I just watched the spire of Notre Dame fall on twitter


I’m crying. Why wouldn’t I be.

This is a fucking tragedy, and it was all triggered by workmen. I’ll bet anything there were safety shortcuts forced onto them by the construction management company.


later…. 52 acres of primeval oak forest was taken down for the pillars



Land acknowledgement

The world is now awash in land acknowledgments. The Aussie one at the end of many TV productions sounds like it went through a glass-cutter:

We acknowledge the Traditional Owners of country throughout Australia and recognise their continuing connection to land, waters and culture. We pay our respects to their Elders past, present and emerging.

See, in my conception of the local Indigenous practices, they don’t own land. They’re in a permanent (in planetary existence timescales) and precious relationship with their land and their language and their people, and to call the land part of the relationship ownership is everything that’s wrong with colonialism in a single sentence.

I see that acknowledgment as shown above and I feel a gaping lack.

(However I urge you to look up how the word ‘country’ is used in English by many Indigenous people living in Australia, because it’s beautiful and resonant.)

As of 2019, this is my land acknowledgement:

I acknowledge that nothing short of complete restitution of Indigenous lands across this Earth will do.

I acknowledge that reparations for the land, war crimes, genocide, language extinction; theft, despoliation and destruction of great works of art and cultural centred-ness; as well as yet unknown-to-science damages to Indigenous people caused by sequelae from these events, are due in full measure, and I hate that capitalism is going to make that reparation virtually impossible even if it completely fails, as I hope it does.

I will hold up Indigenous rights and ask Indigenous persons no rude questions, tell no rude lies about them, and may study but co-opt none of their spiritual or artistic practices for praise or pay.

I will pay Indigenous editors to read my fiction, some of which is already published, but which needs to be vetted by someone without my biases, so that it may be changed, and changed again if need be; the future comes on fast.

This land, the land I live on, belongs in the human care of Coast Salish people, nations among whom made their own agreements, under their own systems of justice and negotiation. I hope to keep living here, after it’s been released from colonial bondage and theirs in the sense that they may be in their traditional relationship with this land, without colonial interference. I hope to live here when the sign at the city limits comes down and there are no longer any artificial colonial barriers between any of the lands here.

I’m a settler here. My descendants will most likely be settlers. I will never go through the farce of ‘owning’ land under the stamp of the Province of British Columbia again or indeed anywhere in what is now called Canada, and I encourage my children to do likewise. I am unemployed and cannot pay the rent I owe to any local nation, but I acknowledge that I owe it and may be called upon to pay it some other way.

sideways thought

I’m a left-loonie, so-far-away, no brain, no balance sheet, no COMPETITIVE VIGOUR kind of person, except for my fondness for guns.

How on earth can I justify such a thing?

Well, I had never tried to, and then an Organizing Principle appeared from the writhing and fuscous depths of my sensorium: why not make a list of who else carries guns in Canada and, you know, compare and contrast?

I’m not really that much of a left-loonie I guess, since I have these libertarian and anarchist stripes, which I need to bury under a more ancient way of knowing.  No anarchist or libertarian ever fucking learned to live inside an ecosystem without destroying it, and the ancestors of the current First Nations actually had that well in hand, from the Haudenosaunee to the Gwich’in and all the peoples many days’ journey around and between.

Note that the slave based culture of MesoAmerica did not prosper.  They fucked up their water table and had armies of drones to support one big hereditary family of fucking parasites (who made nice art possible, sure, that’s the Eurocentric response and it was but an armature for later development like the Enlightenment and Oh Look there are still Royal houses in Europe bla bla bla.) Yeah, they put too many people on too little land and last few generations of the lower classes were in such rough shape that it’s amazing they gave as good an account of themselves as they did when the Spanish arrived.

The people who figured out the buffalo, and the salmon, and the caribou, and the three sisters, now THOSE are people we should respect.  We don’t even know how many of them lived here before white people came, but it was a fuckton, and if they didn’t leave much behind maybe it’s because they didn’t ruin everything.


So, about the couple ‘living Victorian’.  Three comments.

As you may know, my mOm is transcribing our ancestor’s diary. He was a lower middle class Victorian Englishman with pretensions, since he was an antiquarian and took tea with Carlyle (more than once, I’ll have you know.) He spends an inordinate amount of time diarizing about the weather, and how they had to break the ice on the wash basin in the morning, when they had infant children in the house. Damn right skippy, it freezes hard in jolly old England. Comfort was hard to come by and made much of when it occurred.

When people want to live their cosplay, I have no objections and am in fact quite envious. When I find out about their lack of technology in an article she wrote for the internet, I laugh quite heartily and my envy melts away, unless I missed something and she’s powering her server with a steam-engine. Then I’m envious again, although not of her neighbours.

