Posts Tagged ‘View from the Pew’


First, let’s lay it out, the term gospel is not simply religious, it is political. It is a call to action to over throw oppression, love neighour–y’know all that good stuff plus what is in the Beatitudes, though since the conversion of Constantine (or at least his narrative) to unify the divided Roman Empire under one religion he called the shots in, Christianity (the version of Christianity Empire approved) has been Christendom, which since the beginning of the 20th Century has been entering life support in their political power. The last gasps are being seen within Dominionism movements, Trumpers, Neo-Nazi, and certain Social Conservative circles. This vein of power cloaked in a Cross or a Creche is trying everything to maintain the power it is accustomed to. Though from my humble view from the pew, it is a changing throughout all the Christianities in loud and quiet revolutions, unfortunately the good happening is lost in the gasping tantruming that is harming our world (note Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., USA yesterday, and such staunch support still from folks such as Franklin Graham- Samarian’s Purse ready to punt your founder (or ex-communicate to use churchese) or you fine enabling hate and violence?).

Anyways I digress. Part of this tantrum, is Christendom’s death knoll, is trying to create a self-fulfilling prophecy that they are oppressed within the Western World. This oppression narrative is not new, I would say it has been amplified due to the ease of social media to spread. I can only imagine the pearl clutching and scripture thumping in some quarters of Christendom with each new right whether Labour, Women, Human (minority) equality rights, environmental, Children, protections of incarcerated, universal health care, pensions, employment insurance, minimum wage, and the list can go on and on (imagine Catholic Justice ministers legalizing divorce and homosexuality back in the day?). Oh wait, it wasn’t as loud because most from the pews were in the streets moving these agendas forward with neighbour…

I’ll let you pause on that.

I’ve also heard it around harm reduction (whether we are talking sexual education, contraception, substance abuse/use, compulsive behaviours, food banks, or…like 2020-21—-gasp—hand washing and masks). Talk to the over 2,000 Alberta families mourning the loss of a loved one due to our opioid overdose crisis this year on the importance of harm reduction and recovery centres (and let’s not think of the emergent meth epidemic and syphilis’s outbreak currently as well in our province). I have also heard the minority pulpit slam and fear monger around losing the ability to preach the scriptures due to hate laws (yes, we have ordained some winners in this great country from sea to sea to sea), and when same-sex marriage, simply became part of marriage (and later the divorce laws) screams of government interference on whom the church could marry (it’s a sacrament y’know. Actually only if you’re Roman Catholic, and possibly Anglican-in that it is part of the 2+5 formula). What it was, was the church had to confront the fact that the sacrament/blessing of marriage was not a church act within the Body of Christ.

Remember that fella Constantine? Well since him clerics have been functioning as agents of the state in performing marriages which were legal under law (that line about with the power invested in me by the province of) it was power being threatened, nothing more, that was causing the vitriol spitting from pulpits in some areas (not all for many it is a non-starter or issue). They had to truly begin to understand why they were marrying? That bit where Jesus spoke about what is Caesar’s? Or perhaps not able to serve two masters? Which is why I have advocated simply that religious marriage should be a blessing within the scope of the Body of Christ, if a couple also wants the governmental paperwork then fine.

But why does this matter? Are you seeing the failed attempts at creating this oppression narrative? A narrative some have bought into? Remember in harm reduction when I mentioned masking? Yeah, this is what is coming up now. This idea of the religious being oppressed. Poor Poor pitiful me in Christ. We can’t meet in person, so let’s lead anti-mask protests with the reprobates of society (yes Calgary, it is our shame). What? We can only be at 15% capacity with masks and distancing and then online? Unacceptable, how can I know my Creator if I can’t be in God’s house? I am not going to argue the concept of worship in a building or not having a building (if churches rent or whatever), but there is something in discipling processes that has to point out buildings are not where the Holy dwells but with each of us, as we connect. with the other.

But going so far as to attempt to sue the government as Heights Baptist Church and Northside Baptist Church did to get a stay on restrictions (read here) or being one of a few that have ignored rules and been ground zero for outbreaks and watches (for example in Edmonton, Lethbridge, Coalhurst, Calgary, Northern Alberta prayer gathering) throughout the last ten months, with a few that have been fined for violations with restrictions (for example in Edmonton, Calgary) the majority have been compliant, during these unique and challenging times with follow through.

For those that have not been such terms as tyranny or gestapo have been thrown around in regards to our Health Inspectors and Law Enforcement holding them accountable. Essentially keeping the citizenry accountable for personal responsibility to be able to think beyond ourselves. It is not an infringement on rights, as our Charter in Canada is couched in communal safety and responsibility. It is not oppression. No one is losing rights or being harmed. The case for civil disobedience is not made as it has been in the past situations that opened this post the church walked with and served within for transfiguration within our society. How does this non-compliance bring the Kingdom of God which is near (just through the Thin Space) to the now?

It does not.

