Posted by: Dan | June 28, 2017

On Kindness

I was in collecting a detailed account history of my once joint bank account when the banker told me her daughter had died.  She had been staying in the psych ward but they let her out on a day pass and she killed herself.  We were approaching the anniversary date.  I haven’t really gotten over it, she said, and she spoke in a perplexed way, like a mother might, trying to understand how to “get over” the suicide of her daughter, her baby who was dead and gone and no longer there and who, in the midst of some kind of illness and darkness and sorrow, chose that.

I don’t always think it is useful to talk about suicide a choice (although sometimes I think it is).  I think some who suicide were murdered years before they actually stopped living.  I didn’t say this to my banker, as she was printing off the details of my account so that I could provide them as evidence in Family Court.  But I did mention a young man I knew who did the same thing on a day pass once, many years ago, although I didn’t mention that he hung himself from a door handle with his belt, sitting on the floor, able at any moment to stand up, to untie himself, to walk back out of the bathroom, but he never did and he sat there with a belt around his neck and I think he must have really wanted to die.  I don’t begrudge him that.  People had done horrible things to him and with him.  Instead, I talked about sorrows that we always carry, scars we have on our insides, cracks and empty and dark places in our hearts and that we learn to live with because they never go away.  This seemed to resonate with her.  She gave me my papers, complimented me on my children (whom she remembered from another visit to the bank) and I think that was the last time I saw her.  Seeing her in public settings, and in interactions with other customers, she looked just fine, like she had it all together, but she was full to overflowing with all that she loved and all that she lost.

At that time, I was also overflowing and broken all to pieces but, somehow, I still walked around like a single entity, a person with arms and legs and jobs and bills that were always paid on time.  I was far away from the communities I had sought out for most of my adult life, and I was learning that it is not only people experiencing oppression and poverty and homelessness and colonization who are being called upon to engage in Herculean tasks to just get through the day.  It’s most of us.  People with money and nice jobs and nice houses and nice pictures of nice vacations in nice places on facebook—they’re all just barely holding on as well.

~

I’ve been wanting to write about kindness but, Mariam Toews was right.  It’s complicated.  Women who are being abused by their intimate partners don’t need advice on being more kind – even though that’s what Disney is teaching our girls (“If I had a friend who was treated the way the Beast treats Belle, I would tell her to keep being nice because that will make the Prince come out…”) – but they do sometimes want assistance getting out and away to somewhere safe.  And, given the right set of circumstances, I’m still down for punching Nazis.

~

I’ve been thinking a lot about road rage.  The other day I saw a woman in a car pull into a lane and not speed up as quickly as the man in the truck behind her would have liked.  He tailgated her and the pulled up beside her at a red light.  Rolling down his window he screamed terrible things at her.  Not that long ago, I saw a woman driver to something similar to another woman.  A few months before that, I saw a man in a truck pull out into oncoming traffic, perform a u-turn, and block the turning lane beside him (boxing in the truck that was beside him), so that he could get out of his truck and assault the person now trapped in that vehicle.  Road rage is an example of a regular occurrence of what seems to be a massive overreaction – a woman pulls out a little too slowly for the liking of the guy driving down the road behind her and now he is screaming at her you bitch, you cunt, and I think I heard the word hatefuck (what does it say about us that such a word has traction in our culture?) before the guy sped away.  The woman looked pretty terrified and frozen, the way I’ve seen women look when men take off their masks and start treating women the way they fantasize about treating them.  She reminded me of my mother, many years ago.

But this guy, and that other raging woman, and that other raging guy, I think they’re all people who feel like they’re already trying to cope with more than they can bear.  Add just one more drop of water to their cups, even just the smallest drop, and everything comes spilling out.  Please note, I’m not saying this to excuse them or to justify their actions or to say, “hey, those assholes are really the victim in that situation” (because they’re not).  I’m saying this because this seems to be the broader context in which these interactions are taking place.  Everyone, including the assholes, is barely surviving the day and feeling they can’t take it anymore.  And when you (rightly or wrongly, whatever that means) feel like you are being shit on all the time, you just might jump at opportunities to shit on others.

