A Crisis Made In Canada: Here’s What I Was Thinking

We are experiencing an Indigenous blockade of our rail lines.  The Conservatives want to use force to open up the line and the Liberals are taking another path – negotiation.  What do the indigenous groups want?  Do they want Canada to starve?  Do they want to destroy the country?  What is the solution here?

I think Trudeau should tell this story to help us understand.

The Indigenous people came to this land a long, long time ago and they built a house and lived on this land, in this house for a long time until white visitors came.  It took a while, but these visitors were eventually invited to stay in the house and share the land.  But the visitors brought more family and friends –more people until there were too many for the size of the house –not enough room for everyone.  So the white visitors threw out the indigenous people and gave them a shed in the back yard to live in.  No running water and few amenities and not enough land to make a good life.  As many years went by the distance between them grew, and the white people tried to get them out of the shed as well.  But that didn’t work.  And here we are.  So, if you are mad about the blockades then you understand how indigenous people feel about someone else restricting their lives and threatening their livelihoods.  And here we are.

The issue is not just about a piece of land to build a pipeline on, it is about building a bigger house so indigenous people can have a place In Canada.  It is about respecting the land and the people. Even bigger than that, it is about respecting the whole Earth as a sacred place that will support us if we use it properly.  It is about an understanding and a respect for other each other.  We have to elevate the conversation and we white people must be willing to share the abundance if we hope to have a future here.

We don’t just need the permission of the indigenous Chiefs; we need to include them in making decisions that effect all Canadians, and open a door that allows them back into the house.  Show them, not just tell them, we respect their right to manage the land.  That is hard for us because we think in terms of contracts, not relationships.  “When will we ever learn?” (Pete Seeger)

Posted in Indigenous Relations, Justice, Spirituality | 1 Comment

Awe and Wonder

I was preparing to write my first blog for the new year on “2020, the Year of Perfect Vision”. I have been saying this as we approached 2020 because it seems to me that faith gives us a different perspective – a new vision to guide our life. Humanity needs a new vision to save us from chaos and destruction. Jesus often talked about blindness being a problem for human beings.

However, two days after we got back from two weeks in Mexico my wife and I went to church to begin to re-connect with our life back in Calgary. One of our ministers, Don McLeod, chose Awe and Wonder as the theme for the service. I could feel myself wondering and anticipating as the service began. It felt different. There was no pulpit. The usual pattern was altered slightly. It was even more informal than usual, yet connected. Mary Oliver’s poem “Instructions for Living a Life: Be Aware, Be Astonished, Tell Someone” was read. And the choir anthem was “Everyday Miracles”.  The scripture was from the Gospel of Thomas, second teaching: 2) “Jesus said, If you are seeking, continue seeking until you find it. But when you find it you will become troubled. And your troubling will give rise to astonishment. Being astonished, you will have power over all.”

Don began his sermon with a conversation with a young boy with whom he has been having conversations about God for over a year. The conversations began when the boy asked Don, ”Is it illegal for someone to come to church who doesn’t believe in God?” The conversation continued about the boy’s belief in science and there being no proof of God’s existence. It was about a seven-minute conversation that ended with the thought: Science is a new tradition that is introducing us to the universe we live in and are a part of. In this new way of looking we discover the everyday miracles of the sacredness of life. The universe really is a part of us, in and around us, and the more we pay attention to it the more we understand that it is a sacred body where we live and breathe and find our being (my summary).

Then Don told us the purpose of the sermon: “I want you to leave today with an inkling of awe and wonder; to be on the edge of your seat enough for you to be able to re-connect with the sacred in all things. Is that too much to ask?” My first response was “Yes it is”. This reaction surprised me and when I explored it, I realized that I felt that this focus on only the positive was too easy. Awe has both a negative and a positive side. Continue reading

Posted in Evolutionary Thinking, Progressive Christianity, Spirituality | Leave a comment

The Christmas Story, Santa, Carols and the Ones I Love

Christmas messages have come to me again this year as I spent time reflecting on the story that has directed and supported my life for 76 years.  In my early years my parents introduced me to the Christmas story and church.  Parents play an important role in what a child comes to believe.  Not only by what they say but also what they do – how  they model or live the Christmas story or the gospel story.

For most of my life as a Christian minister I asked the question, “What does the Christmas story mean to me this year?”  I knew the story was not factual; but I knew it was true!  So how do I share this story and make it come alive for people this year.  I use Advent as a way of listening for the answer. It is my contemplative practice.

This year I used the prayer which I shared in my last blog that begins: “Now, O Lord, calm me into a quietness that heals and listens…”  In the carol, O Little Town of Bethlehem, the words and music draw me into this prayer space of reflection and connection.

1. O little town of Bethlehem,
How still we see thee lie.
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep
The silent stars go by;
Yet in thy dark streets shineth
The everlasting Light.
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee tonight.

3. How silently, how silently
The wondrous gift is giv’n!
So, God imparts to human hearts
The blessings of his heav’n.
No ear may hear his coming;
But in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive him, still
The dear Christ enter in.

