Posts Tagged ‘thoughts’

Ecclectica Ruminations

Posted: March 13, 2021 by Ty in Current Events, Spirituality
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Up until my early 20’s I would go to the barbershop to remove what was left of my hair, and when the shift happened that it was no longer a simple $5 shave, but due to the popularity had moved into the $20 range, well…it was time to shift praxis. Which brought it in line as a moment of mindfulness in my life, a time of pausing, focusing on the simple act of shaving, release (recently the rapidly graying). Practice learned in my Buddhist days, but as Franciscan, as the joke went I was follically ill-equipped for a tonsure (not sure if I was missing the ton or the sure).

See the source image
The Franciscan Tonsure, a sign of vocation and entering into a new relgiious life. Though in my tenure as the Youth Friar at one Anglican church, the fundraiser to end the child sex trade in Calgary did have me with a fuscia goattee for a while.

It is the moment, of being able to pause, and gives a time of mulling, ruminating, and sometimes epiphany moments (or perhaps I am overthinking and over spiritualizing you decide).

For tonight though, it is looking at almost a year (362 days) I have some odds & sods outside of work to accomplish next week around checking on applying for school funding, when spring textbooks will be ready, oh and those fun things called taxes, but there are other thoughts. As the polarization of political and religious life begins to bleed into everyday life. Leaving the secularized or uninitiated to disengage, become apathetic, or wonder aloud why nothing changes or look for the lurking bogey monster– which all is what we have put out into the world to be responded to, or that which at least social media, main stream media and alternative media share. What is missing is the local community stories of hope.

Where do those come from though? From the bystanders not accepting the status quo. From the bysander not defaulting to the loudest mob voice in the crowd. From the bystander wanting honesty, transparency, accountability, and the courageous safe space. From the bystander not accepting the narrative that perpetuates the polarized bully pulpits of the public squares. From the bystanders (which they are far more of) removing the sound system and podiums, and amplifying their stories. For the Dr. Seuss being cancelled story, no, a published decide to not re-invest in non-selling properties to correct issues with them, like many other forms of printed works there circulations ended. Pepe Le Pew? C’mon, he was the bathroom/snack break cartoon in Looney Tunes, what sadly will be missed is what sounded like an amazing teaching moment for the younger and family audiences on consent in the film, for the Potatoe Heads? It is an imaginative building toy with many disguises, one should be more angered by the fact that most come with only one or two sets for looks that fit in the butt of the toy, not the bucket of pieces it used to come with. Some recent examples of what happens when the polarized rhetoric is stripped away… but I digress.

Stories of Hope, that show divergent core values can actually come to the same services, and community provisions because a better world is what is wanted. Stories of Hope, that show discourse/dialogue creating healing space, and changing the systems that perpetuated the old harms and isms, because in the courageous safe space of discourse, where the hard conversations happen, the intrinsic value of the human can be affirmed, all wanting a better community to live in, can be affirmed, and explored…beyond that, plans can be struck and action begun.

But it takes the bully being silenced.

Aiding the bullied, and the bystander finding their voice (thanks to Barbare Colorossa’s book on the Bully, Bullied and Bystander that everyone in public life should read to understand what the term do better actually entails). Why have we lost so much traction on ending bullying in our schools? It can be due to a misapplication of Trauma informed work that some can point to as a removal of accountability. But that is short sighted, as understanding has grown, what is happening is healthier communites designed around restoration and healing measures.