Victorian birth control. Until you’ve done nappies the Victorian way (ancestors did vaccinate their kids, for what it’s worth) you have a contortionate and dreamily inaccurate view of a Victorian married woman’s life.

Truth and reconciliation

A few recommendations of my own:


Read the 94 recommendations.

Which of these recommendations can you action in your own life?

In your church?

At your workplace?

At home?

In your buying habits?

Do you know where the nearest Friendship Centre is?  Locate it.

Do you know what languages the First Nations in your area speak?

If you have internet access, research and follow a First Nations activist on social media.

Visit your local library and borrow and read books by First Nations authors which can be fiction, poetry, memoir, non-fiction, academic.

Donate money to a First Nations cause.

Read the Indian Act.

If you have access, watch a youtube video google “youtube testimony residential schools”.

Go to a powwow.  Dance your ass off.

Purchase and display art by aboriginal artists.

Examine your speech for racist terms and expunge them.

Listen to First Nations music.

Learn how to say hello, goodbye, please and thank you in a local First Nations language.

Support First Nations people by attending peaceful protests.

Learn the traditional territorial boundaries of First Nations people.

Read about the laws, traditions and spiritual beliefs of First Nations people in your area.

If you have school aged children, ensure that they learn age appropriate materials about the residential schools.

Victims of Violence Symposium, notes and comments

I took extensive notes.

Christine Lowe opened things up by saying that in healthy communities we acknowledge the harm that comes to victims of violence, and that victimes need to be helped with their physical, spiritual and emotional well being. Strong relationships make social justice possible.

She made a joke about the podium.  When they were finalizing planning they realized they had no podium, and they had no money to buy or rent one.  So they called the police.  The Victoria PD supplied the podium.

This donation by the police meant that we were looking at their logo the entire time, but it also meant that it was a place where cops and SJWs could work together, and that made me happy.

There was a territorial acknowledgement, and Elder May made a blessing that set the tone for the day.  A little rambling, heart-piercingly beautiful, compassionate.  When she sang I started weeping.  The contrast of her speaking voice and her singing voice was so acute it made me sit up. Her song was wordless and filled with yearning for justice and peace.

Then the Deputy Minister for Justiceland Wanamaker got up and gave a canned f*cking empty speech with about as much inflection and heart as one gets from a Grade 7 kid giving her first address.  As a libertarian-inflected feminist, I was enraged to the point I nearly booed when she tried to make political hay out of taking 5 million dollars from civil forfeiture – forgot we had that in Canada, right? right? and earmarking it for prevention of violence against women.  Really don’t like that.  I could go on at great length about why I was pissed, but instead I stink eyed her until she left.  She may be a king hell accomplished career bureaucrat, and we should be thankful that somebody of her dignity spoke to us, but I came away wanting to coach her on public speaking and liberty both.  Please don’t think that the 8 Domestic Violence Units which have been set up across BC with the money are bad things. I don’t.  One thing I will credit her with is saying ‘all genders’; this is phrasing I wish more politicians would adopt, since it doesn’t other trans* and intersex people, or people who are distinctly possessing identifiable bits but are not gender normative, and it includes two-spirited.

Frank Elsner. Chief of Police in Victoria since January 2014.  Man, I wish, you have NO IDEA HOW I WISH, that brO could have been in the auditorium when he spoke.  He worked the room, greeting and speaking with many, many people. Fine, a cop can have good social skills, in fact let’s hope she does. As he was introduced, it was obvious that he is highly intelligent and has multiple degrees from real universities.  He’s been chair of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, which means he’s been exposed to best (and worst) practices across the planet, and let’s face it the last decade has seen some impressive advances in community policing.

He said, “Why talk about community health in terms of policing?” Essentially good policing is part of what makes a healthy community.  As a cop he was appalled to arrest three generations of criminals.  The boys weren’t born bad; intervention and options are required to turn lives around.

He mandated a different approach to street prostitution.  Instead of throwing them in the jug, a group of women were streamed toward social workers.  Picture their astonishment when the first problem most of them had was that they had no picture ID. Childcare, job training and housing were also issues.  Address them, and women can get off the street.  He made it sound simple, but the key is collaboration among a large group of people across half a dozen Ministries and social agencies.  When you get seven women out of the life, you are reducing human suffering in them, their children and their grandchildren, is the point.

Then he said the thing that would have made brO happiest.  He said the police must be accountable to the people they serve for everything they do, even when it hurts the police institutionally and personally.  The reactive model of policing is no longer tenable; police have to earn and show respect in the community they serve.

