Loving the Sacred through Word and Image. The Ferryland – New Foundland Iceberg Easter 2017. A Word Press Production.

Anti-War

On Being Canadian…

“This year we mark and celebrate the founding of the Canadian state 400 years ago; from Champlain to today.”

From Celebrate Canada Day

It has been over six years since I moved to Montreal, and Canada the larger nation. And I thought that I would write a post about being a Canadian and why that is so important to me. Living in Canada as a gay, hiv positive man has done wonders for my life. I have achieved heights here I would never have been able to in the United States as the situation was in the past. Living hand to mouth, having to choose between bills and food, over medications was a real downer.

Moving from one BIG city to a truly Cosmopolitan BIG Candian city was remarkable. Montreal had a mystique all its own. There was so much to see and there still is so much to see here that I would never think of leaving this great city. I have grown up in this city in ways I never thought possible.

Living in Canada brought with it radical changes in the way I see the world from above the Northern Border. Learning where my loyalties lain was very important seeing that I was here as the Iraq war had begun, taking part in demonstrations against the war was life changing. Not knowing where to stand at one point of this journey, I had to take the time to learn about what I was feeling and where those loyalties laid. That took a while to figure out but when the map finally appeared before me, I was good to go.

Coming from the United States, knowing what I knew changed when the run up to the war took place. Everything I knew came into question. Everything I had grown up to believe was challenged. The very way I lived my  life was on the line. I had one foot in the U.S. and one foot in Canada. And I was at odds with my self because I did not know where I stood on many issues. I had to find my way. That took some time. I eventually chose to place both feet firmly on Canadian soil and make my stand here. And that decision changed my life. I may hold dual citizenship but my soul is firmly a Canadian soul. I sewed Canadian flags on my backpack and I became one of many. My collective here in Canada.

Canada has grown as a country. Montreal has grown as a city. I have grown into the man I am. I have learned about the myriad of religious beliefs that reside here. I have met, studied and befriended many different people from all walks of life. Returning to University was the biggest decision I had made at one point in my journey. And now I hold a B.A. in Religious Studies which has changed the way I see religion today.

When Canada passed legislation on Same Sex marriage, Hubby and I were amongst the first ten couples in Montreal to get a marriage license. We eventually married in November of 2004, with friends and family in attendance. That was a big change in our lives to be recognized as a couple legally. Gay rights IS a big deal no matter where you live. And we have seen what kind of divisivness can come about from the discussion of Gay Marriage in the United States.

Being gay in Canada has changed the way we see the world around us. Because here in Canada we are afforded right according to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. We have an entire neighborhood devoted to all things gay. We have a vibrant multicultural gay community, and a vibrant multicultural city, a mosaic of people, ethnicity and faith. Gay Pride is a daily way of life. We don’t have to hide in closets and in dark corners of neighborhoods. With the passage of gay rights and marriage rights here we move more fully into community and that is lacking in the United States. When will the United States realize that there are bigger fish to fry like impeaching the President and taking him the the Hague for War Crimes! When will gay move main stream and the people of an entire nation rise up and do the right thing for a change, instead of being led to slaughter like mindless sheep?

I tell you truly, that if you really want to see the world (The U.S. ) for what it is, then uproot your family, leave your sofas and beer cans and football games and move abroad for One Calendar year. See the United States from someplace else, like Canada, and I assure you that you will never see the U.S. the way you did before and forever after.

I became part of a church, I found my religious roots so to speak. With my religious studies my faith has changed. Everything I knew and loved about Catholicism was changed. Being gay and informed has truly changed the way I see Christianity and the way I practice my faith. I moved away from Holy Mother Church and into the Anglican communion and as a communion community here in Canada we came to agreement on the blessing of same sex couples in the last year. A change that has challenged the greater Anglican and Episcopal community at large.

As we see today that the Anglican community is more fractured than ever just because a Gay, now married man, The V. Rev. Gene Robinson is Bishop in New Hampshire. My views and practice of Christian faith has been tempered by the way other Christians live their lives. It is my belief that I practice an active true faith in Christ. I love my god with all my heart, soul and strength and I love my neighbor as myself. How much easier can Christianity be? My faith is so much richer for the opportunity to study religion in University. That has also changed my life for the better.

Over the years we have seen many things change in Canada. The recognition of the past and apologies made to certain communities of people have changed Canada for the better. The head tax apology to the Chinese community was a big step in Asia Pacific understanding. And more recently the Truth and Reconciliation commission undertaking the huge step in repairing the sins of a Nation against the Native Peoples of Canada. The great apology from the Prime Minister to the native community just a little while ago was a big step in helping Canada and a peoples move forward from one of the darkest periods in Canadian history.

Canada is a great country to live in – Montreal is a wonderful city to be a part of. There is so much more freedom here than in the United States. My life is so much richer for being here. And I am more the man I was meant to be here. I work with my kids, I have great friends, and I have a great life. And I live. I have medical treatment here that is unheard of in the United States. I am in trials for new medications for people with Aids. I work every day to try to help find solutions for the sick and dying. That is my full time job here, to live and to make sure that as these meds come off the production line that they work so that you, out there can use them with the assurance that they really do work.

I am sober now seven years going on eight this Winter. I am committed to my home group and the ministry of AA in my community. I help others get sober and we teach them how to live in the moment and to stay in their days. So much has changed in sobriety. My life is so different from what it had been and I have everything to be grateful for in coming to Canada.

If you can dream it you can live it. Always fight for what you believe in, and if you can’t find it where you are, then come and find it elsewhere. There are always possibilities.

**Edit**

September 25th, 2010

It seems this post has been accessed by someone and I am reading this again tonight, having traveled farther down the journey here in Canada. Since that post was written, I have graduated from University with my BA in Religious studies, I have completed a Certificate in Pastoral Ministry in 2010. I am now studying languages and history at Dawson College here in Montreal. It truly has been a journey of a thousand steps all one day at a time.

I spent a year working on my M.A. in Theology and I found myself wanting more, I was not enjoying myself, and my papers were not what was necessary to keep up a GPA. I left the university with no way to continue my studies there, which sent me to Dawson, because unlike the U.S. you can get financial aide from the government to go to school at all levels of the educational ladder. And since I did not attend CeGep on the way up, I was able to continue my studies at that level. It’s all good.

Hubby has since completed a BA in English lit and a second BA in Sociology. And today he is working on his M.A. in Sociology at Concordia University. We are all so very proud of him, he has come a LONG way from the point that I wrote this first entry some years ago. We have been married now almost 6 years come November. He will have been sober almost eight years as well. We have traveled a thousand miles in our marriage. Life could not be better for either one of us today.

I am still alive, I have been testing HIV medications for the entire time that I have been here in Montreal, having a doctor who has treated patient zero, as my doctor has changed my life. Pills that were never available to the general public were made available because we tested them here in Montreal first. I tested them just for you, because you matter to the rest of us, every one of you. This year I crossed the 16 year mark living with aids. And I am doing very well, with the treatment that I have been on for more than three years now.

This calendar year, 2010 I will celebrate 9 years of sobriety on December the 9th. Sobriety has changed my life. Being in Canada has changed my life in ways I could never have imagined even when I wrote this original entry, I was no so far up the road, but far enough to root myself in Montreal.

I still maintain that if you want to see the world and the place you come from in a different light, you have to leave the comfort of home and move someplace else for at least a calendar year.

