• Not so Radical Reform

    In all of our theology, we are careful to distinguish between the two pillars that stand behind all of our understanding of  the faith: Law and Gospel. This is what stands behind Two Kingdoms theology, the understanding that God rules the world through the Law on the left and so orders the world in … [Read More...]

  • ABC District

    Babbles on Reform

    Going into this weekend as a delegate at the ABC District Convention I have been thinking, reflecting, reading, and praying about what is to come. I put this forward as a discussion point: As many know, I am not a “life-long” Lutheran, I found Lutheranism after dalliances with atheism, occultism, … [Read More...]

  • Police Hero

    Why I Support the Police…and Want them Watched All of the Time

    I am a child of 9/11. I was working in the Southern Saskatchewan oil patch as a lowly swamper for a drilling rig moving and trucking company on that day. I remember very clearly that we were at the shop getting ready very early for going out on a rig move that day when I overheard on the gin pole … [Read More...]

Nov
07

Every Article About the Election for the Next Two Months

My prediction that the political party and candidate that I have strong feelings towards would win rings true tonight, as I have said all along.

Frankly, I don’t see how anyone could have predicted otherwise. The feelings I have when looking at the next four years under this party, based on the record exemplified by their last term in office are profound, and I pray that they succeed, no matter what I have said about them in the past.

Their candidate is pretty much the silliest thing to hit politics since forever, and I still can’t believe that their convention essentially was a coronation, despite all of the problems with the process, the angry delegates, and the horrid precedent that was established.

Unfortunately, as a Canadian this yahoo will directly affect my life for years to come, but at least that biased media organisation in the States will have lots of fodder, they always do well when the other team wins anyways and it is all about ratings.

We should take this time to thank God, in all seriousness, that this election went off without tanks in the streets and remember that the smooth and bloodless transition of power is the true beauty of this system, whomever is elected.

Sorry to my friends in the losing party, your candidate just didn’t connect with voters; your campaign was out of touch and didn’t speak to the needs and desires of the American people. I wonder if you shot yourself in the foot with the gaffes along the way, or when your campaign underling said those outrageous things which pushed you off your game for a couple of news cycles. But maybe this should teach you that taking the low road and running a hit-piece filled and mudslinging campaign is simply not the way to get people on board.

Of course, with the controversies tonight, I am sure that the courts will be sorting that crap out for quite some time, but I do hope cooler heads prevail and you can unite under the victor tonight and start moving forward.

Well, I have said my piece. Tomorrow is another day.

Oct
19

Religious Freedom…For Some?

How far are we willing to tolerate the freedoms of others?

We Christians have a checkered past as it pertains to that issue, as when the Church was being persecuted at various times in history, proclamations of religious tolerance and civility resounded from the swelled ranks of the Christians, but all too often when temporal power has lain in our hands we have not afforded the same dignity to others. I find this troubling.

I mean, the situation is not nearly as dire as some of my more militant atheist friends would paint it, there has surely been a history of suppression of truth and speech and inquiry and a lack of tolerance for others’ beliefs or lack thereof, but they often read that history through their own ideological lenses that require them to ignore the overwhelming amounts of times that while these situations held sway, that the fight for the rights that they cherish also almost always were championed from within not just the hoi polloi of Christianity, but through the Church proper and her leaders. Frankly, from a historical point of view, one does have an uphill battle when one begins to argue for the conclusion that Christianity has been a “net bad” for humanity as a whole, contra Dawkins of course.

Here in Canada, we have an illustrative example of a test for our society on the limits with which we will afford religious freedoms and freedoms of speech. A decade ago Rev. Stephen Boissoin ran afoul of the Human Rights Tribunal of Alberta and a particularly dogged activist in the form of Darren Lund. He was raked over the coals, and while not getting into the details of the case, it is fair to conclude that the twin freedoms of religion and speech took a disastrous hit through the work of the quasi-judicial panel.

But now, he has been vindicated, after tens upon tens of thousands of dollars in legal costs, a full decade wherein he was by force of law unable to discuss his deeply held convictions as a religious leader about a topic dear to him, he is now off the hook.

The fact that this occurred at all is the darkest spot on our democracy today. The idea that he may not have won, or that with a reworking another might be silenced, is terrifying. But this precedent has been established in the Common Law now. That is wonderful, and if you are a person of religious belief or not, this is a win for all of us that value liberty and freedom.

