Saturday 31 May 2008

From Injury back to Work Again Part II

From Injury back to Work Again Part II The first year

In the summer of 2005 I was working as a foreman for a landscaping company. One Monday morning my boss told me he had told the crew not to meet me at the current job site until he called them, and that we had a side job to do. We drove our trucks and trailers out from Kitchener to Ayr to pull some conduit for an electrician. When we arrived in Ayr, the electrician did not have any conduit. He wanted to run pipe under ground from the house to a shed/ga
rage at the back of the property to run wire through. Most of the PVC pipe we had on my truck was one inch diameter for residential irrigation. The Electrician wanted a wider pipe to run a few wires through. So we unrolled an old partial role of one and a half inch pipe that was in my trailer to see if it would reach from house to shed. It did but just barely. So we rolled the pipe back up and began to pull it under ground with a ditchwitch.

My injury occurred because of many factors. First we went to do a job without being prepared or knowing the details of what we were doing or what was expected. So
there I was standing in the center of a loose role of pipe that was now taller then I am, trying to keep it spinning so it would feed into the ground without kinking. The electrician saw me struggling and helped from time to time. But I was standing in a roll of pipe with both arms extended full above my head, one leg kicking the roll backwards as it fed, and I did something to my shoulder. I felt the pain right away, but worked through and got the pipe pulled. Then when I went to dig up the other end of the pipe, I could not drive my shovel into the ground from the pain. I drove back into Waterloo to meet my crew at the Open Text building on North Campus, to get to work for the day. By the time I met them I could not even lift my arm, and was having shooting pain down my whole arm.

I called my boss to tell him I was going to seek medical attention. He gave me a hard
time, saying I just wanted the day off, or I hurt it on the weekend, and was scamming him. Yet I insisted and had one of my crew drive me to a clinic. After being examined by the doctor I was told I probably had a strain or sprain in the shoulder and they prescribed an anti-inflammatory and 2 weeks of light duty. Those modified duties included no heavy lifting, and no repetitive movements at or above shoulder height. I called my boss and he went ballistic, yelling and screaming at me on the phone. He decided he would not pay me to just be the supervisor and in his words "Stand around doing nothing" so he ended up paying much more through WSIB for me to be off and at home. He said I had to get someone to pick me up and take me to the office to fill out the WSIB paperwork. I spent the next 2 weeks taking it easy and with my arm in a sling. On the Sunday evening before I was to return to work, I called to find out if I was to go to a job site or pick up the rig at the shop. He asked if I had medical clearance and I said no. He insisted I see a doctor before he would allow me to return to work. Fortunate for me he insisted so. Even though I felt much better, my shoulder was, in reality, not better. When I went back to the doctor she did a series of tests for range of motion, mobility and functionality of the shoulder. She was not happy with these results and referred me for physiotherapy and eight more weeks off work.

So two days later I found myself at Kinetex Rehab on Columbia. I had an extensive intake interview and series of tests with a specialist. Then I began a physiotherapy routine, for more than a year from the day I went to physiotherapy, five days a week most weeks. It was a mix of treatments, of ultrasound therapy, acupuncture, electrical stimulation as well as manual stimulation, combined with home exercises with elastics and a ball and light weights. A few days after I began treatment, I had an ultrasound scan of the shoulder done. That scan revealed a tear in the supraspinatus tendon, which I later learned is the most often-injured part of the rotator cuff muscles. During one of my first visits I was told that shoulders often take a year to heal, and I laughed out loud. I had cut off casts in the past and returned to work or sports from other injuries - what was so special about shoulders? One of the benefits of having treatment at Kinetex was seeing many Kynselogy students from UW doing placements, and talking with them as my process went on and on.

My life changed drastically. I went from being a very active and fit university student, to someone who read, worked on the computer and went for physiotherapy. I started to gain weight, and as the weeks dragged into months, it started having a psychological effect also. I even looked at returning to former jobs. I went and talked with previous managers at Starbucks and Chapters yet neither would hire me back with the restrictions. After four months off work, WSIB required that I visit with a surgeon and consider that option. So off I traveled to St. Joseph's Hospital in London, Ontario to the WSIB Upper body clinic. Fortunately this surgeon was not eager to cut. He extended treatment times from January 2006 again and again until August 2006 when the decision was made to go ahead with surgery, as the shoulder was not showing marked improvement or recovery. And I was then put on the waiting list for surgery. Over this period of a year I did almost 100 job applications hoping for work that would meet my limitations, yet never even received an interview.

That sums up the narrative part of the journey, but what about the WSIB and my boss and all the issues surrounding that? My first adjudicator with WSIB was excellent; he worked my case from the injuring in 2005 until January 2007. My boss was very difficult to deal with; every time I was assessed and treatment was extended he would get mad and flip out on the phone. In December when he laid off the rest of the crew, he got mad and screamed at my adjudicator on the phone because he could not grasp that because I was injured and could not find work that met my limitations he would have to pay me over the winter even though he closes the company during this period. My boss was not the wisest man; he said at the beginning that he did not want me on site with modified or light duties. WSIB would have charged him much less if he had tried to have me back to work but he was unwilling to do so. When we talked he would berate me and accuse me of faking again. I told my adjudicator that I had spent the whole evening before the injury with friends over playing cards and had witnesses that I was not injured on Sunday. When I ran into my boss around Christmas at Future Shop he called me fatso because of the weight I had started putting on and yelled across the store calling me a faker. I shared this information with my adjudicator and the boss was rebuked for inappropriate behavior.

In September of 2006 I got a call telling me my surgery date had been set. I would need an escort to take me to London for the surgery and would be in a sling for 8-12 weeks after. When I received this call, I had a four week old baby at home. Now I was going to be out of commission for helping with the baby and helping around the house. Therefore surgery was not really eagerly anticipated. Yet a whole new phase in the journey of recovery, the journey back to work, was about to begin.

Next time I will chronicle the process from the day of the surgery, through a Labour Market Reentry (LMR) Plan, to being employed again. In that piece I will examine: changes in my WSIB case management, outside contractors to WSIB who actually performed the LMR, to starting a new job in a different field.

