Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Smoke and Booze

Smoke and Booze -by William Hay


My wife was my best drinking buddy


But I lost her to smoke and booze

A7 G

A heart can't compete with a bottle


And a drunk doesn't have a clue

I've been to Alberta and Arizona

I've followed the rodeo

It would have been good to grow old together

But love don't grow old on smoke and booze.

It’s Complicated

This chick flick with Meryl Streep, Alec Baldwin and Steve Marten is marketed to bitter unforgiving women. Man leaves self obsessed woman for younger woman. Man comes back to now ex wife and has an affair with her. She thereby trumps the original marriage breaker.Old woman beats young woman. She then destroys the husband who has come back to her and their family. Such sweet revenge.

Finally, she's supposedly the good mother. In the end all her kids are with her. It looks more like fear than love. She has the big house and gets the architect. It's such a cold hearted superficial movie whose only redeeming feature is Alec Baldwin's sensitive portrayal of a three dimensional character. American woman at it's worst. Reminded me of the Guess Who song. It's only wrong if the man does it.

DNA evidence shows a third of children aren't their father's in the increasing patrimony suits. Affairs take two. Jesus said, he without sin, should throw the first stone. She is definitely a stoner in this movie that celebrate marijuania promoting it as the solution for the geriatric set. But it's all vengeance. Family and community are secondary to the self centered individual. The culture of narcissim at it's ugliest, disguised in a veneer of fine food, wealth and 'sex in the city' clothing.

The new world order – Hedonism becomes Shedonism :"You've come along way, Baby" - "She who has the most toys wins." Thank you Hollywood!

Lithium Carbonate

Lithium Carbonate is a mainstay medication in psychiatry. It's been tried and proven in the treatment of Bipolar Disease.
Historically there was only one bipolar disease, that which was called Manic Depressive disorder. This was a horrible disease with Mania so severe that it could last untreated and lead to death from hyperactivity, grandiose delusional thinking and angry outbursts. Later the cyclothymic disturbance of mood swings, a very attenuated form of the classic illness was called Bipolar II.

Lithium Carbonate was and probably still is the drug of choice for Bipolar I especially the Manic episode. It's also an amazing 'preventative medication'.

The story goes that Lithium Carbonate's special capacity for modulating mood was found when it was used for heart patients as Lithium Salt instead of normal table salt, Sodium Salt. People were noted to be 'mellow' and from this 'observational' history the medication use developed.

Lithium Carbonate's pharmacological 'raison d'etre' isn't clearly known. It's thought that somehow it stabilizes membranes. Empirically it works and it works very well.

It's also relatively safe at low dosage used most commonly in the community. With increasing dosage there is increasing toxicity.

When LithiumCarbonate is started it's standard to check the blood work. Lithium can be toxic to the thyroid gland so TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) is ordered to measure baseline activity in case there is any change while on Lithium. The other organ which can be involved are the Kidneys so Creatinine is measured along with the Glomerular Filtration Rate, tests that assess the filtering function. If the Creatinine were to increase it would indicate that the filtering function of the kidneys were impaired. Sometimes an Electrocardiogram is taken if there is any concern about heart function as Lithium can cause arrythmias. Once a person is established on the best Lithium dosage for the individual these tests are repeated initially at 3 -6 months and then annually while the person is on Lithium.

Lithium is usually begun in the 300 mg three times a day dosage. The blood level of Lithium is then measured since each person's metabolism is different. Acceptable blood levels for Lithium treatment of bipolar disorder are in the range of .6 to 1.2 mEq/litre. By adding or subtracting 300 mg of Lithium roughly in the range 600 to 1500 mg a day, the desired lithium level is achieved. Lithium equilibriates such that drug test for Lithium level can be done 1-2 weeks after altering the dosage. The idea is to have the level at the lower end when a person is relatively stable and at the higher end when a person is more manic. In hospital for mania acute treatment it's not uncommon to aim for a lithium level just short of toxicity in the 1.5 mEq/litre range.

Once stable Lithium levels, Na. K. CBC Cr and TSH and urinalysis are done with decreasing frequency to annually in a person stable on Lithium.

Because dehydration can affect the lithium level, when people are sick with fever or diarrhea it's good to check the lithium level. Lithium toxicity is usually noted subjectively first as an increasing tremor or trembling.

There is a common expression in clinical medicine that goes, treat the person, not the lab. This refers to the fact that many people individually benefit from medication dosage that doesn't quite go with what the textbooks would say. This is often true with Lithium Carbonate where maintenance dosages do not necessarily have to be strictly in the 'drug level' range as patients may remain stable on a lower dosage with the potential for a greater safety. The key here is that if a person is already on Lithium and develops mania and or depression the optimum dosage can be reached more easily than if a person were started from scratch or with no lithium on board. To this end I was interested to note that Lithium Carbonate was used as an adjunctive medication in the Star D Protocols for chronic depressions clearly indicating the potency of the medication as an adjunctive. Many patients benefit from 300 to 600 mg a day as prevention and for stabilization in maintenance. For treatment however this not adequate and the standard textbooks mirror clinical practice where often much higher dosages are needed to stabilize the Bipolar Disorder.

Sleep disorder increasingly is seen to be part of the Bipolar Disorder with insomnia associated with mania and hypersomnia associated with some depressions of the Bipolar class.

Lithium Carbonate may well affect the sleep cycle and thereby help with the mood disorder. It's commonly used with antidepressants especially SSRI's when a person is in the depressed phase and it's safely used with other mood stabilizers when a person is having manic symptons.

That said, it's an amazing medication that has allowed many people to live essentially normal lives with excellent long term work and stable intimate and conventional relationships. Without lithium these very same people might well have spent inordinate time in hospital and certainly would have not had the same success in the community. Fortunately too there are new medications which combine with Lithium to provide even better finer tuned care for patients with Bipolar disorder.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


"I feel creepy when I'm around one." he told me. We reflected on the Communist Party rule in totalitarian states and how the lawyer was the new aparatchik.
"But I like lawyer's,"I said, quite surprising myself by my having positive feelings for glorified arts students. As a scientist I'm rather more fond of Engineers professionally.
"I was astonished to learn that so much of their work is done for free and costs to support a case were done out of pocket. The lawyers I know don't get paid from their suits until after the trial. They have to have a lot of committment and carry a tremendous amount of risk."
"Like dentists who have all that upfront investment in equipment and have to take out all manner of loan before getting a practice going."
"That's what bothers me about lawyers. The more I get to know them and the more I work with them the more I understand and appreciate where they're coming from. It pays to be paranoid and take a jaundiced view when you're putting up the money."
"So the lawyers we don't like are the 'politico's. They make the laws and fix the laws and then benefit from the laws. They're no different from the politicians who vote their own pay cheques. "
"Those lawyers are above the pay grade of the all the other lawyers. More commonly than not their 'connection' isn't just law but old money and old blood."

We talked a bit more about this. And no one made a lawyer joke. That was really odd.


John Malkovich's performance is sheer genius in this post modern South African allegory based on the novel by Nobel prize winning author J. M. Coetzee. The new apartheid is contrasted with the colourless world of mother and child. Terror and humiliation beyond an eye for an eye dominates the primitive tribal rule. Malkovich with utter realism plays Professor Lurie who seduces a college student, played by Natalie Becker. Later, he cannot protect his own daughter Lucy, played by Jessica Haines. Jessica Haines brings new insight, depth and toughness to the white woman in a Africa role, earning her place alongside Katherine Hepburn and Meryl Streep. It is a must see.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

St. George’s Anglican Church 100th Anniversary

Today St. George's Anglican Church celebrated 100 years of serving the community. John Marsh is the Priest at St. George's but today Bishop Michael Ingham, on this special occasion, preached the sermon on St. George.

He began with his usual light hearted good humor saying, "when I was last here I was invited to plant a tree but I've since learned the tree died, so understand now why it's been so long since I've been invited back."

To paraphrase his sermon he began by making the observation that he liked that Anglicans and Catholics have named their churches after saints whereas other Protestant denominations were more likely to name their churches after the places where they existed in the world.

There are different types of saints, he said. These include those that exist and those that didn't….unfortunately for this occasion and church, St. George didn't… was the time of chivalry when the knights were intent on being seen as more useful, so St. George was said to be a great dragonslayer and to save damsels in distress. One might then wonder why the church kept him on as a saint, Bishop Michael Ingham continued. In the terms of the psychiatrist Dr. Carl Jung, the dragon represents that dark shadow of ourselves and our individual need to slay that archetypal dragon within. In Christian terms this is what Jesus Christ did for the world. So the symbol of the dragonslayer remains with us today.

At this time my little dragon, Gilbert the puppy, began to chew on my fingers and generally let me know that like a true Anglican he'd had enough sermon, even if it was the best sermon in the world. As he began to growl, like a little dragon to enhance the Bishops sermon, I thought we should best go outside where he promptly relieved himself. We were followed shortly after by another gentleman with his 1 year old child. Earlier I'd prided myself on Gilbert's behaving better as he child had wailed at one point during the hymns when I'd most feared my puppy might choose to join in. Outside we smiled sympathetically at each other in our, albeit, minor, modern chivalrous, St. George roles. Two manly men saving the congregations from our personal terrors, wailing puppies and screaming babies..

