Archive for April 2011

Andy Cash Out of Empire towards the Kingdom

April 30, 2011

Andy Cash left Neil McNeil over 30 years ago but when he left he
had already internalized a deep value system closely alighned with
the liberation perspective (”Out of Empire)” of the Hebrew scriptures
and the radical values of the Sermon on the Mount.His response has
never been the tepid “Lord.Lord” Jesus mocked in Matthew’s gospel (7:21).
It has not been in robotic church attendance but rather in “doing the
will of the Father”, striving for the common good, an end to war making
in our budgets, sensitivity to the poor, real care for the environment, increased foreign aid etc.

I have watched with great adniration his sterling attempts to forge a life
in music which would have great integrity.His lyrics consistently showed
a great understanding of the deleterious effects of advanced capitalism
on ordinary folks.He never lost sympathy for the manifold victims while
living a life of integrity and commitment to the common good.

An autodidact as well as a voracious reader he strove mightily to understand the context he was living and working in. Unlike many others
who went to university to get a passport to the good life, Andy did the intellectual spade work on an ongoing basis in order to cut through society’s blandishments, propaganda and false rewards.He morphed as well into an excellent writer on the urban scene for NOW Magazine.And here he is at 49 and 3 kids running for the NDP in Dovercourt.

I don’t know if he’ll win but I applaud his heroic efforts at making a real difference.We need more grads of Catholic schools like this brother.

On the streets with Jesus

April 23, 2011


Jesus entrusts us with a gift: the gift of knowledge about the purpose of our lives in a world of violence, oppression and alienation. Jesus offers us life, and challenges us by example.

Conversion of our lives and death-dealing power systems is within reach.
As we walk, we journey with Jesus, enacting a hope rooted in our power to overcome the forces of brokenness and death, and build a world of abundant life.

And so another Good Friday came and went, another nice attempt to link the suffering of the Christ with the brokenness and suffering we experience in our city and world today. We were “on the streets” as Jesus was in his day, not in the privacy of our own world and depoliticized cosmos. This was real not a private event. We dared to contextualize the suffering as Jesse Jackson famously reminded us, “Any text without a context is a pretext.”

To take the Incarnation seriously is to name the enemies of life, the oppressors, those who mete out needless suffering in our world. Many of course are upset about being “concrete” but the incarnation is about “flesh (carne) real people in real time, not some timeless myth and meaningless jargon like “Jesus died for our sins.” The sins are still evident and our role is to help remove the still living bodies off of the cross.

One of the hidden enemies of course was represented by the Eaton’s Centre right next door to Holy Trinity Anglican where we convened It was packed on Good Friday, an excellent example of the power of contemporary culture to drown our sacred story. A negative “sign of the time”. The consumerism evident here, that promoted by advanced capitalism manages to deflect us from history, break our solidarity with the oppressed and erase the emmory of who we really are and to whom we really belong.It is very difficult to hang on to the memory and power of the Story under such a tsunami of ephemera.

Still we persist convinced that in walking the path grace is given and new life appears.

Holy Week: the Palmer

April 17, 2011

The Palmer

Yes, it used to be Palm Sunday.Now it’s Passion Sunday. OK.

Pat Fitzpatrick ruminated on the Gospel as we the congregation played the parts of the brutal Passion as stated by Matthew. The 27th chapter is particularly brutal. It contains all the savagery and gross insults to the Nazarene. The whips, the Crown of Thorns etc. The mockery. We all grew up with this but it took a theologian from afar Kosuke Koyama (Japan) to contextualize this best for me.

His thinking which I believe to be incontrovertible is that Jesus is and always will be “the spat-upon Messiah.”He will not see his 34th birthday.He does not “die for our sins” (maybe with a glass iof Ovaltine by his bedside?).No he is murdered for justice, for claiming God’s reign of peace and justice. Should he succeed,the whole Roman Empire, built on an ugly foundation of masive exploitation would collapse.

Now Koyama’s next point is crucial.If Jesus is the “spat-upon” Messiah, then it must follow that the Church should be the “spat-upon Church”, the bishops, The ‘spat upon bishops. You get the point.

In other words to be a serious disciple you should expect a little saliva or at a minimum, a one finger salute for attempting to bring the values of the Kingdom into your historical epoch. Dr King was the best exponent of serious Christianity in my lifetime.Talk about “spat upon”!

Well, where is the Church today?

By and large pretty middle class, pretty comfortable, pretty risk free, pretty shy in challenging the corporate dominated values of the culture. Our Catholic grads are just as susceptible to the seductive blandishments of Empire as anybody.Life under advanced capitalism has muted the cry of God’s reign. The “soma” that Huxley talked about in Brave New World is fairly effective in putting people us into a moral coma.

That’s why it is important to hear the Story in the Palmer today.

To whom do we belong?