(First Published in Imprint 2008-05-30.) 

Part IPart IIPart III.

Friday 30 May 2008

Wholly by: Wyrd Sisters CD

Wyrd Sisters
Festival Distribution

The long-awaited and much-anticipated fourth CD and fifth album from the Wyrd Sisters is finally widely available. The Wyrd Sisters are known for their deep harmonies, passionate lyrics, and penetrating music. Historically their songs have been about violence against women, politics, clear cutting, the Montreal Massacre... and other
political issues. This album is a turning point into the internal; they state that as their audience has changed so has the music. There is a 'spiritual quester' feel to this album - a searching and a struggling. This CD captures the events in the lives of the band members and the sentiment of the audience as it ages, matures, and moves towards inward change as the means for external change.

Every one of the 12 songs on the CD is immensely enjoyable. From the opening track Mary (Wholly) which states:
"Mary, I think you've got something to say
but what kind of language will you wrap your tongue around

when 2000 years have worn you away?
in your belly
in your breast
where you work
where you rest
when you come, when you leave
we believe..."
a song about Mary the mother of Jesus and if she has meaning today, to the incredibly humorous final track Faucet about a woman's love with her tub fixtures which starts with:
"my sexual preference is my bath tub faucet
you might say that I'm in a water closet

my tank is too small and my water bill is high
but my faucet and I get happily by
faucet and I
bye bye bye
I'm a hydrasexual..."
Yet my favourite must be The One That Never Was with guest vocalist John Schritt, who with lead vocalist Kim Baryluk, produces an incredible piece sung in counter point.

The album is a great addition to the Wyrd Sisters Canon and will be fun for a fan of folk, blues, or a jazzy kind of music. This is a great Canadian trio which has given of themelves, their life and struggles in their music, and the lyrics and power of the vocals will speak to almost any listener. So give it a listen or take a journey through the Wyrd Sisters repertoire, begin the voyage with Leave a Little Light, then journey Into the Dreaming, next listen to the Raw Voice, after that try some Sin and Other Salvations and finish with Wholly.

(First Published in Imprint 2008-05-30.)

Thursday 29 May 2008

Morbid? Desktop backgrounds and such.

I'm not too morbid am I? These are currently my desktop backgrounds on my two monitors at work or home.The top one is Skeleton Jack from the nightmare before Christmas. It is on Monitor 1 at work and Monitor 2 at home, it is also currently the background on my blackberry. The middle one is Glendalough, Co. Wicklow, Ireland from a website of widescreen backgrounds. The bottom one I made, and it is my 2 children at about the same age, in a Skeleton Jack onesie on a Jack blanket. With some extra Jack heads. Often in the past I just used Sci-Fi ones from desktop starship's. Of late before the current one's I used some computer gook one's for fun, apple mac, tux linux ...Or am I just a big geek?

This is part of a series of posts on my favourite desktop backgrounds from the last 3 decades. You can read see the rest here: I wrote about my current one's on Day 1-Morbid Backgrounds and some of my favourites from the past on Day 2-Favorites, Day 3-Sci-Fi, Day 4-SciFi Part2, Day 5-Babylon5, Day 6-My Dad's Artwork, Day 7-Misc, Day 8-B5 Pt. 2. and Day 9B5-Pt. 3, The IT Crowd, Backyardigans, and Glee.

Tuesday 27 May 2008

Meme: Alphabet

Ebeth from A Catholic Mom Climbing the Pillars tagged me and I am glad to have a diversion, I am thinking too much about my son's health and future.!

The theme for this meme is that using the 26 letters of the alphabet you will express who you are, what you do, your interests, what matters to you etc….and you have to write it within 26 minutes…I haven't seen this anywhere, though I'm sure it's so obvious an idea that other bloggers have done it before!...

A: Academic, adaptable, adventurous, affectionate, aggressive, alert, ambitious, artistic, assertive,

B: Bibliophile, bold, brave,

C: Capable, caring, casual, clean, clear-thinking, clever, competent, composed, conservative, cool, courteous, creative, curious,

D: Determined, daring, dedicated, deliberate,

E: Efficient, ethical,

F: Faithful, firm, flexible, forceful, formal, frank, factual,

G: Geek, generous,

H: Healthy, helpful, honest, hotheaded,

I: Imaginative, independent, individualistic, industrious, intellectual, intelligent, intense, interesting, inventive,

J: Journaler, JeSTeR, Joke,

K: Kind,

L: Learner, leadership, leisurely, light-hearted, likable, lively, logical, loving, lovable, loyal,

M: Masculine, mature, methodical, meticulous, mild, moderate,

N: Natural, neat-freak,

O: Organized, original,

P: Perfectionist, painstaking, patient, powerful, practical, precise, professional, purposeful,

Q: Quick,

R: Roman Catholic, rational, realistic, reflective, reliable, religious, reserved, resilient, resourceful, responsible, rocker,

S: Student, serious, sharp-witted, sincere, sociable, spiritual, steady, stimulating, strong, strong-minded, studious, supportive,

T: Tenacious, teachable, thorough, thoughtful, tough, trusting, trustworthy,

U: Unexcitable, unique,

V: Versatile,

W: Writer, wise,

X: Xeric

Y: Yearner (Defn #1)

Z: Zany,

I waited a few days to do this when I could think straight, but I
cheated, I went and found some list of adjectives from these two sites Adjective Check List and Adjective Alphabetical Lists and grabbed from them. Then I removed the one's that did not apply. The one's I came up with myself are in blue, but I prefer my short for MCWPP Mad Celtic Warrior Poet Priest!

I tag no one in particular but would be interested in seeing answers from Davenport, Tim's and Steven Brust. If you want to join in please feel free to play.

Sunday 25 May 2008

Social Apartheid in America - An Essay

Social Apartheid in America

The book Amazing Grace by Jonathan Kozol is an eye-opener for anyone who is unfamiliar with the themes of child poverty in America, and the social apartheid that seems to be a great contributor to this degradation of people. We will examine how these children feel like 'other' and who makes them feel that way and how that makes them feel like nobodies. Then we will look at what makes them feel like somebodies, and the role that religion plays in this daily struggle for dignity.

