There is No Cure in Gilead: Truth and Consequences in Canada

(composed at the finale of the Truth and Reconciliation performance, Vancouver, September 22, 2013)

The gang raping and torture of the little brown boys and girls stopped for one evening, and for that evening alone. Remarkably, the lean and anemic children were given a regular meal, and a change of clothes, and even a bath. For it was Christmas Eve, and the local pale church goers needed some entertainment.

All the Indian kids knew the score by then, it being a simple matter of unnatural selection, since anyone who didn’t play the game didn’t live very long at the Edmonton residential school. Only the obedient were still alive. And so they all donned their starched white uniforms and their frozen smiles with no fuss or bother, and they somehow limped and trudged to the waiting school bus.

At the front door of the cold stone building, Jim Ludford awaited them with his prescribed leather strap as the snow fell on good and evil alike. Ludford was the representative of the god that had brought the children to this place where half of them would die. Every Sunday in the United Church chapel, Ludford always concluded his sermon with the reminder to his little brown flock that “the only good Indian is a dead Indian”.

The boys and girls who filed carefully past him that night were all good little Indians, and therefore dead, or soon to be. But like the pale ones who waited for their yuletide performance, the kids knew how to imitate the living. And Reverend Jim Ludford looked out at his creation that Christmas Eve in the year 1963, and he knew that it was good.

The children sang well that night, for they knew what would happen to them otherwise. Their voices recalled Gitchi Manitou and the little baby Jesus, come to redeem the world of all of its sins. And when they ended their performance with a refrain of Silent Night, of all those present, only they understood the silence.

The wall of polite pale faces seemed to enjoy the savages’ performance, and beamed happily as Reverend Ludford spoke his lies to the congregation and invited them to give a special monetary offering that night to further their important work among these poor unfortunates. The parishioners did so, of course, for Canadians are very nice people. Some of them even gave the brown children specially wrapped Christmas gifts, and little boxes of sweets, and the Canadians felt good with themselves for it, which was the whole point.

The children did not stay for the entire service, of course, lest they embarrass the church folk by staying for the lavish Christmas dinner in the church hall. Ludford guided them sternly back onto the snow-entombed bus, collecting from them all of the special gifts they clutched in their cold little hands. And on the drive back to the residential school, the clergyman chose from among the children three boys to receive his special thanks, later, in his bedroom.

None of that mattered, ultimately, in Ludford’s world, and in the bright and empty United Church where the performance had come off without a hitch. The show had gone on, and that’s what counted.

Those things never change.

……….

Fifty years later, one of the brown children whose body still moved even though his soul did not found himself among the same pale crowd of nice Canadians: the very same people, in fact, who had paid Reverend Ludford to rape him and beat some of his friends to death. The good pale people still gazed through the brown man while pretending to see him, and once more they welcomed him to perform for them. And knowing what awaited him if he didn’t, once again the dead Indian walking didn’t let them down.

The brown man drummed for them and pretended to know about the aboriginal songs that he had learned from his uncle, and the white Christians watched him for awhile and feigned respect until something else caught their attention. Some of them gave him the hugs and compliments that passed for specially wrapped gifts, and like a half century before, their offerings were collected back from him before the evening was over.

The Indian sat alone after his performance, in the huge and bustling auditorium filled with Official Reconciliation without any Truth, watching as the mostly-pale crowd drifted by and imagined themselves to be informed and on the right side of history, just as they had in Edmonton, decades before, and when their first smallpox-spreading missionaries had fallen on his ancestors.

The Indian knew better and he saw the big lie, but he would never say so, for he had learned when so very young that another moment of survival was all that mattered.

The truth is pointless, he’d told his own son before the boy had killed himself. The truth is like that one moment in the boys’ dorm when I defied Reverend Ludford and pushed him away from me, and he held my arm down on a hot stove top until I passed out to teach me what was actually true.

