Monday, September 30, 2019

Creation Time, Change Islands, & the Night Sky

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Fogo Island (adjacent to Change Islands) photographer unknown

God of the open gateway & the wide horizon, in whose grace heaven touches earth: Give us the courage to name the powers that war against life & love & to receive the ones who carry messages of peace & loose our shackled dreams.

Michaelmas Prayer (yesterday)

When we were on vacation on Change Islands earlier this month there were only a handful of nights when the sky was clear. Cloud is a constant reality in Newfoundland, so even though we were in what was essentially a dark sky preserve and staying in a location with the vast sweep of sea and sky before us we had to be vigilant in order to enjoy this view unimpeded.

Fortunately we were rewarded with some stunning panoramas, and nights at the beginning and end of our time there were the best. The Milky Way was magnificent in its clarity, as were the constellations and planets. Halfway through our stay it was the full harvest moon, which lessens the grandeur of the stars but provides its own wonder. 

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Full moon Cape St. George NL photographer unknown 

As you are probably aware, I delight in the cosmic beauty of Creation and the ability of the night sky to make us feel part of something greater and yet very small at the same time. I also experience this combination of uplift and humility in a thunderstorm or at the edge of the sea when it is pounding the shore. 

Those clear nights tended to be silent nights, although more accurately moments when there was a cessation of human-made sound and noise. We could still hear the surf on the shore and the breeze in the tall grasses around our home away from home. 

Again, this was a perfect setting for Creation Time contemplation and reflection and gratitude. I read Creation theology through the three weeks we were there but we lived it through our rambles along the shore and our appreciation of the night sky. God is good, and Creation is magnificent and I celebrate the lavish generosity of the Creator.

Well, I've fulfilled my commitment to offer up a week of Creation Time blogs in the context of our Change Islands experience. 

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Sunday, September 29, 2019

Creation Time and...Tesla?

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I've mentioned that our September vacation was on Change Islands, Newfoundland, only a few kilometres to the west of the better known Fogo Island. Part of that higher profile comes from the attention given to the Fogo Island Inn, an exclusive hotel which attracts the wealthy and the famous from around the world. While we could never afford to stay there we had an expensive lunch in the dining room, in part because of the impressive view. We were at the table in the front corner. 

Guests can't drive up to the inn, but there are shuttles for those who don't want to walk from the parking lot. We did walk up but asked for a ride back, providing we could make the brief trip in one of the two new Tesla electric vehicles recently purchased for this purpose and other rides for guests. They readily complied and we were impressed by the silence of the ride. I had heard about these new vehicles from a CBC radio piece and the claim of the operations manager that this was one more effort to lower the carbon footprint of the inn. Of course many guests travel from other continents to enjoy the setting and some fly all the way to Fogo rather than travel with the riff-raff like us on the ferry, but it is a noble aspiration. 

I noticed that next to the two Teslas another vehicle from Ontario was charging. I was surprised that it was possible for a electric car to drive several thousand kilometres with enough charging infrastructure to do so. Our world is changing. Petro Canada is now advertising its network of charging stations in provinces across the country with a view to expansion. 

Creation Time in the Christian year is an opportunity to both celebrate the work of the Creator and to ask how we will find different  t paths for "living in respect for Creation", including weaning ourselves from the fossil-fuel driven world we live in. There is a growing sense of urgency about this and we should look to the encouraging signs wherever they may found. 

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Saturday, September 28, 2019

Creation Time, Change Islands and the Truth About Plastic

The earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof; 
the world, and they that dwell therein.
For he hath founded it upon the seas, 
and established it upon the floods.
Psalm 24:1-2 King James Version
While we were vacationing on Change Islands, Newfoundland, earlier this month we sent photos of different beach finds to our grandsons, four and six, with the challenge to identify them. They did reasonably well with most but knew right away that the object in the photo above was Lightning McQueen from the Cars animated films.

This was was the most benign chunk of plastic we encountered along the shores and while there wasn't a lot of plastic waste it was everywhere we walked, no matter how remote. While the water is remarkably clear, the closer we were to human habitation, the more plastic waste we saw it. Change Islands is a relatively remote community far from any community of size, yet plastic, some of it from the fishing industry, was on every stretch of shore and blown well inland. We know that the oceans of the world are filled with plastic and we're told that the volume of plastic may exceed the biomass of fish before the end of this century. 

infographic that shows plastics in the ocean

We were pleased to see that the initiative for retailers to use alternatives to plastic bags and packaging continues on nearby Fogo Island and we actually packed reusable bags in our luggage for grocery shopping...we're such earnest nerds. 

