Wednesday, March 14, 2018

ADF, Non-Officer Director Q&A

I was greatly honored and surprised to be nominated to sit on the ADF Mother Grove as a Non-Officer Director in 2018, but I did accept the nomination.

There are a series of questions that have been posted by the membership which I am currently trying to answer in time before the Voting phase begins. I will post my answers in this space as I am able.

Election Q&A

@@ In progress @@

Before we get started, let me just say that as an elected Non-Officer Director, my first task will be to clearly define what this position is exactly, what duties does it entail, and what are the expectations of the role. The website is not very clear on any of those details.

1. What sort of Vision do you bring to the table for the future of ADF?
Are there any *specific* problems or goals that you want to tackle? How do you hope to address those problems/goals?

I think we need to continue to apply a critical eye to our core beliefs and methods by which we operate. As the world continues to evolve, we need to evolve with it and ensure that ADF continues to meet the needs of its members while maintaining its core values and vision. It is a tricky balancing act and requires constant vigilance.

2. If you win the position you are running for, what will be the biggest obstacle you will have to overcome? How do you plan to do so?

3/4. Volunteer recruitment and burnout are big problems. Do you have any plans to address either of those issues?

Having a clear vision and being consistent in our messaging and practices will encourage more volunteer involvement. People want to support a system that has clear and defined boundaries and expectations so that everyone can contribute efficiently. Burnout occurs when people take on too much responsibility and are not supported properly. Working within our means will result in more successful projects upon which we can build.

5. What special skills would you bring to the position?

I have been an active member of my local Pagan community since 2000, taking on more leadership roles in the past 10 years. I have helped organize several Pagan conferences with the Canadian National Pagan Conference: Gaia Gathering and I have held a Board position for several years. These projects have taught me how to work well with people, but also how to keep projects in line with its vision and limitations. I am hoping these experiences have brought me some insight that I can share with the MG.

6. How will you contribute to building a culture of consent in ADF?

By taking a strong stance against all forms of bigotry, misogyny, and intolerance, while supporting inclusivity, informed consent, and celebrating what is beautiful. Sharing information is important, but elevating the ideals of taking the higher road in ensure the well-being and safety of all will catalyse this kind of change. Culture is a living, breathing being and it is our responsibility to cultivate it in a way that keeps us all safe and cared for.

7. Were it up to you, where would you take this organization 5 years from now, and how would you get us there?

As a NOD, I would not have that kind of influence. However, I would love to see ADF Canada to flourish to a point with a Canadian Arch Druid could be possible.

8. What other roles have you held within the organization, and what have you done while in them?

This would be my first official position with MG, although I am the Grove Bard for Thornhaven Grove.

9. How will you encourage ways of making ADF accessable to children (with parental consent, of course)?

In my experience, children tend to want to experience Pagan spirituality within the safe spaces of family and close friends. That being said, I would like to see a 16-21 clerical class geared towards the concerns of teens and children (8 yr+).

10. How do you view environmental issues within the context of ADF? What, if any, goals do you have to change the current actions or lack of actions currently present within ADF?

11. How do you view the role of solitary members within ADF and how do you anticipate that role will change over the course of your proposed term?

12. How would you work to make ADF as respected and legitimate as any other church in the USA, and the world.

ADF as an organization needs to reach beyond its own borders and get involved in the non - Druid world, but with an ADF Druid perspective. Not to recruit or to build a brand, but just to be actively involved in community/state/world affairs. We have spent too much time looking inwards and "supporting our own first".

13. Why doesn’t ADF have a family membership plan? 

If families are supporting ADF, then we should recognize that in terms of membership fees and resource distribution.

14. Lately, ADF has been rocked by several 'scandals' for lack of a better word, and frankly, the MG has floundered. If elected, how would you go about navigating the issues facing the organization around bringing more transparency to processes while still responding to crisis in a timely manner?

As a NOD, I don't have this kind of influence. That being said, I believe the recent crisis was handled in a timely manner, especially considering the process that was in place to ensure that everyone was consulted before taking action. People have non ADF jobs, responsibilities, time zones, and time constraints that significantly impact reaction times. 

