Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Orange Shirts & Prayerful Apologies


This past Sunday we gathered for worship at Trenton United Church and I was impressed and touched by the number of people wearing orange shirts and other articles of clothing.  This was in anticipation of today, which is Orange Shirt Day in Canada. This event began in British Columbia in 2013 and honours the Indigenous children who were often abducted from their families and communities and indoctrinated in residential schools.

 The “orange shirt” in Orange Shirt Day refers to the new shirt that Phyllis Webstad was given to her by her grandmother for her first day of school at St. Joseph’s Mission residential school in British Columbia. That shirt and everything else she had was taken from her. She has lamented “how my feelings didn’t matter, how no one cared and I felt like I was worth nothing. All of us little children were crying and no one cared.”

Here is the description of the school system on the CBC Kids website: 

Residential schools were church-run schools where approximately 150,000 M├ętis, Inuit and First Nations children were sent between the 1860s and the 1990s. The schools harmed Indigenous children by removing them from their families, forcing them to speak English or French instead of their ancestral languages, disconnecting them from their culture and traditions and forcing them to adopt Christianity in order to assimilate into Canadian society. The government has since acknowledged that this approach was wrong, cruel and ineffective, and offered an official apology to the Indigenous people of Canada in 2008.


                                    The Orange Shirt Story -- book by Phylis Webstad

In 1998 the United Church of Canada, through then-moderator Bill Phipps, apologized for its involvement in the residential school system: 

I wish to speak the words that many people have wanted to hear for a very long time. On behalf of The United Church of Canada, I apologize for the pain and suffering that our church’s involvement in the Indian Residential School system has caused. We are aware of some of the damage that this cruel and ill-conceived system of assimilation has perpetrated on Canada’s First Nations peoples. For this we are truly and most humbly sorry.

Our grandsons wore orange shirts yesterday as their school observed this occasion a day early. At home and school they were educated about what the orange colour represents. It's a grim aspect of Canadian history and we can all remember, repent, and reform. 

God of struggle, and of reconciliation, 

Be with us as we remember what we have been a part of: 

Cruel and unjust systems Efforts to say “sorry” … and to mean it 

Remind us that our history as people is like a braid 

We are wrapped together And there is tension in that, and pain 

But there is also strength Remind us of the beauty and sacredness of braids 

The beauty and sacredness of relationships 

Remind us to never again sever these braids 

But to honour them in everything we do God of struggle, and of reconciliation,

 Be with us as we recognize what we must be a part of: 

Loving and just relationships Saying “sorry” … and actively meaning it. Amen

United Church Prayer





Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Sacred Gathering




We spent some time, suitably distanced, with good friends on Saturday and amongst other things we talked about the resumption on in-person worship, They are active members of their United Church congregation but Sunday services haven't resumed and may not for a while  given the threat of a Second Wave of COVID-19, 

Here in Quinte/Prince Edward County there is only one active case of COVID, so the risk of infection is very low, with proper protocols in place. In-person worship has started again at Trenton United and  I presided on Sunday because Rev. Isaac was participating in the regional meeting. 

There were about three dozen people scattered through the sanctuary, probably less than half the number on a lovely September day in other years. Of course it was just weird to be wearing masks and not singing, but a little bit more "normal" on this second Sunday of resumed worship. This will take some getting used to. 

Just before worship began someone in the congregation let out a deep sigh and I commented "did you hear that? It pretty much sums up the past six months." Folk chuckled, and there were several moments of collective laughter during the service. It was surprisingly  important to hear one another laugh.  

A notice had been sent out that this was Orange Shirt Sunday, a recognition of the dark legacy of the Residential School system which took Indigenous children from their homes for decades. Sadly, our United Church was complicit in a system where abuse and cultural genocide was rampant. At least a third of the congregation was wearing an article of orange clothing, which was heartening. 


Ruth, my wife, said a favourite moment for her was the "passing of the peace" where we stayed in place but turned and waved at those we hadn't seen in months. At the conclusion of the service, following Isaac's example from last week, I raised my arms in blessing and invited everyone else to do the same, which they did. I found this quite moving. 

I decided to wear an alb and stole on Sunday, even though I rarely did in the latter years of my ministry. I "dressed up" for a sense of occasion, of Resurrection hope during this bleak time. As I pulled the alb over my head in preparation I felt a powerful sense of God's presence. 