That is all for this update on Being Canadian…


Freedom …

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This notion of freedom is something that I have not thought about but I guess I can write about it. What is freedom? Growing up in middle America I lived under the protective shadow of my parents, and as a young person I wasn’t so free that I could know the people I wanted to know and have the friends I wanted to have. My parents had their prejudices and issues. So I had to mask reality with a layer of ‘pleasing’ so that I would not rock the proverbial social boat.

The social and family gospel of the times was no blacks, no gays, no opinionated friends and surely not a boy-friend. I kept that model to please my family until I had decided to move out on  my own. That was  my first taste of freedom, so I thought.

True as it was, I was a slave to the bottle. I was a slave to image, I was a slave to social pressure. So with that I wasn’t really free was I? I was a slave to what I thought was reality, in my warped young mind. I did not have the street smarts to know the difference. I surely did not know what the right path was, because no one pointed it out to me. All the young men I knew were walking one certain path and I was surely following them. Which led to many mistakes, heartaches and problems.

In the 90’s when I met my then partner, and he subsequently committed suicide after learning he was sick, I met a man who began my education on being free. I think this was the first time that I felt totally free. I could explore my sexuality in all its carnality, and I was wrapped in a blanket of safety by my Master at the time.

Living within the community of leather men, I was protected, I was safe and I could ask my questions and get my answers from men who would not lie to me nor abuse me, because my Master deemed me special above the other boys he knew.

When I was diagnosed with AIDS in 1994, I have written about this before, that blanket of protection got a little tighter. Humans became animals, adults became monsters, Christians became sinners to the highest degree. Men were dying, my friends were sick and they too died alone and on the street, left out in the cold by people who were supposed to love them and care for them.

In my little leather world I was free, I put down the bottle for the first time and I started to live. I stopped counting the days until I would eventually die, as I was told, and I lived. I had a life outside my job, and that life was to take care of myself – I had a lot of help, my Master saw to my every need, medical, financial and practical.

I went to work and when I crossed the threshold into the building, which was a bar at that time, I left that world outside, outside. In that womb of safety I did whatever I was told. I did not question any chore I was asked to perform, although I did. I could be whomever I wanted to be, in that sense I was free.

But always, my Master’s eyes were always upon me. I was untouchable and that was the rule of the day. It was the most freeing time of my life, to give my life over to the care of another human being in all senses of the word. I wanted for nothing, I needed nothing, I was loved and protected in ways today do not exist. I gave my trust to one man and his community and they never let me down.

There was sacred life in the community of the profane. There was sacred love in the realm of the profane. To the outsider we were the strange and the demented, we were other and we were strange, they used to say that we were abusive and profane. How could we be human and live the way we were all living. I can tell you that in those years I never felt so free in my life to be who I wanted to be, because nobody told me otherwise. In my Masters house I was free…

When he departed my life, that freedom disappeared. I had to reenter the social world of what they told me was normal. I was sick, I was alone, but I was also sober… I never felt so much pain as I did in those intervening years emotionally, physically and mentally.

That cocoon of protection and freedom was gone, and I had to relearn what it meant to live in the ‘straight world.’ I became a slave to social norms. I was bound to the life I was handed by the community I lived in. All those things I took for granted in that other world were shackles that held me to the ground. I was no longer free…

I moved from one location to another, I fought the system of medical care that only wanted me to die rather than pay out to help care for me as a citizen of the United States, and a resident of where I was living. I was not free, I was chained to a life that did not want me to survive.

I tried a geographic cure to try and settle myself somewhere and I fell into the trap of addiction once again. I was a slave to cannabis, I was a slave to the bottle and I was a slave to whatever drug ended up on the coffee table. Eighteen months later I had been physically beaten up so badly by the one I was with that I was unrecognizable and ended up in a safe house thousands of miles from where I had been, because someone know where I was and he saved me from imminent death.

I was free again…

After a month in that safe house I risked my life by reentering the world, and I returned to the only place I knew life. I returned to that life that had me chained to one spot, playing the system for all that is was worth. I became a cast iron bitch in order to save my life. I did things that I had to do, I was crazy because of the circus of medical care that kept me always on the edge of a nervous breakdown. I was surely not free…

A warning to parents… Never lie to your children, because one day they will seek the truth to those lies. I guess that at some point for some reason I had chatted with someone who got me to ask the right question at the right time. A well spoken and protected lie became the key to real freedom.

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I got sober again, I put down the drugs, the bottle and the life that chained me to the ground and I began to be free, again…

I got on a plane and sought sanctuary. I paid the price I had to pay in order to make it all right and above board. I left all that I knew, for a land that promised me freedom beyond anything that I had ever experienced. I got off the plane and entered a life that was miles from where I had been, and I began to learn what it meant to be free.

I found a place to live, I found a meeting to attend and to root to. I met people who would help me build a home, find medical care and I entered a social system of well placed people in all the right places.

Sobriety is a freeing experience. I put down all those ways that I had always clung to. I turned my back on the life I hated. I worked the program because they told me that if i truly wanted to be free, I had to get rid of the wreckage of my past, give freely of what I had and I had to suit up and show up every day of my life. I started to learn how to be totally free and a year would pass before I learned how to stay in my day…

I met a boy, I fell in love, and I started building a home for both of us. Surely two sober people walking the same path could not go wrong, right???

A year into my sobriety, I started a university career at age 34. What did I know about going back to school? I was much older than the other students. But they told me that I would always have help. I met a man who became my mentor, my father, my friend and closest adviser.

Two years into my new life, I was learning what it meant to be really free. The war in Iraq was looming and people were marching in the streets. Sew Canadian flags to your backpacks and never mention that you were an American. I followed that direction. I marched like everyone else marched against the war. I was free…

I hit a wall during that time, because I did not know where I was socially and politically. I had one foot still planted there and one foot firmly planted here. I was divided and conflicted. I sat with my mentor one afternoon and I told him that I did not know how to feel, what to think or where to go next.

Wiser advice was never so important to me than what he told me. He said “if you don’t know where you are going, stop and sit down where you are, look around for the signs, get comfortable with your feelings and learn about them. Find comfort in what you are feeling until it feels natural and free. Because if you don’t learn about what you are feeling how can you move forward? When you are ready, consult your map, ask your questions and then take a few steps, one after the other, and soon you will be on your way.”

I chose the Maple leaf, I walked away from my paternal heritage and history. I embraced my maternal heritage and I never looked back. I will tell you that I never felt such freedom in my life. From that day forward I lived to be free, I lived to be me.

The days, months and years that would follow that decision posed very harsh and painful experiences. Life became tragically painful as my then boyfriend was diagnosed Bi-Polar and he fell into the pit of hell and sat there for ten months and I had to care for both of us.

There was a cost that came with my freedom, because I chose to settle down with my partner and we were building a life together and I was the sole care taker for our home. I made my choice, now I had to learn how to grow up. Not that I wasn’t grown up, but I learned a very valuable lesson in maturity. I put the needs of my partner before my own and learned how to truly care for another because it was the right thing to do, and as God as my witness, I never felt so much freedom in my life, although I would not see that until I sit here and write out the words.

Thank god for my sober community and the advisers who helped me and the doctors who cared for my partner, and the system that made it possible for us to live. The longer I stayed sober, the freer I became. Sobriety frees one of the past, and gives one the ability to move forward in life.

