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Since You’ve Been Gone

May 6, 2018

 

I ditched everyone and went to Florida for two weeks. I got a sunburn on the back of my hand (it looks like I have leprosy there now) and witnessed some exceptionally rude driving, went to the beach, went on a swamp tour, went to the botanical gardens, hung out with my friends, etc. I also went to Universal Studios and experienced the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Needless to say I’m pretty sure my life is all gonna be downhill from now on. But maybe it won’t, as I am seeing Paul Simon in concert with my relentlessly eccentric family approximately ten days from now. Want to make a pun about a Mother and Child Reunion, but the words aren’t coming.

Young Aamanda moved out for the summer. She has joined forces with the cult styling itself as “Gull Lake Christian Camp.” I am kidding. It’s not a cult. (That we know of…..yet.) She will be washing dishes with the Lady (Alex) Butt. Beyond that, I don’t know much about her activities, but I will be driving out there soon enough to peruse her lifestyle myself. I will report back in due course. We hope to see her smiling face, shrieky laughs, and constantly dancing body around the house in September.

Sarah gonna do what Sarah gonna do. She has been forcefully acquiring plants, keeping things running while I’m away, and being a constant ray of sunshine and light. Her and Liam hope to put in the garden soon.

Liam, well. Who knows what Liam has been doing? I mean that literally. I literally don’t know what Liam has been doing. I mean, I don’t know what he gets up to even when I’m in the country, and I’ve been out of it for two weeks, so I really couldn’t tell you. If I could hazard a guess, I would say that he has been listening to “hot jams”, doing “good deeds”, and keeping a leaning tower of unclaimed materials outside his bedroom door. In the hallway. (That was a passive aggressive hint.)

Elena got a BEDROOM DOOR while I was away. Elena lives in the “man cave” (a room once christened the “lady cave” before we realized how it sounded). It has been sectioned off by a curtain for the past seven years. We are just like real grown-ups now, with doors to our rooms and everything. Elena has probably also been studying like mad, participating in outdoor activities, and generally being industrious. You’re doing amazing, sweetie!

We also had a house show this month – I WASN’T HERE, but apparently it was simply divine. Heather May showed up and played some lovely melodies for everyone except me and we hope to have her back soon. Check out her music at https://soundcloud.com/heather-adam 

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Community dinners are still on every thursday at 7 pm. Come out and have some free food and hang out with us!

We are just down to just four personnel now and really need new roommates, especially for the summer. Please email us at bownesshouseofcommons@gmail.com if you are interested!

 

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“Spring” Retreat

April 13, 2018

Don’t forget to snowsuit up.

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Hospitality.

March 1, 2018

There are lots of parts of the Bible I don’t like. I have no qualms in admitting that to you, as the bible is often taken out of context and used as a weapon, which I also really don’t like. There are parts that make me angry, parts that infuriate me, parts the confuse the shit out of me, parts that make me want to quit. There are also parts that I like, parts that thrill me, parts that I love. This is a story about a part of the bible that I love. And I guess I started off telling you that there are lots of parts I don’t like for the sake of contrast. I wouldn’t say it’s rare for me to talk about the bible, but it certainly isn’t an everyday occurrence. We’ve got our issues.

SO ANYWAY. There is this story, in the bible (and this is Megan’s paraphrase, so bear with me). It’s a story that Jesus told to prove a point about how people can be dicks, and it goes a little like this – two dudes go to a temple to pray. One is a Pharisee (I.e. a religious leader) and one is a tax collector (i.e a douchebag).

The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed : “God, I thank you that I am not like other people, robbers, evildoers, adulterers – or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.”
But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, “O God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”

So my super intelligent and sexy friend Amy preached about this at church last night. (#WomenWhoPreach #SuckItJohnPiper) But she changed the words up a little bit. What a saucy minx! Instead of saying “The Pharisee” she said “The Awakener.” And instead of saying, “I thank you that I am not like other people, robbers, evildoers, and that I fast and tithe” she said “I thank you that I am not like other people – I have welcomed the refugee, I have protected and cared for the environment, I am invested in the neighborhood, etc etc.” And then, instead of using the words “the tax collector” she described him as “a Trump supporter who was wearing a Make America Great Again hat.” Way to hit me where it hurts, AMY.

