back in the hands of the Cardassians. The consummate villain, Gul Dukat (one who believes he is doing what is right—think a Herod, A Pilate, A Caiaphas if you are into Biblical allegory) stands amongst the technological carnage left behind and finds one thing left behind. A message from Sisko (who is also the Bajorans Emissary) to Dukat and the invaders stripping a galaxy of joy: His baseball.

joy

Dukat’s last words to Weyoun as he holds the baseball “A message, he will be back”.
I sit here a bit teary wanting the year 2017 in my rear-view mirror for something normalized if not better in 2018. On the Solstice, the darkness consumes, but rationally I know the light begins to grow again. It is what joy can be found in the now for life will be back.

We can so easily get in a rut of just seeing the negative or locking into our own paradigms. This week of Advent calls us to look outwards and inwards to what brings true Joy to your soul, community and world? #advent2017