No, it is more insidious, it is about the deep root of individualism, and the belief that what one says or does, cannot affect another. Also, couched in the polarized self-righteous belief systems that it is impossible to be a bully if you are within your ideology for you are truly in the right. Our children see this, the parents take this into our schools. This is the systematic thought that needs to be broken to bring about the proper bridging of the chasm to end a toxic practice. A system that is more boldy perpetuated through our alternative media, the shift to 24-7 mainstream news into newsfotainment (as true journalism is slow and not really designed for a 24-7 cycle) of talking heads, and behaviours on social media that creates echo chambers where how many likes negative behaviours get are seen as “holy home runs” within movements. As well, we have lost the understanding that extremism in any vein creates a perfect circle (I learned this in graded public school social studies). The extreme on the right politically goes into authoritarian/fascism/Naziism, on the left goes into dictatorship/Stalinism which behaviours, genocides and hatreds overlap. In religion, doesn’t matter which is put before extremists/terrorists the outcomes of intolerance/hate/supremacy are the same and usually deadly. For all those in the giant swath of the middle though, you can still be toxic, even standing on attempting to do right and end harm.

And yes, regardles if you are the good or the bad or the undecided, your behaviours can still cause harm and be toxic (this where personal reflection factors rather hugely into a healthy life, not only what we are doing wrong, the balance of daily examine, where we look at what is meh, what is going well, what we are learning, and where we need to provide space to heal).

Why have bystanders fallen silent?

It is draining to constantly be the thumb in the dam against the flood while the Hurrican level tropical storm continues pelting you on the other side. Yet as the bystanders, it is time to reclaim the silenced voice, not to demand better from the existing scream-bullies, but rather to shatter that dark mirror and step into what needs to be.

To simply- be and do.

To connect, create space for the courageous discourse, discovery of action tools.

The key, that which the polarized remove though, is to create…

authentic belonging*.

*(Accessibility is being able to get physical access to a space, inclusion is there is a spot for you-note this is where bystanders lose the voice and power, but belonging is the key. Belonging is when you are heard, known, accepted, purposefully part of community, and if you were to no longer be heard or seen, would be missed).


We as a world are changing gears and being stuck in the cycles of grief most congruent with anger and denial. I believe, and have observed, as it is the only thing that makes sense for the rise of hatred, and entrenchment in our world that for my side to be right it must be wholly good, and the other side needs to be completely evil, and the majority that usually exists in the pragmatic middle in most belief/ideological spectrums need to be viewed as weak, traitorous or complicit. Those are some political thoughts as we are hopefully at the end of the Polar Vortex here in Alberta, with normal winter returning. Another sign, that the environment is trying to keep us moving slower to allow for space for more healing, I mean, the pandemic hasn’t slown us. In fact it has illustrated the rise of faux labels we apply for prestige or perhaps, attempting to cry persecution for what is simply accountability and expectations of good citizenship. The current thought world of dualism, has created this weird space, where we so desperately want to assert our independent rights, but do not want to take on the interdependent communal responsibilities that come with those.

When I would speak on the history of povery and homelessness in my province, it was a key challenging question I would lay out to the first year students:

How did you get here today?

Many would postulate good grades, and hard work. I would stop them short and challenge them, did you appear fully grown and educated? Was there no adults who provided guidance and the necessities of life for you? Did you build your own house? Dig your own sewers? Treat your own drinking water? Grow your own food? Write and publish your own textbooks? Train your instructors? Build the school?

In the literal sense, one of the few times I like using the literal, did you pour the road? Make the bus/car? Drive the bus?

You didn’t?

But you had just told me that you got here through your own hard work, nothing more?

It is a simple truth our world has lost. An understanding of community, at times such as now, a leaving behind of the before times that perpetuated this fallacy, it should be a moment of renewal. Yet… fear that drives anger and denial… stops us…and creates more chasms between, silos, and perpetuates things such as the QAnon CULT (yes, cult, not in the anthropological senses of any religion, but rather the 20th century mainstream understanding ala NXVIM, Branch Davidians, Raelians, Moonies, Jonestown) all the pieces that perpetuated those tragedies brought to life online, and to bear on Jan. 6 with their faux Messiah, Donald Trump, still flexing his rage muscles against accountability at his impeachment trial (but shouldn’t this also be a criminal matter? The world is watching).