Now, I can’t speak for everyone in my church. I like to think we’re very welcoming and accepting of everyone. But I can speak for myself. If someone had showed up to my church like that, my first reaction would have been along the lines of “Who said this asshole could come?”

And just to clarify – I am friends with lots of people who actually voted for Trump. And I love them with all the fierce intensity and devotion of a feral honey badger. If I thought cutting my arm off would benefit them or save them pain in any way, I would do it. It isn’t that I unilaterally hate Republicans or Conservatives.

But it got me thinking about hospitality. Hospitality, for me, is a key component of Christianity and of what the House of Commons stands for and does on a day-to-day basis. God asks us to provide hospitality to the stranger. To the people who maybe don’t fit in our churches. To me, I’ve always interpreted that as I need to show hospitality to those who I view as society’s underdog. And I have done this. I have done this religiously. The gay/trans/queer person. The poor person. The single mother. The refugee. The homeless person. The abused person. Anybody who doesn’t benefit from white privilege.

I won’t say it was without its ups and downs. But I wanted to do it. So it was easy in that way. My heart yearns for those people to have a place, and so to be able to provide that place was as cathartic as it was frustrating.

But did I have room in my heart to show hospitality to those who I view as being in positions of power? As having privilege? Was I able to use the words conservative, fundamentalist, republican, rich, white, pro-life, pro-gun, etc. without disdain and anger dripping all over it? I wasn’t. I know I wasn’t.

There is a story in my family – a beloved story, one that has been told countless times, and it goes like this : One day, my mother and I came home and found sweet little Kevin, who was maybe five or six years old at the time, sobbing brokenheartedly at the kitchen table. Completely inconsolable. We asked Kevin why he was crying. He replied, with the appropriate amount of pathos, “Because Dad spanked me – FOR NO REASON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” My mother and I exchanged glances. Kevin continued crying. Eventually we asked him, Well, why did Dad say that he spanked you? And the story came out that Kevin had put Muffin, our cat, into my father’s lunchbox, and when Dad had gone to make his lunch, out had popped that irate party. Just to make matters complete, my father is and was a veritable cat-hater (referring to our cat only as Lucifer and even putting a sign in the window that said “Cats – just another white meat.”) The image I have in my brain of my father whistling along cheerily to himself, opening his lunchbox and being greeted by an airborne cat, complete with yowls and outstretched claws, is one that brings me to tears of unspeakable mirth to this day. I can’t even tell this story out loud without simultaneous maniacal laughter/sobbing, bringing me close to a state that the doctors refer to as “hysterics.” The cherry on the top of the whole thing is Kevin’s indignation. Dad had spanked him for no reason.

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But there is a point to this story.

Perhaps I, when discovering something unpleasantly surprising and repulsive in something that was previously a life-giving source of joy (i.e homophobia in the church, racism in the church, misogyny in the church, elitism in the church, hypocrisy in the church, greed in the church, bullying in the church, hatred in the church) have been given to knee-jerk outrage and S.W.W. (Spanking Without Warning.) There is no place for these people, I think. Their sins must be squelched and we must drive them from the building.

So how was I better?

How was I better than those as I viewed as wrong, or as the oppressor? How did I welcome them? How did I forgive them? How did I show them hospitality? Short answer : I didn’t. I believed that they did not deserve it, that they did not deserve my love or forgiveness. I simply didn’t have room for them. In my heart, I believed that they did not deserve the time of day. Oh God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

I was discussing something along these lines with my roommate Elena the other day, and she said, in response, that she understood what I was struggling with, but when indigenous kids are getting shot in the back of the head and gay kids are committing suicide because of the rejection and cruelty they face – at the hands of the church – that is where she draws the line. That’s where she’s disembarking. This party train ain’t going no further. So I want to be absolutely clear. There is no place in society and especially no place in the church for racism, homophobia, misogyny, greed, hatred, and fear and rejection for people on the margins. There is not. Jesus is and always has been the antithesis of that. But can I – can we – stop congratulating ourselves on being better Christians? Is our home and our space and our lives truly open to everyone? Who do I really have grace for?

