WILL BRAUN & Geez Magazine, in Canada, pushing Christians to do the right thing

Will Braun

This Magazine
What Would Jesus Ride?
Will Braun Pedals Spirited Social Change

Ryerson Review of Journalism
Where Angels Fear To Tread

"Holy Mischief"

Published in the November 2007 issue of The United Church Observer.

Two years ago, a pair of Winnipeggers launched Geez magazine.

Their subversive take on Christianity is gaining popularity.

"The Geez idea is to acknowledge
the bitterness that many of
us feel toward elements of
Christendom but then to also
move beyond that bitterness
instead of wallowing in it.
It's tough to be oriented
toward solutions and action
but that's where
the adventure begins."

"Obama told the rest of the world that
America is again ready to lead.
"But what if we don't
want America to lead?"

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"I am
a Mennonite
farm boy
rural Manitoba."

New American
Dream Interview

WILL BRAUN, 35, lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

He is the editor of Geez Magazine.

"Editor is Will Braun, writer and aspiring farmer. His background includes advocacy and organizing around impacts of industrial development on indigenous people and lands in northern Canada. He finds inspiration cycling from one monastery to another. He has written for Sojomail, Znet, and Radical Grace magazine."

"Geez magazine is a quarterly magazine dealing with issues of spirituality, religion, and progressive politics created by Aiden Enns (Adbusters, Buy Nothing Day) and Will Braun.

"Geez won three of the Western Canada Magazine Awards (including the top recognition "magazine of the year") in 2007, and was nominated for two Utne Independent Press Awards in 2006.

"Because it’s time we untangle the narrative of faith from the fundamentalists, pious self-helpers and religio-profiteers. And let’s do it with holy mischief rather than ideological firepower.

"We’ll explore the point at which word, action and image intersect, and then ignite. So let’s blaspheme the gods of super-powerdom, instigate spiritual action campaigns and revamp that old Picture Bible.

"We’ve set up camp in the outback of the spiritual commons. A bustling spot for the over-churched, out-churched, un-churched and maybe even the un-churchable.

"A location just beyond boring bitterness. A place for wannabe contemplatives, front-line world-changers and restless cranks. A place where the moon shines quiet, instinct runs mythic and belief rides a bike (or at least sits on the couch entertaining the possibility)."

More about Will Braun:


The New American Dream Trivia Question:

To win something be the last one to correctly answer the following.

Will Braun would rather be ....

a. Fishing for bluegills from shore on an Iowa farm pond
b. Training for RAGBRAI
c. Turning wine into blood
d. Pope Of Canada For A Day
e. Slipping across the border at Grand Forks, mischief on my mind
f. Sending the Mounties in to drag Bush and Cheney back to Ottawa for trial

I'll go with E. Wb


NAD: Will, hello, thank you for taking the time for this.

Wow. That is good stuff in your mission statement.

I guess I understand now that Jim Wallis is the Will Braun of the U.S.

Are you Catholic? Did you ever go to seminary? Where are you from?

What is your day job?

Thanks Mike. I appreciate your interest.

First on the Jim Wallis point he seems so wrapped up in the machinations of power politics that I'm less and less interested in what he is doing.

Anyway. . . .

I'm not Catholic though I think the contemplative tradition within the Catholic church has much to offer.

Many of the authors I have read are Catholic. But I am not Catholic. I am a Mennonite farm boy from rural Manitoba.

In terms of seminary, nope.

Formal education drove me nuts.

I love to write and read and think and learn, but I found that so much of university was not about learning.

I realized that it would be entirely possible to get top marks without ever having an original thought. So I moved on. But that's a tangent.

Re: my day job I work part time as the editor of Geez magazine, and the rest of the time I am at home with my one-year-old boy.

NAD: I tried to get to Winnipeg for a reading one time and got turned back at the border because of my prison record.

I really thought Canada was an option I had, an ace in the hole.

A place with northern pike growing on trees, smiling faces and free stuff.

But noooooo.

What do Americans just not get about Canada and Canadians?

Frankly, it's too hard to answer that question without being rude, so I'll have to pass.

I love a lot of things about Americans, but awareness of the rest of the world is not on that list (and of course there are exceptions).

And sorry that our dudes didn't let you in.

NAD: From what you write, churches in Canada must be as bad as they are here.

There isn't really a religious right in Canada the way there is in the US, but the U.S. religious right has huge influence among churches here.

Where I grew up they still play James Dobson on prime time radio every evening.

NAD: You have hope in changing, though, right? You don't just get mad, take your ball and go home.

The Geez idea is to acknowledge the bitterness that many of us feel toward elements of Christendom but then to also move beyond that bitterness instead of wallowing in it.

It's tough to be oriented toward solutions and action but that's where the adventure begins.