Also keep in mind that each crisis is relatively unique and if there are no processes in place, reaction time will always be slow and clumsy. We can strive to be better (why not excellence indeed?), but let us not wish for a myriad of tragedies and scandals so that we can practice. MG is doing the best it can with the constraints it has, so let's balance a desire for excellence with a recognition of the complexities involved.

15. In real actions, how would you, if elected, improve on the great job the MG has been doing?

Everyone needs to learn how to do an Arch-Druid impersonation. ;) Bardic magic!

16. I would like to hear the candidates thoughts on strategic planning for ADF. Where do you see us in 10 years? 20 years? How are we going to get there? What are your goals on the MG?

See #12.

17. How would you ensure fair treatment of members regardless of ethnicity, nationality, gender identity, sexuality, or immigration status?

Have representation from each group to speak their needs to MG 4 times a year.

18. How would you look to heal divisions in the organization, bring the organization to a sense of more inclusive wholeness and create a positive vision for all members regardless of wether they are clergy, dedicants, solitaries, old-timers, newcomers, etc. Do you feel that all members are equal?

While I believe all members are equal in terms of their rights and expectations of respect, the investment of time, effort, and office should accord some members more weight. As always, respect must be earned, but having a way to recognize leaders in ADF based on their contributions to the organization cannot be a bad thing. 

19. How do you take feedback and criticism from peers and those you serve?

Excellently. Ask anyone who agrees with me. ;)

20. How do you react to people who disagree with you?

21. In response to the recent allegations against Isaac Bonewits, the ADF Mother Grove unanimously voted to provide (and fund) training for our Mother Grove, Regional Druids, and Clergy in the Consent Culture Course from Cherry Hill Seminary. [...] I would like to see our candidates briefly discuss their responses to this course, specifically regarding how it may inform their leadership decisions.

22. How are you going to improve the communication between MG members?Not with the membership, but between individual members of the Mother Grove.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

When is Soon?

While at my Mum's house, I got a visit from a couple of handsome older gentlemen who wished to talk to me about the imminent coming of Jesus. They introduced themselves as Ray and Gary.

I love talking to these people. Generally, they are pleasant and charming and I have some respect for people who care about their faith so much that they would accept so much rejection.

"The Bible says that Jesus is coming soon," said Ray, reaching for his pamphlet.

"You guys have been saying that for quite some time, y'know," I replied. Gary snickered, but recovered quickly.

"That's fair," he shugged. "But it's important to be ready."

"Besides," I interjected, "What is the concept of soon to an infinite being that knows nothing of time? If God is going to create a world of beings who live finite lives, you'd think it would not speak vaguely about time with words like Soon. It would know that an infinite concept of Soon needs to be converted to a finite concept of a precise Date."

This statement stymied them both for a moment." You're an interesting man to discuss these things with," Ray said finally.

"That is very kind of you to say, Ray. "

"Do you think we could come back to discuss this further sometime?" He began to reach for his datebook.

"Sorry Ray, but I'm only visiting my Mum for a couple of days. I need to get back to Montreal soon."

Disappointed, Ray put his datebook back, but before he could say anything, I grinned and said "And Ray, by soon, I mean tomorrow."

We shook hands and bid each other a good-day.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Do not kneel to the high heel

Quebec has once again reawakened the face covering debate by attempting to legislate what women can and cannot do, what they would wear and what they cannot wear. Supporters of the bill believe that they are saving these women from oppression and ensuring their freedom by forcing them to adhere to a North American cultural standard.

Of course, this completely ignores the ability of these women to make personal choices that would make other people uncomfortable, but the supporters are confident that they have these women's best interests at heart, even though they entirely dismiss their ability to make decisions for themselves.

What I question where is where is their moral outrage for women who insist to wear high heels for more hours than is medically recommended in order to religiously adhere to an unreasonable standard of beauty. Why are these women not being saved from the very real, documented physical damage they are inflicting upon their ankles, knees, spine everyday?

While you may argue that wearing a head covering is a symbol of unimpressive culture or religion, at least the coverings are not damaging the woman's face or head. If anything, considering the ravages of a Canadian winter, Muslim women are more protected than your average person from the intense cold and snow.