Distracted from distraction

April 14, 2011

Oh, Ted, how I wish we who are in the field could reach these folks…any ideas?

Dear Sister:

We who live under advanced capitalism are in a precarious position,
“Distracted from distraction by distraction ” as T.S. Eliot wrote in the 4 Quartets.

Given the multifaceted carnival we live under, good people are subjected
to hasbara as the Israelis would call it. They have the megaphones and it is difficult to get any word in much less The Word.

The sad sacks we met who go on pilgrimage after pilgrimage and never meet the living Christ embodied in the suffering are a pathetic marvel to behold.

Even in Benedict’s Verbum Domini he refers to the Holy Land as the 5th Gospel!

Does nobody live there? are they not being humiliated on a daily basis?

Many strides have been taken by the dynamic seeds like you and Bob and others who go and witness and then become witnesses.We are seeing the beginning of the end for Israel as she stands today. “A house divided” etc. The world is catching up. Small consolation I know for those suffering under occupation. The Risen Jesus burst those bounds.We live in hope.

We keep dropping seeds but as our great singer Bruce Cockburn says, “How come history takes such a long time?”

“I’m voting for Israel.”

April 12, 2011

The Toronto Star columnist Tom Walkom gave us a good snapshot of the sad aspects of this federal election. Two women voting Tory because “Stephen Harper is good for the tribe”. Code: Jews. Not good for Canada, good for Israel. Walkom follows:

in Toronto’s Upper Forest Hill Village, Diane Plant and Anna Pollock are discussing Liberal incumbent Joe Volpe’s chances of keeping his seat in the May 2 election.

“I’ll definitely be voting Conservative,” says Plant, a realtor. “It’s too bad. Volpe’s a nice guy. He follows through and is interested.”

Pollock, also a realtor, breaks in. “I love (Conservative Leader Stephen) Harper,” she says enthusiastically. “He’s great. And he’s good to us.”

Us? Plant smiles. “You know. The tribe. Jews. He (Harper) is pro-Israel and we need that.”

Poor Volpe.The kippa-wearing political hack who stole the riding from fellow Liberal Roland de Corneille 23 years ago must be beside himself. Whatever Israel does is fine for Joe.It may not be enough.

The Harper Nightmare

April 7, 2011

My friend John McMurtry, retired philosophy prof at Guelph sent me the best and most succinct analysis of the Harper anti-vision I have yet read. It was subsequently published in the Toronto Star.

“Believing man is political man” Dan Berrigan sj once said. The Christian must be engaged in every area of public life—and on behalf of the poor and the common good. Harper fails in each of these cardinal areas. Here is John’s letter.

Since Harper’s defeat by the House of Commons, many have said the election is a waste of money. They may be asleep at a turning point of Canadian history. Harper now assumes he can do anything. He launched his camping by denouncing coalition government when he himself sought one with the Bloc Quebecois to gain his first term. Having sailed through two citations for contempt of Parliament, he thinks his PR machine controls the show. Last election, his party got away with illegally funding U.S.-style attack ads while dismissing Canada’s health and social programs as “third-rate European social democracy”. His minority rule held him back. Now he boasts of ‘the sound economy” he leads although he opposed the regulations which his government takes credit for as saving the Canadian economy from meltdown. His mantra is “less government spending”, but he has thrown countless billions at a self-advertising and head-basing G-20 summit, and far more at steep tax-cuts for corporations and the wealthy who are already rich. He has escalated military spending by more billions when no armed threat to Canada exists, and directed still more billions for U.S-style prisons as rates of crime and violence-against the person decline. The reason he is in contempt of Parliament is that he won’t give the accounting figures for all the black holes of wasted government spending he plans.

The key is to silence facts. Since the last election Harper has gagged his ministers and elected members, refused to take questions from the press, spent public money on partisan advertising, and only allowed air-brushed photos of himself for public view. He freely spends billions of taxpayers’ money for military jets without competitive bidding while wearing a free-market crown, and he “holds down deficits” by cutting corporate taxes to the lowest rates in the G-8 to increase the debt. His model is clearly from the U.S. He said at the visit of President George Bush that “Canadian and U.S. values are exactly the same”. Now Canadian air forces fight over a country whose rich oil deposits are prized for corporate privatization, environmental programs are slashed, and the highest increases of carbon pollution in the world are ignored. I wonder when Canadians will wake up.

Charlie Sheen: Life under advanced capitalism

April 5, 2011

All you need to know about life under advanced capitalism is to watch the Charlie Sheen Tour and the idiots who pay for it and who are mistaking TV for real life.

It is hard to fathom that people would pony up about a C note to see this sick man explode in front of their eyes.

In Toronto they had to add a second show to abet this insanity.

Now you know why people are voting for Stephen Harper and gave GW Bush two mandates.

It is difficult t believe he is the son of Martin Sheen.