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Sunday November 6, 2022
I’d better say this tight up front – I have never experienced prejudice against me because I am white. I suspect that no “person of colour” can say the same.
I have travelled widely. I have spent time in, by my last count, 66 different countries. In many of those, the local population had darker skin than mine. I have never been told, “Hey, whitey, go to the back of the line.” Or, “This is where WE eat; what are you doing here?”
And if anyone has called me derogatory names, they did it in their own language, and I didn’t know.
You may protest that you have no prejudice against brown- or black-skinned people. You may really believe that. But you cannot know it. Only the person experiencing prejudice knows it.
Categories: Sharp Edges
Tags: racism, Prejudice
Thursday November 3, 2022
Another Halloween has come and gone. We’ve sent our children out into the darkness of night dressed as skeletons or mummies, ghouls and ghosties, and other things that go bump in the night.
Now the costumes have been put away for another year.
And I wonder what’s special about Halloween that we’re dressing up our kids for.
There was a time, of course, when people actually believed that the souls of the dead rose up from their graves and roamed the streets. The whole premise of Dickens’ Christmas Carol relies on Scrooge believing that dead still have a presence among us.
Categories: Soft Edges
Tags: Hallowe'en, ghosts
Thursday October 27, 2022
Ahah, I thought, that’s what used to happen to my wife Joan. She was smart. She was tough. She ran a department with 40 staff. She handled the sale of one church property and the purchase of another, despite all the impediments that two levels of government could throw at her.
But she hated exams.
Tags: Coleman, Social Intelligence, exams
Sunday October 23, 2022
Such a miracle is the salmon!
Of the 4,000 or so eggs that a female sockeye deposits in the Adams River, B.C.’s most famous salmon run, only two will survive long enough to start a new generation.
There’s a salmon run every year. Every fourth year, though, is the biggest run.
A week ago, I drove up to the Adams River to see what was supposed to be a banner year, a dominant year.
I’ve been there before for a dominant year. So many salmon were packed together, each one seeking the best grovel for spawning, that I felt I could walk across the river on their backs.
Not this year.
Tags: climate change, Salmon, Sockeye, Adams River
Thursday October 20, 2022
The universe will be 6026 years old this weekend. According to Irish Archbishop James Ussher, in 1650, the universe began on October 23, 4004 BCE (Before Christian Era).
It’s easy to make fun of Ussher. Years ago, I had a part in the play Inherit the Wind, a fictionalized treatment of the Scopes “Monkey Trial” of 1925.
During one rehearsal, the actor portraying prosecutor Matthew Brady declared, in a voice like God playing Spencer Tracy, that the earth had been created at “precisely 9:00 a.m.”
And a voice from the audience cracked, “9:30 in Newfoundland…”
The cast erupted in laughter.
Tags: creation, Ussher, 4004 BC
Sunday October 16, 2022
It was painful, watching Andrea Skinner, the interim chair of Hockey Canada’s Board of Directors, as the Parliamentary Committee on Canadian Heritage grilled her mercilessly about charges that Hockey Canada had covered up a gang rape.
Skinner squirmed like a worm impaled on a hook as she tried to defend the indefensible.
I don’t need to go into the details. In broad terms, as everyone now knows, Hockey Canada paid out $8.9 million as hush money for 21 sexual assault accusations since 1989.
Tags: Hockey Canada, sexual assault, cover-up
Thursday October 13, 2022
I can picture it clearly. A heavy wood picnic table, cut from raw logs, varnished, perched on a point of land sticking out into the Skeena river. Four of us eat ham-and-lettuce sandwiches – me and my wife and our two children, both under six years age.
I can’t remember exactly when this happened. But I can date it fairly accurately. Because our car is a bright yellow 1962 Plymouth Valiant.
Why do I remember that? It has no relevance to anything in my current life. It simply exists in the hard drive of my mind.
Tags: memories, filing, erasing
unday October 9, 2022
Could Jesus have been wrong? This is not a hypothetical question. It bears strongly on how we can – or should, or might – respond to a variety of current controversies.
Could Jesus be wrong? The mind boggles. Christian faith worldwide is founded on the conviction that Jesus must have been right, regardless.
Now, there are certainly things that Jesus said and did that stretch our credulity. Walking on water, for example. I’ve tried it. It doesn’t work. But we rationalize away that experimental failure, by arguing either that it’s a skill limited to the divine, or that it proves our lack of faith.
But then there are those troublesome parables.
Tags: Trump, Jesus, parables, wrong
Thursday September 28, 2022
There was a fad, a few years ago – maybe there still is – about going on silent retreat. Spending an hour, a day, or a week, alone, in silence. To get in touch with yourself.
I’m not sure what that would do for me.
I live in silent retreat. I live alone, since Joan died. I don’t have the radio or TV on during the day – I don’t like disembodied voices nattering away in the background. I don’t wear earbuds. I don’t sink into my cellphone.
How would a silent retreat differ?
Tags: Retreats. silence
Sunday October 2, 2022
Friday September 30 was Orange Shirt Day, the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
Forty years ago, such an event would have been unthinkable.
And then, in March 1985, a woman named Alberta Billie did the unthinkable. She told a meeting of the United Church of Canada’s Executive that the church should apologize for its role in running “Indian” residential schools.
A little more than a year later, on August 15, 1986, the church’s moderator, the Rev. Bob Smith, led the church in Canada’s first-ever apology to Canada’s indigenous peoples.
Tags: United Church of Canada, apology, Indian, Sudbury, consensus