How do we measure the meaning and value of being together as the community of Christ? We can't quantify this, yet we can experience it. Every congregation has to make its own decision about resuming in-person worship and discerning this will be a challenge. I'm just glad we are back together, at least for the moment. 






Monday, September 28, 2020

2020 Vision for Yom Kippur



Prayer is meaningless unless it is subversive, unless it seeks to overthrow and ruin the pyramids of callousness, hatred, opportunism, falsehoods. 

A liturgical movement must become a revolutionary movement seeking to overthrow the forces that destroy the promise, the hope, the vision.

                         
- Abraham Joshua Heschel

 Recently I wrote about Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, and the challenges of observance in the midst of a pandemic. Last evening marked the beginning of Yom Kippur, which will conclude later today. This is a solemn, reflective day on which Jews seek God's forgiveness and make amends with those they have hurt or offended. While Yom Kippur is observed around the world, in Israel there is a stringent lock-down which will make this a very different day. 

For some Jews there is a broader sense of societal and ecological responsibility. Tikkun Magazine describes these high, holy days in this way: 

The central message of Rosh Hashanah & Yom Kippur: 

We can heal and transform ourselves, our society, and the life support system of planet earth.We do this in our tradition by focusing on three components: Teshuva (repentance), Tzedakah (social justice), and T’fillah (prayer). 

We will create sacred high holy day experiences that allow us to do the deep inner work and reparation needed to return to our highest selves as well as a deep dive into exploring what changes and reparations are needed in our society and make commitments to participate in efforts to manifest those changes so we are partners in the ongoing evolution of the universe towards love. 

All of this will be held in the container of meaningful prayer experiences which will touch our hearts and souls.

I really appreciate this three-fold approach and we can take it to heart, whatever our spiritual background might be. 

Yom Tov is all those observing Yom Kippur today. 

Sunday, September 27, 2020

Like Jesus, Forced to Flee


This is the World Day of Migrants and Refugees, which we acknowledged as we gathered for worship this morning.We are aware that millions of people are on the move around the planet for a variety of reasons, everything from food insecurity, to conflict, to climate change. Often these causes are intertwined. The United Church formally acknowledged Refugee Day in June, but this is the date for many other religious groups. 

Pope Francis has addressed the plight of migrants and refugees often and did so once again to mark this solemn occasion. I always appreciate that in his addresses and written messages on issues of social justice Francis offers thoughtful theological rationales. The title for his message this year is 

Like Jesus Christ, forced to flee. 

Welcoming, protecting, promoting and integrating 

internally displaced persons. 

He is referring to the story in Matthew's gospel of how the family of the child Jesus was forced to flee Bethlehem for Egypt for fear of Herod.

The plight of refugees and migrants is no less real today than before the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. If anything, it could be worse. The European Union is abandoning the idea of mandatory refugee quotas, as it revives an attempt to change Europe’s asylum and migration rules after more than four years of deadlock.

These long-awaited migration proposals, delayed by the pandemic, would allow EU member states to choose whether to accept refugees, or to send them back to home countries. 

Here in Canada our borders have tightened and refugee claimants have years-long waits for hearings. 

In Trenton a group has been attempting to welcome a Syrian refugee family for five years and just as it seemed that the process was coming to fruition COVID stymied the efforts. 

In some respects it seems that many countries have hardened their hearts to this humanitarian crisis, in part because of fear of a health crisis.

Whichever date we choose, it is essential that our compassion and practical concern for migrants and refugees not waver. By doing so we honour Jesus, the refugee. 


                 Refugees and migrants camp on a road following a fire at the Moria camp in Greece

                Photograph: Alkis Konstantinidis/Reuters




 










Saturday, September 26, 2020

Preaching to the Choir on Pandemic Protocols


The CBC radio midday phone-in earlier this week had as its guest an expert on air quality systems. As you might imagine he was addressing concerns about the transmission of COVID-19 and people phoned in with questions about HEPA filters and school ventilation and what happens in open office spaces.

 One woman wanted to know about her church choir as in-person worship resumed for her congregation. What could the 12-15 members of the choir do to stay safe and to protect the minister? The expert pointed out that standing and singing is 30 times the risk of standing quietly -- 30 times! In effect he told her that there is no safe way for the choir to sing within the worship space.

Tomorrow morning I'll lead worship in the sanctuary of Trenton United Church. The past two weeks we were in the pews with all the protocols in place, and it worked well. We wore masks, we followed the arrows, and we didn't sing. Which was far more difficult than I imagined. As the hymns were played we hummed, as did others. We couldn't help ourselves, because singing our faith is essential. Apparently we'd make lousy Quakers.