But there are alternatives and, as an alternative, I’ve been trying to cultivate gentleness.  I’m learning how to relate to others gently, as best I can in whatever interactions I have.  In a context where people are starving from the absence of affection (and I think we are, I think that’s our context), the smallest drop of gentleness can prompt what might appear to be overreactions.   All it took was a little gentleness – communicated more in tone and body language than anything else – and my banker was telling me about her dead daughter.  Although I don’t know that her daughter is dead so much as dying again and again, every morning that my banker wakes up to the world where her daughter went out on a day pass and never came back.

~

Peter Maurin used to speak about creating the kind of society “where it is easier for people to be good.”  I like this idea.  It suggests that the cure for road rage isn’t so much meditating more and going to anger management and learning to count to ten, as it is learning to structure our lives in such a way that we are not dependent on cars.  Most lifelong pedestrians don’t get upset when traffic is flowing a little slower than usual – even when they are passengers in cars.  Mostly they’re thinking, “hey, I’m still getting where I’m going much faster than usual and with much less aches and pains in my knees and feet and hamstrings” (even if they are also secretly missing saying good morning to the river and running their fingertips over the long grasses that grow beside their walking path, and wondering if the snails have arrived yet).  That said, when these lifelong pedestrians are rushing and depending on a car to get them quickly where they need to go – because they have to get there quickly or they will displease a boss or miss an appointment, well, that changes everything.  Working bullshit jobs has so taken over the hours of our days that we start trying to cram everything else – including travel time between various locations – into the smallest time slots possible so that we can try to get everything done that we want to do outside of work.  So another cure for road rage is to pay people more for doing less, and giving them enough time to get an adequate number of hours of sleep at night.

~

I once tried to cut down on my travel time.  I started biking to work instead of walking but I found I wasn’t having enough time to transition from the stress of my job to my role as a father with my children.  When I got to the school to pick up the kids too soon I was still stressed out and tired and this could carry over into the rest of the evening.   However, when I walked, I found I was better able to make that transition and came to my children much more present and excited and ready to talk and play and cook and clean and do all the things a parent does.  I have also observed this in my children.  We often have wonderful talks walking to and from school and our home.  However, on rare occasions when we have gotten car rides, I have noticed that the kids are more prone to fighting with each other and arguing and poking each other in the eye and often, in the car, there are tears even though such things almost never happen when we are walking.  We all need transitional moments as we move between different environments and transitioning well takes time.  A world where it is easier for me to be good is a world where I have or take or make or steal the time I need to transition between my job and my family.  Beyond that, I think we need to talk about how we work shitty jobs in order to support our children but then these shitty jobs rebound on us and make us shittier parents.  Any job that drains you and leaves you not fully attentive to your child at the end of the day is bullshit.  Being a better parent doesn’t necessarily mean scheduling more activities into your day to improve yourself.  It means having the freedom to have more time with your children and having the energy you need to play with them then.

~

But the personal is also political and this applies to kindness, too.  When I was carrying more than I could bear, surviving in a set of circumstances that was completely overwhelming to me, simply because I was too stubborn to not not survive, it was interactions with kind people that were a balm on my wounds.  Many of these kind people were children – my nephews and nieces and my own kids who would all play with me as if I were someone special and lovely and exciting to play with.  To them, I was all of these things and with them I was all those things.  But sometimes adults were kind to me, too.  And in those interactions I felt okay.  For someone accustomed to feeling constantly not okay, and much worse than that, too, it’s hard to describe how wonderful a gift that was to receive from others.  Increasingly, it seems that people don’t get this feeling from others – they get it from antidepressants or alcohol or pot or hydros or whatever else they can put into their bodies to alter their brain chemistry.  If you have a doctor help you do this, you’re a good person.  If you discover that doctors won’t help you in the way that you need and you find your own way to do this, you’re a community health concern.