Now, I know that Christians all over Canada have been praying for an outcome such as this and I know that you have donated money, gone to fundraisers, and have waited with baited breath for this moment when your deeply cherished beliefs and the ability to proclaim them in the public square would be affirmed to be protected, but now we have to ask what principle we were fighting for.

You see, in this increasingly secular age we must learn that our views are not only going to be more and more unpopular, they are going to be offensive and maddening to many of those in power. We face a reality when they will desire to use the levers of that power to silence what they consider to be backward, hateful, bigoted and just plain wrong.

To my mind that leaves us with only two choices; we could fight hard to regain total control of this culture in a desperate ploy to retain power against nearly insurmountable odds to vague and probably not very sanctified ends, or we can work, pray, and advocate for more and more of these freedoms for the very people that we would spend the rest of our lives arguing with, and being offended by.

Advocating for these freedoms for others, even when they will use them in sinful ways seems counterintuitive, but I think that it is not only the morally right thing to do, but also our best strategy to retain those freedoms ourselves as the tide turns against us.

What do you think?

Oct
18

Amanda Todd and My Experience with Bullying

Recently Amanda Todd, a girl from British Columbia committed suicide. It was all too tragic. Apparently she had flashed her breasts on a web cam at age twelve, along with some other acts like it, and this act was recorded by the older man viewing it and this image was then used to bully her in that unique and modern way that is cyber-bullying. She was driven to depression, desperation, and finally – suicide. We should all be praying for her family and for a cessation of the sinful acts of bullying that led to it.

The media furor over this event is mainly driven by the fact that she made a youtube.com video before she died where she used the fairly common format of not speaking but showing several cards to the viewer so that she could tell her story, made all the more poignant by her subsequent death.

This started a conversation on countless talk shows and in several newspapers about bullying in general and cyber-bullying in particular. It has made me reflect on my own experiences with bullying, and what it meant to me.

You see, I was bullied as a young child. I was smart, geeky looking, outspoken, had terrible glasses with a terrible haircut and wore hand me down (not name brand-gasp!) clothes. I was shorter than most, and terribly, terribly, skinny and weak for my age.

Now, my home life was also not terribly satisfying but that is a story for another day, but at school, well, it was hellish. I grew up in small village in Saskatchewan and while there was bullying, it didn’t seem as bad as it could be until I moved to a small town in Alberta. I wanted more than anything to make a fresh start there, but all too soon it went horribly wrong. The boys in my school immediately took a dislike to me, and I was never one to back away from a fight, so it intensified quickly. I was tormented in the classroom, tormented in the hallways, tormented on the way home from school. When it got physical, I never backed down, but the emotions of the torment that I had endured would inevitably build up and come pouring pour with tears and displays of rage, and I would fight as hard as my small, weak body would let me; but the result was never in question – I would get beaten up, again and again.

I would hear them in the hallways planning the next time, just loud enough for me to hear it. I lived in perpetual fear of the next assault, and most teachers (with a couple of exceptions) turned a blind eye or even seemed to encourage it. I tried all of the old clichés, I “Just ignored them,” I “tried to be nice to them,” I even tried desperately to focus their attentions on another boy just so they would leave me alone, but nothing worked.

I didn’t want to go outside, didn’t want to go to school, and didn’t want to live.

I contemplated, and even attempted, suicide. It was a poor attempt, I couldn’t go through with it, but the fact that I wanted to should give you some inkling of what I was going through.

The worst part? I hit a little bit of a growth spurt. One day one of the regular customers was tormenting me, and something in me snapped. I attacked him as hard as I have ever attacked anyone, and had to be pulled off of him by two male teachers. The next several weeks I fought many of my bullies as they lined up to “put me in my place” and while I lost some, I won others and everyone knew something was different. From that point on, if I was bullied at all, I was going to respond as physically and as terribly as I could, and maybe it just wasn’t worth it.

But inside, I was still the bullied boy. I checked hallways and streets before I turned onto them, I never thought I could make friends, the only thing I thought I could do to protect myself was to become something that scared them in order to keep them away from me. As my life from that point on spiraled into depression, drugs, and more and more violence, the actual acts of bullying stopped, but the person it made me continued on and on and was destructive in the extreme to myself and everyone around me.

