Sunday, November 30, 2008

A REAL Dog Pile ...

Poor Beetle ... she just wanted to have some quality time with the canines in her life ... little did she know ...



oh yeah ... I almost forgot - Pics are by Ms. H !!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Turkey Time !!!


.
I posted a clip of this last year (click here), and back in September 2006 I posted the dialogue for this hilarious scene from WKRP in Cinncinati ... (click here) - HOW can you not LOVE the WKRP Turkey Give Away ???

.

Until the Ms Palin interview came along it was one of the funniest Turkey bits EVER recorded ... Thanks to Crystal Cheats (pinnacleproductions.web.com) for posting this and letting us embed it ... as they say - "this is one of the funniest episodes of WKRP in Cincinnati"

.

And for fairness - here' Ms Palin's infamous interview ... I think what is more shocking than the background is what comes out of her mouth ... the phrase "like a bag of hammers" comes to mind listening to her ...





I LOVE the added commentary by Keith O ... this is just UNBELIEVABLE !!!! Thank GOD Barack won !!!

.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Some Music for today ...

Yesterday one of my readers recommended a video/song to consider ... "What about now" by Daughtry is a GREAT song - thanks for the recommendation Kara ... I've posted a copy of the video below - one that includes the lyrics along with the powerful images used to remind us that swimming against the stream may sometimes be difficult, but in the big picture it is SO worth it ... and I've also posted a personal favourite I've posted here before - the song "I Believe" by New York Musician (and revolutionary) Francis Dunnery ... watching his song last night I smiled at the picture of a young Congress man standing along side President Bill Clinton ... I couldn't help but think about the very idea of an African American President and how a year ago such an idea seemed impossible ... it just tells you the power of believing that change is indeed possible ... we just need to believe in the power of love and the inevitability of change ...





I Wonder ... Jesus and the Temple ...

Born 1939
Christ driving the money changers from the temple 1972
oil on hardboard 121 x 169.6cm
Victoria University of Wellington Art Collection
.
One sunny morning everything was fine. The priests were in their garb and performing their duties, sacrifices were being offered, religious practises were being observed - everything was fine. The worship services at the Temple were continuing as they ALWAYS had ... everything was just fine ...
.
Then suddenly this yahoo from Galilea shows up with his little band of followers and starts kicking over tables and picking up baskets of coins and tossing them in the air ... He kept shouting something about "My Father's house is not to be a den of thieves ..."
.
The authorities rushed to stop him and mayhem ... there are rules to be followed, teachings to be observed ... They cackled amongst themselves - "Who is this whacko to think that he is right ??? We've been doing things this way for decades, we've been very happy with the way things are, how dare he show up and start telling us that 'This is NOT a healthy happy place'?"
.
Yet Jesus and his merry little band continued ... he kicked over the tables and drove out the money changers who had gotten in the way of worshipping God, not through right sacrifice and proper offering, but through a faith of the heart and soul ... that day Jesus stood as a very outspoken, very outrageous and very vocal minority who was COMPLETELY opposed by the "Powers that Be" and by those, who vehemently maintained not just the status quo, but the delusion that "things are FINE" the way they are ...
.
On the surface the worship at the temple was truly fine - it worked, everyone involved was happy. The Romans got their share, the priestly cast was supported and maintained, and the hangers on - "the money changers" to use Jesus' own terms, were making a comfortable living exchanging the provincial offerings for perfect untainted substitutes ... YET, this moment is foundational for the Christian Church. It marks the moment when Jesus stood up and said - "there is a different way to worship God."
.
I doubt Jesus intended to start a new faith movement. I think his point was to say to the Temple Authorities that a lamb or kid carried from Galilea from the flocks the great God Yahweh had blessed a family with, is MORE than adequate for sacrifice at the temple. The devotion that saw them carry it carefully along during their pilgrimage more than makes up for some tiny "flaw" that rendered it unsuitable for sacrifice ...
.
Jesus truly spoke as a lone voice in the wilderness challenging the perception that "everything is fine" ... he spoke out and spoke up from the fringes ... he faced condemnation and judgement, and I have no doubt that if he was among us today he would be told the exact same things I hear when I point out the folly that has been Minnedosa ...
.
The people are happy.
.
The worship is fine.
.
The rules are being followed.
.
Things are okay.
.
No one is complaining.
.
... and on and on it goes ...
.
I don't have to wonder where the anonymous critics who offer their opinions here would be that day in the temple when Jesus showed up and started driving out the money changers ... they wouldn't be tossing the tables alongside the Master ... they would be hiding behind the flowing robes of the priests denouncing the foolishness of this Yahoo who won't see that "everything is fine ..."
.
I think that realization alone is what saddens me the most ...The Church - the Body of Chirst, has become the VERY thing that Jesus fought against in his life and ministry ...

Monday, November 24, 2008

From a touch down to a mis-kick ...

If I doubted for even a moment the failure of the "powers to be" to grasp the reality that is Minnedosa United Church the comment left on my blog tonight is ALL THE PROOF I need.

Years ago one of my colleagues stood up at a Presbytery meeting and said - "when did we let the lawyers take over the Church?" ... and we engaged in an ongoing conversation about the legalism that had settled in over the Church.

It is that same legalism that dotted ALL the appropriate 'i's and crossed all the appropriate 't's, and that continues to set the agenda for any conversation about the Future of the Church ... I was tempted to just ignore the comment that I will copy below when I found it because it is obviously written by someone from within the United Church who stands in condemnation of me without knowing the full story of Minnedosa and what has transpired there ... for what it is worth the blue text is the anonymous comment - the green is my reply ... (***editor's note - I've changed the colour scheme so as not to confuse some into thinking that I presume a messianic complex for myself ...)

If this were yesterday's Grey Cup, this comment would rank as a major missed field goal ... too many assumptions are being made, a complete failure to grasp the complicity of toxic people, and defending the indefensible underscores what BOTH Blake and I and others have been saying for years ... The Church is dying ... and people like this anonymous poster are just interested in rendering palliative care ...

I don't see it in your comments, but I'm sure you reminded your correspondent that the plans for the new church were developed and finalized under your leadership. (Shall we discuss the lame-duck role I occupied on the Building committee and the complete inability to provide ANY input to the conversation??? The Building Committee was driven by a very narrow agenda that sought to build an edifice future generations could be proud of ...) Undoubtedly you reminded him/her that there were imposed deadlines based on a series of dates related to you and significant dates in your life. (Actually, the dates were NOT being set by me ... my suggestions were being overlooked and ignored - the BFM was driving that particular bus ... I was (both figuratively AND literally) hanging on for dear life ...) And, considering your stated understanding of the church of Jesus Christ, that you used your pastoral and prophetic skills and concerns to assure your correspondent that the church is not the building, it is the gathered people of Christ - who presently gather in another building, continuing to be the church and to be faithful followers of Jesus Christ. (CONTINUING TO BE THE CHURCH AND TO BE FAITHFUL ??? You can't be serious ... that statement alone misses the WHOLE point of what I've said ... and it definitely misses the point of what my friend Blake wrote ... there is little faithful in the actions of the leadership of Minnedosa United Church - that line got crossed when the Board Chair responded to a major crisis by DOING NOTHING and caving in to toxic people who wanted their way imposed on everyone else.)