But it touches on what has been noted in Alberta during the pandemic, yes some decisions can be and are driven by the science (though lacking the transparency of knowing the CMOH recommendations fully to the UCP governing caucus this is an unknown). What is apparent is there are pockets within our province, that keeps talking personal responsibility and education in regards to restrictions, 333 days in it is time for accountability. Whether the small pocket of church or business or Member of the Legislative Assembly (alohagate, Anti-Lockdown Caucus to name but a few), need to be held to account. Business and non-profit licenses pulled, the full organizational ticket levied, coupled with those in attendance receiving full charges and tickets for breaking health orders. In regards to the MLA’s that do not comprehend crisis leadership, communal support, and health orders, they need to be expelled from Caucus. FULL STOP.

Yet, we live in a bizzarro world, like an elementary school playground that plays appeasement for the bully, instead of accountability.

For some, they will point to trauma awareness or being trauma informed. Both these lenses are highly important for creating the courageous safe spaces for healthy change and healing of a world on pause. Wondering and readying for re-imergence and knowing what has been shown as smoke and mirrors of our society before. What these lenses do not stop is accountability. They do not let one now have repercussions for actions. They aid us in understanding the actions of the person, and how to support them in the accountability for what they have done. The appropriate applications of these lenses in our public schools would have continued the powerful work of WE Days and Challenge Days in Anti-bullying, creating healthier and safer communities, instead of tying the hands of those responsible for shaping the future of our youngest citizens and leaving the bullied with the bad maxim “snitches get stitches” as they know what they share there will be no aid. A true shift needs to happen, and not just policies and false platitudes, actual resourcing and capacities needed.

Just as we need in our public health system in the prevention to treatment to cure of all that falls under health umbrella for holistic beings (emotional, physical,spiritual and mental)–or as some may see it, a Medicine Wheel, as our Indigenous siblings would guide us away from a quick triage model to an interdependent living and healing model.

Which bounces back to the yo-yo effect of open schools during a pandemic, without proper resourcing. This is not only speaking to PPE, or staffing to lower class numbers to allow for breaks, and proper distancing. It is the rolling effect of quarantine of classes after exposure (reactive measures), the lie of resilience being put forward on our children. Yes, they can be, but true resilience, well watch the brains….

See? Understand? We are creating the space for perpetuation of a complex trauma due to our desire for Twitter byte driven policy and practice decisions as adults. Instead of actual robust discussions, and reality of what is needed to ensure health and true resilience within our youth, and the adults that support and facilitate their learning. The key reason I hold, is this drive of grieving where we are lost in this tantrum like a toddler, of “my rights” instead of “our community responsbilities to one another”…

The fatigue is showing, and so is the strain, and the ripple effects. Most notably with my boy, I do not blame his school, he was on recovery day from some of his neurological conditions with barometric pressure changes and missed school. On that day he missed, his very secure cohort for medically complex kiddos was exposed. His support crew in the cohort, and the larger school are exhausted (we know and feel this). We were not called as he was not there that day. In the actual protocols this was appropriate. In a system with proper capacity (seeing the actual human supports necessary for thriving, not the false argument on human services as a debit on the lie of debit-credit household budget banksheet budgetting for governance that our Conservative populist governments try to push), there would have been enough fresh eyes to make the call to those that were not there. For those that were not there, still had a choice, to understand it was safe for their child to come, but that they would have 1 aide, and be by themselves in the classroom connected to the others via video conference. The call was not made, my son went to school, he came home, and the first thing stated to me was “they all died” and then later “I don’t want any more dead buddies”. See, in my son’s lived experience, when his chums go missing for a few days from school, he has learned at his young age, and about 16-18 times, they are now at the Tea Party in Paradise (our analogy for death, and the afterlife, our tradition calls Heaven, we created when our kiddos experienced the loss of their Granny at 5 & 6 years old).

See where proper interdependence creates robust health? Creates space for calmness? For healing? Space, where trauma is minimized, and healthy choices can be made. In the case of my son, it could have been proactive discussions on what school was to be like, or to keep him home and function with the rest of his class online. Instead we are now in a fear and grieving cycle that disrupted his learning and kept him home for the 2 days before the Teachers Convention break, and we have made the choice he will return to class when the class does.

