Friday, December 23, 2016

Happy Holidays?

Hello Furnace Followers!
I've decided to make a bit of a come-back. I will be using this blog to share more of my creative writing and still some (hopefully) insightful blog posts.

This is what I called my version of a "holiday card" this year. I read this at the Innisfree Poetry Open Mic recently.


Io Saturnalia! Gut Yule, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah…Happy Holidays?

I am checking out of this Season this year; I am abstaining, and if at all possible ignoring everything.

I read somewhere that Pliny the Younger, every year would retire to his rooms during the entire holiday of Saturnalia…now eighteen hundred years later, this time of year is known as Christahanakuanzayule…or just Happy Holidays for short.

Advertisers don’t care what you call “it” as long as you are racking up charges on your visa/mastercard/American express/discover accepted here.

I don’t watch TV anymore (it’s been 8 years now) but my computer, linked to the internet is no safety zone from this season. Advertisers have become like con-artists in the myriad ways they can snag your email address or throw a dump-truck load of “Cookies” which leave thick crumb trails for those digital hounds to follow.

This is not a rant; it may be a bit of a chuckle, or maybe a defiant cry—mostly these are my benevolent observations while standing on the banks of the river of crazed or numb shoppers, holding my sign that reads “Free Tea and cookies for the weary; Stop and think about what you are doing!”

No one wants to take me up on the offer.

Perhaps they’re afraid I will ask them to give up this madness—which of course I will. But not until they have a cup’a tea and a biscuit; as I am sure their blood sugar is low—rational talk only begins after food.

I am checking out of this season this year; I am suffering from a generational curse of enforced guilt over what one SHOULD do vs. what I thought I would do in the quest to preserve family memories, customs, and memes during THE Holidays, and whether or not we can sing something “new” at church—I use scare quotes because new only means we haven’t sung it in 15 years or so.

I am checking out of this season this year; I realized that I was trying to capture memories of holidays past and re-live what I thought were pretty moments without the drama, emotional abuse and mental meltdowns that actually encrust those fleeting memories—I am tired of failing miserably.

The sad thing is watching people around me doing exactly the same thing, for exactly the same reasons; thus adding to the Post Traumatic Stress disorder of the whole planet!

On a positive note: I was part of a Christmas pageant which didn’t seem to leave any permanent emotional scars on the child performers; and I may have watched the beginning of  what might end up being be some promising acting careers!

I am checking out of this season this year; because I need to heal from people (well meaning or not) telling me how I should live and how I should behave, especially during this winter Season; when that just isn’t a good fit for who I am—Paul Simon wrote his song “I am a Rock” in a way that made me believe that to be an island or a rock was a bad thing! I still feel pain and I do cry, but I pull up the drawbridge as necessary and shut out the world—and I am OK with that!

This Season will soon be over, and the days will grow longer and warmer, but right now I will sit alone, warm and comfortable—content in my melancholy sort of way which for me is as happy as I need to be right now.

So may you all have a comfortable, calm and sane Season through the dark days of winter—I wish you all peace and poetry for the New Year!

Pax et Iustia (peace and Justice)


Sunday, September 4, 2016


Yes, I know that it has been a very long time since I have posted anything on "Insights..."

My Work-Life balance is a bit out of whack right now; so as should be quite obvious, I am taking a hiatus from blogging.

I am looking into some possibility for my life ahead, and I do expect to return to blogging in the not-too-distant future.

The blog will still be here, with the old posts and I will be posting any new artwork as well as some photography.

I will keep the light on.

Thank you, and God bless!


Sunday, April 17, 2016

Bias and the Bible: how it affects our comprehension (Introduction)

Bias (bī´əs), n. [Fr. Biais, a slope, slant], 1. A slanting or diagonal line, cut or sewn in cloth. 2. A mental leaning or inclination; partiality; prejudice… Webster’s New World Dictionary of the American Language (1957, New York, World Publishing Company)

 In the next few weeks, I will be writing about biases and how they silently affect everything; including our comprehension and communication. We all have biases, and not all of them are bad, in fact some can be quite useful; for example, an internal bias against racial hate-speech which we all know (now) in our hearts is wrong.  However, there are internal biases that still lead people into thoughtless prejudices, and sub-conscious discrimination.