High heels serve absolutely no purpose other than to make a woman taller and to hobble her movement. One aspect is to make her an object to be gazed upon, and the other is to keep her from enjoying freedom of movement, trapping her in social situations like a pet on a leash.

Why would these women subject themselves to such harm, and yet we allow it to happen? You could argue that these women are making a conscious choice to wear high heels, but in the society that places so much value on a way a woman looks and how closely she adheres to an arbitrary standard of cutie, how can we be sure that she's even capable of making these choices herself? What if it's the men in her Social Circle that are forcing her to damage her ankle spine and knees so they don't socially reject her, lowering her status in her community and hampering her ability to succeed.

If Muslim women cannot be trusted to make the proper choices about their facial wear, North American women also cannot be trusted to wear Footwear that allows them freedom of movement while ensuring their good health. The religion of fashion seeks to enslave these women, disregarding their intellect, their values, and their talents that once harnessed, could have Advanced our society in ways that men could only dream of.

Therefore, I refuse to kneel at the Temple of the Elevated Heel and I encourage my sisters to join me toe to toe. And if they won't, then I will petition the government to make the wearing of the high heel not only illegal, but a criminal offense. This will ensure equality between the genders, quite literally leveling the playing field in terms of unnatural height, and save these women from themselves, the poor dears.

@@ UPDATE @@

Ontario steals my thunder.

Monday, September 18, 2017

The Responsibility of Free Speech

Person 1: Hello everyone and thank you for agreeing to meet and discuss the issues at hand. We've got some huge problems to solve, so let's get at it.

[general discussion of possible solutions]

P2: How about we just eradicate the Elves?

P1: What? What did you just say?

P2: The Elves. I mean, they are the real problem and they cause all the issues. It's a known fact. If we just band together, we could just eradicate the Elvish problem and everything else would take care of itself.

P1: Get out. You are no longer welcome at this table.

P2: Now hang on just a minute. I have Freedom of Speech and Thought in this country! You cannot prevent me from speaking my mind! It's my right.

P1: Actually, as much as I would like to, I cannot toss your racist ass in jail for expressing your deplorable ideas. However, sitting at this table is a privilege, not a right, and you have failed to meet the standards that allow for that privilege.

P2: No! No! I have the right to speak my mind and you MUST allow me to express it.

P1: You're wrong. You can sit at home and be racist all you like. You can sit in your own space and think all the murderous thoughts you want to. But the moment you attempt to express or broadcast those violent, oppressive, destructive thoughts in a public square, this is where the line is crossed. In a public square, everyone should be able to expect a minimum standard of safety and security to be met. In a public setting, you have a responsibility to the public to be honest and factual in the ideas you share. To express ideas that are designed to incite people to actively place others in harm's way violates that expectation.

P2: You have no right to curb my right to personal expression, nor can you oppress me because of my values. That is a slippery slope to fascism!

P1: While it is true that taken to an extreme, attempting to too-tightly control the personal expression of people can lead to oppressive regimes, holding the public good in higher regard can provide better guidelines about what is acceptable or unacceptable. Each case must be examined carefully.

P2: But... but...

P1: However, in this case, this is my table and I get to set the minimum standard. For the expression of that racist view, you have violated the standards of this gathering and now you are no longer welcome here. Not now, not ever. You still have freedom of thought, you have freedom of movement, but your access to this table and this discussion is officially revoked. Get out.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Only You Can Tell Your Story

Hey you. Yeah, you there. Don't look behind you, expecting to see someone else. I'm talking to you specifically.

I know you're struggling with today, afraid of tomorrow, and regretting the past. You've done some questionable things, you and I both know it. You've hurt people without meaning to, you've hurt others on purpose believe you were completely justified in doing so. Maybe now with the wisdom that comes from hard living you've realized you weren't so justified. Maybe you still think you were justified to make those destructive decisions and you're certain that those nights you woke up in a cold sweat are completely unrelated.

But I'll let you in on a secret that might help: What you do today is the only thing that has any real worth. The decisions you make today reflect the only real you that has ever mattered. You are completely in control of this very moment and what you decide right now will change your boundaries and restrictions. It's all on you and the power that you wield in this very moment.

I know that sounds like a lot or even an over-simplification of the immensely complicated lives we lead. I guess in some ways that it is, but I prefer to look at it as a refocusing of your intent, an intentisifying of your divine foothold in this life.

