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Monday, January 28, 2019

Mess up. Fess up and dress up. What the Roman Catholic Religion needs to do at their February conference in Rome

How does the Catholic Religion save itself?

It’s true. You can’t change what you don’t acknowledge. And the Roman
Catholic Religion hasn’t acknowledged a lot of things in a lot of years.

Now before you tell me I am ‘anti-religious’ let me stop you. I was raised strict Roman Catholic and converted to Anglican Catholic about ten years ago. Both of my children were baptised in the Catholic Church and I still go to Worship most Saturdays. I believe in God and I believe in his Holy Catholic Church.

So, I’m not out to hurt you. I am trying to help you.

I know some may think that I am trying to sell copies of my book, Operation Wormwood, a crime thriller that deals with pedophilia where the archbishop is a pedophile. But Father Peter Cooke, a Catholic priest, is a hero. And yes, I do hope you buy my book and read it. But that’s not what this is about.

The answer to this question is simple. Mess up. Fess up. Dress up.

February 21-24, Pope Francis is hosting the world's bishops and representatives of religious orders at a conference in Rome to address the abuse and protection of minors. His Holiness wants Church leaders to have a full understanding of the devastating impact that clerical sexual abuse has on victims. In his strongest language to date, Pope Francis has told those who abuse minors to hand themselves in to civil justice authorities and "prepare for divine justice.”

Great start.

What he really needs to do is stand on the balcony of the Vatican with a new set of the Commandants for his clergy to follow. This has to supersede all other law including Cannon Law. Only then will people come back to religion.

Let’s also not fool ourselves and think only the Roman Catholic Church has this issue. Churches from every religion are closing down at an alarming phase.

To find out why, we first have to admit we have an issue.

Why did our mothers drag us to Church every Sunday? Well, they probably wanted their family to be part of a community of faith that helped them find meaning and purpose in their lives. Basically, they wanted us to be good people. They encouraged us to get involved in Church activities that were rewarding and had a positive impact on us as a family and a community such as the Christmas pageant and weekly choir. 

The issue is mothers and fathers just don’t trust any religion to do that anymore.

Why is that? Well let’s look at the history.

Religion does not do well when it comes to communicating what they are doing in the community.  They still live behind that veil of secrecy. The public has a generally ambivalent attitude toward religion in general. Basically, they’ve lost faith.

Religion has historically turned its back on victims of sex abuse and their supporters. They have encouraged others to do the same to those who speak out. That’s just putting it in a nut shell. I could write a book on the background of the issue.

What should the Catholic Religion’s objectives be at this point?

They need to get a strategic crisis plan in place by the time that February conference ends. This can not be a ‘we formed sub-committee who is going to come back to us with ideas.” This has to be a “Here’s the plan, now do it!”

They must help people find meaning in religion again and give them a reason to get involved in activities. They must show the benefits and how rewarding it can be for themselves and their families.

They need to apologize to the victims of clergy abuse and offer them help. Listen to them. Make their suggestions part of their recovery strategy.

Who’ going to listen?

This strategic crisis communications strategy has to hit the target. The Catholic Religion must reach out to people who may be seeking a faith community, meaning and purpose in their lives. Young families who are seeking to teach their children about faith and morality. People who have been shunned because of gender and sexuality.

What should the message be?

The Roman Catholic Religion has to create a welcoming, inclusive, open, and family oriented Church. That means everyone. Not just straight people. The Church has to be open to the LGBTQ community.

The Church has to be a place where people who are hurting and struggling can find meaning in their lives. That includes victims of sexual abuse by clergy.

The future of any religion is young people. The clergy has to find better ways to minister to youth, new families and parents who need help.

Catholic Parishes must be a safe place to seek answers to complex questions about religion, life, and personal identity. 

But think before you go running out to the masses.

You can’t say “I’m sorry” shake hands and think we’re all good now. When you’re asking parents to get their children involved with Church activities, the sexual abuse history will be in the forefront of their minds, and who could blame them? Clergy must encourage parents to stay during children's activities and demand letters of conduct from those who supervise children's events.

Those who are innocent but painted by the sins of the past will welcome this. But the old guard will see it as a challenge to their power. And powerful they are. They have controlled the Catholic Religion for centuries. Even Moses won’t be able to part that sea.

So what should the strategic crisis communication strategy look like?