Even today some small part of me thinks that I am worthless, that no one would want to be my friend, and even that maybe I deserved it.

In order to protect myself from bullying, I became a bully.

I ostracized people, tormented them physically, mocked them, and assaulted them.

I don’t know if this rings true for some of the bullies out there, even those of you looking back on your past, but it was definitely what made me a bully. I was scared of being powerless and so sought to make myself powerful through bullying. I displayed strength because I was a coward.

I am so sorry for what I did, I should have known better because I knew exactly how it felt. But…..I just wasn’t strong enough not to. I was terrified. I was a scared little boy for many, many years, and needed as much help as my victims.

Please pray for the victims of bullying: both the bullied and the bullies. Kyrie Eleison.

Oct
12

Jesus, Remember Me As You Come Into Your Kingdom

EDIT: A link to the song that was used on three occasions during the order of service, which was Responsive Prayer 2 out of the LSB.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uzTo-8pusSQ

 

Oct. 12/12, 20th Sunday after Pentecost, The Epistle to the Hebrews, 2:1-18, Concordia Lutheran Seminary Chapel, Edmonton, AB.

 

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Amen.

We are fools. Idiots. Morons. Not given to much thought.

We are the sycophantic followers of a Deity that does not exist, or if He does, He surely doesn’t care.

This is what the world thinks. It is not indifferent. It is not apathetic towards our faith, it is hostile.

We live in a world full of suffering and heartache and pain. All over this globe people cry out as they are tortured, oppressed, and starved. We don’t need to look very far for this suffering, as it exists in this very city, in our congregations, in our families, in ourselves.

It never ceases to amaze me how people can look out into the world or at themselves and their experience in this world and deny things like a Fallen world or sin. But I suppose that denial is one of the most sure-fire defence mechanisms for making one’s way in this vale of tears.

It is into this darkness that we are being formed to proclaim the Gospel into. It is, and will continue to be, hard.

Our comfort then, is Christ. Our text tells us “Since the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil,  and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.”

The English here reverses our order, in the Greek it is not “flesh and blood” but “blood and flesh.” I see here not only the assurance that Jesus knows all of our sufferings and pain as He Himself lived as a human here on this broken planet, but also a reminder of the source of our ongoing comfort and joy: the blood and flesh shed for you, and shared with His children in Holy Communion. Indeed, His “children share in flesh and blood.” Yes we do. Alleluia.

Here the Word of God is indeed sharing with us that He knows, He understands. Our text reads, “Because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.”

He knows our failings, too, legion as they are, He knows them, and He forgives them. It is not as though He does not care. He does not say while we sin that “That’s all right.” as we so often do when someone apologizes after having wronged us. He sees this and knows that it is not all right. It is very, very wrong, and we are hurting His other children and ourselves. No, He tells us that we are forgiven, which is so much better.

He is overcoming, has overcome and will overcome all of our failings and all of our sin.

While our text rightly warns, “We must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.  For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable, and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation?”  our text also provides us with the sweetness of our Holy King’s mercy with “He had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.

He became like us, died a human death like ours, was tempted like we are, so that He could deliver the things a high priest delivers to the people, “propitiation for the sins of the people.

Your sins. My sins. Our sins. Forgiven. Gone. Washed away. All of them.

Jesus will remember you, when He comes into His kingdom. He already has.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” Amen.

 

Sep
30

Jesus’ Children

UPDATE: Here is a link that will bring you to the audio of my sermon, such as it is. Make sure to turn it up high….

http://www.riverbendlutheran.com/sermons.php

Sept. 30/12, 18th Sunday after Pentecost, The Gospel According to St. Mark, 9:38-50, Riverbend Lutheran Church, Edmonton, AB.

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Amen.

And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, ‘If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” And he took a child and put him in the midst of them, and taking him in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me.”

And Jesus spoke to His disciples saying, “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea.”

“NO! NO! NO!” “I don’t wanna!” “You can’t make me!” “I HATE YOU!”

Those of us that are parents recognise this for what it is; a child’s tantrum. Though, every child in here or anyone who has ever been a child recognises themselves in this. We can all picture it, can’t we? A little child, completely out of control of themselves; lost in the emotion of the moment. Their eyes glaring upwards at their parent, tears and stuff from their nose running down their faces, little fists balled with rage, every muscle in their bodies tense, red and purple in their little face, screaming. Every fibre of their being is defiance and anger personified. What they are too weak to do with their bodies they do with their words, lash out and try to hurt.

