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.