Archive for the ‘hope’ Tag

Hope in the struggle; a video


“This Christmas, let’s remind each other where to look for hope. Not among the wealthy and powerful, but in a poor young woman who said “yes” to transformation. Not in the halls or houses of the rulers, but in a manger “tucked under a donkey’s nose.”

That’s a part of a video for this season that was released by KAIROS Canada. For the full, inspiring video, go to:



Easter, 2016


Sunrise in Toronto: Easter, 2016

“True faith is the antithesis of a triumphant confidence. To be sure, there is a certitude of faith. The certitude of faith is not a matter of demonstration or success, but a matter of trust: trust in the promise of a God who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that are not (Romans, chapter 4), a God who creates ex nihilo, who according to the scriptures raised his Son from the dead.”

Douglas John Hall in “Lighten Our Darkness”, page 120

Holy Week 2016 – Holy Saturday


Natalie Sleeth has written a hymn, published in 1986, called, “In the Bulb There Is a Flower“.

It is published in the United Church of Canada hymn book called Voices United. Verse #3 is appropriate, I believe, for Holy Saturday; the day between the murder of Jesus, and his resurrection:

“In our end is our beginning;

in our time, infinity;

in our doubt there is believing;

in our life, eternity.

In our death, a resurrection; at the last a victory,

unrevealed until its season,

something God alone can see.”


A simple, and compelling definition of FAITH is presented by Brewster Kneen in his book, Journey of an Unrepentant Socialist. Kneen, in his eighth book, says that:

Faith is the conviction that there is more to life and the world than meets the eye; more than realism can see, more than all the scientists can name.”


Posted August 2, 2015 by allanbaker in Christian Faith

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Preparing for Black Friday

Jesus the Homeless

Jesus the Homeless

” False idols are everywhere these days: in newspapers, on TV ads, on billboards, in magazines, in the margins of every website, even on the phone. They are meant to excite us and arrest us and, they hope, seduce us. It’s not what we pass up because we can’t afford it that counts. It’s what we pass up because we don’t need it even when we can afford it. Then we know that we are free. “

Joan Chittister in her book, The Art of Life, p. 117

Reflections on a violent day in Ottawa (4)

The Enemy Is Neglect of Mental Illness

The Ottawa shooter hardly fits the mould of sleeper cell terrorist.

By Mitchell Anderson, October 25, 2014,


Michael Zehaf-Bibeau was a homeless, mentally ill drug addict and not part of a well-resourced terrorist cell.


Canada and the world were shocked this week by the brazen shooting of a Canadian soldier at our National War Memorial and an armed assault on our seat of government. These tragic events cry out for immediate and drastic action to ensure this never happens again. And based on what we know so far, the most effective intervention would be to invest in support for those dealing with mental illness, addiction and poverty.

The gunman Michael Zehaf-Bibeau was not part of a well-resourced terrorist organization or Islamic sleeper cell. Immediately before the shooting, he was living in an Ottawa homeless shelter. He apparently had a long history of addiction and mental illness. In 2012 he asked a B.C. judge to send him to jail so that he could try and deal with his addiction to crack cocaine.

“I went to see the RCMP, I told them, ‘Just put me in so I could do my time for what I confessed.’ They couldn’t. So, I warned them, ‘If you can’t keep me in, I’m going to do something right now just to be put in.’ So I went to do another robbery just so I could come to jail,” Zehaf-Bibeau said he told the court in 2011.

On Dec. 15, 2011, Zehaf-Bibeau walked into a Burnaby RCMP detachment and asked to be arrested for a robbery he claimed to have committed 10 years earlier. He was briefly detained under B.C.’s Mental Health Act but later released. Hours later he attempted to rob a local McDonalds restaurant with a sharpened stick — an act so bizarre the fast food employee thought he was joking.

His case was swallowed by the yawning cracks in our broken mental health system. The court psychiatrist determined that “although he seems to be making an unusual choice, this is insufficient basis for a diagnosis of mental disorder.” In order to be admitted to a treatment facility under the Act, Zehaf-Bibeau would legally require a condition that “seriously impairs the person’s ability to react appropriately to the person’s environment, or to associate with others.”

Instead, the judge indulged him with a brief jail term over the Christmas holidays. “Perfect,” said Zehaf-Bibeau on hearing of his incarceration. He likely found that Canada’s prison system is woefully under-resourced to deal with addiction and mental health issues.