And they want to hurt. You have denied them something, or said something that annoyed them, or are simply not catering to their desires with enough speed. And their wrath boils up and pours out.

How dare you not buy them that toy? How dare you not give them a cookie? How dare you make them eat the thing they hate? How dare you put them to bed? How dare you?!

They want to yell, they want to kick, they want to hit, they wish they could hurt you, they wish they could drive you away; they wish they could…crucify you.

Our text for today in the Gospel According to St. Mark. Mark is the shortest of the Gospels, only 16 chapters, and pretty easily read in one sitting. But one of the characteristics of this Gospel is that things go by very fast. In just a couple of chapters Jesus has fed the thousands, healed the blind, taught the people, been Transfigured on the mountain, cast out a demon, and even foretold His death. And here we find Him acting the Rabbi, teaching His disciples who were arguing about who among them was the greatest.

Now, He wasn’t actually present for the argument about who was the greatest, and the Disciples weren’t talking, but He begins His teaching with “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” This teaching puts us all in our place, doesn’t it? See, it is not the teaching of the world, which sees this as total foolishness. You see, in our world, in our understanding of things when we see someone with authority, we see them as lord and master over whomever they have authority over. But when God grants authority it is so that the one who has authority may serve. A great example is how He sets up His Church. He raises up a Pastor through the congregation and that Pastor is called to a congregation and granted certain authority. And I am careful with that word “authority” because in our culture like I said, we do see anyone that has authority as being some kind of dictator, but that is not how God desires it.

The Pastor does have authority, yes, but only insofar as the Gospel allows. That is, He has only the authority to do what Jesus called him to do. No more, no less. And what does Jesus call him to do? Proclaim the Gospel, forgive your sins, teach you, and love you. In short, just like Jesus, His authority is designed to serve. He is not your lord and master, he is your servant. In the Kingdom of God, the greater the authority given, the greater the service required.

Jesus continues here, “And he took a child and put him in the midst of them, and taking him in his arms, he said to them, ‘Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me.”

The word child here in the Greek text is pretty important. It is “paidion.” It means “a little child.” Why a little child? Well, Jesus places someone into the midst of all of these Disciples who are arguing over who is the greatest who can’t help them in any way. This child can’t get them ahead in life, it can’t change their position, and it certainly doesn’t bring with it any kind of prestige. It is a living, breathing, bundle of need. It is totally dependent on everyone around it. It needs to be served. Jesus then explains that if they receive a child like this, they receive Him, and with Him, God the Father. God needs nothing from you, but he places people into our midst who do need everything from us. Martin Luther once wrote, “God doesn’t need your good works, but your neighbour does.” This is most certainly true. And in service of those that God places in front of you in your vocations as citizen, parent, husband or wife, or worker, you do serve and receive God. If you show His children mercy, you are showing the Lord of the Universe mercy.

Jesus then goes on, “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea.”

Here he uses the term “micrown” in the Greek when speaking about the children, His “little ones.” We get the word “micro” from this, as in microchip. This word references the very smallest of all people; babies, newborns, toddlers. The most helpless of us all, the most dependent, the most in need of our mercy and service.

The thing is, the Holy Scripture here is not just giving us a lesson in that we need to be better parents and people. It is not just saying that we need to serve the helpless among us, whether they be children or the poor and suffering and sick among us. Certainly it is saying that and we should be doing that, and always striving to do more, but Jesus is speaking to the very heart of us, of who we are at the very core, we are “these little ones who believe in me.

The threat about the millstone that He utters shows His great love and the wish that He has to protect us from everything that could harm us. And we are totally dependent upon Him. There is nothing we can do to save ourselves, to gain the Kingdom for ourselves, to justify ourselves before our righteous God, nothing. He knows it. When He places that tiny baby among the Disciples He speaks to them and to us, He says, “This is you.” Totally helpless, totally defenceless.

Our response? We respond as the child. “NO! NO! NO!” “I don’t wanna!” “You can’t make me!” “I HATE YOU!”