In the society that I live in today we are free. If I don’t agree with political leaders I can protest. If I don’t agree with my government I can vote and make a difference. With an education I can do anything, with a degree I have knowledge, and with specialization I can do what I love to do.

**********

Living abroad, watching the world from above the Northern border, I have perspective. And I can tell you that living in the United States was a lesson in following the leader. We were taught certain lessons, we were told certain truths, my father beat into me love for the flag and my country, he taught me never to question the leaders of government and God forbid never question the wisdom of the president.

Keep your mouth shut and do as you are told. Learn the history as it was written and follow the example set out by your parents, and never ever question your place in the grand scheme of things…

I watched the pre-war riots in the streets of my city. I watched protesters march day after day after day. I got angry and I started to disagree with all that I had known. I had “spit in the face of my father” by leaving the country because I wanted to be free…

I say to my friends and people who live below the Northern Border,

“You want to be free, pack up your family, and leave the comfort of your lazy boys and your beer and sofas, and live somewhere else for one year, and watch the world go by from another location, other than the one you look at it go by in today, see how the world looks from where we are and think hard upon the ways you know, because after that year abroad you will never see your world quite the same way ever again…”

You will never feel as free as I feel free today…

Freedom is a choice… I choose to be free… I am free …


CN Tower dethroned by Dubai building

CBC News

The CN Tower’s time has come. It is no longer the world’s tallest building.

The CN Tower is no longer the world's tallest building or free-standing structure.

The CN Tower is no longer the world’s tallest building or free-standing structure.
(CBC)

For years, Torontonians have known that their claim to fame’s time was nigh as planned towers around the world threatened to break its 30-year-old record.

Finally on Wednesday, a structure under construction in the Arabian Desert succeeded in passing the Toronto tower’s 553.33-metre height.

Burj Dubai — a glitzy hotel, residential and commercial building being built in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, for a price tag of $4.1 billion US — will be more than 150 stories tall when it reaches its final height of 800 metres.

CN Tower officials said little about the record-breaking structure.

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“When the time comes and the building is complete, we will congratulate the Burj Dubai project on their unique achievement,” officials wrote in an e-mail.

On the streets of Toronto, residents mourned the end of an era.

“We had a lot of pride when we did it,” said Paul Mitchell, a steelworker who secured the antenna atop the tower on its completion in 1976. “It was a lot of fun.”

But he added that he was surprised the tower held its record for 30 years. “That was quite a feat.”

In other cities across the country, though, people dismissed the blow to Toronto’s ego with a laugh.

“I guess they’ll have to get a big box of Kleenex and get used to it,” one Winnipegger said.

Guinness World Records has recognized the CN Tower as the world’s tallest free-standing structure and the world’s tallest building.

The Council of Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, however, disputes the latter claim. They argue a “building” must be designed for residential, business or manufacturing use, and say the Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, were the world’s previous tallest building.

Burj Dubai surpassed the Kuala Lumpur towers’ height in late July.


September 11th…

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The Calm Man who did his best at reporting

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A photo from April of 1971 of the towers

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The Man who changed us all

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The Man who gave his life for his faith

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Longing for the Divine

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I’ve changed the header again. I can’t seem to stay on one photograph. I was running through some images and I came back to this one, because I guess, I am missing that component of my life as it was lived so long ago.

I’m tired and all I really want to do right now is curl up in a pew, in the chapel, before God and his angels. The photo you see above is of the rear wall mural located inside the chapel of the Seminary of St. John Vianney in Miami. I approach the chapel from the residence hall close by. The glass doors open for me and I take that first step upon the flagstones that are paved throughout the chapel. To my right and my left are tall glass doors that shudder with the breeze blowing against them.

The lights are low, save for the sacrament candle hanging to the right of the mural. As I walk down the center aisle of the chapel, my footsteps echo off the walls and reverberate through the vast empty space. I approach the altar and genuflect to the altar and greet my God in his holy place. It is said that you can take a boy out of the church, but you can never take the church out of the boy.

As defiant I am against institution and my railings against all that is ‘christian’ It in these moments that I long to be before the almighty alone before the tabernacle of God. Listening to the Litany of the Saints as chanted by the monks, I reflect on all that is holy within me. I know His voic, He has more than once spoke my name. And funny, that I was able to hear it amid the din in my head. There was a time when I could fresh recall it at will, but now I have to look for it today.

I have visited some of the most important “Churches” in Christendom and though they are grand in scale, and pronounced for their place in the living of Catholicism, it is the sacred chapel where I consecrated myself to God that I return to in my minds eye.

We are all called, to a life of holiness, whether we choose to follow that call is up to us, save for the judgment of men who would either deem us able or disabled to follow. Which I think is my biggest resentment with “Church.” Walking on the path of God is a lonely path, because no one can walk the journey for you, you must walk it alone. Because when you hear the voice you have to choose, to walk towards or run from. I don’t think I have completely run away from it.

You can’t run from God, because He is always there. You can choose to walk off the path and do what you need to do, but eventually, you find that the path looks really good from where ever you are standing and when you take that first step back onto the path, there God is waiting for you to resume your journey. “I was waiting for you, you know, I can hear Him say to me!” “Why did you go away from me?” “You can deny me and ignore me, but you must admit that my voice draws you near to me, you long to hear me call your name.”

The chant continues…

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I must admit that the silence is beautiful, the chant fills the space with such heavenly sacred sound. All voices praising God and his heaven. The Preacher man is apt to tell us about his chapel in the Rockies where he like to nap before God and his tabernacle in Crede. There are times in the life when I muse on the thought of just walking away from all of this and finding myself in an abbey somewhere out in the hills, just me, the monks and God. It’s not like I wouldn’t have far to travel, there are plenty of Holy Places in this city of light where God’s footprint can be seen on any given street anywhere in Montreal, because “here is where it all started.”

From my front door within a few minutes walk, you can find yourself transported to a place that is otherworldly, Godly in fact. So many churches – and not a moment to spare out of my busy day to find one open where I can be alone with my God. I guess that’s my fault, that because of my stubbornness and principles, I won’t walk into a church because of politics, and I know that God is not about politics. It is at the last of the night as I sit here in the quiet before the silence and I take a few moments to contemplate the Holiness of God and His majesty.

Have you ever felt the sublime majesty of God in his holy place? Have you ever felt what it feels like to raise your voice to God and sing his praises? Do you know what it feels like to have God wrap his arms around you and hold you to his breast as you weep for the grandeur of it all? God is perfect, He is mighty, He is sublime. There is nothing that I write here, right now that I do not know. Just that I don’t take enough time during my day to remember and reflect. I guess this post shows you that I can go from the Profane to the Sacred in a matter of hours. Sometime you just gotta say “#$&%!!!”

I never said I was perfect, I said that God was perfect. I never said that I was God either. Well, it is getting late and I am exhausted and I have things to do tomorrow, it’s my day off and my home group. Maybe I will find myself a quiet corner of a chapel tomorrow before I have to chair the meeting.

Stay tuned. I may visit God with you again soon.

