Two Types of Humanism

Sermon by Rev. Ben Robins, Summer Minister.

Indigenized Canadian flag

As I write this, people across this land are discerning what to do on July 1st. For some, it is a day to celebrate all that Canada aspires to be; celebrating, for example, the Charter of Rights and Freedom’s Section 7. This section protects everybody’s right to life, and right to live freely as they wish to live. These are goals worth celebrating. However, I am among those for whom this day also needs to include a witnessing that we have too often fallen short: As has been long-known but is now more than ever in stark relief, residential schools did not protect life, and had as a founding purpose to snuff out indigenous ways of living.

For some on this land, it is not enough to say that Canada has fallen short of what it aspires to be. Instead, this is a day to say that this land has been here long before July 1st, 1867, and it will be here long after this particular country has come and gone. This, then, could be a day to learn the history of this land, a day to right the wrongs of the doctrine of discovery.

This Sunday, we will explore two types of humanism: Liberal humanism, which focusses on the freedom to explore, learn and grow; and social humanism, which finds the most meaning in deep relationship.

I’m not in the mood for fireworks. They don’t evoke the humility and relationality that this moment calls for. This is a time for coming together, caring for each other, discerning how to be fully human in this complicated context.

If you went the fireworks route, I hope that it gave you whatever you needed – perhaps a moment of expansive celebration after a hard year – and I hope that you, we, will continue to find ways to do the work of honouring, restitution and reconciliation.

I would love to hear your thoughts on all of this. I’m at


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