Warehousing the mentally ill

This year the Correctional Investigator for Canada, Howard Sapers, called prison conditions for the mentally ill “grossly inadequate.” Increasingly these prisoners are being warehoused in solitary confinement due to lack of proper facilities or personnel.

Sapers told The Tyee last February that retention of qualified treatment staff is one of the most pressing concerns. “Many of the psychology positions are currently filled with individuals who do not have the qualifications to be licensed psychologists and this really has a very negative impact on the treatment that offenders with mental health issues have in federal penitentiaries.”

In his most recent report to Parliament, Sapers found, “More offenders are presenting with complex mental health, substance abuse and addictions issues. For example, upon admission, 80 per cent of federally sentenced male offenders have a substance abuse problem and nearly two-thirds reported that they were under the influence of substances during the commission of their offence.”

In spite of HIV and hepatitis C infection being rates 10 and 30 times higher in prisons than in the general population, Canada still does not have a needle exchange program within federal penitentiaries.

Outside of prisons, Canada is faring little better regarding a national commitment to deal with addiction and mental health. The Harper government fought the Insite Safe Injection facility all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada in spite of a decade of evidence showing how much it is needed in Canada’s poorest neighbourhood.

Ten years after this facility opened, Dr. Julio Montaner of the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS reported that “More than 30 peer-reviewed studies show that Insite saves lives and health care dollars, reduces disease transmission, and promotes entry into addiction treatment.”

One in five Canadians is coping (or not) with a problem involving mental health or addiction — a situation that is growing worse. Within a generation, 8.9 million Canadians will be living with a mental illness.

There is also a clear link between poverty and mental health. People in Canada’s lowest income group are up to four times as likely to report poor mental health than wealthy Canadians. As many as two thirds of homeless people report also dealing with a mental illness. It remains a national disgrace that in virtually any Canadian city, the neglected and disgorged mentally ill of our society continue to sleep outside for lack of any better alternative.

Paying in lives and dollars

Mental illness also costs Canada billions. Recent research itemized the economic burden at more than $50 billion per year. In Ontario, the disease burden of mental illness and addiction is one and a half times greater than all cancers put together and seven times more than all infectious diseases.

Poverty affects three million Canadians and one in five children, one of the worst rankings in the OECD. More and more physicians are drawing a direct link between poverty and poor public health outcomes. Health care remains the biggest line item in any provincial budget and collectively costs Canada $211 billion each year. Perhaps the most effective long-term strategy in controlling those costs may involve making sure that Canadians are not getting sick simply because they are poor.

Whether we want to admit it or not, the externalized costs of ignoring addiction, mental health and poverty in Canada will be borne by someone. Increasingly the professionals on the front lines of this battle are not trained psychologists or social workers but police, prison guards and physicians. Last week the gifted young soldier Cpl. Nathan Cirillo tragically lost his life to someone who was mentally ill.

We need to learn what we can from the tragic events on Parliament Hill and not draw conclusions based on mere ideology. It seems doubtful that this senseless act of violence would have been prevented by devoting more powers and funding to the “war on terror” or increased public surveillance — something the Harper government is clearly committed to doing, regardless of the facts we have learned so far about the shooter.

Rather than trying to turn our country into a fortress — a staggeringly expensive strategy with virtually no real world evidence of preventing terrorism — we should instead invest our efforts in making Canada a more humane, healthy (and safe) place to live. That would be a more noble and Canadian response to this ignoble and tragic act.   [Tyee]

People’s Climate March (2)

Take Responsibility

Take Responsibility

A week before the People’s Climate March, which was held worldwide, the Moderator of the United Church of Canada had this to say:

Thinking about the climate change summit, I find myself reflecting on some of my summer experiences. First, let me mention the United Church’s National Aboriginal Spiritual Gathering at the end of July, for there is so much we can learn from First Nations peoples’ wisdom about the land – its sacredness, a gift from God, not our possession; the need to listen to what the land is trying to say to us, to teach us about our place within a web of creation that embraces all our relations; and the need for every society to be committed to the well-being of the world for our children’s sake, even to the seventh generation. I realized that I am part of a very self-centred, short-sighted culture, and I need to learn to see differently. Celebrating the birthdays of three grandchildren this summer helped make that clear!

