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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Friendly Racism

I am part of the ethnic majority of Canada. I live in a small community where the majority of the population is also part of this ethnic majority. There are various ethnic groups here, however, the numbers are quite small in comparison to that of the majority. Elements of racism vary in emphasis and manner, nonetheless, they continue to subsist in the community. The notion of race superiority, can at times be difficult to distinguish, as it is often held privately or subconsciously, though positions of hierarchical dominance do exist. Most whites citizens would never claim racial superiority or hierarchical dominance, at least not out loud, that is. Nevertheless, this may not be due to the fact that they do not believe they are superior, but rather, they may be afraid of the public repercussions they would face in regards to making such a claim. Prejudices are probably the most common form of racism in my community. It is easy for people to have prejudices about others, as they can do so in the safety of like minded people and in the safety of their own thoughts, without ever being labeled a racist. 

For quite some time, my town enjoyed the operation of a local gas station and convenience store that had been run by a local white family. However, when they decided to sell the business, it was purchased by the convenience store chain, 'Mac's'. Immediately conversations carried throughout the community as to what type of ethnic group would be managing the store. Racial comments were made that were degrading and dehumanizing; proving the ignorant mind set that exists within this town. Discrimination, like the notion of superiority, is not as prevalent, as are the prejudices, nonetheless, it does exist and is evident from time to time. An example of this relates back to the convenience store. I clearly recall members of my community vowing to avoid, boycott and, in a sense, punish this establishment solely because the new managers were not white, but Iranian. Ironically, after a period of time, these individuals returned, albeit reluctantly, to shopping at this convenience store, because it offered better prices than other local establishments. 

The operation of power over other races, is again, difficult to notice. This may be due to the large gap in numbers between the white majority and those of differing ethnic groups. For instance, the gap is so large, that such occurrences would more than likely go unnoticed; perhaps, due to a lack of care on the behalf of the dominant, or, perhaps, due to the fear, the minority may have, of repercussions for expressing the occurrence. 
In general, the racism that exists in my community is predominantly a friendly racism, rather than a systematic racism. Racial bigotry is not apparently common, due to the Christian standards of the dominant ethnic group, which calls for a certain level of respect and fair treatment of all people. However, while the these standards are generally practiced, friendly racism is assuredly active and even a preferred form of racism.  It is a racial stance that, in essence, assures the standee that they can hold to certain racial perspectives; all the while, not get in trouble with religious leaders, friends, law enforcement, and, perhaps, even God, for their racial views and actions. 
While the concept of being 'racist' is typically regarded as negative and looked down upon in Canadian society, elements of racism continue to be apparent in almost all societal contexts in Canada. In today's day and age it is much more common to be aware of ethnicity as Canadian culture is becoming more and more ethnically diverse. While the dominant culture of Canada remains to be that of white, english speaking Canadians, people groups of other ethnicities are rising in numbers across the country. This rise in ethnic diversity can be seen as threatening, at times, to the dominant culture and even to other ethnic groups who may hold higher numbers within in any given population. An example of racial prejudices existing outside of my own ethnicity, would be a conversation I once had with a Sri Lankan friend of mine that lives in the same community as I do. We were discussing the arrival of a new doctor, who happens to be a Muslim from Pakistan, to which he adamantly warned me of an upcoming onslaught of muslims to our community.  'Just you wait!', he stated, 'It starts with one family; the rest will follow. Before you know it, there will be a mosque in our little town.' Even after I pointed out the racial overtones in his speech and mannerisms, he assured me once more of his opinions, stating that he had seen it happen before in his home country of Sri Lanka. Bearing witness to the prejudice attitudes of my friend, brought an acute awareness, that racism is not just the practice of one or two ethnic groups, but potentially the action all ethnic groups.
As disturbing and frightening as racism is; it is my hope that I and others can find communality in the fact that we all are human. It is my hope that, while we each have our own individual story and history within a certain ethnicity, we will remember how important it is not to negate or discredit the stories and histories of others; recognizing that we are all equally part of a narrative. A master narrative that is not controlled and written by any one ethnic group.

Have you ever been a victim of racism of any form?

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Christian Hater?

Fairly recently some one called me a "Christian Hater". Now I took offence to this charge and felt the need to explain to the individual that I am, indeed, not what was said of me. So, I thought that I would forward my thoughts on to this site in case there are others who may think that I am a "Christian Hater". 