His response? The response of the perfectly loving parent: “I love you. I will take care of you. I will protect you. And even though you beat your little fists on my chest, I will sweep you into my arms, and I will forgive you.”

He will forgive you. He has forgiven you. He forgives you right now. Praise be to our Holy King, our Servant Most High.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” Amen.

Sep
07

Seminary Update: What Does This Mean?

I wanted to make a brief update for all of the private messages, texts, and e-mails that I have received about what I am doing this fall so here it is:

The Goods

I have been accepted back into Concordia Lutheran Seminary this year into a program of full-time studies. I begin classes formally on Sept 18, at about 1pm. I will be serving as a Field Worker at Riverbend Lutheran Church for the year. Whether I am allowed to go on Vicarage will depend upon my performance this year, and I am expected to return for a year of coursework the year after that.

What Does this Mean?

This means that I will be taking full time classes (3 courses each semester) at the Seminary and attempting to fulfill my extra-curricular Seminary obligations, which would make anyone quite busy. Further, due to the disastrous year that my wife and I have had financially, both Vanessa and I need to work full time in order to keep out obligations in check. This is going to be a murderous burden upon my family and me. Further, this means that I am in the process of resigning from all of the various boards and groups that I am involved in so that I may concentrate upon what is most important – my studies and my family.

This also means that I won’t be able to do practically any work towards finishing my more “secular” M.A. while I work to complete this M.Div. I’m not sure at this time what the implications of that will be, but I plan on making contact with people at the university who can help me through the process – I have been incredibly blessed with amazing mentors and Professors there that would kneel in broken glass for their students I am sure.

Also, I have been working with my place of employment and the fantastic management team there and they have agreed to allow me to disappear as often as is necessary to take classes when they are offered and still keep my job. I am still going to be required to work my normal 40 hours, but can finish some of it on weekends and evenings. However, this comes with some problems, as my place of work has allowed me the semester to sit down with them and decide whether this is going to work, but I have just been informed by the Seminary that they will review whether this is working in a month’s time after classes begin. If this does not work out for whatever reason, I seriously have no idea what I would do, as I cannot make it financially without being gainfully employed.

The Meat

This is a great blessing to my family and to me. However, this does come with many apparent burdens and many hardships that I am sure I won’t understand until I am knee deep in this semester. I feel that it is important to continue to see the psychologist that I am seeing, continue to be diligent in how I am eating and my workouts, and somehow give my family as much of my time as I can.

In short, I am terrified. At the beginning of the Seminary Retreat last week, I was so scared that I was quite literally shaking. I don’t want to mess this up as I have in the past. I don’t want to let my past actions and attitudes define me in the present, and thus define some part of my future. But most importantly, I want the changes that I have worked all of these years to incorporate into myself to be real and not for show. I believe that they are, I believe that I am healthier physically, spiritually, and emotionally than I have perhaps ever been, and I want to make sure that no one gets the impression that I am just putting on a show or doing the “cooperate and graduate” thing.

I want to be a Pastor more than anything. But I do not want to be a Pastor who through my arrogance or attitude hurts the people that I would be called to serve and love. Every person whom I have spoken with over the years that have fallen away from the faith have a story that tells of how a Pastor through their callousness and sin, convinced them that the love of God and the Church was a lie. I want to do everything I can to not be someone’s story, with the help of God.

I have been so wrong in my approach and attitude since the beginning of my journey. I made myself into an idol and convinced myself that it was through my own powers, such as they are, that I would make it through to the Office of the Holy Ministry. Frankly, some part of me thought that it was through these powers that I could heal the Church and help God save people. I was (am?) a fool. I repent and recant.

Please pray for me. Please pray for my beloved Seminary and its Faculty. Please pray for my wife and family. And for those of you for whom prayer is foreign, please reach out to my family and support them. Please be a friend to me, I will need it. Please just be there.

Thank you.

Aug
13

Coming Soon!

So, I have been away being lazy/stressed out about sojme big changes and whatnot that are happening in my life, so I kind of dropped off of the social media/blogging planet for awhile.

My current intention is indeed to make it back on here and start posting new content, so let’s hope that works, and I may start on my upcoming holidays/staycation.

So, just to let you know, I have been playing a lot of flash games on my iPad, watching a lot of Knight Rider and Dr. Who on my Netflix account, and generally smoking cigars and enjoying life. My beautiful wife and daughter have been keeping me company and I am looking forward with cautious optimism towards the future.