I think I really only have grace for those who I view as the underdog. If you are on the margins. If you are poor. If you have been rejected. If you have struggled. If you have been systemically disenfranchised. If you have not been valued. If you have been violated. If you have experienced violence. If you have been taken advantage of because you are seen as weaker or less than. I proclaim you beloved and I welcome you into my space. There is a place for you. I want – more than anything – an inclusive Christianity. If we’re not doing that, I think, then we’re not doing anything. We might as well pack our bags and go home. And I live with a group of people who also believe that. Everybody is welcome at the table. And I think, to an extent, we’ve been successful.

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I also think, to an extent, that I have been a Pharisee. Thank God I’m not like those other Christians. Thank God I’m a good white person. Thank God for the way we do things in my house. Thank God that “I fast twice a week and tithe”, thank God, thank God, thank God.

I hope that going forward, I can take the stance of the tax collector. My sins, such as they are, are not better than anybody else’s. I hope that I, and that our house, can have the capacity for a hospitality that’s for everyone.

Who do you have trouble showing hospitality to?

Look What You Made Me Do

February 2, 2018

Liam failed to update the blog this month even though I asked super nice so now as punishment I’m publishing a bunch of Liam quotes taken out of context. How do you LIKE ME NOW.

And then roll my body into a ditch, cause that’s the cheapest burial.

This is a hacker den.

Sarah : Megan said we could slap her if she ate dairy today
Liam : Just pre-slap her! Better safe than sorry.

Liam : Maybe Hamish will put on an erotic dance for us!
Hamish : I certainly will not. I’ve put on five pounds of holiday weight.
Liam : That makes it more sexy!

It’s not good when no one claps, Sarah.

Hamish makes us look bad because he’s way cooler and nicer than us. He’s got the heart of a nice Grandma! We need to get someone more hateable.

Me : Liam, just MAKE a Christmas card, it’s not that hard
Liam : Megan’s the grinch who saved Christmas through the use of bad sweatshops.

Dad Science is my contribution to the world.

Me : You can’t write “from Megan” if it’s not from me
Liam : That’s called censorship and you can’t do that to me

He’s kind of weird, but he can tone it down for family functions.

I got Megan chocolates today because she’s sad so I’m the best Christian here

Rude, Elena! You bring out the dark side of Sarah.

Elena : I can always tell Liam by his scurry
Liam : I’m scurrying towards the snacks!

It’s not fraud if we like each other as friends.

Me : We’re not hippies. We’re hippie adjacent.
Sarah : yeah, we fit into a very specific category
Liam : Chaotic neutral?

We could all just be your girlfriend. Think of the benefits.

I was with my daughter all weekend and she taught me battle moves

Who’s ever said, in their life, “Oh, male strippers – that’s a depressing time”

Liam : I’m just following orders. From Jesus Stalin.
Me : Stop calling me that

Liam : Since no one’s here, we are having the meeting topless
Me : NO
Hamish : Nice! I will also be topless.
Me : NOOOOOOOOOOOOO

Elena : Megan’s the best prayer!
Me : I don’t know how that happened. I feel like I’m the worst at it.
Liam : You’re not the worst at praying, Trump is! He’s like “Dear Super Capitalist Jesus Who Is Also Very Racist”

Sarah’s punishment chore is to put potatoes in a pan and smell one of my farts

He’s an ultra never-nude! He’s going to a mormon dance party!

Me : I don’t have worse low self esteem than anybody else!
Liam : It’s not a race to the BOTTOM

I saved everyone’s lives. I did it for you, Dumpster Jesus.

How does Young Aamanda have more friends than me already?

Megan’s getting so frustrated that she’s doing it for me, which was my plan all along!

We don’t actually know what’s happening, we’re just Dad-sciencing it!

Let’s give him weird kisses.

Me: What’s the point of people liking guns?
Liam : to kill people
Aamanda : to be a cool American
Me : I feel like neither of these answers are satisfactory

No, don’t put on pants. You’re going for all-you-can-eat sushi – by the time you’re done they’re not gonna respect you anyways.

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I can’t believe christian fundamentalists are weirder than satanists.

Liam : He’s not ignorant, but he’s a little sassy. Like you.
Me : I’m not ignorant but I’m sassy? Is that how you describe me to your friends?
Liam : Yeah – like you wouldn’t say the n-word, but you might do a butt dance

What’s this movie called? Sexy Teens Have Problems?

Liam : I gave you a hug!
Elena : That’s not a chore.

But my good pal Elena – whom I’ve only ever touched on the shoulder twice – said I did a really good job cleaning the bathroom.

