Halleluiah! Kudos to The United Church of Canada!

As a layman I wish to extend congratulations to The United Church. It is an organization in which my roots are deeply entwined but one to which I have not always been kind – as you will see if you check back in this blog on postings such as“United Church Challenge” and “UC of Canute”. (See August 2012 and September 2016)

But now in all fairness I must say how absolutely relieved and pleased I was to read a recent release about the outcome of the “heresy trial” the United Church has been inflicting upon its ordained but self-styled atheist minister, Rev. Gretta Vosper, and her loyal Westhill congregation.  The inquisition has been going on for several years and some time ago a judgement had been reached that Gretta was “unfit” to serve.  Only the sentencing was in doubt and that was to be settled in an elaborate “hearing” this past week.  Through it all the Church has carefully avoided the words “trial” and “heresy” while lay people have been calling a spade a spade.

However, marvellous to say, early this week the “hearing” seemed to evaporate, a decision was made and in an online statement the United Church Observer reported that:

Atheist Toronto United Church minister Gretta Vosper will be allowed to keep her job. Toronto Conference, Vosper and West Hill United Church said in a joint statement Wednesday that the parties had “settled all outstanding issues between them.”

Gretta’s Westhill congregation’s own jubilant announcement included a phrase that was even more revealing:

[O]n November 6th, the United Church of Canada decided that Gretta and West Hill can carry on in ministry without restrictions;(Emphasis mine)

“Without restrictions” means that Gretta can continue to serve as a self-identified “atheist” minister which, in my opinion, means she can and will continue with great integrity to attempt to unravel the complex web of words that make up outdated theological jargon much of which dates back to primal superstitions, unscientific conjecture, and mythologized history.  If the word “atheist” attached to an ordained minister in a major Protestant denomination makes many of us do some hard headed defining of what we ourselves really mean by the words we use then, in my opinion, much of Gretta’s objective will be realized.

I must say that as an out-of-town visitor whenever I drop into a Westhill service I find myself experiencing jargon-free intelligent discourse, empathy and compassion for the afflicted, acute awareness of the wider world, openness to ideas and social action, and downright warm love for others.  All of this seems to me to be very much in line with what Jesus taught.  And never do I feel I must check my intellect, such as it is, at the door.

It is my opinion that November 6th 2018 should go down in history as a red letter day. A major Canadian Protestant denomination has refused to reject theological honesty.  In this super-scientific era when religions paradoxically can give cover to seemingly barbaric beliefs and actions Gretta and the United Church may stimulate us all to re-evaluate our own beliefs and to act accordingly.

By the way, if anyone wishes to go into some background on all this they would do well to check a 2016 article by Mike Milne (titled “Unsuitable”) and also flagged by The Observer in the link above.  It’s rather long but informative.

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Climate Change Pledge

Are you too calm? I’m far too calm. Most of us are bloody well too calm.

It’s already more than a week since I heard the UN Secretary-General sound a call to arms to fend off catastrophic climate change and it seems to me our leaders are still dithering.  Provinces are still squabbling with Ottawa; a destructive extractive economy is still said to be compatible with a healthy environment;  “tax” is still being used as a dirty word and “taxpayers” are made to feel like indentured servants instead of citizen contributors; monster machines and voracious corporations together are still despoiling the boreal forest; we are being told that oil cannot be left in the ground even though in the ground is exactly where Nature locked it away; pipelines are still promoted as long as they export fossil pollution; potential job loss appears to be more of a threat than species extinction; so on ad nauseum.

Like most of us, I too have been sitting on my ageing fattening rear end but what can individuals do? Well, if enough of us get together perhaps we can help our leaders focus their minds on the priority.  Human survival.

Prairie Fire

Add hurricane, flood, desertification, rising oceans and mass migrations

Here’s my proposal. It’s a bit rough yet and maybe I’m nuts but hey, maybe it’s not me who’s nuts. Tell me what you think. Please do.
=====================================================================

CLIMATE CHANGE PLEDGE

I hereby affirm that I fully agree with the concerns voiced by the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, in a speech* delivered on Oct. 10th, 2018, in support of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report issued two days previously.  In brief, the Secretary-General said:

“We [the human species] face a direct existential threat…. If we do not change course by 2020, we risk missing the point [2030] where we can avoid runaway climate change, with disastrous consequences for people and all the natural systems that sustain us. …That is why, today, I am appealing for leadership – from politicians, from business and scientists, and from the public everywhere…. We have the tools to make our actions effective…. There is no more time to waste…. the world is changing before our eyes. We are careering towards the edge of the abyss. …Every day we fail to act is a day that we step a little closer towards a fate that none of us wants – a fate that will resonate through generations in the damage done to humankind and life on earth. Our fate is in our hands. The world is counting on all of us to rise to the challenge before it’s too late….”