It has to have tangible tactics. It can’t say foolish things like “We will eradicate pedophiles by 2020.” Pedophiles are everywhere, not just in religions. They are experts at entrenching themselves where children are. Interesting fact, priests are not even in the top ten professions for pedophiles.

The number one tactic has to be to give women a management roll in the Catholic Religion. Women have to be able to become priests, bishops, cardinals even Pope! The Virgin Mary is the most powerful religious figure, but today, she couldn’t even say Mass.

Women are the ones who bring their children and husbands to Church. Mothers are the ones who push religion. Work with that. Let them help. The Anglican religion has allowed women to say Worship for years and they are still standing.

Which brings me to another ‘Come to Jesus’ thought. Make it a priority to bring the Roman Catholic and Anglican Churches back together. Have levels of priests and nuns. Ones that can marry, and ones who don’t. Neither holds a higher position than the other. Why have a Roman Catholic Priest in a rural area saying Mass to a congregation of twenty people, and an Anglican Minister across the street saying Worship to a congregation of twenty people? Why not have one give a Worship for forty people. You’ll save on heat, light, and everything else that’s closing down Churches.

Hold a yearly abuse healing conference until people tell you to stop.

Ask internally for ideas. Remember you can’t build a house from the top down. Your front line will have the best ideas. Tap into their ideas and let them know they are also being heard.

Work with the media. Give your people fact sheets, speaking notes, question and answer documents, media lines, public service announcements and other promotional material so everyone is singing from the same hymn book.  

Embrace social media. Update web sites. Re-educate people on the new information, seasonal information, Church bulletins and relevant information.

Hire professional communication people to write and execute the strategy once it is complete and create an action plan that is to stay on time.

Focus on youth. So many families are struggling with issues like drugs, alcohol, bullying, sexuality and social issues. Young people need a safe place to fall and a push in the right direction.

Put your money where your mouth is not the collection plate.

Every good strategic crisis communications strategy needs a budget to work. The Roman Catholic Religion, the Pope and religious leaders have one shot at this. Don’t miss the bullseye because you didn’t want to spend the money. You get what you pay for. So get the best. (I am for hire. Not like you have a better offer.)

How do you know it’s working?

The only way to know the strategy is working is to evaluate it at every corner.

Monitor your Churches to see if people are coming back. Check their ages to ensure you are reaching young people. Monitor media and correspondence.

Like I said, I could write a book on this issue. I’m sure once the report on the February conference is released, if it’s ever released, it will be thicker than the Bible. This blog is the beginning of a road map to say, ‘this is how you get there.’ Any strategy is just a map that outlines your next steps.

At this point in history the Roman Catholic Church does not need spin doctors. They’ve been spinning their wheels for too long. They need traction to get them on the road to recover.

Basically. Acknowledge your problem and change. Mess up. Fess up. Dress up.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

The Attack of the Giant Reindeer

Me riding my giant reindeer.
If you’re driving by my house or visiting during Christmas, you will see a giant ass reindeer in our drive way. Go ahead and laugh. I do every time I see it.

I nagged hubby since late November to put the Christmas decorations out on the front lawn. He has hundreds of dollars invested in Christmas blow-ups depicting Santa doing everything from playing in a band to riding an airboat through the Everglades.

There are tubs of outdoor decorations and lights in my shed.

About two weeks ago he finally went out on a Saturday and put them all up. Our entire lawn was lit up like a Christmas tree. It was beautiful. Neighbours slowed down when the drove by to let their kids get a good look at Santa Claus.

Then a snowstorm hit. The decorations are now buried under four feet of snow and ice. We’ll see them again sometime around Easter.

These blow-ups are just not made for Newfoundland winters.

The small reindeer. Look how cute
this is.
I took my dog, Minnie, out for her after supper walk one night and noticed just about every house on our street was lit up except for ours. I went home and dragged more Christmas lights out and draped them over the snow-covered bushes.

But it wasn’t enough.

That night I was looking at Facebook and a guy was advertising reindeer made from logs. They were about two feet high and decorated with a red nose, black eyes, and antlers made from branches.

I thought, “This is perfect. I’ll put them by my front door and we can use them every year.”

I contacted the guy. We dickered back and forth over size and price. In the end, I order two, one a little bigger than the other (basically a mother and baby). They would be perfect for our front door.