Isn’t this an interesting journey? I leave you with Great Expectations…

The morning finds me here at heaven’s door
A place I’ve been so many times before
Familiar thoughts and phrases start to flow
And carry me to places that I know so well
But dare I go where I don’t understand
And do I dare remember where I am
I stand before the great eternal throne
The one that God Himself is seated on
And I, I’ve been invited as a son
Oh I, I’ve been invited to come and…

Believe the unbelievable
Receive the inconceivable
And see beyond my wildest imagination
Lord, I come with great expectations

So wake the hope that slumbers in my soul
Stir the fire inside and make it glow
I’m trusting in a love that has no end
The Savior of this world has called me friend
And I, I’ve been invited with the Son
Oh I, I’ve been invited to come and…

We’ve been invited with the Son
And we’ve been invited to come and…

Believe the unbelievable
Receive the inconceivable
And see beyond our wildest imagination
Lord, we come with great expectations


Tres Deseos …

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Esto es por Arcano, en Sud America… Oye!!

Voy hoy a hablar de mis raíces, parte posteriora cuando realmente importó. La vida viví – en una gran ciudad – con una multiplicidad de influencias de muchas caminatas cubanos y latinos de los aspectos de la vida, especialmente de la comunidad. La una cosa que falto es el cierre apretado hace punto a comunidad que era la comunidad latina de Miami. Hice una opción larga hace para abrazar a una comunidad que hicieron mi vida tanto mejor que habría podido siempre estar, y que pagó la inversión apagado en espadas cuando yo más necesario él. Tan aquí está esa historia…

Cuando estaba en escuela del grado tenía una opción para abrazar español como mi segunda lengua de la estancia un gringo en el lado inglés blanco. Era el único en mi familia que abrazó la cultura, la lengua y la vida del golpe latino. La comunidad latina tenía una tapicería tan maravillosa de la vida, del amor, de la cultura y de la tradición. Era la época más asombrosa de mi vida.

La inversión de una vida en una vida bilingüe pagó apagado cuando gradué de High School secundaria porque para conseguir un trabajo en Miami, una tuvo que saber la segunda lengua. Encuentro que aquí, soy menos impulsivo aprender francés, porque era mi entrada en esta comunidad menos que hospitalaria.

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Cuál es porqué honro siempre mis raíces latinas y cubanos, porque era una búsqueda larga de la vida a aprender, a saber, a vivir entre y a amar dentro. Todos mis amigos eran Latino o el cubano y ése hicieron mi vida tanto más redonda de muchas maneras. El componente más importante a la tradición del cubano y de Latino es familia y el cuidado que toma de esa familia.

Cuando conseguí enfermo, y mi familia y amigos salieron todo a partir de mi vida, volví a Miami para conseguir listo morir, porque era realmente enfermo. Ése es cuando el Latino y la comunidad cubano caminaron adentro y sintieron bien a la familia ese I más necesario. Tenía cuidado médico superior de la muesca, tenía la familia y amigos que nunca me dejaron estar solo. Había siempre algo hacer, puebla para ver, y los lugares a ir. La oficina de los doctores llegó a ser casera lejos de hogar en esos días.

Pasé muchas horas, días y semanas en la clínica que recibía el tratamiento que para la mayor parte ahorró mi vida. Éramos amamos, nos trataron como la familia y nunca estábamos solos. Muchas de la gente que estaba en el tratamiento con para el VIH vivieron todo. Como vivo hoy. El cuidado que recibí de esos doctores, las enfermeras y el personal de ayuda formaron a hombre me convertí y el hombre usted conoce hoy. Vivo porque tan mucha gente quería que viva, y vive bien.

Uno de los únicos pesares que tenía en salir de Miami en venir a Montreal era la pérdida de la comunidad latina y cubano, de la gente, de la vida, de la tradición y del amor. Sé para un hecho que mucha gente tomó para concedido y resentido los cubanos que vinieron a Miami en esas décadas, pero para mí, era el activo más grande que un hombre joven podría siempre tener.

Cuando era un muchacho joven, trabajando como agente del recorrido, traducía visas y el papeleo especial para la gente que viajaba entre Miami y Cuba. Ése era el trabajo de recompensa que he hecho siempre en mi vida. Había rezos incontables y los regalos dados a mí sobre los años como hice este trabajo muy importante, hasta las oficinas para eso bueno de recorrido eran firebombed.

La otra parte más importante de vida de Latino era religión. Cuando estaba en seminario, cada otro día era día español, y celebramos la masa en español muchas veces a la semana, y encontraría eventual mi manera a una parroquia española donde trabajé en el ministerio de la juventud y atendí a muchas masas allí en mi parroquia.

El respecto del cubano y del latín por cultura y la religión era apenas asombroso. Era uno de los toques de luz más importantes de mi experiencia religiosa como hombre joven, como está hoy en mis estudios de la religión.

El dios en cualquier lengua es vital importante para la cultura respectiva que es parte de. Pienso que también tenido un impacto directo en mis estudios de continuación de la religión. Porque era parte en paquete el factor principal de mi vida, mi fe. Era asombroso, increíble y fantástico. Amo la tapicería religiosa multi tallada que es parte de mi existencia hoy.

caridad-del-cobre.jpg

 

La celebración más importante para mí en mi vida del latino era cobre de senora del caridad de Nuestra:

Alrededor del año 1608, dos indios, Rodrigo y Juan nativos de Hoyos, junto con 10-year-old un muchacho auxiliar, Juan Moreno, salieron buscando la sal necesitada para preservar la carne de la casa de la matanza de Barajagua, que proveió a los trabajadores y a habitantes de Santiago del Prado, ahora conocidos como EL Cobre.

 

Ese día podían apenas alcanzar Cayo Francés, a medio camino a través de la bahía de Nipe, donde encamped para escapar la furia de una tormenta que habría rasgado su canoa frágil a los pedazos. La calma fue restaurada con amanecer, y llevaron el mar transparente. En la distancia, vieron un paquete blanco el flotar en las ondas y el acercar de ellas lentamente. Al principio ellos lo tomaron para un pájaro del mar.

 

Mientras que vino más cerca, se parecía ser una muchacha y en el último podían determinarse que era una estatua de la Virgen Maria que sostenía al niño en su brazo derecho y con una cruz del oro en su mano izquierda. La estatua fue unida a un tablón inscrito: la Virgen de la Caridad (de la soja de Yo del ` soy la Virgen de la caridad). Según el testimonio jurado de testigos, a pesar de la tormenta reciente y el movimiento de las ondas, ni la figura de la Virgen, ni su ropa, era mojadas.

 

El jefe de la estatua está de la arcilla cocida al horno cubierta con una capa pulida del polvo blanco fino, posiblemente goma del arroz, y la renovación cuidadosa reciente de la imagen reveló las características finas que las capas incontables de la pintura habían deformido. Una nariz bien formada y una cara bien-proporcio’nada con los ojos grandes, cariñosos transportan un gentleness que invite confianza y rezo.

 

La Virgen tiene cerca de 16 pulgadas de alto y sus pies se basan sobre una luna brillante que extremos rodeen en ambos lados la nube de plata donde tres cherubs separan sus alas de oro. El niño, en el lado izquierdo de la estatua, levanta una mano como si bendiga, y en su otra mano él sostenga un globo del oro.

 

La señora de la caridad, apellidada del EL Cobre porque su santuario fue construido en que el centro urbano, se convirtió en una de las preferencias religiosas de los cubanos casi inmediatamente, puesto que ella representa Ochún, el símbolo de la feminidad, del agua dulce y de la felicidad, en el culto syncretic del Afro-Cubano.

