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A Bible and a Bat'leth
Two double-edged swords, one angry peacemaker.

Date: 4:49 pm Sun 5th of May, 2013
Subject: Babel No More
Security: Public
2013 05 05 Mississauga Mennonite Fellowship

In my introduction, I acknowledge the land and the many nations who have used, shared and lived on it since time immemorial, especially the Mississauga people. I introduce Christian Peacemaker Teams' Aboriginal Justice Team and thank the congregation for inviting us to speak.

The following scripture texts have already been read.

[Genesiss 11:1-9]Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. As men moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there.
They said to each other, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They used bricks instead of stone, and tar for mortar. Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth.”
But the LORD came down to see the city and the tower that the men were building. The LORD said “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.”
So the LORD scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. That is why it was called Babel – because there the LORD confused the language of the whole world. From there the LORD scattered them over the face of the whole earth.

[John 8:31- 43]To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?”
Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. I know that you are Abraham’s descendants. Yet you are looking for a way to kill me, because you have no room for my word. I am telling you what I have seen in the Father’s presence, and you are doing what you have heard from your father.”
“Abraham is our father,” they answered.
“If you were Abraham’s children,” said Jesus, “then you would do what Abraham did. As it is, you are looking for a way to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. Abraham did not do such things. You are doing the works of your own father.”
“We are not illegitimate children,” they protested. “The only Father we have is God himself.”
Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I have come here from God. I have not come on my own; God sent me. Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say.

Babel No MoreCollapse )

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Date: 5:20 pm Sun 17th of Feb, 2013
Subject: (no subject)
Security: Public
Tags:activism, ajt, ally, cpt, toronto, work
Aboriginal Justice: Who is Missing on Valentine"s Day?Collapse )
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Date: 10:15 pm Fri 8th of Feb, 2013
Subject: The Year Begins (a month late)
Security: Public
Tags:activism, brokenness, church, community, healing, heterosceptical, work
In which our hero lays out his personal manifesto for The Year of HealingCollapse )
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Date: 7:30 pm Thu 6th of Dec, 2012
Subject: The purpose of religion - to relige; to work to rule; to work in order to rule; a rule for living...
Security: Public
Tags:church, noticings about learnings, religion, sermon, spirit, theory, work
In which our hero contemplates the purpose of religion - or at least, critiques the purposes he was givenCollapse )
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Date: 10:51 pm Fri 2nd of Nov, 2012
Subject: We're here! We're clear! We don't want any more rumours!
Security: Public
Tags:books, heterosceptical, offence, society, theory
In which our hero figures out why it"s important that Marlowe, Shakespeare, Frodo/Sam, David/Jonathan, Spock/Kirk, Xena/Gabrielle, Dumbledore, Bert and Ernie and all the other puppets might be gayCollapse )
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Date: 7:04 pm Mon 24th of Sep, 2012
Subject: Israel/Palestine: All That Is Needed Is For Everyone To Turn to Jesus.
Security: Public
Tags:church, cpt
Disclaimer - I am NOT having a go at anyone in particular. I have heard this statement many times before (made it myself too), and often had a faint, complicated sense of it being an unfair statement. I want to unpack one aspect of that, without assigning blame, and I am open to hearing responses.

When people (well, Christians) say of the Middle East (well, Palestine and Israel) that the ultimate resolution will come about when everyone comes to know Jesus... there are various problems, practical, theological, political, etc with that stance. Some are more obvious than others.

But the one I just figured out concerns specific incidents of oppression. For example, illegal settlements in the West Bank draining aquifers that Palestinians rely upon. It's absurd to look at that situation and announce that Messiah's return is needed for people to stop stealing water. 'Thou Shalt Not Steal' predates Jesus' initial teaching tour by some time, and is a pretty universal idea. We have always had a sense of what injustice is, even if it's needed a bit of refining over the years.

Even without the particular self-sacrifical shine that Messiah offers to our ethical ponderings, there is quite enough in basic ethics to know what is right to do in such situations. Obviously there are other issues that maybe don't get an answer in the 10 Commandments. Some might still consider it essential to enforce their 10th Commandment Rights to bear arms to protect their house, donkey and male and female servants from thievery.

Even assuming that we put all our efforts into making everyone a Jesus-follower, that does not alter the issue. Christians routinely oppress Christians (and certainly people of other faiths and no faith), individually but especially nationally. The modern face of North America is built on violence committed by (and for) Christians. So that's something to consider. (if you're a Christian and you feel unfairly slandered, by all means stick in 'religious' instead - so long as you know this includes us just as firmly).

Keeping in mind Christianity's staggering historical capacity for hypocritical love of/trust in violence, how does making everyone Christian alter our West Bank scenario? There is still a finite amount of water and pipes are siphoning it away from one group to support the other. Either 'side' in this situation could theoretically submit to the other in a self-sacrifical manner, but who should? The answers come from other fields of study like economics or ecology, if we strip away all divisions of nationality, religion, culture. Those answers are already there today.

I am not saying anything about coming to faith in Jesus - good or bad. For me, it's a good thing. But as long as it remains something that affects individuals on the religious level, it is largely irrelevant to the politics, roughly equivalent to 'wars would end if we all just smoked weed together'. It also makes the specific religion somewhat irrelevant - how is everyone coming to faith in Jesus better for peace than everyone declaring that there is only one God and Muhammed is His messanger, or sending off for their free Scientology personality test?