Everyone who visits this part of Newfoundland and Labrador comments on the beauty and we can only hope and pray that this continues. Some people would argue that what we do with our consumer waste doesn't have much to do with Christian faith, but if "the Earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof" that includes any and all things which undermine the health of the planet God created. 

I watched the September 27th edition of CBC Marketplace (last eveningabout the plastics we supposedly recycle in Canada. It was a grim reminder about our self-deception when we put items in the blue box and of our need to change our foolish ways.

David Common of Marketplace

Friday, September 27, 2019

Change Islands, Elihu, and Creation Time

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Autumn Peltier 

While we were staying on Change Islands, Newfoundland, for several weeks earlier this month I read some excellent novels as well as books of Creation theology in honour of Creation Time in the liturgical calendar. The setting of solitude and beauty was ideal for both. 

I reread Pope Francis' encyclical, Laudato Si, which I first read on Change Islands four years ago, shortly after it was published. It is a remarkable document in many respects, although Francis' vision is clouded by Roman Catholic dogma regarding reproduction.

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I also worked my way through a couple of books on Job and the Creation themes in that challenging Older Testament story. Wisdom's Wonder by William Brown offered many insights, including a section on Elihu, the young man who offers a different perspective that the three older friends of the beleaguered Job who serve up unhelpful responses to his misery. Elihu is not impressed by the other three and suggests that age does not always offer wisdom:

“I am young in years,
    and you are aged;
therefore I was timid and afraid
    to declare my opinion to you.
I said, ‘Let days speak,
    and many years teach wisdom.’
But truly it is the spirit in a mortal,
    the breath of the Almighty,[b] that makes for understanding.
It is not the old[c] that are wise,
    nor the aged that understand what is right.
10 Therefore I say, ‘Listen to me;
    let me also declare my opinion.’

Job 32: 6-10

Elihu dispenses with platitudes and shares a cosmic vision of Job's place within the universe, the solar system, and the natural order of planet Earth. As with the Divine Speeches beginning in chapter 38 Elihu tells Job to zoom out rather than zoom in as he attempts to make sense of his dilemma. The message of this "renegade sage," as Brown describes him is unsettling and intended to "clear the cobwebs of age."

This made me think of the Climate Strike movement which has gained momentum around the world, under the prophetic leadership of Swedish teen Greta Thunberg, and other young people including Autumn Peltier, a First Nations teen from Manitoulin Island. They have spoken in the past week at the United Nations, an attempt by elders to gain wisdom and insight through different eyes. 

Thunberg has been blunt as she's spoken before various bodies in Europe and now in North America and some people, often older privileged men, hate her for it. Maxime Bernier of the so-called Peoples Party of Canada tweeted:

@GretaThunberg is clearly mentally unstable. Not only autistic, but obsessive-compulsive, eating disorder, depression and lethargy, and she lives in a constant state of fear. She wants us to feel the same: “I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I fear every day.”

This defamation of Thunberg was incredibly offensive, factually inaccurate, and, ironically, rife with fear. What would possess a grown man to make this sort of public statement? Of course she was also mocked by the president of the United States, an infantile man without a scrap of wisdom about anything, let alone care for the Earth.

I pray that the young sages of our precious planetary home will awaken us to the climate crisis and that Christians and other people of faith will listen and respond. I pray that God, the Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer will give us an expansive and hopeful vision which clears away our cobwebs.

Michael de Adder

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Change Islands, Cod, and Creation Time

Change Islands September 2019

Within a couple of days of our arrival on Change Islands, Newfoundland, neighbours asked if we would like a meal of cod. There is a personal or recreational fishery in Newfoundland and Labrador which allows individuals to catch up to five groundfish, including cod, per day through periods of the summer. It's very popular and lots of Newfoundlanders return to their outport communities to participate. We appreciated the generosity of folk who were sharing their catch. 

We were surprised to discover that there is also a commercial cod fishery after more than two decades of a moratorium in the province. The small fish plant on Change Islands as well as a couple of plants on Fogo Island were processing cod while we were there and we ate cod in restaurants. As the photo above indicates we were a small part of a larger appreciative audience for fishers cleaning their catch. 