Consequently I hereby pledge that:
● I will not vote for or support any political party either Federal or Provincial that does not quickly and aggressively put Climate Change at the very top of its list of priorities.
● If I belong to a political party that does not quickly agree to making Climate Change its number one priority I will resign that membership.
● I will not support any candidate or party that does not demonstrate a collegial approach to finding and implementing Climate Change solutions.
● I will not vote for or even waste my time listening to any politician or candidate – Federal, Provincial, or Municipal – who does not endorse the Secretary-General’s call to action and demonstrate a working knowledge of the Secretary-General’s statement.

My pledge will be activated as soon as 50,000 fellow Canadians have also taken it.

Signature:________________                           Date: ____________________
* The Secretary-General’s full statement can be found at: https://www.un.org/sg/en/content/sg/statement/2018-09-10/secretary-generals-remarks-climate-change-delivered

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Note: The 50,000 figure is a shot in the dark.  Obviously if only a few take the pledge then  we are virtually removing ourselves from political action.  On the other hand, large numbers become politically effective.  So — what do you think?

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The 2018 War of 1812

I don’t usually begin by writing the title first but this time I did and was just sitting here brooding over it when I saw my pesky little friend, Newshawk, agitatedly dancing on the keyboard.

Hey, O my guru, what are you doing?

I’m brooding.

I should hope so. What the hell is this – “The 2018 War of 1812″? Continue reading

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The Enabler

Just a few days after posting The Great Incognitum I was sitting here staring at the keyboard and wondering how to classify Doug Ford, our new Ontario Premier, when suddenly there was Newshawk, the scoundrel, balancing on the Esc button – which was something I devoutly wished he would use. Continue reading

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The Great Incognitum

This is an essay that’s been buried in my files since 2004.  It is quite long and, unless you are interested in the future welfare of your great grandchildren, you may choose not to read it.  However, at a time when Ontario has handed itself over to a limited-vision, low-tax, bottom-line, resource-hungry government and when the Federal government has committed itself to Big Fossil Fuel expansion, I feel moved to post it.  Continue reading

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Wearing the Past

Hi, it’s me again. Newshawk. I know, I know, this ain’t my blog. (I don’t really say “ain’t” but if it annoys Munroe it may upset him enough to want to repossess this blasted blog.) What’s bugging this bug is that there’s an Ontario provincial election on and Munroe’s just sitting here reading — of all things, Homer’s Illiad! Continue reading

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If Pigs Can Fly

Hi, it’s me again. Newshawk. Before I’m accused of stating fake facts I want to make some corrections.  Got a little excited last time.  And the keyboard’s mine again because although Munroe did come around for a spell he’s now in a funk saying everybody’s gone down the rabbit hole except for the BC government and some First Nations.  Continue reading

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Newshawk on Justin in Context

 

My name’s Newshawk and I’m writing this today because Munroe has given up and dammit all somebody has to speak for him.  And not about Syria.

Some of you already know me because Munroe’s introduced me before. He calls me “old friend” – and a pest and a nuisance, and implies I’m an insect of some kind, and objects to me jumping around on his keyboard just like I’m doing now.  But he heard the PM say something yesterday that’s practically put him into a coma Continue reading

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SINGHING the WRONG SONG

 

Here I am, end of this weekend, just sitting alone in the bleak mid-winter staring at nothing in particular when I hear a rustling in the litter on my desk. “Hey,” I say, “if that’s you my little pest, do go away. I’m in no mood for frivolities.”

“Frivolities!” comes the answer, and there’s rage in his voice.

The anger startles me. I’ve forgotten that Newshawk can get quite riled up. “Now, now Old Friend. Simmer down. What’s bugging you?”

“Don’t use that word bug,” he snaps as he strides out from a sheaf of papers and hops onto my keyboard. “And it’s not me. It’s you. What are you doing just sitting here knitting your eyebrows as though you had any and staring into space? I thought you’d be in orbit. Aren’t you following your NDP convention? ” He sounds extremely irate, even for Newshawk. “Weren’t you listening to your leader?”

“What’s wrong with our leader?”

“Your Mr.Singh was singing the wrong song!”

“Come, come,” I said. “He listed his priorities. The party’s priorities. So?”

“And what are they?”

“Well – income disparity, extending health care, fighting racism, housing, sexual harrassment, jobs, the economy —“

“Yes, yes, and somewhere in there? Under a rock?”

“Oh,” I say. “You mean Climate Change. Well, referred to, of course.”

“Referred to! Not prioritized?”

“Well, I think there’s a resolution coming up for debate.”

“Climate Change debate, debate, always debate! Not priority.” He stomps from F1 to F12 and back again. “You’ve read the priorities and you’re not in orbit?”

“My arteries are too old for this stuff,” I protest, with restraint, “but I will admit that I’m close to lift off.”

“Then light the fuse,” he shouts, “light the goddamned fuse!”

“Newshawk, I can’t! I don’t dare!”

“Who are you afraid of?”

“Me! Myself! If I get going on this I’ll say all kinds of unkind things.”

“Good, good. Such as?”

“Such as with 99% of the world’s scientists agreeing that Climate Change is the number one global peril and that we’re about to plunge over the irremediable edge —“

“No big words, no big words.”

“ – over the flippin’ edge into climate chaos with ever higher sea levels, increasingly big storms of all kinds, mass migrations of people fleeing from floods, expanding deserts, destroyed crops, the potential for conflict and turmoil in those migrations and too many idiots with their fat thumbs on a nuclear button then I’d say we should be putting the survival of the human race pretty damned high on the priority list, certainly on the NDP list. What’s more it seems that if we move and move fast we idiot humans can actually slow it all down and even stop it but oh by god no, we’re too concerned with the so-called national interest, the economy, the employment rate, and what Big Oil tells us about how good it is at lowering emissions which I take it means lowering per barrel while increasing the number of barrels and of course hoping to ship the heavy shit out of the country to let someone else refine it into pollution while keeping our air breathable and sure as hell let’s keep our fingers crossed that no pipeline splits in the Rockies or no tanker ever spills in Burrard Inlet, both of which history and Murphy’s Law tell us will inevitably happen, and god alone knows whose livelihoods will be wiped out including of course Indigenous but who the hell cares and my NDP should be out there dancing on the podium as you are right now on the cap key demanding ACTION ACTION ACTION.”  I pause to take a deep yoga breath and sigh it out. “See what would happen if I let loose on any of this?”

“You’re doing fine. A good warm up.”

“For sure I’d really pop an artery if I got going on how I feel about the dear old NDP surrendering its principles and avoiding the primary obligatory in a wild hope to win an election in 2020 or whenever and promising to work miracles in the following five years which will be too late even if winning were a blip on the radar which it isn’t. We’re into a global crisis that everyone knows about and multitudes agree about but for Christ’s sake so far the NDP has income disparity at the top of its list! Not that it’s not important but it’s damned well outranked by survival. I hope all the old CCF crew are buried deep and secure or they’ll be out haunting us, I can tell you that. And if we’re to get timely action on Climate Change what should be absolutely next on the NDP list would be to get going with the Greens, sweep all the old batshit out of both attics, form a new Party, a real Party, and get down to the hard political work that won’t put it in power but might just happen to help save the human race from itself and from Big Fucking Fossil Fuel.”

“Hey, hey. None of that in our blog.”

“Sorry. But now you see? That’s why I can’t let you light my fuse. No telling where I’d go.”

“Yeah, and you don’t even know the half of it.” He performs a berserk dance on my keyboard, stamps on “Enter” and behold, a web appears on my screen. *

“What’s this? I ask.

“A report of a speech by a Canadian pipeline big wig. Read it, read it.”

I do, out loud, and I read lines reporting that, “In recent months, the White House has taken steps to reduce regulatory hurdles for industry, including a proposal to eliminate some safety regulations for offshore oil and gas drilling. It has also rolled back nearly 40 environmental regulations, many of which imposed pollution and wildlife protection measures on fossil fuel projects… [T]he head of Canada’s largest pipeline lobby group says Canada would do well to follow suit.” As I read on I find that the spokesman for Canada’s big pipe companies calls pipelines “the industry of the future.”

At which point I do explode. “Holy smokes, Newshawk. Pipelines, not Fossil Fuel – Pipelines the industry of the future! Good grief, you know what that means?”

“Of course I do! It means Water. Water north to south. Water from the Great Lakes, Water from the Shield, Water from Great Slave Lake, from the Mackenzie, Water from anywhere Big Pipe can get it. The industry of the future.”

I sigh. “All, I assume, for the good of the nation. And as yet not even my NDP seems determined to call a halt. Oh my dear old friend, I’m sorry to sound selfish but I really am glad that I’m in my nineties.”

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* Newshawk’s web is from The National Observer. A truly outstanding Canadian online journal, originating in B.C.

 

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A Drama Simplified

Whooeee— we’ve got a living drama going on right before our eyes! I don’t mean the classical Tragedy unfolding south of us as the American government destroys the environment while undermining the rule of law.  No, no. Not that.  There’s a Canadian version. Continue reading

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