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Religion/Spirituality

“…I can’t abide what the world has become, the frozen-ness of our product this evil thing that we kiss the ass of every hour. I want a dailiness that is free and beautiful.”

Definition of dailiness

daily or routine quality ORDINARINESSthe dailiness of family life

As I have often said before, “I love words and language.” Discovering a new word is, for me, like finding a twenty dollar bill on the street. It is being rewarded for the simple act of curiosity about the ordinary things of life, in the dailiness of every day.

The ordinariness of evil is its most pervasive aspect. Horrible is insufficient to express our feelings for people who routinely destroy people.

In some uncomfortable way, the word brings to mind the ordinariness of both good and evil in our lives. Great deeds are seldom made out of massively heroic and exceptional circumstances. Rather, great deeds are the result of the very dailiness of an individual’s existence. Routinely going about doing good, as done by Mother Teresa, to her fellow humans in the slums of India, came to her as a very ordinary thing to do by a very ordinary person. The extraordinary thing about Mother Teresa is that her virtue was lived every boring day, and every exciting day as well. Her humility was a revelation that great good could be the result of just that… a pretty ordinary person committing to extraordinary acts, even as daily habits.

Mother Teresa was faithful in a dailiness of her ordinary life, lived with extraordinary outcomes.

Evil is likewise ordinary, an accumulation of the tiny acts over a period of time which ultimately result in great evil, despite the banality of the individual steps that gets someone there. Hitler’s Nazi Germany was not evil because the railroads ran on time, it was because in the midst of one of the most efficient industrial states of the twentieth century, human beings were destroyed equally efficiently and with banal malice by other humans as a daily matter. This was so much so that the destruction of millions of lives was just another aspect of the dailiness of life in the Third Reich.

Words have the potential to stimulate great changes in us. Words matter.

As human beings we are responsible for our actions, and the necessary consequences of those actions. Accepting, and remembering the harm we cause others is the foundation of permanent change and growth – a vow to do better is nothing if it is not followed up by the small actions involved in turning virtuous behaviour into daily routine.

Whenever religion is used to suggest that there is a certainty: about the nature of God, if any; the nature of humanity, as if knowable; morality, if unconnected to pertinent circumstances, then religion is dangerous because of instead of generating genuine reflection and a healthy quest for more information and spiritual growth, it postulates that everything is already known and not worthy of our intellect, our compassion, or our investigation.

The world’s great religions are aligned with the journey of discovery, the mystery of spiritual enlightenment, and the challenge of learning ethical conduct for all human beings.

It is not religions that fail, it’s religious people who seize upon an imperfect understanding of faith, and seek to impose it on themselves and all others.

This is as true of fundamentalist atheists as it is of Jihadists of all other descriptions. To assume that one person actually knows the true nature of the universe, including the total certainty that there can be no God or universal consciousness of any kind is as religious as an absolute faith in any other religion and is just as dangerous as fanatically believing in any other cant.

I was taught as a child to be “blind” to racial and ethnic differences, by a family that had fled Sweden to escape poverty and discrimination because they were Laplander in a land dominated by Scandinavian Swedes, Danes and other late arrivals to the northernmost coasts of Europe and Russia.

This “blindness” included denial by my “Swedish” family of their Lap roots to the point that I only found out by taking a DNA test through Ancestry.com that I was descended from a persecuted minority. My grandfather worked his entire life in education in first nations communities in Northern Canadian communities striving to improve the lot of Inuit and First Nations peoples in their own lands and territories.

I thought that being colour blind was a good thing, and felt no sense of difference when in the presence of people of colour. To me people were people and I judged them on the basis of their actions towards others, their level of personal accountability, and their willingness to be friendly towards me and my family.

It never really occurred to me that “colour blindness” was a symptom of belonging to the dominant race, at least visibly. By not “seeing” race it allowed me to ignore systemic discrimination against blacks, asians, aboriginals, and other people people in Canadian society who don’t get an automatic pass because of their race or color or religion.

But I have learned that it is important to see difference in people, in order to identify when they are being treated as less than full citizens or even as less than human.

Our jails are full of people who look or act differently than the dominant community – first nations, other racial minorities, religious minorities, etc. Educational opportunities to help level the playing field are seldom as equal as they seem, with economic and social barriers in place that pit all of us against everyone.

The current Reconciliation Commission and Investigation into the disappearance and murder of aboriginal women and children needs to be followed by a similar commission into the treatment of minority women and children, and their rapes and murders in Canada during the same periods of history.

Canada is NOT the United States with its history of slavery and discrimination against blacks. We have our own history, and a self satisfied attitude of superiority to American historical has allowed our nation for all too long to escape genuine self examination and rectification of serious and persistent ill treatment and denial of human rights to all too many of our fellow Canadians.

I have learned to see difference, and it shames me to see what this blindness  in my country has allowed to exist, and continues to exist.

I’m lost on a road to “God knows where.”  Feeling scared.  Uncertain.