In order to be seen as other, or seeing themselves as other, these children express very clearly in their own words, what they see and how they see it. "The point is that they put a lot of things into our neighborhood that no one wants, the waste incinerator is just one more lovely way of showing their affection." Also we are told, "Why do you want to put so many people with small children in a place with so much sickness? This is the last place in New York that they should put poor children." We are also told that children see themselves as less than human. They state: "I think they look at us as obstacles to moving forward." They also realize that they do not have the schools, social services and medical care that others in New York have. We're told: "Ten thousand people live here in Hunts Point but we do have one private doctor." And the situation will not get better. One pastor states: "We see God as a liberating force who calls us to deliver people from oppression. The apparent consensus of the powerful is that the ghetto is to be preserved as a perpetual catch basin for the poor."

These children feel this way for many reasons, some of which include: "Depression is common among children in Mott Haven. Many cry a great deal but cannot explain why." Also one young boy sees the racial segregation and states: "'Since 1960' says a 12-year-old named Jeremiah, 'white people started moving away from black and Spanish people in New York.'" They also see their situation not only as segregation but much like a prison. "You don't have to be in jail to be in prison." And another little girl states: "It's not like being in a jail," she says, "It's more like being hidden."; or even worse then being in prison. These children also know that they are crammed into a place of sickness, disease and death. "So you took a place of death and added more death, and more danger, and this was intentional and it was spiteful and it was a conscious plan." Kozol predicts that by our time, "the Bronx and Harlem and Washington Heights will make up a vast and virtually uninterrupted ghetto with a population close to that of Houston, Texas, which is America's fourth-largest city." They see themselves as put down by society and by New York City specifically.

That makes them feel like nobodies. In their own words they say: "It isn't the language. It's skin color and it's being poor. This is something more than disrespect. It's as if they wish that you did not exist so they would not have to be bothered." They know that the cards are stacked against them.

Religion is one of the places that helps these children feel like somebodies. One pastor declares: "As a religious man, I see it as my obligation to speak out against this, not to bend the poor to be accommodated to injustice, but to empower them to fight it and to try to tear it down." The children draw strength from each other and from their parents if they have them, and their grandparents, and from religion. For religion plays a large role in this daily struggle for dignity, and in these children's lives. Kozol states of one young boy: "Unlike many children I have met in recent years, he has an absolutely literal religious faith". Kozol also states, about his own time in this area: "Saddened by the streets, I am repeatedly attracted into churches." Finally, Kozol also observes: "Many here are a great deal more devout than people you would meet in wealthy neighborhoods. Those who have everything they want or need have often the least feeling for religion." In a conversation with one woman our author recorded:

"What gives you strength?"
"I Pray."
"Does that really ease the pain?"
"Yes it does."

And this clearly shows how religion is a key role in these people's lives. Lastly, our author states: "The pastor's clear and calming voice fills the chapel of the church, in which six people from the neighborhood have come to pray. It isn't my religion, but it lends a sense of blessed peace and sanity to evening." So religion is one of the few solaces for these children and the people in these communities.

  1. Kozol, Jonathan; Amazing Grace Harper Collins, 1995, p.10
  2. Kozol, Jonathan; Amazing Grace Harper Collins, 1995, p.11
  3. Kozol, Jonathan; Amazing Grace Harper Collins, 1995, p.39
  4. Kozol, Jonathan; Amazing Grace Harper Collins, 1995, p.79
  5. Kozol, Jonathan; Amazing Grace Harper Collins, 1995, p.80
  6. Kozol, Jonathan; Amazing Grace Harper Collins, 1995, p.4
  7. Kozol, Jonathan; Amazing Grace Harper Collins, 1995, p.32
  8. Kozol, Jonathan; Amazing Grace Harper Collins, 1995, p.37
  9. Kozol, Jonathan; Amazing Grace Harper Collins, 1995, p.38
  10. Kozol, Jonathan; Amazing Grace Harper Collins, 1995, p.52
  11. Kozol, Jonathan; Amazing Grace Harper Collins, 1995, p.192
  12. Kozol, Jonathan; Amazing Grace Harper Collins, 1995, p.41
  13. Kozol, Jonathan; Amazing Grace Harper Collins, 1995, p.80,81
  14. Kozol, Jonathan; Amazing Grace Harper Collins, 1995, p.8
  15. Kozol, Jonathan; Amazing Grace Harper Collins, 1995, p.78
  16. Kozol, Jonathan; Amazing Grace Harper Collins, 1995, p.78
  17. Kozol, Jonathan; Amazing Grace Harper Collins, 1995, p.105
  18. Kozol, Jonathan; Amazing Grace Harper Collins, 1995, p.138
(First written for RS 100L Evil Fall 2005.)

Wednesday 21 May 2008

The Sacred and The Profane by Mircea Eliade

The Sacred and Profane
Mircea Eliade

ISBN 015679201X

Ascending and Descending the Staircase of the Sacred and the Profane!

The book The Sacred and the Profane by Mircea Eliade is considered a classic in the field of Religious Studies. As such, to attempt a review of t
he book is a daunting task. If I may be permitted the use of a metaphor, Eliade takes us up a staircase through a progression of his thoughts on the topics of Sacred Space, Sacred Time, Sacred Nature, and finally Sacred Life. In this review we will examine these in the reverse order; we will descend the staircase Eliade has constructed and go from his conclusions and work our way back to his premises.

herefore, we will first examine Human Existence and Sacred Life. Then we will look at Eliade's views on The Sacredness of Nature and Cosmic Religion; after that a study of Sacred Time and Myths. Next, we will take a look at Sacred Space and Making the world Sacred. Finally we will examine some of Eliade's ideas and goals as he entered into this work.