But what I mean to say is that I think the default position for our interactions with strangers or in public and professional environments shouldn’t just be politeness and professionalism and a strict adherence to whatever rules, laws, or protocols govern the spaces we inhabit.  I think the default position we take should be one of kindness and of gentleness.  I’d like that a lot.  And when kindness and gentleness conflict with rules and laws and protocols, as they inevitably do, especially in so-called caring professions designed to surveil and discipline members of populations considered deviant (i.e. sick), then I think kindness and gentleness take precedence.   We’re all in over our heads.

~

I once had a former corrections officer who had been hired at a shelter ask me what kind of punishment I mete out to individuals who “intimidate staff” in the program I help facilitate.  I laughed and said it’s not something we punish people for since we don’t get intimidated.  Then I felt like that was a bit of a macho dick move, and I explained that although circumstances that prompt a fear reaction can arise, we don’t relate to people as things to be feared but as people to be loved and respected and honoured.  He didn’t quite know what to make of that.  I’m pretty sure he has PTSD from his last job.

I’ve heard a lot of bosses talk about how people are too institutionalized to be treated like real human beings, too institutionalized to be treated with kindness and gentleness and respect and love and affection, but I think the most institutionalized people of all are the staff members who choose to show up every day to work in those institutions.  Prisoners don’t have much of a choice about staying in prison – guards and bosses, though, they choose to be there.  And they’re the ones who sometimes make me wonder if they’ve been institutionalized beyond the point of no return.  So, if we want a world where it is easier for guards to be good and bosses to be de-institutionalized, then we need to start tearing down prisons.  And the same goes for cops and social workers.

This also speaks to the broader point that Men’s Rights Activists are missing.  If they want to do something about the violence experienced by boys and men, they shouldn’t be targeting feminism—they need to be targeting patriarchy.  Jennifer Newsom and bell hooks have this figured out: the making of men, in our culture, is premised upon the destruction of boys.  But, beyond that, if, sometimes, somewhere, a woman beats up her male partner, or a female mother sexually assaults her son, this is not evidence that feminism is violent or destructive or bad.  It is evidence that, if you systematically engage in sexual and other forms of violence against girls and women, and do this across the board to everyone for generations, sometimes some people go on to treat others the way they have been treated.  MRAs refuse to understand this point and so, instead of deconstructing rape culture (wherein local male university students hang signs from their windows reading “No means yes.  And yes means anal.” which I’ve since learned, is not an uncommon chant during frosh weeks across Canada and the USofA), they promote rape apologists and double down on a culture that blames women and promotes violence against women because accepting some kind of notion of male guilt or culpability seems to be more than they can bear.

Why is this the case?  I have been fortunate enough to know several good men over the course of my life – men who acknowledge the ways in which they benefit from patriarchy and men who are working hard to fight against it.  These are men who understand that accepting responsibility within an androcentric and patriarchal society is not a thing that diminishes them but, instead, is something that liberates them.  These are men who seem to be okay with the idea that they have to do things to improve themselves and that improvement of this sort, in this context, is a lifelong project.

I think most men recoil from this because they feel like they’re already in over their heads and dealing with more than they can bear.  They don’t want improvement, they want succour.  Which, of course, means that when they look to women to mother them or fuck them (since men are not encouraged to soothe and comfort one another), and women refuse to play these roles (Sylvia Plath: “girls are not machines you put kindness coins into until sex falls out”), these men lay all the blame on women.

Which also means, I think, that if I want to do something about patriarchy I, as a man, should be cautious about demonizing other men and should, instead, try, as a man, to find ways to offer succour to other men.  This means avoiding the general ways that men do this with other men (talking about how all women are bitches, excusing or valourizing acts of violence, or engaging in social activities that provide people with the opportunity to experience themselves performing macho-ness), and opening a space where men can comfort other men in an anti-patriarchal, feminist manner.  Maybe then the absolutely necessary improvements become a possibility.

