Wednesday, November 22, 2017

The Danger of Only Half Remembering


Remembrance Day was over a week ago. Time to reflect and ponder on that event; the people, words and actions that symbolize such an important part of us as a people.
Should I worry if only a small piece of reality was presented? Is it my problem only? Or is there a real danger of partial truths leading to more harm and being even counter to the hopes we wish for?
The names of the dead were shared, along with the names of the wars in which they died. Good. But why did they die? It was clearly said that they died because they were brave, and because our freedom was threatened. They were all heroes, by definition. All who die in uniform, in our popular opinion, are heroes. No other view is allowed.
But our main assumptions just aren't true. Only in one of 'our' wars, WWII, were we attacked, at least our allies were attacked. (This is apart from the many times we were attacked by the United States. In their point of view, they were trying to liberate us, to bring us true freedom. But that's another story.)
In the two Boor Wars we were on the side of the British Empire, fighting against freedom, the freedom of the Dutch settlers of South Africa who only wanted to be left alone, cursed as they were, by occupying space that was coveted for it's wealth. So gleefully went off, for God, King and country, ready and eager to kill, because the very idea of any who didn't want to be like us, was threatening.
WWI had no cause other than the empires of Europe all wanted to become even richer. So we fought, of course, on the side of the British Empire. Brave? The boys were told they'd be home by Christmas. Those Huns didn't have a chance! It would have been a stalemate if the US hadn't joined in the fun. And the terrible terms of the 'peace' only assured the necessity of WWII.
And the wars since? Have our invasions since brought about peace? How's Afghanistan doing? When will we learn that very rarely do people want to be invaded, no matter their motives. (Remember those Yanks?)
I'm not against our gatherings at the cenotaph. But let's try to do the whole thing. When do school children learn of the big picture? When do we get a chance to truly weep about how, time and time again, we believe lies told to us by the rich and powerful, so that we'll give our lives for their 'national good'? There have been many times when the truly brave were those who stayed at home, choosing to live with the insults and stigma of peace. When do we hear of this? Why are the only things remembered are the dead, and not what killed them, nor what will bring new life? Why is the only poem remembered is one that urges us to keep on killing, especially from a war that was wrong and stupid?
I'll keep going to gatherings that remember. But also, I'll continue to urge us all to remember everything. 'The whole truth' is better for us all, I assume.


Wednesday, November 8, 2017



Another mass shooting in The States. This time in a small-town Texas church. The shooter? Thankfully, a white American-born veteran. The answer to the problem, according to those local people who were interviewed? More God and more guns.
I'm an optimist. Usually. But above all, I try to follow the Ways and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. I'm not a Christian, having to believe that believing that Jesus was God saves us from 'hell', a fate we deserve because our ancestors ate a forbidden apple. I believe what I have experienced, that love really IS the Way of God, Who-ever/What-ever God is, and that Jesus, as well as others, teach us in that understanding. And I know that the understanding that supports the whole gun-thing in the US is in total opposition to that rule of love.
I have talked to many of that other way. I don't know how to deal with them. There is no common ground from which to step toward each other. All I can do is to DO what I know, to grow in love myself and share my life with others. I simply have to admit that I can't affect what happens in Texas, other than acting in my knowing that all of creation is somehow connected, and growing and loving here can and will affect all,now and even forever.
But are there others who agree with me? I doubt there are many in churches, for they seem so very satisfied in doing little, not sharing or going beyond the 'usual', especially in the Christmas season. When people of so-called belief are content with bazaars and songs, even amidst the hatred and fears that grow around us, when all of creation yearns and is literally dying for love, how can I not become angry, especially at churches?
Is there hope for real change from the 'spiritual but not religious' majority? When the very word religion has come to be anathema to many, and the sharing of anythings spiritual and personal is taboo and suspect, it would be surprising to say the least. But that's what miracles are all about.
Yet, the ancient season of Advent is near, the time of hope and expectation of new life, the awareness of Emmanuel, God among us. I can't allow my anger to cloud my vision nor slow my steps.
So, I enter this holiday season, trying to prepare for something new and hopeful, trying to give churches yet another chance to become real to their task, but expecting yet again to be frustrated and disappointed by shallowness, conformity and tradition, although the one in who's name they gather, was a rebel, a reformer and a free thinker.
I will try to channel my anger into creative sadness, once again. But don't be surprised, friends, when anger raises it's head. The 'more guns and more God' group plus the 'belief is all that counts' bunch, plus the 'being nice is what counts' folks, all put together, often is just too much for me to handle without getting mad.

Thanks for hearing.

Monday, September 11, 2017


Hurricane Irma and My Friends

    I'm blessed with many friends. Some are millionaires. Many are very poor. Most are in-between. All seem to want more money and more stuff. I often feel much more at home among those who have the less. Hurricane Irma has brought this to my mind.
   We have maintained contact with folks in the Bahamas, relationships developed over the five years we spent there while living on our boat. Even the more 'advantaged' among them would not be deemed as 'privilaged' in this society. And here in Canada, of course, where a large water-front home commands such a crazy price, we have friends that cover the spectrum of wealth. What does this have to do with Irma?
    In the past few days we've been barraged by news of the damage done by that storm. There's a very real difference in the tone we hear from two groups of friends. From the Bahamas we hear of how people are dealing with the damage of their (uninsured) two-roomed homes, of how the three or five people are coping through co-operating and sharing with others. They will survive and make do. They've done it before and it will happen again. It's a VERY big deal. But they're not complaining, but just sharing their lives. It's a real blessing that I'm on their list of people that count. I'll certainly help them if I'm able.
    Then there's another group of friends. They've got property of some kind down in Florida. For some of them it's their third homes, even after a boat. I'm not sure if they're complaining or bragging when they share with me how they're worried about the damage to their (insured) house or condo. I really don't know what to say. Are they expecting me to be sorry for their insured loss (what-ever that is) for something that they obviously don't need?
    These folks are great, but they are so spiritually shallow in comparison to the first group. But they are those that are around me here, among others. As I am searching for The Kingdom of God, I find it such a challenge to resist just going to a place (here or there) where people have less STUFF that keeps them from a greater reality. The main topic of conversation here is how to get MORE or to loose LESS. I spend a lot of time just listening, with nothing much to say.
    I hope that the luck, good and bad, that hurricanes bring, might teach us something real. It's good to remind ourselves that the Jews, who wrote the 'Adam and Eve' creation story, saw the expulsion from the Garden of Eden  as a blessing, knowing that only in an imperfect and uncontrolled world, would humans have a chance to grow and understand love. It takes the power and arbitrariness of a hurricane to force us see the bigger picture and to re-order our priorities.
    I continue to hope so.
    But in the meantime, if you're second or third house gets damaged, don't expect me to cry any tears with you. I've a limited amount of them and they're saved for those who really know what suffering is about.

Friday, September 8, 2017


Choosing Between Heaven and Hell

   We've probably all heard of the ancient North American native saying about there being two wolves in each of us, one of love/ sharing and one of fear/hatred, and the one who grows to dominate is the one we choose to feed. In the Christian context, it is the message that we each (and collectively) chose between 'heaven' and 'hell'.  If we look at today's news of the world, we can see many examples of this, especially in the context of the natural disasters. But even many of these 'natural' disasters are caused by the feeding of one of the 'wolves', doesn't it?
  It is so easy for us to find blame with the evil shown in other societies, and feel so very superior when we see hatred and bigotry among others. (Why can't they be more like us?)  If you live on a rather beautiful, prosperous and out-of-the-way island such as I do, this is even a more seductive trap. How can other people hate just because of race, religion or background? How can they not share, especially in times of  crisis? Don't we often think this?
   But look at us. Our island has been divided by the issue of wind turbines being installed on many properties. Some of the land-owners (the older families) have signed on to host them, while many of the 'newbies'  have tried their best to stop the project, for years - and have failed. The battle is now over. They are being built this winter.
   Tragically, it seems, the 'wolf' of hatred has been fed in many islanders, even to the point of ruling over love and sharing, and for the common good. Some of the 'anti' people will no longer associate with and even provide food in community events, because some of the people in attendance are hosting wind turbines. The annual 'Seniors' Dinner' is in question. Some of the seniors support wind turbines. Many of those who have sponsored the dinner are 'anti', and will not participate.
   This is the most sad thing I have experienced in a long time.
   Each of us has the power to choose to grow (or not) in love. This doesn't depend upon our 'religion', in fact, often our 'religion' is merely molded to suite our needs anyway. All involved are supposedly 'Christian' in one way or another. Or maybe not. I doubt very much if our local churches will touch this reality, for one of the main rules in the congregations is to never talk about anything that matters. Hence, nothing much is talked about.
   What we have here is a chance to see clearly the two 'wolves' in our midst and to observe and participate in choosing which to feed. As we do so, let us be less smug in our sense of superiority when we see the forces of evil in the world around us. Let us know that the choices of good and evil are with us, each and all, every day. We're just blind to them and usually can chose to not open our eyes to the realities.
   As for Amherst Island, the only reason we can't grow in love and understanding is that the 'wolves' won't be recognized and confronted and the wolf of evil/hatred will be fed even more. That need not happen. It will be up to people to choose, and feed the 'wolf' of love/acceptance and sharing. Like usual, it's up to us.  

Thursday, August 17, 2017



     DRUGS  is a bad word. Usually. Although it's hard to find any of us in this culture who is not on drugs of some kind. We like to think of a druggy as someone who is useless, 'on the street' and beyond any hope. Yet, it's hard to find many of us who don't use any 'help' for something or another.
    And why not? Be it for our heart condition, arthritis, head aches, depression or just to make us feel better, why not 'get a little help from our friends'? On a 'recreational' level, what is wrong with altering our reality? Just what 'reality' do we live in? Our world is controlled by those who covet control. Those who are the most wealthy are not contend, but only want more. Hatred and fear seem to be gaining inroads into even the educated and 'advanced' of the world. Although most of us know that we're wrecking the world for our descendants, we're doing nothing about it. Why not escape a little, or at least, accept some 'help' in seeing a different reality, even for a few hours, in which we might gather another perspective?
   I was raised by loving parents who taught us to never lose control. Drugs of all kinds (except 'medicine') were bad, because you 'lost control' when 'under their influence'. As I write this, after a week of the continuing crisis of North Korea and the whole Trump/Racist thing, all caused by crazy people who insist on 'being in control' of others, what's wrong with us being willing to share control? I doubt very much if things would be worse if Putin, Trump,  the North Korean guy and the head of China all got together with some good weed. If for three days the whole world got decently high on anything, I bet we'd sober up with more hope and good will.
   In the 'old days' the mystics/shamans/priests all had their drugs. Ways to get beyond the usual and mundane were respected and valued. The powers of greed and control, control us so much today that we can't be surprised if we're increasingly in need of help to regain our spirituality. It's such a shame that most current religions have been so against any 'help', other than their trained and 'professional' helpers. Just imagine how great it would be to go into any place of worship and to be offered a large glass of wine, a toke or brownie! Just imagine the singing and sharing. Or just great silence.
   Most of us could do with some help. Most of us would be much better off with not being 'in control' of ourselves. It would help us to become much more human and accept each other. Whether leaders of nations or neighbours, I don't see how it could get us in more trouble than we're already in.
   It's just a thought, but I'm sure enjoying my 'special coffee'.

Thursday, August 3, 2017



    I was (surprisingly) asked to preach at a Kingston church last Sunday. Being a 'one-off', I talked, of course, on the one thing Jesus talked about, the Kingdom of God. This is usually a hard sell for churches to hear because what Jesus talked about, did and lived, was precisely that. His 'good news' was that the Kingdom of God was here, at hand, available and livable. Not some vague, nebulous and dreamy state in the future or after death, NOT as seen in churches. 
   How was this WAY recognized? By the fact that people were SHARING. Whether in Acts, the writings of Paul or the Gospels, the fact of SHARING is always present in the groups formed by Jesus and in the century later. It was a different WAY of life, beyond mere giving and formalities.
   We don't want to hear that. Living in perhaps the lease sharing culture the world has known, this idea is very hard to swallow. We get really defensive. We're OK with some giving (of what we don't need anyway), but to SHARE? That's a sign of weakness, and only what the poor might do, those that don't really have much to share in the first place.
   We can easily agree that we'd all like to grow in love. But we close our eyes, minds and hearts to the reality that we can't grow in love if we insist on keeping control of everything, that our whole purpose in life, in this culture, is enlarging of our control. Since real love is the giving away of control, we're in a real bind. 
   In sharing we give away control. This is the only way we can grow in love. And the more control (money, stuff, power, influence) we have, the less likely it is that we will see the truth and act on it. 
  We're still children of God, and well loved, but without sharing, we're going to live half-lives and be far from what is there for us. It's not a matter of 'going to hell'. Remember that Jesus never condemned those that didn't follow him. He was just sad.
   He must be very sad about churches. We rarely put before people the choice of really following Jesus, but substitute some  kind of 'belief'' for the real thing. Where are people really sharing? Very rarely in the name of Jesus of Nazareth. The truth is, many less are coming to church. Most can clearly see that we aren't searching for God. We merely believe that we are able to, if we want. But we don't. So they don't. Around us we can see many examples of people learning to share. But we're not among them. This is such a shame, for the world is in continuing crisis now because of people not sharing. How can we learn to share the world if we can't even do it as people? 
   How many of us have empty rooms? Can't we share cars? Do we really need control of all the space and stuff we've accumulated? Does it all make us more happy and loving? 
  It only takes a few to become 'salt' or 'leaven' as Jesus said. This is not a 'majority' calling. But a few are needed. We in churches have the words. We might 'become flesh' and follow, but I doubt it. We're just too rich, and you know what Jesus said about the probability of 'the rich' entering the Kingdom, that it's about as likely as a camel getting through the eye of a needle. 