Later during the Peace, when everyone shake hands and hugs, we were back in the church and Gilbert was fondly greeted especially by the women, who said what a handsome fellow he was. He rather liked this warm and fuzzy church experience.

Later he had a private interview on the lawn with the Bishop who bent down and told him what a "cutie" he was. Thankfully Gilbert was on leash and didn't get a chance to lunge at the hanging bright cross the Bishop wore about his neck and certainly had his attention. Gilbert's parents were impressed that he had a meeting with the Bishop on his first day of church. Gilbert obviously liked him but he would have preferred to stay for the luncheon that was served after.

Vivian Seegers who is part of the clergy at St. George's brought Puka out of her car to join in the after church feast. As we were leaving Puka and Gilbert encountered each other in a sloppy dog fest. Gilbert thought St. George's was that much better a church with such another fine dog attending. Puka lifts his leg and Gilbert finds this 'styling' very impressive.
In the life of dogs this is truly 'high' Anglican.

Laura and I again loved the community spirit of St. George's, a truly beautiful church with real down home friendliness. It's always a joy to hear Bishop Ingham preach as he's world reknowned as most learned men in the Anglican world. His book Mansions of the Spirit is a fine Christian testimonial and a leading reference for the spiritually ecumenical.

Oak Animal Hospital

Gilbert met Christine Ong, Veterinarian, at Oak Animal Hospital today. They hit it off just fine. She told him his heart and lungs were okay. He was very impressed with her professional manner and the reassurance she gave to his people. He wasn't sure about the thermometer bit. Otherwise it was a very good experience.

The Marriage of Figaro – Vancouver Opera

A truly gala event for Vancouver audiences. Mozart's, Marriage of Figaro ended tonight with standing ovations and uproarious applause. The symphony and conductor, Jonathan Darlington, were perfection.

Figaro, played by Daniel Okulitch, was a jolly performance with acting and characterization to go with a voice rich in tone and depth. Susanna, Figaro's bride, played by Nikki Einfeld was sweetness personified with whimsy and charm. Count Almaviva, played by Aaron St. Clair Nicholson, was simply rich with character and a voice that filled the auditorium with all the confusion of his mixed up love for both his wife, the countess and her maid, Susannah.

Countess Almaviva, played by Rosyln Jones was everything and then some. In her voice you could hear tectonic plates moving at the depth of the earth and the celestial spheres dancing in the heavens. She was as divine as Figaro was human.

The huge cast was hilarious in all it's shenanigans and intrigues.

First performed in Vienna in 1786, this opera is ageless today. Human love and mishap is a timeless tale whose joy and sorrow were captured time and again by this thoroughly delightful comic romance.

I loved the English subtitles over the stage. I loved that the audience at intermission were so fashionable as to be a whole other slice of entertainment.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Harley Davidson Puppy Toys

Gilbert has his first Harley Davidson Motorcyle. It's a wonderful squeaky toy that matches his Harley leash and Harley collar. Gilbert is too young to know that he will one day be a passenger on a Harley. But that's his Dad's plan. One of the Harley squeaky toys even roars like a Harley. Maybe when he's older the growl won't scare him. For now he's content with the Harley rubber motorcycle. Gilbert is the latest member of Harley Owner's Group, probably the youngest gang member at 8 weeks. But he's really fierce when it comes to Harley puppy toys.

Friday, April 23, 2010

The Puppy

The first thing to know about a puppy is that they have teeth. Little sharp teeth like those found on snakes but more so.

The next thing to know is that they pee. The pee alot. Every few hours in fact. They especially like to pee on carpets.

They also poop. They prefer pooping inside where it's warm and cozy but in time can be coaxed to poop outside. At first they are wholly indiscriminatee with teeth, urination and bowel movements. They keep doing this till you entice them with hypervigilance and treats to change their behaviour.

The next thing to know is that puppies bark. Little high pitched random barks unrelated to any apparent event but attracting the attention of building superintendants and nosy neighbours.

They also have a muling cry that makes passing strangers think that you are in some way hurting your puppy. The fact is your puppy merely wants to jump out of your arms and race after another dog right into a fast moving car. Puppies have an active death wish. They require constant attention from their owner.

Puppies have episodes of mania. These are euphemistically called 'Play Time'. They occur randomly but are certainly not to be missed at 3 in the morning. The reason they are not to missed is the aboved mentioned teeth and high pitched bark. Puppies have ways of getting your attention. If the teeth and bark don't work they resort to pee and poop.

Other adults will think the puppy cute. They goo goo and gaga in front of the puppy quite oblivious to the fact that you are watching them being absurb. It's hard to not forget the behaviour of adults who once seemed reasonably normal until they 'melt' before the 'charm' of your puppy.

Girlfriends will be especially impressed with the puppies of their boyfriends. The smart girlfriend hides her good shoes and leaves an old pair of shoes out that the puppy will find irrisistible.

This naturally leads to the boyfriend buying the girl friend a new pair of shoes.

A female cat can be easily confused by the appearance of a puppy. Hormones being hormones the puppy causes the cat to have some sort of maternal experience. This follows with the cat remembering regrettably that she has black outs when she eats catnip. Eventually she assumes she must have really laid one to have cohabitated with the father of such an ugly kitten. Mothers' being mothers she accepts the puppy as hers while swearing off catnip for life.

The puppy experience is not to be taken lightly. The care and feeding of a puppy is a testimony to a human's capacity for love and patience. Many an individual, male or female, will wisely have a puppy as a trial experience for having a human relationship. People who cannot bond with animals usually have even more problems bonding with humans. Such people would say that human relationships are more difficult. They probably have not had a puppy.

Others will use a puppy as a surrogate child. Many a couple can save children from divorce by fighting their custody battle over a puppy. There are definitely lawyers enterring law schools now with the sole intention of making life long careers specializing in puppy custody cases.

Puppies in addition to requiring food and water need a veterinarian. Veterinarians, normally called, Vets, are people who care for puppies who are sick. They also provide vaccines and have all manner of good advice about puppies. Vets are even more helpful than dog obedience instructors. Obedience instructors aim to teach puppy owners manners. Vets being more educated and subtle leave owners thinking the puppy was the patient. For that reason they are harder on the pocket book.

Puppy spelt backwards doesn't mean anything but one day a puppy becomes a dog. Dog spelt backwards is GOD. The puppy knows this. They are a whole lot smarter than you think.

The owner has to pick up the puppies poop. Pick up is only half the issue. It's the carrying it to the garbage can all the while the puppy is jumping up to reclaim the toy.

Pupplies like squeaky toys. These are the equivalent to a drum set for a teen ager. Few owners think these things through. Next you know puppies have even more acoustic advantage.

Finally, puppies are loveable. Puppies love to lick you under the chin and cuddle into your arm pit with their little back legs digging for purchase. Next thing you know you're doing googoo and gaga things. It happens.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The River War

The River War by Winston Churchill is of course a classic. Winston Churchill is one of the greatest men of all time and the most amazing journalist and writer. Everyone knows him as the Prime Minister of England during WWII who saved the world we know it from the tyrrany of Nazi Germany.
Yet there is so much more to Churchill. The River War is the 1899 book about the Egypt-England reconquest of the Sudan in which Winston himself was in the Lancers Calvary at the Battle of Omdurman.
Churchill's account of the whole war is extraordinary as it traces the war's development, the death of Gordon, the Mahdi, Dervishes, building of the railway along the Nile to bring up supplies and forces and the movement of gunships over cascades. Tens of thousands of men fought and died in this desert wars. Massacres of towns and outposts.
Horses and camels and infantry fighting side by side with modern machine guns and swords. Churchill's account is enthralling. This is a leader whose courage in face of personal threat is the stuff of legend. Churchill was not parachuted into his role. He represents the might of a man of the ranks who though born into priviledge served side by side throughout his life with the common men who'd he'd eventually lead to victory.

Today's experiments in management seem to miss the point of history, Churchill and WWII. It seems that there is a shortage of experience in the real life of danger, privation, and sacrifice in the thin soup of today's board rooms.
Of course I may well be wrong. Churchill's life would have it's fair share of mistakes. Still I wonder which leader's today have lives as full as this man of destiny.

The Young Victoria

What a truly refreshing movie. So uplifting. A great romance. A truly wonderful slice of history. The Court of England at it's finest. People, just noble people, in lovely clothes and lovely surroundings. Doing their best. Family. I loved Albert Hall in London. Victoria and Albert were such a support to education, the arts and sciences. This movie is simply captivating. So much is in the characterization. The actors and directing catch every subtle detail. It was beautiful. Who said history was dull!

The movie was written by Julian Fellowes, directed by Jean-Marc Vallee and starred Emily Blunt as Queen Victoria and Rupert Friend as Albert.

Sex Offenders

I was recently asked a question about 'sex offenders'. My friend was initially perplexed by my response that this was a 'legal' and 'political' term and not a 'psychiatric' or 'medical' term. As a medical doctor and psychiatrist I can speak about sexuality and even 'offensive' sexual behavior.

