Turning A Corner (And Divorcing Constantine)

I am a minister in the United Church of Canada, in my late fifties. Having served a denomination in decline for my entire ministry I am aware that as a church, we have a problem. And while we have struggled in the dark for a long time, I think some light is beginning to dawn. We have become aware of systemic racism, a history in which we have willingly participated in an attempt at genocide (in the Residential Schools). We have become aware of the ways in which we have participated in violence and oppression against LGBTQ++, and women. Somehow, even as we have proclaimed Jesus Christ, we have embraced at our depths attitudes, values, and practices very much at odds with what Jesus lived and taught. I believe that it is in our failures — and repenting of them at last — that our future health may be found. And I believe that the heart of our failure is our choice, centuries ago, to embrace the power and privilege of empire. It’s time to divorce Constantine.

In my fifties, though, I have also reached a stage of life in which I believe I am able to address some of the toxic patterns in my own life as well. I struggle with addictive behaviours, and internal narratives in which I tell myself I am only worthy if I achieve something like perfection. There are toxic stories inside me about what it means to be a “real man,” about what the good life looks like, about work and relationship and so much more. I’ve had a heart attack, now — probably something to do with the way I carry stress. Just as it is time for my denomination to turn a corner, so it is time for me to turn a corner. I am tired of coping with my life; I want to live it with joy and purpose.

This blog will be a reflection on what it might mean to turn a corner — as a man, as a minister, as a church, and as a society.