He also mentioned that cops need to be better educated and trained (yay, maybe that one dingus will finally learn how to give evidence in traffic court) and that their own mental health MUST be factored into the equation; police need like all people to be treated with respect for the sad duties they take on, on behalf of all of us, and that if we just keep expecting cops to suck it up they will snap.  So he wants to look after the well being of the people in his department and not just expect them to stand tall and be stoic.

My applause at the end of his talk was very genuinely enthusiastic, as was Paul’s.

Then Dr. Martin Broken Leg got up.

1. Dude’s funny.

2. Dude’s a survivor.

3. Dude’s hella smart.

With effortless humour, fluency, clarity and logic, he walked us through what it’s like to live in Aboriginal culture, both sides of the border (he is Lakota, adopted into the Raven clan on Haida Gwaii and man you shoulda seen his button decorated black vest with the most beeeyootiful appliquéd silver raven on the back, I admired it in person.)

One Hundred and Fifty Thousand Indian kids went to residential schools until 94 when the last one closed.  Four Hundred and Fifty Thousand Indian kids have gone into care since the mid fifties.

Christ wept.

The ACE studies (Adverse Childhood Experiences) can provide some light.

If a child is exposed to addictions, abuse, domestic violence, incarceration and neglect, you will get social impairment, health risks, disease, disability and early death.

There are other sources of trauma to FN kids. Federal laws, provincial policies, residential schools, the institutions of the churches, poverty, sub standard housing, poor nutrition and lack of healthy practices, lower opportunities for education and employment.

Oppression comes in many forms.  Social microaggressions, the way people look at you and talk to you and make assumptions about you. Systems don’t make place for you and your cultural folkways. The professional people who are supposed to help you don’t necessarily respect you and don’t expect you to improve; and then of course there’s internalized racism and the numbness that comes when you realize that you’re worthless; you don’t need to see 1200 missing women on tv to realize that there’s not a lot of respect for FN women, let alone men.

He recommended Rupert Ross’s Criminal Conduct and Colonialization and Dr. Paulette Regan’s Unsettling the Settler Within.

Traumatized people show it.  They show it by abusing their children, committing suicide, legal trouble and incarceration, early death, violence and addictions.

If you’re working with traumatized people the question to ask is not What’s Wrong with You!? it’s What Happened to You?

In 2012 the Gladue decision brought into sentencing the ability of the judge to inquire as to childhood trauma before jail time.

Subsequently a 19 year old aboriginal man was arrested for assaulting (I remember this story) a Coast Mountain bus driver. At sentencing it was learned that he had been in 28 foster homes between 4 and 18. He didn’t get jail time, he got counselling, and the howls from white people who said BUT HE ISN’T BEING PUNISHED were very loud. And pointless.  Jail wouldn’t help.


FN people need to:

See your own and your inherited pain (he called it the dark shadow that lies across every aspect of aboriginal life.)

Know and express your own suffering.

Self-critique and move toward self-improvement (away from victimhood toward self-actualization)

Reclaim aboriginal spirtuality, community and culture ESPECIALLY LANGUAGE (my comment because it is a road map back to the way the land spoke to your ancestors.)

Non-aboriginal people need to work on:

Self-reflection, to lose their white innocence (I had no idea FN children were experimented on, I had no idea that three percent of the residential school kids never came home, I had no idea that the Indian Act didn’t let FN women vote until the 1960s.)

Accept the historical violence, from the Beothuk to Akwesasne.

Admit the full equality of Aboriginal people and ways.  That’s the tough one.  We’ve been acculturated to believe that European ways are superior, and it ain’t necessarily so.

Remember that the 1948 UN definition of genocide COVERS THE SITUATION OF THE RESIDENTIAL SCHOOLS.

Broken Leg then talked about the four stages of forgiveness, as outlined in Tutu’s The Book of Forgiving, which he wrote with his daughter Mpho.

  1. Let us tell the truth. Speak the truth, unvarnished, the facts.  Tell trusted people, accepting that the past will not be changed.
  2. Name the hurt.  Accept all feelings as valid and connect those feelings to the facts.  Use Kubler-Ross’s grief work. Be vulnerable and be willing to be hurt, because you will be.
  3. Grant forgiveness by choosing to forgive.  Grow by forgiveness.  Move to the place of being a survivor hero, not a victim.
  4. Change your story.  Tell a new story to heal.  Renew or release the relationship that has marked you. Ask for what you need.  Look at your role, not to blame yourself, but with calmness.

Reconciliation continues.


Young people, to be resilient, must be valued enough by their culture to be taught 





See also.


Then I went to a breakout session on suicide prevention in young people “This do in memory of me” for Kaitlin Schmidt, whose plaque we put up in the Gazebo of Remembrance on Thursday night.