"You know what I mean, pedophiles, priest, guys like Tiger Woods and Clinton, " said my friend who was truly interested in the subject academically, and mostly asking if there was some sort of 'epidemic' or 'pandemic' situation. I was tempted to respond as a comedian did, 'that indoor plumbling, cleanliness, and in door heating has contributed as much to modern day sexual abuse as increasingly 'leisure time' has.

Politics, the media and the legal system groups these very disparate entities under this one heading, "Sex Offender". A sex offender can be anything from a violent sadistic rapist to a person who keeps calling an ex after a restraining order. The term is a bit of a moving target too so that only lawyers or perhaps judges know what it really means from week to week. Within the category there are clearly 'specific' legal entities and sometimes these 'legal entitities' overlap with medical and psychiatric diagnosis.

  1. Pedophiles are specifically people who have prefer sex with under aged, pre pubescent, ie children. It's a medical and psychiatric term. If a person has sex with a menstruating 12 year old with breasts or a hair 11 year old boy, medically and psychiatrically this person wouldn't be termed a 'pedophile'. They would have a very different condition. Biologically, our sexual reproductive apparatus is arranged with hormones and pheromes to have sex with 'fertile' people. While a 12 year old menstruating female with breasts and secondary sexual development wouldn't be an 'adult' in our society, and wouldn't be an 'adult' capable of raising children, she would be 'adult' from a biological basis and capable of reproduction. In so called "primitive" cultures it was not uncommon for what would e considered 'teen ager's today to mate, have children, and those children would be raised by the parents and grandparents. In primitive society the # of people in the 'tribe' was often critical to the tribes 'survival' as all work was human and winning and losing in war was often a matter of numbers. Pedophiles, those who have sex with children biologically, are a specific clinical and medical entity. Both may be 'morally' wrong but they are distinct categories clinically.
  2. Patrick Wall, an ex priest legal advisor, states that most of the priests are heterosexual and most of the "sexual abuse" in the Catholic church is heterosexual with young women. The media has sensationalized the 'altar boy'. Teen ager girls are most vulnerable because of their lack of sexual awareness. An adult woman would not come into a priests room to have a rest beside him whereas a lonely teen age girl would be a risk for such a ploy. Protestant ministers and rabbis are as likely to offend as priests though 'confessional' booths and the exchanges perhaps give priests for access. The recent 'witchhunt' of the priests is not so much about the sex offenders and the pedophiles (priests who have sex with altar boys and prebuscent girls) but the institutional 'cover up'. The same is true for rabbis and the protestant churchs as well. The trauma associated with 'residential schools' , teachers, principals, ministers, priests was made worst by the authorities denial and cover up. As for pedophiles, it's common for the real thing, to have 150 to 200 'victims' before they are 'caught'. It's not uncommon for them to have been sexually abused themselves as children and repeating learned behavior but doing it knowingly and increasingly as an 'addictive' or 'compulsive behaviour'.
  3. Adultery is what Tiger Woods and Clinton are guilty of. Jesus said of the crowd ready to 'stone' the adulteress in the Bible, "he without sin should throw the first stone'. Do not commit adultery is one of 10 commandments, up there with lying and bearing false witness (gossiping etc) , stealing (including institutional kinds), etc. What is significant about Woods and Clinton is the 'availability' factor. Daily men or women in high position in society have 'access' to sex in a way in which most of us, who would gladly judge them from partaking, when we ourselves don't have their 'power and beauty'. The ugly are the quickest to condemn sexual sins by the likes of Clinton and Woods or Madonna. The ugly however wouldn't turn a blind eye to their own 'sins' of say, 'blasphemy', or most importantly not respecting their parents. Rocks stars are commonly followed by groupie women who take men sexually as 'trophies' in the same way that some men 'score'. It's shallow and it's superficial and it may represent some underlying psychiatric disorder, say a mood disorder, commonly an addiction or sometimes just a personality disorder. However, the fact remains , 'power corrupts' and 'absolute power corrupts absolutely'
  4. Robert Hare, PHD the leading authority on Psychopaths and Sociopaths would see many of the "sex offenders" as expressing their 'antisocial' and 'manipulative' traits in the 'sexual realm' just as they express these deviant traits in a variety of other areas of their lives. They lack 'empathy' or they consider the 'victim' as 'beneath them'.
  5. The final comment I'd say on 'sex offenders' is that it is a very broad group and that most are amenable to treatment. Psychopaths aren't really amenable to treatment and pedophiles aren't readily amenable to treatment. Thanks to the courts these aberrant behaviours can be treated when they are required. There is most limited success without the 'control' being taken out of the hands of the 'offenders'. The same has been seen with drug addict and the increasingly successful Drug Courts. Sex addiction as a model is one of the newer kids on the block and certainly has it's place in the thinking surrounding these disorders. People are not 'monsters' but their 'behaviours' can be 'monstrous'. Today we would stop the behavior externally and work to have the person develop the internal restraints.
  6. Increasingly there are areas where the legal and psychiatric systems work very well together. The risk though is that there is a history of these 'alliances' increasing the 'power' of intervention however not necessarily respecting such profound factors as 'cultural differences'. It's far too easy to forget that the vast majority of people are muddling along in the right direction. Just because the majority of sexual abuse is done by women doesn't mean that most women sexually abuse their children. The very vast majority of mothers and fathers simply don't do that. The media sells with sensation and the politicians get votes by appearing tough on whatever while the police and courts and even the psychological services have their own invested interests which might well be in conflict with the needs of the greater society. Thankfully there are groups of people, specialists and lay persons, struggling with these hard questions of 'ethical' behavior and what is 'sick' and what may not be 'sick' but still is 'just plain wrong' . No one alone and on one group has the only answer.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Bungalow Motel – Harrison Hot Springs

It's such a favourite place that I fear writing about it will make it even more popular than it is. I've been coming for over a decade. The people who run it are truly wonderful. They have the best ice cream in summer too. Great little cabins with showers and kitchens. But they not only look like rustic cabins at the lake, they feel like it too, nestled amidst old spruce trees. My window looks out on Harrison's Lake with the snow and cloud painted mountains beyond.

I think I first came here when I hunted up the lake. I never got any deer, only a grouse or two but loved the hikes and views. Coming back to the cabin to cook up grouse and later read was all I could want. I was exploring the area around Harrison's back then, finding the hot springs in the mountain that you could only hike too. Now I take the trip up from Vancouver mostly to enjoy the walks and the hot springs themselves.

I brought this gorgeous woman up with me and she really enjoyed hanging out by the swimming pool. I'd never know there was an outdoor swimming pool before until she got into her bikini and I followed her there. There's a beach in front too for evening walks. The promenade on the other side begins just across the street and runs all the way through town to the Spa. Soon I'm going to walk the city block or two to the town hotsprings and take 'the healing waters'. For now, Laura's boiled up a cup of beef broth for us.

Thursday, April 15, 2010


Homophobia is a term commonly used when gay bashing breaks out like disease. It's not a difficult term to grasp.

Consider three attractive men standing across from three attractive women. Suddenly two of the men become amorous with each other. Does the third suddenly attack them. If he was homophobic he would. His interest in homosexual men would supercede his interest in heterosexual women. If he were a heterosexual man, however, he would naturally ignore the homosexual men or even encourage them, all the while gleefully delighted he now had three women for himself.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Canadian Author’s Association – Vancouver Chapter

Tonight's monthly meeting featured Rebecca Wigod, Book Review Editor for the Vancouver Sun. This prematurely grey haired beauty wearing red blouse and slim black skirt was as refined and articulate as one could hope. She delicately explained how decisions about which books would be reviewed to a roomful of authors who could have turned hostile on a dime were it not for her sage diplomacy.

"Budgetary restraints" she told us, "required use of wire service reviews." Beleaguered newspapers already subscribed to these. Commissioned reviews were then coupled with these to fit the limited space in the already established format. Where once the paper was assembled locally, and there was potential for flexibility, now for the sake of cost saving, it was assembled offsite. They 'cut from the bottom up" she said. Several unpublished authors still wide eyed with enthusiasm paled at the thought of such barbarism.

Using Jane Hall's book Red Wall she told how current events involving the RCMP could make a book timely. "We're a newspaper and we like to write what is news." Sometimes receiving galleys could mean that a review could be planned to coincide with publication dates. Commissioned reviews could be six months in preparation. Alternatively she described reading a book and reviewing it over the weekend because it was so highly current.

"I like bookseller recommendations because sellers know what readers are reading." Asked about submitting other book reviews with the book, she said she appreciated this because it helped her to guage the level of attention a book was receiving.

A Canadian Bestseller was normally one which had already sold 5000 books.

Perry Wilson, from ebook publisher, Paperbox Books Publishing, asked if newspapers were ready to review ebooks. Certainly a novel idea, Rebecca was genuinely intrigued. Sylvia Taylor from BC Federation of Writers asked Rebecca's thoughts on the organizations that promote and support authors. Rebecca replied that she'd previously listed the many readings that were occurring around town when she had more space but now had to content herself with highlighting only the most notable, "like Dr. Kalla" she said.