Well, see ya soon!

May
01

A Bright Future for Wildrose?

So what can we take from the Wildrose showing here in Alberta? Yesterday I focused on what went wrong, and frankly, I thought it was kind of derivative. While no one can claim decisively that a single factor killed the campaign, I think that it is pretty hard not to see the big factors, and when you play them against the backdrop of the whole of the campaign, ours and others, I think that you can get a sense for what went wrong. Ah well, Flanagan’s next book will at least be interesting and filled with cautionary tales about what can go wrong on the Hustings.

So, what went right?

First and foremost Danielle Smith went right. She was our greatest asset, and has been since the “beginning” of the party. I was a fairly uncomfortable PC when the Wildrose through Hinman stole a by-election and brought some necessary media attention to the party’s leadership race. When Hinman sat out (as much as I like the guy) I was relieved, given that while in person he is one of the most personable and incredible politicians I have ever had the pleasure of meeting, in front of a camera or a large group, he tends to fall kind of flat. I joined the party after a short personal conversation with Danielle wherein I cornered her about various issues and she held up better than any politician I had ever put those issues to before. She actually talked to me, not in political jargon but rather she decisively critiqued the issues off the top of her head. I wasn’t ready to join the party, but I was on my way. I started to obsessively research the party and the two remaining candidates, as I am wont to do. Then I read something by Tom Flanagan, who had joined the party, which was something to the effect of “I don’t want to be a member of a protest party, so if that is what this is, I am gone. We have to make a decision about what we intend to be.” That started me thinking seriously. Then Danielle won.

I followed up in having a conversation with a friend of mine, Andrew, who cornered me with his logic and reason. (Damn him) He said that if everyone waited to see if the Wildrose was the next big thing to get involved, no one would get involved. Someone had to be part of the first cohort. (Damn him, and he is soooo cocky when he is right about stuff) So I joined.

But I am getting off track.

Danielle was charismatic, photogenic, quick on her feet, and friendly. She was everything you could hope for in a Leader. The campaign had a picture of her looking silly, from her next to her humping dogs, to a Vulcan salute, to cultural dress, to serving coffee, and these pics came out every single day. It was a stroke of brilliance. I cannot overstate how important this was to the campaign.

We also had some of the brightest political minds that conservatism has to offer. From Vitor Marciano to Tom Flanagan, to all of the crew at HQ that patiently took my panicked calls day after day, this was the most well-run and professional campaign that Alberta has ever seen.

The policies were excellent. Yes, I know that we have gotten more than our share of flack for the Energy Dividend, the so-called Dani-Dollars, and as a libertarian I am not terribly excited about wealth redistribution, but if it is going to happen this is the absolute best way that it could happen. It would occur only in surpluses, would tie Albertans to the resources that they own, and disproportionately help the most poor and vulnerable among us. As for the rest, our policies on healthcare were my personal favourite, and judging by the amount of Doctors, dentists, and other healthcare practitioners that came out of the woodwork for to get involved in a political campaign for the first time ever, they knew it too. To be perfectly clear, the Wildrose policies on healthcare were positive and transformative. I truly do believe that our reforms would be a path to better healthcare for all Albertans.

Then there is the result. First of all, we must remember that even in looking at the bright side of things this result was a colossal failure. The party decided at the outset that the goal was not to make a strong showing and form a vocal Opposition in order to lay the foundation for our new government, the plan was to win a majority and form government. We came tantalisingly close, but it didn’t occur.

That being said, one in three Albertans who bothered to vote voted Wildrose. That is huge. After all of the name-calling, bullying, and mudslinging, they still came out in droves to support our party. The margin of our loss was incredibly close by Canadian political standards, even if our first past the post system of representation somewhat masked the astounding outcome.

We elected our Leader, and with her a team of 16 MLAs to the Legislature. Due primarily to voter support concentration and vote-splitting due to us, there are three Opposition parties in the Legislature, all of official party status. That is, to my knowledge, the first time in Alberta history.

Further, the PCs were held to a disastrously low share of the popular vote, I think that it was 1967 the last time their share was this low. Twinned with this is the fact that a large percentage of the PC support on Election Day was from people that had never voted PC before and probably are unlikely to do so again. It is a shaky and fragile type of support. And based on anecdotal evidence, there is a lot of voter’s remorse going on in Alberta today.

