Segregating Worship

Read. Because Renee is so very, very awesome.

For my part, I keep coming back to the way that, as Christians, we manage to continually separate ourselves into those who are ministering and those who are ministered to. As I’ve said before, the “charity” model of Christianity doesn’t ever involve a relationship of equals, a sense of being truly “neighbours”, in that it’s always premised on the assumption that we have something to teach/give/reveal to them. The occasional vice-versa comes in the form of granting a kind of tokenistic “model of the simple life” status to certain chosen Others (in such form as the “noble savage”, the sweet young child with disabilities, etc), but there’s never (or very rarely) a sense of inherent, ongoing reciprocity or unity.

That problem is obviously not directly or exclusively connected to race, but it is connected to segregation and marginalization. Actual community is uncomfortable, and actual diversity makes it even more so. Not only is it far more difficult to ignore racism, poverty, inequality and injustice when it’s right in front of you in all its ugly, dirty, violent glory, it’s also far more challenging to believe in your own self-satisfied view of “helping”. Obviously, a lot of Christians do interrogate this, but as Renee points out, there’s still a lack of congregation along these lines, and it seems to me that solutions are not only not forthcoming, they’re not really being sought.

Harder than a camel going through the eye of a needle, indeed.

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The Politics of Being Bored

This post may meander, because I’m not entirely sure what my point in writing it is. Suddenly, we’ve got a federal election that will be taking place *before* the American election, which feels strange given how we’ve been hearing about the latter for, oh, about two years now. This weekend, I still heard more conversation about Barack Obama than I did about Stephen Harper even though, y’know, dissolving parliament is kinda big news and stuff.

It’s not even a little bit insightful to note that Canadians think of their politics as boring. I heard three or four people lament the fact that we have to vote in this election and even express a desire for our politics to be more exciting, more dramatic, explicitly, more American. To my mind, our politics are still more or less politics, as opposed to reality TV, mythologies and grand sweeping narratives, and for that I remain eternally grateful. We’re obviously not immune from that mass media influence, and the ongoing battles in the US are not exclusively those things, but comparing the discourse on either side of the border, I don’t think it’s terribly radical to suggest that the southern side tends toward the latter behaviour more than we do.

But goddamn are we disengaged from our politics. The vast majority of the population doesn’t have a clue why this election is happening and why it’s happening now. There’s a large proportion of people whose biggest complaint is that an election is a waste of taxpayers’ money, so content are they to stick with the status quo. These aren’t people who are particularly fond of Harper, and even includes some who oppose the bulk of what he stands for. The latter category mostly consists of people who see Harper as innocuous and irrelevant, partially because that’s how they see Canadian politics in general, partially because Harper really does come off as a buffoon who may very well literally be made of rubber.

And in between all of these conversations, I’m reading the brilliant work of Taiaiake Alfred:

Politics is the force that channels social, cultural, and economic powers and makes them imminent in our lives. Abstaining from politics is like turning your back on a beast when it is angry and intent on ripping your guts out. (Wasase: Indigenous Pathways of Action and Freedom, p.20)

Many Canadians can’t relate to the second half of that statement, especially if they’re white, middle-class, educated, privileged. I can’t entirely relate to it myself, because I don’t have such direct experience of that anger, but I’ve been paying enough attention to believe it’s true. That first sentence, however, is, in and of itself, being overlooked by the general Canadian public who is bored and disengaged, and even if the beast is relatively tame, or is focussing its gut-ripping rage on another food source, that’s incredibly dangerous. Politics is seen as big decisions, military actions, legal arguments – something distant and decidedly not imminent. Thirty years after “the personal is political”, the political is still personal and we still haven’t learned that damned lesson.

Even beyond all of the issues that are being contested in this election, even beyond the likely outcome and the impact (or lack thereof) that each possible outcome might have on the political trends in this country, even beyond the long list of issues that we as Canadians should, but won’t, be talking about and demanding, I really wish we would take bother to recognize that we do, in fact, have politics. I really do think that there’s a quiet humility in some of the positive aspects of our national culture/identity, but far more often, I see that massively overblown, incredibly destructive and decidedly not humble inferiority complex running the show (because there’s a huge difference between humility and feeling shitty about yourself, though that’s another psychological story, really).  Being bored is the latter. Being bored is a political statement. Being pissed off that our government is daring to ask us to fucking vote is…shit, I don’t even know what that is.

The Business Post

As may already be apparent, my internet presence is going to be decreasing rather significantly for the next several months. I’ve just started back at grad school, working on an intense one-year MA program and hoping that *this time* I’ll actually follow this path through to where I had wanted it to go five years ago, which is, of course, into that black hole known as an academic career. At the same time, I’m keeping the part-time job I’ve been working at for the past several months, which includes anywhere from 14 to 28 hours of work a week, not to mention shift work that will make sleep a “when I can get it” commodity. The time I devote to spiritual activities and growth is also not really negotiable, and though I’ve already reduced my volunteer/service type work in real life, I can’t justify reducing it by much more.

In the something’s gotta give equation, the internet it is. Since my school-related reading is already seriously exciting me, I’ll likely drop a post engaging with some of those ideas every so often (in fact, I intend to do so immediately after I finish writing this up), but other than that, I expect to be pretty much on hiatus from bloglandia for the bulk of this year.

Which sucks, because I’ve come to think of a lot of you who drop in here, and whose blogs I read (whether I comment or not) as friends. I guess that’s why I figured I should post this, rather than simply disappearing without notice. On the plus side, real life has gotten *really* exciting, in a totally positive way (for once).