In bringing the meeting to a close, Bob Mackay announced that it was apropos that Rebecca had mentioned Dr. Kalla as he was a member of CAA and the the guest speaker at the next CAA meeting May 11. Jean Kay received a round of applause for her continued great work organizing the Victoria, BC June 24 writers convention high lighting technology and writing, CAN WRITE 2010.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Gilbert Hay

Gilbert Hay is a 6 week old cockapoo. His father was Jimmy, a shadow poodle while his mother was Angel, a fancy cockerspaniel.
Deborah Mitchell, former US Navy Commander, after 20 years of service including time in Guam, moved to Coupeville, Whidbey Island to fulfill her dream of raising dogs.
Dtresor Kennels is a located in her delightful homestead in the country. I was really pleased to find Gilbert so well cared for and with such great personality. Something to do with having ducks and geese for neighbours and lots of happy dogs for company.
He was shy at first but he loved to be held and soon his little tongue was licking my neck. Deb was a wealth of information. Though I'd raised puppies I was very thankful for all her thoughtful advise. She's really a great lady. Hard to think of her in Navy uniform.

Then Gilbert and I were alone together driving home in my Ford Ranger Truck. With high pitched cries he let me know he didn't like being in the cage. I got him out while he peed with excitement all over my blue jeans. He preferred my lap after that. Then he curled up on the armrest and slept most of the way home. I took a couple of rest stops, taking him on a beach where he ran along behind me. I'm his mommy and his safety obviously. He only walked at a truck stop to follow me and let me know he preferred to be carried.

At the Border all that Deb had given me was just what they needed. I only had to pay the duty or tax or whatever it was for having spent more than my day's allotment. Nothing really. Then Gilbert and I were back on the road again. I liked that I passed a few Harleys and he took an interest in the 'loud pipes'.

When I got him back in town Laura was overjoyed to meet him, friends right off. Angel, the cat, on the other hand sniffed him over and was initially curious and friendly but when he bounded across the bed to her like they were long lost friends, she hissed. At puppy high speed he returned to my side and burrowed under my back. A while later he poked his head out and looked over at Angel with new found respect. Maybe because Angel has his mother's name he got a little confused but Angel the cat nipped that in the bud.

Now he's napping with his little head on the pillow.

I phoned my 91 yo Dad this morning and apprised him of the new member in the family. All the guys where he lives wanted to know the breed and he had trouble remembering it was a "cockapoo....I knew it was a cockle something." My cousin Wayne, the logger, had one who road everywhere with him in his truck. Best of friends.

Gilbert Hay was the friend of Robert the Bruce in Scottish history. Another Gilbert was a poet and then of course there's Gilbert and Sullivan. He's a musical sort of guy. Already he's showing the personality of a poet and the loyalty of a king's best friend.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Bad Lieutenant

Nicholas Cage, Eva Mendes and Val Kilmer make this Werner Herzog New Orleans drugs and guns people movie a memorable experience. It's about recovery. There's are iquanas too. And AA features in it as well. Sort of. You really don't have to take the elevator all the way down. You can get off anywhere in the basement, or not.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Refuge of Lies

Refuge of Lies opened tonight to a packed Pacific Theatre audience. Ron Reed, the playwright, is to the Holocaust what Paul was to the Cross. The theological implications of this masterpiece were as profound as the acting was moving.

Terrence Kelly's performance as a Dutch war criminal Christian convert, Rudi Vanderwaal ,was sheer genius. Howard Siegel portraying Simon Katzman, his Jewish accuser, was equally outstanding. Anna Hagin's performance as Rudi's wife, Netti, was heart touchingly real. The whole cast, including Anthony Ingram as Rudi's pastor, Erin Mahoney as Simon's neice, and David Nykl and Kerri Norris as Rudi's loyal friends made this play a piece de resistance. Even the Jessica Howell bathtub prop was obviously a product of in depth consideration.

Refuge of Lies should be mandatory for every pastor, rabbi, iman or priest today. The Pope is struggling with sex scandals of the church, as state and religious authority collide. The Canadian military turning prisoners over to the Afghanistan military for torture and death beg the question of who is responsible. Israel builds settlements in East Jerusalem that Obama calls 'illegal' while Iran would have nuclear weapons to settle the "jewish question" once and for all. Refuge of Lies is a play for anyone who would understand the depth of news and how the Holocaust must be remembered lest we forget and repeat it's horrors

Refuge of Lies asks when is justice revenge and most importantly can Grace change a man. Can the murderer Abraham be redeemed by God? As the BC courts consider television coverage at trials the very question of what is private between man and wife and man and God is tested here in dialogue and acting.

Ron Reed's daring and challenging play is simply a must see and must feel play. It is truly a baptism of theatre and spirituality.

Positive Economic Indicators for British Columbia

For many the recent economic crisis has left them traumatized and fearing for their futures. Good news is hard to find but here is some worth considering.

Theology of Crisis

Karl Barth's early theology of crisis
“[Barth’s] deepest intention was to point to the crisis for the sake of pointing to the grace of God, to speak the No for the sake of making the divine Yes heard. In this crisis all human ways are exposed as dead-end roads in order that the one Way might be revealed. The divine Yes is the background of the radical crisis which is suspended over the whole of life.”—G. C. Berkouwer, The Triumph of Grace in the Theology of Karl Barth (London: Paternoster, 1956), p. 33.
Posted by Ben Myers at 7:40 AM

Not only do I like the term "theology of crisis", I like the idea that Barth speaks to. So often in my life I feel like I'm stumbling from crisis to crisis, out of the frying pan into the fire, out of the fire into the soup, out of the soup into the grease. If it isn't one thing it's another. I just don't feel like I'm getting ahead but mostly holding myself against the current, identifying with salmon swimming upstream. Even when i get to float in the pools though I figure it's not going to be for long because some new demand or crisis will arise.
I've treated tens of thousands of patients and when a hundred were doing well there was always one that gave me nightmares. I'd be in the textbooks and journals reading papers, looking for an answer to keep them from dying or get them over their next hurdle. Soon there were just no textbooks that said much about the kinds of problems I was facing. The easy stuff was behind me and everything was a quantum leap more complex.
Meanwhile just when I had some help from staff they had a personal crisis and brought all their chaos and attitude into the office or to the hospital ward. In the midst of this a wife or two would be demanding more attention than work allowed while the government was trying to kill me and my patients when they weren't trying to put me in jail. I was never helping matters because I had this strange notion of justice, and truth and no one played by the rules especially not the politicians and judges who made them.
I felt like a boy scout up the proverbial creek without a paddle and would phone colleagues and they'd tell me they'd never dealt with such a case or the ones who could help wouldn't want to get involved or die before their years because of the caring and stress it brings. Mostly people just went through the motions and were beaten down by the system that served only the wealthy.
Everywhere I looked I found that the beaurocrats had secret agendas, kickbacks and corrupt motives. The deceit and fear in government buildings vied with apathy and arrogance and no shame. They collectively were like judas with their peices of silver. I wasn't Jesus. My patients were. At best I was often just washing feet. I weep these days as I hear of people on life saving medications that are being cut off to pay for the Olympics. They'll die in months or years but they'll die sooner and the reprieve from their illnesses was kind of like a mother offering a tit and then pulling it out of the child's mouth and watching the child starve to death while slowly shaking her head with a mona lisa smile.
Daily now I know there's a cure or answer but there's no resources. There's no medications in the cupboards. There's no specialists. It's a year wait to see one and people wait months to see me. A hundred referrals waiting for me to priorize right now and no time in my schedule because the business is failing because the people who do business decided to think only of themselves and make a huge profit on my patients and my loss.
The worst offenders are the beaurocrats who are paid big bucks to 'self police'. As insiders we know whose "immune" and 'above the law" but there's a few 'favourites' and the rest of us live in fear and the public is kept completely in the dark because it's all back rooms and closed doors and smoke and mirrors.
So it just seems like this is at best purgatory or maybe even hell because the bits of heaven on earth are interrupted by criminals and psychopaths getting away with bloody murder and a veritable million dollar industry of 'false accusation' and a court that thrives on lies. Perjury was once a crime but now the liars are rewarded. When do you know they are lying? Watch for their lips moving.
Their eyes are like reptiles.
They inflict pain. They know no God. They have sold their souls.

So along comes the Theology of Crisis. Barth says to pray. It's only when one prays and accepts that this world is 'wrong', it's 'sinful', it's in error and the people in it are in error, and I am in error, and those who most think they are right are most likely most wrong, that Grace comes. After all the No, yes appears like the light of morning after darkness. Down is up and up is down like everyone whose ever been in court or dealt with beaurocrats or tax departments will know. Double speak and 1984. But that's just jungle and bush. That's just storms at sea.

Step back. Sit quietly. Turn inward and pray. In the moment of crisis which literally is daily and mostly hourly for me or moment to moment as I juggle the impossible demands of the Washingtons and Ottawas and Victorias lightyears from reality in their dachaus and sterile offices and I'm one of the billion peasants now caught in the trenches of the high speed suffering world. Step back. Breathe. Close eyes. Pray.

Every moment Jesus was on the cross God's grace was his resurrection. I look to my own dying as God's grace. There's an end to the newspapers full of corruption and misery. There's an end to the cries of pain. There's an end to this earth where Buddha was right, desire is the root of all suffering and life is desire. I desire the next breath and fear it will be my last but facing death and welcoming it, knowing that God will take me from this life, I feel God's Grace. I am tired of the arrogance and pompousness of beaurocrats, the depth of their lack of empathy, the money men safe in their private schemes, their private health care plans their time for vacations and their servants and hit men and their personal armies and their deceit.
I am tired of my longings for love and peace. I'm tired of my inability to reach perfection. Daily I'm told I'm no good because I can't stop my patients from doing drugs, getting beat up, staying in bed, having unprotected sex, overeating, forgetting their medications, going to jail.
I'm told by my patients and government that I'm accountable for everything and I'm condemned all around but either the patient or the beaurocrat stands at the light switch and refuses to turn it on while demanding I do surgery with a lawyer waiting to sue me for a slip of the blade. And I'm always afraid. I'm always anxious. I'm always worrying I'll make a mistake. I'm surrounded by chaos and disorder and more and more no one cares and the hardware and software are corrupted.
A man is dead 24 hours in a Canadian teaching hospital waiting room and the story is hushed. There is no CEO who is arrested for fired for his death. No one mourns him. He's just another 'friendly fire' death and there will be an 'inquiry' but if I have a slip of the tongue or miss a beat I'm bankrupted and punished and run out of Dodge. There are no safety nets for doctors or nurses or peasants or taxpayers.
I'm persecuted as a "whistleblower'. I'm crying and trying harder and harder and doing more and more in less and less time with the government demanding more and more and police everywhere and homeland security and big limosines patrolling the streets and I'm told of deadlines after the deadlines and the tax men change the rules and only their friends know and the courts subpoenae me and I catch the flu and there's never a vacation because no matter what, the work just piles up and waits till you get back at ten times the amount because there are less and less resources for more and more. And the patients watch tv which is all lies and the politicians promises are supposed to be fulfilled by everyone but them. And we are all growing tired and working more and more and more for less and less and less.

Step back. Breathe. Meditate. Pray. Go for a walk. Get a dog and remember your body is like St. Francis called it, your donkey. Those fat cat beaurocrats, the doctor police and the politicians and the rich aren't caring about you or your patients. They want you to die. They'd love you to die. They only like the silent. Shut up and dance like new nigger. Man is the nigger of the world. You are just a number in their classy work camps. The world has become Auschwitz but just as the jails now have televisions, the gas just takes longer because it's really polluted air and unsafe water and food's aren't inspected for safety anymore and cars have gas pedals that stick. They want your patients to have euthanasia. They prefered abortion and now deny westerners adoption claiming everyone is a sex offender and all should be in jail so children from third world countries woud do better to starve than be raised by Burnaby couples who married late becasue they couldn't afford to have children and then it was too late.

The government's promises are idle. Only their threats are real. The jails are full and they're making more and more 'for profit' jails, sardine cans for your brothers and sisters, without programs, without rehabilitation but lots of money for construction and catering and lots of money for 'consulting' and lots for lawyering ands lots of ways for money to go missing and lots of pay for men in brown shirts with beady eyes.
And where are the hospital beds. Where are the asylums. When do my patients get the medications they need. When do I get any assistance and when will I feel like it's anything but moving in molasses. And when will I be able to do what I was taught to do in university, that very silly place which is an ivory tower and knows nothing about reality because it's like Ottawa and Washington and Victoria so so far from reality that they wouldn't know it if they saw it. And their solution to everything: Kill the messenger. Shut them up. Give them cakes. Make more flag debates.

Step back. Breathe. Slow down. Inside. Calm the screaming thoughts. Repeat the name of the Lord. This is Theology of Crisis. Invite Jesus right into the centre of your pain. Ask God to heal this suffering. Ask him in at the moment when the tax man calls, the same one who called your patient and your patient picked up a gun and blew his brains out. Ask him in when the beaurocrat calls, the same one who called your patient who took an overdose when he got off the phone. Ask God into your life when you read the paper and more money is spent on killing than education or medicine.

Breathe. Feel your feet on the ground. The Theology of Crisis is that God is here always. In the poem of the 'footprints', God is carrying you. Brother Ass, St. Francis said. Soon you'll have a dog. He'll make you walk. He'll make you bend and scoop up shit. All the beaugeosie have their 'personal trainers' cute boys with tight buns or girls in pretty skirts and hard bellies. You'll have another mutt. Life gets better. Maybe this one won't be killed by drug addicts and corrupt government officials.

Pray. Pray. Pray. Pray unceasingly as St. Paul said. Remember Martin Luther King. "It's going to be a tough day so I have to spend more time on my knees." Give up breathing before giving up prayer. And live just to spite the government beaurocrats. Those crazed office dwellers, the administrators with a few years of education and faces brown from loyalty to their superiors who insist they can tell everyone else what to do and how to do it like the feudal lords and ladies they are because they've bought a government with a contribution or a lie.

Breathe. Pray. Forgive. Pray for your enemies. The girl who stole from you and never returned what she took or made amends to you or the patients she hurt or the one who ran away, another liar, the chronic victims who live in the narcissism of victimship so they don't have to care for anyone else but themselves, the navel gazers.

Pray. The theology of crisis that every second you must choose between right or wrong. Every breath is in or out and the world's lung is 'right or wrong'. It's the No of crisis and suffering then the Grace of Yes and relief. Stop chosing fear over love. Stop kowtowing to the bullies in government. Stop being afraid of the prisons and their conspiracies they say aren't conspiracies. Love and Pray.

Live in the centre. Pray. In the theology of crisis know God is always with you and he is bringing death as a reprieve eventually. The pain will end. The persecution will stop. There will be a time without constant criticicm and taxes. There will be a place where you can stand someday in a grave and not be charged with loitering. There will be a parking lot which doesn't cost an arm and a leg. The kings of parking lots won't be there. There will be death and like sleep it will be good. God will bring you there in time.

Now pray. Now in the Theology of Crisis know that this too will pass. It's always getting better and there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Call on God. Talk to Jesus. Pray. Love. It's okay. Silence the terror. Go back to sleep after the nightmares. Open the mail and breathe slowly. They are always threatening, they are always bullying. Everyone is guilty today. You are not alone. They can pick up everyone anytime. You have no rights. You probably never had. You were lied to. It's the jungle and they have all the money and guns and they have scales.

Breathe. Quiet. Calm. God is here. This is not real. God is real. This is not real. God is real. This is God but God is greater. In the Theology of Crisis you are saved and chosen and there will be peace.

Go through another day. See yet another stranger. Walk down the unsafe streets. Pray. You are old. Pray. You are more frail and they want you dead. You know she does. She lives to see you dead. That's the evil. Passive aggression. The time theives are the worst. The wasters. The chair fillers. The zombies. The smiling cages. Pray for her. She's really just silly. Pray for her. Pray for your enemies. They know not what they do. Forgive them and forgive yourself.

Forgive. Pray. The theology of crisis. It's the beginning.

Theology of Crisis

Karl Barth's early theology of crisis
“[Barth’s] deepest intention was to point to the crisis for the sake of pointing to the grace of God, to speak the No for the sake of making the divine Yes heard. In this crisis all human ways are exposed as dead-end roads in order that the one Way might be revealed. The divine Yes is the background of the radical crisis which is suspended over the whole of life.”—G. C. Berkouwer, The Triumph of Grace in the Theology of Karl Barth (London: Paternoster, 1956), p. 33.
Posted by Ben Myers at 7:40 AM

Not only do I like the term "theology of crisis", I like the idea that Barth speaks to.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Karl Barth (1886 to 1968)

Karl Barth, a Swiss Reformed Theologian, though Protestant was described by Pope Pius XII as the most important theologian since Thomas Acquinas. As a country pastor during WWI he found that the 'liberal' theology of the day made little sense in the bombs and suffering that was occurring around him. This lead to a new theological path sometimes called 'dialectical theology" because it stressed the paradoxical nature of divine truth – eg God is both Grace and Judgement.

He has also been associated with the "theology of crisis". The 'judgement' of Jesus on the cross is without understanding in human terms, to come to terms with it, one must have a 'leap of faith' and literally 'surrender' to God's divinity in acceptance. To quote Barth, "Jesus does not give recipes that show the way to God as other teachers of religion do. He himself is." It is when one truly surrenders and turns to the grace of God in all human endeavours on a daily basis, seeing the cross in all our personal struggles that resurrection becomes possible. This is living in the presence and ever experiencing the sacred.

I find this most interesting as it's the thread that had been picked up so strongly by early AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) thinkers who insisted that only through great suffering by loss, illness or addiction could one find the humility to truly say, "thy will, not my will, be done.'

Barth insisted that the Church rely fully on the divine and criticized the formulations that make God and theology appealing to the 'cultured' and 'refined'. Liberal theology appealed to the sensuality of man and was sanitized. Equally though, Barth considered Jesus' death on the cross as central and was called 'neo-orthodox' by his conservatives critics who objected to his arguing that those insisting on the 'inerrancy' of the Bible were putting forward another lord. This was a kind of 'book idolatry'. For Barth, Jesus Christ was the sole Lord of Christianity.