In his study of the Sacred Self, Eliade requires the reader to take a broad approach to this aspect of the study of religion. Eliade states: "The ultimate aim of the historian of religion is to understand, and to make understandable to others, religious man's behaviour and mental universe. It is not always an easy undertaking." Eliade outlines a number of tools to help make this study possible. He suggests looking at a number of historical points of view and using them as tools to look at the study of religion afresh. He recommends that we examine the peasant beliefs in Europe, especially folklore, and through this and looking at pre-agriculture societies we will get a view of 'religious' man in the raw. In order to do a full examination of Sacred Life, after we have glanced at these two societal examples, he examines a number of specific samples. He shows the student of religion the relationship of body, and home to the cosmos. He also looks at the specific example from earlier cultural societies - self and home as mini versions of the greater Cosmos of creation. Through that he looks at rites and rituals, both for men and women, and then the rites involved in Death. Eliade recognizes the shortfall in his covering so much material in such little space. He declares: "The fact is that this little book is necessarily summary and incomplete; it represents only a rapid introduction to a vast subject." As such it leaves the reader hungry for more depth, more substance, more detail.

Next as we proceed down the staircase of The Sacred and the Profane we encounter
Sacred Nature. Eliade looks at a number of topics in this section, from the symbolic uses of Sky, Water, and Earth to the concept of remote Gods and then trees, stones, sun and moon. This reminds me of a fiction book by Steven Brust. His book The Sun, The Moon and the Stars in its two different editions has this on the back:
"Once Upon A Time

there was a kingdom, that
lived in darkness, for the Sun, the
Moon, and the Stars were hidden in a box …
which was hidden in a sow's belly …
which was hidden in a troll's cave …
which was surely hidden at the end of the world.
And …

Once Upon A Time

there was a struggling young painter
who also lived in darkness, and - like
the hero of that Hungarian folktale - was
beginning his most perilous quest.
shooting for the Moon. And the Sun.
And the Stars …"

"Once Upon A Time

there was a studio of artists who feared
they were doomed to obscurity, for though
they worked and they worked,
no one was interested in the paintings
that stood in racks along their studio walls.

The Sun, the Moon
& The Stars

is a tale of two quests, of two young men
who are reaching for the moon. And the sun.
And the stars."

This story, much like Eliede's vision, is a myth being retold in a modern setting, with the two stories running parallel to each other - the myth and the modern story. Eliade lo
oks at the elements of sky, earth and water and their ancient symbolic usage and the modern usages of these elements in rites and rituals across different traditions. Then from this sacred nature we step further down the stairs to sacred time.

In addressing Sacred Time, Elaide makes an argument for the fact that man interacts with time in two modes, sacred time and profane time. His argument is that when entering into a ritual service, such as prayer, the person moves
from profane time into sacred time. Author Madeleine L'Engle wrote two series of religious books called the Kairos and Chronos Series. One is based in profane time and one is based in Sacred time. Eliade states: "One essential difference between these two qualities of time strikes us immediately: by its very nature sacred time is reversible in the sense that, properly speaking, it is a primordial mythical time made present." But in reality all time is on a continuum between the two different types of times. This can be seen in Madeleine L'Engles's books in that she has her two series based on the different types of time and then she has her non-fiction and theological work, and a few characters, especially Canon Tallis, appear in all three types of books. He fits into Sacred Time (Kairos) Profane time (Chronos) and real life - the blend between the two that each religious person lives in (See Appendix I).

Next we return to the bottom step, or the first step we ascended in reading the book, the step of Sacred Space. The concept of Sacred space is not new to almost any student of religion, from the personal shrine to Kali, to a prie-dieu, such as the one in my den before a portrait of Mary; to a church, synagogue or mosque. Eliade says that he gives but a few examples of Sacred place, yet each of us knows of hundreds of sacred spaces we have encountered in our own lives, even if we are not religious. The number of churches, grottos, symbols, places, and graveyards we encounter as we journey through life is a constant reminder of sacred space - space set apart and different from our normal day-to-day life. This, of his four topics, we experience maybe the most, but have the least understanding of the historical significance and selection and creation of these places about which Eliade enlightens us.

Eliade begins his work by referencing Rudolf Otto's seminal work Dad Heilige (The Sacred) as his beginning point in the study of religion, and the themes we have just examined. The praise Elaide gives to Otto's book is the praise and respect that Eliade's work now receives. As such Eliade will broaden the p
erspectives of the student of religion, and his book will not only provide some answers but generate many more questions and lead the reader off on a number of different tangents that can be future areas of study.

In conclusion, this is a book with a great reputation and by
a fantastic scholar. However, it is often used at the undergraduate level, and many of the topics only get skimmed over or are painted with broad brush strokes without filling in the details. My wish would have been for Eliade to have written a book on each of the four sections of this book, thus having the room to expand and complete his thoughts more thoroughly for the student of religion.


  1. Eliade, Mircea The Sacred and the Profane, Harcourt, Inc., Orlando, FL 1987, p.162
  2. IBED p.201
  3. Brust, Steven The Sun the Moon and The Stars Orb Books, 1996, Back Cover
  4. Brust, Steven The Sun the Moon and The Stars Ace Books, 1986, Back Cover
  5. Eliade, Mircea The Sacred and the Profane, Harcourt, Inc., Orlando, FL 1987, p.68

Appendix I

Note: The character is based on L'Engle's real-life spiritual advisor, Canon Edward Nason West of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City.


Eliade, Mircea The Sacred and the Profane:
The Nature of Religion
Translated: Trask, Willard R.
Harcourt, Inc. Orlando, FL, 1987.

Brust, Steven The Sun, The Moon and The Stars
Orb Books, 1996
ISBN: 0312860390

The Sun, The Moon and The Stars
Ace Books, 1986
ISBN: 0441790992

(First written for RS200 The Study of Religion Winter 2008.)