Jesus, keep an eye on Megan cause she’s been extra mean to me.

Elena : How do you have a garage sale in the winter?
Liam : That’s for us to know and you to find out

He’s worse than Voldemort! He’s good-looking Voldemort!

Liam : Megan. You’re called Nice Megan.
Me : Why?
Liam : Do you wanna be called Sexy Megan?
Me : No!
Liam : Then you’re Nice Megan.

I would encourage you from afar.

You’re crippled. Emotionally. Physically, you’re fine.

You can’t just cute your way out of problems!

Oh, I see – I get her a boyfriend by meddling, and now she ditches us.

I accidentally saw Sarah’s midriff yesterday and it was very white.

My daughter was putting stickers all over my nipples yesterday and I was like “Why are you doing this!” and she was like, “So no one will see you.”

(Re: Ikea) This is where white people go to get anxiety.

Anyone sexist? You get plated.

Aamanda : Honestly, all of your kombucha just confuses me
Liam : That’s because you’re a teenager.

You can’t lie on your birthday and get away with it.

Are you guys being Christian snobs? BUSTED!

Me : I can’t believe I’m having to explain this joke to you
Liam : I understand the joke. I just think it’s funnier when you explain your own jokes and blow it

Elena : What do you think of me?
Liam : Beautiful murderer. They’ll say “She was beautiful! Too bad about that murder streak”

Don’t you love me? And care about me?

I’ve been quinoa-shamed!

Elena : No, we’re not gonna do that.
Liam : You just don’t have a can-do attitude!

I say we turn this into a pumpkin hydroponics wall. With real pumpkins.

If anything, it’s on you Debbie Downers stopping my dreams. What dreams have YOU accomplished lately? Besides crushing mine?

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Typical evening at home. Liam yelling at me from underneath a blanket

Raccoons are better as cartoons

January 11, 2018

Welcome to season seven of the House of Commons?

Here’s a little update on everyone –
Megan : Currently really into Chrissy Teigen’s twitter account, hibernating, hot baths, being sassy, the podcast entitled 2 Dope Queens, and my birthday. Which is this month. I’ll alert the media. I want an electric blanket and Chrissy Teigen’s cookbook so let’s all get out there and make it happen. Have also started a campaign to try not to eat any sweets/pastries/dairy for 24 hours. Approaching hour 16 and my will to live is starting to leave me pls send help
Sarah : Recently synced her and her boyfriend’s google calendar. Working on that exercise thing. Butt looks amazing. Has started a campaign to paint one of the walls in the living room orange. I was alarmed but Nicole said it was okay. Goals for the New Year include remaining aggressively passionate about oral hygiene and RSVPing to every possible facebook event.
Young Aamanda : Possibly working as a baker at a CUPCAKE STORE. HIGHWAY TO THE DANGER ZONE. Also has been seen dancing literally everywhere, sending memes to all her friends, and supporting Liam’s dream of starting a D-Pop store, which is “like Etsy but angstier.” Their store slogan will be “Megan smells. Shop at our D-Pop”
Elena : Continuing her education so she can remain the smartest and best-looking out of all of us. Extracurricular activities include : strenuous indoor & outdoor physical activities, singing in the choir, laughing at my cool jokes, making me dinner, and acquiring Roommate of the Month award
Liam : Has been seen doing good deeds, never wearing pants, being bossed around by his daughter, raising our self-esteem, and spouting obnoxious phrases, such as (but not limited to)
“I’ve done enough good deeds that I can be mean now!”
“WHY do we have to wear pants?”
“I don’t care about excuses that are valid, I just want punishments!”
Hamish : Gone but never forgotten. I miss Hamish a lot. Every day I miss Hamish. Nobody has even asked me today if I want any tea, which Hamish used to do, approximately every fifteen minutes. We also don’t have anyone to teach us about feminism now, though Liam says have to do it, which is ridiculous because all I do is get ragey and say things like “The Patriarchy is the enemy and it must be crushed.” 78% of the way there to becoming a full-blown Disney villain and this is my origin story

Upcoming Events :
House Show, January 26th, 7 pm, Flint & Feather. This will be birthday-themed as it is the weekend of my birthday and everything that’s happening that weekend IS GOING TO BE BIRTHDAY THEMED. Even if it’s just me. I’m birthday-themed. By myself. In the corner. All alone. So like, also Eeyore-themed. Just please come to this house show.