 

Varias leyendas sobre la aparición de la Virgen – hace casi 400 años – han contribuido a la atracción de esa figura entre believers, habitantes de la ciudad y visitantes en los vacationers generales, principalmente extranjeros que visitan la isla del Caribe de muchas regiones del mundo, como resultado del desarrollo rápido de la industria del ocio.

 

A petición de los veteranos de la guerra de la independencia, Benedict declaró a patroness de Cuba XV de 1916 y fue coronada solemnemente nuestra señora de la caridad en el congreso de Eucharistic llevado a cabo en Santiago de Cuba en 1936. Papa Paul VI levantó su santuario a la categoría de Basilica en 1977. De enero el 24 de 1998, en una masa celebrada durante su visita apostólica a Santiago de Cuba, papa Juan Paul II coronó la imagen una segunda vez como la reina y patrón santo de Cuba. La Virgen santa misma se reclina sobre su altar, rodeado por las flores y las esencias.

shrine.gif

Nunca amaré el France’s-Canadiense como amo mis raíces del cubano y de Latino. Nunca sucederá. Y ésa es la manera que la tendré.

miamiskyline-copy.jpg

Si tuviera tres deseos hoy serían:

1.That I podría volver a mis raíces y ver a toda esa gente que hizo mi vida tan maravillosa.

2.That usted podría satisfacer a toda la gente que hizo esta vida posible.

3. Que podría tener toda esta gente aquí hoy aquí en este curso de la vida.

Now, try that one on for size… You’ll have to translate this page to read it unless of course you know Spanish as a second language…


Evolution (Fall Photo Essay #1)

Sunday 9 September 2007
Temp: 18c
Cloudy – Cool
***************
Today marks the beginning of my Fall Evolution Photography Project. Here you have three shots from my balcony of the trees in the neighborhood and at the bottom, Cabot Square. If you notice on these photos that the trees are starting to “lighten up,” I will be posting this series of photos over the next few months to photo document the seasons changing.

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fall-set-3a-blog.jpg

fall-set-2a-blog.jpg

As you can see – I have updated my blog photos and I will be taking other shots of the neighborhood and my travels around the city. So stay tuned for much more photography in the coming months.


In pictures: Germany's biggest synagogue

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Germany’s biggest synagogue, on Rykestrasse in Berlin, has reopened after a lavish restoration.

_44089736_rabbis_ap416.jpg

Rabbi Chaim Roswaski, who presided at the ceremony, described the reconstruction as “a miracle”.

_44089737_torah_carry_afp416.jpg

Friday’s inauguration saw rabbis bringing the Torah to the synagogue, in a ceremony witnessed by political leaders and Holocaust survivors from around the world.

_44089858_interior_crowd_ap416.jpg

The synagogue was set ablaze on Kristallnacht, or the Night of Broken Glass, in 1938.

_44089731_inauguration_afp416.jpg

The synagogue, with a 1,200-person capacity, has been described as one of the jewels of Germany’s Jewish community.


In pictures: Germany’s biggest synagogue

_44089732_interiorstar_afp220.jpg

Germany’s biggest synagogue, on Rykestrasse in Berlin, has reopened after a lavish restoration.

_44089736_rabbis_ap416.jpg

Rabbi Chaim Roswaski, who presided at the ceremony, described the reconstruction as “a miracle”.

_44089737_torah_carry_afp416.jpg

Friday’s inauguration saw rabbis bringing the Torah to the synagogue, in a ceremony witnessed by political leaders and Holocaust survivors from around the world.

_44089858_interior_crowd_ap416.jpg

The synagogue was set ablaze on Kristallnacht, or the Night of Broken Glass, in 1938.

_44089731_inauguration_afp416.jpg

The synagogue, with a 1,200-person capacity, has been described as one of the jewels of Germany’s Jewish community.


Diana …

princessdi-copy.jpg

“For this reason, I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man;

so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love,

may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.

Now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.”


(Ephesians 3:14-21).

 

********************

I remember that night. It was a Sunday (August 31st 1997). I mean, it was late Saturday night going into Sunday morning, if memory serves. I was home, sitting in front of the television watching the late news when the report came across. I was stunned to say the least. For me, during those years, Diana was my champion, someone who knew me, who understood me, someone who would speak kindly of me, and those like me.

 

I got dressed and walked up to “Cheers” which was a bar around the corner from home that I used to party at over the years. I got into the DJ booth and we turned the SAT tv on to World News, the music stopped, drinks were dropped and everyone in the bar stood there watching the news as it came across live from World News Outlets like CNN and the BBC. The night never recovered.

 

My friend Annie, an ex-pat from the UK lived two doors down from me and we sat up all night watching the news. I had an outdoor area in front of my apartment where I set up a shrine to Diana – and everyone in my building stopped by the leave flowers and a candle.

 

 

I vow to thee, my country, all earthly things above,
Entire and whole and perfect, the service of my love:
The love that asks no question, the love that stands the test,
That lays upon the altar the dearest and the best;
The love that never falters, the love that pays the price,
The love that makes undaunted the final sacrifice.
And there’s another country, I’ve heard of long ago,
Most dear to them that love her, most great to them that know;
We may not count her armies, we may not see her King;
Her fortress is a faithful heart, her pride is suffering;
And soul by soul and silently her shining bounds increase,
And her ways are ways of gentleness and all her paths are peace.

Thaxted
Gustav Holst (1874-1934) – Cecil Spring-Rice (1859-1918)

 

We rose early on the morning of the funeral for Diana Princess of Wales. We wept and we sang sitting there in my apartment that morning. Diana, the People’s Princess will never be forgotten.

 


Photo Essay #9 Storm Clouds and Color

montreal-sky-5.jpg

The sky was leaden as the sun set behind the dark clouds. It was the colors that attracted my camera. I just had to get the shot, before the light faded.

montreal-sky-2.jpg

montreal-sky-3.jpg

 

montreal-sky-1.jpg

montreal-sky-1.jpg


A picture is worth a thousand words…

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God’s Warriors Part 1 – Judaism

gods-warriors-judasim-2.jpg

God’s Warriors – CNN Site
Tonight on CNN – Christiane Amanpour began her series called “God’s Warriors.” I happen to watch the second showing late tonight here in Montreal. This first part covering the Judaism portion of the documentary was very enlightening.

Having grown up with World News as a nightly dinner time fare, I have watched the world change in my lifetime. Wars have been fought, millions have died and still to this day there is conflict in the Holy Land. I am only going to address this first portion of the program as Islam and Christianity follow tomorrow and Thursday. You can visit the site above.

I make no bones about this fact that I am pro-Israeli. This conflict, it is said could be tempered by the “correct political agreements” for all parties involved, if you watched this episode of Christiane’s report. She chronicles the debate, the conflict and the war that rages between the Israeli and Palestinian people to find, colonize and legalize states.

There is a great divide when it comes to the Holy Land as the three major world religions those being Judaism, Islam and Christianity are literally on top of each other in the old city. All three religious groups share common holy ground and all debate the rights of others to visit certain holy sites. This is made clear by the Jews who pray at the Western Wall and are not allowed to ascend to the Temple Mount held by the Islamic faith at the Dome of the Rock. The hallowed location – it is believed that the Prophet Mohammad ascended to heaven.

I am not known for my politics or my political writings because I don’t feel that I own the right to write political commentary on subjects that I am clearly not a master at. I guess I could write my observances as a writer to what I see. The battle for land has been going on since before I was born and this conflict will continue until leaders take the time to negotiate a proper settlement over land, holy sites and statehood. Leaders have come and gone, the few peacemakers of the past were assassinated by their detractors.