Saturday 17 May 2008

From Injury back to Work Again Part I

The Road to Recovery
Part I The WSIB and the Workplace, part one of three: Safety, insurance, and tips for protecting yourself

Often it is said that when you are young you think you are invincible and thus attempt and do things you should not. Workplace safety i
s one of those areas where youth need to learn to take fewer risks. May 4th-10th 2008 marked North American Occupational Health and Safety (NAOHS) week. Every year together Canada, the United States and Mexico join forces to help to focus attention on the importance of preventing injury and illness in the workplace. As someone who was injured at work and subsequently off work for 2 years, I know first-hand the stress and pain that can be caused by a workplace injury. As such, this is the first in a three part series about The Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) here in Ontario. In these articles I will try to chronicle for the reader, some of what a worker in Ontario needs to know about workplace safety, and the process from injury to being back to work again. So come follow me on a journey that was more than two years in the making.

The WSIB has a youth site aimed at high school and university aged students It states that on average 42 young workers are injured or killed on the job every day in Ontario. It also declares
that workplace accidents can happen at any job and can cause serious injuries. The WSIB declares that "By law, you have basic rights, including:
1. The Right to Know about what hazards there are in your workplace and to know what to do to prevent injuries from them.
2. The Right to Participate in health and safety activities in your workplace without fear of discipline.

3. The Right to Refuse work that you reasonably believe can be dangerous to yourself or others.
However, you also have responsibilities includ
1. Work Safely: use all machinery and equipment the way you were trained to.
2. Report Hazards: if you know that Ontario's health and safety laws are not being followed, you must report the circumstances to your supervisor or employer as soon as possible.
3. Use or wear Protective Devices: don't remove a guard or device designed to protect you. "Wear your safety gear--it's the law." As such you are protected by the law but also have responsibilities. In Ontario all companies that hire full time or part-time employees must register with the WSIB within
10 days of hiring the first employee.

The WSIB has a long history of trying to protect employee rights and safety in Ontario. In 1884 it all began with the passing of the Ontario Factories Act, a system of inspection and enforcement of health and safety standards for all factories in Ontario. The immediate precursor to the WSIB was the WCB Workers Compensation Board, which was created by the Workers Compensation Act in 1914. In 1965 the WCB established the Safety Education Department to coordinate resources and programs from different industry associations and labou
r associations. Then in 1998 the WCB became the WSIB for Ontario. What does all that history mean? It means that this organization has over 100 years of history or working to protect and educate Ontario workers. In 2006 the WSIB reports:

There are three types of claims that the WSIB t
racks. They are: 1. Allowed lost time 2. Allowed no lost time and 3. Allowed traumatic deaths. Looking at the statistics can be a little staggering. Comparing 2002 to 2006 will give us a sample of some of the recent data collected. (Click on chart to see larger version.)

As can be seen from these numbers, even with all the advertising campaigns and awareness the WSIB is trying to generate, the number of claims is remaining consistent. Roughly 10 student employees each year are dying on the job because of a workplace injury or accident. Therefore it can only be concluded that all students and all employees must be active in educating themselves and protecting themselves and others in the workplace.

The WSIB is an organization that has developed over time. As working conditions and the labour market have changed, it has also changed to meet the new conditions and requirements. It is there to educate and to help if you happen to fall victim to an accident or injury in the workplace. If you are injured at work you have a responsibility to report it as soon as possible. If your employer tries to dissuade you from seeking medical attention be insistent. In the summer of 2005 I was working for a landscaping company and prior to my injury 2 other employees were injured on the job. One burned his hands on the muffler of a machine, and another hurt his shoulder. Both did not seek medical attention because they were told that 'They would not have a job when they returned.' Both worked with their injuries for months and if they have problems in the future they have no recourse. An employer cannot do this. Even if they offer to cover your wages do not do it. Follow the system and protect yourself for the long term. Your employer cannot threaten to fire you or fire you for seeking medical attention. It is against the law for them to do so. Get the medical attention you need, when you need it. Even if you lose no time from the job, at least the injury is documented. Educate yourself and know your rights.

Yet even with all of that knowledge fluke accidents can still happen. And in September 2005 it did happen to me. I was working as a foreman for a landscaping company. My boss and I went out to do a side job, pulling some conduit for an electrician. Neither my boss nor I had the right equipment in our trucks, or the right information from the electrician. So while we attempted to solve his problem we created a huge one for me, and for my employer. But that is a story for another time. In the next installment in this series I will chronicle the journey from the injury to just over a year later and the surgery to repair my rotator cuff.

According to the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS), the accident investigation process involves the following steps:

  1. Report the accident occurrence to a designated person within the organization.
  2. Provide first aid and medical care to injured person(s) and prevent further injuries of damage.
  3. Investigate the accident.
  4. Identify the causes.
  5. Report the findings.
  6. Develop a plan for corrective action.
  7. Implement the plan.
  8. Evaluate the effectiveness of the corrective action.
  9. Make changes for continuous improvement.
While work injuries sites say they are for employees it is best that one get representation to insure their rights are being met. Protect yourself because although places like WSIB helps employees the organization has also been accused of functioning to favour employers. Also, WSIB has come under scrutiny for issuing rebates to companies found and prosecuted of safety violations that lead to death and/or serious injuries: found here.

At the CIWA (Canadian Injured Workers Alliance) discussion board workers can use posts about injuries as a place to seek assistance, found here.]

(Note: All data in this article taken from here.)
(First published in Imprint 2008-05-15 as 'The Road to Recovery'.)

Part I. Part II. Part III.

Friday 16 May 2008

Into The Mist by: Patrick Carman

Into The Mist
The Land of Elyon
Patrick Carman
ISBN 9780439899549

This is the first book in the second trilogy set in the Land of Elyon. It can either be seen as a prequel to The Dark Hills Divide, or as a new beginning in a new saga. It really is, in part, both. For in this book Alexa Daley and Yipes from the first series are on a sea voyage with Thomas Warvold, brother to the late Rolan Warvold. This book is the tale of Roland and Thomas and their journey from being orphans in a house on the hill, to being respective leaders and adventurers in their own right.

Our three adventurers are on a voyage. Yet Thomas has not told Alexa or Yipes where they are going. But he does settle in and tell them the story of how he got there to be the captain of the Warvick Beacon, and also the tale of his brother's and his own adventures when they were younger than Alexa is now. The brother's journey goes from being little more than slave labor to journeys under the world, over mountains
and into a magical land where you do not grow old.

