Friday, March 26, 2010
Friday, March 19, 2010
There is a place in rational discussion for respectful disagreement that furthers the discussion.
And there is ALWAYS a place for oppostion that asks the tough questions in the face of a dominant idea, theology or notion.
BUT, sometimes rational, respectful and intelligent discussion is not only lacking, it is completely lacking. And an example of this has been going on in the United States where hyper-conservative Glenn Beck is hammering hard on Jim Wallis, and on the inclusion of Social Justice in the life and ministry of Churches south of the border.
According to Beck's counsel, we are to run from churches that dare to mention social justice or economic justice, for in his "open-minded" (my tongue is firmly in my cheek here) opinion, these are the buzz words of Communists and Nazis ... This is so far beyond a true and unapologetic WTF??? that I am truly and utterly speechless ...
I first encountered (or noticed) this issue in last night when I noticed a tweet update on Facebook from Aaron from Alma's Soulfood, that mentioned the attack by Glenn Beck on Jim Wallis ... I went looking and had to laugh at the silliness of Beck's contention ...
Then today I started to find more and more material on line supporting Beck ... it would seem the tinfoil crowd have had a busy night sitting up typing at their computers through the wee hours ...
Fortunately though, I have found this afternoon some calm and rational voices that manage to put Mr. Beck's contention in its place, and that remind us ALL that a call to Social Justice, is a call that has resounded through the community of faith since Amos and his Prophetic kin came in out of the wilderness speaking on behalf of the God Yahweh who THUNDERED FOR JUSTICE!!!
I've been struggling to come up with a Sermon for this Sunday, and now, with the swirl of ideas supporting Wallis and the modern Social Justice movement (which is also central to my Masters Thesis which is currently sitting at 39 pages of text !!) whirling through my thinking - I see a direct connection with the story of Jesus having his feet anointed by Mary ... Jesus' response to Judas about the poor is not a call to inaction, but rather is a reminder that the POOR are always among us, and we best not forget them ...
For now though, I have gone back and re-acquainted myself with the writings of Rabbi Heschel, who returned to the ancient scrolls to call the WORLD to a faith focused on Social Justice ... the teachings of Rabbi Heschel undergird the action oriented faith of people from Martin Luther King through to Jim Wallis ... and Heschel is merely echoing the timeless teachings of guys with names like Jeremiah, Hosea, Amos, and Micah ... teachings that have called us for millenia to remember the poor and to act with justice and care.
Rabbi Heschel's landmark book The Prophets is ANYTHING but a communist tract.
Yet, for some reason voices persist that claim such an orientation of faith is not consistent with the Gospel ... Not sure what scripture someone like Beck is reading, but when I open my Bible (two of them: New Revised Standard Translation and a New Jerusalem Bible) I hear the Gospel calling us to act on our faith by caring for the widows and orphans, and by not only remembering the poor, but by doing something to show our care and compassion through our faithful action.
Might be me, but I think Beck is just plain crazy ... unfortunately, his is a voice that some actually (and foolishly) take seriously. THANKFULLY there are voices out there speaking out against Beck and his folly ...
For some of the voices speaking out against Beck and his misguided rants check out the links below:
Jim Wallis loves his enemies by Ryan Rodrick Beiler
Glenn Beck and Social Justice from the blog - Philosophy Over Coffee
Jim Wallis' reply on The Huffington Post
I guess this just goes to show the truth of Gandhi's contention that "First they laugh at you. Then they ignore you. Then they fight you. THEN YOU WIN !!!"
We should ALL be sending notes of thanks to Mr Beck ... he's thrown the gauntlet and in the process has announced that Mr Wallis and those of us supportive of Social Justice are the winners before the fight has even begun !!
Thus far voices that would criticize, or critique Mr Harper and his visit have largely been silenced and quelled ... can't have Mr Tweed's grip on the riding questioned, can we??
I like Merv, our current MP, and I think he does a good job for this riding - but - his leader, our PM is someone who needs to remember that criticism and critique is part of the Canadian political landscape. There is a reason why we have Her Majesty's LOYAL Opposition - you can be loyal and opposed simultaneously. Democracy, particularly in the Parliamentary tradition demands the full and vigorous debate of issues from two (or more) sides - not just the blind adherence to the Party line, regardless of where that party falls.