And I’m not saying this is right or as it should be, but I am trying to think about what tactics might produce what results.  And engaging on this front does not negate other engagements elsewhere.  I’m a fan of a diversity of tactics.  And if a patriarchal world is structured in such a way as to produce men who are overly sensitive to criticism and incapable of coping well with guilt or responsibility, then this, too, is one of the structures of patriarchy that must be torn down.  Engaging in this task needn’t be a misplaced focus of energy, as if one is making the sufferings of men more important than the women and children who suffer at the hands of men.  If male violence is the problem, then we’ve got to do something about men and, it seems to me, men are well situated to be allies to women by choosing to engage with violent men and with the structures that make it difficult for these men to be engaged.  It makes good sense as Malcolm pointed out all those years ago that white people should go deal with white people; and settlers should go deal with settlers, and men should go deal with men.

It’s the same tactic I use when working with men who have sexually abused children and who have been classified as highly likely to reoffend when released to the community.  When such men come into my work, I try very hard to be safe, welcoming, and useful to them.  I try to be kind and form a therapeutic rapport.  Some people would argue this kindness is a betrayal of the children these men have harmed, some people would argue that these men should be killed, but they are not killed and I am not going to kill them, and, given this context, they are more likely to reoffend if they are ostracized and treated like monsters but less likely to reoffend if they develop positive relationships in the community.  So who benefits the most from me trying to create this?  Well, to my mind, the children who don’t end up being abused if this ends up working.

~

I have been thinking about the term “gentlemen” and what a good thing it is to aspire to be and what a shame it is that the term was co-opted by a rapacious and parasitical upper class (as if being a gentleman has to do with the softness of one’s hands, the cleanness of one’s clothes, and the odour of one’s armpits, and nothing at all to do with treating the lives and bodies and sex of “those less fortunate” as completely disposable).

~

For the last two years of our marriage, I was not a good husband to my wife.  I did not know how to deal with conflict, especially when it was very intense and feelings were very escalated.  I did not know what to do with strong feelings of anger or frustration or hurt.  When my dad had shown strong feelings in our household when I was a child, it was terrifying and frequently resulted in physical violence.  Often this was hard to foresee.  Outbursts came suddenly and seemingly at random (he, too, probably felt like he had been given more than he could bear in life).  So it went for the familial conflicts I had experienced and I knew I did not want to be like my dad.  Consequently, the stronger my feelings, the more I shut down.  The more intensely angry or frustrated or hurt I felt, the flatter my affect became.  I became expressionless, mute, and non-responsive.  As a result of this, my wife often became more escalated and so we fell into a spiral where our reactions were triggers to each other. I became more withdrawn as she became more escalated, and she became more escalated as I became more withdrawn, until I finally physically withdrew from the situation and went off to the local pub to drink with other men – the regulars – who, as they got to know me, complained about their exes and showed me pictures of kids they hadn’t seen in years.

It would have been easy for me to then present myself as a victim in that situation, to present my wife and her way of dealing with conflict in the worst possible light, while presenting myself as a silent and long-suffering victim, but the truth was that my way of dealing with conflict was just as fucked as hers.

It took me a long time to realize this and I regret that I did not realize this about myself sooner.  Because not knowing how to deal with a situation is not an excuse for not learning how to deal with it well.  At that time, I found some comfort with those men at the pub.  But I am beginning to think if we rely on anything too long for comfort, it starts to play against us.  I see this all the time with people who turn to substances for relief, but who end up in relationships of long-term dependency that end up stealing everything else from their lives.  This doesn’t just apply to dependencies upon substances which have been made illicit (thereby causing a whole host of other barriers and harms to enter into a person’s life).  It’s everywhere.  It’s in our relationships and in shopping malls and churches and academic institutions and social media.