All the while, the reader knows that they are being told this story, because Thomas had a task in the story for Alexa and Yipes, a task related to his past and a task that must be faced. Evil has been released in the land of Elyon, and a battle between good and evil is approaching Elyon and Abaddon. It is a battle that once again young Alexa and her friend Yipes will have to decide to choose, either bravery and face the challenge at hand, or …

There are many great facets of Carman's writings. First is his smooth fluid prose. Second is the wonderful word pictures he creates in the reader's mind, and third, his stories center around normal people being called on to stretch their limits. It is not the classic story of the giant battle between good and evil. It is about small battles with people fighting to do right and learning from their own pasts. His stories have life lessons that can be applicable to almost any reader, yet written in such a way that he never preaches at the reader. The battles are between good and evil without it being a cosmic battle for the whole universe, the whole planet or in this case the land of Elyon.

This book is a great read for the reader of any age, and since it is the first in a new trilogy, it will leave you wanting and eagerly awaiting the next installment.

(First Published in Imprint 2008-05-16.)

Other of Patrick Carman Books:

The Dark Hills Divide - The Land of Elyon Book 1
Beyond the Valley of Thorns - The Land of Elyon Book 2

The Tenth City - The Land of Elyon Book 3
Into The Mist - The Land of Elyon Prequel
Stargazer - The Land of Elyon Book 4

The House of Power - Atherton Book 1
Rivers of Fire - Atherton, Book 2
The Dark Planet - Atherron Book 3

Saving Mr Nibbles
- Elliot's Park Book 1
Haunted Hike - Elliot's Park Book 2
The Walnut Cup - Elliot's Park Book 3
A Windy Tale - Elliot's Park Book 4

Skeleton Creek - Skeleton Creek Book 1 - A Prereview.
Ghost in the Machine - Skeleton Creek Book 2

Crossbones - Skeleton Creek Book 3
The Raven - Skeleton Creek Book 4

The Black Circle
- 39 Clues Book 5

Trackers #1

Thirteen Days to Midnight

Tuesday 13 May 2008

The Death Penalty as Social Sin - An Essay

The Death Penalty as Social Sin

To Examine Sr. Helen Prejean's book, Dead Man Walking, by the four levels of social sin outlined by Gregory Baum in his 'Critical Theology' we must first examine what Baum means by 'critical theology' After we have determined that, we can examine Prejean's book in light of his theories. Therefore we will undertake to
summarize what Baum's view of 'critical theology' is and then look at each of his four levels of social sin from the context of Prejean's book. Then finally we will look at Prejean and her book as being active in the role of critical theology, as she lives and learns about the death penalty and her growing activism against it.

Baum states "Critical theology enables the church to assume theological responsibility for its social reality." (e.g. Baum 195) From this we know that our book Dead Man Walking may be critical theology, it is a book about the death penalty and a nun. We have religion and the social issue of the state killing people. Baum goes on to declare: "For the extraordinary Christians who courageously walk in the way of identification with the poor often find themselves exposed to contempt of the authorities and marginalized even in their own churches."(e.g. Baum 212) Prejean gives us an example of this. First she says "I've come to St. Thomas to serve the poor, and I assume that someone occupying a cell on Louisiana's death row fits that category."(e.g. Prejean 3) As such she is living this life on the edge, identified with the poor and the persecuted.

Baum views that "The first level of social sin is made up of the injustices and dehumanizing trends built into the various institutions…which embody people's collective life."(e.g. Baum 201) Prejean causes us to consider this from a number of different angles. She declares "I also notice that when residents of St. Thomas are killed, the newspaper barely takes notice, Where as when white citizens are killed, there is often a front-page story."(e.g. Prejean 9) We have here an example of the dichotomy in society, the privilege of money and what gets media attention and the duality of justice and social awareness of the death penalty "race, poverty and geography determine who gets the death penalty - if the victim is white, if the defendant is poor, and whether or not the D.A. (District Attorney) is willing to plea-bargain."(e.g. Prejean 50) Therefore: if you are a victim who is poor your case will not receive as much attention, and conversely if you are a criminal who is poor you will receive a greater punishment or persecution in your prosecution. Prejean goes even further and claims: "That's why you're never going to find a rich person on death row."(e.g. Prejean 49) Even how we view inmates, especially those on death row is biased. Prejean had originally seen Mr. Sonnier as not human just a death row inmate, but she later states: "We soon become steady correspondents, and I Begin to think of him as a fellow human being."(e.g. Prejean 13) She also later says "and I am surprised by how human, even likeable he is."(e.g. Prejean 31) She had dehumanized him prior to getting to know him because of his situation.

Prejean quotes: "Amnesty International defines torture as an extreme physical and mental assault o a person who has been rendered defenseless."(e.g. Prejean 105) And Baum's "Second level of social sin is made up of the cultural and religious symbols, operative in the imagination and fostered by society, that legitimate and reinforce the unjust institutions and thus intensify the harm done to a growing number of people."(e.g. Baum 201) The process of waiting on death row is torture, even the language we use reinforces that injustice, death row, the death house, last meal, last rites, and so on all confirm to reinforce the injustice and also reinforce the torture on the inmate. Living in a cell imagining and dreaming of your death again and again. Living a thousand deaths in your mind is torture of the utmost kind. It is also a torture for your friends and family as they must go through this with you, knowing the day and hour you will die, and how.

