The #MeToo movement is having an unsettling effect in Canada—we might even go so far as to say that it has been a source of some turmoil across the country.
To use the word “turmoil” is not to criticize the unfolding of this movement, or to undermine its importance. Very often, social disruption is necessary for cultural transformation; such disruption can sometimes get us moving in the direction of renewal in our lives and institutions. In this sense we can only be grateful to those women who have wrestled with the question whether to publicly disclose the sexual abuse or harassment they have experienced—and who have walked through the turmoil that may have resulted from their decision to do so. Their willingness to take this step has been in the service of cultural changes that we hope will make a difference in many lives.
The goal of the #MeToo movement is to overturn those features of western culture that have allowed men freely to objectify, sexually harass, and abuse women. Its purpose is to help us realize that abusive men have used their relative power to both exploit and silence women. The goal of the movement, further, is to establish levels of transparency, openness, and respect that will prevent further instances of sexual abuse, harassment, and pain.
In all of this, the #MeToo movement is an inherently public movement. The acts of disclosure, judgment, and punishment that constitute the movement take place before the public eye. On a nearly daily basis, from various media outlets, we read stories of inappropriate or abusive behavior, along with commentary on related institutions and issues. The movement is also public in the sense that our social media feeds overflow with comment and debate around each new revelation. Continue reading
A new poem for the second Sunday of Advent (2017):
And here is the poem within an alternative geometry (click on the poem/image to open it in a more readable format): Continue reading
Forgiveness is always a challenging topic to talk about or preach about. At one level forgiveness is a challenging topic because when we talk about forgiveness we are talking about our very personal and sometimes painful experiences.
Beyond the personal nature of the topic, forgiveness is also challenging subject because in our culture there is disagreement about forgiveness. There is disagreement about what should be involved in the process of forgiveness – there is disagreement about the goal or purpose of forgiveness – there is disagreement about when we should forgive. The idea of forgiveness is a contested idea.
Beyond the personal nature of the subject, and beyond the fact that there is disagreement about what forgiveness should look like – beyond all of that there is also the fact that forgiveness always draws us into a particular story – and our stories are always complicated. Our stories always involve unique personalities and a unique set of actions and unique set of words spoken, and a unique context of relationships. Our stories can always be looked at from different perspectives. And this richness and complexity means there is no simple way to describe forgiveness. In one situation forgiveness might unfold in this way. In another situation, forgiveness might unfold in that way.
So the only thing we can do in exploring forgiveness is to try and describe one little piece of the puzzle at a time. That’s what we are doing for just a few weeks these Sunday mornings. We’re kind of circling around the subject of forgiveness, looking at it from a different perspective each time. Continue reading
Well, we come this morning to another of the well-known stories of David – it is the story of David and Bathsheba. The story of David and Bathsheba is one of those stories that has all the compelling elements that makes it stick in our mind. There is a beautiful woman bathing, and a king watching her; there is a sexual liaison; there is a pregnancy, and then a murder of the woman’s husband. Finally, there is that remarkable scene of confrontation between the prophet Nathan and David – in which David unwittingly judges and condemns himself.
We made it clear last week that David is far from perfect. The narratives of First and Second Samuel certainly present David as a remarkable figure, in the best sense of the word. In important ways, David has embodied the strength, the grace, and the hospitality of God. In some profound sense, as one filled by the Spirit of God, David is a man after God’s own heart. Yet in the unfolding of the narrative, we find another David emerging – one who will stoop so low – one who falls so far. Here is a David who can engage in activities that are nothing less than morally outrageous. Continue reading
My sermon from yesterday, on Mark 1:14-20.
How do we get our heads around a passage like the one we read this morning from the gospel of Mark? How do we enter into the narrative in a fresh way?
We’ve heard it so many times. When we read those words, the same old picture is in our heads that has always been there. Jesus appears on the scene, and says the usual things: (Read in a monotone) “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent and believe in the good news.” And then he walks along the sea, and there are Simon and Andrew fishing – he tells them, come follow me, I’ll make you fish for people. And they turn and follow. Jesus continues a little further along and he sees James and John fixing their nets – and he calls them too. They leave their father in the boat and they follow Jesus.
And that’s it. Here endeth the lesson. Amen. The preacher can sit down. We’ve heard it before – what more is there to say?