Jesus is the Prince of Peace. But his reign begins here, today, in our imperfect hearts, our broken lives, and even across the spectrum of belief; in the lives of those that do not know him. We aren't called to wait for his coming again, for a future revolution, before we live lives to the full, which means lives of peace and peacemaking, in pursuit of the Good News and its fulfillment.

Come on, get going, you peacemakers! Bring justice and transform the earth to make a dwelling place of our hearts and nations worthy of the Prince of Peace!
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Date: 12:04 am Fri 20th of Jul, 2012
Subject: ABORIGINAL JUSTICE REFLECTION: Defender of our Land
Security: Public
Simple, urgent messages on children's birch-bark hats cut through confusions of all but the most monetised mindsets.

I sit, staring at the page. "Where should I start?" I ask the boy beside me. He looks up at me with a grin, and after a moment, points to his hat. I pick up my pen.

“Defender of our Land” – this is the slogan written on the hat of the seven-year-old Algonquin boy sitting next to me. The kids have befriended me since we met here at Poigan Bay four days ago. They were asleep when we arrived Sunday night from Toronto and pitched our tents in the glare of headlights. Now they sit around me doodling on scraps of paper from my notebook. Each wears a hat made of birch bark with a slogan of their choosing. “Peaceful co-existence: Save a Tree, Save a Life” reads one; another is “Our Land: Our Say: Our Future: Our Way.” Each time a vehicle approaches, they drop what they are doing and rush down to the roadside in their hats. Loggers and police have been passing by to the clear-cut work site all day. Despite the kids’ vigilance, they seem not to be getting the message.

Occasionally police stop by to talk to people here. They repeat that they are positioned between the two parties – loggers and protestors – but the messages they bring are warnings against disrupting the logging. Their orders are to uphold the law. When that law is challenged, they shrug and say they don’t make the decisions; a solution is a matter for government, not policing. They intend to ensure the safety of all persons, but have no answer when asked about the safety of land or animals.

For this Algonquin community, as for indigenous peoples across the world, the safety of land is essential to the safety of people, both individually and collectively. Land is food security – for hunting, for gathering food like the blueberries ripening near our tent. Land is health, offering its medicines and a wholesome, active way of life. One of my friends’ hats reads “Our Land Is Our Identity.” Grassy Narrows First Nation land defender Roberta Keesick put it this way: “Our culture is a land-based culture, and the destruction of the land is the destruction of the culture.”

A culture such as my own, steeped in the forms and rites of capitalism, cannot conceive of anything that cannot be monetised. Other cultures are worth less than the tangible wealth the logging industry offers. This logic is bad enough when it drives an economy, but here it has infiltrated souls – of company bosses, of politicians and of those who enforce their plans.

Like this unique culture, my analysis comes from the land, in a way. I have gained insight from my time in Turtle Island and wisdom shared by experts and elders, activists and academics, allies, writers and mothers. But such an analysis is not needed to know that the issues on my young friends’ birch bark hats – land, culture, life, identity, and the future – are urgent.

Indigenous land-users have a right to be consulted about plans that affect the use of that land. Barriere Lake members who use the area being cut have asserted that they do not consent to this cutting. Will governments do their duty by respecting this? Or will they turn a blind eye once again, allowing the status quo of logging without consultation to continue with police protection?

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Date: 5:43 pm Thu 16th of Feb, 2012
Subject: Riot Dog & Facebook
Security: Public
Tags:anarchy, noticings about learnings
Often when I put a comment on Facebook, something lighthearted or funny, off-the-wall (what does that mean, anyway? Wait, is that a potential pun? But it's a timeline now not a wall - drat!)

Often when I put a comment on Facebook, something lighthearted or funny, unexpected or silly, and I notice that I get responses to it, I have to struggle internally.

A little bit of me wants to LIKE every single comment, and respond to any of them that make sense. I think that's the bit of me that wants to get people and make them happy so they will like me. Then there's another bit of me that wants to not return to the comment at all - to leave people to make their discussions. I think that this is the bit that wants to be independent and dignified.

Of course, neither one wins out (usually). The other day I put out a fairly complex joke and avoided my impulse to respond to some of the responses. Some of them pointed out slight misuse of a word, and I decided not to respond with my reasoning. It was an odd feeling. I don't like being misunderstood, but it felt good not to respond all the time. I remember reading something about this once; about not having to defend yourself being a mark of maturity. I hope so.

And now for something completely different:

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Date: 9:50 pm Tue 29th of Nov, 2011
Subject: Adam, Eve and Steve. It was never going to work out.
Security: Public
Tags:church, community, cpt, heterosceptical
In which our hero has a think about how the habitually single can live in equity with the partnered.Collapse )
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Date: 8:28 pm Sat 22nd of Oct, 2011
Subject: TVs for the Technocracy
Security: Public
Tags:extracts, poetry, question, society
In which our hero reflects on clearing out other people"s things from the basement; the mythic symbolic quality of the Television Set, and on invisible structures of industrial knowledge that hang, unacknowledged, all aroundCollapse )
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