There is no malice. We as a community are in uncharted territory, and mistakes happen. The difference between a mistake and harm, is the intent.

Which leads me to share a simple reflection from reading this week of James L. Gorman’s (2017) Among the Early Evangelicals: The Trans-Atlantic Origins of the Stone-Campbell Movement, for those unfamiliar with this version of Christianities it is collectively known as the Restoration Movement (Churches of Christ, Christian Church, Disciples of Christ, and my undergraduate alma mater, Alberta Bible College). The book explores the formation of the founders, and their, what is classed historically as primitive, but read through a 21st century eye…ecunemical. The movements within missionary societies, key traditions/denominations (what corporations would call brands) such as congregationalists, Anglicans, Presbyterians, Baptists, etc. coming together on core values to accomplish, in this case evangelizing and building the Kingdom. It also touches on the challenges that began to arise, as the focus narrowed, and it became more about, what kept others out (perceived heresies) rather than what bonded.

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Made me ponder, as we move through c-tine, and I re-affirm a calling to ministry (and some equipping to come, your prayers are appreciated). Through things such as the Religious Right, Alt-Right, QAnon, other conspiracy theories,Domnionist, anti-masks, anti-vax, anti-lockdown, sadly- white supremacist and Neo-Nazi movements, MAGA that have all become aligned and affiliated with evangelicalism and Christendom (the term for Christianities tied to political power, Empire since Constantine). That is even before we touch on the horrors of Jehovah Witness, Mormon, Roman Catholic and Quiverfull child abuse scandals, Fundamentalist Mormon trafficking across borders of minors, Residential Schools, Truth and Reconciliation for the heresy of the Doctrine of Discovery and Dominionism., and Churchtoo (ala Willow Creek, RZIM, Southern Baptist Convention, and the list goes on). Obviously some labels and brands are broken beyond recovery.

To paraphrase a teaching of St. Paul, if a name on a building or a label on a baptism certificate causes one to stumble (or a chasm be opened)– perhaps, it is time to let it go (and can you tell Frozen was played a lot in the house). As we move through c-tine, worshipping and connecting at a distance and online what is to be on the other end? Is it things such as Conservative or Orthodox? House? Institutional? Liturgical? High? Low? Primitive? Evangelica? Pentecostal? Baptist? Anna-Baptist? Emergent? Progressive? Creation Spirituality? Anglican? United? Victory? Red Letter? Salvation Army? Monastic? Gnostic? Mystic? Methodist? Alliance? Missionary? Holiness? Lutheran? Restoration? Missing any? (Probably quite a few).

But what if, we take a lesson from those who came to be in Jesus company back in the writings of the Gospels, or as reflected in Gorman’s work, or really the stories of saints and others. It is rarely an independent faith of one modality or formation. Rather it is interdependent community (family, chosen, sometimes biological) to grow in and with.Which brings me back around:

The challenge in church, is the same grieving as with society.

As we move forward, let’s draw the circle wide. Let’s grieve the loss, the change, the Transfiguration and then boldly step into it, not as fractured brands, but as a means together in renewal.

For me, what hit my heart as I thought of what can come as we let go, and prototype, a new term came clearly into view for the church ahead:

The Divergents.

Let’s become a beacon of healing, and doing life differently. Authentically, together in community, in the beautiful rainbow splendor of the Imageo Dei. Be the soul, that we were called to be for and of our world.

This past week, many have hit the c-tine wall. Lockdowns in some areas, restrictions in others, seeing neighbours die, and wondering if something will shift couppled with the sweeping cold of the polar vortex pushing us more into hibernation. One begins to wonder, ponder and mull.

As we rest in c-tine, what is the still quiet voice revealing about your experiences?

What calling is on your heart, and are you ready to step into it?