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Charles Harden

I've snooped around online and it seems that there were really promising signs of recovery of the cod stocks the past couple of years, although nothing compared to fifty years ago and earlier. But this year the fish are scarcer, which is a warning sign about over-fishing a fragile stock. 

The community of Change Islands was once home to about 1500 people while today the population is less than two hundred with only a handful of people making a living in the fishery. Those residents of another time supported their faith communities, filling their churches. In some places there was an annual Blessing of the Fleet where prayers were offered for the safety of crews and an abundant harvest from the sea. 

This week a United Nations report which  the work of 104 scientists from 36 countries from around the world sounded yet another alarm about the effect of climate change on the oceans. It states that:

Ocean warming and acidification, loss of oxygen and changes in nutrient supplies, are already affecting the distribution and abundance of marine life in coastal areas, in the open ocean and at the sea floor. Shifts in the distribution of fish populations have reduced the global catch potential. In the future, some regions, notably tropical oceans, will see further decreases, but there will be increases in others, such as the Arctic. Communities that depend highly on seafood may face risks to nutritional health and food security.

I think once again of an image created by Newfoundland artist David Blackwood which is of his late uncle, the Master Mariner of the title for the work. It is a lament though, for a lost way of life, one we can hope will be restored, even if partially. There is a biblical reference from the book of Hosea tucked along the bottom:

Therefore the land mourns,
   and all who live in it languish;
together with the wild animals
   and the birds of the air,
   even the fish of the sea are perishing.

Hosea 4:3
In Hosea there is also the promise of restoration. You may have heard of a goofy tourist tradition in Newfoundland which involves kissing a cod. Maybe some better cod love is prayers for the recovery of a species with a face that perhaps only God can love. 

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Master Mariner -- David Blackwood

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

St. Margaret's and Creation Time

40 O ye sun and moon, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
41 O ye stars of heaven, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
42 O every shower and dew, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
43 O all ye winds, bless ye the Lord: and exalt him above all for ever.
44 O ye fire and heat, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
45 O ye winter and summer, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
46 O ye dews and storms of snow, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
47 O ye nights and days, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
48 O ye light and darkness, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
49 O ye ice and cold, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
50 O ye frost and snow, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
51 O ye lightnings and clouds, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
52 O let the earth bless the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.

Song of the Three Holy Children

There are four churches in the rather remote community of Change Islands, Newfoundland. With a year-round population of roughly 175 (more through the summer) and eight children in the school, none of these congregations is close to thriving. The United Church attracts three or four to worship while the Anglicans might get eight or nine on the Sundays when the priest makes the trip by ferry for a service. 

Just the same, St. Margaret's Anglican church is a lovely structure which seats 300 and is both a landmark and a sea-mark. The doors are always open, God bless them, and as we made our way to and from hikes we stopped in often to take in the tranquility of the building which replaced the former church more than a century ago. Somehow a bible presented to the congregation in the 1850's has survived and is on a stand at the front of the sanctuary for anyone to peruse. 

My dark secret --green secret?- is that every time I entered the church on this trip, as well as during my previous two visits to Change Islands, I would open that bible to a passage of scripture which celebrates the God of Creation and creation itself. This time around those passages included Job 38, Isaiah 55, Psalm 148, Proverbs 8. Genesis 9...that may be all. On my return the bible was usually closed again and I've probably confounded some conscientious member whose task is care of this monumental tome. 

One of the pillars of St. Margaret's is our elderly friend Margaret Parson, who ain't no saint in the traditional sense but is feisty angel in our eyes. She loaned me one of her copies of the Book of Common Prayer so that I could search out what is included as The Song of the Three Holy Children, an apocryphal portion of the book of Daniel in some versions. It is a lengthy hymn of praise, a celebration of creation in its many expressions. 

We appreciated that their minister/priest, the Rev. Dr. Joanne Mercer, has been observing Creation Time with her congregations and has left printed prayers at the entrance to the church appropriate for the season. We took a copy and carried it with us on our rambles. When we stopped along the way to enjoy the vista or tranquility we'd read one of those prayers as a way of acknowledging God, the source of all being. 

