Now, the threat of death looms as a different crisis: Man has been at war with Nature, attempting to subdue the Earth and place it under his dominion. Now that Nature seems to be returning the favour, Man is in full denial that he has been doing any such thing.

Photo by Sixteen Miles Out / Unsplash

Beyond the Authoritative Version of the Sacred Text

What lives outside of the canon of patriarchal tradition that speaks of a connection to the animating breath of Spirit?

The Authorized King James Version of the Bible was deemed to be the only way to really access the truth of the scriptures in the Evangelical Christian tradition in which I was raised. My mother was forbidden by my father to read anything else. This instruction seemed rather paradoxical and hypocritical for a man whose Christian bookstore sold several versions of the Bible, including the Roman Catholic versions that included the books of the apocrypha, those texts that had been omitted from the Protestant volumes of the Bible.

Still, I have not read many of these books of the apocrypha, for fear that they might contain heretical ideas or they might be distractions from a life of meaning and purpose. Who knows if any time spent straying from the path would be counted against me in the final judgment?

That was my childhood.

In a sense, I am finding ways to rediscover the genius of my lost childhood by exploring life beyond the canon. I have read and re-read that text multiple times throughout my life, trying to make sense of something that did not hold together in my mind, and only created notes of dissonance in my heart. So many contradictions became apparent in my experience with the followers of the Christian way that I lost faith in the church. However, I never lost faith in what was beyond my ability to understand. I never stopped searching for the transcendent. I knew that there had to be something more than what was recorded in the sacred text that I had inherited.

Even as a child, it felt like something was missing from the gospels. In Grade 9 English class, my teacher noted that I excelled in my ability to express myself in writing. She offered me the opportunity to create my own project, and I chose, of all things, to harmonize the gospels in the form of a novel. My teacher asked why I thought such a project to be necessary. At the time, I didn’t know. Looking back, I think I recognized that there seemed to be so much missing from the text. The modern literary forms explored the emotional worlds of the characters, and it seemed like this was only something that could be inferred from the text that was merely descriptive of the bare facts of the events.

I think I also wondered why there were multiple versions of the same story. Why were there four different versions of the same accounting of events? Why were they so different?

It was not like these were questions that a young boy of my particular disposition could ask of his parents, teachers, or elders. I was not at that time much a participant in the life of the community. I felt much more an observer, on the outside looking in. I assumed the perspective of the fly on the wall. It was my way of self-protection and emotional survival. Not wanting to stand out in the crowd any more than I already did, I attempted to blend into my surroundings, to disappear.

My father was the opposite. He did everything to draw attention to himself. I think, for him, it was a different kind of survival strategy. He could not help but turn his differences into assets. He is Chinese. He has a pronounced Cantonese accent. He brought his autoharp and tambourine to an Anglican Church in Tsawwassen as his way to infuse his understanding of the life of the Spirit into everything that he did, from his medical practice, to his entrepreneurial activities in business, to his activities as a member of his community, deeply involved in the evolution of the Jesus movement of the Vancouver religious experience of the early 1970s.

To have married a white woman in 1967, the same year that Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner was released in the theatres, was revolutionary for the time. For him, his mission was to bring to life the joy he found in sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ to everyone he met. As a proud member of the Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship International, he was a part of a group who called themselves the happiest people on Earth.

I think I wanted to die of embarrassment, but that did not seem to be possible. Instead, I feared death by nuclear annihilation or to be left behind in the rapture. I was reading The Late Great Planet Earth by Hal Lindsay during silent reading period at high school after lunch. I did not feel secure in my salvation, so all I had left was a sense of impending destruction. It was not the best way to live what might be considered the best years of one’s youth.

At the time, I did not think the prospects for me living beyond the age of thirty to be promising. Now, the threat of death looms as a different crisis: Man has been at war with Nature, attempting to subdue the Earth and place it under his dominion. Now that Nature seems to be returning the favour, Man is in full denial that he has been doing any such thing.

Why such patriarchal language? Again, that is the culture I was raised in. I use it, because it has become that with which I have such a contentious relationship. I am using this language deliberately to indicate that Man is acting without the consideration, consultation, and consent of Woman.