These are my religious and spiritual beliefs. Why do you think I’m stupid and why do you hate me?

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That little red dot at the bottom left is me.

Gabby and I shared Christmas dinner last year with another fully vaccinated and boosted couple who are close friends. They are fervent Pentecostals. They have served as religious leaders in various remote locations in Canada’s North and are now retired.

Late in the evening I got up to leave the table and had wild cramps in both calves. It is a permanent problem. I haven’t always treated my body well and have had recurring episodes of sciatica in each leg and on rare occasions in both legs following a series of back injuries I suffered over the course of of my athletic career. Calf cramps are a symptom of my sciatica.

Our friends offered to pray for me. I was intrigued and said sure. The laying on of hands and the prayer lasted about ten minutes. Did I feel better, yes. But again, standing often reduces my active sciatic pain symptoms.

They invited me to come visit their church. I didn’t accept their offer because my whole spine seemed very unhappy with me and sitting on a hard surface just made all my symptoms worse. I do physiotherapy, Watsu and WATA, swimming, and have returned to tai chi and yoga classes after more than two years away due to Covid.

However, I did not forget their offer and went to several services in the last month. I feel well-disposed towards the current pastor after he used his power of persuasion to put thousands of vaccine-resistants in stitches. A service was just a session to get to know you. The other, the pastor, urged people to pray for me as he laid hands on me.

My back hasn’t hurt since, but consider all the other proven treatments I’ve had. I can tell you this, it was very weird at the time. I was tingling, hot and so relaxed I almost fell asleep. This relaxation lasted until the next day.

Maybe I should say that I love trying new religions, even for long periods of time. I spent a year teaching in Appalachia and was a member of a snake-handling church the whole time. My family and I spent a year in Senegal and lived with the female leader of a Muslim (Sufi) community mosque. She was also a healer who used an amazing pharmacopoeia of native plants.

My parents actually started me trying out different religions. When I reached puberty, my parents told me that I no longer needed to go to church. They had themselves decided to stop going there. They shared with me their reasons for leaving organized religion and the United Church of Canada in particular. However, they asked me, before I all stopped together to attend services in other churches and other denominations. I honored their request by trying Anglican, Episcopalian, Catholic, Baptist, Mennonite, and Buddhist churches. I then returned to the United Church of Canada of my own free will and remained there until my second year of university. That’s when I realized I didn’t know if God was real or not and became an agnostic.

I was driven by my revulsion at the role of the United Church of Canada in the horror that was the residential school system.

I was an agnostic for 10 years and an atheist for the next five years. For about half that time, I remained a cultural Christian. Cultural Christians do not have the faith but enjoy the rituals and music of the faith they have chosen and therefore continue to attend church. About a third of atheist scientists are cultural Christians. In fact, it was atheist scientists who remained culturally Christian who convinced me that I was in fact an atheist and should identify as such.

During my agnostic and atheist years, I moved 9 times. I left Edmonton, Alberta for a trip around the world: West Germany, Israel, Cyprus, Los Angeles, Santa Cruz, San Francisco, Calgary, Alberta, Tibet, and back to Edmonton where I joined the United Brethren. We were/are Anabaptists. I became a devout Christian, the kind who goes to church every week, gives sermons, leads fundraisers, and accompanies the choir.

Last year we merged with the United Church of Canada and I decided to accept the merger. I am now back in the Church in which I grew up. But the Church grew during the years I was away. Not only has the United Church accepted and apologized to Indigenous peoples, but it has made at least partial reparations. He has been consistently pro-women and pro-abortion since the 1930s and has since extended his support to the LGBQT2S community and racialized communities, including Indigenous rights and Black Lives Matter. It’s pro-science, supports evolution, and recognizes that we need to take care of the environment.

Members of The United Church of Canada work for peace, justice, care for creation, and God’s mission to heal the whole world in cooperation with others who share our vision. The Church also strongly supports the idea that there is no place for religion in politics while encouraging members to vote and participate in the political life of the nation.

As members of the Church, we are called to deep spirituality, bold discipleship, and bold justice. The United Church of Canada is often referred to as the Church of the NDP. The NDP is the socialist political party of Canada.

My own deep spirituality has nothing to do with Christianity, but that doesn’t stop me from being a member of The United Church of Canada, but it shapes my life. Since the age of 12, I have learned and trained in the animist and pagan beliefs, traditions and practices of my Aboriginal family and trained as a healer in these traditions. It is an ongoing process and I am sure it will continue until my last moment on Earth.

Simply put, and I’ve learned that our traditional customs reflect immense complexity, we believe not only that everything is alive, but that everything, rocks, rivers, skies, suns, stars, all living things and everything else is part of a big web and is actually one thing. And this is the simplified version. These ideas underpin my life, my radical environmentalism, my regenerative animal husbandry and agriculture, my status as a scientist, a natural historian, my desire to heal and help rather than fight, to include rather than exclude.

For example, the military trained me to be a highly lethal killer. My animist beliefs greatly limited my desire to kill on command. Instead, the military gave me the opportunity to be sent on humanitarian and peacekeeping missions. I started by removing mines, improvised explosive devices and bombs, making things much safer for local people. From there, I moved on to providing emergency medicine, public health infrastructure, and obstetrics and gynecology health services to local populations.

It is also from my animist spiritual system that my motivation to work on the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Peasants. The first task was to have them adopted by the UN, the second task was to have them adopted by the governments of Canada and the United States of America. We are now working on the third step, turning them into meaningful legislation. It also motivates my work to try to implement the 94 recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.

My Christian faith gives me tools, social and cultural beliefs that help me try to make the world a better place. I find many allies in progressive Christianity. I find peace and calm by attending church services. The church and my Christian faith are my rock on those days, I feel like I’m about to drown in a sea of ​​despair.

My spiritual and religious practices are not clothes I slip into, they are my skin, my heart and my soul.

At the moment I am busy following my religious instruction in order to participate in the political life of the nation. I work to get expats and dual citizens of Alberta registered and now to get them to vote for the full Democratic ballot wherever they vote in America. I am also working on my Montana friends, relatives, business partners, suppliers and buyers to vote Democratic.

I’m also working on three overtly political projects that matter in Canada. In one, we’ve taken control of a once far-right political party and transformed it into a non-partisan bastion of civility and non-adversarial politics. Another is part of an attempt to reinvigorate the Green Party of Canada. The final project is with our Marxist-Leninist club where we find good people, encourage them to run for grassroots political office, and then support their election campaigns.

I hope this gives you an idea of ​​my religious and spiritual beliefs and how they play out in my life.

Now I will ask again. Why do you think I’m stupid and why do you hate me?

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