Barth who was associated with the Christian socialism movement said, "To clasp the hands in prayer is the beginning of the uprising against the disorder of the world." Barth was the principal author of the Barmen Declaration which rejected the influence of Nazism on German Christianity and himself refused to sign allegiance to Hitler. He argued that the church's allegiance to the God of Jesus Christ should give it the power to resist allegiance to other lords such as the Fuhrer. This lead to the founding of the Confessing Church which saved countless Jews during WWII. Christians sacrificed their lives daily by hiding Jews and when the collection basket was passed around putting in their identity cards so these could be used to forge ones for Jews. Bonhoffer, Barth's contemporary in the Confessing Church, was just one of the untold thousands of Christians who died to save the Jews from Nazism.

Barth strongly believed in Christian political action and felt pacifism, unchristian, in face of the horrors of Nazism, arguing that Christians who did not take action at this time, 'were not only sleeping on their Bibles but on their newspapers as well". He would later be associated with 'christian socialism' though argued against the forces that called themselves 'Communist' and those who called themselves 'anticommunist' considering both of those forces during the Cold War as intrinsically evil.

His watershed work was "Epistles to the Romans' and later his unfinished life time work "Dogmatics" continues to provide new insights for theologians and students alike.

In my own life I first heard of Karl Barth from Dr. Karl Ridd, my first theological teacher at University of Winnipeg, whose life and thought so touched my soul. He made me want to be a better man. I would later reflect that my Christian teachers like Dr. John White, Dr. Phillip Ney and Dr. Willie Gutowski would have this effect on me. Not only would I want to be a better student but I'd want to be a better man. The surgeon Dr. Ross whose teaching I was most thankful for and who I so admired would say 'it's in the way you hold the flesh that affects the healing' and I knew he was speaking not in technical terms but in the most human way where the sacred and secular connect.

At the time I followed my calling into medicine I'd been reading Albert Schweister, the Christian missionary doctor to African. I had also been studying the 8 fold path of Buddhism reflecting on it's insistence that individuals chose 'right action' in terms of career. I'd been a bar tender and thanks to my study of Buddhism at the time felt that this was not 'right action'. As Jesus was a healer being a doctor was a safer bet.

Later Dr. James Houston would discuss Barth with us in his Christian Spirituality courses at Regent College. Jim would agree and disagree with Barth but always admire the way Barth shone the light on some aspect of thought that brought us closer in our relationship with Jesus Christ.

Barth is certainly the theologian to be considered around the time of Easter, this cross roads of history and calendar.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Easter Sunday

"He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed." Peter 2:24

I confess this is a stumbling block in my own understanding of Jesus. It speaks to the essence of my own suffering. For as I suffer so does God. Equally as I experience joy so does he. Jesus therefore has a truly invested interest in my getting it right. The 'suffering God' does not want my pain.

I find it easy to imagine a tourist God coming to earth in human form and checking out his creation from the inside. I find it equally easy to see him being unimpressed by the likes of us who set about killing holy men for sport. I can even grasp his holiness as he says 'love your enemy' and 'forgive them for they know not what they do.' In the 'play of creation' we're all just actors and actresses on the stage and will wake up in the 'green room' of afterlife and go over our various roles together with much laughter.

But that Christ was a sort of 'scapegoat god for himself'. My first thought is,that's "twisted pharisean shit" .. It speaks to the congregation wanting to have a priest or minister as a 'fall guy'. But in the deeper theological context of righting the error in creation, in keeping with the idea of Old Testament judgement of the Sodom and Gomorrah kind, one Good Man can save Society on the day of judgement. Whereas in the old testament there were none sufficient to step forward, so Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed. All one could do was escape. Just like Noah in the Ark.

This time round however there was no escape but God made a new covenant with man through his Son's sacrifice. Anything goes. We all get to live. Jesus died for our sins.

Yet here today is Jesus, the innocent man. We are saved because there was one good man. This new world exists because of his sacrifice. Without him perhaps there would have been total annihilation and God might well have begun another 'science experiment' this time using bunny rabbits for his template rather than us rude chimpanzees.

But the key to all theology is in the Now. At this moment Jesus is dying for my sin. Jesus, the God within, is crying out in pain for me to come home. I am the prodigal son. I am asked to heed the 'wee small voice', to listen to my own 'conscience', and trust this 'helper' to know what is right or wrong and choose right.

Jesus died for my sin. And he resurrected. He also descended into Hell and I believe by that message we know that God's love extends everywhere so there is no 'eternal damnation' but only 'isolation from God for as long as we want'. As Milton said of the devil, he preferred to look at his own shadow rather than turn to the light and that which is loving in me believes that even the devil can be redeemed. All he needs to do is turn to the light. So similiarly I can choose to walk in the light or walk in the dark, be a child of day or a child of night.

Given the vast accumulation of sin since Jesus' death wouldn't God think it time to send another human sin sponge? Instead we eat consecrated bread and drink grape juice blood. It's a mystery that's for sure. Symbolic and metaphorical, paradoxical and divine.

Perhaps if I think that whenever I do wrong an innoscent man is being cruelly whipped and crucified, maybe I'll finally mend my ways. If I won't do what's good for me for myself and I won't listen to the advice of my elders, maybe I'll do what is right because any error I make is absorbed into the body of Christ. Makes me almost think I'll choke on the next wafer in church. I'll be the guy up by the altar gagging and spitting on my own sin come full circle. "This is my body shed for you." "Lest we forget," comes to mind.

On the other hand I might choose to think that it was only with all that sin that Jesus could catapult himself out of this life and into a better one. Maybe he should thank me for sinning because without my sin he'd not have resurrected. Be stuck here on the earth to grow an old man and feel real humiliation, the unattractive aging, stinking, sort of dying naturally. Equally so he could have saved himself a trip to earth if I'd not been mucking up and brought in the architectural God police to fix what went wrong with a perfectly good creation. Give those humans anything and they break it. Stop giving the kids toys!

Today is Easter Sunday. The day of celebration of the Ressurrected Christ. This is the "New World Order". The Gospell, or Good News. We are saved. Jesus said, "I am the way, and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."

There's a lot of diluted, bloodless, intellectual sanitized religion going around the tv talk shows these days. But Jesus is that "old time religion". "Give me that old time religion!" "Give me that old time religion!" Christianity speaks to the very heart of the matter. It's for the meek but not for the meek of heart. It is politically incorrect. Politically correct religion isn't Christianity.

We're born between piss and shit. As much as we like to deny it and as much as we want to keep our panties clean and our "Depends" tight the fact remains that life is bloody.

Christ is risen. Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

The Passion of The Christ

This is one of the greatest movies of all time with the realism deserving of the subject.

North Shore AA Round Up

The North Shore AA Round UP kicked off last night with speaker Tina H from Waukesha Wisconsin. The Hyatt Regency Hotel in Downtown Vancouver at Burrard and Georgia was packed with sober AA's and Al Anons. This Annual Event goes on Friday, Saturday and Sunday with some thousand or more people attending. Out of towners come early and stay at the hotel while locals come for all or part of the convention. There are books and tapes for sale, information booths, tourist events, and just for coffee meetings rooms. AA and Al anon meetings go on all day with local speakers sharing their 'experience, strength and hope' in recovery while out of town speakers like Tina are highlights of the conference. Each year a committee is formed to organize the next year's event. Committee members listen to countless speaker tapes selecting inspirational speakers who they feel 'carry the message' especially well.

Ti na's story was of alcoholism that began really early in a family of alcoholics with abuse and drugs and finally sex ,brawling and crime. At 14 Tina was in a coma from alcohol and thought not to live. She did. That was the turning point. She entered AA and joined all the 'old farts', "they wore flannel",she said in mock horror while I was dressed like Pat Bennatar with "4 inch heels, mini skirt and the tightest top I could find". "I didn't want to be there." The exciting part of Tina's story of Recovery was her service work for young people. She was part of the making of the video for young people for the increasing numbers of teens and 20 year olds who want out of their life of drugs and alcohol. It has been a real inspiration and fun for all those involved in the production and distribution. Claiming to be 25 years sober she doesn't look a day over 20 and is vivacious, refreshing and entertaining with a message that had everyone standing and all hands clapping when she finished.

The other highlight speakers are Theo F. from Calgary, Saturday night at 8, Kay L. from Los Angeles, Sunday 10 am, and Deb H. from Pioneertown California 12 noon Sunday.

Last night after the speaker and Serenity Prayer the carpets were rolled up and the dancing began. Upstairs the DJ Dance and Lightshow while downstairs the live Band, Promises, played anything from blues rock to straight rock with even a touch of country. Richard, over 6 feet tall with white hair and dark glasses reminded me of a Rock n Roll version of the Blues Brothers, supercool were it not for his great sense of humor. His harsh rangy world voice coupled with the beauty of the female singer whose name I missed in all the feet stomping and applause.