Almost 4000 people kill themselves in Canada every year. A lot of them are young people. Accidents involving brain injury, suicide and cancer are one two three for cause of death in folks under 25.

It’s okay to ask somebody if they are thinking of harming themselves or killing themselves, but there is a big but.

You have to say that you have seen a change in behaviour first.  This marks you as somebody observant and caring.  If they are suicidal but deny it you have marked yourself as a safe person to talk to later. (I find it unlikely that I will ever be that blue again but I know EXACTLY who among my friends I can go to, and that in itself is wonderful.) If they aren’t suicidal they can explain why they’ve been wearing nothing but sweat pants for two weeks and are giving away all their stuff.

Since kids have smart phones, there’s been a lot of work on apps that help kids manage their moods.  Links below.

I found it very interesting that the presenter, Renata Hindle, said that in two hundred 80 minute presentations in BC to Grade 8 and Grade 10 kids, precisely one class wouldn’t go with the guided meditation, and that dozens of kids have told her they wished they knew about it earlier.  Funnily enough, we teach meditation at a number of points in the UU religious education curriculum.  Cause we be all about raising resilient kids yo.

Booster Buddy



Then there was a very challenging talk on male survivors of childhood sexual abuse.

Men process sexual trauma differently than women.

Gender role conditioning to not seek help, to suck it up, to be tough and stoic, mean that help is not sought and the trauma plays out in all aspects of the survivor’s life.

They don’t have the social permission of women to ask for help, to admit to needing it.

When they do seek help, there is a deluge of stuffed-down emotions which occurs at the commencement of the counselling.

Societal and internalized homophobia (offenders normally being men) can cloud the survivor’s ability to see their own victimization.  Womanizing is often a consequence of childhood sexual abuse.

Often, they can fear that they will prey on children (this was brilliantly depicted, as an aside, as part of Bunchy’s story in Showtime’s Ray Donovan.)

Something that never occurred to me was that as boys arrive at puberty, they have the ability to be physically aroused by damned near anything.  This is used by perps to show to the boy that he ‘must have enjoyed it.’ ew ew ew.

5 – 6% of boys who’ve been molested go on to offend.

BUT 95% of offenders were abused.

Those are horrible statistics. And we’re doing a shitty job as a culture of helping men who’ve been sexually abused as children. I am going to investigate the group helping men here in town.

As an aside, she said that male survivors are very likely to espouse conspiracy theories, because their essential feeling of safety has been destroyed.  They have seen the shadowy forces of evil and want everybody to be as frightened as they once were.

This made me realize that someone close to me is probably a survivor.  I have had to come to a personal adjustment of my thinking patterns.

Sobriety is virtually impossible for survivors who haven’t had counselling for the trauma.

Survivors get in fights, they are medicated heavily, many have difficulty keeping sober and binge or drink steadily, they dress in a fashion that tells people ‘KEEP THE **** AWAY FROM ME”, they don’t come to family events and cause scenes or sit in the corner and drink, and they are job avoidant or can’t keep a job due to ongoing issues with disrespect and authority.


I didn’t take notes.

Reena Virk’s parents made a presentation about what it was like, and how the reconciliation with one of their daughter’s killers went.

I cried a lot.

Then they started talking about the Bible, which was less moving, and Paul and I anthem sprinted to the ferry, where we made the 5 o’clock.  There was a circular rainbow in Active Pass, and I saw a fur seal.







Weigh in

I hadn’t weighed myself in a while, but my clothes were getting tighter, so I was delighted to see from the scale this morning that the weight I lost after I broke my shoulder has stayed off.  Now I’m getting ridiculous amounts of exercise, since I have to walk a minimum of 2 kilometres a day through terrain plus two sets of transit stairs just to get to work, so I expect the weight will stay off.  My hips and back are better; my knees and feet are shouting things ungodly at me.  I’m sleeping better and staying up later.

Jeff has commented that he’s getting interesting pings from various muscle groups now that he’s back exercising regularly with his new rowing machine.  One of these days I’ll check it out but I’m never wearing shoes when I’m downstairs…

Many hugs to Jeff for letting me borrow the car yesterday after my phone freaked out and I ended up being late getting out the door in consequence … I brought home some treats.

The family that ________s together…. 

In one of those bizarre coincidences, I mentioned the cave of Chauvet in my last homily, and until she broke her ankle, our speaker this Sunday was to be a woman taking as her text Werner Herzog’s unbelievably amazing Cave of Forgotten Dreams.  Since she can’t do it, we’re subbing in three church members talking about their creative paths, and I helped one of them since he was being put to it on short notice and he said he was feeling apprehensive and I gave him some advice.  He appeared happy to get it (my enthusiasm is a substitute for skill sometimes) and I await with pleasure how he will deal with the creative challenge of a minihom. So I would have enjoyed the booked homily and will definitely enjoy the substitute homily, and that’s pretty much how she goes at church.  Which reminds me, I should scare up a ride.

Benedict Cumberbatch will be taking on Hamlet in 2015, live somewhere in England.  Sigh.

Currently watching: Archer Vice (interesting, but no longer quite as funny), Rick and Morty (most recent show? the last two minutes took me to an unanticipated height of awesome), Justified (Boyd Crowder, how you do blow things up!), Downton Abbey, NCIS, NCIS Body Count, CSI, Person of Interest, Castle, plus the occasional Frontline and 60 Minutes.  I’ve pretty much given up on White Collar, mostly because those whackdoodles at Netflix don’t appear to want to stream it to my profile, and Jeff’s burned out on Burn Notice (ha!) although I still want to finish the show.  Person of Interest continues to be the show that Jeff and I are most likely to halt on the PVR so we can talk about the issues they are raising.  It’s a show that demands close attention and thought, and Root walked the dog Bear last episode.

Jeff is trying to get caught up on March Madness, otherwise known as the Squeaky Squeaky show from the sound of all those basketball shoes squeaking on those nice wood floors.

I wonder if two zone bus passes are available yet?  I’ll need one of those.  I do think longingly of getting a car, but I’ll be better off in at at least three ways without one.

Happy Friday to you all!  The port strike is over, although the drivers are still plenty choked.


Explain to me why….

Keystone XL needs to run a pipeline through my city when we’ll be able to make fuel from algae?

This is funny even though the circumstances are not?  (Kingston fire picture).

Sabotaging birth control isn’t already a crime in the US?  It’s certainly a whopping great tort, even if there’s no criminal law on the books….

Anybody is surprised fewer kids are driving?  Between making a conscious decision not to contribute to pollution and the crappy economy, it all makes sense to me.  Both of my kids were well into their 20’s before they even started learning how, whereas I was 17 and wild to have my license.

Anybody wants to argue about what colour Santa is (when he’s an imaginary figure largely promoted by the Coca-Cola company) Link goes to retro Afro American Christmas cards, some of which are the ‘essence’ of charming.

When I no longer have a car, I can finally get a decal which adequately represents my tribble of a cat?

Science news keeps saying that a new species has been ‘discovered’ when the indigenous population knew they were there the whole time?  This is really annoying; saying it’s received a Latin name is different than “New Discovery.”

I didn’t know that Diana Cooper once referred to Winston Churchill as looking like the good little pig who built his house of bricks?

This is even a thing?  (Fundraiser to make a headset that reads dog thoughts which sounds like BS as yet).

Losing three traffic wardens causes chaos in Aberystwyth? It reads like an Onion article.

More judges don’t use their hearts as well as their brains in sentencing?

I didn’t start watching Call the Midwife until yesterday?


A collection of asides regarding the UU Hymnal readings

There are 317 readings in the UU hymnal, designed to provide words of wisdom, comfort, exhortation, prophecy and joy apposite to the occasions which present themselves at church.  Which, candidly, is a panoply of human life.

Sticklers notice: I will be using UU and Unitarian interchangeably. It’s inaccurate and kicks church history in tender parts, but ainsi soit-il.

As a lengthy aside, I purchased a copy of the hymnal and gave it to my cheerfully atheist mOm, as she is the designated driver and provider of editorial content for the crafty circle of elderwomen she remains connected to at the retirement home (which was the last home of her mother-in-law).  (My folks are still, praise evidence based medicine & competent ambulance attendants, in their own home.) As such she must occasionally find words for occasions, and I thought I’d minister to her by providing her with some very nice quotations.  I also wanted her to be able to find lyrics and words to follow along from Orders of Service I provided her with from time to time when I delivered homilies (see list to the left).

Although she has declared herself permanently disinclined to religiosity, however friendly a face it may present to atheism, I keep hoping that she’ll wake up one morning and declare for Unitarianism, like 16th century Hungary.  (I must hasten to add that my mOm is not as big as Hungary, although she contains multitudes). Given that my pOp blew out of the Anglican church the day he was confirmed – to make his mother happy, may she rest in the comfort of Denny’s presence for all eternity in a specially constructed atheist heaven – I can only imagine my father attending church after a stroke which destroyed both frontal lobes, his hearing and his taste buds, and at this point my imagination reels at the prospect of my mother ever darkening a church door in Victoria unless I was presenting.

I’m sure she’ll quirk an eyebrow when she reads that, but I’ve tried not to be a pest in my conversion attempts and she’s been very patient with me.

Aside aside, the hymnal is full of great quotes.  Roughly half of them were written by Unitarians, and the rest come from an array of holy books, atheists, agnostics, pagans, Christians and poets.  It is a collection of words useful when depth of emotion overwhelms our capacity to frame a spoken response, or when we’re feeling lazy.

Unitarianism is a religion which has dodged liturgy, ducked canon, rejected creed and flattened hierarchy for so long that it has come to be defined (by outsiders) as offering a kind of nebbish-y nebulous feelgood question-of-sin-dodging heathenism, mocking Christianity with its vintage Orders of Service but spitting on Jesus and trampling the Bible underfoot in the ultimate glorification of apostasy.  Neither of which we do.  We revere Jesus and continue to draw both comfort and sermon ideas from the Bible.  We do not worship Jesus or take the Bible literally.  Right there we sacrifice the right to call ourselves Christians, but I guess it’s legit if we call ourselves Protestants, cause we’re still protesting everything we can.  As we are able.

I prefer to think of Unitarianism as being evidence based religion.  Yeah, I know, it sounds like a contradiction in terms, but I think I can at least provoke some discussion on the matter.

In the course of human events, and rather earlier than everybody else, Unitarians became convinced that black people (and other POCs) and women were persons, which meant that they had to change the organization to accommodate them as full members, and anoint them as worthy of the ministry. So it was that the first woman ordained in the US, the highly remarkable Olympia Brown, was ordained in 1863 (probably not coincidentally during the budding of the women’s rights movement coexistent with abolitionism during the Civil War) and so it was that one of the charter members of the Gloucester MA church was a free black man. (No date available at press time, but it was at least 50 years before the Civil War.)

How long did it take science to catch up?  Cheezy Pete, check out the UNESCO declaration.  Whoopsy, the scientists gathered themselves up after the carnage and frenzy and sacrifice and heroism of WWII to declare race to have no scientific basis.  (Whether women are human beings remains an open question on sizable chunks of this old world.  Count me as a believer.)

Unitarians had thrown their hearts over THAT fence more than a century earlier, even if we’ve done a shitty job of being integrated since (and that will be ANOTHER rant).  So when I say that Unitarians are an evidence based religion, it’s to say that we came to a decision, as an organization, that we can’t fear science any more than we fear the light of the sun or the silence of our sanctuary.  (We can always bring sunscreen and wear headphones). We WILL KEEP THROWING OUR HEARTS OVER THAT FENCE.  And science, sapientia, Sophia, will keep catching up with us, and showing that when we love, when we work for justice, when we instill inquiry and lovingkindness in our children, when we speak truth to power, science will come along and provide evidence, and tools, and confirmation, even it comes later.  We trust the dawning future because it’s always been there for us. Always.  That’s what being in the vanguard of religion means.  The past is awesome and we love poking around in it but children are starving now, and we look to a future in which that can be made impossible.

When Montreal congregations put themselves at hideous risk by providing contraception and abortion information to women in the 60s, it was before the laws changed. When Unitarians put themselves at hideous risk hiding fleeing slaves, it was before the laws changed.  And the laws changed in part because of us, because AT EVERY STAGE of liberalization of laws regarding human rights, in both the US and Canada, Unitarians have been in there preaching, marching, organizing, lobbying and in general kicking ass, taking names, and staying up late putting stamps on newsletters.

Thank you for your patience thus far.  Back to the hymnal.

The readings are divided into groups, roughly, words which are plug and play with the Order of Service, words apt to or from our Living Tradition, and words for special occasions.  There’s everybody from Maya Angelou to Israel Zangwill  in there.

Here begins the drunkard’s walk.  In most cases the quote will be a partial one from the reading, just for flavour, and also to maintain some kind of distance in terms of legal right to reprint.  I can quote for commentary but just dumping the whole reading is disrespectful.

Reading 420, Annie Dillard: We are here to abet creation and to witness to it.

Tangential comment: Annie Dillard is one of the most amazing writers in the English language.  The fact that she quoted Dorothy Dunnett in one of her works will be amusing to at least one of my blog readers.

Reading 429, William F. Schultz: Come into this place of peace and let its silence heal your spirit.

Reading 435, Kathleen McTigue: We come together this morning to remind one another to rest for a moment on the forming edge of our lives.

The line “the forming edge of our lives” hits that sweet spot of brevity, accuracy and power which characterizes many of my favourite readings from the hymnal.

Reading 440, Phillip Hewett (minister emeritus of UCV and one of the finest theologians and preachers of our faith in Canada and whose participation in Rev Thorne’s Rite of Ordination was one of the high points…): Let us labor in hope for the dawning of a new day without hatred, violence, and injustice.

Amen, venerable Phillip.  (This is a joke which someone who attended the Ordination might find amusing).

Reading 441, Jacob Trapp (I’d provide a link regarding this remarkable UU preacher but the best one goes to a PDF of his eulogy): Worship is kindred fire within our hearts; it moves through deeds of kindness and through acts of love.

Reading 447, Albert Schweitzer (who likely doesn’t need an introduction):  At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person.

I think this reading, which is for the chalice lighting at the commencement of the service, for the annunciation of sacred space, is part of Beacon’s DNA.

Reading 457, Edward Everett Hale. This I think may be Peggy’s favourite reading from the hymnal, I could be wrong. It sure is one of mine.  I quote it in its entirety:  I am only one, but still I am one.  I cannot do everything, but still I can do something.  And because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.

Reading 462, Paul Robeson: The song of freedom must prevail.

Reading 463, Adrienne Rich: My heart is moved by all I cannot save.

Reading 470, Leonard Mason: We affirm a continuing hope that out of every tragedy the spirits of individuals shall rise to build a better world.

Reading 471, L. Griswold Williams: Love is the doctrine of this church, the quest of truth is its sacrament, and service is its prayer.

What admirable concision.

Reading 477, Vivian Pomeroy: Forbid that we should feel superior to others when we are only more shielded, and may we encourage the secret struggle of every person.

Reading 483, Wendell Berry, who should need no introduction unless you’ve been hiding in a hedge these last 30 years: I come into the peace of wild things who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief.

Reading 543, Greta Crosby (a Unitarian minister): Winter is a table set with ice and starlight.

Reading 492, W.E.B. Du Bois, quoted in its entirety: The prayer of our souls is a petition for persistence; not for the one good deed, or single thought, but deed on deed, and thought on thought, until day calling unto day shall make a life worth living.

Reading 496, Harry Meserve: From arrogance, pompousness, and from thinking ourselves more important than we are, may some saving sense of humor liberate us.

Hey, I do what I can.

Reading 504, e.e. cummings: i thank You God for this most amazing/day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees and a blue true dream of sky, and for everything which is natural which is infinite which is yes

Long term Beacon members will remember Rev Ev using this often in services, and how wonderful that was, his delivery always being a support to the meaning….

Reading 526, Inuit Shaman Uvavnuk: The sky and the strong wind have moved the spirit inside me till I am carried away trembling with joy.

Reading 530, Robert T. Weston: Out of the stars we have come, up from time.

Reading 557, David H. Eaton: Our destiny: from unknown to unknown.  May we have the faith to accept this mystery and build upon its everlasting truth.

Reading 560, Dorothy Day: No one has a right to sit down and feel hopeless.  There’s too much work to do.

Reading 561, Margaret Mead: Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed it’s the only thing that ever has.  (I recollect Peggy has this up on the wall in her house.)

Reading 566, Francis David adapted by Richard Fewkes: Sanctified reason is the lantern of faith.

Reading 579, Frederick Douglass: The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.

Reading 592, William Ellery Channing (my all time fave historical Unitarian even if he was a well intentioned racist – hey, we all have our cognitive cross to bear): I call that mind free which sets no bounds to its love, which, wherever they are seen, delights in virtue and sympathizes with suffering.

Also Reading 652: The great end in religious instruction is not to stamp our minds upon the young, but to stir up their own.

Reading 603, Lao-Tse: And whether we dispassionately see to the core of life, or passionately see the surface, the core and the surface are essentially the same.

Reading 637, Robert Eller-Isaacs: For each time that our greed has blinded us to the needs of others, we forgive ourselves and each other; we begin again in love.

Reading 649, Antoine de St-Exupéry: Love, like a carefully loaded ship, crosses the gulf between the generations.

Reading 657, Sophia Lyon Fahs: Some beliefs are like blinders, shutting off the power to choose one’s own direction; other beliefs are like gateways opening wide vistas for exploration.

Reading 663, Margaret Starkey: We make a holiday, the rituals varied as the hopes of humanity, the reasons as obscure as an ancient solar festival, as clear as joy on one small face.

Reading 671, John Milton: If the waters of truth flow not in a perpetual progression, they sicken into a muddy pool of conformity and tradition.


Reading 681, adapted from Gaelic Runes (and another favourite of Peggy’s): Deep peace of the running wave to you.

It’s a benediction I sometimes write or say to people suffering loss.

Reading 698, with which I close.  Wayne B. Arnason: Take courage friends.  The way is often hard, the path is never clear, and the stakes are very high. Take courage. For deep down, there is another truth: You are not alone.