Eventually, perhaps, we need to move beyond being comforted to being okay.  Okay-ness sometimes means learning to carry inside of ourselves parts that can never be comforted.  I came to a point when I learned I did not have to try and fill my wounds and empty places with things to distract me from them.  Instead, I learned to live with them inside of me.  I learned that these wounds and holes and broken pieces were a part of me and I accepted them as such.  I have also learned other ways of negotiating conflict.  If I am upset about something I have learned to contextualize my feelings and communicate them.  I will say, “It hurt my feelings when you did this thing… but I don’t know if that’s because what you did was hurtful in and of itself or because I am carrying sensitivities forward from previous relationships where I experienced this other thing, so can we talk about this together and see where that takes us?”  At first I felt a bit silly or immature talking this way because it sounds so childlike (i.e. childish) but I have learned that the wisdom of children often far exceeds the maturity of men and the silliness of children is more life-giving than the seriousness of adults and the love of children transforms us into who we long to be because, to children, unless we prove them wrong, we already are good, we already are special, we already are a delight to be with, and we already are beloved.  And what I often think is the deepest wound of all in men is that they have proved their children wrong and until we find ways to create spaces where men can confront that about themselves, we are, all of us, doomed.

pheasants

[What follows are a series of theses co-authored by Alex Hundert and I for a workshop that we co-facilitated at the Cahoots Festival on June 10, 2017.]

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Posted by: Dan | May 27, 2017

May Reviews

Discussed in this post: 4 Books (From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation; The Sunjata Story; Medicine Walk; and The Assault); 4 Movies (Winter Sleep; The CelebrationI, Daniel Blake; and Krisha); and 2 Documentaries (Sunless; and Daughter of the Lake).

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Posted by: Dan | May 22, 2017

In Which I Encounter An Old Acquaintance

(Last weekend, while doing some late night walking to clear my head, I encountered the same old man I met one night on an overpass in Sarnia.  We fell into conversation and didn’t take long to pick things up somewhere around where we left them five years ago.  I’ve tried to record some of what he said here.)

God, he said with a blink and a nod, is always playing catch up with the devil.  All these people talking about the miracle of god taking on flesh, of god becoming one of us, of god being with us, two thousand years ago in the hill country of Galilee, they forget a lot.  They forget that, thousands of years before Galilee, the devil walked into a garden and crawled out on his belly.  Not the belly of an angel or a demon or a spirit or a god, but a belly with flesh and meat and blood—a belly that rose and fell like the tides, like the stars, like civilizations.  And where were the people?  They were hiding because they could not bear to be in the presence of a god who came to them like a god.  God came in all god’s glory and the people hid.  The devil came in flesh and blood – as one creature among others – and the people spoke and ate with him.  It was the devil who taught god that you had to take on flesh if you want people to listen to you, if you want people to believe in you, if you want people to love you, instead of fear you.  This is why people who dream of becoming gods become monstrous—lightning bolts on their collars and “Gott mit uns” on their belt buckles.  Don’t aspire to godliness.  Become demonic.  God still has a lot of learning to do.  And when god does catch up, he usually gets it wrong anyway.  The devil came to us with the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil – that’s some good eating there – but god comes fumbling around a few thousand years later trying to get in on the show and asks us to mouth his body and suck his blood.  Fuck off, man.  God is like a child abuser who expects his grown up children to toast him at his birthday party every year.  Merry Christmas and all that shit.

Besides, so far as I can tell, god comes and goes—the devil abides.  Here’s the proof of this: people call the Holy Spirit the Paraclete, the comforter and counselor, but, who is it is that is always there for us when we are frightened and afraid and angry and sad and desiring and longing and hoping and wondering?  It’s always the devil.  When you are most alone and vulnerable and unsure of what to do, it’s the devil who is with you.  And it’s the same when you’re at the highest points, when you are elated, when you feel most alive, when you are standing on the mountaintop—it’s the devil who is at your elbow ready to celebrate with you.  God?  Give it a couple centuries or millennia and god might show up for the funeral or the party, and come busting in with some kind of shitty gift he picked up on the way, and when he gets there he’ll be confused and not understand why there is a desert where the city you lived used to be.