The guy contacted me and asked if I wanted our name on the bigger one. I said, sure why not.

Early Friday morning he showed up at my door.

I had an appointment and was running late. My hair was still wet and I didn’t have time to talk to him. I told him to put the reindeer by the garage door and I would arrange them when I get home.

He asked me my husbands name and when I told him. He informed me that my husband and his friend were best friends growing up. So, he made me a bigger, special reindeer for Christmas.

Wonderful, I said. I gave him the money, closed the door and ran upstairs to dry my hair.

Minutes later I was running out the door to my appointment and went face first into a giant, freaking reindeer sitting in my driveway with its baby.

The ‘special’ reindeer is about five and a half feet high with “The Escott’s” painted in red across its belly. The baby is about two feet high. The mommy reindeer is almost the full length of my garage door.

My first thought was “Hubby is going to kill me!”

My second thought was to hide it.

Wearing three-inch heels, I put my shoulder into the arse of it. I tried to push it to the side of our house, but it wouldn’t move. Then I put it in a headlock and tried to drag it, but it still wouldn’t move. It weighs about a hundred pounds and its wooden legs were stuck in the ice on our driveway.

Then I thought I’ll find a rope and tie it around the neck of the reindeer and the other end around the hitch on the back of my truck and I’ll tow it to my neighbour’s yard before he got home from work. It will be like the Trojan Reindeer – a gift from Helen of Troy.

But our name was on it. So, I couldn’t do that.

Just as I was running through ideas on where to dispose of a reindeer carcass, my teenage daughter came out the front door, took one look at the giant reindeer with our name on it and said, “This is why I don’t invite my friends over!”

I had no choice but to leave the reindeer in the drive way while I ran to my appointment. By the time I got back hubby was already home from work. Luckily, he parks in the back driveway.

I sauntered into the front door like I had no clue where the giant ass reindeer came from.

“How was work?” I asked.
“Fine,” he responded.
“Anything interesting happen today?” I asked nonchalantly.
“No,” He responded.
“OK,” I say while leaving the room.
Just when I thought I got away with it…. “Helen why is there a giant ass reindeer in our drive way.”
“Oh, that reindeer?” I respond coolly. “It’s a gift from your best friend. He dropped it off today.”
“Why would he do that?” He asks.
“I don’t know. It’s Christmas so he gave you a gift.” I was blaming this on him like a pro.
“I’m going to call him. This got to be a joke.” He was on to me.
“NOOOO! Don’t call him. He’ll be upset if he finds out you don’t like it.”
“You ordered this didn’t you?” He wasn’t falling for it.
“I confess! But I thought it was only two feet high. The guy knew your best friend and decided to make me a bigger one.” I really was innocent in this.

My friend Felicity dropping by to
ride my giant reindeer when we
were not home.
We went out and tried to move our big ass reindeer. It took two of us to carry it. It’s too big to fit in front of our door. There’s too much snow on our lawn to put it there. So, it’s being left in our driveway.

It’s big enough to ride.

As a matter of fact, when we are not home, our friends drop by and take pictures
of themselves sitting on it. Then they text the pictures to me.

He’s there until Spring now. Where it goes after that I don’t know. Hubby says it’s fire wood as soon as the snow goes.

But I’m getting attached to him. Maybe I’ll put some rockers on the bottom of his wooden legs and he’ll be a big ass rockin’ reindeer.

I think this is a good case of “Beware of Baymen Bearing Gifts!”

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Buying local keeps jobs in Newfoundland and Labrador. Even yours

Remember last winter when we were hit with power outages & snow storm after snow storm? The supermarket shelves were bare (except for whole wheat bread which everybody hate) because trucks couldn’t get across the gulf.

I started thinking about how sustainable are we as an island.

Should we be relying on the mainland to feed us?

What amazes me is, we are an island with 26,000 miles of coastline & thousands of miles of unused land. Yet we buy bacon from BC, potato chips from Ontario & bread from Winnipeg.  

I just visited our grandchildren in Alberta. Driving from Calgary to Edmonton I was fascinated by the number of farms there. Every piece of land is either growing crops or raising cows, goats, and pigs.

Surely Newfoundland and Labrador can do the same.

It seemed like every community I went to in Alberta had a specialty: A meat market where preservatives were not used, fresh vegetables pulled from the ground, locally made clothes and crafts.

