Tuesday, 26 May 2015

All together ......, in harmony!

Dear Readers:

Some of you might be wondering why your long suffering author is re-printing this e-mail I got today, given my attitude towards organized religion and the Church in general. (See my book 'The Plain Truth About God'  H E R E )

Well let me tell you folks,  I have listened to Greta Vosper several times on Mary Hine's CBC program "Tapestry," and all in all ...., I sort of like the cut of her jib! (And if you've ever had a cut jib, you'll know what I mean!)

Since regular readers also know that I'm not above some shameless promotion of things or causes that strike my fancy, I give you the e-mail here and hope that at least some of you enjoy it!

Allan Janssen

The power of song ..... and getting past the theological barrier!

Hymnody has been a major force for the transmission of theological concepts over the millennia. From the beautiful simplicity of the fourth century "Of the Father's Love Begotten" to the contemporary drive of Faith Hill's vision of the end times,  "There Will Come a Day," theology has found its way into the words we sing.

But often, in church settings, clergy who have long since moved beyond the literal interpretation of the doctrinal claims of their denominations continue to choose hymns that promote that same doctrine or allow music directors to do so.
In With or Without God, I argued that if you couldn't read it in the pulpit, you shouldn't sing it in the pew. Since then, my congregation, West Hill United, has been forced to play the part of crash test dummies, singing hymns that have been tweaked or entirely rewritten. They are a gracious lot!

In addition to being able to sing them to traditional tunes, the brilliant and prolific composer, Ron Klusmeier, whose work is well-known and loved in liberal church circles, is hard at work creating new music for them, too! I am so excited about that. In fact, it's driving me a bit crazy that I can't peek over his shoulder and see what he's up to! Having two choices of music will allow the music to be enjoyed far outside the walls of church, as well. Because the songs are all doctrine free, they can be sung in any setting.

Here are a few of the new songs I have rewritten over the past few months. Do let me know which is your favourite and, if you want, send me a song you'd like me to try to rewrite. I'll try to rise to the challenge!

Nearer, My God, to Thee, rewritten as For Our Humanity

Amazing Grace, rewritten as Love, Again

The Church's One Foundation, rewritten as 'Til All, in Truth, are Free


Gretta [gretta@grettavosper.ca]


There is a 16 year old girl, (who shall remain nameless) who went to a high school here in London, (which shall also remain nameless) and one day last week she wore a pair of old, ripped jeans and a tank top!
She got up in front of the school to read the morning announcements and was promptly sent home to change her clothes, since they were in violation of the "dress code!"
This didn't sit well with her sense of entitlement, and she, and a bunch of other students, are now going to arrive at school tomorrow morning wearing ......., you guessed it, old ripped jeans and tank tops!
Here comes the kicker folks!
Forget about not conforming to the "dress code," because these kids will have that nonsense knocked out of them when they get out into the real world, but what drove me into fits of rage and despair is that some of the students have misrepresented this issue and made it into a politically correct statement about women's rights! (P.S. If anybody is looking for me I am in the bathroom banging my head against the wall!)
"My intention was not for it to be sexual...I have the right as an individual to wear what makes me feel comfortable."- Laura Anderson, Student
The Grade 12 student who will be attending Queens University next year for literature, is on student council and said she has respect for the administration at the school. 
"My intention was not for it to be sexual. I don't put on shorts or tank tops so I get sexual attention from men or other people at my school," she said. "I put it on because it's hot outside and I think I have the right as an individual to wear what makes me feel comfortable."

Students to wear ripped jeans, tank tops 

On Wednesday high school students from the A.B. Lucas as well other schools in London will dress in support of Anderson by wearing tank tops and ripped jeans. 
They will also be using a hashtag saying #mybodymy business. 
"This incident has given people a chance to really open up their voices, and really give themselves confidence in what they belive in, and what they think they should be allowed to do" said Anderson. 
Anderson said she wants to sit down with administration, the superintendent and student council at Lucas and discuss whether the rules regarding dress code need to be evaluated. 
"As educators I understand that they care about us, but believing that their wrong about this, I really want to work with them to redefine what they think about dress code," she said. 

