From the Deacon’s Bench - June, 2021
When I wrote last time about the seven Grandfather teachings, it struck me later that we are fortunate to have them and to be able to talk about them. Starting after Confederation, there was a concerted effort to eliminate Indigenous culture. The government used residential schools and the Indian Act, among other initiatives to try to make “them” like “us”. Unfortunately the Churches went along with it. There seemed a mission among many to “save” them and bring them to God as Europeans thought God to be. Authorities at times made various aspects of their language and culture illegal. We are lucky today that they did not completely succeed.
One aspect of Anglicanism in Canada that I appreciate is that we can at times be more open, tolerant and eager to learn. About some things anyway. There are other Christian denominations, as well as denominations within other faiths, that believe they have all the answers and that their faith focus is the only correct one. I acknowledge that I have some intolerance about intolerance. Even in matters of faith. I guess my perspective is that life isn’t black and white at all, just thousands of shades of grey. Part of that has developed in my job. The number of times folks have suggested things because they have read it on the internet and accept it has increased exponentially. With a bit of work, it can sometimes be researched further to determine if there might be a grain of truth in what has been suggested. Again due to my work, I have dealt with enough experts over the years to realize that not all are as expert as they would like you to think. I had thought that this was an increased phenomena due to the internet, but now I’m not so sure.
When I think about it, perhaps humanity has always been that way. If what we hear or read aligns with what we wish or want or have been told, then it must be right. How else could Europeans over generations have believed non-white non-Europeans to be inferior? Everyone just knew it. Who would question something that everyone knew to be right? It allowed humanity to vilify people or faiths that were different from their own.
Isn’t’ that what Jesus faced as well? We read the Gospels and say, well of course Jesus was right. What were the Pharisees thinking? The Pharisees and others in authority were probably thinking, “Who is this guy and what is he thinking? Everyone knows that the Law is what is important. That’s the way it has always been. How could the Law be wrong if that is what we have learned over the generations since Abraham and Moses, the prophets and the judges?”
Somewhere through life I remember hearing or reading, “God gave you a brain, why aren’t you using it?” Then isn’t that what we are supposed to do? Question assumptions. Research what others have said. Think about things through another lens when possible? If that hadn’t been done, is it possible that what Jesus told us would never have survived his crucifixion? Is it possible that we know Jesus today because his disciples used the brains God had given them to question matters of faith through the Christ lens?
Looking at the world through the Christ lens increases the possibility that humanity might survive the mess that we are creating. We can live our lives loving God and all our neighbours. We can live our lives in the way of the seven Grandfather teachings. We can live our lives in ways of charity as outlined in the Quran. We can be the people Jesus told us to be.