Could you attend worship without warbling? Are you reluctant to return to in-person worship without singing? . 


Friday, September 25, 2020

Fridays and for Future...and Faith

 


It's hard to believe that a year ago there were huge rallies around the world as part of the Global for Week for Future. These rallies including a half-million march in Montreal were termed "climate strikes" as young people ditched school to participate and others joined them. The leader of that Montreal rally and the global movement was and continues to be Greta Thunberg, the relentless Swedish teen who founded the Fridays for Future protest movement. She has motivated the passion of young people who are keenly aware that the Climate Crisis will have a profound effect on their futures on a compromised planet. 

This morning I listened to two teens, including Canada's Indigenous Water/Protector from the Wikwiemikong First Nation on Manitoulin Island, Autumn Peltier. Both were articulate and informed about the issues of climate change and the degradation of our ecological systems, including sources of water. 

As you can see above, Thunberg was in front of the Swedish Parliament this morning with some of her young cohorts. As I've noted several times in recent months, we can't forget the climate pandemic because we are preoccupied with the health pandemic which is COVID-19. 


Cyclists attend a Fridays For Future protest rally close to the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin on Friday. (Michael Sohn/The Associated Press)

Here in Canada provincial and federal governments have relaxed environmental rules for dubious reasons related to the economic setback created by COVID. These are short-sighted decisions. We need to be vigilant and prayerful and act with courage. 

Many Christian denominations and other faith groups supported the Global Week for Future last year and while so many of us are struggling to find our way forward these days we really must maintain our resolve and have a broader vision. On a personal level, I'm convinced that Jesus' encouragement to love God and our neighbour as our self must include care for God's Creation, that "our self" can refer to our human kin, and that our neighbours are all creatures, great and small. 

Bye the bye, the late US Supreme Court justice, Ruth Bader Ginsberg was an admirer of Greta Thunberg.





Thursday, September 24, 2020

Artistic Expression as a Gift to and from God

 

There are hundreds, perhaps thousands of church buildings which are closed each year as congregations "age out" and can no longer exist in their physical settings. Often these buildings are repurposed but some are demolished. Tough decisions are made about distributing the "holy hardware" of the congregation. Along with the communion tables and crosses there are decisions to be made about stained glass windows. often created in memory of family members and veterans. Some are dismantled and pieces used for artwork while others are in storage, likely never to be reinstalled in a building.

I was interested to see that a quiet Benedictine monastery in Germany with only a dozen monks recently dedicated a set of three commissioned stained glass windows in the choir of the church, thanks to two benefactors. They are the work of celebrated artist/designer Gerhard Richter and are ten metres in height. According to the New York Times:

THOLEY, Germany — For Abbot Mauritius Choriol, the new church windows being ceremoniously inaugurated on Saturday at Tholey Abbey are a gift: from God, from two generous patrons and from Gerhard Richter.The three windows — with deep reds and blues prevailing on the two outer displays and the central one dominated by radiant gold — are made in stained glass to a symmetrical design by Mr. Richter, the revered German artist. “Abstract art is not normally my thing,” said the abbot, who oversees Tholey Abbey. “But you don’t need to be an art expert to appreciate the qualities of these.”

The abbey, which dates back to the seventh century, also commissioned Mahbuba Maqsoodi, an Afghan-German artist, to create 34 more windows for the church. Her figurative images portray saints and scenes from the Bible.The hope is that the abbey, which has been hidden away from the world as a cloistered community, will become a tourist attraction, a plan which may be sidetracked by the pandemic.

As someone whose undergraduate degree was in art history I'm always intrigued by the choices of religious communities to praise God by visual means. Protestants have been suspicious of doing so for centuries and our church sanctuaries are often spartan and, frankly, boring. 

Was this a faithful choice by Tholey Abbey in a world of need? While the gospel of Jesus Christ calls us to simplicity it also reminds us that we can respond to God's extravagant love with the best of our gifts. 

What do you think? 


Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Olive, Again, and Elusive Faith



I read Elizabeth Strout's Pulitzer Prize winning novel, Olice Kitteridge, year's ago It was not long after the acclaim for her insightful story, or more accurately, 13 interconnected stories, which have as a common thread the rather crusty small-town teacher, Olive, and her husband Henry. 

