prophets take to the streets


Now, more then ever, prophets are needed to stand by and hold the new leader(s) to task. Like biblical prophets of old, women and men are being called to make life hell for leaders who ignore the down-trodden while languishing in comfort and plenty. Prophets are needed to preach mercy above judgment, compassion over tyranny, and economic fairness before unbridled wealth. (catholic dialogue, November 14, 2016)

I spent January 20th in a funk. A deep funk. I avoided the news, not wanting to see or hear the inauguration of a man I had already spent too much energy loathing; too much time writing about. What more was there to say? Hope was a fleeting dream. The world seemed a darker place.

Then came January 21st.

I had read about the planned Women’s March with excitement, but couldn’t shake the pessimistic funk. It would probably be fewer than expected, I thought, giving more reason for the new president to gloat over his victory.

I cautiously opened up my Twitter account early in the morning. It was already filled with positive energy. Stories and photos circulated from around the world. The news began pouring in of larger than expected crowds. I watched with pride as women and men gathered in Winnipeg to show solidarity with marchers in the US. I regretted not being there myself.

I read tweets from women and men I followed in Rome, Boston, Washington and beyond. I felt like I was there. I rejoiced as the crowds grew. I breathed a prayer of thanks as the protests remained peaceful until the end. It was a glorious example of non-violent resistance.

Some naysayers, pointing to the more aggressive signs, criticized the lack of politeness of some marchers. Really??? This was especially ironic, considering the lack of respect and basic manners of the person the marchers were protesting against. Besides, the days of women as meek and mild handmaidens is long past.

I thought the signs showed brilliant creativity and humour.

Satire is one of the most effective political weapons. Being laughed at can often deflate egos quicker than anger.

Others criticized the seeming lack of a unified message in the marchers. This, I thought, was one of its greatest benefits and a lesson to be taken to heart.

Solidarity amid diversity is a powerful tool. The gathering of many smaller voices into one great call for change CAN make a difference.

The big question being asked now is, what next? I believe that the Women’s March has laid a strong foundation for speaking truth to power. Hopefully it will energize and affirm many more women and men to take on the mantle of prophet, to poke and prod those in power to ensure that they work for justice and peace for all.




calling all prophets


After Trump’s surprising win, there have been calls for America to unite behind their new president. For the sake of the country, they say, he should now be given the respect, support, and cooperation demanded by the highest office in the land.

I don’t believe it’s time for nice words and gestures. This is not the time to appear gracious in the face of loss, for this is so much more than a lost election. It is not the time for appeasement, for history shows us that appeasement is too easily interpreted as affirmation.

Yes, bridges must be built and divisions healed, but first the hate-filled rhetoric and actions that fuelled the Trump campaign must be challenged. The ignorance, immoral behaviour, irresponsible promises and threats cannot magically disappear the day after an election. Trump must be pressured now, and in the months to come, to ensure they have no place in his agenda as president. Support and respect for an office cannot be given blindly. It must be earned.

America needs prophets who aren’t afraid to observe, judge, speak out and act.

a time for prophets

Now, more then ever, prophets are needed to stand by and hold the new leader(s) to task. Like biblical prophets of old, women and men are being called to make life hell for leaders who ignore the down-trodden while languishing in comfort and plenty. Prophets are needed to preach mercy above judgment, compassion over tyranny, and economic fairness before unbridled wealth.

Advent is around the corner. The liturgical readings of Advent are my favourite. I relish the images of a New Jerusalem and over-flowing banquet tables with seats for all. I yearn for a world of peace where lion and lamb lie down together. I hope for visions to become a reality; visions of a land where God’s justice reigns all.

Prophets weren’t known for social graces or niceties. They were God’s instruments, speaking truth to power. They were spat upon and persecuted. They were often denied natural talents that would make the job easier. Instead, they depended on God’s spirit working through them,  giving them words and courage they did not know they had.

I have many American friends who are fire-brands in their own circles, not afraid to speak out in the face of injustice. I hope and pray that they, and many others like them, will have the strength, energy, faith and courage to take up the mantle of prophet in the days and months to come.




the end of american exceptionalism

As a Canadian, I have long been impatient and angered at American exceptionalism; the belief that America shines above all other countries. Chants of U…S…A!!! sound egotistical to those of us used to a more subdued nationalism. At its worst, the chants sound like a rallying war cry against the rest of the world.

I bristle whenever I hear the American president described as the “leader of the free world” or “the most powerful man on earth”. I live in a free country with its own leaders. I am a Canadian, not an American. With the recent election of Donald Trump, I want to shout ever more forcefully, “your president is NOT my president!”

Trump fed this need for superiority with promises to make America “great” again. He preached a nativism that too often morphed into racism. He promised to build walls to keep the unwanted out, and to take away basic freedoms from those who are already in. He vowed to make American interests a priority, regardless of global ramifications. A “great” America meant a pure America, embracing its God-given role as leader of the world.

The history of the Catholic church shows us the dark side of exceptionalism. The deep seated belief that Christianity was the only true religion, and the Church of Rome was the sole heir of this religion, paved the way for horrific inquisitions and disastrous crusades. Religious exceptionalism nourished a spirit of superiority while feeding the populace on a regular diet of fear and distrust of the “other”. It turned the church into a militant fortress focusing more on fighting heretics than dialoging with other people of goodwill.

Examples of the exceptionalist model of church can be found today in extreme right wing church leaders, blogs and movements. Their voices are loud, proud, and too often filled with hateful rhetoric. They are the “heresy hunters”, bullies seeking out all who dare question the church or who do not live up to their narrow version of Catholicism.

Others, myself included, have had our images of a perfect church shattered long ago. The sins of the church have been laid bare to the shame of us all. We might try to stand back and claim no responsibility for the scandals and abuses, but we were all part of an institution that demanded, and received, blind obedience to both its leaders and its doctrine.

But, we do not despair. When we hit rock bottom, we believe that hope lies in reform. We must work together to rebuild the church. We have a pope who now calls us to leave behind the fortress mentality and head into the streets and bring gospel values and actions into the world.

Perhaps this is the message for America. It is time to let go of your exceptionalist mentality. The sins of history are not sins of your past. Sadly, they continue to be the sins of the present. The U.S. boasts of equality and freedom, yet this election has exposed your divisions to the world.

We have stood by in shock watching a mud-slinging, racist, misogynistic, hate-filled man become your president. Of course, one evil man does not a country make. And yet, we couldn’t believe the crowds that rallied to his support, men and women cheering as their candidate thumbed his nose at political correctness and basic human decency. Rudeness and crudeness was given a green light. It’s going to take a lot of work to restore civility into public discourse.

While the victors rejoice, many believe that America has hit rock bottom. There is a sense of a Great Depression, emotionally and spiritually, spreading not only across the U.S. but across the world. There is an old adage that when the U.S. sneezes, Canada catches a cold. This whopper of a sneeze is being felt beyond North America.  Who knows how this virus will effect global politics, what epidemic it will bring?

I have little faith that President Trump will be any different than Businessman Trump or Candidate Trump. No, he will not make “America great again”.

It is time for America to face her historical and present day demons. It is time for honest introspection. It is time for reform. The reform might have to come outside of its bizarrely long, sinfully expensive and obviously flawed electoral process.

In moments of darkness, the light shines even brighter. Voices for dialogue, sanity, equality, justice and peace will not be silenced. They have just been handed a mandate to speak even louder. To challenge even more. To work ever harder.