Community Dinners : Every thursday son, 7 pm, come for the free food and stay for the hooligans. Also email me if you want to contribute in literally any form

JASON ZELLING IS RETURNING TO US IN FEBRUARY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! GET HYPED

And we still need new roommates. So…like….call me.

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Hi, I’m Aamanda

December 12, 2017

Hi I’m Aamanda. Commonly known as Young Aamanda. I’m 19 years old so I guess that’s how I got my ~street name~… I moved into the house a month and ten days ago (I think). I’m originally from Edmonton (but I don’t have any strong opinions about hockey or football so please don’t beat me up).

Anyways, Megan asked me to basically write a blog post about how I ended up at the house, so here’s the long-short of it: Last year I went to Kona, Hawaii to do a Discipleship Training School (DTS) with Youth With A Mission (YWAM). I spent 3 months in Hawaii listening to lectures about God, faith, worldview, etc. Then I spent another 2 months in Thailand and a few weeks in Laos doing missions with a small team.

The whole experience was super intense and I learned and grew a ton, but at times I felt that we were encouraged to just accept what we were told and to not ask questions. This frustrated me a lot, and probably the biggest thing I learned while I was on my DTS was that I wanted to ask aLL OF THE QUESTIONS! I wanted to learn to read (and understand) the Bible, think for myself and really just make my faith my own.

I considered going to Bible School for a year or two, but wasn’t quite sure if that was really what I wanted, especially given how expensive it’d be. At the same time, I was considering moving to Calgary as I have a lot of friends here. Someone suggested that I move into the House of Commons. I had gone to a community dinner once a few years ago, so I knew a bit about the house and I thought this sounded like a good (but slightly daunting) idea. Not to mention it’s a lot cheaper than Bible School. So I filled out the application and finally moved in a few months later!

I think this is the best decision I’ve made in a while! The past month certainly hasn’t been without its struggles, but I feel like I’ve already grown so much in such a short time and that’s exactly what I wanted to do! I’m excited to continue to grow in this environment and get even closer to my roommates. They’re all pretty cool! (Editor’s note : This is proof that the young crowd approves of me). I’m also really excited for our Christmas Dinner!!! And Christmas in general! There’s so much to look forward to right now and life is good.

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November Update : Punishment Chores For Literally Everyone, And Especially Jason Kenney

November 9, 2017

This is your monthly newsletter telling you what we’ve been up to which I’m going to start off by talking about my favourite topic, Me. Although, truth be told,  what I’ve been up to lately has mostly just consisted of assertively retweeting unpopular political and/or feminist opinions on twitter and collecting a lot of memes.

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I also hit a parked car in a parking lot. And (not simultaneously) had the worst allergic reaction of my life.

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Now I carry around a bottle of lactaid with me.

I also have been spending a lot of time (like, more than is socially acceptable?) on youtube watching celebrity interviews and late night talk show hosts

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At the house Liam has been yelling “PUNISHMENT CHORE” at anyone who says something he doesn’t like. I’ve been trying to explain to him that’s not actually how punishment chores work.

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We have already started prepping for our big Christmas dinner. (Don’t give me that look. An event like that doesn’t plan itself, y’know.)

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We got a new roommate. Her name is Aamanda! Young Aamanda. I am over a decade older than her. Here is an actual photo of us, together.

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We have a house show coming up in November! Maybe! Don’t ask me about it, I have no clue what’s going on, I just came out to have a good time and I’m honestly feeling so attacked right now. Anyway, Sarah’s in charge of that.

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Sarah and I in real life

We also spend a lot of time hanging out in the living room in the evening, arguing about what we should watch on the television and listening to Hamish veer off into academia tangents that are usually, 62% of the time, completely over my head.

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We still continue to build community around the dinner table on Thursday evenings, make mistakes, laugh together, yell at each other (that’s mostly just me doing the yelling, but if you have big ideas you have to speak loudly to express them) cook, clean, live life with our neighbours, talk about theology, and all the other various little monotonies that make up daily life while living in intentional community.

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As always, still looking for roommates! Also, if you would like to help with the Christmas dinner in any way, holla @ me. bownesshouseofcommons@gmail.com

All my love,

Megan from the HOC