\”Concepts create idols, only wonder grasps anything.\” – Gregory of Nyssa

Politics

Michael Ignatieff’s Equality for All Speech

Michael Ignatieff

Started writing this morning on FB about some of my thoughts to Michael Ignatieff’s speech in Ottawa and it kind of turned into a full note. Anyways, it’s been a bit since I’ve been writing; I just needed to get some things of my chest, so it’s nothing extensive but I thought I’d share it here also.

Michael Ignatieff - “Equality for ALL” (From this mornings speech in Ottawa) – Question: Does this same equality include the Canadian Citizens within the Federal Prison Systems be they people seeking reformation or employees amidst over population? Does this same equality include those who are in service to our military struggling with substandard equipment?

They are honest questions of Federal prioritization. In light of resent global events, I’m not sure I’d count on the US covering our _____ in the event of military movements! :( Prisoners serving their detentions in a correctional facility are not second class citizens in a society which claims equality for all. Over population can also force into early release in dangerous circumstances which in turn also impacts society. Should we not give adequate space and legislative time to the reformation of such people; not to mention the danger over population places of Correctional Employees?!

Family Care, Health Care, and Education are also all valid concerns and issues Canadians face. Yet, these can be issues perhaps more directly addressed within the Provincial and Local Municipalities alternatively. Ultimately, my personal nee-jerk reaction is to say it also falls to the role we as individual citizens play as active participators and care givers to our society and communities.

We must stand up for our neighbour and ourselves; not leaving the sole responsibility of health and education to government parties. We must make better health choices for our own bodies and inspire and encourage others to do the same. We can and should give freely to others as they have needs out of our personal responsibility to care for one another – this is a responsibility of individuals and community not institution or organization. (Please note: This includes Religious Institutions however… it does not dismiss responsibility to personal faith, belief, and world view which may become expressed through such organizations. I wish I had more time to define this but perhaps another time.) Yes, this may mean we need to change our expectations of personal status and wealth as a social vision but let me ask you… what are you asking of those who are in the minority of the vote? (i.e. – Prison System, Military, Immigration, ect.)

Ultimately, I am concerned we have become a society of “Me First!” mind sets. This must change. Please do not consider this as my vote cast. There is still many policies to be defined and clarified. It is simply just my wonderments for the time being… :)


Principles for Protest

My Protest Sign

Turning on the television just a few weeks ago during the G 20 Summit I was surprised by the images of violence and rioting I saw in downtown Toronto. I suppose I never expected to see this in a Canadian city and thought the Conference would go by with little protest. This being said, I believe in the practice of free speech and feel it is important to exercise this right with the intent of reformation and communicating a publics claim for justice and freedom. But, this claim and voice must be clear in its content and precise in its message; something which I believe violence, smashed windows, looting, and burning public service cars do not accomplish.

Mahatma Gandhi once said, “Non-violence is not a garment to be put on and off at will. Its seat is in the heart and it must be an inseparable part of our very being.” Yet still protesting before our leaders in non-violent fashion can have a catalytic affect as Martin Luther points out that, “To create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue.

I must admit that I did not grow up in a particularly political family. We rarely if ever really spoke about elective candidates or social statutes. I guess I predominantly felt as though my opinion didn’t really matter in the long run anyway. Yet in the past few years I’ve felt strangely drawn to pay closer attention to those who are in leadership and addressing public issues and concerns. I may be just one person but, my vote has become a social conscience and collaboration between me and God more so then just simple earthly leadership.

The Apostle Paul said, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.” (Romans 13:1) Really?! I mean seriously?! Do you really believe every political leader is appointed by God and has his Kingdom in mind when addressing our national, social, and communal concerns?

To be perfectly honest I struggled with this for years as I did not believe so. But maybe that is the point! We’re not supposed to simply sit in the background letting political leaders in authority do as they see fit; we’re to question, implore, offer our opinions, protest (in non-violent ways), and give voice to the promptings of God’s Holy Spirit in our own community ridings and neighborhoods as it relates to His Word and our daily contexts and situations.

This coming fall the City of Calgary is facing a municipal election along with the voting of a new city Mayor. Our city is facing some major issues including rising homelessness, safety and police services, health services, and infrastructure.

Have you looked into who your wards candidates are for Alderman? Have you looked at what mandates they might have and the priorities they place on them? Have you expressed to them your concerns for our city? Perhaps most important and first on the list is have you asked what God’s desire for your community and city might be? Above all else I pray that God’s will is manifested in the principles and mandates of all of our elected officials lest I protest!

Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” – Matthew 6:10


Bad Journalism in CBC’s Fifth Estate with Regards to AARC

aarclogoMy friends Steve and Dawn have recently been affected by some of the bad journalism presented by CBC’s The Fifth Estate. It has no doubt affected them both personally and in their community supports. In those regards here is their response which I would like to share.

Dear friends,

As you are undoubtedly aware, the CBC’s Fifth Estate recently presented a very disturbing report about the Alberta Adolescent Recovery Center (AARC), entitled “Powerlessness”. I have taken great exception to what I firmly believe to be inaccurate comments and unethical journalism. Without AARC, I do not know where my family would be today.

As such I have written a letter to the CBC, a copy of which is on my face book account, if you care to read it. In addition, I have done some searching and have found the following video and news clips that I feel will shed some true light on what many trusting CBC viewers might be feeling about AARC at this time.

Included in these is a news report on Jordon Remple who was the only”grateful” AARC graduate shown on the Fifth Estate together with his parents. Unfortunately, the Remple’s were not given much air-time despite what I understand to have been quite a lengthly interview.

Many of you spent an hour watching the Fifth Estate, please do our family and many of the other 403 families who have passed through the doors of AARC a service by spending about 13 minutes watching these.

With sincere thanks,
Dawn Driediger


Would Jesus Ride This Bus? I know I Would!

atheist-busSitting outside of my mother in-laws bank the other day I started laughing as I heard a caller phone into our local Christian radio station with blasting comments toward an advertisement campaign taking place in our city. It was obvious he was dramatically impacted by the Atheistic view points as he read the sign aloud, “There is probably no God. So stop worrying and enjoy life!” While adding that, “we have a duty as Christians to demand the city removes these ads from the public and silence the Atheist’s lies.”

Don’t get me wrong here and let me say this up front; I am not an atheist and I am not in support of what the ad campaign is proclaiming. I am a follower of Jesus and as a Christian I think we need to fairly ask the question, “Would Jesus ride this bus?” To give the short answer I think he would! Why not?!

If we look at the gospels in the light of where Jesus went and who he spoke with; it seems fair to say that not everyone agreed with what he had to say. Most particularly that he was the Messiah, the Son of Man, and most radically the Son of God. It infuriated much of the religious establishments leading many to judgmental attitudes toward him as they questioned his followers, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” (Matthew 9:11) Jesus was a radicalist, a rebel to institutionalism and exclusivity. Ultimately, it was Jesus’ wildness (if I can borrow the term) that led to the Pharisee’s putting him to death.

All said, what did Jesus’ message of freedom and truth do? It ignited a firestorm of conversations between all sorts of different and diverse people. Some of which gave conflicting and contradicting answers to the beliefs and teachings he shared. I think of when he asked his disciples, “Who do the people say that I am?” They didn’t answer him all in unison and they certainly didn’t give him the same response. They said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” (Matthew 16:13-20)

So again I ask the question, “Would Jesus ride this bus?” And I think he would. He would reach out to these people in simple relationship. He would engage with them in the conversation that they were already a part of. He would be a radicalist and love them for who they are and where their passions, dreams, and hopes exist today. Jesus would bring truth into light by his presence and proximity to those who needed him most (Matthew 9:13; 11:19 Mark 2:17).

Maybe we should then ask the question of ourselves, “Would I ride this bus?” and I think my answer would be the same, “Yes, of course I would. Why not?!” It seems funny but, the next morning Bonnie and I were watching the news and they were interviewing people from both sides of the argument. The one pastor explains “This statement seems more of a call out to uncertainty and desire for dialogue.” After a few more blasting and judgment statements from a few others the atheist supporter comments himself, “We are just looking to start a conversation with people.”

I suppose that is where I sit too. I want to be part of the conversation whether we agree on everything or not. Let’s face it; what is in appearance on the outside is not as important as who is driving the bus!


In Thought of the Social Justice Movement

A few days ago Bonnie and I sat in our living room with our coffee in hand as we watched the Inauguration of Barack Obama into the 44th Presidential office. I must admit that even as a Canadian I may not have always agreed with Obama’s policies but, my heart leapt at the thought of the American people electing an African American into office for the first time. What a huge step of honesty, integrity, and commitment for the social justice movement which started sixty years ago!

In the same breath and moment I felt convicted as a follower of Jesus while listening to Rick Warren’s Invocation and prayer. I have always been inspired by the stories and lives of people like Martin Luther King Jr., Mahatma Gandhi, and Malcolm X. People who stood for social rights, justice, freedom, and the strength of integrity through social integration and diversity. But, here is where my conviction came. Where is our Social Justice Movement today? What are the oppressive natures which create division and segregation within our nation’s society and communities? Who are our leaders in such movements and why do they not stand out as strongly as they once seemed to back in the 50’s and 60’s?

I’m not trying to say that the Social Justice Movement does not exist today. I still hear echoes from musicians like Lenny Kravitz ‘s “We’re Back in Vietnam” and John Cougar Melloncamp’s “Nooses in Tree’s” as a symbolism to artistic freedoms along with people like Rick Warren and his wife who take the needs of addressing such issues as AIDS, Abortion, Orphans, Religious Persecution, and Human Trafficking through interviews and articles like that as the one in last February’s issue of Reader’s Digest. But, are we as individuals willing to still march the streets for such causes? Are we as holistic beings created with spiritual, psychological, and physical integrity free and willing to accept the possibility of imprisonment, oppression, and even death for such radical needs for social transformation?

I end up asking myself the question, “As a follower of Jesus; what bus am I willing to sit on in the hopes of Jesus showing up?” In part, I think I began trying to answer this question while sitting in an office last Wednesday afternoon with my friends Tim Schmidt and Ron Fraser. Tim who lives with Cerebral Palsy; myself who lives with a spinal cord injury; and Ron who with his brother has been involved with the disabled community for several years began to ask the question of, “What are the ways in which the city of Calgary has reached out to the individuals who face disabilities with the hopes of offering a sense of belonging and support?” Perhaps in a secondary sense we were also asking as individuals who follow Jesus; “In what ways does the Church offer support and belonging to those who face challenges in life?”

AdventureWe spent the next hour and a half mapping out just how we might approach these issues and what our major focuses might be over the coming few months. I’m not sure where this might take us and in truth I am continuing to push myself as to how committed I am and if Jesus might be calling us to something more within this movement. That said I realize that sometimes God takes the momentum of such journeys and catapults them into the stratosphere. Who am I to deny my creator a Lord? Perhaps we just might find ourselves saying, “I have a Dream…”

“When we feel lonely we keep looking for a person or persons who can take our loneliness away. Our lonely hearts cry out, ‘Please hold me, touch me, speak to me, pay attention to me.’ But soon we discover that the person we expect to take our loneliness away cannot give us what we ask for. Often that person feels oppressed by our demands and runs away, leaving us in despair. As long as we approach another person from our loneliness, no mature human relationship can develop. Clinging to one another in loneliness is suffocating and eventually becomes destructive. For love to be possible we need the courage to create space between us and to trust that this space allows us to dance together.”

Henri Nouwen

Thus says the Lord:
“Keep justice, and do righteousness,
for soon my salvation will come,
and my deliverance be revealed.
Blessed is the man who does this,
and the son of man who holds it fast,
who keeps the Sabbath, not profaning it,
and keeps his hand from doing any evil.”

Let not the foreigner who has joined himself to the Lord say,
“The Lord will surely separate me from his people”;
and let not the eunuch say,
“Behold, I am a dry tree.”
For thus says the Lord:
“To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths,
who choose the things that please me
and hold fast my covenant,
I will give in my house and within my walls
a monument and a name
better than sons and daughters;
I will give them an everlasting name
that shall not be cut off.

“And the foreigners who join themselves to the Lord,
to minister to him, to love the name of the Lord,
and to be his servants,
everyone who keeps the Sabbath and does not profane it,
and holds fast my covenant—
these I will bring to my holy mountain,
and make them joyful in my house of prayer;
their burnt offerings and their sacrifices
will be accepted on my altar;
for my house shall be called a house of prayer
for all peoples.”
The Lord God,
who gathers the outcasts of Israel, declares,
“I will gather yet others to him
besides those already gathered.”

Isaiah 56:1-8


Wisdom (Video)

What is wisdom to you?


Why Israel Can’t Survive

This morning I sat in my doctor’s office with Kleenex in hand as I have been suffering with an intense cough and sinus cold for the last two days. Realizing that there were several people in front of me to see the doctor first, I started shuffling through the piles of magazines sitting in front of me on a lowered coffee table. It was your usual office choices of Chatelaine’s, Canadian Business Men’s, and Martha Stewart’s. Actually, I was looking for the latest Sports Illustrated but it was a Canadian MacLean’s magazine that grabbed my attention. Blazoned on the front cover was the picture of a group of children standing together and waving an Israeli flag with the title saying “Why Israel Can’t Survive’. (For the full article Click Here.)

I’m not a political specialist and in truth I find myself highly removed from engaging in an in-depth reasoning as to the stand points of both the Jewish and Palestinian governments with regards to rights and ownership of the West Bank and Gaza lands. My curiosity was spurred by my Christian roots and faith with how we relate to the history of such cultures and land.

The author Michael Petrou himself acknowledges the difficulties in solving such highly emotionally driven and culturally sensitive issues with regards to the Palestinian’s alliances with Iranian officials along with the Israeli’s parallel alliances with the United States. It seems disturbingly captivating when you consider the ethical arguments and imbalances against the possession of nuclear technology by both Iranian and U.S. nations.

Petrou’s title summary quote is perhaps best articulated in the article by saying,

“Within one or two decades, the number of Muslim and Christian Arabs living under Israeli control (including in Gaza, the West Bank and Israel itself) will surpass the number of Israeli Jews. When that happens, If there is still no Palestinian state (and in the absence of large scale ethnic cleansing), Israeli’s will be forced to choose between two futures. Their country will either be Jewish, but not democratic – in other words, a Jewish minority will control a land mostly inhabited by Palestinians – or Israel will be democratic, but not Jewish, because Arabs will form the majority in what will become a bi-national state.

Israel will be Jewish, or democratic. It can’t be both. And if it can’t be both, the Zionist dream on which Israel is founded will end. This is the gravest threat Israel faces on the eve of its 60th anniversary. It won’t have another 60 years to address it.”

It wasn’t quit a week ago when my wife and I watched the movie ‘Kingdom of Heaven’. It was a theatrical rendition filled with Hollywood effects story of a common man who was thrust into Knighthood by his estranged father during the Crusades. Once he arrives in the Holy Land he quickly realizes that the promise of faithful redemption does not come so quickly or easily through religious bricks and buildings. It comes through the relational storyline of an unseen kingdom. A kingdom of Conscience inside a man’s own heart, soul, and mind!

It seems throughout the history and culture of both Israel and Palestine, ideology at its foremost has driven both sides to the brink of madness. A madness which is recognized even within the fictional and non-fictional stories which shape and catalyze each of there claims to righteousness, freedom, and political rule. When will Israel and Palestine embrace each other as brothers free from the desire of religious idolatrous buildings and statues? When can they recognize the true need to fight for the people against the demonic elements of fanatical religious oppression whether Islamic, Jewish, or otherwise? When will the welfare of a 7 year old child suffering with post-traumatic stress disorder take greater value over the possession of a nationalistic title?

Perhaps, in the search and journey for my own Kingdom of Conscience and relationship with a living truth as that in Jesus; I can hold to a promise of greater sustainability and directional foci. The promise of the Kingdom of God being near. Near not in the sense of timeline but, near to my heart in thoughts, desire, and actions. Such a Kingdom seems far more valuable then the possession of any building, land, or title. My hope, my prayer is that Israel and Palestine might also embrace that same vision and truth.

“And as he came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher, what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!” And Jesus said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? There will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.”

Mark 13:1-2

“The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting there. And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.” His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.”

So the Jews said to him, “What sign do you show us for doing these things?” Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?” But he was speaking about the temple of his body. When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.”

John 2:13-22


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