I want to focus on how our biases effect how we read the Bible. So I will highlight scripture stories which we all think we know, and point out a few missed details and characters that may change how you understand biblical history.

We all know that women were barred from educational opportunities; the only scholars of the Bible until recently were men. So when you read commentaries, you are reading the singular point-of-view of a long line of men who made the opinions, wrote from their life experiences, and only had one view of women; which was solely as wives and mothers, housekeepers or “help-meets” of their husbands and never as leaders, for they considered these roles as god-ordained facts of life; men were leaders, women were helpers.[1]

Sadly, because so few people dig into the study of scripture for themselves, they rely on leaders, who are still overwhelmingly men, and who have all studies a series of commentaries which usually agree in content based on denominational rules.

Orthodoxy in Christianity is considered a very narrow set of rails to run a church on, so it is assumed that it is risky to consider other opinions; yet uncovering the bias against women needs to be illuminated with the light of Christ and then tossed on the burning trash pile (the
gehenna of fire, if you will) of ideas that should have been discarded from both our individual minds, and society at large.

The idea that God had sanctioned the subjugation of women in the Old Testament or New, needs to be destroyed once and for all.  For people to believe that somehow God is to be blamed for bad-acts committed by people in the Bible, needs to be put on that trash heap and burned to ashes. We all are guilty of reading biblical stories with a pre-conceived set of roles based solely on what we are told and learned in our culture.
I contend that due to a bias against women, churches have taught a warp idea which is not in the Bible; that God demands the subjugation of women, and what is actually missed is a revolutionary ideal that leadership is not based on your gender, but on your gifts and talents.

There were solitary women leaders who founded cities, stepped up and asked for land and it was granted; who not only prophesied but were leaders of the nation of Israel. These were women who not only lead the people in singing, but enforced the law of Israel and even sparked the greatest revival in the history of Israel. But there are many hints that the actual exclusion of women was not prompted by God, but by the male leaders recorded in scripture. 

So check back in the coming weeks and see if I can help you to read scripture with fresh eyes.

[1] It has only been late in the 20th century and into the 21st that women have become a small but growing presence in Biblical studies with more published works, and commentaries available now to choose from.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Parker J. Cole Show: Empowering women through biblical studies

Here is the link to a recording of me as a guest of the Parker J. Cole radio show, yesterday.

The show is titled "Empowering women through biblical studies" and you can listen to it here:

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Quote from Simone Weil "Awaiting God" on friendship

Simone Weil Awaiting God. Translated by Brad Jersak (2012, Abbotsford, Fresh Wind Press)

"When one human being is attached to another with bonds of affection containing some degree of necessity, it is impossible for them to wish for autonomy in themselves and the other at the same time—impossible by virtue of the mechanism of nature, but possible by the miraculous intervention of the supernatural. This miracle is friendship.

The Pythagoreans say friendship is an equality made of harmony. It is a harmony because there is a supernatural unity between the two contraries of necessity and freedom, those two contraries combined by God in creating the world and humanity. There is equality because each one desires the conservation of the faculty of free consent in themselves and the other. When someone desires to subordinate themselves to another human being or accepts subordination from them, there is no trace of friendship…There is no friendship in inequality.