So, to honour Mr Harper's visit to our fair city today ... I would offer the latest installment of the Conservative Watch feature I've implemented here ... This go round presents some absolutely fascinating and amusing examples of the Conservative Party and their utter failure to live by the principles they claim to promote:
I have yet to tire of Ms. Guergis and the soap operatic happenings in her life ... first her hubby gets caught for a variety of offenses while driving one night north of Toronto, then in a single week he gets a slap on the wrist by pleading to lesser charges while the BIG charges are quietly dropped, AND Ms Guergis herself reportedly has a infantile melt-down in the airport in Charlottetown ... but the story isn't yet finished ... I really like Rick Mercer's take on this from his latest rant (click here to read Rick's take on this) - but the cherry on the sundae in this is the little news item that slipped by largely unnoticed this week that announced that the benevolent Ms. Guergis has elected NOT to sue the airline, the employees or any one else for defamation and a violation of her privacy for leaking details of her tantrum. My only reaction is - WTF ??? This only strengthens the contention that Ms Guergis needs to resign her post as Cabinet Minister and spend sometime getting her life in order ... (click here to see CBC's story - Guergis Won't Sue Airline Over Tantrum Details)
Then, not to be outdone, Minister Blackburn - the Veterans Affairs Minister for the Conservative Government tries to circumvent the security screening AND argues with the security personell at the Ottawa airport while travelling last month ... the goal Mr Blackburn seeks?? The exemption of his bottle of tequila from the confiscation we ALL face should we violate the rules. CBC's report on this is amusing and unbelievable ... it would appear that he actually wanted them to let him carry the bottle on board in violation of the rules, THEN he asks them to hold the bottle for him when he returns, and when is unreasonable requests are refused, he then becomes combatant ... personally, I can't help but wonder if an encounter with a tazer might teach some of these MP's a touch of much needed humility ... Obviously though, Conservative MP's are showing the perils of travelling ... (click here to see the CBC story - Blackburn sorry for airport tequila incident)
And finally, on the "denying democracy" front, we have two interesting stories that are floating around out there that cast into doubt the willingness of the Conservative Government to face the people and run a democratic AND transparent process ... First is the 'oops' story of the Police in Saskatoon congratulating themselves at keeping Mr. Harper safe from nasty protestors on a recent visit. Rather then letting protesters exercise their DEMOCRATIC rights of free speech within earshot of the PM, the police kept them out of the way lest, Mr Harper be EMBARASSED. Nice job Officers - you spared Mr. Harper embarassment in the moment, but managed to embarass the hell outta him across the nation - GOOD CHOICE !!
And then, the Afghan detainee issue still won't go away ... this week the Opposition parties asked for a Parliamentary ruling on the request for documents that the Government keeps stonewalling on ... this week no less then three cabinet ministers invoked the phrase - "relevant documents" when addressing the issue in the House of Commons. I might have read far too much Brecht in the past, but moments like this cause me pause and make me wonder what back room pep-rallying has been done to maintain the party line??
Moreover, citing 'national security' concerns when it comes to the House of Commons is complete and UTTER crap. At the end of the day, the House of Commons is the sole entity responsible for National Security - the Prime Minister and his Cabinet answer to the HOUSE.
Looking back over this week, I can't help but wonder if Mr. Harper sees how bad his government is looking with each passing week ... Maybe he should crack open the beer he just got from President Obama, and spend a 'good ole Canadian style weekend' watching hockey, debating politics and getting back in touch with reality, because right now the Conservatives are showing themselves amazingly out of touch ...
Thursday, March 18, 2010
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Blessing to you Brother Blake on your continued journey ... know that you are in the hearts and minds of many ... and that together in faith, we find our way ever closer to the Kingdom of God that has been promised to all, not just a chosen few !!!
Thanks for the posting today ... and thanks for a friendship that has seen me through some deep dark times ... I'm glad to have a Texan brother in MY corner !!!
... and now for the music:
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Preston Family Urges Donations to the Phams (cbc.ca/news)
This morning when I found this story item online I had to smile - it's nice to see that the family of Officer Pham is being offered this quiet and thoughtful gesture on the part of the family of his killer.
Given the current emphasis (which I support) on ensuring that the families of our fallen soldiers are given support for education and so on as they wrestle with thier loss, it is equally important to remember the families of fallen police, peace, and other emergency personell who die on duty too.
Frequently, when the media spotlight passes from the family of the fallen on to other new exciting stories, they are left with lives turned upside down, and little support either financial or emotional. The assumption is that these families will be looked after following the death of thier member, but the reality is too often anything but. A little bit of extra help would have likely made a HUGE difference to my own family.
Today though, there are three young boys who have joined a family of men and women of varying ages who have lost their parents to what is easily dubbed the "ultimate sacrifice" and too often they are simply forgotten.
The Preston family have shown great class in this small gesture, that apparently was a request in the funeral notice for donations to the Pham family ... my hope is that it will help remind our Political leadership, and all of us not to forget those of us who have suffered the loss of a parent through the "ultimate sacrifice" on duty.
There are over 730 names etched on the memorial in Ottawa ... and there are dozens of sons and daughters who have struggled every day of thier lives because of a tragic death ... they deserve to be remembered too.
They are our family ...
Tuesday, March 09, 2010
Fortunately for those of us who are today's working poor, Mr Flaherty wants to share that sacrifice we are experiencing by freezing the salaries of the MP's, Senators and other associated officials for the next two years ... this MILLION dollar savings may sound significant until you take a moment to consider what these folks are taking home already ...