Dress code petition started 

Classmates have rushed to defend Anderson's choice of clothing.
In a Facebook post, Sophie McGregor said "what is most amazing about this whole thing is the fact that I was wearing a short sleeve t-shirt and short shorts."
"I am revealing more skin than my friend," McGrergor continued.
Ashlyn Nicolle started an online petition at change.org in support of Anderson.
"To ask female students to put sweaters on and 'cover up' to ensure the male students are not distracted or exposed to female sexuality is sexist and outdated," Nicolle wrote. "This standard presumes that female students are considered a distraction and therefore its a females actions that must be policed.
"The sexualization of a teenage girls body is not her problem, it is the problem of those who choose to sexualize a 17-year-old's body."
Nicolle wants wording in the school's dress code reworked.
"A.B. Lucas seriously needs to take another look at their dress code and reconsider the lines: "clothing must not be inappropriately revealing" and "administration will determine what is considered to be appropriate dress for school", because they are imprecise, unjustified, and resulting in the punishment of students for the administration's ambiguity," the petition reads.
The petition has been digitally signed by 1,500 people.

School superintendent weighs in 

Lucas principal Tom McLeod declined to speak with CBC.  However, Sheila Powell, the school's superintendent spoke with CBC's Gary Ennett.
Powell said she cannot comment on Anderson's specific case, but added that each school has a specific dress code. 
The dress code is reviewed every year with students and parents, she said. 
"Student protests always offer opportunity to engage in dialogue and discussion about what's appropriate and why there may be rules, if they need to be changed."- Sheila Powell, Lucas superintendent 
"When concerns arose yesterday about a student's attire, the school code was followed, and the student was given an opportunity to address the concerns and comply with the dress code that is outlined for them," said Powell. 
She said administrators will enforce the dress code when the students dress in solidarity with Anderson on Wednesday. 
"Student protests always offer opportunity to engage in dialogue and discussion about what's appropriate and why there may be rules. If they need to be changed and if the protest raises the opportunity for discussion with students, the principal very much welcomes that opportunity," said Powell.

The school has its "dress expectations" online: 

  • Clothing must not be inappropriately revealing and free of profane or vulgar language. Shirts must cover the midriff and the back.
  • No references to drugs, alcohol, sex, demeaning or offensive slogans.
  • All shorts and skirts should be past the fingertips of your outstretched hands.
  • Skirts, shorts and pants should completely cover undergarments.
  • Pants must be able to stay up at the waist.
  • No hats or head wear. Hats may be confiscated if worn in school. Only head wear worn for religious or medical reasons is exempt.
  • Administration will determine what is considered to be appropriate dress for school. 
  • Students who do not conform to this guideline will not be allowed to attend classes and will be sent home to change.
A London, Ont., teen says she was sent home from school for wearing ripped jeans and a tank top to class on Monday.
Laura Anderson said the vice-principal at A.B. Lucas called the clothes "inappropriate" and in violation of the school's dress code. 
"They just said that what I was wearing was not appropriate for school and that I should not be able to be seen in school until I change," said Anderson. "I went home and changed into regular jeans and baggy t-shirt, but felt very sad about the incident and very degraded by the incident." 
Anderson said she's not a troublemaker and, at the time, accepted what the vice-principle told her to do.



And that's not all, folks!

There must be something in the air because:

Scores of students showed up in midriff-baring crop tops at a Toronto high school on Tuesday in a protest that came after school officials deemed one teen's outfit inappropriate.
The movement began Monday when Alexi Halket bared her belly at Etobicoke School of the Arts after she wore a grey skirt and a black and turquoise top that looked a little like a sports bra.
She was called down to the principal's office and told to cover up after a teacher complained about her short top. She missed the rest of class because she had a lengthy discussion with principal Rob MacKinnon.