It can be done here.

Look at Fogo Island. Who would have thought Fogo Island could be turned into a tourist destination for the rich and famous? It took the brilliant mind of Zita Cobb. Ms. Cobb should be the Minister of Municipal Affair and Environment, Natural Resources, Tourism and Culture, Finance. Hell, let her run the government.

Every community in this province should have a Zita Cobb.
Newfoundland and Labradors biggest export is intelligence. Our young people are leaving to find work elsewhere.

Just recently my daughter dragged me downtown to go shopping. The first thing I thought was ‘I hate downtown! The parking is terrible.’ I chastised myself for that afterwards. 

We went to this beautiful little boutique called, Ethereal Boutique, 199 New Gower Street. It’s owned and operated by 28-year-old Meagan Warren. She opened this classy boutique in September 2017. Her clothes are anywhere from daily wear to haute couture and all reasonably priced. Meagan is a young person trying to make a go of it in downtown St. John’s, an area that desperately needs to be revitalized. I easily found a parking spot right in front of her store. Buying a sweater from her instead of online means that she can work and live in this province as apposed to buying a sweater from China, where our money
leaves the province.

I admit I also shop on line but lately I have been more conscious of it. Maybe because my own sons had to go away to find work.

I am sure Newfoundlanders and Labradorians eat more potato chips than anyone else in the world. Then why aren’t we growing our own potatoes and making our own chips! Why, during every snow storm, must we run out to the supermarkets like maniacs to get the last bag of Smokey Bacon when the factory should be in The Goulds.

Why are we buying bread from a company located in Winnipeg? There are several local bakeries to buy bread from.

I know what you’re going to say. I can’t buy my groceries all over town, I’m too busy. I get that. I buy the Sobey’s locally made Newfoundland bread. Sure, Sobey’s is a national chain, but they sell products made by local companies and they employ local people to produce other goods, like bread.

We should be a self-sufficient island.

When a storm stops the ferries from crossing and shuts down the airports, it shouldn’t stop our food supply chain.

What would happen if a national crisis hit? Like a war where food would be distributed to the bigger centers first. Where it would be too expensive to burn the fuel to send trucks or planes to a remote island.

We need to utilize all this empty land around us. We need to support farmers and local businesses. We need more entrepreneurs like Zita Cobb and Meagan Warren.

We should not be reliant on trucks & ferries from the mainland to survive a snowstorm.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Welcome to the Canadian Public Enlightenment and Propaganda Department. This is Censorship at it’s finest & it needs to stop

The Nazis controlled people through censorship. 

So ‘Baby, It’s Cold Outside’ is now pulled from some Canadian radio stations.
Come on!

I mean, seriously?

They think it promotes rape? Well maybe they are not listening to it properly. 

To me, that song talks about the how society keeps women in a chastity belt. She wants to stay with the guy but feels her reputation would be damaged if she did. This woman wants to break out of her girdle and wear a thong, but society tells her it’s wrong. Baby it’s Cold Outside is a women’s rights anthem!

So, what about Roy Orbison‘s, Pretty Woman, or Queen’s Fat Bottom Girls? You can’t pull Fat Bottom Girls, that’s my theme song!

Are we going to delete the entire playlist from the 1980s? Or the 70s or the 60’s? Will radio stations stop playing rap music all together?

Are we going to delete all songs that mention women as sexy beings? Or songs that offend women?

What about books that mention women in a derogatory way? Are we going to the library next to pull all the Danielle Steel books off the shelfs?

What about paintings that show women in the nude? Are we going to rip Henri Matisse, Blue Nude off the wall and ban it from public view?

Should we take all the CDs, books and paintings that depict women as nude, weak, and offensive, throw them all in a big pile in the centre of town and set them on fire?

Wait! We’ve been here before.

Censorship in Nazi Germany was extreme and strictly enforced by the governing Nazi Party, but specifically by Joseph Goebbels and his Reich Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda.

This ministry tightly controlled information available to citizens. Almost all
A Nazi book burning
Modernist art, such as Impressionism and Expressionism, was considered degenerate art by the Nazi regime, and much modern music such as Jazz and Swing was also barred as degenerate music. Jewish composers like Mendelsohn and Schoenberg were also banned.