Today, Constable Vu Pham, a 15 year veteran of the Ontario Provincial Police, died of wounds he received while on duty not far from Seaforth Ontario ... born in Vietnam, Constable Pham gave his life in service to the people of Ontario, leaving behind his wife Heather, and thier three sons ...
Constable Pham is the 104th OPP officer to die on duty.
Words can not begin to describe the sorrow I feel in this moment ... as one who knows all too well the pain associated with the loss of a parent serving in the line of duty, my heart grieves for the young men who face life today without their father ... tonight, I offer prayers for the Pham family, Constable Pham's fellow officers, and all those who understand this loss intimately ...
Tonight we are reminded that not only is Constable Pham a hero in life, not in death ... tonight we are all family ...
Rest in Peace Constable Pham ... and may your family find strength, courage and healing in the journey they find themselves on ...
Wednesday, March 03, 2010
Somewhere Out There:
Tuesday, March 02, 2010
As I read this article and the revelation within that Mr. Kenney's office had also appointed a long standing Conservative who has very publicly opposes both same sex marriage and equal rights for gays and lesbians to the Board over seeing refugee claims I couldn't help but wonder what happened to the transparent processes that were promised by Mr Harper prior to his ascendancy to the throne ???
Moreover, I started to think about the many quiet little actions being undertaken by the Conservative Government since Parliament was prorogued for the Olympics ... the list I came up with is pretty long ... AND with the House of Commons due to return this week, it is worth putting ALL of these stories in one place for folks to think about them, and whether our Government is seeing to OUR best interests' or whether they are simply trying to keep themselves in power ...
So, in honour of the pending return of Parliament, I would like to offer the stories I have found that should be considered as we evaluate the job Mr Harper and his merry band are doing in Ottawa ... there are more then a few stories that should cause us to pause and ask - WTF ???
For now, here's what I found with a reading of the CBC, CTV and MSN news sites today
- Mr Kenney and the quiet mention of equality rights for gays and lesbians in the new immigrant handbook
- Mr. Baird quietly raising the airport security costs to be paid by travellers just prior to the pending budget that has been promising "NO NEW TAXES" ... reminds me of the first Bush - remember?? "read my lips - no NEW taxes" ... just increase the old ones, and pass off user fees to pay for stuff as a non-tax solution ... a tax is a tax whether it is called a user fee or not !!
- Ms Guergis' now infamous temper tantrum ... seriously, this one is like shooting fish in a barrel ... I will actually just leave it alone ...
- Mr. Bernier expressing the need for skepticism on the issue of Global Warming ... yeah, tell me that Mr Bernier doesn't represent the dominant opinion of his party ??
- Mr. Harper continuing to appoint senators while we still WAIT for his promised Senate reform that would put an end to political patronage appointment ...
- the awarding of 25 MILLION dollars to build and maintain wilderness trails across Canada - a noble project on the surface, until you realize that OVER a third of that money has been given to Snowmobiling clubs to build and maintain their trails ... hmmm, a couple of issues arise here - one is the whole global warming-greenhouse gas thing ... second is the issue of snowmobiles and the environment and the third is - isn't this simply a straight and blatant attempt to win votes ???? I mean - who is represented in the sledder demographic ???
- speaking of government funding - the Feds have announced the provision of 9.4 BILLION dollars for infrastructure funding - again a noble goal designed to get the economy rolling (almost a socialist ideal) - when it is matched by funding from all three levels of government it amounts to over 27 BILLION dollars being invested into the Canadians economy ... the problem arises with the lack of transparency in the whole process and the preference SHOWN to Conservative ridings over regions, areas and ridings that have been hardest hit by unemployment and job loss ... even something as helpful as infrastructure funding has become a political patronage opportunity !!!!!
- and today the Conservatives are already becoming belligerent on the issue of the Afghani detainees ... there is a formal request for information and paper work to allow us to get to the bottom of this, and the Conservatives are already stonewalling ... Come on Mr. Harper - with the stories of a soldier in Afghanistan allegedly executing a wounded Taliban soldier, the murder-rape investigation in Trenton, and the murder investigation here in Brandon, our Military deserve to have the truth revealed!!! The issue of mis-treatment of the detainees is not reflective of our troops in Afghanistan - the issue is about the BUREAUCRATS and their political task masters. Mr Harper - support our troops and release the necessary documentation to get to the bottom of this issue !!!!!
So, there you have it - a partial list of the questionable things our Governing party is up to while Parliament takes a break ... stay tuned. Conservative Watch is about to become a regular column here ... in addition to raising questions about the actions of our Government, Conservative Watch will also be about advocating for issues like housing, poverty and homelessness to be raised in political circles. I don't expect everyone to agree with what I might post here, but I will raise issues that pop up in the media and might otherwise slip away under-noticed.
For now ... I wonder if Mr Harper even realizes how bad lists like this look for him and his government, and if he does realize if he even cares ...
I guess time will tell.