I just finished Olive, Again, a sequel in a way. Olive is retired and older, Henry has died, and the town of Crosby, Maine is still a place which is quite ordinary in some respects. The reality, once again, is that even in unremarkable communities people struggle in relationships, secrets are both kept and revealed, illness redirects their lives, and some die. 

Olive becomes seems to be even more blunt and eccentric, yet also more accepting and reflective. I wasn't sure I really wanted to read this new novel at the start, then found myself drawn in. As someone who is aging, generally active, "only as old as you feel" some days and just damn old on others, I appreciated the honesty and insight as Olive moves through her 70's and 80's, making uneasy peace with her limitations and surprised to find love again. 

As with Olive Kitteridge, there is a supporting cast of characters in the succession of stories who have lives of the their own, even as they brush against Olive's life. In the chapter/story called "Helped" a woman named Suzanne is required to visit the lawyer of her father who has just come to an untimely end. Bernie was also a friend of her parents, and has known Suzanne, now a lawyer herself, since childhood. 

Suzanne is there to find out the provisions of her father's will, yet their conversation shifts. The gentle, understanding, Bernie, becomes more like a gracious priest, listening and offering assurance as Suzanne shares secrets. Then there is a remarkable intimacy which unfolds as Suzanne asks one last thing "Do you have any faith? Religious faith, I mean?" She was raised as a nominal Christian, he is the non-observant Jewish son of parents who perished in the Holocaust. 

They discover that while neither of them is religious in a traditional sense both have a indescribable yet persistent sense of something beyond themselves and greater than themselves. Suzanne has heard the arguments of others against the existence of God -- childhood cancer, people who die in earthquakes -- but figures they are barking up the wrong tree. She then concedes: "But I couldn't say what the right tree is -- or who to bark up it." 

I found this exchange quite compelling and powerful. It seemed to capture the sensibilities of so many in what is supposedly am increasingly secular society where the presence of the "much larger than we are" stubbornly persists in the background. 

As I finished Olive, Again I was surprisingly moved. Olive is 87 as the story concludes, and in "assisted living." This may be the last we hear of her. I'll miss her grumpy honesty and insights.  I would certainly recommend reading Olive, Again, and while starting with Olive Kitteridge would help, it isn't necessary. 

Have you read either of these novels? Any comments about Suzanne and Bernie's conversation? 



Tuesday, September 22, 2020

A Pathway to Right Relations

 




The senseless murder of a Black man, George Floyd, in the United States resulted in protests across the country and around the world. These protests brought to light many other deaths of Black men and women and raised the profile of the Black Lives Matter movement. Floyd's death and the subsequent  protests also prompted widespread discussion of systemic racism in America and other countries, including Canada. Some politicians here, as well as the head of the RCMP, suggested that systemic racism didn't exist here, only to step back from those assertions. 

The acronym BIPOC came into common use to describe racism. It stands for Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour. In Canada we do have a longstanding history of racism and while it may be different that in the United States it is real just the same. Our history with Indigenous peoples is a shameful one, including the complicity of Christian churches  in the subjugation and cultural genocide of First Nations, Metis, and Inuit peoples. While our United Church of Canada has issued formal apologies, paid reparations and created a healing fund, and participated in the national Truth and Reconciliation Commission, we still have work to do.



                          Lee Maracle 
 

One of my former congregations, St. Paul's United Church in Bowmanville, Ontario, will begin a month of online events with the title Pathways to awareness, understanding & right relations. There will be concerts and speakers through the weeks, including author Lee Maracle, Senator Murray Sinclair, and author Jesse Thistle.

I am impressed by this initiative and hope that I'll be able to connect with some of these events. Congratulations to those who've been involved in making it happen, and may it further the work of reconciliation and the phrase "all my relations" which is part of our United Church crest. 


                                          Jesse Thistle 

https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/indigenous-event-pathways-to-awareness-understanding-right-relations-tickets-117274359767


Monday, September 21, 2020

Bootstraps and a Parable of Jesus



We went to church yesterday, the bricks and mortar variety, as in-person worship resumed at Trenton United Church. There were 30 of us in total, perhaps 40% of a regular September Sunday, and we did what we were told, wearing masks, sitting in distanced seats, following arrows, humming rather than singing. We waved at one another and tried to smile with our eyes. It was both weird and meaningful and Rev. Isaac (our kid) did a find job of leading us through it all.