According to Baum the third level of social sin "refers to the false consciousness created by these institutions and ideologies through which people involve themselves collectively in destructive action as if they were doing the right thing."(e.g. Baum 201). Prejean gives us an example of this in speaking to a leader in "the DOC (Department of Corrections), he maintains, 'don't have to take any personal responsibility for what they are doing. It's their job. They are told to do it. They are told how to do it. They are told how long it's going to take and what you do when you do it. It's like a drill, like an exercise, so they have no personal responsibility'."(e.g. Prejean 103) Thus these men are fulfilling the third level of social sin. They are destroying a life, the life of a criminal, but also a life of a son, a father, a brother, a mother …and as such the system has turned the state sanctioned killing into just an action, a job, much like many of the Nazi's marching the Jew's to their deaths. Prejean highlights this as follows "I cannot accept that the state now plans to kill Patrick Sonnier in cold blood."(e.g. Prejean 30)

"The forth level of social sin which is made up of the collective decisions, generated by the distorted consciousness, which increase the injustices in society and intensify the power of the dehumanizing trends."(e.g. Baum 202) The clearest example of this by Prejean is a conclusion made after talking with D.A. Dracos Burke. She concludes that Burke's view of the death penalty is "As if some among
us-not-as-human-as-you-and-I are disposable. And who selects and eliminates the disposable ones?"(e.g. Prejean 113) She also summarized her view of the warden in this process: "He is calm reasonable, organized, professional, and he's planning to kill someone two days from now."(e.g. Prejean 79) Her conclusion about the death penalty is: "If we believe that murder is wrong and not admissible in our society, then it has to be wrong for everyone, not just individuals but governments as well."(e.g. Prejean 130) This conclusion clearly makes the point of the distorted consciousness of those involved from the Government's side in regards to the death penalty.

In conclusion I believe that Prejean's book does indeed live up to the criteria of critical theology as set forth in Baum's writings, for as Baum states: "It is the Task of critical theology to bring to light the hidden human consequences of doctrine, to raise the consciousness of the believing community in this regard, and to find a manner of proclaiming the church's teaching that has structural consequences in keeping with the gospel."(e.g. Baum 195) Prejean's book, the movie about it, and her continuing efforts through speaking tours and her new book The Death of Innocents: An Eyewitness Account of Wrongful Executions (Random House in 2005) continue her efforts to raise concerns about the issue of the death sentence and call the believing community to be active in the political sphere to call for change. Or again as Baum declares: "What people who stress the conversion to Jesus as their personal savior fail to see is that the evil in society has a twofold root, in the sinful hearts of men and in institutionalized injustices, and that this can only be overcome by a movement that includes social change."(e.g. Baum 209) Sr. Helen Prejean is at the forefront of that movement on this issue and is pushing for that change. She summarized in her book "that no government is ever innocent enough or wise enough or just enough to lay claim to so absolute a power as death."(e.g. Prejean 21) She concludes that the only way to end this social injustice, this social sin "we must persuade the American people that government killings are too costly for us, not only financially, but - more importantly - morally."(e.g. Prejean 197) Therefore I would state that Sr. Helen Prejean is active in Critical theology, and has met the four criteria for social sin in regards to the death penalty based on Baum's writings.

(First written for RS 100L Evil Fall 2005.)

Friday 9 May 2008

The Study of Religion! - An Essay

The Study of Religion!

To understand my approach to the study of religion, I must first have working definitions of what the terms mean and what they mean together. After I know what I believe that they mean, then I will know how I will approach this subject. I will define the term religion and then the term study. Then I will attempt to synthesize what the two
mean together. Only then, after coming to an understanding of 'The Study of Religion' can I look at my approach to that study, and all of the preconceptions and baggage I bring to that endeavor.

I understand religion to be the synthesis of both the internal and external life. Religion is both personal and corporate; religion is personal in that it should help the individual become what he is capable of being, and corporate in that sustaining or achieving that change can only be done in community. Saint Irenaeus stated: "The Glory of God is man fully alive." That glory is becoming what one was intended to be; maybe even becoming more than what you believe you can be. Religion should help our actions live up to our ideas. It should help us discover our true heart and to learn to live from that heart. Religion should include what one believes, and why one believes what one believes. Those beliefs should enable us to become what we were meant to be; it should affect all of our relationships, and all aspects of our lives. In my opinion, if a person is truly religious, their actions will live up to their beliefs. It should have a positive impact on their relationships, their work and their play. Religion should be viewed as a quest - a lifelong quest to ever be reaching higher and striving harder to achieve the goals of that religion. Religion will incorporate standards that should lead people to have standards of personal behaviour. Religion should also be active; it should impact body, mind and spirit. Religion is mind, in that we study what we believe and how it should influence us. It is body in that it has a creative element, in art, poetry, story, music, painting and sculpture. It has elements of the spirit in prayer, meditation, and the mysteries.

tory is an integral part of all aspects of religion. It can teach and encourage and challenge. The ultimate intent of story is to provide hope. It is to entertain, and challenge the reader to see anew the world around him. Madeline L'Engle sums it up this way: "We are all strangers in a strange land, longing for home, but not quite knowing what or where home is. We glimpse it sometimes in our dreams, or as we turn a corner, and suddenly there is a strange, sweet familiarity that vanishes almost as soon as it comes. In literature the longing for home is found in the many stories of paradise, of the forgotten place where we once belonged." This longing is filled through story, and as such, story encourages and challenges all aspects of spirituality.

Religion is a glue that is used as a tool of reconnection; reconnecting people with God or the divine; connecting people with community or others, and it should help reconnect people with their true selves. C.S. Lewis in his space trilogy speaks of the human nature as 'bent'. We are people of a broken nature and religion should help us to learn to be straight again.

Next the term study. For me, study is not just memorization of numbers, facts, theories or theologies. Study is an intentional active interaction with a material - a subject matter to wrestle with, to discover its very nature, and by that process of engagement come out changed by it. C.S. Lewis in an essay on Hamlet states: "Mere change is not growth. Growth is the synthesis of change and continuity, and where there is no continuity there is no growth." That personal and corporate change must have continuity, and not just be change for the sake of change.

My personal background plays tremendous havoc on my approach and study of religion. I come from mixed Irish and Scottish stock with parents who were an Irish Catholic Father and Pagan Scottish mother. I was raised in the Roman Catholic church until my parents fought over going to mass so much we stopped going all together. Yet I remained in Catholic school until graduation. In my nearly 40 years on this earth I have held membership in many Christian traditions such as Baptist Convention of Ontario & Quebec, the Presbyterian Church of Canada, Mennonite Brethren, and now have returned home to the Catholic Church. In the interim years I have also practiced Shaolin Buddism through my Senpai, and at one point late in high school, with a group of friends, tried to revive a religion around Odin and Loki. How does all of that affect my study of religion?