He paused to drink the rest of his beer.  But, look, I said, don’t you think you’re being a bit harsh?  Isn’t all of this a little too jaded?  Aren’t these games we play with god and the devil just the expression of an impotent cynicism?  I’m tired of being cynical.  I want something more innocent.

Innocence, he said.  Let me tell you about innocence.  Innocence is the one thing I can think of that you gain only in the act of losing it – and most of us lost it before we were even born.  I could argue that I lost mine when my father was abused as a child but, really, we could trace this back to the beginning of time.  We all lost our innocence as soon as we – us, all of this – came into being.  The fall didn’t take place in the garden.  That’s just god’s way of blaming the devil.  The fall took place as soon as god said “let there be.”  We can never go back to being innocent.  The dream of innocence is the dream of inexistence, it is a memory we carry with us from the time before time, the time when we were not.  It’s what our bodies, our cells, our genes, remember of the nothingness we used to not be.  You can never go back to being innocent because being is not innocent.  And once you are, you cannot not be.  Even the dead are not innocent.  As Euripedes said, “Never that which is shall die.”  Which is why, of course, our rituals around death are premised upon the need to try and ensure that the dead rest in peace.

What do we know of the dead or death or what comes after?

We are the dead.  We are what comes after.

And death?

Death, he said pulling another beer from his bag, is not the kind of thing about which one can speak cleverly.  Or at all.  But here’s another thing, the devil died before god.  First, the devil was demoted from the Lord of Hell to being the prosecutor in god’s law court or a transient demon without any final resting place.  The Nazis said the devil was gassed in a shower at Auschwitz and the Americans said the devil ate three bullets with his forehead in a compound in Pakistan, but I think he died long before that.  I think the devil died at Golgotha.  God has yet to follow suit.  He’s that kind of bastard.  Even when he dies he fucks it all up and resurrects himself and turns even the suffering of the oppressed into some kind of road to glory and wealth and conquest.  Streets of gold and rivers of blood.  Hallelujah.

But you said before that the devil is always there for us – for better or for worse – and now you say the devil is dead.

Some dead do not rest in peace.

And the difference between this and a god who resurrects himself?

Is the difference between those who wish to ascend to heaven and those who choose to remain in hell.  Heaven is for the selfish.  Hell is for lovers.  And that’s why god can fly away into the clouds after flirting with our suffering, and it’s why the devil, even though he is dead, continues to haunt us.

Posted by: Dan | May 13, 2017

April Reviews

In April I read four Books (Living at the Edges of Capitalism; Vertigo; The Skin; and The Passion According to G. H.) watched three Movies (Black Sunday; Beyond the Black Rainbow; and The Bird with the Crystal Plumage) and two Documentaries (Hotel Terminus; and Newtown).  I wanted to write detailed reviews of some of them, especially the first book, but I am up to my ears in other projects at the moment so these are even more inadequate than my already inadequate reviews.  A star system is looking more and more appealing all the time…

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Posted by: Dan | May 12, 2017

It Was the Whining of the Dog

It was the whining of the dog that he heard.  The dog whining, just outside the door.  He could, and he did, picture it with its muzzle thrust down into the floor, between its front paws, and its eyebrows raised in that way dogs raise their eyebrows when they have their chins down but are looking up at you.  Its tail was wagging in that way dogs wag their tails when they are sorry even though they can’t figure out what they did wrong.  Whining, and the thump, thump, thump, of the tail as it hit the wall that separated the bedroom from the upper hallway.  It wasn’t the hands on his body (although hands on bodies are not soundless).  It wasn’t the fingers in his mouth and around his throat (Eric Garner, he remembered, could still speak even when he couldn’t breathe).  It was the whining of the dog.

He wanted to comfort the dog and explain to it that it wasn’t the dog’s fault and he wanted to give it a treat and he wanted to take it with him when he left but he didn’t know leaving and he didn’t know speaking and “It’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay,” he thought over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and thump, thump, thump, thump, thump, thump, thump, thump, thump, and the whining of the dog.  And “I’m sorry, too,” he thought, and he raised his eyebrows and tried to look up but he couldn’t.