Amongst those authors and artists who were suppressed both during the Nazi book burnings and the attempt to destroy modernist fine art in the "degenerate" art exhibition were Ernest Hemingway. Artists such as Pablo Picasso, Claude Monet, and Vincent van Gogh. They banned composers such as Gustav Mahler. They banned philosophers, scientists and sociologists such as Albert Einstein and Sigmund Freud.

We live in a world where ‘offended’ is a personality trait now. 

There are professional ‘offended’ people. These are people who devote their life to being offended everyday and make a living out of it by doing it on social media and getting picked up by the mainstream media. 

Like the people who get a Christmas classic like ‘Baby it’s cold outside’ banned from public airways.

Are companies like CBC, Rogers Media and Bell Media now allowing special interest groups to censor their playlists? Why can’t I, as a listener, decide if I want to hear it. If you don’t like it change the channel. 

So, are these radio stations now also banning all rap music and vetting every song they play to ensure it doesn’t offend someone?

Are we allowing special interest groups to be the new Nazis regime?

If a radio station or theatre production decides they want to play ‘Baby it’s Cold Outside’, will these groups start protesting outside?

Wait isn’t that what trumps followers are doing now? They protest outside the house of journalists to stop them from telling the truth.

This is plain and simple censorship at it’s finest. 

I think CBC, Rogers and Bell are on a slippery slope right now. Once they give in to these professional protesters where does it stop?

They may find themselves out in the cold…. And Baby it’s Cold Outside.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

You’re not getting a gift for Christmas because you have everything!

Ya know what’s insane? People running up their credit cards or spending money

on gifts for people who don’t need anything.

I am one of those people. I don’t need anything (except from hubby. He can stop reading right now).

Please don’t buy me gingerbread scented body wash, cheap wine or pills to help me lose weight (Yes, you know who the frig you are).

And I won’t buy you anything. That’s a deal.

This is a notice to all my family and friends (except for Nancy because she buys me really weird cool stuff like a tissue container with our pictures all over it, which I still use).

I am not buying you anything if you’re an adult. I’ll buy for kids but that’s it.


Because I don’t know what you like, or what you need, or your size. Basically, you’re a grown ass adult so buy your own crap.


This year I am sending a Christmas card with this letter in it to each of our family members that says:

Merry Christmas
This year, I am letting you off the hook
I am not buying you a Christmas gift.
Please don't buy one for me or Robert 
(Kid are not included. Please give them gift cards from the mall, they hate everything)
Instead, come to my house on December __ and join us for a delicious supper & good company
Supper is our present to you,
Your attendance is your present to us.
We don’t need anything – you don’t need anything
So lets just enjoy the holiday without the pressure of extra shopping
Save your money. 
Seriously, you’re not getting a gift.

How will they react? I am sure some will get their knickers in a knot, but I don’t care. Most people will say “Thank God!”

I am not the Grinch, I just being realistic. I am tired of going into debt for other people, and I am horrified that someone is going into debt for me.

I wish I had thought of this when our kids were small. 

As two working parents, we would put toys on lay-a-way and pay them off for months. Every payday, I would buy a $25.00 Sobey’s gift cards starting in mid September. So, when December came, I would have the extra money for groceries and entertaining. We had to budget. As most families do.

Here’s the funny thing about Christmas. The mortgage is still due. Newfoundland Power still wants their money. The telephone and cable bill still has to be paid. Gas still has to go in the car. Insurance still has to be paid.

But your pay cheque still stays the same.

Families have no choice but to turn to credit cards and try to pay the debt off after Christmas. Which never happens.

On top of trying to give our kids a good Christmas, we would try to buy for our nieces and nephews. I have over 35 nieces and nephews! Count them. 35! I’m not kidding. I am the youngest of ten kids. Plus, my husband’s family.

On top of that, there’s the bus driver, the teacher, the dance teacher. I mean come off it. I pay dance over $1500 a year. She should be giving me a gift.

Where does it end?

Well, it ends right here. 

My gift to the adults in our lives will be a delicious holiday meal. Which by the way, will cost up to $300. Go price a steak. So, I am not cheaping out.

I am not going to lie and say that I'm donating to a charity in your name or buying you a goat in some African village. I'm simply not buying you a gift.

I’m letting you off the Christmas hook and asking you to let me off it too. 

Spend your money on your kids, or my kids, or your cat. I don’t care.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good credit rating.