Further, every single Constituency Association had a sudden influx of first time donors and volunteers who worked their cans off during the campaign and now are experienced veterans of a Provincial campaign. They are excited, committed, and want to do it right next time. This is incredibly valuable for the future of our party.

Did we overreach? No. It just went horribly wrong. Did we learn as supporters valuable lessons at every level of the party? Absolutely yes. Do I believe that we can win in 2016? Yes. Four years is a long time in politics, as we saw during the campaign everything can change in only days. But while I am worried about the damage that could be done to the Province in the next four years, the prospects for a party that barely existed two years ago are very bright indeed. And I take a great amount of satisfaction in knowing that this fact will keep the PC partisans awake at night for years to come.

Apr
30

A Wildrose Implosion

So the election is over and I am getting inundated with requests for my own version of an election post-mortem. Further, it is really time that I started updating and posting new content on this blog again. This was, after all, my New Year’s resolution and we know that we cannot breach the sacredness of that bond.

So, what the hell happened? Of course, many people have put their two cents worth in, some have been very insightful, others, not so much. But here are some of my jumbled thoughts.

First of all, if I only had to pick one thing that sunk the bid for a regime change in the majority government fashion, it will still have to be the so called “bozo eruptions.” I acted as a campaign manager for Edmonton-Goldbar and my candidate disagrees, but I will address that later. You see, everyone inside of the party that had been involved in even a few campaigns knew that the massive 17-point leads that we were experiencing in the early part of the campaign were not sustainable, but it gave us some cause to be optimistic. I mean, we were poised to make history, right? What would it matter if the majority were 70 seats or 50?

We need to remember that Wildrose did what so many on the left have been crying out for for many years as well, we brought new people into the political process. Huge amounts of people who had never been engaged in the political process, worked on a campaign or even given much thought to it at all were suddenly passionate and excited. And we had a very Pollyanna-ish view of things, especially at first. We thought that our ideas were better; they ensured freedom for Albertans, our Province’s prosperity for the future, and attempted to cull the massive corruption that had set into the PCs. We knew as much as anyone just how tired and bloated the PCs had become, and we had at our disposal our greatest political asset – Premier Redford.

Then @Kikkiplanet happened. This self-aggrandizing (but very talented) blogger has a history of manufactured controversy and apparently “discovered” that the Wildrose Party supported “conscience rights” in accord with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. She then wrote a long post lambasting same party, which she claimed to be an ardent supporter of (I did see her at some events) with the post’s notable addition to the public dialogue coming in the fact that she didn’t seem to have the first clue what conscience rights actually were. I actually don’t believe that she intentionally tried to spread misinformation, I honestly believe that she saw this term, tried to put together what it was, probably googled some nightmare scenarios from the manic minds of the American Bible Belt, and was off and running! She then filled in any and all gaps with the grasping of her fevered imagination and pictured a dystopian future in which anyone but white, straight Republicans (I mean Wildrose supporters), were going to be slowly removed from public life by a massive agenda of intolerance. I mean, think of the children!!! OMG111!!!!

Sigh.

The blog and issue garnered not a little buzz, but mostly from the journalistic literati and people of the progressive inclination on Twitter anyways. More than likely, no one that was going to vote Wildrose on Election Day would have been swayed anyways by this post. However, it provided a backdrop for the next controversy.

Next, the first and by far most damaging “Bozo Eruption:” Allan Hunsperger, who was a Pentecostal Pastor prior to becoming a political candidate apparently had written some inflammatory things about the LGBTQ/Two-Spirited community in his position as Pastor. Now let’s be clear here: His post spoke of concepts of Original Sin, the foundation of Holy Scripture as the fount for all understanding of the faith, and the homosexual act as sin. In these broad strokes, most orthodox Christians agree with him. The shockingly antagonistic and horrifying way that he spoke about such tender issues, however, were beyond the pale. This post reeked of anger and condemnation. And I know that as Christians and especially those of us who are Pastors, we are called to be the prophetic voice in the world and condemn sin wherever we find it. I just feel that as a Pastor, regardless of the sin, he could have reached out in love. Yes, it is loving to attempt to warn people about sin. No, sometimes no matter your best efforts it doesn’t appear that way to those affected by that warning. That being said, in this culture, in this time, in this context, a warm embrace and a gentle rebuke would, I think, be far more appropriate.