Alex and Louis Grave

These are the faces you want to remember from this post.

1. The Butcher of Lyon

The past is never dead.  It’s not even past. ~ William Faulkner

Towards the end of Hotel Terminus, Marcel Ophuls interviews Ute Regina (or is it Regine?) Messner.  It is difficult to discover anything about Ute or her husband Heinrich (Heini?) or their family.  Their presence on the internet is practically nil.  I was able to find only one undated photograph of them together in Bolivia.  One wonders what Heinrich was doing with the German community in Bolivia but no answers are forthcoming.  What one finds about Ute are references to one or two documentaries and in a few press releases related to her presence at her father’s trial.  About Heinrich, I could find nothing.  Is he the Austrian Olympic skier of the same name, about whom one can only find records of his ski results and nothing at all about his personal life?  That Ute was reported to live at an Austrian ski resort at Kufstein, where her husband worked as a teacher makes this a tempting proposal.  When Heinrich Messner, the alpine skier, retired from professional skiing, he taught at a ski school, but Wikipedia says this school was at Steinach am Brenner in the Austrian province of Tyrol (a one hour drive from Kufstein) so it is hard to know what to make of this, if anything.  Were this to be a Borgesian tale, and perhaps in a way it is, one could also mention a Reinhold Messner – another mountaineer from the Italian Province of South Tyrol (which, one soon discovers, may be the same place as the Austrian province of Tyrol), whose picture, speaking at an event nine years ago in the Kufstein Arena, can also be found online.  Reinhold’s father, Josef Messner, like Heinrich Messner, is reported to be a teacher.  I could find no pictures of this Josef (was Josef one of Heinrich’s names?), although I did discover a Franz Josef Messner who, of all things, was a leader of anti-Nazi resistance in Austria and who, after being betrayed, was sentenced to death in the gas chamber at the Mauthausen Concentration Camp.

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Posted by: Dan | April 7, 2017

Last evening, it began to snow.

gottmituns

Last evening it began to snow.  The snow fell until this morning, a slushy combination of water and ice, falling more in globs than flakes, that never quite turned into rain because a cold north wind was blowing and causing the temperature of the air to drop by about six degrees.  Walking into the wind, shortly before noon, wearing long johns, gloves, and a balaclava, I felt as though I was journeying through the heart of winter.  For the last few months, it appears as if the seasons are blurring together and moving rapidly in and out of each other.  Time has become confused.

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Posted by: Dan | April 2, 2017

March Reviews

Barely discussed in this post: 7 Books (The Mush Hole, On the Natural History of Destruction, The Silent Angel, Satantango, The Failure of Nonviolence, They Chose Life, and The Evidence of Things Not Seen), 5 Movies (The Love Witch, Moon, Goodbye to Language, Get Out, and The Tribe); and 5 Documentaries (Just Do It, The Sorrow and the Pity, The Eagle Huntress, I Am Not Your Negro, and The Russian Woodpecker).

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Introduction: “A Magnificent Work”

On November 6, 1944, the Most Reverend P. Carrington, Archbishop of Québec and Metropolitan of the Anglican Church of Canada, wrote to the Secretary of Indian Affairs to express his dismay that the federal government was considering altering the dynamics of the Mohawk Institute – a residential school for Indigenous children located on the Six Nations reserve outside of Brantford, Ontario.    For a century, the school Principals had been Anglican clergymen nominated by the New England Company (NEC) or the Anglican Diocese of Huron but the Department of Indian Affairs (DIA) was seeking to change that.[1]  Archbishop Carrington writes:

I am informed that the Department is considering the idea of radically changing the whole character of the School by putting it under a Layman as a Principal…

I was very much shocked when I heard of this proposal to bring to an end a religious and educational tradition which has been established for so long, and I am sure that Anglicans generally throughout Canada would hear of this decision with regret and amazement.[2]

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