Thursday, December 31, 2015

Christmas and Family 2015

Christmas is a time of family. The birth of Christ.  Joseph and Mary.  I was thankful to be welcome at my brother’s in Ottawa. Ron is a mensch.  His wife, Adell, is also adorable. Their sons, my nephews, are a joy to know. Graeme the oldest, an engineer and film maker, is a big hearted nerd. The next is Andrew, a genius indeed but with a wild sense of humour, a geologist, studying robots and doing MRI’s of the terrain.  The youngest is Alan, the child psychologist in the making.  Andrew married Tanya, who is a whiz with computers and shares Andrew’s appreciation of the original.  Alan has met Meagan a delightful psychology student completing a double major while working in a cheese boutique.  Then there is Eva the cockapoo. It’s a regular family. All pulling together to help each other.
I get to be apart of it.  It’’s really quite an honour.
Velma and Melvine are Adell’s aunts.  They invited us to their church. Adell and I joined them for a Baptist candlelight carole sing. I loved it. The minister is a bearded young man with a whole a lot of Jesus about him.  The guitar playing music leader was just right.  All around the voices were warm and it really was a holy night.  Velma and Melvin are old school Christians.  They don’t so much talk but show the Lord in their positive outlook.  I enjoyed their company again at Christmas dinner.
Opening present was what it’s supposed to be. Fun.  A lot of fun.  Alan’s a paper folder.  Ron was great at handing presents from under the tree, sometimes throwing the small ones.  I loved the books I received and the sweater.  Tanya and Andrew were a whole lot of fun. They’d baked the very best fudge and we all got a little box of this precious. treat. Graeme gave me a mandarin orange. I remembered how when we were children this was a special treat, mandarins only arriving for Christmas holidays. Now we can get them just about all year round.  
Megan and her sister and her mom arrived for a visit.  We all had tea and ate more chocolate. More present opening. More laughter.  Pleasant repartee.
It’s in the midst of all this world of almost Jane Eyre and Bronte Sister revelry that I realize I have had a particularly bloody life dealing with physical illness for years, then mental illness and now addiction.  I feel bit Kafkaeque like Metamorphosis but stay focused on the day. Christ is born. Love is in the air. I’m just a little nostalgic, missing mom and dad,my aunt Sally, grandparents and uncles, aunts, our childhood dog Sunny.
I loved the turkey dinner.  I understand now how much my father loved this too.  Turkey dinner on Christmas day.  Tradition.  It’s so good of Ron and Adell to host this and invited us all there. I loved being at that table.
And yes, we all attended Star Wars.  I’d seen it as had Alan but while Alan slept in I went a second time. As it was 10 am showing Adell had picked up egg mc muffins for the showing. Then after the movie it was a big breakfast at Summerhays’ Restaurant., Allan joining us. Lots of talk about BB8 and Rey and Hans Solo and Luke Skywalker.
I didn’t do any shopping before Christmas so was thankful to Alan who took me out before Christmas and on Boxing Day to get presents for the family.  Thank you Apple and Best Buy.
More meals. Great left overs.  More chocolate.  Rides with my brother. Talk of illness and anxiety.  Frustration and recovery.  We’re getting old.  Parts are wearing out.  But it’s all good.
Eva was happy. I ‘m looking forward to flying back now to Gilbert, my cockapoo. Laura is taking care of him.  I get in at 1 am and tomorrow is a work day. But it’s a short week and Laura and I are spending New Years’ at Harrison Hot Spring and Spa.
Thank you Jesus.

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Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Jesus and Christmas