I have always been fascinated by religions, religious practices and means of grace. I collect religious items from different traditions like prayer beads, Muslim, Buddhist or catholic(Rosary). I have a prie-dieu from Montreal, a prayer shawl from Jerusalem and a prayer mat from a mosque in Morocco. I love studying other traditions to learn from them, and through studying other traditions learning to have a deeper respect and appreciation for my own. Donald Nicholl in his article "Scientia Cordis" declares: "Certainly a striking feature of many of the great spiritual adventures of this century has been the way in which, having lost their bearings within their own traditions, they have sought them in some other - and have almost gone over to that tradition, only to discover their bearings once more within their own." This is seen in people like Thomas Merton, Etty Hillesum, and many others throughout history. I find that my own study of religion often follows that same path. I become fascinated by a person, their writings or an aspect of a tradition and in my study become drawn into their tradition or practice, only to emerge and return to Catholicism, renewed, and with a fresh passion and appreciation for the richness in my own tradition.

So for me one of the most important elements in the study of religion is the study of faiths and practices of faith, and also the stories used in the different traditions. I would like to use a story to sum up my understanding:
"The Reason for Religion is not Reason:

A student, clearly troubled by something Jacob had said, followed him as he left the bakery. "Jacob, did you say that what is Holy has no beginning or end?"
"Yes," replied Jacob.
"But that is not possible," said the student. "That is because only the possible can be measured," said Jacob.
The student struggled to understand. "Jacob, you are not making sense."
Jacob nodded in agreement, then placed his hands in front of the student, covering his eyes. "You see," said Jacob, "reason explains the darkness, but it is not a light.""

The study of religion should help us see the light and be able to understand and explain it, both in our own traditions and also in the traditions of others. Yet we always need to be cautious of not reading our own tradition into those we study. For as in the first chapter of The Sacred Paths of the East, Theodore M. Ludwig states: "The Human adventure can be viewed from many perspectives - and indeed there should be many perspectives, since there is not just one human story, but many stories. Common to these stories is a searching for meaning, for wholeness, for some connection to the larger continuity of human life. That searching has often been expressed in what we call religious structures, ideas, and experiences." So the desire for knowledge and understanding must be balanced with a respect for the tradition being studied, our own tradition and the process of that study.


  1. John Eldredge, Waking the Dead: Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, 2004. p.10
  2. Madeleine L'Engle, The Rock of Higher: Story as Truth: Wheaton: Shaw, 1993. p.24
  3. C.S. Lewis, Selected Literary Essays, Walter Hooper, ed., Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1969 (online)
  4. Donald Nicholl, The Beatitude of Truth, Dartmon Longman & Todd, London, 1997 p.150
  5. Noah benShea, Jacob the Baker: New York, Ballantine Books, 1989. p.20,21
  6. Theodore M. Ludwig (2001), The Sacred Paths of the East 2nd Ed., Prentice Hall, Toronto, p.3


L'Engle, Madeleine The Rock that is Higher: Story as Truth,
Wheaton, Shaw, 1993.

Eldredge, John Waking the Dead
Tennessee, Thomas Nelson, 2004.

Noah benShea, Jacob the Baker:
New York, Ballantine Books, 1989.

Ludwig, Theodore M. The Sacred Paths of the East
Prentice Hall, Toronto, 2001,

Nicholl, Donald The Beatitude of Truth
Dartman Longman & Todd, London, 1997,

(First written for RS200 The Study of Religion Winter 2008.)

Sunday 4 May 2008

The Shadow of the Bear: A fairy tale retold by: Regina Doman

The Shadow of the Bear:
A Fairy Tale Retold

Regina Doman

Chesterton Press

ISBN 9781883937768

Some books just fall into your hands, and instantly become treasures you want to share with all you know. This is one of those books. It is a modern retelling of the story from the Brothers Grimm, of Snow White and Rose Red. It is the story of two brothers and two sisters, all of whom have lost much in life and are not fully what they at first appear. The sisters have lost their father and had to move back into New York City. The brothers have lost their mother and have both been convicted of drug charges. Then one fateful night their fates become somehow intertwined.

The sisters are Blanch and Rose, two girls who grew up in the countryside, and who now reside in the city. They live with their mother and attend secondary school. The first of the brothers we meet is named Bear; he has dreadlocks, is big and tough, yet upon spending an evening with the Brier sisters and their mother he reveals different parts of his past. He has a passion for life, loves poetry and takes the girls on outings. But there is always a dark side to a Bear and this one is no different. He has secrets and his story and journey are still unfolding. The mystery revolves around a murdered priest, an abandoned church and the school the sisters are attending.

This story is wonderfully told. The author draws you in and keeps you captivated from first page to last. Each chapter begins with a quote from the original fairy tale, and foreshadows what is coming, yet in New York the mysteries and magic of a fairy tale are very different from the German countryside. Regina Doman is a true storyteller, not just an author. His skill with the pen makes you see the action as it is taking place, and you feel so drawn into the story that you feel like a character sitting on the sidelines waiting to see what will happen next.

This is the first book in a trilogy and I cannot wait to lay my hands on books two and three. This story was so captivating that it left me wanting more immediately. If you are looking for some great summer reading this term, give this book a try.

Book by Regina Doman:
Fairy Tales Retold:
Snow White and Rose Red (1997)
Shadow Of The Bear (2002)
Black As Night (2004)
Waking Rose (2007)
Midnight Dancers (2008)
Alex O'Donnell and the 40 Cyber Thieves (2010)

Rapunzel Let Down (2013)

Other Books:
The Story of Job

Contributed to:
Catholic Philosopher Chick Makes Her Debut
Catholic Philosopher Chick Comes on Strong
The Mystery of Harry Potter: A Catholic Family Guide
The Chestertons and the Golden Key

Picture Books:
Angels in the Water (2004)
Fairy Tale Novel Paper Dolls (2009)

Our Fairy Tale Romance - Andrew Schmiedicke (2009)