The damnedest things

Physio was AWESOME.  No needles, this time, just manipulation and exercises.  I don’t see the bone doc until NEXT Friday, so my next physio is the Monday after that.  I am driving again; I am playing mandolin again, but only short hops for driving and only 15 minutes  for practicing.  Physio says I can add a song a day as I get stronger.  I am making 100 percent progress for some kinds of mobility, and less than is good for others… so pretty much a standard recovery for a fat middle aged woman.

I have learned to my startlement and wonder that the US’s only TDCS clinic is 20 MILES from the GAFilk hotel.  I am going to try to book an appointment, as it is one of the few treatments for mental thrumps and emotional hollow heels.  Okay, Read This Article and see why I like the idea.

I have finished Thomas King’s the Inconvenient Indian.  I have a much clearer idea of what a settlers have gotta do if they want to be allies to REAL INDIANS as opposed to Dead or Legal ones (he makes a distinction, a very interesting one, in his book). I am going to follow his lead.  Native people are Indians if you’re using the “what nation/tribe/linguistic grouping/band they are hardly matters, they all got shafted by the settlers and this is now the uneasy general term white and First Nations people use” line of reasoning.  But they are Thomas King (Cherokee) and Buffy Saint Marie (Cree) and Elijah Harper (Red Sucker Lake First Nation) and Tantoo Cardinal (Métis) if you are referring to individuals; for they belong to a lifestream that is rooted in a way of life on this land, their land, that goes back ten millennia, even if the middens and the weirs only go back five millennia.  I am a settler.  Well, I’ve hated ‘white’ as a term for light coloured people for 20 years at least now.  I want to call us the pink people, cause we are.  White is such a bullshit term.  But settler, that I can deal with.  I am three generations removed from it.  It’s part of who I am.  Even so, there’s a picture from my family history that always makes me smile when I think about it. Back in the day, there would be rodeos, and Indians would be invited, because cowboys without Indians are not very exciting. (I know, right?)  There’s a pic of my mother’s father squatting, in a line, with a bunch of other white ranchers.  Behind them, arrayed in panoply, are Indians on horseback.  Makes for a nice change, in terms of optics.  I know it made no difference in daily life.  But it happened.



I have started making lists again vs. the overwhelm.

Wrote some on both projects this morning.

This made me laugh very very hard.  It’s a combination of the clothing and the locomotion.

Slept at least a  couple of hours in the cpap machine last night.  I don’t remember waking up and tearing it off, but I did.

Today, more laundry.  Really what I should do is get rid, mercilessly, of every piece of clothing that is too tight or ugly or stained, but I get super attached to clothing.

I show the shop again today at noon.  Heavy sigh. At least the last time I went in I got rid of the last of the stuff that was going bad (I hadn’t been able to see it, unfortunately, and this last time I crawled around on my hands and knees until I saw it, removed it, bleaugh).  So it will smell a lot more like a restaurant thankfully.  (Added later… another person wants to see it.)

I think in about two weeks I may be able to handle a tray of cookies, so if I don’t sell it, I will be going back to work.

I forgot my physio appointment yesterday – how, I have no idea.  However I get another on Friday. I am getting stronger, but sometimes things ‘catch’ and it hurts A LOT. There’s a huge divot in my shoulder where all the muscle attachments fell away.  Or whatever, I am not one hundred percent sure about what is going on except I sheared off my greater tuberosity.  I have to check on my next doctor appointment, I sure don’t want to miss that.

I am reading Thomas King’s The Inconvenient Indian and it’s making me REALLY REALLY MAD about policy toward native people in Canada (and in the US, because like most First Nations people he considers the border a willful chimera, and so deals with both nations).  I mean foaming at the mouth mad.  His metaphor to deal with the constant refrain of  ‘get over it’ is miraculous, and I will be using it whenever I talk about intersectionality and civil rights in future.  He also makes mincemeat of the whole sad and tired trope I HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH THIS RACIST STUFF AND I’M NOT RACIST SO QUIT CALLING ME ONE.  It’s certainly not an academic work, but there’s plenty of followup reading.  I had NO FRICKING IDEA that there were first nations film documentarians (including a woman??!!) in the 20’s in the US, whose work of course is so far out in the margins I’ll be lucky to ever see it.  We get Nanook of the North instead.  Tanks Mr. Flaherty.

I am going to – definitely! – read more Will Rogers.




I salute thee cherished female progenitor

My mother kept an email correspondence going with her cousin Reck for about ten years, until shortly before he passed this past spring. I have just edited 150 pages of it (it’s 800 pages in total) being the portion just before and just after Obama was elected. IT IS AMAZING. They talk about politics and family history and philosophy and ethics and Reck casually mentions that he emailed Malcolm Gladwell regarding an idea – which may have contributed to his thinking when he wrote Outliers. And my mother defends atheism with a verve and trenchancy I could only dream of emulating. Just feeling blown away right now.