As for the 12 who seem to have followed you to Neepawa, I do pray that you are taking your responsibility as a minister of The United Church of Canada seriously and are discouraging them from leaving their community of faith to follow a person who is not Jesus Christ. The boundary issues evident when a minister does not discourage such action are legion. (I have never actively encouraged anyone to leave their faith community, nor would I. What I have consistently said here is that the "Faith Community" has left them ... these twelve are NOT alone in being abandoned by thier church. I have not encouraged them to leave, but I will listen when I once again hear of a Congregation that slaps on a happy face and pretends everything is alright when the evidence to the contrary is not only compelling it is BLINDINGLY OBVIOUS) It seems to me that your responsibility is to use your pastoral skills to encourage those people to worship in Minnedosa and for you to share their names with the incumbent so that person can follow-up with them. (My responsibility is the The Church - NOT the United Church of Canada and NOT to Minnedosa United Church, but to The Church as the Body of Christ, and the incumbent in Minnedosa would know who these people are if he/she took time to get to know the community of faith and to HONESTLY listen to the people. I will encourage them to worship in Minnedosa, or Brandon, or Neepawa - to worship where they feel comfortable and welcome - I will no longer encourage ANYONE to confine themselves to a United Church if it is NOT a place they feel at home.) To do anything else is to encourage a personality cult (and from what I have read in some of your writing, that is not your stated vision of the church) and to inflict pain on the body of Christ in Minnedosa and Neepawa. I see no evidence that those folk have been silenced, the only evidence is that by following you they are silencing themselves and harming the well-being of the Minnedosa congregation.(They are not being silenced - they are being IGNORED ... the leadership of Minnedosa United Church is remarkably good at that - they did it in the early 1960's with a minister that they ran out of town then, and the children of the Board members who enacted that sacrifice learned from their parents and 30 years later DID IT AGAIN. The harm to the congregation of the United Church in Minnedosa is being invoked by the leadership, not by those who have spoken out, only to be ignored ... I have thier letters that were written to Presbytery, Conference and some even to National ... and not one of them was ever answerer with any thing other than empty platitudes ... they have cried out to stop the harm and they have been ignored!)

I could go on about the effects of grief and the responsibilities for those who are ministers within the church to provide both and pastoral and prophetic care to those grieving the loss of the building at Minnedosa and the loss of your ministry in their lives, but your writing leads me to believe that you have not yet dealt with those realities and, as a result, are not able to provide that care to others. (The funny thing is - when the fire happened I contacted the ONE person who had written on Church fires and he offered to come and help us in our journey ... I tracked down every resource I could find on the effect such happenings have and found people willing and able to come and help ... it was NOT I who rebuffed any of it - it was a leadership who assumed the stance of an ostrich and said - "we're fine - it's only a building" ... I carry deep grief over the loss of that beautiful building, and over the loss of many other things that departed from my life from that horrid day in 2006 ... I continue to seek healing and wholeness ... I have never sat in the ashes and simply wept for what was ... but I also have not slapped on a happy face and pretended everything was all better ... Having said that though, I will never ignore the call of the wounded and the hurting wherever they may be. My willingness to help is 90% of the problem that lead to my FIRING - I shall not speak of the toxic family I crossed paths with in Minnedosa and ALL that they did by using and manipulating my willingness to help ... suffice to say - I've learned from that horror) I would suggest that the healthiest reaction to the correspondence is not to be humbled but to be saddened - saddened for the person who wrote, saddened for Minnedosa United Church and saddened by the fact that you have not been able to provide effective pastoral care to enable this person to move on and move into the renewed life of Minnedosa Church. (I carry great sadness - but it is not sadness for the people who have walked away from Minnedosa United Church. It is sadness that the Church in Minnedosa has been so insensitive to THEM, that those twelve, and the dozens of others I've spoken with have found no alternative open to them except to walk away ... they've moved on - AWAY from the Church, not because the Church is unimportant to them, but because they remember the others who have experienced the SAME thing from the SAME church - it's been a generational thing - each generation has learned its lesson well and repeated it - over and over and over. My sadness is for the Greater Church failing to have the leadership and courage to stop the abusive cycle and give the Church back to the faithful people rather than the political ones - but the anonymous commenter will never understand that because they can't step outside their narrow field of view and see the big picture ... I was not the first minister to be treated this way. I am not, nor have I ever claimed to be, innocent - I made some huge mistakes, and I did some stupid things - but I have been called to account for MY actions ... There are many others who have never been called to account for THEIR actions - and until THAT oversight is addressed, NO ONE will be able to move on ... the toxicity will continue to fester until the next time ... until the toxicity is gone, there will be no renewed life in Minnedosa - just a dying congregation, a vacant lot and the dillusion that "everything is all better and ALL our problems are his fault" (meaning me) And that my friend, is what ALL of us should be most sadden about - Minnedosa United Church is being killed by its own people. I wonder though - after re-reading your comment if you would have been one of those who told Dr King to "wait" in his call for justice? - would you have been one of those he wrote to from his Jail Cell in Birmingham? And would you be one of those who saw NOTHING wrong with the white churches in South Africa supporting Apartheid? Legalism is a dangerous place to stand my friend - for as Augustine reminds us - "an unjust law is not a law at all" and in all of this - the legalism has only helped destroy a congregation ... but even as I write this, I know in my heart the anonymous commenter will never understand what it is that I'm writing because they are more concerned with preserving the status quo than seeking justice and faith ... and that is the saddest thing of all ... the loss of what could be ...)

It's time to open our eyes to what is before us ... I pray it may happen before it is too late ...

A Reign of Christ Touchdown !!

Buddy Blake from The Laughing Pastor, has done it again ... I wish I could have heard the entirety of his sermon for Reign of Christ that ended with the following reminder:

The church does not belong to those who have been long time members.
The church does not belong to those who contribute the most time, money or gifts.
The church does not belong to those with the longest memory or the most information.

We, the members of the body, the church… belong to Christ the King.The church does not belong to those who claim to be more appropriate in dress or behavior.The church does not belong to those who claim to be right in their thinking.The church does not belong to you or me.

We, the members of the body, the church… belong to Christ the King.

I bet the whole sermon was a good one - one that challenges the complacent to do more than preserving the status quo ... I bet you in was a sermon that would have spoken a truth that too many in the modern church want to ignore ... I bet it was a sermon filled with passion and courage ...

Thanks Blake - your words help me to remember whose church this is, and why those of us who have the courage to speak up and speak out can't silence their voices because it ruffles feather ... Maybe, just maybe, we need to ruffle a few more feathers to encourage this church we minister in to become what it is supposed to be ... WHAT WE ARE SUPPOSED TO BE.

I doubt my sermon was a rockin' as Blakes' but if you're interested, the sermon I delivered for Reign of Christ can be found here: Reign of Christ - Meditative Moments

A CHALLENGE to Assiniboine Presbytery ...