I am not a"Christian Hater"

After having that conversation with that particular individual I told some others within my working community what I was called in that previous conversation and to my surprise they did not disagree. I was shocked! How could they too think that I was a "Christian Hater"? I proceeded to inquire why they felt that I was, to which they responded that I always seem to be coming down on Christianity.  Here again, I felt the need to explain to these individuals that I am not a "hater" and that just because I challenge and ask questions and/or even disagree does not mean that I hate Christianity or its followers. *I feel it is important to note that all those that have labeled me as a "hater" are Christians.* I reassured them that I do not hate Christians and that I have never insulted them, called them names or belittled them in any way, shape or form. While I critique, challenge and disagree, both silently and vocally, with much of Christian theology and its ideals this does not mean that I am a "Christian Hater". Yes I can be a thorn in a Christian side but it all depends on what type of Christian we are talking about. A liberal Christian may not exactly have the same problem with me that a conservative Christian does, though I take argument with them also. 

So before anybody gets to upset that I seem to be picking on those poor little Christians, let me explain a little something. You see I was raised Christian, of the conservative branch, and that is what it really comes down to, it is what I really know best. It is as simple as that. If I was raised any other way I would be challenging, critiquing and disagreeing with the other. I have always asked questions and always challenged the norms, that is just who I am. I am not a hater, I just like to question. I am, after all, Called to Question. 

 If Christians take offence to what I say, how I act or what I believe than maybe they need a little more sleep, a little more wine, a little more sex or just a little more fun. I love you Christians, seriously I do! You may drive me up the wall sometimes, but hey life would be pretty mundane without you. So just relax, lighten up and continue the conversation with this heathen. I won't hate you if you don't hate me. :)

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Go To Hell!?

*The above picture was created by David Hayward at Click the link to view many more fabulous drawings and be inspired by the messages they convey. *

My wife and I have been told we are going to Hell on numerous occasions. Whether it be from a passer by on the street spouting some 'gospel' message, or a track left under the wiper blades of our vehicle, or a door to door salesman selling their religion, coworkers or ( and this is probably the worst of all) family. All of them holding to some ideal that they believe to be true and if others do not believe it, well, they go to Hell.

Hell is-other people
-Jean-Paul Sartre

Everyone has their own idea of truth and that that truth is the only true truth. We have gotten so focused on having the 'right' truth that the word truth/true can no longer be uttered without it being preceded by an adjective of some sort. Truth no longer stands on its own but must be supported by the crutches of other words. For example; pure truth, extreme truth, right truth, absolutely true, positively true, only truth, godly truth, and (my personal favourite) true truth... but you get the point. So, who really can be reliable to present any sort of absolute or any kind of truth?

Hell isn't other people, Hell is yourself
-Ludwig Wittgenstein

I had a conversation with some conservative Christians who were fairly close to me that ended with them stating that I was going to Hell because I did not believe as they did. In their opinion, I was wrong to question "God," wrong to encourage others to question... just flat out wrong according to their perspective. I asked them how they could be so sure that they themselves were not wrong or that perhaps they too may be going to "Hell"? "Whatever do you mean? We believe in God, Jesus (insert all the rest of the usual)." I replied that there are some out there that are more conservative then they, and that these people would look down upon the music they listen to, the movies they watch or the way they dress and state that no God honouring person would ever do those things. And so the stricter people would condemn them to Hell because they do not have the true truth. Ironic?

If you are going through Hell,  keep going
-Winston Churchill

So here is the kicker of it all. There will always be someone more conservative, more liberal or more right, more wrong, more loud, more quite, more more more. However, I would not take it to heart when someone informs you your going to Hell. Just tell them you look forward to seeing them there. Besides who says there is a hell anyways? Teehehe :) Just had to throw that in there.

The whole image is that eternal suffering awaits anyone who questions God's infinite love. That's the message we're brought up with, isn't it? Believe or die! Thank you, forgiving Lord, for all those options. 
-Bill Hicks

Have you been told your going to Hell? Or have you told others they are?

Friday, May 9, 2014

Knock, Knock, Knocking on Your Door

(I discovered this at thesuperstitiousnakedape click if you want to unearth more great readings and ideas.)

Undoubtedly there will be those that say that it is really mankind's fault for the punishment by not opening that door, but really who is it that is dealing out the punishment in the end?

Sunday, May 4, 2014

May The Fourth Be With You!

