The Seeds of Revolution in Canada

This week  I listened as Green Party leader Elizabeth May called on Canadians to take back political ownership of their country. She called on people to tell their politicians that they want this to be the Canada that it used to be, a country:  that stands proud and free among nations; a country with a good record for human rights; a country that cares for the environment, and seeks to make life better for future generations.  May left me with a feeling that there is something wrong with the way Canadians are now doing democracy. She left me feeling that many political leaders have lost their democratic souls, concentrating on the pursuit of personal wealth and power at the expense of future generations and the liberal democratic way of life that we have experienced in the past.

I spoke with May, and I think she agreed, that this malaise is far greater than politics and democracy. It is a sickness that has infiltrated all aspects of Canadian culture. We have forgotten who we are.  As we run the race of life, at its ever quickening pace, there is never enough time. No time to read. No time to think. No time to check our email. No time to worry about others. No time for politics or religion. No time for ourselves or for our loved ones…. unless they can skype once a month on the last Sunday afternoon, precisely from 4:30 to 5:00.

How do we turn this around? How do we regain ownership of our lives, our religious beliefs, our communities and our country?

The first step is to recognize that there is a problem. Next, we must think about ourselves. who we are and how so much of what we believe in has quietly slipped away from our grasp. We must remember who we were and decide what we want to be. How do we want the people of the world to see us. We must re-take ownership of our lives: our country and our souls.

Get it Right!

Will I ever get this blog right???   I don’t know! For me, writing this blog is like raising a child in this modern world. Both parents work to cover the costs. There is no time beyond what it takes to drop the kid at day care and, hopefully, remember to pick him up. Drive him to a few activities,.. story, baths and bed.. opps.. did I forget supper? ..and lunches for tomorrow? Friday remember to Skype the grandparents…  Did I hear the word “romance?” Who has time?.. but we must do something to keep the marriage together…. In the face of all that life throws at us, we can only hope we get it right.

No time to focus on the future when the challenge is to live in the moment. But how do we live in the moment? Here are six thoughts.

1. Focus on the now. Take a wee break. Deep breath! Slow down and savour the moment. Take that bit of extra time to enjoy your meal, have a coffee or walk to the store. It will leave you feeling just that bit better,.. more secure and happier.

2. Pay attention to the small things that make you happy. Eating ice cream,  blowing bubbles or listening to music.

3. Smile. Look in the mirror and smile. (not grimace.. I said smile!) Making an emotional face will influence how you feel.

4. Do something for someone else… a random act of kindness will make them smile and it will improve life for both of you.

5. Be thankful. Every now and then, stop and count your blessings. Live in the moment by expressing your gratitude right when you feel it,

6. Don’t worry if you are doing it right. If it’s raising a child, writing a blog or holding your marriage together, every second spent in worry will be a second wasted. Worry takes you out of the present moment and moves you to the realm of future possibilities. You can not live in the moment and worry at the same time.

For now, I’m just going to take a moment to listen to Aretha Franklin singing “Get it Right.”

 

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Hey, that’s my great, great, something great grandfather…

fowler-crest

This is our family crest… the one received by my distant ancestor, Richard, on the 3rd crusade in 1191. ( and he said that all successive generations of Fowlers could use it.) Apparently Richard and his skilled bowmen were keeping watch one night at Acre, near Jerusalem, when a Muslim force attacked the camp. His company was able to keep the enemy at bay until the army woke up and defeated the enemy. Richard was credited with saving the forces of Richard Coeur-de-leon from certain death and so was created a nobleman and given this coat of arms. The motto is “He is wise who watches.”

Recently, President Obama, after denouncing the ISIL as “a brutal, vicious death cult that, in the name of religion, carries out unspeakable acts of barbarism”   went on to say “lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ.”

And they did! The Muslims had started their crusades in 630 AD.  The English forces justified their own war making by seeing it as a way to stop Muslim aggression against Eastern Christianity. Then the English pushed it one step further and made their actions a crusade, a pilgrimage made holy by the crusader’s sacrifice. By such self-sacrifice your sins would be forgiven. But these were bloody days and no quarter was given, on either side of the battles. After the capture of Jerusalem the English crusaders set out to establish control over Cyprus, the Baltic and the Balkans, complete with feudal and canon law.