I was going to begin this posting as a direct and open challenge to the leadership of Assiniboine Presbytery to stop ignoring the blindingly obvious, and take time to hear the voices that are crying out in Minnedosa from pain and grief and who remain ignored by the leadership of both Presbytery AND Minnedosa United Church.

I was planning on citing the twelve wonderful individuals who traveled this morning to Neepawa to hear me preach, and who offered much more than hugs when the service ended. I was planning on comparing that faithful dozen to the twelve who gathered around Jesus way back one ... I was going to say to Presbytery - "LOOK at these 12 individuals who are hurting and who feel alienated from their church ... look THEM in the eye and tell them that their feelings don't matter, tell them to their faces that the hurt they have borne is irrelevant ..."

Then I was going to reflect on what Jesus managed to do with his 12 disciples and a little event called a Resurrection ...

I'm a firm believer in the power of the Resurrection ... I've lived its presence in my life ... I've witnessed its presence in our world ... I've seen what The Resurrection can and does do regularly when have the faith to Believe.

I planned on challenging Presbytery to have the courage to fulfill the OTHER half of the 333/363 review that ended my ministry amongst the people of Minnedosa, and HOLD THE BOARD and ALL of the Committees of the Pastoral Charge accountable to the SAME LEVEL of discipline that you held me accountable. I was going to publicly challenge Presbytery to be a place of leadership to a community in distress before it is too late.

Things are NOT fine in Minnedosa.

Things are not ALL BETTER now.

Things have NOT been resolved.

Nor are they swept under the rug ...

I wanted Assiniboine Presbytery to hear ALL of this, and have the courage to FINALLY do something about it!!

Okay, I didn't actually expect Assiniboine Presbytery to DO something about any of this because I wrote a posting on my blog ... I know the anal-retentativeness that has settled in at Presbytery lately and I KNOW that the only way to get their ear officially is by sending a letter with no less than 10 signatures from members in good standing stating that the Pastoral Charge is in an unsatisfactory state and they want Presbytery to act.

But I wanted to write ALL of this because I know there are fellow Presbyters who visit this blog and who hit print when I write something outrageous, "offensive" (their opinion NOT mine), or something they feel fails to maintain the "peace and welfare of the church." I know they sit and wait for me to cross some ambiguous line they've established so they can pounce with an all-knowing "A-Ha!!" and proclaim with delight and glee - "now we've got him !!!" and they seek to finally rid the United Church of my presence in Ministry ... as though keeping me from any pulpits, and marginalizing me from their midst isn't enough ...

I will openly say that I wanted to ruffled feathers of those who already obsess over my words and mind every 'p' and 'q' and who are concerned about every dash and tiddle - because perhaps as they read what I offer here the seed of truth might finally begin to stir and grow, and as the Advent Journey begins they will embark on a journey to Holiness in our midst that is active rather than passive. Perhaps rather than outrage at me "going too far" or finally "crossing the line" they will instead recognize the folly of thier obsession, and at long last hear the whispered weeping that resonates through Minnedosa ...

I had plans to write a great deal about what lies in my heart tonight after being so warmly greeted by a congregation of the United Church of Canada, and by dear, cherished old friends who ALL encouraged me to keep preaching and ministering the way I have amongst them for 8 years, because it is how they want their church to be ... I had plans that all stopped when I found an anonymous comment posted on my blog ... a comment that is well worth sharing, and that Assiniboine Presbytery ignores at their peril ... It is a voice that speaks a painful truth, and that identifies the heart of what ails Minnedosa ...

So - to the members of Assiniboine Presbytery - read the following comment, and tell the anonymous poster, and the OTHERS in Minnedosa who grieve the nonsense that has transpired that their feelings and their opinions and their presence in The Body that is the Church is simply meaningless ... because my friends - that's the message that has been perpetuated thus far ... and if it continues, the vacant lot on Main Street in Minnedosa will remain vacant for a VERY VERY LONG TIME ...

Thank you to the anonymous poster who wrote so eloquently and offered the following:

Forgive me for not signing my name, it is for reasons you may or may not understand..and I would understand if you chose not to post this as a result.

You do speak a very real truth.. so much so that at times it brings a tear when I think of what has been lost here.. I know Minnedosa has treated you in the worst possible of ways; and although there are a number of us who couldn't change the hands of fate--we wish we could have.

But today, we remain a dying congregation. We drive by daily and see our empty church lot, being parked on, littered on, loitered on, being used for just about anything except what it should be used for. But it's all about bigger and better.. they couldn't have used the insurance and fundraising money they had to build us a new church..no, we had to go big, and now there isn't enough money for the "big" church! So again, we continue to remain homeless, in a sense. I didn't need big and fancy, I just needed my church back. I don't care how expensive the paint and pictures are or how beautiful they think it needs to be, it should be the people in it and the message delivered inside that counts.

We've lost you as our minister, our mentor, our leader and friend; and now with each passing day, it feels as though we've forever lost our place of worship. I know I am not alone in my thinking. Sadly, more than just a few have given up the hope, and are no longer going to service, even in our temporary home. And just as many have said they wouldn't bother going back to the United church even when or if it is rebuilt because they've lost their faith--in all of it.

Continued good luck, and blessings to you and yours.

I am utterly humbled by this ... and I pray tonight, and in the coming days that the "powers that be" will finally have the courage to hear these voices and stop ignoring the REALITY that is playing out in Minnedosa ... there are atleast 12 ... or 20 ... 0r 50 people there who don't like what's become of their church, and they have lost their voice ... and no one other than me seems to care !!!

The United Church of Canada prides itself on being a welcoming and inclusive place ... why is Assiniboine Presbytery a notable exception ????

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Friday, November 21, 2008

New to my neighbourhood ...

A comment left downstream from Blake my brother and friend in the struggle, has lead me to an interesting new blog that will definitely be on my daily visit list from here on in ...

The Naked Pastor is created by a blogger from New Brunswick who admits to being an artist trapped in the body of a pastor ... The content of the site is brilliant, hilarious, thoughtful and most importantly thought-provoking ... I would invite my readers to check it out ... with more and more voices joining the chorus chanting "CHANGE, CHANGE, CHANGE" a spirit-filled revolution is on the horizon!!!

Come Holy Spirit Come !!!!

A Theoretical Flute ... !!!


The picture above is the pose that dear Flute assumed on Monday evening while the CBC Radio programme Ideas was playing.

That particular episode of Ideas was entitled "Living on Oxford Time," and was a discussion (described below) of ideas propounded by scientists and researchers at Oxford University on the reality of Time ...

For the entire hour Flute laid as above listening to the broadcast ... her obvious good taste in Radio programming aside, the prospect of Flute becoming familiar with theoretical physics has a ominous air about it ... I'll keep you posted if she starts reading Hawkins, or if she sets up a research lab in her little room at the back of the house ...