A certain reciprocity is essential to friendship. If for one of two sides, all good will is entirely absent, the other must repress affection out of respect for the free consent they must not desire to impair. If one of the two sides does not respect the autonomy of the other, the other must cut the bond out of self-respect. In the same way, those who accept being enslaved cannot obtain friendship. But necessity contained in the bond of affection can only exist on one side, and in that case there is only friendship on one side, if we take the word in its completely precise and strict sense…Every friendship is impure if there is found in it even a trace of the desire to please or its inverse [to dominate]. In a perfect friendship these two desires are completely absent. The two friends completely accept being two and not one; they respect the distance put between them that make two creatures distinct. Only with God do we have the right to desire being one directly 
For as all human beings—or nearly so—are linked to others by the bonds of affection containing some degree of necessity, they can only approach perfection by transforming this affection into friendship. Friendship is something universal. It consists of loving a human being like one would want to be able to love each and all of those who compose the human species in particular. As properties of a triangle, in the same way, those who know how to love can direct a universal love onto a particular human being. Consenting to the conservation of autonomy in oneself and in others is in essence something universal. When we desire this conservation in more than one single being, we desire it in all beings, for we cease to arrange the order of the world in an orbit around a center here below. We transport the center to heaven above.
When the bonds of affection and necessity between human beings are not supernaturally transformed into friendship, not only is affection impure and base, but also it is mixed with hatred and repulsion…The mechanism is the same in affection other than carnal love. This is easy to understand. We hate what we depend on. We hold in disgust what depends on us. Sometimes affection is not only mist; it is transformed entirely into hatred and disgust. Sometimes the transformation is even nearly immediate, the sort where almost no affection has time to appear…When the necessity that links human being has no affective (emotional) nature, when [it] comes only through circumstances, hostility arises (surges) almost from the start.

When Christ said to his disciples, ‘Love one another,’ he was not prescribing attachments for them. Since in fact there had been those [who] were linked together by common thoughts, common lives and common habits, he commanded them to transform these bonds into friendship, so they should not be allowed to turn impure attachments into hatred.

A little before His death, Christ adds this word as a new commandment to those commandments of love of neighbor and love of God…Christ may have wanted to indicate this concerning Christian friendship when he said, ‘When two or three gather together in my name, I am among them.’ Pure friendship is an image of the original and perfect friendship in the Trinity and is the very essence of God. It is impossible that two human being should be one while being scrupulously respectful of the distance that separates them, if God is not present in each of them. The point where parallels meet is in infinity." (pp 96-99)

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Quote from Simone Weil: more thoughts on beauty

Simone Weil, Awaiting God. Translated by Bradley Jersak (2012, Abbotsford, BC, Fresh Wind Press)

From Chapter 3:Forms of the Implicit Love of God

More of Simone’s thoughts on beauty

 “Even the highest accomplishments in the search for beauty—in the art of science for example—are not really beautiful. The only real beauty—the beauty of the real presence of God—is the beauty of the universe (the whole). Nothing smaller than the universe is beautiful.

The universe is beautiful like a beautiful work of perfect art would be if we could have one that deserved the name. Thus it contains nothing that could constitute an end or a good. It contains no finality outside of the beauty of the universe itself. It is the essential truth to know this concerning the universe: that it is absolutely devoid of finality. Nothing related to finality is applicable to it, except through a lie or an error.

In a poem, if we ask why this word is in that place and there is an answer, either the poem is not of the first order or the reader has understood nothing. If we can legitimately say that word is where it is to express this idea or that grammatical connection, or to rhyme, or for alliteration, or to complete a line, or for a certain coloration, or even for several motifs or the genre of the time, we have made a search of the effects of the composition of the poem, but there has been no true inspiration. The only response to a truly beautiful poem is to say the word is there because it was fitting that it should be there. The proof of its suitability is that it is there, and that the poem is beautiful. The poem is beautiful, so to say, because the reader does not wish it were elsewhere.

In this way art imitates the beauty of the world. The suitability (fittingness) of things, of beings, of events consists solely in this: that they exists and we have no wish that they should not exist or should have been different. Such a wish is an impiety with regard to our universal country (lit. ‘fatherland’), a lack of stoic love for the universe. We are constituted in such a way that this love is in fact possible and it is this possibility whose name is ‘the beauty of the world.’

The question of Beaumarchais, ‘Why these things and not others?’ never has an answer, because the universe is void of finality. The absence of finality is the reign and rule of necessity. Things have causes and not ends. Those who believe they have discerned the particular designs of Providence resemble professors who give themselves to what they call ‘explication of the text’ at the expense of a beautiful poem.” (p 75-76)