Wednesday, June 21, 2017


      If the weather permits, Judy and I have a habit of drinking a coffee (mine being 'special') while sitting on our porch, looking south over the treed lawn, across our country road and into the fields and woods beyond. It's always a movable feast for the eyes. But not only. Our ears are saturated with the sounds of birds near and far. And the various insects, of course.
     Those precious minutes, while reminding me of the beauty that surrounds us, also brings to mind the fact that we in our culture are so small in our understanding of reality. Today is Aboriginal Day here in Canada, the first day of summer. If I had been born here three hundred years ago I would have been raised as a hunter, but not one who searches, 'hunts' as we do, what with our scopes and long-reaching rifles, but one who sits and waist, observing, hearing and smelling, until the opportunity comes within reach of an arrow. How wonderful must be the knowledge that only comes from waiting and being truly part of our surroundings.
     How utterly foreign that concept is to those of our culture. To WAIT? Do it or buy it NOW! To observe, really listen and take it all it before we act? If we can't do something now, and quickly, we don't bother.
     On one hand, in our minds, we really know that we're a part of the 'whole' of things, that we don't and can't exist apart from 'nature' and all that that entails, but our actions and lives deny that whole reality, giving it such a small part of our experience. And we don't show any signs of getting 'smarter'. The truth that most of us know, is that unless we begin to see, hear, smell, act and live again with our world, and hold each other as true brothers and sisters in this world, we are enacting death. Few of us really understand this, yet alone, are trying to live in this reality.
     I know this is hard, maybe impossible for us to do. For me, I know that I need those twenty minutes or so, sitting out there with my sweety, sipping on my coffee, not saying much, just listening, seeing, smelling, soaking up the world and recognizing my very small place in it.

Friday, April 14, 2017


No 'Good Friday', please.

     For me, it's a real perversion to call today 'Good Friday'. We remember Jesus of Nazareth getting excecuted by the Romans, for being very guilty of the charges against him: advising people to not pay the Roman tax, for starting a riot, and for claiming to be king, the Messiah. All were crimes against Caesar.
   These actions were taken because Jesus was following the law of Love, of Shalom, the basis of Jewish understanding. Although he had not claimed the throne, his followers had. He was guilty. He was killed for his convictions. Where's the GOODNESS in that? As of this day, he was a failure on all counts. The lessons learned: LOVE has a very high price indeed; You can't fight the system; Might is right; and so on.
    Please don't try to change this lesson by the old Pauline and  Augustinian claim that Jesus died for our sins. It doesn't 'wash' anymore. That might have made sense to first century Greeks who believed in sacrifice and unloving gods, but for me that old doctrine, however orthodox, just doesn't help at all. This doctrine makes a monster out of God. We shouldn't wonder why most 'Christians' stay home from worship today. Any kind of 'loving' God will forgive their 'children' without having to kill off the best of them as some example. And besides, I'm still far from perfect. Just ask Judy, or any of my friends. Or am I supposedly only now 'forgiven' from the that old sin of 'The Apple'? Who knows?
   So, today we have a very bad Friday. Let's learn from it. Love and Justice are costly. Following Jesus in any way does and will have a price. As he urged many times, even as he was asking others to follow, before we chose, look closely at the cost and weigh carefully what you value most in life. If you want to be popular and 'successful', don't even think of trying to follow. Stick with going to church and feeling good. Or keep on by yourselves.  It's much easier and hasn't the perils of following Jesus.