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Change Islands and Creation Time

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Well, I'm back at my computer after a wonderful three-week vacation on Change Islands, which are adjacent to Fogo Island, Newfoundland. It is a wild and beautiful place and we have connections there which go back to the beginning of my ministry within the United Church of Canada, nearly forty years ago. I filched the map above from someone's vacation blog because they helpfully marked where Change Islands are. We also made day trips to Fogo. 

Thank you for reading the blog entries which I posted before my departure. Unfortunately I couldn't respond to some of your comments, even though I was able to read them on my phone, and I was unable to delete the pesky bogus ads which I can usually address immediately after they are left as comments. 

We have seen significant changes in outport Newfoundland over the past four decades, including the massive decline in church attendance just about everywhere, along with the degradation of the environment. 

Ruth and the power of the sea

There were some hopeful signs here and there and I'll tell you about them in my next few blogs. This is Creation Time in the liturgical year and I made a point of peering through this lens during every day we were there, both in celebration of Creation and in awareness of our need for repentance and turning in a new direction in terms of Creation care. 

We walked trails every day we were there, regardless of weather, which was mostly very good. We made sure that we sat, pondered, exulted in the environment of which we were a small part. I certainly returned feeling a deep sense of gratitude and determination to do whatever I can to be a faithful Creation Care Christian. 

Ruth and another glorious sunset

Saturday, September 21, 2019

A Tale of Two Fires

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London Ontario Explosion 

In mid-August an allegedly drunk young driver careened off a London Ontario street into what was thankfully an empty home. The impact severed a gas line and the resulting explosion leveled the house and damaged several more. How no one, including the driver escaped without injury is hard to explain but a huge relief. Quickly the city mobilized to support these unsuspecting victims and it was heartwarming to hear about the community response.

A few days later a massive fire broke out in a slum in the Bangladesh capital of Dhaka. Approximately 2,000 tin shacks were destroyed leaving a least 10,000 people  homeless. Fortunately most of the residents were away celebrating a Muslim religious holiday but these people who were already poor lost everything. 

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Aftermath of the Dhaka slum fire 

Because we are Canadians we got lots of news for days about what happened in London. You could be forgiven if you didn't hear about what unfolded in Bangladesh because it was reported then gone in the raging stream of mass shootings, suicide bombings, and presidential tweeter-tantrums. 

We get a perspective on world news which is fairly even here in Canada and we should be grateful. Just the same, not long after I heard far more on CBC about how Daniel Levy of Schitt's Creek is judging an Etsy contest than I did about South East Asia. Just to clarify, Schitt's Creek is clever and Levy is a delightful guy. It's all just weird. 

As you can see this "tale of two fires" has stuck with me for weeks, I suppose because we're always trying to figure out how we respond to Jesus' question "who is your neighbour?" We are often overwhelmed by the sorrow of our world and it's hard to imagine how we might respond to every tragedy. Day by day, we can pray and act and realize that God calls us to compassion. 

Thursday, September 19, 2019

TV Unrighteousness

The Righteous Gemstones

During my time in congregational ministry there were members in different congregations who has secret TV evangelists. They attended church and were often involved in other ways but they had a hankering for some of the slick folks on TV and even sent them money which they didn't really have to spare. For the most part they were intelligent people but somehow they didn't see past the slick messages which were often not so subtle solicitations for funds which created wealth for the evangelists through the gullibility of those who were living on limited means. 

One dear soul has been a medical missionary for the United Church, serving as a nurse in Africa in the 1960's. She had a remarkable faith and as she aged and became frail her local congregation provided spiritual and practical support. She lived in a bed-sit apartment and barely afford to be there. Yet she sent money to a Texas televangelist who preached the imminent return of Christ while taking a salary of a million dollars a year and living in a gated community. 

HBO has a new comedy series called The Righteous Gemstones which follows "the world famous Gemstone televangelist family, which has a long tradition of deviance, greed, and charitable work, all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ."

I suppose it's better to laugh than to cry about some of these people, but the exploitation will always bother me and the gullibility of people will always perplex me. Perhaps it is the creation of a religious fantasy world which is not at all like the lives we actually live which is a big part of the attraction. I'll likely watch at least one episode -- John Goodman is worth watching in just about anything -- but I may cringe while I do so. 


Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Fahrenheit 451, Burning Bright

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An Original Book Cover (note, 50 cents)

To every thing there is a season, 

and a time to every purpose under the heaven...