Isaac's scripture text was from Matthew 20, which is Jesus' parable beginning "for the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner..." In this parable the landowner hires people to work beginning at dawn, then at periods throughout the day. When he settles up at the end of the day those who began their labour late in the day received the same pay as those who had toiled since early on. Not surprisingly, these workers are shocked and bitter, but the landowner reminds them that he is the one who hired them and sets the wages. As is so often the way with Jesus, he turns traditional notions of merit and equality upside down as he teaches about God's lavish love.The passage ends with the phrase "the last shall be first and the first shall be last."

Isaac offered a thoughtful message regarding our assumptions about what we deserve or assume we've earned, even though so many of us have had the deck stacked in our favour through our lifetimes. Even though we have worked diligently through the years our social and family structures may have opened a path for us which is closed for others. 



One of the worthwhile aspects of gathering for worship is that what we hear in scripture and a sermon can open up other thoughts, which happened for me. 

There will be a new speech from the throne in Canada's parliament on Wednesday and some feel that the federal government will include a pilot project for what's called a Guaranteed Basic Income or a Guaranteed Livable Income. The pandemic has exposed the vulnerability of millions of low income Canadians during difficult times and a GBI or GLI could have helped address what the hastily fashioned Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) was  attempting to do. 

The Member of Parliament for our Quinte Riding, Neil Ellis, has suggested that this region would be a good area to test the GBI, and I certainly agree. You may recall that the provincial Liberals introduced a pilot program which was killed by the current Conservative government. Why? I think it is ideological and that it goes against the grain (grapes/) of those who have no real idea of the struggles of so many to find their way out of cycles of poverty. Those on the margins are too often regarded as freeloaders, malingerers (there will always be some) when the majority want to live with dignity, to get an education, to be healthy in body, mind, and spirit. As Hugh Segal says, if you're going to "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" you first need boots. 

The United Church of Canada through Moderator Richard Bott has called upon the federal government to introduce a Guaranteed Livable Income and I hope his voice on behalf of the denomination is heard. 

What are your thoughts about what I think is an opportune moment? Here is Moderator Bott's message:

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MJUhNve0Ho8&feature=youtu.be



Sunday, September 20, 2020

When Prayer is Precarious

 










Christ on the Mount of Olives -- Paul Gaugin

Precarious 

.Depending on the will or pleasure of another; held by courtesy; liable to be changed or lost at the pleasure of another; as, precarious privileges..

Precarious,uncertain.. Precarious in stronger than uncertain. Derived originally from the latin precari, it first signified granted to entreaty, and, hence, wholly dependent on the will of another. 
Origin: L. Precarius obtained by begging or prayer, depending on request or on the will of another, fr. Precari to pray, beg. See Pray.

I was reading a reflection on prayer called To Be Human Is To Pray: Find­ing Ways and Places to Speak the Soul’s Native Language by Peter Greig. In the article he mentions that our word pray has the same Latin root as the word precarious, with it's connotation of uncertainty. 

I'd never heard this before, and it intrigued me. Over the years I've wondered why I pray to an unseen God, often without much of a sense of outcome. I have been profoundly disappointed at times, and not been on speaking terms with God for a while. Besides, if a loving God knows me, my heart and mind, why do I need to pray? Why do we pray collectively in our worship and prayer groups when we've often experienced disappointment?  It really does seem precarious. 

Despite these questions I continue to seek out my Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer, through prayer and find comfort and hope. Whether it is in the anxious wee hours of the morning, or in the boldly shared prayers of the Christian community I "ain't too proud to beg". I pray and trust that I am heard. 

This morning we'll head to in-person church and I've already been praying for a meaningful and safe outcome. We will pray within our worship experience during  this precarious season of life  we will find assurance and hope. 

O Lord, hear my prayer. O Lord hear my prayer;

When I call, answer me 

O Lord, hear my prayer. O Lord hear my prayer;

come and listen to me.

Taize Community chorus -- Berthier 




Saturday, September 19, 2020

Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Tzaddik

 










You must not distort justice; you must not show partiality;

 and you must not accept bribes, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise

 and subverts the cause of those who are in the right. 

Justice, and only justice, you shall pursue, 

so that you may live and occupy the land that the Lord your God is giving you.