My mother taught me to pray beside my bed.  We’d kneel together.  I’d clasp my hands resting my elbows on the bed. I remember this.  Talking to Jesus, with my mother.  She taught me gratitude.  She reminded me who to pray for, and told me about Jesus sacrificing his life for mine and for the whole world.
Mom was Baptist. I like to remember her and her sister, my Aunt Sally, belting out hymns  in the church, the loudest women there by far.  Their Christianity was exuberant together.  My mom and her sisters had grown up in the church. The church was their social life, their home and their place of worship.
By the time I was in school my life revolved around hockey and my friends. And my friends weren’t Baptist.  There wasn’t a Baptist church in Fort Gary.  If they were religious at all they were Anglican, Catholic or United.  I remember one was Jewish.  I don’t know if there were Buddhists or Moslems.  All that mattered was whether you played hockey or not.  Then later it was volleyball and gymnastics.  Then it was just sports and girls.
I dated Christian girls but they weren’t ’easy’.  I liked ‘easy’ girls most. Easy girls were sexy and I liked sexy. I didn’t really think they were ‘easy’.  I thought they were saints and I was a charity project.  I was so thankful.  We didn’t talk much about Jesus.
I attended church through high school and became the President of the Amalgamated Baptist Church Groups in Winnipeg.  My best church friend, Doug, became a minister.  My first room, Jon, mate was a Unitarian.  We talked a lot about God.  We talked about meaning, politics, purpose, afterlife and aliens and Vietnam.  We also talked about girls.  Breasts and legs and heavenly places.
I was raised Christian.  There were Christians all around me.  Three Christian churches within a block of my home though mom made Dad drive us to a Baptist church all of 20  minutes away in Fort Rouge.  Trinity Baptist Church.  I attended Sunday School and later sat in the church. I remember best a missionary from India and her slides one of which was an old Hindu man with banners from all the religions. I liked Sunday school when I was little and liked teaching it later as an adult.  I can’t say I remember any of the sermons of my youth. Lots of hell and brimstone.  I liked the choir though.  Trinity had it’s own pool for dunking and that provided drama..  Baptists are long on sermons and heavy on prayer.
Christmas Services were the best time of year for hope and faith and love.  Hell and brimstone gets toned down for Christmas.  Even the fundamentalist fundamentalists have some propriety. The cookies and cakes in churches at Christmas are truly sacramental.  So much love goes into them.
I attended Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts in the basement of the church. We had great suppers there too. Mom and the other ladies would man the kitchen.  We’d enjoy veritable potluck feasts.  Everyone pitched in. There were picnics in the summer too. I remember the three legged races best.
But the whole world of school and sports and friends I hung out with, Garth and Kirk, and later Jamie and Wes and Keith and Colin and  later many others made up the centre of my world. Church was something on the side. Not like it had been for my mom and her sisters .  Their world revolved around Jesus.  My minister friend was like that.  I wasn’t.  I was more into the smorgasbord of life.
I began writing poetry well early, and playing guitar badly early, too.  I loved to dance and Baptists didn’t like dancing.
We joined the YMCA.  That’s Young Men’s Christian Association.  When I began organizing and running coffeehouse in high school years I’d left gymnastics and sports for the Manitoba Theatre School. That was the secular world I’d live in with dance and drama and music.  I’d found the music and lyrics of Simon and Garfunkel, Gordon Lightfoot, the Beatles.  I was reading Al Purdy, Catcher on the Rye, Leonard Cohen  The Wise Eye Coffeehouse we organized with the YWCA girls was a secular time. But the ideas of the music of the day, those of Pete Seegers and Bob Dylan, Peter Paul and Mary and locally the Guess Who and the Donahues were exploring the intellectual and spiritual.
When I was in school there’d been daily prayer and then time for prayer and eventually no prayer.  I learned to meditate young and martial arts was tied to a universal spirituality. But despite the Christianity of the Knights the winning warriors of WWII we never thought of Christians as martial artists as kids.  Not then. Now yes,  but not then. Then I was learning Ju Jit Su and much later Tai Chi.  My father taught me boxing and shooting  we wrestled in the Y. All those were Christian but Hollywood had already begun to rewrite history,dumping it down and taking the God out of Creation.  Telling the Lies and Bigger Lies.
At University though I was fortunate to study Bible under Dr. Carl Ridd.  He was a former basketball champion, English Literature Professor and United Church minister. I loved my undergraduate days at University of Winnipeg.  Dr. Ridd had  taken it upon himself to teach a course called “Literature of the Bible.”  It’s was one of the most moving experiences of my whole university career right up there with looking in a electron microscope and later assisting in neurosurgery and doing psychotherapy that cured neurodermatitis and stopped people wanting to suicide so bad.
I became a yogi back then too, studying Paramahansa Yoganandya who taught that Jesus was fully enlightened. The Hindu Christian belief was that of Christ Consciousness.
But really I believed ‘all we need is love’ and with love I meant passion. The women in my life, the dancer, was the most passionate and adventurous and beautiful goddess any man could hope to know.  She was  holy. Our love making was transcendent. I wanted to live in perpetual orgasm and that would be heaven enough for me.  My wives would teach me that the Song of Songs didn’t begin as a description of love of God.  The song when I was 21 fit me too. I loved Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and Barbara Streisand and Robert Redford in the Way We Were.
Christmas was a special time though. I ‘d find myself each Christmas reflecting on Jesus.  That was before the great intellectual wine and fabulous food fest dinner parties of married life became their own Last Suppers.  We’d get together with family.  We’d have this wonderful time.  Turkey dinners with my Aunt in town. Hockey on tv. My father and brother and the dog. Opening presents under the tree.  Tobogganing in the afternoon as kids.
As adults the politics would begin, dinner at her place, Christmas eve dinners, dinner at my place,  Shrimp and Lobster dinners. Christmas day, always a tree, and tangerines,  and presents and friends, and cross country skiing.  The women were always so beautiful.  Holidays were glamorous.  We danced back then.  Viennese waltz.  The movie to end all movies was Dr. Zhivago.
Church wasn’t as competitive with the university, hospital, the ballet, the dinner party,  the theatre, the night clubs and the bar.  Even the coffeehouse was more interesting. I married sexy women and Christianity wasn’t sexy back then. It sure is today though. The women I married weren’t Christian, though one was nominally, so I would often find myself alone meditating and praying.  I’d occasionally go to church with my Mom and my Aunt.  Church and Bible were not a part of my marriages.  I’d learned to pray by my bed with my mother but now my bed was a holy temple of it’s own.   I’d pray elsewhere,  Often under stars.  I’ll forever have a fond memory of the chapel at University of Winnipeg.  Later Hospital chapels were places to go and be alone with God.  Normally I’d be up earlier in the morning meditating in my homes.
Then a Jewish atheist psychiatrist I so admired in my psychiatric residency told me meditation was harmful for the brain. I began my training under him in  psychoanalysis.  Only later I’d realize how shallow he was but I never lost my love for Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung. I especially loved a play done recently at Pacific Theatre with Ron Reid , one in which C S Lewis meets Sigmund Freud.  I loved C.S. Lewis’s Surprised by Joy and Mere Christianity, not to mention Narnia.    I returned to prayer and mediation but first smoked dope for a while and drank some wine.  Jeremiah was a Bullfrog.
I sailed too and it’s true. There are no atheists in fox holes or at sea. I’d not been in fox holes but I certainly regained humility and awe at sea.
Dr. Willi Gutowski and Father Fred came along like teachers do when the student is ready. .  They were living Bibles.  I read the Bible again began  praying as a good habit, not just because I needed to get out of a bad fix..  Meditation would return.  I’d spend long times silent around Christmas.  I studied  prayer at Regent College with Dr. James Houston, attended Vancouver Theological College and later St. Mark’s with my dear friend Dr. John Christensen.
Christmas carols stirred me again and I cried.
I wrote more about Jesus.  I often said that I’d found Christ as a child but only met Jesus after a third divorce and the disillusionment with the corruption in politics, hospitals and academia.  All the characters of the story of Jesus seemed so much apart of the present day.
Dr. Phillip Ney introduced me to pro life.   Herod had killed  babies fearful of the return of Christ and here the abortionist s were making a killing hand over fist sucking the life out of wombs.   Meanwhile our government’s  evil when it gave  the Order of Canada to that murderer Morgentaler.  I’d trained with a genius, Dr. Jack HIldes who introduced me to northern medicine and taught me community medicine, a true mensch of a man. He’d been given the Order of Canada and I was proud to be Canadian when  I learned that.  But the older I became the more I  found the lies stifling in the secular world.  More and  more I saw that men and women in my church were at least trying trying to be Good. There was hypocrisy. We are all human. But the Godlessness and cruelty and lies grew with the increasing persecution of Christians by the Supreme Court and Government.
I saw that  Christians at the Salvation Army were walking the walk.  My sponsors Bernie and later Hank were both Christians who would talk for hours with me about morality and virtue and God.  My other sponsor Scotty was a celtic pagan sun god worshipper. His actions were admirable.   We all just seemed to get along. My psychiatry mentor was a Moslem man of great integrity.  My psychiatrist friend was a Buddhist doctor.  We all just served.   Medicine brought use all together, even the atheists who much preferred to talk, rolled up their sleeves when the time called for it. Jesus was a healer and a teacher.  He was only a warrior against Satan.  With people he was a friend and fellow.  I learned most of my loving of service from colleagues.
So Christmas was the birth of a healer. He was also an educator.  Luke the apostle was a doctor.
I became a member of the Christian Medical and Dental Society thanks to Dr. Gutowski and Anna Borowska.  There I  met another living Gospel, Dr. Lam, a humble Chinese doctor who served as a missionary with the Evangelical Medical Association.  His example in life and his love of his wife and family were incredibly moving .  He loved music too.  I loved the drawing he showed me he’d made of Jesus.
Christmas dinners brought all these thoughts together.  My sailing buddy Tom and I would talk and argue about liberal and conservative Christianity.  I loved Bishop Michael Ingham’s ecumenicalism and Peter Elliott and his coming out,  the Rainbow Church.  We would talk for hours about sexuality and spirituality. I’d lunch every month with my Christian sponsor,  I’d join Promise Keepers and a Christian Men’s Breakfast.
I’d felt my first divorce had cut me off from my church.  You couldn’t be a deacon if you were divorced then. I was tainted and impure.   Meanwhile single and divorced women were popping up as ministers.    I’d remember the standards that had ruled for us men.  Then there were gay ministers.  Once you let the single women preach there was no restrictions.  I liked those married ministers of old  best, the disciplined ones, those who had somehow faced the temptations that were many and still maintained their marriages and family.  I grew fond of celibate priests too though frankly sex was as sacred as chocolate for me and something I’d forsaken for a year or more but didn’t think was something I’d want to forsake for life.   When divorce no longer kept me from the church then my homosexual experience and my drunken stoned escapades certainly excluded me from the church.  I felt more comfortable talking with men in a 12 step meeting than I did in church till I was older.
God never left me though. I left him. Indeed in the depth of the abyss fearing death at sea I’d prayed the Lord’s Prayer knowing I was backed into a wall where only the song Jesus Loves Me, this I know,  was kept  in reserve to keep me  from despair.  Up all night delivering babies and saving lives on call in emergency I’d had no difficulty praying for help.  I’d thanked all my teachers and all the books for helping me be of service to my patients all those years.  But here I personally was uncertain that I’d not got beyond God’s grace.  It sounds so  silly  to me today.    I love the book, “Your God is too small”.  I especially love the saying, “Get down off the cross, we can use the wood.”   God had sunk the more I focussed on myself.   “I might not be much but I’m all I think about.”
Now thanks to so many I found my way in rooms,   church basements and churches propers.  We began again to talk of God and a what it was to be a good human.  What was a good life. What was our role. What was the meaning of life.  Surely it was more than illusion or reaction or pleasure and war.  Once again I came back to the contemplation of Jesus in a manger.
I travelled to Jerusalem hearing Leonard Cohen on a taxi radio in Israel.  Hallelujah.  I sang “Oh Little Town of Bethlehem with a dozen others in as many languages in the church in Bethlehem built on the site where Jesus was born.  Millions have prayed there as we did. Like my mother taught me. On my knees.
Now another Christmas is coming round.  I’ve got a Master of Divinity on the wall now. Not a particularly good one.    I penned  a national article on my being a better doctor than I am a Christian.  I muddle along.  I’m still reading the Bible. Reading the Bible every day at meals with Willi and Anita Gutowski leaves a mark on you.  I’ve read the Bible through several times thanks to the encouragement of Prof. Ridd and Prof. Houston.  Now al this helps me in my work in the Downtown East Side of Vancouver encouraging addicts and alcoholics that there is a better life in Recovery. I am mostly giving hope and offering a Way Out.  All the medicine that I do is secondary to this.  It’s healing.  And I’m healing with those in my other clinic where my patients are dealing with depression and anxiety, grief and trauma. Many are struggling with serious physical disease and I encourage them and help them with all the education and training and experience and resources I have to give.
The story remains the same.  I was in the church plays of nativity and remember interrupting the whole show to call out hello to my brother Ron.  He  was also in those early Sunday School  plays.  He had speaking parts. Mine wasn’t supposed to be.  But when I saw my brother I just had to call out to him.. I would have  been 5 or 6 at the time.  My brother was more mature, 4 years older and always looking out for his little brother who could be quite the handful.
The tears are the same.  Each time I read the story of Jesus I cry.  I cry because of Jesus, because of the man and because of the God.  I cry.  I’m not supposed to cry. They beat me and gained me and locked me up.  They even  took away my Bible and told me not to read it but I did. I was even offered riches and high position if I’d just forget about Jesus and never mention him again.  I know parts of the Bible  by heart. I still like to read it.  It’s the stories I love and remember.  Mostly the stories of Jesus.
Of course I know that Christ consciousness filled the world with his life and death and resurrection. it’s a String Theory thing.  Nothing is impossible in the miraculous. There’s dimensions and there are dimensions.
Christ is born. Christ is Risen. Christ will come again.  Hallelujah. Welcome Baby Jesus.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Coming of the King

The shepherds are restless. The sheep feel something. The wise men are loading their camels and horses. Their journey is almost at an end.   The star is near.  Mary is not yet in labour.  But Joseph is very concerned.  The manger is waiting. Cattle are lowling.
Christmas is near.  The coming of the Lord. The forever change to creation. God incarnate.  God among us.  The Lord jesus is a baby already.  Alive and well in the womb.  Waiting.  Sensing.  At peace. Seeing. Loving. His mother is afraid but not.  Secure in her vision.  Trusting in her man.  Filled with the wonder of creation.  There are these moments in suffering. The routine of journey. The inevitable.  The coming to the end. A new beginning. She sees it.  She was always fay that way.  A touched woman.
Joseph is quiet.  He has worries upon worries.  He doesn’t know what he will do. A family. There was barely enough to feed himself and Mary. Now another mouth.  And work. There’s work. He loses himself in his work.  But there’s the Roman empire. Soldiers and taxes.  Then Herod and his priest police and Pharisees.  It’s too much for a man.  But he loves Mary and the baby is coming. He’s so proud of his young wife and the coming of the child.  So much has passed so much has transpired. He doesn’t even know if he believes but it’s good to be here.  Bethlehem is near.  He knows they’ll like Bethlehem.
Above the star is shining.  Throughout the galaxies and deep in the middle of the earth there is change.  A shuddering. Conception waiting birth.  The inside coming out.  If a person looks just right they can see the oscillation like diamonds.  String theory explains it.  A phase. A vibration.  Not much. Just enough.
I am here today waiting.  Christmas, just a few more days.   Family together.  I’ve been listening to Christmas songs on the radio. 103.5 FM.  What a wonderful station to play Christmas songs continuously.  All the artists, all the famous singerss and song writers who’ve added to the countless lists of caroles that have already been. Each one different.  Rock and reggae and bee bop and classical.  These songs inspire.  Fun songs.  Dancing through the snow songs.  Happy songs.  Awe filled songs.  So this is Christmas.  Deck the Halls.  Away in a Manger.  I ‘m dreaming of a white Christmas.
It was the darkest day of the year, the least light. It’s now passed. Impossible as that sounds.  I sat with a man who wondered why he should go on.
Christmas, I said.
I’m so depressed, he said.
But you can’t kill yourself before Christmas, I said.
Anything can happen with Christmas.
And there’s the New Year.
More possibilities? he asked.
Yes, I said.
He was out of work. He wanted work so bad. But the government and it’s new followers only wanted handouts. Hands out made men slaves.  Worse than work.  Work left a man with pride.  Now this man had none.
We talked some more.  He promised to live another couple of days, a week perhaps.  It  was Christmas and New Years was coming too.
He promised to go to church, and send a card to family, wish them well even if he believed they didn’t care. Maybe that was so but a card wouldn’t hurt. Christmas had to start somewhere.  He promised to see me in the New Year too. He promised to call me if he needed.  I gave him my personal phone number. I had his to call. I might call him. He might call me.
Any time.
I worried that this would be the last year I’d save another from suicide. There have been hundreds maybe a thousand or more I’ve convinced not to kill themselves.  Thirty years of working for life.  Thirty years of serving 24/7.
This year the Supreme Court, that August Government Appointed Body unelected, rank and  irresponsible power, declared that physicians can kill with impunity. Not the judges. They don’t get their hands dirty.  They make other people do their killing.  They hide behind words and lies. They don’t even read the Bible. Any holy books are beneath them.  So this year we wait for Justin Trudeau and his Liberals to rubber stamp their decree. Let the games begin!
I will be out of work healing.  No more holding shaking sobbing bodies. No more begging promises to live. No more late night calls. No more all nighters talking sense into defeated and lost souls.  They’re getting rid of the healers.  Only the elite will have the life once was promised to all.  Time to retrain as killers.
So you’re suicidal? Take a number. Guillotine? Gas? Electrocution? Firing squad? What will it be? You have a choice.
The bureaucrats at the Health Authority have already told us, if we don’t want to do abortions we must pimp for the sick fucks who would kill Jesus or Einstein or Bach or Sarah MacLachlan or St. Theresa while they’re still in the womb.  The lousy government elites have put trillions into bombs and bureaucracy but they have given no money to women who would have a child.  They’ve left them no choice but poverty and humiliation or abortion.   And they call it choice.  And cuckold fathers too.
Now they will do the same for suicide.  The marginalized and those in despair. The mentally ill ambivalent at the best of times. More suffering and abuse heaped on the already defeated.  Die you losers.  Die!
The Killers cry out. Murderers and Sociopaths rule. Life is a party for them.   Herod and the Pharisees are hot, hot, hot!    Nothing is new. Pontus Pilate is the ambassador of Caesar Obama. Herod's in Ottawa. The names change. The roles don’t.  Empires and war lords and baby killers.  Charming folk. Perfect teeth.
The real star is above us now.  Hardly moving at all.
Cattle are  lowling. I’m glad I’m old.  Hipocrates is rolling over in his grave. Luke is ashamed. The stars are weeping. The earth is crying out.  There will be gnashing of teeth.
But not now. Now is the coming of the King.
Now is  growing wonder. Now  is hope. Feel it. Feel it. Focus.  Feel it! Have no fear!  Fear not!  Believe it.  God is good. All of the time.  This too will pass. But now Jesus is awakening.  He will soon be here.  The world will know his cry again and again.  Not like a lion. But a wee small voice.  Listen. Carefully. Pay attention.   Hallelujah.  A baby will be born.
Renewal.  Praise. Hope.   Hallelujah. The Coming of the King.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Climate Change Catastrophes, Christmas Hope and God Incarnate

It’s amazing to be alive. I surprise myself in a random moment when I reflect on past darkness, near death experiences, illness, fears of the impossible and yet here I am today, still alive. I thought that everyone over thirty was impossibly old when I was 20.  I thought them wrong too.
I read recently that the last commune from the sixties still exists but that everyone guards their property from the takers and public works get no support.  We were so idealistic when we were young. We didn’t need history. The old had nothing to teach us.  We had each other.  There were so many of us too. I walked through San Francisco with flowers in my hair and finger painting on my face.
The drugs came and took so many of us.  The satanic drug dealers akin to the boards of tobacco factories, acid dealers, pot dealers and later coke and heroin hustlers.  Money. The basest materialists moved among us like bed bugs and lice, the lowest of lizards.  Our friends fell. I remember the first to go, the prettiest girl from my high school. We heard she’d been hospitalized.  A few years later she was in the safety of a born again church.  She’d seen the Abyss and didn’t want to return.  Surrounded by protectors her beauty was still translucent but looking closer one could see the opaque in her eyes.  The young and the beautiful were always too soft for the old and ugly.  Alone they perished. She survived, somehow.
I remember in the early 70’s the missing girls pictures all over Morocco and the blood stain of the murdered American on our rented penthouse floor.  I later  laughed that Maggie Trudeau wrote it was so safe for her there like all women who overlook the companionship of the Australian rugby team.  The ruling class depends on the strong but doesn’t wish to acknowledge them fearing they will one day usurp their fragile rule.
Heady days.  Such youth.  I will never forget dancing all night to London jazz with the eternally beautiful.
I thought that love would never end.  This glorious love between man and woman so rewarded with sanctified lust was the answer to everything until divorce upon divorce. A trinity of divorce.  And each divorce leaving scars on the heart like stab wounds mostly self inflicted until the abortions cut the soul.
Projection.  Always they blamed you even when you were not there. Miles away the blame was always on you especially when you were never even there.  Hearing gossip later.  The redactions and rewriting of history.
But tragedy was real and thankfully the comedy.
Now I am still alive.  I was so wrong. I thought I’d be dead by 30.  If I had died then I’d have been a hero. I was so impressive when I was young, athletic, handsome, intelligent, rebellious in an era of rebellion, surrounded by rebels.  Hip slick and cool.
Now I am old. Body parts don’t work as they once did. I have left behind the drunken all night parties and the orgies of all night studies.  I’m still doing all night call duties but I ‘ve not been called out of bed in years, the telephone sufficient for the external world. I’m there to reassure and guide. I don’t need to lead. I’ve spent decades ahead of the crowds looking back over my shoulder at the masses and revelling in my sacred loneliness. Now I’m overtaken by others, my skill only in hanging on.  I’m congratulated not by my great accomplishment but merely for living.
“Good to see you still alive ”. Friends congratulate each other.   Once I was congratulated on my awards and pieces of wall paper.
Today living is the award.
I am thankful to see the young but wonder how they can seem so very very young. When I was their age I thought I was an old man but now looking at them I cannot believe my youthful arrogance. My father’s advice and my mother’s advice and their lives seem so much more as I pass each of the milestones they passed. I read history and so little changes. I read the Bible and it’s words are wise today.  I thought everything I thought once was new to me. It was but it’s all part of an amazing interconnected tapestry. I see the relationships today where once I only saw the objects.
It is another Christmas too.  It’s coming up fast.  I am astounded at the nearing year end.  With all the doomsaying and dire predictions of the earth ending and great ostentatious Paris Summit and global warming and rising water I’m convinced I got caught up in the herd fear like I did when the number 1999 changed to 2000 and I thought my computer implode.   Mass terror is marketed by the media who sells fear and disease and death like dirty pornographic pictures.  Suburbanites and academics love to be voyeurs. Those who have known the horrors steer clear.  A sunny day and a picnic are enough.
I love to walk with my dog. His back was nearly broken in a fall.  I am so aware of individual fragility.  Each injury of mine with flying vehicles hurts on certain days of climate change, the real one, not the propaganda one.  I know the climate changes in a joint that today is reminding me of a particularly ignominious motorcycle crash.
I met another shooter and lamented our decreased hearing in our right ears thinking it would have been good if we’d used hearing protection earlier or moved further away from the speakers at the concerts.
Now I thank God I am alive.  I am so thankful for light and live to see the days lengthening. I rejoice for my friends that ski this season but helplessly think back to how much I enjoyed flying south to scuba dive, jumping the winter ship of Canada like so many others do. But there was a time when I snow shoed, ice fished and built quizzies and igloos.  Winter camping was so much fun when I was young. Now I realize youth is foolish and I’m trying unsuccessfully to appear sane as so many of my friends are being carted off with dementia and the government is threatening us all with physician assisted suicide.
Here I am glad to be alive and thankful there was no physician assisted suicide when I was younger and begged to die to relieve myself of the pain that eventually left me better and stronger and wiser.
Thank you Lord Jesus. Thank you God for incarnating in your creation so you can see what a muck up it is and suffer with us.  I feel sorry for others with religions where the God is high on top , the mighty landlord who doesn’t actually live in his kingdom so never knows how his people survive. Jesus is my guy. He’s one of us.  As Neitze the lover of the superman, complained, Jesus is a god for slaves.  I am enslaved in this body and life. I long for moksha. I want resurrection. I wake up pissed some mornings and I’m sure it’s sufficiently because the Aliens didn’t abduct me.
Now Star wars is on and I’m hoping to get to the theatre regretting missing Mel Gibson’s Crucifixion at the movie theatre and experiencing it only later when it was in the second or third wave of DVD release.  I want to be at the head of a cultural moment. I want to crawl over the fat ass body of a Kardashiansand be the first to see Star Wars. But my friends have always been there. When I was young I was early to Rocky Horror Picture Show but here I am wondering if I want to dress and get to the line ups that are the crowds that I revelled in when I was young but now abhor.
A man was knifed beside me at a bar and bled out while no one noticed. I fear the very crowds I was drawn to when I was young.
Jesus was born.  Hallelujah!
Jesus , God, lived and died.
The very people who attended the Paris Summit, the UN leaders, the Putin, Obama, House Said, China’s Communist Committee, France’s President, England’s Prime Minister and Justin Trudeau would be the ones who killed Jesus today. He’d not be crucified but rather put in a psychiatric ward to be silenced.  He’d be electrocuted perhaps.  As Christians we’d all wear little electrocution chairs about our necks instead of crosses. He’d be a God who was killed before he could end the war.  Trillions spent on weapons and myths would not be given to medicine and education because he was killed and silenced again and again.   Jesus the healer and teacher would be killed by all those who profit from war.
I would be there stabbing too.  Everyone on earth who is not a child would have the blood of Jesus on his hands.  This is a planet of war and killing. All the adults are equally responsible. There is no us and them.  Except perhaps the children or the very old and the sick and dying.  And the old and sick and dying had their turns.  But the children under 8 , maybe 6, those young enough that no one trusts them with a gun or a bomb even though their parents might use them as sex trades and suicide bombers and human shields, they are the only innocents.  Not the women ,not the men, not the boys , not the girls, perhaps only the infants.
Like Jesus whose birth in innocence is celebrated at Christmas.  God thank you for joining us.  Infant Jesus. Hallelujah!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Non-violence and Religion

The Islamic claim to being a ‘religion of peace’  seems outright a bald faced lie. However like Communism , the idea is that ‘if you let us rule, we will provide world peace’.  This is a tyrants promise.  Like the Mexican standoff, one asks oneself if it is right to lay down one’s arms first.  In the Nuclear Disarmament agreements there was always the chant of ‘lay down arms first’ but this chant is usually the voice of the enemy.  Mutual disarmament and mutual retreat from violence as anyone who has been there knows isn’t a matter of one side laying down arms as an example to the other side but rather a mutual process of combined withdrawal from the precipitous of mutually destructive violence.
In the East the Jains were perhaps the first to promote non violence to all creatures.  Not just ‘peace’ but true non violence.  Vardhamana Jnatraputra (597-527), son of a Kshatriyas chieftain renounced all war and all violence. Jains even concerned themselves with stepping on insects and blades of grass.
I found it interesting that the famous Christian missionary physician Albert Schweitzer struggled with the idea of going to the violent of continent of Africa because he himself was focused on peace and non violence and couldn’t see how this would be possible in Africa. He was walking on a path when he realized because of the modern study of microbiology afforded by microscopes than no breath or step could occur without death of life.  With this realization he was then freed to go to Africa to serve.
The Jains had retreated from society in the efforts to achieve purity of non violence but the Buddha following in this idea encouraged disciples to participate in society but to the best of their ability be non violent.  Hence warriors could be buddhist and indeed the great emperor Ashoka who struggled most with the idea of non violence and violence in civilization had Buddhist and Jain teaching but concluded that the very instrument of civilization, warfare, must in turn maintain the peace. It was recognized that without so called leisure class there could not be research, science, study and advancement, all the benefits of civilization and so Ashoka concluded that for their to be civilization there would be war but war would maintain the peace otherwise there would be anarchy.  Experiments in anarchy time and again lead to gang warfare and chaos and internecine killing.  It was with these reflections in mind that the Beattles famous for John and Yoko Lennon’s song, Give Peace a Chance were equally famous for their song “We don’t want a revolution”. That said, it’s difficult for all who make it to the top of these hierarchies to renounce the profit and reward of what is usually effort and war, actual or symbolic.  Carnegie gave his wealth to libraries the world over and increasingly there’s an ‘altruism’ among the wealthy today. But unfortunately so much of this public behaviour is later realized today to be done to avoid taxation and to gain even greater profit through influence.
Later Christian Quakers and Mennonites would eschew war but it would seem the Jains were not only the first major non violent sect but ones who did it with true gusto.
I have yet to find the Muslim equivalents, not that I don’t expect to find them, their being Suffi’s for enlightenment but it still seems a bit far fetched to call this religion the ‘religion of peace’.  It would be as spurious to call Russia, China or the US nations of peace.  Unfortunately especially for the stupid and the devolving idiocy of modern media, peace and war are not so much as opposites but indeed very much entwined.
Now the Muslims I know personally, and I’ve honoured to be friends of many, are themselves very peaceful educated sophisticated lovely people. However they are like me physicians or academics, middle class folk, not part of the upper 1 or 2 % of society that rules. They are further not in a Muslim country, Canada quite notorious for it’s homeland peacefulness and general politeness.  I have argued that politeness is greatest among the thoroughly subjugated so Canadians good manners may reflect more the extent to which they have been beaten down and lied to.
Since the first violence of the state is the elite and the rest the question of whether a religion is ‘peaceful’ is secondary to it’s initial value to the leadership who adopt it.  As Christianity and Islam are today the most competitive religions with Atheist Communism in third place perhaps the elite who have imposed violence and subjugation on the many, for good or evil, or expediency, must see in these three competing religions support for their regimes. It goes without saying that any state, government, monarchy can only have a religion that supports the population in general being punished and contained.
All three religions, Christianity, Islam, and Atheist Communism have ‘world dominion’ designs.  So none is ‘inherently peaceful’.  Each has allowed violence to be done to the population within and each in various ways has an expansionist theology.
This needs to be looked at further as it’s most unlikely that President Obama, Prime Minister Trudeau, Communist China’s Central Committee, Putin or the House of Said are today or any time soon likely to embrace the most peaceful of religions, Jainism, Quaker, or Mennonite Christianity.  I don’t even think they’re about to dance with the Suffis though a good dance is always better than a good fight.  

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Psalm 70

Psalm 70
"Hasten, O God, to save me,
O Lord, come quickly to help me.
May those who seek my life
be put to shame and confusion
may all who desire my ruin
be turned back in disgrace.
May those who say to me, "Aha! Aha!
turn back because of their shame.
But may all who seek you
rejoice and be glad in you;
may those who love your salvation
always say
"Let God be exalted!"
Yet I am poor and needy;
Come quickly to me, O God.
You are my help and my deliverer;
O Lord, do not delay.

Well, that pretty well sums it up. What more need be said. The Psalmist captured my deepest feelings thousands of years ago.  His words are all that are needed this day in the 21st Century. The plight of this man remains the same.  I feel harried, threatened, anxious.  I am forever doing my best and yet feeling there are those with more time and more money and more means and that they will hurt me because they can.  I feel powerless.  I turn to the Lord begging constantly for help to over come the anxiety and fear I experience every day I go to work.
I know that technically this thing might be explained as some kind of post traumatic stress disorder. I might even be called depressed but I think it is more to do with the human condition.  There are forces beyond my control.
I am reading Karen Armstrong's timely text "Fields of Blood: Religion and the History of Blood".  It is so far a masterful treatise.
She challenges immediately the simpleton's who ignorantly equate religion with violence.  Violence has always been with man. As a hunter gatherer violence was limited by the resources and the need for the tribes to focus on survival.  Only with the agrarian revolution was man able to develop armies. I love that she says the first real violence was within society.  The 'aristocracy',  meaning 'best' and their hangers on, bureaucrats, judges, advisors , developed armies to subjugate the masses so that some 2% of the society lorded over the rest who principally did the ugly work of raising food and building. Indeed this upper class shunned work. They were warriors but the idea of tilling or labouring or constructing was often beneath them. They preferred to 'administer'.  They also early found that 'organized theft' was the best means of expanding individual and collective wealth.  So lords proceeded from the earliest records of civilization to attack their neighbours and steal.
Theft is what war is all about and everyone is doing it.
I loved Dr. Samual Johnson's great words, paraphrased by Bob Dylan, "Steal a little and they put you in jail, steal a lot and they make you king".
That said, religion, to survive aligned it self with the warriors and rulers.  This goes for Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Paganism and the greatest killer religion of all time, Atheism.
Now within the religions , starting with Zoroastrianism there was this 'guilt' about killing.  That's an interesting development.  This 'reaction' which appears to have resulted in interesting divisions in society and specializations so that the 'killing' could be done by this other group which was at once abhorred but obviously necessary. Because wealth stemmed from the army.  The army was divided later into external and internal army, or army and police because it also served to maintain control.
"The reformer is the enemy of any one who threatens the status quo".  So all of government and society is established to maintain the very forces that ensure the upper classes, that 1- 2% of administrative warriors retained their power.  All banking and all resources are managed to maintain supremacy of the 'ruling elite'.
For the silly and stupid, that means that Obama and Justin Trudeau and all the world leaders are there first and foremost to maintain those who are in power.  In the US these would be foremost Warren Buffet and Bill Gates.  Of course there are the Rothschilds and Rockerfellers but all billionaires have a major investment in maintaining this world as we know it.
Biblically Jesus called this world ruled by Satan.  Herod was the Jewish leader of the day who killed all the children fearing a prophecy saying that a baby would be born. Eventually this local billionaire leader would have John the Baptist beheaded because his girlfriend's daughter wanted this.  Pontus Pilate the Roman Empire leader would allow Jesus eventually be killed as a young man because the religious leaders of his day, who naturally were aligned with the ruling elite, felt he threatened the 'order' of society.  Hence the crucifixion.
Yet 300 years later Constantine, the Roman Emperor caught in an internal struggle noted that the Christians were the best fighters and that their communications. So Constantine had a quickie conversion, and won the battle of Milvian Bridge against Maxentius going on to make Christianity, the state religion. Thus began the Holy Roman Empire and Catholicism which would reign until Martin Luther with the backing of Nationalistic forces of the Protestant cause would begin to decentralize power.
Today, the atheists like to deny that their great atheist oracle Marx and his bench man Lenin created the greatest atheist empire the USSR which promptly killed 60 million and centralized war.
The Chinese atheists under Mao would kill 100 million.
I have never forgotten the great paranoia song of the group Buffalo Springfield with its incredibly brilliant refrain, "Something happening here, what it is aint exactly clear, man with a gun over there say, hey you got to beware, stop hey what's that sound, everybody look what's going down" and "people carrying signs mostly say hoorah for our side."
Now tribalism is the support of 'your group'. Sociopaths are those who will fight and defined their own group within any greater society.  Psychopaths by contrast lack any real empathy and aren't too good at groups. So it follows that for sub cultures the 'hero' is another man's 'terrorist'.
Personally, I like the Aryans. They were the Indo-Caucasian cowboys who moved across India and wrote the Vedas celebrating women, wine, war and cattle stealing. The Celts, the cowboys of Scotland and Ireland and Northern Europe did much the same,  Great warriors and cattle and women thieving.  Later the Indian society separated into the Administrative Brahma religion political class, the warrior class, merchant class, labouring class and slaves.  Prior to this 'warrior specialization' the leadership had focused on being the best killers. A little nation state in Africa has men who do just that even today, maintain their martial skills while the women do all the labour. That group hasn't become civilized to the specialization.
There has been no other successful civilization or empire.  The Khybers and all major political societies today have this history and intrinsic war motif.  The Communists have great armies and sell weapons. The NATO states are the greatest arms dealers and the leaders of the United Nations are all leaders who have been appointed by warrior countries.  Anyone who is not a great war monger is marginal and irrelevant to the powers of the day.  Even Iceland who kicked out it's bankers derived from the great 'organized thieves' of their day, the Vikings.
The Zulus were another group of cowboys.
Cowboys love their cattle.
Warriors are meat eaters. Meat has been rationed throughout history as the most powerful food source for action.  In Scotland the Lords, left overs of the great warrior castes of feudal Europe with its Kings and Queens, own all the fish and edible wildlife.  That's why in Canada today the State is trying to outlaw personal hunting and fishing and is licensing it and taxing it out of reach of the common man.  Indeed vegetarianism has always been encouraged as peasant food with the Irish potato farmers as the classic examples.  The world over, the chicken has been the meat of the people along with lesser fish.
"Guns Germs and Steel" by anthropologist Jared Diamond certainly supports this view of history.
Tribalism, partisanship and behind it all a desire to be home.  We are all walking each other home.  But the glory and the fight and the world of war is alike to sex and orgasm, hence 'all's fair in love and war'.  The two passions of all men.
And the denial. The people who say they don't like war.  They are commonly the 'effete' who detest the soldiers but love the power and wealth that they bring. They are the girls like Canada's protest singer who wrote "Universal Soldier' blaming the soldier. But she may as well have blamed Eva Brawn, Hitler's girlfriend because the girls are the ones who celebrate most the 'returning warrior'. Matriarchies have all been warrior societies and celebrated the wealth the warrior brings.
Krishna said to Arjuna, there will always be war and the war will always be between family members so the only real question is whether you will be in it or not.
So the poverty saints, like St. Francis and others have recognized that without war you can have poverty but with poverty you can still have God because God is truly universal where as Ferrari's unfortunately are not.  Neither is Chanel.
I fear even saying these truths because the evolutionary biologists have said that we have developed our human big brain for the purpose of 'deceit'.  Only by deception did little men kill saber toothed tigers.
I believe this is the truth and I believe the Psalmist called on God because he too was a truth teller.  And every one knows 'he is a fool who cannot conceal his wisdom'.  No religion is truly a 'religion of peace'.  So if you believe Islam is then I have some great swamp land to sell you.  The Klu Klux Klan by their few numbers are clearly less aligned with the major forces of war than Buddhists, Christians or Atheists.  Their 'meme' isn't nearly as duplicitous as that which all major religions can purport to provide.  Support for the warrior 'ruling elite' and 'solace for the losers'.  As Neitze said there are 'supermen' and 'slaves'.  A good religion is good for all but doesn't rock the boat.
But religion doesn't cause war.  Greed and power seeking and lust cause war.  It's a male and female thing. It's a very human thing.
So I'm still thinking that Peace is an elusive butterfly and Love conquers but not in some simple stupid way.  Faith surpasses fear but only with discipline and training. It is natural to be afraid if alone because only together has man and woman been able to face the foe.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Islam, Judaism, Christianity - God, Books, and Peace

A Muslim is a person who follows the religion of Islam. The book of Islam is the QURAN.(Koran).  It was said to be written by the prophet Muhammad but it's more likely that he dictated it as there is question of whether he himself could write.  It is nonetheless considered the Word of God 'revealed' to Muhammed.

To be a Muslim one must publicly pronounce the Shahadah (declaration of faith):

"There is no god but the God and Muhammed is the last messenger of the God."

Muhammed was born c 570 and died 632 CE in Mecca, Hejaz, Arabia.  He is the founder of the religion of Islam and known as it's Prophet. He was considered the Last Prophet of the line beginning with Adam, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and other prophets.  The Hadith are secondary teachings and writings which coupled with the Koran form the basis of the Islamic religion The collected 'laws' of Islam are called the Sharia.

Judaism also began with Adam (and Eve).  Abraham  was born 1948 BCE in Sumer and went to Canaan and made the first covenant with God. This was the basis of the "Chosen People".   Abraham is considered the Patriarch of Judaism. The Lord spoke to Abraham.  Abraham and Sarah gave birth to Moses.  Moses met Yahweh ("I am that is who I am").   In Deuteronomy,  to Moses was given the Shema:

"Hear. O Israel! The Lord is our God, the lord is one." 

The "Book" of Judaism is the TORAH. Secondary writings of Judaism are the Mishnaw, most of which are subsequent interpretations and discussions of the Torah by later scholars.  The most famous 'laws' of Judaism are the "Ten Commandments' but there are various 'laws' which are found in the Judaism and these have been the basis of western laws.

Islam and Judaism are monotheistic religions who share the patriarch Abraham.

Christianity began with the birth of Jesus Christ, God incarnate, son of God and Son of the Trinity, (Father, Son and Holy Spirit).  Muslims and Jews consider the Trinitarian God of Christianity, "three gods in one" as  polytheism. Christians believe in the one God Yahweh with three 'persons in relationship". 

The Book of Christianity is the GOSPELS (4 separate stories of the birth, teaching and death  of Jesus, as told by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John).  Subsequent writings of the Apostles and Paul's letters make up what is called the "New Testament" of the Holy Bible.  The Old Testament is essentially the Judaic Bible.  The Judiac Book is the Old Covenant with God whereas the Christian Book is the New Covenant with God. 

Jesus said, "I and the Father are One", "I am the way, the truth , and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."
Jesus taught, ""Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and all your strength and with all your mind" and "Love your neighbor as yourself."

The Muslims and the Jews consider Jesus a prophet.

They are wrong.

Both the Quran and the Torah are historic "tribal" texts.  Tribalism is the organization and advocacy for a particular tribe. 

To be a Jew is to have a Jewish mother despite the option of conversion. Circumcision is central to the conversion.  To be a Muslem however is an act of public conversion.  Because God told Muhammed to follow the religion of "ibrahim' (Abraham), circumcision is also central to Islam.

Both Judaism and Islam practice 'genital mutilation'.

Thanks to the Apostle Paul, who was lead by God to make Christianity 'inclusive' or conversion 'easy' as some might say,  Circumcision and hence Genital Mutilation are not necessary to the religion of Christianity. 

The book "Evolution of God" by Robert Wright discusses brilliantly the development of our present concept today of one god and the Trinitarian God.  The idea that the 'nature' and 'meaning' and 'relationshnip' to God is dynamic not static is exciting.  Such a consideration must be made for Islamic God which no doubt has been subject to evolution and the effects of history.  Here is the issue of 'historic' and 'exclusivity/inclusivity'. 

The other central consideration of religion and indeed culture is who is considered a 'person'.  Who is the readership. Who is the writing for. And finally what is the language. Obviously, neither the Quran, Torah or Gospels were written in English yet I am writing in English. Recent study of Hebrew taught me amazingly late in life that "interpretations" or religious texts are fundamentally flawed and much affected by scholarship and language as the dyanamic or static nature of language.

While the Quran and Torah are tribal texts with much history of war with others, the Christian text is not a war history but one of spreading ideas.

However in 300 ad , at Nicea,  Emperor Constantine made Christianity the religion of the Roman Empire, making it the Holy Roman Empire, the basis of Catholicism.  Thereafter Christianity is very much associated with war. 

I believe that spirituality is the basis of all true religion. Spirituality and Mysticism are sometimes used alternatively because both refer to individual direct experience of God.  Religion by contrast is the groups experience with God.  Religion is the combination of 'politics and spirituality'. 

When people say Islam is the Religion of Peace they are wrong.  Muhammed was a merchant who became a great warrior.

Judaism is neither a Religion of Peace. Abraham and Moses were both great warrior leaders.

Jesus is the Prince of Peace. He was a carpenter and never killed a soul. He was a healer. 

Muslims, Jews and Christians have all been great killers. Muslims have killed Muslims.  Jews have killed Jews. Christians have killed Christians. Muslims and Jews have killed each other and still do. Christians and Muslims have killed each other still do.   Christians and Jews have killed each other but frown on this today. In this political trinity, Christians and Jews have allied against Muslims. Muslims and Christians have allied against Muslims.  Muslims and Jews have Allied against Muslims. Christians and Jews aren't killing each other now. 

(Not apart of this discussion, but worthy of mention is that  eastern religions including Buddhists and Hindus have all been great killers. The greatest killers of all, though,  have been Aetheists.  Pagans were killing with gusto long before Christians. The various aboriginal pagan religions especially those of the Aztec and some Polynesian tribes have been killing well too.   Humans individually and collectively have always been great killers.)

Each religion has it's spiritual or mystical sects.  The Suffis are the most spiritual and mystical of Islam. I was priviledged and honored to meet with them in Cappadocea, Turkey.   The Jews have their Kabbalistic sects and Hasidic sects. I was honoured to meet and share Sabat with deeply mystical spiritual Jews in Safed, Israel.

Catholics have their mystical monastic orders, the Carmelites with St. Theresa and St. John of the Cross being their most famous.

Absolute non violence is not a requirement of Judaism.

The Ahmadiyya sect of Islam is a most outspoken about the message of peace and Islam but violence is not rejected. Indeed the message of Jihad is far more deeply entrenched in Islam than that of non violence.

Franciscan monasteries might well be the most pacific of Catholic Christians. However, the catholic monastic tradition has generally been non violent.

The most peaceful of all religious sects are the Christian Quakers and the Mennonites. They were as pacific as the Tibetan Buddhists who the Aetheist Chinese killed en mass.  Quakers are wholly non violent and the Mennonites are alike in their unwillingness to kill.

Roughly, the number of Muslims in the world is about 1.6 billion or 23%. The number of Christians is 2.2 billion or 32%, with only 14 million or .2% Jews.  (PEW Research).

There are definitely radical groups within each of the religions. 

Jihadists are best described as Radical Muslims.  The You Tube Video "By the Numbers' hosted by Raz, is a conversation about Radical Islam. It states that there are 3 spheres of Radicalization, the Violent Jihadists, the Violent Muslims and the Fundamentalists.  The world number of Violent Jihadists is anywhere from 500,000 to a million.  This are ISIS and other muslim terrorist groups.   
Islamists are radical muslim who want to change the other systems of government around the world working within those systems.  Examples are Hammas and Moslem Brotherhood and CAIR.  ( In the cold war the communists called their 'invaders' of this ilk, the fourth column)  The final sphere is the Fundamentalists. Fundamentalists believe other countries  should have Sharia Law.  Sharia Law includes killing of women who have premarital or extramarital sex, suicide bombing is justified, chopping off the hands of thieves etc.   Radical Muslims therefore may make up roughly a half billion muslims.  Not all believe in all the radical tenets of radical Islam but hundreds of millions do.  (

Of the 13 million Jews in the world 10 % might be ultra orthodox and/or Zionists. That means there's maybe a million 'radical' Jews.  The highest figure I could find scanning the internet was 3 million.  This is roughly one hundredth the number of radical muslims and despite Jewish penchant for genital mutilation of men, Jewish laws are overall modern and the Zionist position is solely in defence of Israel.  By that token , I might well be considered a radical Canadian as I would, despite being a healer physician, take up arms in defence of my own country. If the displaced Aboriginals attacked me like the displaced Palestinians attack individual Jews I'd use lethal force in defence of my person and family too.  In contrast to the Offensive Jihadists with a doctrine of violence Jews, and certainly Canadians aren't likely to invade and colonize other lands. 

Christians have their radicals.  Evangelical Christians account for 25% of Christians. Christians account for  2.2 billions so like radical Muslim there are millions of radical Christians.  They're not particularly violent, not nearly as offensive as the aetheists but nonetheless they condone violence. It was the Crusaders indeed who blocked the Offensive Muslim explansion that had Muslims invading Spain and Italy and only being stopped at Vienna.  A similar invasion of India with hundreds of thousands of Sikh's killed was only barely stopped.  Christians collectively don't have what in Canada have been called 'barbaric cultural' practices and the Modern World is really an evolution of the Christian European World with the laws we generally know today deriving from this religion. We did burn witches at the stake 5 hundred years ago but Jews and Muslims were doing worse things to women back then. These days even burning Feminists at the stake  would be seriously frowned upon and likely lead to the man being killed by the state if such provision was allowed in that Christian land. 