But even in his tortured remembrance, the brown man did not allow life to depart completely from him. Gazing about the bustling auditorium and its desperate effort to reassure the conquerors, the Indian knew what was true. For somewhere, he had once heard that reconciliation meant, at its root, not equanimity, but quite oppositely, the way that one person is made subordinate again to another.

The white clergymen behind the United Church display booth, he noticed, still wore their stiff white collars, and they smiled just the way that James Ludford had.

Let the Spin Begin! How Black becomes White, and Wrong Right – Recent Lessons from the Insane Asylum called Church and State

Anyone can spot a lie, unless he is in need of that lie. -Clarence Darrow

It’s touching, at first, when the psychopaths in power seem to dabble in sentimentality and profess a sudden concern for their victims. Or maybe it just seems touching to all of those battered and cringing multitudes who so need their masters to show a bit of compassion towards them between all the blows.

As for me – well, personally, I find it merely ridiculous when sordid creeps like Jorge Bergoglio, who calls himself “Pope Francis”, start posing as humanitarian reformers with a “concern” for the very people they’re mangling.

I get it, of course. Whether in the Vatican or any government or corporation, the damage control spin doctors are always in charge, and the only sure way for rulers to manage any kind of growing discontent and stay in power is to say exactly what their victims need to hear. Playing to the crowd like that almost always works.

But ultimately, this isn’t about public relations.

On a simpler, human level, I suspect the whole charade of “reform talk” gushing like a sewer out of Rome these days really has to do with the sort of compensatory atonement behaviour I often witnessed when I worked as an orderly on the psychiatric ward at the University of British Columbia hospital. In fact, the crowd of various delusional personalities I got to know on the Chronics Ward bore a remarkable similarity to rulers like Jorge Bergoglio and other self-proclaimed “heads of state”.

Take Kenny, for instance: a nice young guy in his twenties who raped his sister for years, but who used to tell me that he had to assault her so because their royal bloodline had to be perpetuated, since his family were “star people” come to save humanity from itself.

“I’ve told her I’m sorry, but she still doesn’t get it, that we’re a superior bloodline” Kenny observed calmly to me in the activities room one night.

“I had to do it, for the salvation of all of us”

Jorge Bergoglio, like Kenny, sincerely believes that he constitutes a divine presence in the world come to save humanity from itself, and is therefore absolved from such menial considerations as honoring the rights and dignity of others. Unfortunately, “Pope” Jorge has no-one to tell him the difference between delusion and reality, since he’s in charge of the Vatican Nuthouse, and that particular Delusion has been around for centuries.

Imagine Kenny armed with billions of dollars and running Ward Two West and beyond in order to dispense “salvation” to all the other inmates and the world at large, and you’ll see the problem of trying to reform or even undo the intergenerational megalomania known as the Roman Catholic Church.

Affirmed in his delusions and praised by millions of battered people, Jorge Bergoglio gets to do the strangest, most absurd things in his fantasy that he constitutes a “bridge” between the Creator of the Universe and all mankind. We’re witnessing precisely such absurdity these days, and not simply an enormous public relations spin, as Bergoglio dons his dissociated persona called Pope Francis to “make things better” for all the children whose torture and rape he is deliberately concealing, and ordering to be concealed.

One of the big problems is that wrong is inherently seen as right in the mind of the dissociated abuser and those who share his self-serving worldview: again, something I learned on the Chronics Ward, and in the spring of 2010, in the streets of Rome outside the Vatican.

An Italian police inspector put it to me this way as he physically barred me from speaking to reporters about the murder of children by the Roman Catholic church:

“The pope is not to be judged by you or me, or anyone. He cannot do wrong”

I then showed the Wop Cop the letter where the pope at the time, Joe Ratzinger, ordered his Bishops to conceal child rape by priests, and I asked him if that, in fact, wasn’t the wrong thing for Ratzinger to have done.

“When Il Papa does anything, it becomes right, however wrong”.