It just seems to me that there is enough land in the middle east to go around. The factions of Jewish warriors have made it their life’s goal to see Israel turned back into the land that they say “biblically” was theirs from history as the Torah speaks of. They take their stance from the Book of Ezekiel 37:14

god-warriors-judaism-1.jpg

I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the LORD have spoken, and I have done it, declares the LORD.’ “

I have spent my entire undergraduate career in University studying the world’s great religions from Christianity to Judaism, Islam to Buddhism and the far east Jainism back into my own back yard, religions of Canada and Native Studies. I have been granted a scholars gaze at the conflicts that spread around the world. Each major religion, speaking here of Judaism, Islam and Christianity hold certain biblical passages a doctrine and this, in my opinion, as well shown below is the basis for the ongoing conflict. Whether that be Jewish zealots and Islamic and Christian fanaticism. We are not immune to religious debate at Concordia University and we are not immune to religious conflict either.

There is a calm uneasiness on campus during the school year on the Mezzanine when groups rent tables to promote their views and clubs. In studying world religions, I was granted access to the many faiths on campus. I visited the Ghetto Shul for Passover and I attended Friday Prayers at the Concordia Islamic Prayer space in the Hall building. Attendance of these religious ceremonies was part of my studies and I am fully aware of what the facts are concerning land, statehood and jihad.

The conflict between the Palestinians and Jews is long standing. With the rise of Islam and the sad fact of jihad and terrorism, we stare down the gauntlet every day of our lives in many places in the world. This fact was driven home to me when I moved to Canada and began my immersion into community here. Montreal is a cosmopolitan city of millions of people who span the bredth of religious beliefs. I was forced at one point to make my choice of where I called home. I chose to become a brother of the True North Strong and Free. My education in religious conflict began when the United States declared war in Iraq. Living in Montreal gave me perfect vision of inner conflict in my own community.

Do you think that we all took this all is stride? That we did not march in the streets and did we not have continuous dialogue on campus and within all the campuses across Canada dealing with the common threat of war, revolt, terrorism and fanaticism? We faced all these things and much more. People in the United States, namely the south where I grew up did not see Islam make their presence known. I did not know a Muslim soul growing up but I had friends from other parts of the world.

Coming to Montreal was an earth shattering experience. I started university and began my journey into the world of Religious Education. It has been said of me that had I not been born a Christian, I would have been a Jew. And I contemplated conversion more than once during my university career. I love the three great traditions. I studied Judaism and Judaic History. So I am familiar with all the conflict in the Holy Land. We live with that inner conflict here every day. I am part of that conflict, representing the Christian branch of religious scholars now graduated. I use the term “scholar” very lightly, I am still a student of religion, yet above the fray, my degree grants me this title.

I took a unit on Islam, yet I failed the final exam and in turn I failed the class because I was stupid. That was the only “F” I have on my transcript. But this failure was the greatest opportunity that I ever had to learn something form the ashes of my failure. I met the most amazing man of faith – the professor of the class on Islam. He was a Sufi mystic. And he changed my life in ways that I cannot explain, but Islam is for tomorrow nights writing. Suffice to say, there is more to Islam than jihad and terrorism. I will expound on these ideas tomorrow.

There is always a solution, if all parties can come to the table and work out the fine minutiae and details of peaceful coexistence. It can be done, but in my lifetime?

That is the question the three faiths must approach, ask and solve…

You can read the report from News day.com:

We haven’t seen Christiane Amanpour in quite a while – in, oh, like 15 minutes or so. Flip on CNN and there she is, somewhere, though usually somewhere over there, in the war-torn world and far away from our safe, tethered and generally anesthetized lives. Outside of Anderson Cooper, Larry King or maybe Lou Dobbs, she is CNN’s most visible presence and someone who has amassed a pretty amazing body of work at this network over nearly 25 years.

If this doesn’t sound like a reasonable buildup for her six-hour tour of religious fanaticism that begins Tuesday at 9, then the fault is mine alone. “God’s Warriors” is an estimable achievement, even for a subject that has been relentlessly worked over by hundreds of scholars, journalists and book authors in recent years, including Amanpour herself. (It’s even hard to say how much of “God’s Warriors” has been strip mined by Amanpour before, although “Struggle for Islam,” which won her an Edward R. Murrow Award in 2002, addressed similar themes.)

But what’s special about “God’s Warriors” is the sheer totality of it. Over six hours, Amanpour and her team seem to capture the essence of a hugely important moment in world history, and with the exception of the title, do so without hyperbole or histrionics. It’s really the best of Amanpour – and really, dear, old, battered and much-maligned CNN, too.

“God’s Warriors” is about three world movements – though as you watch, you will probably want to come up with a better word to describe them. It’s about the religious zealotry that has forged so much of the global political landscape since the end of the Cold War. These “warriors” are fighting over radically divergent views while bound by some similar ones, too. In a paradox that unfolds over these hours, they are blood enemies on some obvious level yet strangely allied on another.

But Amanpour’s broadcast is far from comfort food. In a style typically restrained though never diffident, she explores the historical roots of these views that have become more pinched and close-ended over time. Offering no all-encompassing or compassionate solutions – at least in her reporting – the religious extremists are instead steeped in dogma and intolerance. Some of these “warriors” abhor violence. Others, of course, resort to it as a matter of course.

“What they have in common – Jews, Christians and Muslims – [is] the belief that modern society has lost its way,” Amanpour says in voice-over. “They say God is the answer.” (Tuesday’s broadcast is “God’s Jewish Warriors,” followed by “God’s Muslim Warriors” Wednesday and “God’s Christian Warriors” Thursday.)

What else do they have in common? Apparently an abhorrence for Britney Spears, who is made to represent Western culture’s over commercialized and oversexed ways. But West Bank militants are probably not deeply concerned about Spears’ recent car-ramming episode, although the “Christian Warriors” – evangelicals – haven’t exactly been advocating her album sales. The title itself is a silly stretch, too, placing under one all-encompassing catchphrase the kids at Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University with the kids at some madrassa in Pakistan learning how to lock and load AK-47s.

Get beyond these superficial flaws, and a richly layered broadcast unfolds. Tuesday and Wednesday’s programs are the best, and “Christian Warriors” is the most dispensable. Much of the material in that installment has been reported so often – from Falwell, whose interview with Amanpour was the last before his death, to Ron Luce’s Battle Cry, the evangelical youth crusade. – that it’s already numbingly familiar.

But Iranian-born, globetrotting, battle-hardened Amanpour is at her best in the Middle East. She seems intent on interviewing everyone – patiently, at length, and pointedly. Tuesday’s Jewish “warriors” were inspired by the Book of Ezekiel (“Ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers”) and refuse to be pried loose from their West Bank settlements spread out over 26,000 square miles. They’re fighting rear-guard with Palestinian militants and a frontline battle with much of the rest of the world, while some of their biggest allies are America’s evangelicals.

Amanpour also interviews author and historian Gershom Gorenberg (“The Accidental Empire: Israel and the Birth of the Settlements”) who questions the settlements’ legality. She presses Theodor Meron, former counsel of the Israeli foreign ministry, on a “top secret” memo he had once written claiming the settlements violated the Geneva Convention. (He sidesteps the question.)