I will continue. 

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Anil's 50th Birthday Party

It was a real honour to be invited to Anil Aukluck’s 50th Birthday Party.  Anil is a wonderful accountant, trustworthy and reliable, hard working and considerate.  He is a friend of my much admired friend Ganesh Nanda.  I’ve had the joy and privilege of attending Indian concerts with these two men and their wives. They are so concerned with family and community. I’ve had the joy of meeting their children.  Their wives are happy beautiful women who are strong and admired in their own right. I loved meeting Anil’s daughters. They are a going concern.  What father with three beautiful daughters and his sister’s daughter could remain sane in this high energy mix.  Yet Anil is calm and spiritual.  I think that Ganesh turned to spirituality to survive his children passing through adolescents to become the successful young adults they are today. Anil is right in the midst of the storm but remains serene.
He is an artist too, doing lovely drawings and paintings.  As I listened tonight to Harish Kumar, the famed music director Tabla player, Ganesh told me that Anil also plays flute.  Being on Facebook I so enjoyed seeing video of Anil  riding horses with his daughters on beaches but here he is a musician as well as accountant and painter.  There’s no end to his talent.
The night was a great success.  It was held at the Hall on Ross street. I’d been to the most remarkable of Hindu Sikh weddings there with the most beautiful of brides and most handsome of men. As tonight the ladies were all dressed in festive sari’s and the men in black jackets and slacks.
A young couple sang and played guitar on stage, Ganesh’s young friends, all very modern, a contrast to the traditional setting.  In the background through the night scenes from Bollywood movies played on the many large screens around the hall.  Ganesh pointed out famous stars.
 Laura and I began the feast with samosa appetizers. I loved the fish the best.  The spread was magnificent.  Both Laura and I felt that was the meal only to find out later that there was another feast to continue.  Laura loved the vegetarian curry but I could swear the goat curry was a delicacy unheard of, that strange meat to an average Canadian palate, melting in my mouth.  My girth gained as we feasted and feasted.
Ganesh and his truly lovely wife Anita were the best companions.  Ganesh and I talked politics quietly, he has great hope for the future.  With Canadians staggering before the plummeting world oil prices Ganesh’s gold business is doing very well, as gold holds value when other currency fails.  Meanwhile Anita was showing Laura iPhone video’s of her grandchildren and these two grandmothers were in heaven discussing much more important matters of domestic politics.
Anil’s wonderful daughters had made a film of Happy Birthday greetings with songs and hilarity from all over the country and as far away as Britain. A much loved baby,  dancing to the Indian music in a video clip, definitely stole the show. Anil was on the verge of tears with such a gift of love from his daughters, family and friends.  It was so touching to see his parents and other old people wishing this great man well. The young and sassy friends however called him by his nickname moose!
Then the women were dancing, first the young, then the old and following their lead all the men poured on the stage.  Anil was lifted on shoulders of friends along with his wife and the two lovers danced across from each other high above the crowd.  Next Ganesh and I were invited too. Who would have known, my spiritual community leader friend turns out to be a regular dancing guru.  Some inner tabla took over and he and Anil were young men again. The music was infectious so I couldn’t help but join in.  Such laughter and fun.
When Laura and I took out leave the party was going strong.  What a wonderful night to remember.   Happy Birthday Anil!
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Dr. Christiensen, Dr. Houston, and Helen Miller

For years now I’ve had the honour of dinner with Dr. John Christiensen and Dr. James Houston.  Helen Miller, a former Regent College student and a Christian missionary with the Padang Lutheran Relief Society has been present as well. Until last year we had the pleasure of Dr James Houston’s  beautiful wife, Rita ’s company too.  Others have sometimes been there but those are the core participants. The conversation between Dr. Houston and Dr. Christiensen shines.
Dr. Houston still teaches at Regent College where he once served as the Chancellor.  Dr. Christensen was the UBC Professor of Psychiatry who focused on  Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy.  Helen attended Regent College and being an Australian expat knew John who himself had spent a youth among sheep and roos. The two of them  occasionally lapse into quaint reminiscence of growing up among poisonous insects and reptiles and bigger than life Australian characters.
But mostly it’s a joy just to listen to Dr. Houston and Dr. Christensen share and explore the depth of the human spirit and the depth of the human psyche.  They both see man and woman as truly interrelated with God and the relations of the trinitarian god in man.  As James speaks of the historical dialogues between man and God and the development of covenant and faith  so John speaks of the inner development of trust and the child becoming adult and the struggles at various stages. “It all begins with the child being held and the mother’s first gaze into the eyes of her child.”   Dr. Houston says, “it all really began when God first entered his kingdom in Jesus with love”.  The journey is so much and timing and patience so central in the spiritual journey as in therapy.
Outside in Vancouver it was dark and raining. Helen’s car had broken down at the Burrard Street Bridge and unable to get a taxi she’d bussed part of the way only to catch a taxi for the last part of the journey.   John’s Christmas tree was up with Christmas lights shining.  The room warmed with friendship and laughter.
Dr. Houston had just returned from Brazil where he was meeting with government  business and church leaders. He lectured often on relationships, his son and he developing ideas of the Christian character as they contributed to business.  He  told of his long history with South America and described the early days when Nazis had vied with socialist extremists for dominance  in different countries.   Brazil, Argentina and Venezuela are changing today as the people seek a new identity that will serve them in the future.
Dr. Houston had also just been in the Faroe Islands.  Dr. Christensen laughing admitted he’d had to look it up in the atlas before dinner. The Faroe Islands had been of such strategic importance in WWII because the Nazi submarines could have wrecked greater havoc from there on Allied shipping had not  an early detachment of Allied troops  been sent to secure the fjords.  Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, both who Dr. Houston knew from his days teaching at Oxford, were involved in communications in those early days.   Now it’s an amazingly modern community with great underground tunnels connecting islands and people.  Half the year in sunshine and half the year in darkness.  Yet artists because of the unique setting and talent are known the world over.
Last year Helen had been in Sudan working with local preachers and chiefs on reconciliation attempts when fighting had broken out again nearby and she’d had to leave.  People had naturally been concerned for her safety but she’d not had to flee, perse but it had been a timely retreat.   Such atrocities  kept occurring in Sudan. Yet the people keep returning to rebuild communities devastated by war.  The uncertainty and fear were everywhere, said Helen.   She is going back again this spring struggling to raise money to help the children. She has a web site, Childlike,  describing both the faith she has as a Christian and the displaced and orphaned children.
Of course the meal was delicious.  Chicken and potatoes all followed by Helen’s Pavlova cake. It was the conversation as always that was a joy to hear.  Dr. James Houston has the most extraordinary memory.  He’s written countless books.   John had brought out Dr. Houston’s  early book on Transformative Prayer.  It had moved us all so much.  We’d all studied Christian spirituality under his tutelage at Regent .He is still teaching today.   Spirituality is in  relationship.  He asked in the most psychological way when it was that we’d experienced the first breech in trust in  relationship, how this affected the work we did in life and where we felt closest to God today.
The company was so erudite as well. References to books and writers spiced the conversation.  I invariably have weeks of reading that follow these dinners.  Dr. Houston had brought Gail Dickenson’s moving poetry book. John was reading Richard Rohr and Thomas Merton again. I gave Dr. Houston a copy of Sister Iglesias, the story of the first Angel of AA , the nun nurse who had worked with Dr. Bob.  We laughed together at the struggles writers faced but had over come. Dr. Houston was  again bringing an august group of the greatest scholars together for a project close to his heart, the Christian Identity.   John had written about his accident and the spiritual experience that followed,  Helen had nearly finished her stories of her time in Africa but couldn’t complete the ending.  (Probably because it’s so very much ongoing). .
With the Paris Talks on the Environment going on , Dr. Houston shared that he’d written a paper on Environmental Ethics in early days telling us of his first meeting with Dr. Suzuki.  Environmentalism was always a Christian concern.  though in Christian terms it is simply called ‘stewardship’.
They all are so supportive of my difficult work with those suffering addiction, the slavery, the false promise and deceit of the false self versus the joys of recovery and return to the true self.
We discussed the Moslem refugees, the Moslem religions, and the spirituality of the Suffi’s. Dr. Houston spoke so highly of the discussions between the leaders of the monotheistic religions and how they were working to find common ground.He lamented the difficulty others had understanding the divinity of Jesus.  The idea of God truly entering his creation so humbly is such a stumbling block for those who see God as mostly above and less from within.
As always I am moved by these evenings leaving with more questions of myself and the direction of my life. Talking with Helen I was lifted up by her call to missionary work.  “We’re working on peace there in the Sudan. It is so important that people who once fought can sit and eat together. So much begins from the sharing of a meal."
As I drove home in the night after dropping off Helen, I felt truly blessed to know such loving friends whose lives have been so devoted to the care of others and the celebration of Christ.
Dr John ChristensenDr James Houston