What it does it create a self-fulfilling prophecy, makes the church the scape goat for a pandemic the provincial government is struggling to manage, and that is overwhelming Health Services:

Statistics of Covid 19 in Alberta on January 7, 2021 (1217 families and communities mourning)

This is the time when we can shine Christ, or we can let the darkness reign as seen most recently in Fairview Baptist Church Calgary whose leadership has invited members to continue to violate rules even after sanctions (read article here).

From my Facebook on Jan. 7, 2021.

Truly, church, we are at a point in time in history, where we can live Christ, or Empire Tantrum. It is your call on the world we are called to build.

Matthew 22:34-40 (English Standard Version)

I woke up the morning of December 19 for work with my shirt soaked with tears. It is not a normal occurrence, but my son had a rough night of emotional pain and crawled into bed and couldn’t stop crying. Why you ask?  Well that is an intriguing story that actually started a reminiscence for long time readers.

A few years back when I was editor of socialist paper, I had a column dubbed “View from the Pew” where I would ruminate on the crossroads of the spiritual and political. As those in Canada know (or may need to re-learn) that the progressive movements started over coffee and tea in church basements in trying to build our just society.

A society that a spiritual centre dubs in their Metro paper ads as “inclusive” and my son learned far to devastatingly that this was false on the morning of December 18, which led to the tears overnight.

It was a secondary response from a pulpit that was anything but inclusive, and sadly so different from what he, in his joy, was used to feeling/experiencing.  Our world is not comfortable with those blessed and experiencing the world differently abled, we like to sidebar or over see or exclude. As some may realize, my family is not like that, when we speak of an open door for anyone, and even to loss of spiritual homes we have lived this.

So a few years back, we were attending and about to join the Roman Catholic church (I know shocking with their conservative theology, but bear with me on this)…and my sons joyful noise was addressed from the pulpit during High Mass, and y’know what the Priest came back with?  Hallejuah that there is someone so alive with love and the Spirit here today, that is how we all should be in our faith and living of love.

A faith home, that also had leadership that essentially stated all were welcome, all ages were welcome, and those raising complaints would be dealt with by the leadership for not including all God’s children.

Fast forward a few years and we are a family in a spiritual centre that speaks of inclusion, that never raises any issue with my son’s joyful noise. One time, the av guy had to come speak with us, he was respectful needing us to move from the back to the front so the sounds did not overcome the recording microphone. We got it, and even though the stadium seating stair case at SAIT Orpheus Theatre are not easy for someone with Cerebral Palsy to move down, supported by me, that is not always the strongest of backs, we made it work.

Then as my son in his grief cycle of loss, got to the point he wanted to go back to “church” to hear music, and hear about Santa…we went.  The morning music was about Santa, he was rocking in joy, and excited with pics of his buddy (Santa) up on the screen…when it happened.

The Minister decided it was time to attack as he was taking a moment to gleefully calm down. Asking him to move to the back or not make a noise while she talked. My son said No. He knew there was no option to move to the back, and by asking he was being kicked out.  With the next noise he made in glee…my son and me left. It was a hard walk up, as he did not want to go, but I could not deal with any more spiritual assault from the pulpit to my little boy. Eyes were averted.

Of this great spiritual place that boasts 9 other “deeply trained” practitioners and ministers, none followed, no members of the congregation that always said how they enjoyed my son followed to see if we were okay…sorry check that…one loan lady came running out in tears pleading for us to go back in saying he wasn’t bad, but that’s all my son could repeat:

Santa thinks I’m naughty. I spent time calming him, soothing him, reminding him no he was not naughty, this is the ugliness of prejudice that he is far to young to experience.

A few members came out to use the washroom or get a drink, he would say hi, they would not make eye contact and hustle past completely ignoring him. We were waiting as I did not want my daughter to feel the pain of being cast out to by pulling her out of Funday early.

But as we waited,

I watched the sparkle leave my son’s eye. His joy fade to a pale facade, as each of these “holy” people ran away…

my little boy who a few years earlier when we became members thanked this place for loving him…looked at me and said, “Daddy they no love me.”

Was there an outreach for an apology? A feeble attempt of the, it was handled badly moments…made worse by the centre believing they could post the video unedited of the talk, so that I actually had to contact them to deal with it in a respectful way…because that act in itself tells me you saw nothing wrong with the actions as a community, and do not see him as a full person.

But it was the ringing silence that morning that struck me…one person whose heart is bigger than her, but no one else, and those that did averted like you think we had the plague. That is when it hit me. The progressive spiritual movements were in shock when someone like Trump road a wave of lowest common denominator to the presidency and in shock asked how?

Sunday Morning December 18 when my little boy was asked to leave a spiritual gathering over joy in Santa, and all but one person in a 100+ person gathering remained silent. Sat in silent solidarity with the most vulnerable being cast out…that is how a USA 2016 election result happens, you are now part of the tipping point to the opposite of love and inclusion.

This is my humble view from my pew (or in this case padded seat in an Orpheus Theatre to a wooden bench in the SAIT Student Centre).

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