Definitely Not the Opera, (DNTO) a CBC Radio One program devoted to the art of storytelling in Canada, asked me to tell my story of coming out to my church for their Nov 3 show “Lost Causes”.
I had pitched the idea to them last year for a different show called “Making Enemies” but withdrew the pitch because a) I don’t think I meant to make enemies, nor do I think I have made enemies; and 2) because I didn’t want to restir a pot that has finally calmed down.
But they remembered my pitch. And they sought me out. Which is humbling, and cool. We recorded on Friday morning and they are editing my lengthy story to 3-4 minutes. I appreciate Andrew Friesen’s belief that my story was important and needed to be told. I feel like the story is more appropriate under “Lost Causes” because trying to reason with people who don’t want to listen to you, or discuss with you–and believing that you alone have to spark change–well, it can feel like a “Lost Cause”. But in the end–and the end hasn’t come yet–who knows if the cause is lost? I think every person who says the church must look at the evidence, must consider the Christian testimonies of LGBT folks in the discussion, is a step towards change. We need more people who realize how many people have fallen away from the faith, have decided against Christ, have been repelled from the church, and who, sometimes when there is no hope left, taken their own lives, all because the Church has historically refused to consider the scriptures in an accepting light–and this causes their members to refuse to accept their children in an accepting light. This splits familes. My God and my Christ are not what I encounter when I come into a Baptist Church anymore. I daresay they wouldn’t recognize it. Churches are not all one defined Mass though–as many churches are beginning to change their minds about LGBT people. Episcopals, Lutherans, Presbyterians, United Church of Canada–all have begun seeing that this is just the next issue the church has to rethink. As it did slavery, race, and its treatment of Women. And divorce. Change comes when people inside churches decide they can’t hold false doctrine anymore. Christianity and Faith are not the problem. Interpretation is.
As I’m approaching an inevitable embrace of Canada (oh, sweet mystery of life at last I’ve found you!) I’m aware that I have very little knowledge of Canadian literature. A poor citizen is one who does not know his country’s stories. It is how we speak to one another–a cultural physiography and language that connects Canadians together. How can I become a citizen without learning this cultural language? Sure I could take a class, I suppose, from a Canadian university online, do some papers, etc. But I thought a more creative way would be for Yukoners to suggest Canadian books that meant something to them–then it would be more personal.
So I went on CBC with Dave White and we came up with a plan for book suggestions–a reading list of sorts–so that I could become more literate about Canada. We are getting great results, but please call in to Dave and suggest more books. I’d like to build a canon, of sorts, of Yukon-suggested Canadian literature. Right now I’m looking mostly for fiction, poetry and drama—but I have decided that a few creative nonfiction pieces are a must, a Pierre Berton, a Farley Mowat, even a Kevin Chong (go, KC!). I built a blog to read and discuss this literature. It’s called “A Year of Canadian Reading” and you can follow the link to see what I’m reading, what I’m up to, and what I thought about books you suggested. Follow along if you like. Read them with me. I want to get an idea about Canada from its literature. I want to understand you through your stories. I think when we understand a culture through its stories, we are more able to speak to and hear from its citizens, and as citizens we’re more able to understand each other.
I don’t have any intention of stopping reading after the Year is over—but an actual year is a start. I’ve read some Canadian Literature. I came in with knowing only three authors: Alice Munro, Margaret Atwood and Michael Ondaatje. But I’m aiming for the depth and breadth of Canadian Literature, even the heart of our warm, warm country.
Let me know if you want to play. Follow these links if you want to: SUGGEST A BOOK FOR ME, or find out WHAT I’M GOING TO READ.
What do you think will happen in 50 years?
Starting Monday, you can hear Yukon 2058 at 7:20 and 4:50, daily through Friday morning,I think. It will also be on the website for CBC North if you miss it. It’ll be there for 24 hours.
Yukon 2058 is my speculation on what the North will be like in 50 years, written in honour of the 50th Anniversary of CBC in the North.
You can read more about the series here. Hope you enjoy my vision of the future, and please tell CBC about your vision of the future. You can make it happen by imagining what you want first. Remember, we create the future.
Illustrations here and above by Shaun Tan. I like to think of this one as the pot we grow the future in. Look at all the things the kid is throwing in there.