Wednesday’s Muslim Warriors” is filled with dozens of interviews, too (former President Jimmy Carter appears throughout) and a long historic perspective. It begins with Sayyid Qutb, the Egyptian religious leader who inspired Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahri and died in an Egyptian prison 41 years ago. She tracks the story of Ed Hussein, a former London jihadi who later published a book on his experience (“The Islamist”). She also travels widely in Iran, where she attends a passion play with Shiite Muslims who weep openly over a 1,400-year-old story.

And her journey ends up in America, with a New Jersey social worker, Rehan Seyam – born and reared in Islip – who insists on wearing a hijab (veil) in public. Like many others of her generation, Amanpour reports, Seyam is more orthodox than her Egyptian-born parents.

But one of God’s warriors? Hardly. She’s squarely in the middle of society’s struggle between the secular and non-secular. The punch line to Amanpour’s story: Seyam and millions more like her are growing in number and have no intention of backing down.

Part 2 – Islam, Wednesday Night… Stay tuned…


God's Warriors Part 1 – Judaism

gods-warriors-judasim-2.jpg

God’s Warriors – CNN Site
Tonight on CNN – Christiane Amanpour began her series called “God’s Warriors.” I happen to watch the second showing late tonight here in Montreal. This first part covering the Judaism portion of the documentary was very enlightening.

Having grown up with World News as a nightly dinner time fare, I have watched the world change in my lifetime. Wars have been fought, millions have died and still to this day there is conflict in the Holy Land. I am only going to address this first portion of the program as Islam and Christianity follow tomorrow and Thursday. You can visit the site above.

I make no bones about this fact that I am pro-Israeli. This conflict, it is said could be tempered by the “correct political agreements” for all parties involved, if you watched this episode of Christiane’s report. She chronicles the debate, the conflict and the war that rages between the Israeli and Palestinian people to find, colonize and legalize states.

There is a great divide when it comes to the Holy Land as the three major world religions those being Judaism, Islam and Christianity are literally on top of each other in the old city. All three religious groups share common holy ground and all debate the rights of others to visit certain holy sites. This is made clear by the Jews who pray at the Western Wall and are not allowed to ascend to the Temple Mount held by the Islamic faith at the Dome of the Rock. The hallowed location – it is believed that the Prophet Mohammad ascended to heaven.

I am not known for my politics or my political writings because I don’t feel that I own the right to write political commentary on subjects that I am clearly not a master at. I guess I could write my observances as a writer to what I see. The battle for land has been going on since before I was born and this conflict will continue until leaders take the time to negotiate a proper settlement over land, holy sites and statehood. Leaders have come and gone, the few peacemakers of the past were assassinated by their detractors.

It just seems to me that there is enough land in the middle east to go around. The factions of Jewish warriors have made it their life’s goal to see Israel turned back into the land that they say “biblically” was theirs from history as the Torah speaks of. They take their stance from the Book of Ezekiel 37:14

god-warriors-judaism-1.jpg

I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the LORD have spoken, and I have done it, declares the LORD.’ “

I have spent my entire undergraduate career in University studying the world’s great religions from Christianity to Judaism, Islam to Buddhism and the far east Jainism back into my own back yard, religions of Canada and Native Studies. I have been granted a scholars gaze at the conflicts that spread around the world. Each major religion, speaking here of Judaism, Islam and Christianity hold certain biblical passages a doctrine and this, in my opinion, as well shown below is the basis for the ongoing conflict. Whether that be Jewish zealots and Islamic and Christian fanaticism. We are not immune to religious debate at Concordia University and we are not immune to religious conflict either.

There is a calm uneasiness on campus during the school year on the Mezzanine when groups rent tables to promote their views and clubs. In studying world religions, I was granted access to the many faiths on campus. I visited the Ghetto Shul for Passover and I attended Friday Prayers at the Concordia Islamic Prayer space in the Hall building. Attendance of these religious ceremonies was part of my studies and I am fully aware of what the facts are concerning land, statehood and jihad.

The conflict between the Palestinians and Jews is long standing. With the rise of Islam and the sad fact of jihad and terrorism, we stare down the gauntlet every day of our lives in many places in the world. This fact was driven home to me when I moved to Canada and began my immersion into community here. Montreal is a cosmopolitan city of millions of people who span the bredth of religious beliefs. I was forced at one point to make my choice of where I called home. I chose to become a brother of the True North Strong and Free. My education in religious conflict began when the United States declared war in Iraq. Living in Montreal gave me perfect vision of inner conflict in my own community.

Do you think that we all took this all is stride? That we did not march in the streets and did we not have continuous dialogue on campus and within all the campuses across Canada dealing with the common threat of war, revolt, terrorism and fanaticism? We faced all these things and much more. People in the United States, namely the south where I grew up did not see Islam make their presence known. I did not know a Muslim soul growing up but I had friends from other parts of the world.

Coming to Montreal was an earth shattering experience. I started university and began my journey into the world of Religious Education. It has been said of me that had I not been born a Christian, I would have been a Jew. And I contemplated conversion more than once during my university career. I love the three great traditions. I studied Judaism and Judaic History. So I am familiar with all the conflict in the Holy Land. We live with that inner conflict here every day. I am part of that conflict, representing the Christian branch of religious scholars now graduated. I use the term “scholar” very lightly, I am still a student of religion, yet above the fray, my degree grants me this title.

I took a unit on Islam, yet I failed the final exam and in turn I failed the class because I was stupid. That was the only “F” I have on my transcript. But this failure was the greatest opportunity that I ever had to learn something form the ashes of my failure. I met the most amazing man of faith – the professor of the class on Islam. He was a Sufi mystic. And he changed my life in ways that I cannot explain, but Islam is for tomorrow nights writing. Suffice to say, there is more to Islam than jihad and terrorism. I will expound on these ideas tomorrow.

There is always a solution, if all parties can come to the table and work out the fine minutiae and details of peaceful coexistence. It can be done, but in my lifetime?

That is the question the three faiths must approach, ask and solve…

You can read the report from News day.com:

We haven’t seen Christiane Amanpour in quite a while – in, oh, like 15 minutes or so. Flip on CNN and there she is, somewhere, though usually somewhere over there, in the war-torn world and far away from our safe, tethered and generally anesthetized lives. Outside of Anderson Cooper, Larry King or maybe Lou Dobbs, she is CNN’s most visible presence and someone who has amassed a pretty amazing body of work at this network over nearly 25 years.

If this doesn’t sound like a reasonable buildup for her six-hour tour of religious fanaticism that begins Tuesday at 9, then the fault is mine alone. “God’s Warriors” is an estimable achievement, even for a subject that has been relentlessly worked over by hundreds of scholars, journalists and book authors in recent years, including Amanpour herself. (It’s even hard to say how much of “God’s Warriors” has been strip mined by Amanpour before, although “Struggle for Islam,” which won her an Edward R. Murrow Award in 2002, addressed similar themes.)

But what’s special about “God’s Warriors” is the sheer totality of it. Over six hours, Amanpour and her team seem to capture the essence of a hugely important moment in world history, and with the exception of the title, do so without hyperbole or histrionics. It’s really the best of Amanpour – and really, dear, old, battered and much-maligned CNN, too.