Ecclesiastes 3 King James Version (KJV)

The technology in vehicles is mind-blowing these days, including the ways by which we can divert ourselves while supposedly conscientiously hurtling down the highway. We have taken to listening to books as we travel, which I've mentioned before, but in our new vehicle we have an even more sophisticated system to listen to books downloaded to a phone from the library service called Hoopla.

Recently we finished a classic from another era, Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451. It was written in 1953 and there are overtones of the threat of the atomic era as well as the threat to freedoms of McCarthyism in this exceptional novel. The title refers to the ignition temperature for paper and in this dystopian world firemen are those who are employed to set blazes rather than extinguish them. 

 Their principle targets are books, and the homes in which they are illegally housed, and those persons who are collateral damage in the conflagration. In this society people have gradually, willingly, grown disinterested in books Eventually the government bans them as a threat, realizing that the ideas they contain can undermine compliance and that it's far easier to govern when people live in a perpetual state of amusement and distraction. 

The central figure in the book is the fireman, Montag, who proudly wears the 451 symbol on his uniform. A chance conversation with a teenaged neighbour is the beginning of an awakening for Montag which changes the trajectory of his life. He rescues some books at fire scenes, a dangerous choice, and one of them is a bible. 

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Film Version 1966

Montag ends up having another clandestine conversation with a former English teacher, Faber,  who is impressed by the bible in his possession. Faber mentions the Sermon on the Mount with the Jesus who is more than the confection he has become in their society - a peppermint stick is the term he uses. There is also mention of the biblical prophets.

I won't share the outcome of the story because it really is worth reading (the irony was not lost on us that we were listening rather than reading!) I will say that at the conclusion Montag has committed to memory portions from both Ecclesiastes and the Revelation of John. 

There is so much in this novel that stirred thoughts and moved me emotionally. I'm grateful to Ruth, my wife, for the suggestion. 

And on either side of the river was there a tree of life, 
which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month; 
And the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.

Revelation 22:2

Michael B. Jordan and Michael Shannon in Fahrenheit 451 (2018)

2018 (panned)

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Why People Hate Religion

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Sister Norma Pimentel

A couple of weeks ago the New York Times published an opinion piece by Timothy Egan about why so many Americans are walking out the doors of places of worship, perhaps never to return. It's and indictment of toxic faith called Why People Hate Religion and its so bluntly accurate that everyone should read it. Yet he begins by telling us about  Sister Norma Pimentel. a Roman Catholic nun who's life work is, as she puts it, seeing “the presence of God” in migrant children in the shelter she oversees in the Rio Grande Valley — vulnerable souls that her president would otherwise put in cages. I've read about Sister Pimentel before and I greatly admire how her faith in Christ has led her to a selfless life devoted to "the least of these."

Egan spends a fair amount of the article talking about the hypocrisies of religion in the United States and the grim truth that a lot of evangelical Christians who unflinchingly support Trump actually admire his meanness. Little wonder their children and grandchildren are leaving in droves.

They hate religion because, at a moment to stand up and be counted on the right side of history, religion is used as moral cover for despicable behavior. This is not new to our age. Hitler got a pass from the Vatican until very late in the war.

I certainly experienced a fair amount of hypocrisy in the church through my years in ministry and there were some people who seemed to have no interest in a gospel of love, acceptance, and compassion as they ran their club, or tried to. I was amazed that this bunch seldom or never mentioned God, let alone the Christ who redeems and transforms us. Fortunately they were in the minority, although they did a tremendous amount of harm at times. I could be bitter, but I try to focus on memories of the majority who were usually quietly motivated by genuine faith rather than toxic religion and I give thanks for their compassion and generosity. 

I don't hate religion, and I don't think Egan does either. Despite his scathing and sadly accurate criticisms he returns to hope inspired faith and even religion:

Still, we are “prisoners of hope,” as Archbishop Desmond Tutu loves to say. And if you’re looking for hope in the midnight of the American soul, look no further than Sister Pimentel’s shelter for hundreds of desperate children in McAllen, Texas.