Then, in August, there was Rendez-vous, where over 400 youth and young adults gathered for an incredible weekend of faith, worship, fun, energy, filled with an eagerness to change the world. As I looked out on all those young people I found myself thinking, “If I mean what I say, if I really do care about them, then how can I not be committed to doing my small part to ensure that the world is healthy and green seven generations from now?”

And then, at the end of the summer, there was a trip to Alaska (and to the Yukon, a quick return to the land of my birth). One hundred thousand glaciers in Alaska, and nearly all of them in rapid retreat. Sure, the ice always ebbs and flows, but here’s a statistic that stopped me cold (so to speak). The Mendenhall Glacier is the city of Juneau’s pride and joy, but it is slowly disappearing. In the 90s it was shrinking by about 30 feet per year; the following decade that rate had increased to about 200 feet a year. Last year, the glacier retreated by 540 feet. Go figure!

I know, I know…. you’re already swamped with various requests and challenges to change the world and make a difference. But I suspect we all know that what is happening to the environment – global warming; oil sands, pipelines, and our insatiable consumption of carbon fuels; nuclear waste; pollution; “Western” lifestyle (including trips to Alaska, no doubt); climate change; ocean sickness; species extinction – we know that this is probably the most pressing issue of our times. I also suspect that we probably feel almost powerless to make a difference. And yet, and yet….

Maybe this is the moment for change, or at least, “a” moment. Follow what will be happening at the UN summit, and the preceding Interfaith gathering; check out the United Church’s suggestions for taking action and maybe choose just one; and watch thevideo playlist where clips of five Moderators will soon be posted offering statements about the importance of taking action on climate change.


For more info on what Gary Paterson has to say, watch this video:


People’s Climate March

Take Responsibility

Take Responsibility

This is a message from Karen Dale, who is one of the ministers at the church where I attend worship:


I participated in the People’s Climate March last Sunday, along with Andrew LaCombe and Jim McKibbin from Beach UC, and about 3,000 other folk. The concern for the health of our earth home seemed to resonate with many different people. As we gathered in Nathan Philips Square I could see families with children who had green hearts painted on their faces. There were seasoned protesters who had probably marched for causes in the 60′s. Dotted around were those who looked slightly uncomfortable, not quite sure about joining in the chanting and clapping. It seems a wide cross section of people are taking action and calling for a reduction in our use of fossil fuels.

As we filed out onto University Ave and turned east on Dundas, I became aware of the reaction of the people around us. There were smiles of encouragement from pedestrians, even those in cars who were brought to a standstill by the march, were honking their horns in encouragement rather than frustration.

I never thought I would be part of a spiral dance led by First Nations drummers in the middle of the Dundas Square. Even if it was more of a shuffle than a dance, it was great to be there! As we continued to march down Yonge Street I saw a young man carrying a sign that said:

 There is no PLAN-et B!

The issue of climate change is one that is threatening the earth and needs to be taken seriously. It also needs to be approached from a sense of hope that we can make a difference. That spirit was alive and well in Toronto, in New York, and in other cities around the world. We as humans have so much to learn from the earth as this Ute prayer expresses:

Earth, teach me limitation – as the ant that crawls on the ground.

Earth, teach me acceptance – as the leaves that die each fall.

Earth, teach me renewal – as the seed that rises in the spring.

Earth teach me to forget myself – as melted snow forgets its life.

Earth, teach me to remember kindness – as dry fields weep with rain.

 Blessings, Karen

Water for people in Detroit

Emma Lui tells her story of bringing water to people in Detroit

NaEmma Lui and Maude Barlowtional Water Campaigner Emma Lui joined Maude Barlow and members of the Windsor chapter of the Council of Canadians to bring 1,000 litres of water – in an act of solidarity – across the Canada-U.S. border into Detroit where thousands of people have had their water shut off. The Council’s Blue Planet Project has been working with several U.S.-based groups to draw international attention to the ongoing violations to the human right to water that are happening in the city.

Read Emma’s story about the water convoy. It is a story that will warm your heart.

End of winter

Winter, 2014

Winter, 2014

Today(March 20, 2014), people in the northern hemisphere mark the vernal equinox, or the beginning oaf Spring.

The past winter has been so cold in our area that many of the snowmen were seen wearing scarves.

Also, it has been reported that, on Bay Street in Toronto, it was so cold in the past winter that some had their hands in their own pockets.

Posted March 20, 2014 by allanbaker in Canadian society

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