For now - the desription of the programme that held her attention is as follows:

Oxford is known for many things – its “dreaming spires,” as a poet once described it; its storied quadrangles, honey-coloured walls and graceful arches; its throngs of tourists. It’s also a place where time does not exist. And not just in the travel-guidebook sense of “well-preserved medieval buildings” or “centuries-old traditions.” Rather, it’s a place where time itself – depending on who you ask – may simply vanish. At least, that’s what science journalist Dan Falk heard when he spoke with a trio of researchers who have each developed rather unorthodox views about time and space, and, whether by chance or destiny, have all found a home in Britain’s oldest university town.

A Flute Interlude for a Friday Afternoon ...







Gossip ... scapegoats ... and the truth ...

Haven't been bloggin' much lately ... and I haven't been reading blogs much lately either ... life has been busy, and over the last three or four days I've been feeling less than 100% ... the surest sign of that is going to bed BEFORE midnight, and sleeping til 8 in the morning ... something I seldom do ...
.
Mind you, beyond work, running kids here and there, and trying to stay one step ahead of a wild 16 week old puppy, not much else has been going on in my life ... (as though that hasn't been enough) ...
.
Today though I read a piece on The Laughing Pastor that is worth echoing and sharing here ... as I read his words I couldn't help but think - "Damned, when did he start working in Western Manitoba??"
.
Blake wrote:
.
There must be a crisis present in order to deal with change and transition.
.
There must always be a scapegoat....someone to blame for the latest "happening, or event" that has been defined as inapproriate.
.
There is one right way of doing it, but it is not the way we are doing it right now!
.
If we just communicate more fully all anxiety will be quieted.
.
If we just have a clear set of job descriptions then the congregation will have realistic expectations of the staff person.
.
If we just keep saying the same thing over and over, eventually what we are saying will become reality.... (Funny, gossip starts out in the same way)
.
As I reread this, I realized that it can be taken as a positive affirmation of a congregation who has the courage to face change and anxiety and over come it ... and it can be taken as a strong condemnation of a congregation who has failed MISERABLY to face change and anxiety, and has allowed their fear to over whelm them ...
.
Today as I stand pondering whether my future includes the United Church of Canada any longer, I realize that my path has been marked by groups and individuals who have fallen firmly in the latter category ...
.
Scapegoating ... blame ... blindness ... unrealistic expectations ... failing to communicate ... and sharing gossip long enough for it to be regarded as truth ... these are the things I've walked through with the "good" people of Minnedosa, and the toxicity these things represent has spread through the United Churches of Westman like a cancer ... and NO ONE has the courage to open thier mouth and speak the truth. When I dare to speak the truth, the response is a continuation of harsh judgement, name calling, gossip mongering and outright bullshit ...
.
Blake names a truth - there is ONE right way of doing things. From my experience, the United Church in Westman has failed miserably in following that path, and they will die defending the failure to see THAT simple truth. They are insistent that they ARE following the one right way of doing things, and they will NOT open their eyes to the folly of this belief ...
.
And perhaps most appalling of all is that even as I write these words I can hear the chorus of condemnation and judgement that will be lobbed against me ... daring to speak a truth is seldom welcome in The Church, and having the courage to say what needs to be said results in accusations and further name calling ...
.
Sadly, it is to such that the Kingdom of God seemingly belongs ... and we continue to wonder why the Church is dying ...
.
If we only opened our eyes to the truth around us we could do more than render the insipid palliative care to the Church as it is, and we could instead embrace our role as mid-wives to the Church as the Spirit seeks it to be ... we could truly be Children of the Resurrection, basking and celebrating in the light of New Life, instead of cowering in the dark, locked upper room mourning the death of what was ...
.
The transformation of the Resurrection begins and ends with one concept - TRUTH.
.
TRUTH.
.
Truth is something that is not just lacking, but is totally ABSENT from the modern Church ... the voices that dare to speak the truth are continually marginalized and driven out ... and many simply shrug their shoulders and fall silent. But some have the stubborness and the courage to continue speaking ... and one day TRUTH will again prevail in our churches, and the Resurrection will come ... and like the story of the Bridesmaids, there will be some who are simply unprepared for that moment and find themselves locked out ...
.
Maybe one day we'll learn !!!
.
Just because we've ALWAYS done it this way; or just because the rules say you "have" to do it this way, doesn't mean it's the right way.
.
If Augustine, Luther, Gandhi, King and others have taught us nothing else, they have taught us that - "just because the majority says it's right doesn't make it so ..."
.
Mob rule does not mean justice!
.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Puppy Ten Commandments ...



Thou shalt not chew on convenient body parts of nearby humans, this includes all items of their clothing, bedding, shoes, mittens, gloves, toques, hats, LIBRARY BOOKS, tv remotes, cell phones, toys, wallets, pens, pencils, Halloween Costumes, kleenex boxes, furniture, carpeting ... instead thou shall chew only on approved toys and other items generously designated for that purpose.

Thou shalt not open doors by flinging your body against them.

Thou shalt not sleep on human beds without permission and an INVITATION.

Thou shalt not regard cats and other felines as chew toys without their permission.

Thou shall regard a hissing cat as a danger to be avoided, NOT an invitation to play.

Thou shalt not leave bodily wastes on clothing found on the floor - TAKE IT OUTSIDE!!

Thou shall wear thy lovely red coat when outside in the cold without complaining OR CHEWING ON THE DAMNED THING !!!

Thou shall eat ONLY from thine food dish - cat food may be tasty and convenient, but it's NOT for puppies !!

Thou shalt not regard the Kitty Litter as a convenient take out dispenser for snacks - EVER!!!!

Thou shall remain cute and adorable to enable the immediate forgiveness for transgressions of the abovementioned restrictions !!!

Updates shall be added as required ...

Sunday, November 16, 2008

One of those BLESSED moments ...

My "Poverty and Justice Bible" (CEV edition) contains the following verse:

"The Spirit of the Lord God has taken hold of me !
The Lord God has chosen and sent me to tell the oppressed the good news,
to heal the broken hearted, and to announce freedom for prisoners and captives."
(Isaiah 61:1)

Tonight Tim Huff, a Youth For Christ worker based in Toronto, came and spoke at the Brandon Youth For Christ Gala. Tim authored a book entitled Bent Hope, that I have reflected on previously. (My Prairie Preacher entry from September of this year is here) (My Sermon from August of this year reflecting on his book is here)

Tim's message was simple, yet deeply profound.

He pointed out that there is a difference between being homeless and being houseless ... our house is the physical structure in which we live ... our home is the place where we are warm, loved, cared for, safe ... he spoke and noted that many people who are today houseless were truly HOME-less for a long time before they left the house ...

My mind couldn't help but wander to the stories that fill the news here in Manitoba about 5 yr old Phoenix Sinclair who was abused, neglected, beaten and murdered by her mother and step-father ... there was NO HOME for that little girl, even though she resided in a house ... her's is the extreme of the kinds of stories that lie as background in the lives of those we encounter on the streets of cities across this continent ... and tonight Tim Huff came to remind and challenge us about what we "know" about homelessness ...

He held up the work of Brandon's Youth For Christ and its breadth of programmes as a living example of faithful people taking the call of Isaiah seriously to bind up, or heal the broken hearted ...

Tim then went on to reflect on his journey and some of the moments in time where he stood in ministry, seeking to bind up the broken hearted ... his stories challenged all of us in the room to remember that there is a story behind the individual we may meet on the street. He didn't say it, but my heart whispered the old blessing - "may you see the face of Christ in everyone you meet, and may they see the face of Christ in you ..."

But the powerful exclamation point that Tim put on his conversation tonight was when he cited the place that Isaiah 43:18 & 19 played in his journey following a time of profound spiritual struggle and self-doubt.

The words of the prophet:

"The Lord said: 'Forget what happened long ago! Don't think about the past. I am creating something new. There it is !! Do you see it? I have put roads in the desert, streams in thirsty lands ...'"

Forget the past, urged Tim. "This is the hard stuff" he said - it's the point where we have to let go and let God take over - we have to be willing to be open to letting something new begin to happen in our midst ... we let go of the past, and look forward by celebrating the small victories. We mark the moments that shine with Grace ... as he spoke I looked back on the last 18 years of my life ... a journey in my life that saw me kneel in a stifling hot auditorium in Windsor Ontario and rise an ordained Minister in the Church ... a journey that has had more than its fair share of ups and downs ... a journey that has lead me out of a pulpit, but into the world ...

On Friday I went looking for the house-less individuals in Brandon to find out if they have shelter from the cold ... I found some of them ... as they are - on the street ... we talked ... the night before I had a one on one conversation with the Minister of Finance for the Province of Brandon and urged him to come to Brandon and see for himself the crises we are experiencing ... I gave him up-to-date statistics on how bad the housing crisis we're experiencing is, and how acute the needs are ... I couldn't help but wonder - IS THIS MINISTRY ??

Tonight, as I listened to Tim and reflected on his words, I had the realization that I am engaged in a ministry that is more rewarding, fulfilling and MORE meaningful than ANYTHING I have ever experienced within the bureaucratic nightmare that is Denominational Church ... my departure from the pulpit was NOT by my choice ... it was foisted upon me by small souled people who fail to see the fear they live within, and who hide behind "the way things are" trying in vain to maintain a status quo that is dying ... finding the shelter-less individuals and learning their names and their stories IS MINISTRY ... urging the Finance Minister of the Province to remember the people who are NOT at the meeting because they are too busy trying to survive IS MINISTRY ... and sitting with community, church and political leaders to share the information that is "out there" about poverty, homelessness, and food security, as they seek to shape a response IS MINISTRY !!!!

We live in a world that is changing very rapidly, and too many corners of the world and especially THE CHURCH are unwilling to face much less accept the change around them ... Tonight, the evening Gala began with a look back at the world 50 years ago when Youth For Christ came to Brandon, and contrasted that with the world today ... the opening words were - "Fifty years ago communities segregated black and white pupils in schools" ... "Today, the United States elected it's first Black President ..." and from there CHANGE was embraced rather than rejected. The Church as we know it WILL die if it doesn't embrace Change by opening its doors, its heart, and its pocket book to the WAY THINGS COULD AND SHOULD BE, rather than clinging desperately to the way things USED to be ...

Tonight I came away with the realization that I am called, anointed AND ORDAINED to ministry - I AM A REVEREND, and I am proud of that calling - that ROLE, and NOTHING that a human constructed organization that calls itself a Church can do will deny, nor remove that calling from me.

I AM A MINISTER.

I am CALLED to be in MINISTRY.

My ministry today is far greater than a truly small congregation that wants things to remain nice, and doesn't want its minister to rock the boat.

My ministry is in the community, among the leaders and the shelter-less, seeking to bind up the broken-hearted wherever they may be found ...

Tonight I am very mindful that when Jesus stood up in his home congregation and read from the scroll of Isaiah and shared the very words Tim cited tonight -

"The Spirit of the Lord God has taken control of me!
The Lord has chosen and sent me to tell the oppressed the good news,
to heal the broken hearted,
and to announce freedom for prisoners and captives."

When Jesus shared those words the response of HIS community of faith, was to drag him to the nearest cliff and try to fling him over ...

I have been chosen and sent by God to be in MINISTRY ... it shouldn't surprise me that voices of criticism would harshly call me down ... it shouldn't shock me that people would gossip and lie about me and tear my reputation asunder ... it should be expected that the Church - the human institution AND ALL OF THOSE who have a vested interest in maintaining the legalism, the dogma, and the status quo would harshly and loudly reject me for simply doing what God has called and ordained me to be ...

Tonight for the first time in a very long time, I feel blessed to be in ministry, and I know that my ministry is no longer about being in a particular denomination ... my ministry is about being true to the GOOD NEWS.

And all of this came because I was privileged to hear Tim Huff share a simple message about living our faith and actively healing the broken hearted ...

Thanks Tim !!!
I'm glad you stopped by, and I'm very glad you got a better reception sharing the words of Isaiah then Jesus did back in the day ...

Keep the faith brother, I'll do MY best to keep mine !!!

Radical Compassion ...

Author, evangelist, social worker and gentleman, Tim Huff spoke tonight about RADICAL COMPASSION ... he said if you go to your closet and pull out a coat that is in good shape, but that you haven't worn in a while and donate it to a clothing drive or a charity helping the homeless you have enacted compassion and caring ...

BUT, he said if you take your favourite coat and hand it to someone who has no coat and needs one THAT is RADICAL COMPASSION ...

As his words rolled over the hall and I watched the reactions of the people around me I noted that some nodded in agreement, some looked stony faced and others smiled uncomfortably ... as Tim challenged people to consider what radical compassion would look like everyone had a different reaction ... to me his words made sense ... compassion - radical compassion, is about LIVING our faith, and our faith is bound by some narrow dogmatic understanding of the Divine - faith is what lies in our heart and what motivates us ... Handing over your coat to someone who has none just makes sense to me ... and I realized it makes sense to the people who I have as friends ... and it makes sense to the people who resonate with my message and my ministry ... the others - those who can not nor will not understand radical compassion will respond to messages like Tim's (and mine) with anger ... with rejection ...and with stony silence that says - "that guy is crazy."

I'm glad I'm surrounded by the friends I have, and I'm very appreciative that I have had the privilege to work with people who hear messages like Tim's and react with one simple word - AMEN !!!

As I left the hall tonight, I thought of a story that Katie posted over at "at the half note" a year ago that shows that radical compassion is NOT limited only to those who sit in Church, but THANKFULLY is found among those who live with a sense of Holiness, whether they realize it or not ... (to read Katie's story click here)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

A "Musical" interlude featuring a Flute Solo ...

The night she arrived in our lives ...


Just too adorable for her own good ...

Sleepy dog. Been playing too much??

In her favourite vantage point - watching and waiting:


Enjoying her favourite past time - SLEEPING.



Discovering a "new" food ... CHIPS !!! (but only in small quantities!!??)



These are a few of my favourite things ... ALL of them chewing toys !!

All but the first Photo are from Ms. H.
.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Sometimes Truth TRULY is stranger than fiction ...


,
"Wymer! This is for your benefit. Would you kindly wake up? I've no intention of going through this all again."
.
I found a story on CBC.ca this morning that brought to mine the above quotation from the movie - "Monty Python's Meaning of Life." ... if you are familiar with the movie and click through and read the story you hopefully will understand why I thought of this quote ...
.
I have to admit, the headline caught my attention and I had a passing thought about whether Brother Blake (aka The Laughing Pastor) was slipping off the deepend on us:
.
Call to Action: Dallas pastor issuing 7 day sex challenge to congregants (cbc.ca)
.

Faces of Hate ...

This morning on Facebook I noticed one of my friends had joined a group entitled "Gay women get battered at children's school."

Being a news junkie, I was surprised NOT to have encountered a story like this online yet, so I clicked and read ... what I read horrified me, so I googled for more information ... I found the following article sourced from The Toronto Star:

It was a sunny afternoon, school was out and children were gathering in the playground.
Jane Currie and her partner, Anji Dimitriou, both small, soft-spoken women, were waiting with other parents at Gordon B. Attersley public school in Oshawa, when, fists flying, a man attacked them, his blows as harmful as his words.

"Which one of you two 'men' spoke to my kid? F------ dyke. Lesbians," he said, spitting in Dimitriou's face. As she wiped her face, eyes closed, he punched her on the cheek and wound up again, slamming her backward into her truck. As Currie ran toward him, she remembers him shouting, "F------ dyke bitches," and punched her on the cheekbone so hard the skin burst apart, blood splattering.

What Currie remembers most, from the afternoon of Nov. 3, is the stillness of the schoolchildren, and the sound of her six-year-old son screaming. "It was a face of complete and utter horror," Currie said in an interview yesterday. "His mouth was wide open, and he just stood there, screaming."

I found additional links, and after some searching into the regional sites of the Mainstream media pages of CTV and CBC, found it there as well. It all served to broadened the story and add to the disgusting details ...

In my not so humble opinion, the man's actions are quite simply a hate crime, and should be prosecuted accordingly ...

To read more on this click the following links:

The Toronto Star Article

Xtra.ca Article

newsdurhamregion.com article

ctv Toronto's site's article

cbc Toronto's site's article

As a parting thought, I quote Ms Currie who said eloquently: “You try and explain that to your kids,” Indeed ... how do you explain to children why their motherS were beaten for simply being who they are ??

A Blast from the past ...

The problem with using sarcasm in a humorous way, or at least trying to be humorous with sarcasm, is that when people take it personally, they tend to retaliate and attack the one offering the sarcastic observation, even if the comment is 100% accurate.

Recently I quipped that anonymous posters here would benefit by re-reading, or perhaps reading for the first time the Gospel material on Jesus found in the Bible. I drew my observation from 18 years of work in the United Church, and countless studies that tell us that MOST people are Biblically Illiterate, and even regular Church attendees seldom, if ever read the Bible beyond what small doses they are fed in Worship.

I couched my comments with a sarcastic comment about the Bible being the big black leather bound book that is seldom or never read ... it clearly touched a nerve with some, and the response has been interesting. While I apologize for the format of the comment, I will not apologize for the implication that many are Biblically Illiterate.

I find it funny though, that over 25 years ago Amy Grant, offered the song "Fat Boy" that dripped with the same kind of sarcasm as I offered ... and I doubt many attacked her for her cutting and astute observation of what can happen when Faith is less than a lived and dynamic experience ... The words of her song follow ... but just before the written version there is a video version of the song for you to enjoy ... I can't help but think that one of the problems be-devilling the Church today, be it left or right in its orientation, is the proliferation of "Fat Babies" ... give a listen, and let me know what you think ... (remember - thinking and an open mind are good !!)



I know a man
Maybe you know him, too
You never can tell
He might even be you
He knelt at the altar
And that was the end
He's saved and that's all
That matters to him
His spiritual tummy
It can't take too much
One day a week
He gets his spiritual lunch
On Sunday he puts on
His spiritual best
And gives his language
A spiritual rest

[Chorus:]
(He's just a fat)
He's just a fat little baby

He wants his bottle
And he don't mean maybe
He's sampled solid food
Once or twice
But he says doctrine
Leaves him cold as ice

He's been baptized, sanctified
Redeemed by the blood
But his daily devotions
Are stuck in the mud
He knows the books of the Bible
And John 3:16
He's got the biggest King James
You've ever seen

I've always wondered
If he'll grow up someday
He's momma's boy
And he likes it that way
If you happen to see him
Tell him I said
He'll never grow
If he never gets fed

[Chorus]

REMEMBER: It's ALL about feeding our heart, our mind and our soul ...

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Words on a page ...

On the wall in a quiet hallway in the Officers' Mess at CFB Shilo, hangs a simple wooden frame holding one of the most iconic pieces of poetry ever written by a Canadian ...

The words are familiar, their message timeless ...


In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
— Lt.-Col. John McCrae

Today we pause, or we should pause to REMEMBER ... places with strange names where Canadian boys who fell in battle lie in the cold ground ... if we don't remember - who will??

Today, I will remember ...

Today, at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month as we mark the 90th Anniversary of the Armistice that saw the Guns of August fall silent after four long years of muddy, bloody, horrid battlefield engagements that left hundreds of thousands dead and tens of thousands forever changed ... I will remember ...

My Grandfather who spent six years serving in the Royal Canadian Navy aboard tiny corvettes playing the vast icy grey waters of the North Atlantic ... tales that once left me giggling with delight now leave me wondrously bewildered as I consider what it was that he did, and realize that his maritime adventures were not mere tales from a story book, but were return visits to a time and place where death lurked beneath the waves ...

Poet and Solider Frank who served on the battle fields of Europe only to return home and find the spirit of war that had settled in on the domestic front to be repugnant and offensive. Turning his aggravation and revulsion into poetry that recalled the horrors, condemned the stupidity and yearned for peace he whispered an urgent message to a human family who wasn't able to listen ...

Vimy Ridge veteran Herb who entered my life at 105 as a friend who seemed 50 years younger and more interested in politics and current events than people EIGHT decades younger than himself ... with a tiny yellowed piece of paper signed by the King of England thanking him for his service at a place called Vimy, he told me HIS story and shared with me the horror of a battled field that stands a mythic place where Canada became a nation thanks to young men like Herb who stood, fought and died in the mud ... "It was more horrible than anyone could imagine ..." was how he would end each retelling ...

Landing Craft Pilot Frank, who quietly told me the story of having watched "too many good men die before my eyes ..." while we sat in the lobby of our apartment building. I was an idealistic student, and he a quiet retired gentleman who said the words - "thank you" when he saw the poppy on my coat collar.

"Thank me?" I asked, "did you serve?"

He nodded.

"Then I should thank YOU," I said, offering my hand, "and I REALLY MEAN IT."

In the coming days as Remembrance Day drew near he told me his story in bits and pieces, a story he admitted he had told NO ONE since returning home ... he has trained and served as a Landing Craft Pilot and navigated the lumbering green-grey vessel through the surf to beaches with names like Juno, Sicily, and Dieppe ... names etched in my memory as a student of history familiar with the times and places that Canadian Soldier served with valour.

But it was his story of Dieppe that is forever etched in my mind ... "I brought in a vessel with 52 men on board and I watched as 51 of them died ... only one (his thumb pointed to his chest) came home from that landing ... the rest fell as they stepped off the ship ..." His voice fell to a whisper, "even my co-pilot died, I didn't know it until I turned to him and screamed, "let's get out of here," and found him slumped over the controls with half his head blown away ..." He then told me of pulling up along side the support vessel in the Channel off Dieppe and being pushed back into the pilots' seat while a boat hook pulled his co-pilot's lifeless body out of the bridge, a bucket of water was tossed in to wash away the gore, and 50 MORE soldiers clamoured into the landing craft for their futile trip to the beach ... "most of them died too ..." he observed as he fell silent ...

Today I will observe the minute of silence and remember ...

I will remember those men and women I have met along the way who told me their story ... and I WILL REMEMBER those like the soldiers on Dieppe who fell in far away places far from home ... alone ...

They fell as heroes, and I WILL REMEMBER THEM !!


urgent matters of life and death



Monday, November 10, 2008

Portage and Main 50 Below ...



Randy Bachman, Neil Young and Margo Timmins from the Cowboy Junkies ... can you really go wrong ???

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Jump For Joy ...

Today has been a fabulous day ... it was rushed but wonderful ... then I came home and found the following comment on one my postings:

"We need more churches like that, and more preachers like YOU."

How can you NOT feel good finding a comment that ends with that kind of sentiment ...??!!

Then I turned to my friend Blake's Blog and was delighted to find a posting wherein he mused on a communion and what was written on it ... The words 'This guy welcomes sinners and eats with them" seems about right to me ...

Check out the full posting by clicking here.

AND, check out the comments (both postive AND negative) that have been left on my blog posting from the other day by clicking here.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

What would YOU do ???

So, the discussion around here between myself and some anonymous posters raises an interesting question for me ...

Laughing Pastor noted in a posting yesterday that some rather repulsive responses to Obama's election have arise - (click here to read his posting).

Given the tone of anonymous postings here lately, it would seem that the acceptable response to these occurances should be a shake of the head and nothing more.

I won't apologize for saying that such a response is complete BULLSHIT. Yet, often that response is the EXPECTED response of paid accountable clergy - "don't rock the boat" - "maintain the peace and calm" and so on ...

I've never accepted such a view, and I'm not about to now ... leadership, particularly in the Church demands a faith FILLED response, and that response calls us to comfort the afflicted and to afflict the comfortable.

The ONLY response of the Church to the incidents that Blake has noted is OUTRAGE, REJECTION and a passionate effort to create the INCLUSIVE, WELCOMING, OPEN MINDED and faithful community that IS the Kingdom of God in our midst ... and it begins by daring to speak the truth in the face of complacency, unfaithfulness and cowardice.

Anything else is UNFAITHFUL and unacceptable. But even in saying this, I know I am merely opening myself up to criticism from those who can not and will not open themselves up to this understandings ...

The world is changing ... we can stand in a place of fear, or we can, like I've noted previously here - lean into our fears and take the great leap of faith into the unknown ...
.
.

Grandpa's reminder ...

Grandpa always warned us - "don't point a finger of judgement at another, lest the three fingers pointing back at you judge you ACCORDINGLY!!"

He was right ... the good Presbyterian he was knew well the warning from Jesus about focusing on the speck in our brother's eye, while we struggle with the log in our own ...

I never utter anything without reflecting on, and considering that possibility ...

Friday, November 07, 2008

What would Jesus Do ... you might be surprised ...

Yesterday, yet another anonymous reader left the following comment on one of my postings:

"It makes sense to me that people comment anonymously to your blog because you get so angry and nasty about most comments that raise any question about your vision of the world."
.
As I read these words I thought about a couple of things. The first is that frequently, what I have said is regarded by others as angry, and as the writer has said - "nasty" because their point of view and mine are different. I grew up in a world milieu where critical thinking was not only accepted it was encouraged. From my home, to my home congregation, through all levels of schooling I was surrounded by people who were not only willing to offer critical reflection on events and happenings around them, they actively engaged in the process.
.
So, yes dear reader, my words may be regarded by the insensitive and the thin-skinned as angry and nasty when they raise questions about my "vision of the world" particularly when they are questions based on what could be easily dismissed as ignorance.
.
Having said that though, I think the anonymous commenter, and many who regard my reflections and musings as "angry and nasty" are missing a wide swath of Church tradition that is largely overlooked in the modern era.
.
I would invite the anonymous posters (ALL OF THEM), and any one else to spend some time today with the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. They are, just to be clear - the first FOUR books of the New Testament. That's the piece at the BACK of the Bible ... You know, that's the big black leather bound book on the shelf that YOU likely NEVER READ!!
.
Open the Bible today and READ - really read - the Gospel accounts of Jesus life and take note of HOW he deals with those who do not share, or who actively work against, or who our right OPPOSE his vision of the world ...
.
There is NO "gentle Jesus meek and mild" in the Gospels.
.
The Jesus you find there curses a fig tree for not having fruit - the fact it was the WRONG season is somewhat overlooked ...
.
The Jesus of the Gospels calls those who oppose him a nest of vipers ...
.
The Jesus of the Gospels calls down one of his closest friends, calling him "h'satan" for failing to grasp the message he is offering ...
.
The Jesus of the Gospels calls the religious authorities of his day "white washed tombs that look clean on the outside but are filled with rotting stinking flesh ..."
.
The Jesus of the Gospels rebuffs those who will not engage in active self-sacrifice to follow him ...
.
The Jesus of the Gospel welcomes the children, placing them on his knees while offering a resounding verbal back hander to those who would question him ...
.
The Jesus of the Gospels is the guy who was almost thrown over the cliff in his HOMETOWN for offering a sharp tongued commentary on the text of Isaiah one sabbath morning in temple ...
.
The Jesus of the Gospels is the one who kicked over the tables in the Temple and proclaimed that the TEMPLE was not to be a market place filled with deception and deceit ...
.
The Jesus of the Gospels is the guy who was anything BUT meek and mild ...
.
Yet for some inexplicable reason, the radical transformative movement that he founded with a cluster of a dozen of so men and women who stood firmly on the out side margins of society has been transmuted into an flaccid, insipid social club that is more concerned with niceties and comfort than it is with dealing with the very concepts Jesus spoke about AND DIED FOR!!
.
Let's NEVER lose sight of why Jesus died.
.
He was a rabble rouser and a rebel.
.
He was not killed because it was simply the "will of God that he died for our sins." He was KILLED by one of the most horrid means imaginable BECAUSE he pissed off the authorities of his day and the ONLY way they could deal with him was by beating him, mocking him, then hanging him on the cross as a warning to anyone else who might try to emulate him.
.
He died a criminal - and his crime was insubordination against the RELIGIOUS AUTHORITIES of his day.
.
The greatest sin of the modern Church is to have BECOME the very religious authorities that our founder once railed against !!!
.
So, my dear reader, if my words are regarded as angry and nasty - GOOD !!!!
.
Ask yourself - WHY ??? Why do these words strike you as angry and nasty??
.
Ask yourself if you were in ancient Jerusalem when this wandering ascetic rabbi named Yeshua and his followers from Galilee were about - where would you stand???
.
Would you stand with the outspoken, caustic Jesus? Or would you cast you lot in with the safety of the Sadducees, Pharisees and the others who were trying to maintain the status quo ???
.
Let's be realistic ... no where in the Gospel material do you find Jesus responding to his opponents - those who do not share his "vision of the world" in a soft way that offers a warm pink fuzzy hug and a gentle - "there, there" pat on the head ... His words were sharp and harsh and the comfortable people of his day used anonymity to destroy him.
Seeing a parallel here???
.
I'm not comparing myself to Jesus. I have no visions of grandeur that I am a modern Jesus. But I do see my ministry firmly in the tradition of the prophets who dared to share the Kingdom of God despite the opposition of the powers that be ... it's a LONG and honourable tradition ... one I'm proud to be CALLED by God to share in ...
.
Remember that the final condemnation of Jesus did NOT come from his opponents standing in the full glare of scrutiny, but rather it was the MOB - the collective anonymity of a large group manipulated by a few key individuals - who chanted - "CRUCIFY HIM!! CRUCIFY HIM!!"
.
Just because the MAJORITY said - "CRUCIFY HIM!!!" with passion, doesn't make the outcome justice nor right ... Mob rules leads only to anarchy and chaos ...
.
Over the last three years the supposed "majority" within the United Church have had their opportunity to chant their cry "CRUCIFY HIM!! CRUCIFY HIM!!" ... and it doesn't make THEM right.
.
The time for the Church to operate with warm pink fuzzy hugs has passed ... the people I talk to day in and day out are tired of empty hallow platitudes that are meaningless ... they are tired of Church leadership who are pale reflections of REAL people ... they are tired of the Institution of the Church ... They want something MORE ... They want TRUTH ... they want consistency between the words proclaimed from the pulpit and the actions engaged not only on the Street, but behind closed doors ...
.
To be blunt and harsh - over and over, I have heard people not only in Minnedosa, but across Western Manitoba and indeed across the world saying clearly - "we want something MORE than the modern Church is offering ..." and regrettably, NO ONE in the Modern Church cares enough to listen ... instead we keep shuffling the deck chairs and kicking the ice aside while we watch the beautiful iceberg recede into the distance and think about what it will be like when the Titanic we're sitting on makes it to port ...
.
We're closing our eyes to REALITY.
.
So, yes, dear anonymous reader - MY WORDS can be regarded as angry and nasty when someone doesn't share my vision of the world ... but that interpretation is in the eye of the proverbial beholder ... Jesus and many who have followed in the prophetic tradition were just as "angry and nasty" - reread the writings of Gandhi, King, Mandela, Tutu ... go back and read (REALLY READ) the Old Testament Prophets (is 'fatted cows' a pleasant term to you???) AND THEN ask yourself - WHY ???? WHY are these words harsh to me ???
.
The answer will likely surprise you ...
.
I'm not saying I'm perfect, or that I'm always right - far from it ... but I am willing to raise the questions no one else dares to ask - and in the Modern Church, the true MAJORITY (those who have abandoned the ship to make it to the Carpathia) want those questions asked and they want the warm pink fuzzy BULLSHIT abandoned ...
.
The United Church and it's leadership ignores this reality at its peril ... and the outcome of this ignorance is what is being felt in the pews across Canada today ...
and I for one refuse to tolerate it ...
.
We're called to a better way ... and to some who are closed to the transformative vision of this way it is a harsh, angry and nasty place ...
.
.

My latest colummn ...

Click here to find my latest column offering
through the Wheat City Journal, a weekly newspaper in Brandon.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Change we can believe in ...

a guy named Obama once said:

“Throughout my life, I have always looked to Mahatma Gandhi as an inspiration, because he embodies the kind of transformational change that can be made when ordinary people come together to do extraordinary things,”

It's funny, over and over I get stopped by people and told - "I read your blog and I think it's awesome ..." in one case a non-United Church person said - "Keep up the good work, I like what you have to say and I hope you won't let 'them' win ..."

A few weeks ago I had occassion to be in Minnedosa for an extended period of time and over and over and over I was given warm hugs, told how much I was missed and encouraged to "keep fighting" one person said it bluntly - "Don't let those BASTARDS win!!" and he then went on to NAME who the BASTARDS were - his list was a remarkably accurate inventory of those who manipulated the process to remove me from Ministry.

I've long struggled with the negative comments that frequently get left on my blog, and wrestled with whether I should post anonymous comments or not.

I will often post anonymous comments so that I can't be criticized for censoring comments. My one rule of thumb is "no abuse", otherwise I will post even negative comments ... this morning is no exception.

However, what I realized today as I reflected more upon the negative comment posted on today's earlier posting, is that the speaker is writing from FEAR and outright IGNORANCE ... they speak from fear, dubbing criticism of inaction, political machination and outright manipulation as "unkind" and ask - "what set you off?"

Nothing set me off. I have been reflecting on these things for a very long time ... as I've owned my personal responsibility in a toxic situation and been called to account for MY actions, I've watched as others have been set free to continue down the path they have trod for too long - a path that has consumed more than just me.

Criticism has a place.

Harsh and blunt words are needed in the face of injustice.

People like Gandhi, King, Tutu, and countless others INCLUDING Barack Obama have used respectful criticism to name injustice as they find it.

Jim Wallis once said - "hope is believing in spite of the evidence and watching the evidence change," as he spoke of the fight against Apartheid. I wonder if Mandela, Tutu and others who fought against systemic injustice would have achieved the end they did, had they bitten their tongue and NOT spoken unkind words about the injustice that was perpetuated by a system that was simply and utterly SINFUL and MISGUIDED.

Go back anonymous reader and review the words of ANY of the people I've cited this morning - Gandhi, King, Tutu, Mandela, Wallis and even Barack - hear the incredibly sharp criticism they've lobbed at their opponents ... what you dub unkind is simply stating a TRUTH. Minnedosa United Church would be worshipping in a NEW Sanctuary Building Today had they stayed to the Truth rather than wallowing in political machinations, gossip, slander and outright cowardice.

Minnedosa is a community that is deeply grieving, and instead of rendering care the powers that be are simply edifying their positions of prestige and privilege and letting those who are hurting continue to HURT ... I ask ALL of you - IS THAT A FAITHFUL RESPONSE ???

The legacy of the prophetic visionaries is to name injustice and to name injustice is to ruffle feathers of those who are NOT about justice for ALL ... the funny thing is - in Minnedosa the voices that CONTINUE to critique me are those who wouldn't know justice if they tripped over it. AND for that reason alone, I chose to listen to the voices of those who pat me on the back and with tears in their eyes say - "thank you for your words. Keep Blogging. Keep speaking the truth ... DON'T LET THE BASTARDS WIN !!!!"

To my critics - DEAL WITH IT !! You're either with us (the pursuit of justice) or you're against us - it's YOUR CHOICE.