Friday, September 13, 2019

The Buzz on Mosquito Evangelism

From the New Yorker magazine

When we were in Algonquin Park recently we set off on an early morning hike which the sign estimated to take 2 hours. We had insect repellent in our vehicle but forgot to apply it before we began -- huge mistake. We were beset by mosquitoes and deer flies in apocalyptic numbers for the next 50 minutes, the length of time it took us to cover the supposed 120 ramble. Canadians are supposed to understand the threat but even seasoned veterans can end up providing impromptu blood transfusions for the voracious critters.

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There is a new book called The Mosquito: A Human History of Our Deadliest Predator and while I can't say I'm itching to read it, it does sound like an interesting exploration. The author, Timothy Winegard estimates that mosquitoes have killed more people than any other single cause—fifty-two billion of us, nearly half of all humans who have ever lived. He calls them “our apex predator,” “the destroyer of worlds,” and “the ultimate agent of historical change.” Yikes. 

He also notes that when Christianity was a fledgling, persecuted faith many were drawn to it because of its emphasis on care for others, including the sick. The Pontine Marshes surrounded Rome and were a hotbed of mosquito-spread malaria. As a faith which emphasized healing Christianity attracted many converts. 

I've never considered mosquitoes as Christian evangelists but I try to keep an open mind. I did describe bug spray as "Algonquin incense" at our worship service, but I may have to reconsider.


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Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Sex Ed U-turn

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he children of the public school system are back in class this week in Ontario. Part of their curriculum is what is often called sex-ed in the press although it is really much broader, including cyber-safety at virtually every grade, as well as  “learning abilities, skills and talents, personal or cultural values and beliefs, gender identity, sexual orientation, family background, personal preferences, allergies and sensitivities.”

The teachers offering this program may need to be treated for whiplash because after promising that the awful Liberal curriculum would be scrapped the Conservatives first did so, then reintroduced an outline and timeline virtually identical to that of the Libs. This wild U-turn makes it obvious that the Ford government courted the votes of conservative Christians and other faith groups without much understanding of what was happening in schools. Those opponents had argued, vociferously, that education about sexuality was the purview of families and often spread gross misinformation about what the former curriculum contained. All faiths discourage lying yet that was happening constantly. Now some of these folk are back protesting the latest changes


School boards will rush to revise the revised curriculum thanks to a government which doesn't seem to grasp that its role is to act in the best interest of society as a whole, even when that requires making informed but difficult choices. 

Sadly, one major change is that parents will be able to opt their children out of the program, which is chilling. There are far too many accounts offered by those who were raised in conservative religious households who were sexually abused, in part because they'd had no education about healthy relationships nor about the possibility of sexual predators. 


Monday, September 09, 2019

Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep

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READER: The Lord Almighty grant us a quiet night and a perfect end...

CANTOR: Keep me as the apple of an eye.
CHOIR: Hide me under the shadow of thy wings.
CANTOR: Preserve us, O Lord,
CHOIR: While waking, and guard us while sleeping, 
that awake we may watch with Christ, and asleep we rest in peace.

I listened to an articulate physician on CBC radio not too long ago as she spoke about the challenges of sleeping well in today's society. In the lead-up to the segment three of the on-air folk admitted that they had challenges sleeping well, tossing and turning and obsessing over what had not been done in the day or what would need to be accomplished in the next. So many of us get caught in the vicious cycles of anxiety and sleeplessness. We were reminded that studies show that not getting sufficient sleep can lead to heart disease and strokes, so now we'll be awake worrying about these possibilities!

The doc invited listeners to consider what helps in breaking the patterns which keep us from deep, restorative sleep. Ruth is inclined to get up, perhaps have hot milk or tea, read a little, then return to bed. Through the years when I felt a lot of pressure from work I would repeat, mantra-like, the simple opening words of the children's hymn:

Jesus loves me, this I know,
for the bible tells me so...

Or I would -- and still do -- offer as many phrases as I could recall from Philippians 4. 

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.
Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. 

Do not worry about anything, 
but in everything by prayer and supplication 
with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 
And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, 
will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 

These brought comfort and often kept me from catastrophizing on my way back to slumber. When our children were young Ruth taught them all a night-time prayer and one of them was the highlighted words from the service of Compline, or evening prayer,  from the Book of Common Prayer. I had no idea that this was the source, and I wonder if they did.

There really is no ready solution to staring at the ceiling and sleep deprivation but the faith stuff has helped along the way.Perhaps we should all be saying our evening prayers before lights out, rather than fiddling with our cell phones. 

What works for you?