At a recent family gathering an anxious mother brought up the dilemma: What do we tell our children as they get older and want to know if Santa is real?  Her dilemma was, Will they still be able to trust me when they discover I have lied to them for 10 years? This mother also put it in the context of a previous experience with her children’s discovery that the Tooth Fairy was not “real”. It was just their parents. Continue reading

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The Great ADVENTure

The cycle of the Christian year begins again.  I like beginnings.  It is a sign of hope and new possibilities.  At the beginning of the Christmas season, Advent gives me the opportunity to explore the depths of the mystery at the foundation of my life.  There is the literal story of Mary and Joseph and the birth of Jesus.  Then there is the bigger story of spiritual connections that embrace my own story and how I participate in the life of the universe.  My journey has been a long road of continuing to find meaning in the religion I grew up in.  And there have been challenges all along the way, as new information (other religions) and new traditions (science) have showed up to be included in my big picture of life.

As I dig deeper into the meaning of this sacred season, I have sometimes created poetry.  For a few years I selected a poem form and let my heart and mind freely associate around the question:  “How do I express the deep truth of the Christmas story this year?”  These are two of my poems from previous years. Continue reading

Posted in Justice, Progressive Christianity | 5 Comments

White Privilege and Retirement

The first weekend in November I attended a workshop led by Brian McLaren who wrote the book, The Great Spiritual Migration, noted in an earlier blog.  He first addressed the question, “Should I stay in the church or should I leave?”  It was ground-breaking and foundation shattering to me. I have never thought about leaving the church.   His assessment is that many people cannot stay in the church because it does not support their integrity and does not offer them a future that has hope.  His reasoning went a lot deeper than the fact that some people get hurt by the church or the church is not keeping up with the times for young people.  He offered us a history of oppression that began very early by establishing a male domination system, and then cited a 1452 Papal bull (https://doctrineofdiscovery.org/dum-diversas) that gave the kings of Europe a mandate to go into the world and kill or capture (as slaves) anyone who is a Muslim or a pagan (all non-Christians) and seize all their goods (wealth) for their own profit.  This was the ”Age of Discovery”, the beginning of the era of colonialism that continues to today.  The control of the interpretation of Christian scripture by the educated elite allowed a misinterpretation and a misuse of scripture to undermine the gospel message of what loving one another means.

The Christian Identity should be one who stands against violence and stands for the building of community (the Kingdom of God) where all people have a place.  McLaren cites white privilege as the most insidious power to plunder the earth because we have the most guns and money to do it – and it was sanctioned as a divine right by Christianity.  We are waking up to this truth today, but this belief has become the operative way of life in the western world. Continue reading

Posted in Evolutionary Thinking, Justice, Progressive Christianity | 7 Comments

Random Thoughts and Rants

My last post was August 26th.  What was I thinking in the past 7 weeks?  I have been stuck in a negative rant about how bad things are in the world and what can one person do anyway!  When I say stuck, I mean going over actions by Donald Trump like pulling U.S. troops out of Syria so fast that they had to bomb their own bases there to prevent others from getting the equipment they had to leave behind.  Pulling out so Turkey could bomb their allies.  I get so angry when I read news like this that my mind goes on a tirade for days. Where is the sanity when he gets no push back from world leaders?

Then there is the Canadian election. Where is the good thinking?  Where is the leadership?  Trudeau seems to have lost his edge, my total dislike for Sheer, and living in a riding where a conservative win is a foregone conclusion, pushes me to search for an alternative way to send a message to Ottawa to do some new thinking.

I ruminate about stuff.  I want Trudeau to pull the liberal candidate from the riding where Jody Wilson  Raybould is running as a sort of apology for the way he treated her.  I want someone to speak about issues that matter – which means I want some candidate to treat me as a person who can think and understand big issues.  Instead I get a tax break or drivel or name calling.  Elizabeth May is one bright light who has a history of intelligent debate and is calling for doing politics differently. I will probably turn Green this election. Jagmeet Singh has shown good leadership but I want radical. Continue reading

Posted in Climate Change Controversy, Justice, Science and Religion | 2 Comments

Back From Holidays

“As much as summer should remove the burden of “should” and give an invitation to rest and frolic, the world is rarely a respecter of the calendar’s mood. It’s been deeply disturbing to watch, yet again, dozens of innocent lives lost in multiple mass shootings, knowing that collective trauma has now been unleashed on three more cities and states, to say nothing of the numbed-over fears layered on a nation already resigned to waiting for the next horror. These dark events, paired with a week spent in Paradise, California, where 95 percent of the town’s residents lost their homes in the state’s deadliest fire last fall, have me searching for voices that are in tune with shock and stripping. It’s like an ache for the appropriate chord, one that’s scarred and wise, vulnerable yet steely-eyed.”
Comment Magazine, August 9, 2019

This piece motivated me to write something this month. My first plan was to say, “Not yet back from holidays”, because I have not been in the mood to write.  I took a holiday from deep thinking and just wanted to garden, hang out with friends, listen to good music and not worry about the state of the world.  I wanted to bask in John Denver’s song, Season’s Suite (Summer). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4q5197B_7iI

Continue reading

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