“God’s Warriors” is about three world movements – though as you watch, you will probably want to come up with a better word to describe them. It’s about the religious zealotry that has forged so much of the global political landscape since the end of the Cold War. These “warriors” are fighting over radically divergent views while bound by some similar ones, too. In a paradox that unfolds over these hours, they are blood enemies on some obvious level yet strangely allied on another.

But Amanpour’s broadcast is far from comfort food. In a style typically restrained though never diffident, she explores the historical roots of these views that have become more pinched and close-ended over time. Offering no all-encompassing or compassionate solutions – at least in her reporting – the religious extremists are instead steeped in dogma and intolerance. Some of these “warriors” abhor violence. Others, of course, resort to it as a matter of course.

“What they have in common – Jews, Christians and Muslims – [is] the belief that modern society has lost its way,” Amanpour says in voice-over. “They say God is the answer.” (Tuesday’s broadcast is “God’s Jewish Warriors,” followed by “God’s Muslim Warriors” Wednesday and “God’s Christian Warriors” Thursday.)

What else do they have in common? Apparently an abhorrence for Britney Spears, who is made to represent Western culture’s over commercialized and oversexed ways. But West Bank militants are probably not deeply concerned about Spears’ recent car-ramming episode, although the “Christian Warriors” – evangelicals – haven’t exactly been advocating her album sales. The title itself is a silly stretch, too, placing under one all-encompassing catchphrase the kids at Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University with the kids at some madrassa in Pakistan learning how to lock and load AK-47s.

Get beyond these superficial flaws, and a richly layered broadcast unfolds. Tuesday and Wednesday’s programs are the best, and “Christian Warriors” is the most dispensable. Much of the material in that installment has been reported so often – from Falwell, whose interview with Amanpour was the last before his death, to Ron Luce’s Battle Cry, the evangelical youth crusade. – that it’s already numbingly familiar.

But Iranian-born, globetrotting, battle-hardened Amanpour is at her best in the Middle East. She seems intent on interviewing everyone – patiently, at length, and pointedly. Tuesday’s Jewish “warriors” were inspired by the Book of Ezekiel (“Ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers”) and refuse to be pried loose from their West Bank settlements spread out over 26,000 square miles. They’re fighting rear-guard with Palestinian militants and a frontline battle with much of the rest of the world, while some of their biggest allies are America’s evangelicals.

Amanpour also interviews author and historian Gershom Gorenberg (“The Accidental Empire: Israel and the Birth of the Settlements”) who questions the settlements’ legality. She presses Theodor Meron, former counsel of the Israeli foreign ministry, on a “top secret” memo he had once written claiming the settlements violated the Geneva Convention. (He sidesteps the question.)

Wednesday’s Muslim Warriors” is filled with dozens of interviews, too (former President Jimmy Carter appears throughout) and a long historic perspective. It begins with Sayyid Qutb, the Egyptian religious leader who inspired Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahri and died in an Egyptian prison 41 years ago. She tracks the story of Ed Hussein, a former London jihadi who later published a book on his experience (“The Islamist”). She also travels widely in Iran, where she attends a passion play with Shiite Muslims who weep openly over a 1,400-year-old story.

And her journey ends up in America, with a New Jersey social worker, Rehan Seyam – born and reared in Islip – who insists on wearing a hijab (veil) in public. Like many others of her generation, Amanpour reports, Seyam is more orthodox than her Egyptian-born parents.

But one of God’s warriors? Hardly. She’s squarely in the middle of society’s struggle between the secular and non-secular. The punch line to Amanpour’s story: Seyam and millions more like her are growing in number and have no intention of backing down.

Part 2 – Islam, Wednesday Night… Stay tuned…


Babette’s Feast …

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The film, Babette’s Feast was a dichotomy of opposites. Those being, good and evil, rich and the poor, the sacred and the profane, of want and satisfaction what is right and what is wrong, and in the end it speaks of hope and redemption.

Babette, a once famous chef at the Café Englais comes to this seaside village having been sent there with nothing but the clothes on her back, from her riches she ends up poor like those she was sent to serve. The two sisters have a decision to make, they can either take Babette in or send her away, and with that decision, they must ponder that they will have to give from what meagre means they have to support and sustain Babette.

They decide together to take Babette in, and a relationship forms, with three women coming together to make ends meet, Babette moves from being a poor servant to becoming a woman of great richness, and in the beginning I don’t mean material or monetary richness, she cares for the sisters, she learns that her gift of cooking can make its presence known in this simple colony.

There is an expressed tension and trouble amongst the people who live in this religious colony of believers, who have next to nothing, but they have their faith, which at times is the only visible glue that holds this squabbling colony together.

There are more problems than solutions it seems. But through the vehicle of communion, sharing, music and a meal, the issues that seem to separate and confound, seem to fade away when the group is seated together focused on one goal, that of praising God or eating a meal at table.

I think that Babette looks forward to leaving her simple life to return to her rich past and the café where she worked and was famous. Alas, this does not come to pass, yet she receives a letter informing her of a great windfall of money from a lottery win.

Once again, she has a choice to make, she can either take the money and run, or she can make good use of her lottery win, to enhance the lives of the people and community she is now part of. She chooses the latter and sets out to cook a feast of her own choosing with her own money for the good and care of her community. This movie, for me was a vision of “right choices” and the importance of community unity.

This community of meagre means, of fish and gruel becomes a land of plenty with a feast provided by Babette. Babette becomes the teacher, a figure of salvation to those who are seated at her table. She becomes a point of memory and reconnection for some, and a provider for others. There is the speculation by the group that she is a temptress comes to force her sinful ways upon them at this meal, and the group sets out to “not pay attention” to their tongues, to remember the Lord and not be taken in by sinful food or drink.

Course by course Babette has planned out a gastronomic fantasy of food, texture and taste. Brought together are the many members of this colony and the general and his mother. Babette spends every penny she made in the lottery win to bring this feast to her friends.

It is a very selfless act, one of compassion and understanding, and for Babette it is her salvation. For she gives of herself without abandon to the community, who had seen her in bad light and as a temptation? In the beginning we see that she was a burden to her keepers, who had to portion more of what they had to feed another, and now, Babette has the means to repay that kindness ten fold.

She turns a simple kitchen into that of a Master Chef. She lives her past in her present in providing this feast for her guests. She imports food and drink to rival that of a feast fit for a king or queen. It is a remarkable vision to see this dinner set out for her guests, it is fantastic and almost orgasmic. Watching this feast being enjoyed by so many at table, you get caught up in the moments as they pass, and you partake in the amazement of taste and texture.

A transformation occurs through the means of this meal for the people at the table. The mood changes, the people are transformed and for a brief couple of hours, a well decorated general is taken back to another time in his life, when he recounts the story of a Master Chef who was a woman who once cooked the dinner that he was presently eating. Witnessing a spiritual transformation is salvific for the viewer, because it gives us a chance to partake in that saving feast.

In the end the people are grateful and thank their hostess, as the sisters wonder if Babette will return to Paris, and I think we are all surprised when she decides to stay amongst the colony, broke as they are, having spent her every penny on sharing that feast with them and their special guests. Everyone in the movie realize what are really important, life and the living of that life, and those you share that life with.

Not all the great food in the world and truly all the money in the world will not make one happy if one has lost their soul to material things of this world. Babette’s feast was a fantastic movie and has a wonderful moral message and spiritual truth. It speaks of transformation of lives and souls, namely that of Babette and the two sisters. Not to mention the other members of the religious colony.