I kid you not.

Okay, so maybe that’s an extreme example of how despots get away with crime. No other ruler is crazy or wealthy enough to openly claim that they’re God’s representatives on earth, even if they all act like they are.

Nevertheless, years ago, my Anthropology 200 professor taught me that culturally speaking, the less powerful and stable a ruler is, the more grandiose and mythic are his claims to office. Hawaiian kings had no land or wealth at all, but precisely because of that, they claimed that their divine status gave them life and death powers over everyone: if their shadow even fell on a man or woman, that person would get the chop, instantly.

It was the law, you know.

Popes are a lot like that: they rule completely through bluff and lies, along with the fear that psychotic thinking seems to engender. But the Vatican Delusion works incredibly well, and has always been a model for “secular” rulers everywhere. Like Adolf Hitler often said, tell the biggest lie possible if you want people to believe it.

And so I don’t think it was an accident that soon after Jorge, as Pope, declared with astounding doublethink that he was “protecting” children in his church from rape by criminalizing the reporting of it, other rulers seized on his example and began spinning their own home grown crimes with the same flourish of insanity.

Here in Canada, where blood-soaked church and state act like they have a monopoly on pious self-exculpation, the feds have recently made a big show of their “disclosure” that Indian children in residential schools were “experimented on” for decades. It’s the kind of spin that would make Bergoglio proud, and here’s the recipe:

Take the fact that generations of brown children were deliberately starved and tortured to death by Christian Canada as part of a clear Eugenics program to exterminate Indian nations in order to get their land and resources. Then hide or destroy the bodies and physical evidence, and bury the documents for years until the legal coast is clear. Finally, a Big Lie can be spun to explain away the slaughter, in this manner: all those kids weren’t actually starved to death – they simply died from a benign “experiment” gone wrong!

Something “experimental” sounds more legitimate and even necessary, after all, than starving children to death outright. And all the evidence I’ve been publishing on that Canadian Genocide since 1996 clearly shows that boys and girls in the Indian residential schools were being given no food at all as routinely as they were being exposed to other kids dying of tuberculosis. That’s how you spread communicable diseases and wipe out half the children: lower the immunity of those little bodies with damp, unheated, underfed conditions. That was the official policy.

Suddenly, that big picture of Genocide has been wiped away in Canada quicker than a papal absolution, simply by labelling the whole slaughter as a matter of “experimentation”. And the spin was brilliant, actually, if you judge by the orgasmic response among most Canadians to this “disclosure” that is, in truth, nothing new at all: for the programs responsible for denying food and vitamins to residential school children were first described and released to the Canadian press, by me, in the spring of 2000.

But that’s the way the Delusion operates: history gets reinvented, the crowd gets placated, and the criminals stay in control.

Kenny never did get discharged from the Chronics Ward: not while I was there, at least. But somehow, that doesn’t make much of a difference to me, or to Kenny; especially since the Nuthouse is everywhere now. And in such a world, one declares that black is black and wrong is wrong at the risk of everything, considering who and what is in charge.

Stay clear.

Paying the Rent, and the Cost: A United Church Primer

It may be the Devil, or it may be the Lord, but you gotta serve somebody … - Negro spiritual

He was all things to all people, naturally, being a successful clergyman. Perhaps that’s why I disliked him from the start. But there was something particularly wrong about Jim Sinclair that words can’t describe: a quality that would one day catapault him into what passes for ultimate authority within the United Church of Canada, namely the post of National Moderator.

That was a title that finally did justice to the guy, actually. “Reverend” never sat easily as a prefix to Jim Sinclair, for so spiritual a connotation might have caused division or offense somewhere. And that was something he just couldn’t countenance, being more of a waiter than anything.

Jim loved to moderate, everything and everyone, starting with himself: a fact he disclosed the very first time we met in his North Bay church office, just before I discovered that he lacked a soul.

I was there as the official intern from 1988 to 1989, during my earnest attempt to serve both God and Mammon through ordination as a United Church clergyman. I had all the external equipment for such a grand purpose: marriage, a child on the way, a desire to see the best in people. My big flaw, of course, was an uneasiness with it all that wouldn’t let go of me, plus that annoying Annett trait of questioning anything that moves.

Jim spotted that quirk in me right away, and he reacted like a mole wincing from the dawn’s early light. Maybe that’s why I got his Banality 101 lecture right off the bat, with something he entitled, “Paying the Rent”.

“What’s that?” I asked him after he used the term during our first little chat about United Church ministry.

“Well, you can’t live in a home if you don’t pay the rent …” he began avuncularly, until I interrupted,

“Unless you’re squatting”

Never having been homeless, Jim blinked, confused, and then flashed me a placid grimace the locals mistook for a smile.

“Oh, yeah. But seriously, Kevin, it’s a core value you need to learn in the ministry, paying the rent …”

Later on in life, I would have come back immediately with a wry quip about it being pointless to pay the rent on a condemned building, or something like that. But I was still young and stupid back then, and I even put money in the collection plate.

“A core value?” I replied.

“Yes” he continued, more confidently. He sat back and grimaced at me again, his eyes bland and busy.

“If you want to do anything you love in the ministry, to follow any kind of calling, you first have to learn how to pay the rent …”

“To who?” I asked.

“Well, to your congregation, for starters …”

“To who in the congregation?”

I could tell my questions were bothering him, but of course he didn’t show his irritation. Jim never let his feelings get in the way, of anything.

“I’d say to everyone …”

“How does that work, exactly?”

I wasn’t trying to be a pain in the ass. I was genuinely curious how one could be all things to all people.

“Okay, well, it’s not simple. Paying the rent, it’s just a phrase. I guess it means, doing what you need to do to keep the structure of the church home intact, like here, at St. Andrew’s.”

As he spoke, an unexpected sensation began to churn up in the pit of my guts. I felt a deep revulsion, but much more: as if something winged within me had to flee from that room and never come back.

I actually shuddered.

Jim, or whatever ran him, noticed. His eyes narrowed suspiciously, but he grimaced again and carried on.

“There are movers and shakers in any congregation. I call them my level one players. Like Willard and Doreen Davidson …”

I nodded, against every impulse in me. Instead of vomiting or running for my life, I feigned interest.

Willard and Doreen: I had met them, unfortunately. They were a lot like Jim, wealthy but retired, always polite, and terribly vacant. The two of them were “associates” at the church and besides fussing over the older congregational ladies and doing church teas, they got to dispense occasional food vouchers to those they considered “deserving” enough to be fed, from among the steady stream of men and women and children who wandered into St. Andrew’s from off the street.

Jim droned on for awhile about the details of how to be an efficient whore, although he called it being “pastorally competent”, or some such thing. I’m sure he was right, in his world. But it took a series of blows to my guts over the years for me to realize that it wasn’t my world, nor one to which I could ever adjust.

But nevertheless, I tried at first. I really did.

Maybe I attempted the impossible at that time and place because of the looming birth of my first daughter Clare, born to Anne and I just six months later amidst the depth of winter and my own spiritual suffocation at St. Andrew’s.

Becoming a parent makes most of us frightened idiots, after all is said and done. I was no different. And being frightened, I sought a rotten compromise. I figured I could honor what was growing in me as well as become an employee of the thing that was making me sick in Jim Sinclair’s tidy office. I thought I owed it to my new child to become such a divided man, when all I was doing was avoiding a choice involving the cost of my own soul.

My attempt didn’t work, fortunately. But it took years for it not to work, as I tried to learn as a clergyman how to “pay the rent” when I was quite destitute, kept empty by some mystery, and thereby, becoming a continual stumbling block to all the church goers and god-experts around me.

Jim Sinclair only let me preach once a month in his church after he and the St. Andrew’s crowd heard my first homily and saw me in action.

“It’s fine to take on a personal calling to poverty if you’re a monk, Kevin. But you can’t expect people in the pews to follow such a life and give away all that they have”

“Why not?” I replied.

He blinked, surprised. He couldn’t find any words to answer me, which was unusual for him.

“I was just quoting Jesus, last Sunday” I explained.

“Sure, that’s what the Gospels say …” said Jim awkwardly, with a decided emphasis.

The pregnant pause that followed his words said it all, in hindsight, but I carried on.

“I don’t think we should look to the government to bring about justice for the poor when that’s our job. It’s what love commands, to share everything, like in the early Jesus communities, in the book of Acts …”

Jim nodded at my words as if he agreed with me, but he was good at that. Then he said sternly,

“Willard didn’t appreciate your offertory prayer”

During the previous Sunday’s service, I had said aloud to God, since the poor deity is obviously stone deaf,

“Loving Creator, you desire not the things of this world or our money offerings, but our hearts and lives, given wholly to you …”

“That offended Willard, did it?” I replied.

“And many other people” Jim intoned, like someone had just died.

“Why?”

Jim shook his head, like I was very stupid.

“Their money keeps this church alive, Kevin”

“Well, it pays the rent, at least” I replied.

“Yes it does”

“But God doesn’t deal in cash. That’s all I was saying”

I figure at that point, a big alarm bell went off somewhere in the United Church head office. If Jim Sinclair and the bureauracy had have had any smarts about them, they’d have figured me out by then and tossed me in the trash heap. But like most denominations, the United Church is hard up for clergy, and I guess they figured I’d eventually come around.

I was a small fry, anyway, and Jim Sinclair had bigger fish in the skillet. During my year in his church, the guy was already a big deal in the local Manitou Presbytery, and years later, after I’d been filleted and finally tossed out of the church, Jim fulfilled his lifelong dream, I suppose, by getting elected the Top Banality in the United Church of Canada, otherwise known as the National Moderator.

Of course, Jim’s only notable achievement during his two year blip as Head Honcho was to publicly oppose a unionization drive among United Church clergy with the remark,

“It’s just not a fit, for ministers to be in a union … Joining a trade union implies a lack of Christian love and faith”.

No, Jim, it actually indicates the highest level of stress leave, personal burnout, unfair job dismissal and forced overtime facing any professional group in the country. But I get it. Human and labor rights are great outside the church, but not inside. Hell, we’re Canadians, after all.

Jim’s ridiculous remarks didn’t surprise me, after my tenure at his church in North Bay, Ontario – and in the wake of my own excommunication, years later. For both Jim and his wife Donna – the long-time editor of the United Church’s glossy magazine The Observer - went out of their way to pretend they didn’t know me, after I hit the headlines with evidence of murdered Indian children in United Church schools.

The ease with which both of them lied to reporters about me was astounding, even for church officials. Donna Sinclair actually told a Globe and Mail journalist that she’d never even met me, somehow, during my entire year in North Bay.

“But Reverend Annett saw you every week in church, didn’t he?” asked the undoubtedly amused reporter.

“And he says you were there soon after the birth of his eldest daughter. He often ate at your home …”

Apparently, Donna replied at that point,

“I don’t have anything further to say”

Jim had more tact, being a politician. He didn’t deny knowing me, which of course would have been absurd. But he did say to the same reporter, whose story was never printed, incidentally,

“Kevin had an unfortunate time with us at St. Andrew’s. He wasn’t at all pastorally competent and he alienated many people in our congregation”

Damn it. I guess I just imagined that glowing recommendation and A1 competence report Jim wrote about me at the end of our year together.

I guess it’s also true that I’ve never learned about Paying The Rent, or about who and what really holds the mortgage on the whole arrangement. I’ll never cut the mustard in the church world, I suppose: not like Jim Sinclair, the United Church leader, par excellence.