North Shore AA and Al Anon Round Up is a highlight event of the year for glamor and glitz. The girls just seem to go city sensational while the guys clean up surprisingly nice for a bunch of recovered drunks. All year round townships and towns hold AA one day, weekend, and camp out conventions and round ups. The North Shore AA Round Up just seems to start the whole process. Abbotsford comes up soon. Yaletown throws a fine party. Salt Spring Island, Kamloops, Chilliwack, Alkali Lake and Squamish are just a few of the favourites. Vancouver Island has their own and while locals flock to these real celebrations of the gifts of the recovery, there are tourists that make a point of coming to these all over the world.

The big AA Convention which happens every 5 years is going on this summer in San Antonnio Texas. Tens of thousands show up and wherever they're held it seems over and over again the city councils and police thank the AA people for being the most courteous with least problems, less than Shriners even, one city council man said, Who would have guessed with a group of drunks. People whose alcohol and drugs took them to jails and institutions, thanks to AA find their way back to a life that is 'joyous and free' with friends, community and purpose. The rounds up bring people together and 'by golly jeez' that person you met a decadeback who was carrying knives and stealing coffee and looked liked they'd not last a day more out of jail and would never stay sober is now happy, employed telling you about their travels overseas for vacation, and there with them is someone who loves them when years ago they'd have sworn no one could. Beside them is the famous movie star and sure enough a priest, a doctor, a lawyer and given the anonymity no one would know were it not for their sharing . It's the Miracle of the Recovery. A joy to see and be a part of.

And every year it's the same old joke, "imagine all of us here drunk and stoned and what a mess that would be." The girls laugh and the guys remember fights and everyone thinks of vomit and piss. Without the booze or drugs, everyone is having a good time. Without the cleavage, tattoos and leathers maybe with a stretch of the imagination you could think of a church convention. There's that much spirituality. However, AA is not a religious organization. "Religion is for people who don't want to go to hell while spirituality is for people who don't want to go back" is just one of the many sayings that members use. Like "keep coming back, it works if you work it."

North Shore AA Round Up surely works and the evidence of the success of AA is in the thousands of restored and happy lives.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Good Friday

Good Friday is the day that Jesus was crucified. This is the day of Mel Gibson's movie, The Passion of Christ. This is a national holiday in Canada. Hot Cross buns are a popular Canadian Easter food celebrating the crucifixion. In Christianity the two most key elements of the faith are first that Jesus was born, ie God became man, which is what the Christmas or Christ Mass celebration is about, and second that Jesus, as man died on the cross. The final 'trilogy' of the Trinitarian religion of Christianity is that Christ Resurrected. It is common parlance in Mass to say, "Christ was born. Christ died. Christ will come again." This is the central subatomic Christian understanding of Creation as imminently and eminently playing and replaying the cycle of birth death and resurrection. Like the cycle of the Sun or stars through birth and death and the resurrection of a new day. The Gospel or Good Word taught that this was true for man and has shown us this in the life and death and resurrection of Christ. God was born man, died and was resurrected to return to God and we God's children, the adopted ones, 'brothers and sisters' of Jesus can have faith that we too have come from God and will with death return to God because life as we know it (St Paul said, " now we see through a glass darkly") is such a minuscule 'take' on reality which is so much more than we 'can ask or imagine'.

That said, the actual story of Jesus' death is a profound commentary on individual life and community. Each person in the Christian faith is asked to see themselves not just as the 'heroic' Jesus but also as Judas and Peter and Mary and Caiaphas. A profoundly moving Christian spiritual is "Were you there when they crucified my Lord….Sometimes I wonder."

Developmentally the child is central in their life and so often with their personal wishes thwarted by externals such as parents or gravity or the neighbour's kid feels themselves the outside,the genius Jesus, misunderstood, the good guy, coming into Jerusalem with all the friends real and imaginary, the fool of the Tarot deck, the carefree young man, the donkey rider. Then the bad world bites our ass and we are Jesus the Crucified , full of self pity and revenge, confused , angry and ultimately with no where to turn making a virtue of necessity, taking the high road, saying "forgive them for they know not what they do." (the bastards).

Identification with the aggressor means literally that since you can't beat them you join them even when they are ultimately against you. So here's Jesus, son of God, the 'chosen', the 'annointed' and while Buddha has had countless babes and Mohamed has had harems and Abraham has had wives, Jesus has had a monogamous probably celebate relationship with his friend Mary and a pseudo homosexual adolescent boys hanging out time with the bozo disciples who can't understand what he's saying because it's that original. Not nearly as exciting a life as a Roman Emperor. Certainly not Caligula by any means. Rather suburban and tame. An ordinary man except for the odd miracle here and there.

We get it but they don't get it. It is is this new news. It is that new. Like disco when everyone danced it like Elaine danced on Seinfeld till one day we could actually look like Travolta. Like hola hooping and computers. What Jesus taught was that new. Since then we've had 2000 years of Christian thinking, Bahai, mystics, eastern religions, C.S. Lewis, Popes galore, televangelists and Kennedy. We've even survived Bush and Clinton and Diefenbaker, Chretien, Mulroney and Harper. We're surrounded by Christians. The Passion is about the day the disciples got it. It's the day when this world, the physical reality, the concrete of Piagian pre abstract children, the money men of swords and missile wars, took a backward step as the day stood still and time changed. All creation in fact was altered as all creation is altered by every birth and death in the unfolding story of God.

The servant king washing the feet of his disciples the night before becomes the human sacrifice of the day and it appears this Friday that the High Court of the land, the Sanhedrin, the laws of men, the up tight House of Shammai, the might of the Roman Empire will reign. It's Darwin, and genetics and 'survival of the fittess' the rulers like Roman Pontius Pilate and his appointed lacky dog Annas , its old money families, the G8 and G to infinities of earthly power, they rule this day. They win the first round. They must have had a great drunken party after to, a little orgy of delight, chopped off a head of a forgotten St. John sort just for the sake of it, slept with little boys and girls, a good crucifixition. That's the day Christ died. There was surely celebration in the high earthly places well below the realms of heaven.

And we're asked to see ourselves as Pontius Pilate in the drama, as Mary, as Peter, as Judas Iscariot, as Caiaphas and Annas, even one of the outcast of the Hillel family of the day, ascendant today, probably as much thanks to Jesus's sacrifice and proof as any intrinsic philosophical discussion. We are asked to see ourselves as those who bind and those who loose. We are both the killer and the killed, the predator and the prey. It is on Good Friday that duality is lost in grief. In the Trinity we become One. The great drama of Jesus with the Three crosses and all the hints of mystery are unfolding today in millions of churches around the world as some billion or more Christians consider crucifixion, the crossroads of time, the day the world as we know it today began.

The charge against Jesus is "BLASPHEMY" . This is the charge of "IRREVERENCE". "You didn't take the earthly authorities seriously." You're an adolescent. You don't respect your parents. You don't kow tow to the police. You don't obey the law. You're a trouble maker. Brush your teeth. Do as you're told. Wear three piece suits. Your skirt is too short. We all are right and you're wrong. Obey. Obey. Don't question authority. Don't rock the boat. You've been questioning our teachings. You're hurting us where the money is. You're made fun of us in debate. You've called us hypocrites. Laws are made by us for you and we are above the law. We can have sex with whoever we please on company time. We can steal and do our own work on company pay. We can profit from wars we create. We can lie and falsely accuse . We can scream rape when we are ignored. We can deny, deny, deny. We can have sex with children. We can kill women and children. We can be racist, sexist and re write history because we are the winners. We can do whatever we please because we have power and you must respect our power or we'll kill you. And if you stir up trouble others might follow you and we'd better nip this in the bud because we've got a good thing going with the Romans. We're the capos of Auschitz. We're the 'appointed' Jews. You say you're a Jew but just because you were born of the line of kings we bow to the real emperor. The real emperor is in Rome. As Marx said, Our God is money. Whoever has the most money can buy us and we'll enjoy the droppings of his table. We like lording it over those who aren't "appointed'. We're the primal 'beaurocrats' . We're the "lawyers". We're the 'government'. We don't work for the people. We say we do and we really do worry about them but we're serving the Romans. We're serving whoever has the money and you're messing with the way things are. We fought hard to get to this gravy train. We're Ottawa and Washington, Paris and London, Moscow and Beijing, Tokyo, Berlin, and New Delhi. We are Jerusalem but mostly we are Rome.

And Jesus says he's not of this world. He says that there's this other world, the spiritual world, and that he's not interested in messing with the physical world. Indeed asked about a coin he says whose face is on it. Answered, Caesar. He says "give unto Caesar what is Caesars". The concrete unidimensional world is not the real world. Jesus was tried for Blasphemy. The English word for blame comes from the same root. And you can't 'blame' the government. The government is 'divinely inspired'. Only this century the pope was claiming that he was always right. So there's Jesus in the principal's office and he's being told by the Sheriff that the Mob isn't happy and the Hell's Angels are going to do their thing to him. This is the World Court. This is Geneva. This is the United Nations. These people are by world terms of the day Nanaimo or Brandon or Moose Jaw. Jerusalem isn't Cairo even. It's not Athens. It's the ultimate backwater boonies. These guys who are trying Jesus are as far out in the boon docks from the centre of the known universe as Saskatchewan is from anywhere. Their self importance is astonishing. Yet they've got an invading army in their hick town. This is the appointed powers in Iraq and the Americans are telling the local leaders to shut up that loud mouth Jesus because he could get more Canadian and British soldiers killed with his talk of another Kingdom. He's today's moderate Taliban if anything good could ever come out of Jerusalem.

