Good Sunday Morning – December 19

Good Sunday Morning!

And counting down, six days until Christmas!  I am still an eager Christmas Day believer. What do I believe in? Well, as a practicing (and grateful) Anglican, I believe in the birth of Jesus Christ. On the other hand, as a student of theology, I know it very unlikely that Jesus was born December 25th – shepherds were in their fields keeping watch over their flocks – and all that. Most Biblical scholars think Jesus was born in the spring.

I know early Christians latched onto many Pagan beliefs and fixed Christian practices to existing holidays. Christmas on December 25th fit the significance of Solstice, the shortest day of the year.  Some Egyptian myths even had a virgin birth of the son of a god around solstice to mark the lengthening of days – the birth of the sun/son. Emperor Constantine, who made Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire in 400 C.E., was really sneaky in appropriating all kinds of ritual from pagan practice to Christianity. The most obvious was moving the Sabbath to Sunday to allow sunworshippers to feel as though there was a bit of a nudge and a wink in shifting Christianity from illegal to Christianity as the one and only religion of Rome. December 25th was already a holiday in the empire to mark the birthday of the adopted Syrian god Sol Invictus (starting in 274 C.E.). It was Constantine who decided December 25th was celebrated as Christ’s mass – Christmas.

Yes, I do celebrate Christmas as the birth of the Lord. And I have my Nativity scene awaiting the moment when the baby Jesus in his manger can be added. John points out it looks odd to see an un-pregnant Mary looking adoringly at an empty space for the duration of Advent. That’s what I get for marrying a Buddhist.

But I am one of those who goes all gooey for Christmas. Part of me believes in Santa Claus and will watch “Miracle on 34th Street” (the original with Edmund Gwenn as Santa and Natalie Wood and John Payne and Maureen O’Hara and if I kept going I could name the actor who played the mail sorter who says “Hey Lou, here’s a kid writes Santa at the Court House.”   But you get the idea. I am a “Miracle on 34th Street” addict- and purist! Do not try to fob off the re-makes!)

And Sidney-by-the-Sea is the perfect Christmas town.  All decorated for Christmas, our main street of independently owned gift shops, with abundant book stores, is just perfect.  All we need is some snow. Sidney is so perfect that it looks like a Hallmark movie. In fact…

In September, John was so upset to see decorations already going up. “Every year,” he fumed, “it seems Christmas decorations start earlier, but it’s not even Thanksgiving!”  And then there was snow… It was a Hallmark movie!

Even with a leg that feels like lead, groggy a lot of the time, and under physiotherapist instructions not to get out of bed more than 5 minutes an hour, I am fortunate. All went well. I was very lucky to have been in the day-surgery programme for same day release or it is likely I would have joined a large number of friends who had operations postponed. Very lucky.

Parliament managed to do its usual last-minute panic and nail-biting negotiations to adjourn by Thursday evening. After ten years, I know fake drama when I see it, but at least key bills got passed – paid sick-leave, non-harassment of health care workers, a ban on conversion therapy, and extension of COVID benefits – all got sent to the Senate.  I would have wished for better and more complete coverage in many areas, but it certainly would have been worse to adjourn without these bills passed. We will reconvene January 31.

The mandate letters for Cabinet ministers were finally released. .  The number of items on Guilbeault’s list of “to do’s” was mostly as expected, but there was one accelerated target. The date by which fossil fuel subsidies must be eliminated has been moved forward from 2025 to 2023. Of course, Finance Canada will still not say what they think constitutes a fossil fuel subsidy.  For example, Liberals have previously claimed that building the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion is not a subsidy.

Canada missed the boat on a long-delayed statement of ministers within the World Trade Organization on the importance of eliminating “inefficient fossil fuel subsidies.”  The statement was launched by ministers from the European Union, Chile, Costa Rica, Fiji, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Moldova, Montenegro, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland, Tonga, the UK, Uruguay, and Vanuatu. Not Canada.

It is a pretty bland statement and I find it odd that Canada did not sign on. We did sign on to an even blander one calling for respect by the trade regime for sustainable development goals.

As I mentioned last week, Environment and Climate Change Minister Guilbeault invoked the three months extension allowed under the Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act. This week, Environment Canada and Climate Change launched its public consultation to develop a plan to meet our (inadequate) climate target.  Public comments are due by January 14! At the following link, you will find the on-line questionnaire.

I do not like on-line questionnaires myself. I recommend going through this one ahead of time to see how it is structured- a lot of multiple choice, but room for comments. I plan to prepare longer responses to go in the comments sections.  Let’s try to get in as many solid submissions as possible.

And another one due January 14. This one from Transport Canada is of special significance for those of us living on the Salish Sea. DEADLINE JANUARY 14!!

One last piece of bad news- a lump of coal to Quebec Premier Legault’s stocking for dropping his pledge to remove First Past the Post. Unlike Trudeau, he has not repudiated it. Merely stated that the Quebec populace is more concerned right now about COVID:

And no surprise. All our news media is once again focused on COVID and more particularly on the rapidly spreading variant Omicron.  It is concerning. But it must not distract us from the climate crisis. Back to Margaret Atwood’s wise words from nearly two years ago when asked if it worried her that COVID might push climate change to the back-burner. “My stove has two front burners.”

Be careful about indoor spaces. Improve ventilation. Use an N-95 mask. Get booster shots. Follow all public health advice and follow your own cautions as well. While staying safe, get on-line and fight for climate!

So here is a wish for a very Merry Christmas (for those who celebrate it) and for everyone else, a wish to enjoy the lovely slowing of the whirling pace of life for this season of good will.

Do not expect Good Sunday Morning in your in-box on Boxing Day- next Sunday. The elves and I are taking a weekend off!

Much love and a Merry Christmas!



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