So, the ex-PC staffer Blake Robert found this blog post and others and began to make them an issue under a pseudonym on Twitter. It soon caught fire, and I started seeing it tweeted and retweeted, at first by my Alberta Party supporters, until the PC Twitterati discovered this gift and started publicizing it like mad. Reporters started to ask their questions, and the thing was blowing up in everyone’s face.

Danielle, to her credit, lived by the words that she spoke earlier in the campaign about free speech and the party being welcoming to all people of religious conviction. While she eventually did personally condemn the remarks, she would not throw this man under the campaign bus in order to keep it moving. Maybe this was due to some kind of naivety on her part, maybe idealism, maybe the polls lulled us into thinking that we could stand by our principles no matter what. I like to think that in the few times I have met and conversed with her, that she is the person she presents; ferociously intelligent, engaging, straight-forward, honest, and above all – principled.

Would this have sunk us had we fired him? Maybe, maybe not. It would have probably been less damaging. But I will leave that to the prognosticators and rest with the knowledge that I belong to a party that will not jettison me and mine when we become unpopular.

Then Dr. Ron Leach, a church leader who had worked with literally dozens of ethnic groups over 30 years of community service said some stupid things on an interview with Chinese language television. That not being bad enough, he doubled down in his “apology.” WTF?

Listen, I don’t think Dr. Leach is a racist. I don’t think he is bigoted in any way. I certainly know that his multi-ethnic campaign team certainly didn’t think so, but there it is. The problem is that with the conscience rights conversation as a backdrop, the perceived tolerance for homophobia in the public eye, this was the last straw. It was all over. Part of me knew it, but I idealistically chose to believe the polling.

I know that my candidate thought that the healthcare conversation was what killed Wildrose. And while I have thought very carefully about what she said (frankly, I think carefully about everything she says, she is a font of wisdom and I learned from her every day) I believe that she was right, but only when understood correctly. Yes, healthcare was a major issue in Alberta. It always is in Canadian elections. That being said, people were willing to give us the benefit of the doubt in this election, at least enough people to allow us to form government and show them what our vision would look like in practical terms. But the backdrop of the mess of these social issues provided meant that every one of our other policies looked extreme and scary. So, many swing voters stopped trusting us. Our support began to wane.

Then Danielle started telling people in this environment that she didn’t believe in anthropogenic climate change, that was all it took for the last of the swing voters to abandon us and go back the PCs where they were comfortable or stay home.

Our goose was cooked.

What did we learn? A tonne. Just watch.

See you in 2016.

Apr
23

Please Don’t Vote

Please don’t vote.

 

No, I mean it. You see, I vote. In every election that I am eligible to vote in. I vote for school board trustees, student politics, municipal elections, I sit on a provincial Constituency Association where I vote at that level, I am a member of two political parties (one provincial and one federal) and I vote at that level. I vote provincially and I vote federally. Hell, I even vote in the voter’s assembly at church. I vote in advance polling and I take my daughter every time I can so that she can see the importance and value of voting.

 

I will be campaigning hard during the election and I have personally stood for election at the student level (3 times), at the Constituency Association level (1 time) and have been invited to stand in a provincial and federal election (turned down both of those).

 

I have a definite ideology. I am a libertarian. I have a lot of sympathy for social conservatives as I understand where they are coming from but don’t agree with them on many issues and will fight them on some. I, at one time, identified myself as a liberal and I love where they come from, but think that they are some combination of dangerously misguided and myopic on several key issues.

 

But as important as I think voting is, critical even to our democratic process, I don’t want YOU to vote.

 

Why? You see, every person that stays home on Election Day makes my vote more powerful. As it stands, everyone in this federal election that will vote will most likely get a two-for-one punch for their vote. The power of their vote is double what it could be. Further, I especially don’t want people who don’t agree with me to vote especially. You see, if you vote, you could cancel out my vote. Your candidate then holds fast against mine. I hate that.

 

You see, if you don’t vote at all, my candidate pulls ahead. That makes my vote even more powerful than it is now.

 

And I like that power.

 

So, please, please, today, stay home. 😉

 

Thank you.