Wow!… I’m not like that. Those were medieval times and we’ve come a long way since then.  Things have changed and we have seen the error of forcing change with the uncontrolled use of violence. We have put the words of our religious leaders into the hands of the people and we have discovered the oneness of human-kind and the law of love. We have seen the fragility of this shrinking spaceship : earth, on which we live and realized that corrective action must be taken.

Sadly, not everyone would agree with me and it still seems necessary to have a military…  because not everyone gets it.  But, the more money we put into weapons of destruction, the less we have for educating people and for protecting our environment. Every rocket that flies, every bomb that explodes puts more carbon into the air.

Having a family crest, complete with motto, is kind of neat. However, the crest is from the past and this is the present.  I wonder:  Will we ever learn to leave our violent ways and open our hearts to the LOVE that is the very ground of our being? Do we have that much time?

What or Who is beautiful?

 

For too many years beauty has been identified with physical appearance and submission. Watch television or take part in life and you will be bombarded with a particular look or model of what  big business has defined as beautiful.  We are challenged to identify with fake photoshopped images that create an outward appearance, which for most people is unobtainable. Simply submit to a product or lifestyle that we never desired, probably are unable to afford, and  all the pleasures of heaven can be ours.

It is all quite ridiculous, but we still buy it! We feel ugly or ashamed if we do not fit the accepted model of what corporations define as beautiful. We spend so much time looking  in the mirror at our outward appearance that we forget about the feelings and emotions that are within us.

It has been this way for years, maybe since the beginning of time. Men and women have been programmed to fill a role; a role that someone in authority defined. Generally, it has been the women who have been suppressed. But the control is buried so deeply in our culture that it is hard to realize how firmly it is there .

It’s not easy for men or women to re-wire their brain when it has been conditioned to think a certain way from childhood. How can they over-come the paternalistic control that corporations and politicians may want to have over their thoughts and choices?

It is only when you start to look at the inside, instead of the outside, that life will become clear. What or who is beautiful? True beauty reflects those inner qualities of a person that are grounded in LOVE  and so resonate the soul.

 

Marketing the Church

churchapp

 

 

In the 1950’s Canada’s population moved from the center of the cities to the suburbs and so did the churches. As realtors like to say: “Location. Location. Location. Location is everything.” In 2014, the best location is whatever screen is in front of the religious “consumer.”

People are busy and do everything on the internet, from shopping to seeking help with a problem. The church that gets their attention will be the church that gives them something they will find useful. Forget about what you want them to do and think about what they would find interesting… not necessarily your church. If you can give a person something that they will actually want and use, they will follow you forever and they will tell their friends.

It doesn’t have to be sexy, but it has to be useful. It has to simplify a person’s life, or make it less stressful. Put yourself in their place and think about something that you could really use. If you are a parent of young children or a senior citizen, you need to know the location of public was rooms in your town. But what if you were visiting a different town? Someone came up with an app for just such a need. Put “Sit or Squat” on your iPod and you will never be stuck again. There is a map and you even get to add your comments about the condition of the facility. Every time you use it , the first thing you see is a cover page with the name of the App’s creator. You bet people will tell their friends about it. It doesn’t have to say, come to church… they will know what church to turn to if they have a personal or religious need.

If an app is too much for you to consider, 26 % of apps are only downloaded and opened once, you can still make use of Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram. Take a look at what is trending… what people in your city or neighbourhood talking about or interested in now. Join in the conversation. What can you give them that they will find useful? You probably have a list of what to do or who to call in cases of sickness or family distress. Perhaps a list of organizations concerned about climate change or in getting people out to vote? Maybe you will even have a list of public wash rooms within a 1 km radius of your church or a popular shopping mall?

What would you find simple, useful and stress reducing? Others are looking for the same things. Get it out there on the internet and people will tell their friends where to find it and more.

The Double-Loop Theory of Change

In order to continue in these time of rapid change organizations, including the church, need to recognize some basic theories about how social and cultural organizations change. One such theory is known as the double loop theory of change . As one institution approaches the end of its time, innovators from within evolve in new ways, eventually replacing the old organization with something new and different. The following illustration shows how it works: (clicking on it may help you see the details.)

double loopSome innovations fail, but others succeed and communities of support form around them. As these new communities evolve they gain supporters from the old organization who help steward the process as it continues on.

There are many organizations and processes in Western society beginning their descent to oblivion. In these rapidly changing times we need innovators willing to risk the leap and, in so doing, keep our culture from decay.