And Jesus doesn't get a 'Dream Team" of lawyers to defend him. After he's dead he's supposed to be our lawyer in heaven which given his experience with lawyers on earth is a rather odd part of the story. He's a healer and a teacher but later he's an advocate. It's a mystery. God the father is a loose cannon in the minds of men but in his mind there's sanity and he makes the suffering and laws and all that is creation so Jesus is supposed to be a go between. He's like Krishna in this regard. He's the happy face of God after he dies. He's a Ganesh sort. He's the Christian "apologia'. God the father kicked man out of eden and Jesus argues that we should be allowed back in the Garden. The Shack by William Young really makes one think about this stuff in a new way and a very good way.

But that's getting a way ahead of the story. Friday is a very intense day in the life of Jesus. It's not TGIF. First the lower courts and then the supreme court with no civil rights and jailers that later become Rodney King's police. These are the prototypes of Nazi's and the worst of the Homeland Security sorts. We recently saw their pictures when they stripped all the moslem prisoners naked and piled them up. The American girl soldier whose picture we saw all over the world humiliating Iraqui prisoners was one of the people who spit on Jesus and gave him a crown of shorns, acupuncture torture by any stretch of the imagination. Just the sort of thing to shrink the big head of an arrogant manic psycho.

One of the guards was General Patton beating the mentally ill man. Another was the guy who flogged the dying horse in Doystoevsky's novel. Doystoevsky's Brothers Karamasov is really about the Passion as is so much great literature. The Bible is great literature. It's DVD and internet and musicals and dance and vaudeville all rolled in one.

But Good Friday this man who may well have been trying to explain that he came from another planet, "I'm not of this world", was killed as humans kill strangers or have sex with them like Sodom and Gomorrah. We're really perverted killing cowards if we look deep into ourselves and admit to our humanity. Of course the paranoid position is that I'm a good guy and everyone else is bad, or worse, I'm a good girl and everyone else is bad. Poor me.

And the fear of the Sanhedrin and the Roman Empire is shown in the killing of Jesus. His death was like the death of Sadam Hussein. His death was why a lot of folk don't want the State to have the power of 'execution' because despite what the State and Pope and Emperors and Presidents and Prime Ministers and especially Judges, and most especially Supreme Court Judges say about their "infallibility", there's the other side who think they've made a few mistakes in their day with nooses, guillotine, fire squads and crosses. But if there's one thing that's truly human it's that we're 'slow learners'.

And the Passion asks us to see ourselves as each of these people in this glorious play of heaven and earth and all that is. Carl Jung wrote about the Archetypes and took his collection from the European collection that's similar to the Tarot, the Greek and Roman images of different types of inner self in that European play and Mediteranean play that seems to progress in community and in individual lives.

But the Archetypes of Christianity are found in the actors and actresses of the Passion. They're also found in the psyche of Jesus through the Stations of the Cross. The via dolorosa. They're the journey. They're about suffering after triumphance. They're really about aging. The young man comes of age. He ages and dies in a day. One day at a time. In this last day of life he transforms.

Pontius Pilate, was the prefect of Rome, likely banished by Caligula to the armpit of the universe of the day Israel. His father was said to be an Ambassador to the Caledonians. What a poor lot for a military family, father stuck with Celts and son stuck with Jews. Now there's as much suffering as hemorrhoids by any genetic account. Bad karma. However Pontius Pilate and his family are truly one of the "historical facts" of the Bible cross referenced in Roman annals.

Pilate's primary function was military. To get a comparison of what he was doing at the time, one only has to look at the Canadian military leader in Afghanistan. A recent CBC scandal has the Canadian military giving their prisoners to the Afghanistanians who like the Sanhedrin torture and kill them making the Canadians accomplices. That's the way one Gospel portrays Pontius Pilate and certainly the way the Canadians are trying to get out of their responsibility for maryring the Taliban Jesus types. We don't know if any of the Taliban are like Jesus. They're probably more like Barabbas the criminal who is said to have been chosen by the Jewish people over Jesus when Pontius Pilate is said to have Los Vegas' the crucifixion process giving the sporting sort a chance to bet on who would die, the academic cleric doctor teacher sort or the theiving warrior sociopathic criminal sort. Of course the crowds chose the popular man and there is the great flaw in democracy which of course the Emperors of this world love to manipulate. Beware of stupid people in crowds.

And I walked the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem. I was a pilgrim to this Holy City. I walked across the fresh bloody streets where Jews had been killed by Palestinians and the world of the Gospel was daily fresh. I worshiped in the Holy Sepulchre at Golgotha. I received mass there from a Catholic priest with a small circle of devout. I cry now to think of that time. On my knees I prayed to be a better person than I am. It is so easy to see myself as Pontius Pilate, Peter, Judas, Caiaphas, the soldiers or even the poor guy who was forced to carry Jesus' cross when he fell on the Via Dolorosa. But it's hard to even think of myself as the thief who repented on the cross. And it's even harder to think of my self as Jesus. It's much easier to see myself as Seinfeld or one of the Friends.

Jesus Christ means God within and God will come again. We are made in the Image of God. The world Creatures of Creation are all made of the Creator. The Imagination of God. We are God stuff. We are the 'star dust' of Joni Mitchell's song Woodstock. We are divine shit if we are shit at all. And What Would Jesus Do or Say is not likely what I would do or say. When I was younger I thought more highly ofmy actions and words. Even Churchill has to look back on Gallipoli. Gandhi's moment of greatness begat the massacres of Moslems and Hindus. If you don't get wiser with age you stay an idiot. Thankfully when Churchill was challenged for changing his opinion he responded by saying that he had the intelligence to learn in comparison to his detractor who appeared to lack that capacity. Because in learning we must forsake our certainty. The greatest leaders have always been the greatest followers. Those who the most learned are also the ones who were able to take the most correction because as the Glass Bead Game of Herman Hesse teacher life is a series of letting go of old ideas, shedding snake skin after snake skin.
This is a day of reflection. This is a day of dying. This is the day when the aged are the most regarded in the Christian calendar because in the life of Jesus this was when he was an old man, a very old man, moments from his death. This was the time when we'd be known most by last words. This was the day when the tomb inscriptions were being made. This is our last day.

As Christians this is the day we may choose or choose not to believe. As one pastor said, "Either Jesus was everything or nothing." There is no in between.

This is the day when the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Iman, the Swami, the Pope and all the leaders of the governments, the Kings and Queens and Obama and Bush and Harper and Chretien and Tony Blair and whoever is in charge in England today and all those European leaders with their sexy mistresses and plush bank accounts of Eurodollars and the Donald Trumps and Oprahs and Jenifer Anistons, Nicholas Cages, and Paul McCartney and Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan and Madonna and Sting and all the other leaders of world either Crucified the King or stood by and did nothing. This is the day that Spock came to earth and Captain Kirk didn't greet him but killed him and probably would have eaten him if they didn't have a good crop year then. Sun baked long pig right off the cross.

This is the day that we should wear electric chairs around our necks on gold chains and celebrate the death penalty. This is the day that we know if we live another day we're human and not God. This is the day we consider our mortality. This is the day of immortality.

This is the day that time stood still. This is Good Friday. God's Friday.

And if I was in charge and you treated my son, or even my cat, or one of my tribe like you treated Jesus, like I treated Jesus, then I'd get a 'rocket launcher" like the one Bruce Coburn wanted in his song. And I 'd build a space highway through this part of the earth and wipe out the planet like the Adams' Hitchhiker Guide to the Galaxy solution for earth.

We're human. We're Gods' that shit. Our minds and our imagination are immortal while our body, the one's we abuse and forget, the brother asses of Saint Francis, are mortal and limited. Maybe this is just a kindergarden where we learn to control our tempers and possibly do as Jesus taught us, Love God and Love our neighbor as ourselves. Maybe Love will trump fear. Or maybe I should get another RRSP, invest in safer stock, buy a gun and lock my door. Maybe I can whack my neighbor and steal his stash. Better still I can get into government or own a bank or rule a country and fix the cash system. I can cheat and steal and call it "business' and I can kill in the "lord's name" too. Hell, I can kill and call it "love" like the Peacemaker Missiles. The mind of man is a ghetto and probably no one should go there alone. Least of all Michael Jackson. We all need adult supervision and the children are rarely safe.

Maybe today I'll get together with other people and consider the cross. Maybe I'll ask myself through out the day who do I remind myself of in the Passion Play. Am I being like Anas or Judas or Jesus. Do I poison with a kiss?

Do I believe? Is love real or is love false? Do I have hope? Do I have faith? This is Good Friday. Anything is possible. But it's a bleak and rainy day outside. Best to walk softly. Good Friday has also been called Sombre Friday. It's not a superficial day. It's a deep day.