But what you did in the past is simply a remnant of your present-day power. Back then, you had that moment in your hands, you made your decision, and the moment was past, becoming a permanent part of your story. The only reason to dwell on that past moment is to reflect on what you learned from it so that you can make another decision in THIS moment. What you do NOW is the purest expression of who you are,

You are the storyteller, so you get to decide where the story goes. It doesn't matter how the story was told in the past: your past doesn't define who you are in this moment. What matters is where you are taking your story right now.

As the old expression goes: you reap what you sow. If you want to live a happy story, sow happiness in others. But you cannot increase love in this world by sowing hatred. Self-righteousness does not convert hateful acts into a loving reality. When faced with what is ugly in this world, you must meet with with more beauty. To face what is ugly from your past, you must create beauty in your present.

And to do that, you must make a decision right here, right now, knowing that it will become a permanent part of the story of you. Don't let the past dictate the quality of the present. Write a new, better story right here, right now.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Letting Go: It's Dangerous

I had to listen to this bizarro rant a few times to keep track of what he's actually saying. His persona voice and tossing about of jargon is super distracting.

There are many ways to Let Go, but I think Silva is trying to focus on living in the moment rather than worrying about the future or past. But then he starts talking about Ego Imprisonment, which is a completely different kind of Letting Go experience. Sure, both of them are tied together in some ways, but they are not interchangeable. One has to do with the release of control of the moment, and the other has to do with our self-imposed definitions and restrictions.

The first question Silva asks is "Why is it so hard to let go?" He spends the rest of this rant trying to explain why it's good to let go (like all the gurus keep telling us), but he never really explains why is it hard to let go, nor how to actually let go.

But I can tell you why it is hard to let go: it comes from the fear of failure, the fear of disappointment or rejection, and the fear of facing the unknown. People hang onto their preconceptions because they are comforting, because they are expected to cling and be accepted rather than question and be rejected, and because the unknown has more terrifying questions than satisfying answers.

It is not only difficult and terrifying to let go, it is also dangerous. Letting go completely and for the long-term makes it difficult to operate in this society. The trick is to let go enough to explore the possibilities, and then to grasp and own enough to operate efficiently. You can then incorporate what you discovered in letting go and innovate your integration in everyday society.

It's a process that is prone to much failure, but as long as you can embrace failure and use it as a teacher rather than a punisher, you can keep making progress bit by bit. The only other option is lay stagnant in your growth, allowing others to determine your direction, values, and goals.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Predator vs Prey

Note: I did NOT come up with this theory. I read it somewhere years ago and I forget the source. If anyone can remind me of the source, I'll link to it in the article.

I was out with a friend and she remarked "I don't know why guys get so bent out of shape to see two guys kissing. They like it when women kiss, but get so threatened when guys kiss. What's their deal?"

The following was my response:

It comes down to these men hanging their entire self-identity on the traditional view of romantic relationships where men are the predator and women are the prey. Men hunt and consume, while women are hunted and consumed. Men are the strong predators and women are the weak prey.

The reason it is not threatening to watch women kiss is that prey can consume each other and they are not a threat to the predator. Each woman is playing the part of the prey and is being consumed, so men can still feel strong and unthreatened as the predator.

But when men kiss each other, that means that one of them is the prey and the other is the predator. One man is being consumed while the other consumes. To a man who clings to a traditional view of male-female relationships, it is disturbing to watch a man play the weaker role as prey, as being the one who is being consumed. It makes the man worried that he may not always be the predator because of his maleness. Watching two men kiss tells him that he could be the one being consumed rather than being the consumer, he could become prey, and this feels like a violation of the natural order of things.

Similarly, the man who clings to his predator title will feel threatened by a woman who hunts him. A woman who is self-assured, strong, confident, and who take the power of the predator will threaten a man who feels entitled to be the predator. He is no longer the predator by default because of his gender: he will need to put effort into his role as predator and he may fail at this task, making him the prey, making him weak, making him be the consumed.

In conclusion, men who are uncomfortable with expressions of non-heterosexuality do so from a fear of losing their male-entitled social position as predator. These men are afraid that they'll be treated the way that they treat women.