Deuteronomy 16:19-20 NRSV

Yesterday I wrote about the creative alternatives the world-wide Jewish community has developed to observe Rosh Hashanah, the "head of the year" festival, because of COVID-19. Later in the day we heard the news that the seemingly indomitable United States Supreme Court Justice, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, had succumbed to pancreatic cancer at the age of 87. Because Supreme Court Justices are political appointments this news is not only sad because of Ginsberg's remarkable life accomplishment. Her death will also likely result in a skirmish, if not a war regarding her replacement.



It should be noted that Ginsberg was a Jew, and in Judaism one who dies as Rosh Hashanah  is considered a tzaddik, a person of great righteousness. The literally applies to Ginsberg who was inspired by the  Jewish commitment to justice and righteousness. While she was regarded as a liberal she was committed to equality for all. On the wall of her Supreme Court chamber there is a framed  phrase from the Book of Deuteronomy A phrase from the Book of Deuteronomy hangs framed on the wall of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Supreme Court chamber: “Justice, justice you shall pursue.”: “Justice, justice you shall pursue.”  or Tzedek, tzedek tirdof" in Hebrew. 



Ginsberg certainly honoured these words from scripture and the greater sense of religious obligation which informed her judgments as a Supreme Court justice without skewing or distorting them. 

You might want to watch the film On the Basis of Sex which tells Ginsberg's story well. I like these thoughts on Twitter from Rabbi Sari Laufer 

Rabbi Sari Laufer \
@rabbilaufer

The traditional Jewish response to hearing of a death is Baruch Dayan HaEmet—Blessed is the True Judge, or Blessed is the Judge of Truth. It is theologically deeply complicated, and quite a way to end #5780. So, a more radical response: May her memory be for a revolution. #RBG




Friday, September 18, 2020

Tooting Your Own Horn on Rosh Hashanah



Today is the commencement of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year and a time for both joyous celebration and reflection. As with high holidays in other religions, this year Rosh Hashanah takes on a different character because of COVID 19. Many synagogues have modified their gatherings, including offering a virtual alternative. One feature of the celebration is blowing the ram's horn, or shofar, and the suggestion in some places is that this take place outdoors with safe distancing from those who have assembled.

I really like that some rabbis and religious communities are offering online how to blow courses so that people can sound the shofar at home. Many Jews own shofars as a a decorative piece but never use them. Thousands of people have signed up to toot their own horns. 

We have a family member who lives in Israel and noted a couple of days ago that the country is heading into a second shutdown because of the alarming increase  of coronavirus cases. This begins today as Rosh Hashanah begins, so the holiday certainly won't be the same this year in the land where it all began. 

We are learning to be patient and to adapt, whatever our tradition, but it will be wonderful when some sense of normalcy resumes, won't it? 

Thursday, September 17, 2020

The Uighurs and Mulan

Mulan (2020) - IMDb

Our two daughters were tween-ish when the animated version of Mulan, the Chinese legend first hit the screens back in 1998. I didn't see the original and I probably won't see the live action version either. Disney has spent a fortune to create this lavish version, said to be $200 million USD, which is about a bajillion Canadian. 

Because the goal was for the film to be a financial success in China there was tremendous attention to detail, consulting different levels of Chinese government. These were acknowledged at the end of the film, and that's been a stumbling block even before the movie was released. It was filmed, at least in part, in a region of China where there has been oppression of Muslim ethnic minorities. There has been mass incarceration of Uighers in what some term as concentration camps of forced labour. While the Chinese deny this, there is plenty of evidence that it is accurate. While only about a minute of the picture is filmed in that area there are social media calls for a boycott. Added to this controversy is the support  by Chinese actress Liu Yifei of the Hong Kong police, who have been accused of brutality toward protesters. 

Uyghurs and the China Coronavirus – The Diplomat

Detainees in a Uighur Labour Camp

It seems that we'll never learn that this is a totalitarian regime which will go to any lengths to secure its hold over its people and those from other nations who end up as collateral damage in international disputes. I've written often about the plight of Christians in China including church buildings which have been dismantled, harrassment, and incarceration of pastors. The two Canadian Michaels, Spavor and Kovrig who are languishing in Chinese prisons as retaliation for Canada upholding the rule of law. 

Chances are that the Mulan protests will be little more than a speed-bump for the film, but it's good to know that some people are paying attention. As always we can pray for our Christian sisters and brothers, those of other faiths, and all who are persecuted or imprisoned unjustly. 

COMMENTARY: China jailed the 'two Michaels' because it regards Canada as a  'pushover' - National | Globalnews.ca

Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor