Born Canadian, born male, born white, born straight


Born Canadian, born male, born white, born straight,
raised on the prairie politics of John Diefenbaker,
baptised in the theology of John Calvin and Billy Graham:
and by this decreed course, liberated of bias.

Hallowed, I have no filters through which to read Holy Writ,
regard Mr. Suzuki, scan The Economist, watch Cable News.
For I have inherited the hermeneutic of objective truth,
privy to propositions that guide me on the straight

and narrow, and keep me elevated: able at this height,
through the non-contextual universals of my religion, to sit
in the Temple of foundational security, where things are in
or out, on or off—where angles are levelled and angels fly up.

Where questions are slaves and answers are static,
where mystery is flogged by the rod of inerrancy,
and doubt’s dark stain of contingency,
is bathed in the blazing sun of biblicism.

As for that two-spirited aboriginal girl—lost in a world,
of magic and superstition, where flames lap at the base
of totems, and Lucifer looks out through the wood-eye of Raven—
I will win by creed, and lead by hand, to higher ground. 

For I have reached the tableland of knowing,
saved from subjectivity, by the fixity of faith,
I have become pure mind, with unmediated access
to the Immutable.

The photo at the top is from the United Church Archives. I came across it at the Truth and Reconciliation hearings in Hobbema, AB. The United Church was the first denomination to apologize to First Nations for their part in running Residential Schools and the imposition of western culture.

Here’s an excerpt of the 1986 apology:

We tried to make you be like us and in so doing we helped to destroy the vision that made you what you were. As a result you, and we, are poorer and the image of the Creator in us is twisted, blurred, and we are not what we are meant by God to be.

Of course the thinking, the beliefs and the attitudes—not only in reference to First Nations—that this poem reflects, are still present in certain circles. But too, in some broad sense, in various degrees, they lay at depth in all of us. It is our task to recognize and acknowledge them. Which is what the apology is about.


  1. There’s an anger here, Steve. What have you seen? What have you heard? Truth and Reconciliation is bringing forth heart-breaking stories. The apology of the United Church is powerful. Thanks for this.

  2. Rupert Ross in Dancing With A Ghost wrote about his experiences with Aboriginal Elders in Northern Ontario. In a chapter titled Original Blessing he reflects on the Aboriginal assumption that their children were born with original blessing. True evangelism as reflected above set about convincing and convicting these persons of original sin and then saving them from original sin by God for whom it was necessary to kill his son to save them. It must have been and perhaps still is perplexing.

  3. I really enjoyed Rupert Ross’ books. We have a lot to learn from his experience and a lot to learn about how to learn from the Aboriginal people.

  4. I have read Rupert Ross too and have enjoyed him. Reflecting on the original blessing idea, in the Genesis accounts the original blessing came before the fall. God declared “very good” after he had finished creating. This isn’t the first time that there has seemed to be to be an affinity between some aspects of Old Testament theology and aboriginal ideas.

  5. Pope Francis is making some radical statements: “God’s mercy has no limits if you go to him with a sincere and contrite heart. The issue for those who do not believe in God is to obey their conscience… Sin, even for those who have no faith, exists when people disobey their conscience.”

    This seems to contradict very basic teachings in the Gospels like John 3:16 and John 14:6 “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” But since I’m white, Canadian and male maybe I’m being too literal?

  6. But, Ian, Pope Francis seems to be right in line with Romans 2:14,15 – (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.)

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