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

The Kingdom of Heaven

“The Kingdom of Heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into a large amount of flour and it worked all through the dough.” Matthew 13:33
Heaven is not something without. It is within. It is within. I also believe it is hope.
“Anyone who is among the living has hope - even a live dog is better off than a dead lion.”  Ecclesiastes 9:4
Today I will have hope.  Faith is the opposite of fear.  Hope is the opposite of despair. I will not psych myself out. I will not think myself into a hole.  Rather I will trust in God and pray.  I will meditate. I will love though God knows I have reason to fear and reason to fear. I will be totally illogical and believe in today. I will block out the negative and focus on the positive. I will thank the Lord for all the blessings and look to the light.  Darkness is always around but it is the light that shines on the path. I will find my Way.  I will be with God in all endeavours.
“Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lack and caught all kinds of fish.  When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets and threw the bad away.  This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Matthew 13:47
I would like to think of the fisherman separating the good thoughts from the bad thoughts. The thoughts of negativity, of envy, of pride, of fear, of hatred and resentment from the thoughts of love, purity, rejoicing and faith. I would like to think the good fish that are kept are the feelings, thoughts and memories of all that is right and truth. All else is removed and thrown back into the sea.  But then in the end, it is only the pure and good that remains.
But ‘throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth’, well thats barbaric. And yet, the lizard and nasty animal in me are that which I’m letting go of. I’m moving forward from the primitive to the eclessiastical, from the base to the pure, from the self centred to agape.
I don’t want to live my life in fear of a Dante Hell.  “weeping and gnashing of teeth’ sort of place. Yet that’s the image. I can’t all that well politically correct it into a child’s vision of reality like the liberals always do, making their world a sanitized television place with lots of editing.  I on the other hand must face reality but the kingdom of heaven is within and the yeast is love. And God is love. So I continue to believe that I can’t ‘force’ someone to choose.  We live or we die.  We walk to the light or away.
But who would want to choose ‘weeping and gnashing of teeth’ or a ‘fiery furnace’.
Elsewhere I’ve had the thought that this image is tied to the inner revelation of truth rather than a Dante Hell. Hell is that experience of the ego being utterly wrong, that the false god is realized as false and the fire has been called the ‘refiner’s fire. I don’t know where that potter’s passage is. But I don’t have to be PC and stupidly liberal ignorant as only the atheist can be to accept that one day I realize that I have to give up my drug or my comforting lies and move forward. I have to acknowledge that God is love and all is love but love of agape not of lust.  I can’t have both or at least all must be within the one not the other.
The Kingdom of Heaven is within.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Christian Medical and Dental Society Annual Christmas Banquet

I love CMDS ( It comforts me just to know it is there.  The doctors I’ve met and shared with in this organization have so impressed me not only for their excellence as physicians and dentists but for their compassion as humans. They’re mostly family people as is the Christian way. They celebrate their partners and their children. They are close to their churches and their Bibles.  They are hopeful people.
This year we met at Kaya’s the fabulous Malaysian restaurant on Broadway at Oak.  Dr. Tam greeted us at the door immediately making my friend, Laura and I feel welcome.  I had the pleasure then to speak with Dr. Jeffrey Greenman, President of Regent College. His wife is a paediatrician. I shared how I’d fallen in love with Regent attending the courses of Dr. James Houston.
“He’s teaching another course next year,” Dr. Greenman told me.  “He’s 94 this year and has more energy and enthusiasm than some of us half his age.”  Later at our table I’d share how much Dr. James Houston’s simple book on Prayer had influenced me.
Meanwhile, my friend Laura, had met Kirsti, the Art Historian wife of the Ken, the esteemed violinist North Vancouver  family physician.  They were talking about their children and travels.
A collection of medical students and seasoned CMDS musicians and singers had come together for the occasion leading us all in singing Christmas carols through the evening.  Singing Silent Night, Holy Night, and Joy to the World did wonders for my soul.
Delicious food began to arrive miraculously.  Plate after plate of marvellous morsels graced the table.  As a typical doctor I’d missed lunch and was soon contentedly full with the delights of Kaya’s famed kitchen.
Dr Jeffrey Greenman spoke on the subject “Fear Not”.  I loved that he drew his message from the verses of Luke, the physician gospel writer.  I couldn’t help but think how often Dr. Willi Gutowski, missionary doctor and  long time member of CMDS had told me that Jesus had commanded Christians, “Do Not Be Afraid.”  He loved to say this wasn’t a suggestion.  I’d joked thereafter while sailing bluewater with a Christian buddy that “worrying is wicked’. When our cockpit awash and the ship was floundering in a terrific blow and I was struggling on deck to reef the main, this grinning Christian card had called to me, “Are we wicked yet, Billy?"
Now here was Dr. Jeffrey Greenman,, Oxford and Regent College theologian expanding on God’s message.  “The opposite of fear is faith,” he said.  Then drawing on story after story of Luke’s testimony of the birth of Christ he shared how first with Zechariah and lastly with the Shepherds God’s appearance was overwhelming startling, even paralyzing, but then God said Fear Not.  For the message of the Christmas season is that Yahweh, God almighty has been born as a child in a manger.  This is the Messiah. This is the promise.  All shall be well with God among us.
Dr. Greenman didn’t exactly say ‘god among us’ or ‘god incarnate’ or "the transcendent God”  of the ancients had become the " immanent god of Jesus”.  He didn’t speak theologese at us.  Instead, he  chose simple all embracing words.  He referenced  Roosevelts famous words, ‘the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”  And went on to expand on the fuller passage that one line derived from.  He mostly read passages from Luke.  His voice was soothing and melodious. He let the truth of Luke work its calm and  healing   I felt tears welling in my eyes to hear once again the blessed assurance.
After we sang more Christmas carols, the dining area though spacious, felt cozy.  I was again happy with life and felt as if Jesus had once more lifted a burden of worry from my ailing back.  I was here among loving and kind folk who daily faced my frustrations with the struggle to comfort and cure patients in  the horrible politics of todays medical system.  We all had suffered at the hands of the Herods of Government Health Care and the Pontius Pilates of Wrong Judgements.  We’d cried at night when despite all our technical knowledge and decades of intensive learning and experience,  despite  our deepest faith,  we’d still fail to Lazarus that one person we really believed should live. We’d all learned acceptance and humility in those dark nights of our medical souls.  Thy will be done not my will.
Here we were again, eating together, singing together, and praying together,  thankful for that reminder this Advent season, that Jesus, the Messiah was born that blessed day.  Fear Not.
My phone rang and I stepped outside to answer an emergency call.  It wasn’t an emergency.  But I hopefully reassured this frightened and angry person that my assistant would try to book them in on Monday, but I was fully booked till sometime next year. I was sorry waitlists were so long.  Yes I was sorry I’d not be able to see them  this Friday night. It was already past 9 pm.  I was sorry their lawyer had upset them.  I was sorry their lawyer was costing so much money and charged them to talk to them and that I was free.  I was also sorry the government bureaucrats they’d spoken to that day had been so rude and refused to return their calls.  I appreciated their fear but there was nothing I could do tonight.  And no I couldn’t talk more because I was on call for medical emergencies that this was more a legal and beaurocratic problem which the lawyers and bureaucrats must deal with.  I did remind them that they didn’t keep their office appointment with me too and didn’t mention I’d not been paid when they just didn’t show and didn’t cancel.  I said that mostly  this was about money and their fears about their financial settlements.  No I couldn’t make a special appointment to meet with them on Saturday or Sunday either.  They were meeting with the lawyers next week and it was a family matter too which meant i couldn’t just speak with them alone but the only thing that could be decided had to be decided with all parties involved and I couldn’t choose ’sides’ in this matter either.  But really , this isn’t a medical or psychiatric emergency and when I give patients my number it’s for medical and psychiatric emergencies, matters of life and health and death and matters related to medication or treatment.  There was nothing more I could offer over the phone and that this would have to be taken care of at the office.  No I didn’t want them to suicide but what they were calling me about was really not a medical or psychiatric emergency but rather a legal and beaurocratic matter and I could not make a house call to discuss how no one cared. And yes I cared but I couldn’t tell the judge and government to go to hell for them even if I wanted to.  Would they call me at the office on Monday.  Would they be alright till then?   Alright. Good night.
Fear Not.
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