It’s my story right now, and I’ve good reasons for my emotional state.  It’s not the first time in my life I’ve been lost or overwhelmed by circumstance.

There’s no doubt my situation is difficult, and solutions to my problems seem beyond my current capacities. I am grateful that I’m not alone in having to face this, but it makes me feel worse knowing that I’m dragging down people who care with me.

I don’t believe in hopelessness. There is always a way out of any difficulty, at least, that’s always been my mantra in the past.  I’ve been stuck in my current difficulties for months, with the disparate elements to my challenges built up over the past five years, or maybe over my lifetime as a result of how I’ve lived, decisions made and actions taken or not.

Mine isn’t a new story.  My health is not good, and is deteriorating over time.  It is responding to my focus on trying to find a solution to my worst problems, and a way to cope with the things I won’t be able to control.  My financial situation is a disaster, brought about by a series of mistaken steps, all of which seemed to be the correct decisions at the time, but have left me in serious debt, absent an income on which I can rely, and quite uncertain as to the potential for even basic survival, under my current situation.

I don’t feel overwhelmed with guilt about my current position. I know that I am accountable for everything that happens to me in my life.  That doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s all my own fault, but simply that different decisions at critical junctions would have led to different outcomes, and the decisions were mine to make, or even sometimes, mine to avoid making.  Even in those circumstances where my arm was twisted, or I was taken advantage of my others, it was up to me to make better choices or pick better partners.

Other people played important roles in my story, and how I ended up here in this mess, and just as no one is an island unto themselves in achieving success in life, likewise, no one is solely responsible when things go straight to hell, either.  But the role of others in creating my difficulties is of little value to me now, in trying to figure out where to go from here, and how to get there.

Here are a few random thoughts about how I will get out of this mess.

  1. Make a list, detail the issues including both those which seem unsolvable and those which appear to have potential solutions, no matter how unpalatable.
  2. Take concrete steps to begin to address some of the issues.  Whether or not I can solve everything, or even most things, I can do something about most things.  I desperately need to break the hold that my emotional condition has on me.
  3. Start listening better to the people in my life who care about me.  At the moment they seem to believe in me more than do I myself.
  4. Creatively analyzing my situation with a view to possible improvements in it.  A little improvement is better than none.  Maybe everything isn’t quite as far gone as I currently believe,  maybe I can still pull myself back from the brink.  Of if not, figure out how to ride out the storm caused by going over the edge.
  5. Let go of the past, embrace the future.  What is, is.  What has already happened is done, over and can’t be changed. But what has not yet happened, may never happen, or may result in outcomes totally different than anticipated by my fears.

This gallery contains 2 photos.

http://madonnaandchildproject.chipin.com/the-madonna-and-child-project-book Vancouver Island painter Kate Hanson, who painted the series Madonna and Child, which was displayed in a number of successful gallery exhibitions on Vancouver Island over the past two years, is undertaking the publication of her works in a new form – a book of high quality prints of original paintings. As a fan …

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United Church of Canada

United Church of Canada (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Last fall I wrote a blog about leaving my church. At the time I thought it was about leaving The Church, that is withdrawing from the United Church of Canada, and maybe even revoking my membership in the worldwide Christian faith group, otherwise known as Christians.

My kids didn’t really believe me, because for as long as they have known Katherine and me, we have been active members of the United Church, but especially members of Highlands United, a congregation in North Vancouver, where I have lived, off and on, for more that 40 years. I first was confirmed at Highlands in 1967, at the age of 14 years old. So, although I left for a while in my twenties, I have been a member of that church for a very long time.

For most of the years I have been a reasonable committed member of the congregation, and have participated in the choir, as a youth leader, on the refugee committee. Well, you get the drift. Much of my life outside of work has been involved in the church as an active participant.

So our leaving the church as pretty big. Really Big. I essential recanted most of my Christian affirmations in my blog and in my heart when I left. I even left town and moved to Langley.

Well, folks, so much for that….. On Easter Sunday Katherine and I are joining the United Churches of Langley. Wow! I never saw that coming, although my kids saw it coming before I even finished saying that I was leaving.

So what in the devil is going on? How can I eat my own words and recant my recantation of faith.

Actually I don’t have to. In this new congregation my views are welcome as am I as a “Skeptic” and they look forward to engaging in a dialogue about our faith community. My sense of spirituality is awakened anew by their refreshing openness and courage in acknowledging and supporting the difficulty of being a part of a church in transformation.

The Very Reverend George C. Pidgeon, first Mod...

The Very Reverend George C. Pidgeon, first Moderator of The United Church of Canada, dedicates the cornerstone of the new Christian Education wing of Royal York Road United Church, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, April 7, 1958. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I feel like I’m coming home, but to a home looking for the return of its prodigal son.

This gallery contains 1 photo.

A close friend of mine, a photographer in Vancouver, with well-developed skills and a wonderful eye, is struggling with a major conflict between his intimate relationship with a long-term woman partner and his even longer term artistic exploration of the female form through nude photography. I think it’s important to define both – what I mean …

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