Happy Star Wars Day everyone.

 May the fourth is officially the day to celebrate all things Star Wars. 

Star Wars has always been some of my all time favourite movies, minus episode one through three (I'm sure many others will agree). I was introduced to the movies at a very young age, probably too young, by my oldest brother who loved the movies. Star Wars did not quite frighten me as much as other movies I somehow managed to watch (probably when my parents were out of the house and all my older siblings wanted to watch a movie without the presence of mom and dad. I learned a lot that way).

So from the young age of six or seven Star Wars has been ever constant in my life. Who can forget those catch phrases like "use the force", "may the force be with you" and for all those poor boys named Luke whose names will never be forgotten and will always be related back to Star Wars, "Luke, I am your father". There is really no way to fully understand the impact Star Wars has had on my life and on the lives of so many others. I mean there is hardly a day that goes by when I do not reflect on the scene in episode five where Luke has been captured by the abominable snow creature and hangs from the ceiling in the creature's cave. As Luke awakens from the blow to the head he received from the creature earlier he finds his light-sabre in a snow bank far out of arms reach. Unable to free his feet from the bondages that hold him hanging from the ceiling, Luke relaxes himself, extends his arm toward his light-sabre and using the 'force' is able to retrieve his light-sabre, free himself and destroy the creature that is just about to make a meal out of him. Ever since watching that scene I continually find myself, somewhat secretly, trying to use the force when something is out of my reach, like the tv remote, tool at work, or tucking my kids in at night. My eyes close, I clear my mind of all distractions and concentrate on the issue at hand. At first nothing works but within minutes I feel something, some unexplainable type of energy begins its workings, the force has begun. However, it is not exactly the way I would have liked the force to function. Instead of doing what I wanted it to do from a distance I find the force getting me off my ass and moving my feet towards the, remote, tool or task I need completing. So you see the 'force' is real.

I can recall the excitement leading up to the release of Star Wars episode one in movie theatres. I was in grade ten and some friends and I skipped school (sorry mom and dad) to go see it. I suppose it was the large time gap in between episode six and one that led to high expectations but what I witnessed in that movie theatre was more frightening than all the scary movies I watched with my siblings when my parents were out of the house. It was not because it was scary but because it was so terrible. If only I could wash the memory from my mind. Episode one thru three is like the younger brother to episodes four, five and six who just will not leave you alone (yes, I realize that I am the younger brother, whatever! It is the only analogy I could think of.) You may not like it, but at the same time you just can not get rid of it. It is a part of the story. With the new episode seven coming in December 2015 we will see if Disney can do a better job of representing one of the greatest stories ever.

My favourite characters have changed on and off throughout the years. When I was younger my favourite was, of course, Luke Skywalker. My favourite movie out of episode four through six was episode six. I loved the cute little Ewoks in that third movie. But now that I have grown up my new favourites are Darth Vader, Han Solo and Yoda. My wife is an avid fan as well, more so than I. I do not know how this marriage would have lasted if it was not so. :)

Anyways, just some sporadic thoughts on this Star Wars day.

When did you first watch Star Wars?
Who are your favourite characters?
Did you like episode one through three?
Are you excited about episode Seven?

May the force be with you, better yet May the fourth be with you!

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Happy Birthday

Today is a noteworthy day. Today marks the birthday of a very special friend, Nathan Bonney. Nathan  and I first got to know each other over a few drinks at a local restuarant about five or six years past. It was a 'Man'date that led to an instant friendship. Our common interests in philosophy, theology, beer, bonfires, family and our desire to wear our hearts on our sleeves has brought about a deep and wonderful relationship. 

When I think of my friend, I think of how wonderful a husband he is who cares deeply about his wife and his relationship with her. I think about how he loves his children and is always quick to brag about their latest adventures. Nathan is a brilliant scholar, philosopher, and theologian. I have never met someone who can think so intently upon intellectual matters while retaining the relationships around him.  His intelligence never interferes with his ability to relate to others. While others may not always agree with his perspectives he never makes them feel less or other than him. He always makes people feel human and real. Never content in the mediocre he is not afraid to challenge the 'establishment' and encourage the best in all people. 

Nathan, I am so thankful that you are my friend. Thank you for all the phone calls and your dedication to our friendship. You are a Wonderful, Fantastic, Divine person, Nathan. 

Happy Birthday, Good Friend, Happy Birthday!