As for hope, I'm one of those people who worries that hope is too often understood as a luxury of the privileged and tends to supplant action that would change things so others can have better lives instead of us just having psychological relief.

NAD: Would you like to choose one of these to answer, elaborate on?

I don't ask this to make fun. I ask because I really seek the answers.

Are UFOs real?
Did we land on the moon in 1968?
Did Bush knock down the towers?
Was Paul Wellstone's death an accident?
The Oklahoma City bombing? Wasn't that just another U.S. government terrorist exercise? Or not.
Waco. We burned kids, right? You can see flames shooting out of the tanks. Or not.
Is Bigfoot real?
Is there a God?

I have friends in Minnesota who still drive around with Wellstone bumper stickers and I heard him speak once so I lament his death. But I just don't know much about the circumstances around his death.
In terms of Bush and the towers, I find it very interesting that the question has appeared in mainstream media in Canada from time to time. That whole thing was just too bizarre and too important not to ask the unthinkable questions.
And bigfoot . . . I've spent a lot of time with indigenous people and they have lots of stories about Bigfoot. I know people who have seen footprints. Those stories exist somewhere in a realm other than fact and fiction, and I accept them as such.

This probably doesn't speak to what you are getting at but ...

NAD: An aspiring farmer ... who bicycles from monastery to monastery.

That sounds intersting. How's that working out?

The long distance bike trips have been fewer since my partner Jennifer and I had a little boy.

Biking takes so much time which is great, but I can't just leave Jennifer and the little guy behind. But biking is about learning to live in smaller circles, so staying home is an important exercise in itself.

As for farming, we're hoping to make a rural move within the next year, and make some of those farming aspirations a reality.

NAD: Do you have hope in Obama?


Yes. Some things will change.

Why not?

But my hope is limited.

I frankly found myself getting annoyed at his inauguration speech.

The fundamental American narrative of striving for power and greatness remains unchanged. The sense of entitlement to greatness remains.

Some of the bravado remains. The fact that prosperity trumps pretty much everything still remains.

And the notion that God is on the side of America and that God wants American to be big and powerful remains. Obama told the rest of the world that America is again ready to lead.

But what if we don't want American to lead?

Do you give a crap about Obama?

He's too important not to care about.

The world breathed a sigh of relief when he was inaugurated.

That relief will quickly dissipate into reality but there is something significant in that.

What do you have hope in?

People getting together on the smallest local level to take responsibility for making their lives, relationships and communities more caring and compassionate.

I'm interested in everything we can do no matter who is or is not president.

I'm interested in all the stuff that Obama can't do for us.

NAD: Does your favorite coffee cup have words on it? What are they?

I don't drink coffee.

What did you absolutely have to get done by noon today?

Take care of the basic necessities of my little boy.

How about by Christmas 2009?

It hurts me to think that far in advance.



THE New American Dream Feature Interviews

If you search the archives below, you will find, in a sort of order [last to first], interviews with:

Ben Heine, political artist in Belgium

Matt Sullivan,
editor of The Rock Creek Free Press

Sam Smith,
editor of The Progressive Review

Jarek Kupsc,
9/11 Truth filmmaker, "The Reflecting Pool"

Bill O'Driscoll,
arts editor, Pittsburgh City Paper

Gerry McCarthy,
editor of The Social Edge

Jim Cullen,
editor of The Progressive Populist magazine

old-school blogger from Tulsa

Lee Rayburn,
radio show host from Madison, Wisconsin

Aimee England,
bookseller in Michigan

Al Markowitz,
poet for the working woman & man

Timbre Wolf,
a Tulsa peace minstrel goes to Hawaii

Steven Stothard,
a radical grows in Indiana

Dale Clark, an artist in the desert

Jacqui Devenuau, Green Party organizer in Maine

Don Harkins, co-editor of The Idaho Observer

Stewart Bradley, independent film producer

Rick Smith, Cleveland area radio host

William P. Meyers, independent book publisher, political activist

Ian Woods, Canadian publisher, 9/11 Truth activist

Richard D. Brinkman, Edmonton, Canada 9/11 Truth

Lynn Berg, New York City actor

Alejandro Rojas, of MUFON, the Mutual UFO Network

Brian Kasoro, publisher of The Liberator magazine

Brother Raymond, walked from Denver to D.C., for truth

Korey Rowe, one of the producers of Loose Change

Dave Zweifel, editor of The Madison Capital Times

Cathleen Howard, expatriate, from Tucson to Mexico, to pursue her dreams

Sander Hicks, Brooklyn radical entrepreneur, writer, publisher

Joe Bageant, America's blue-collar author

Frida Berrigan, a lifetime of faith, hope and love

Denise Diaz, brewing up a revolution, at The Ritual Cafe in Des Moines

Deanna Taylor, Green Party activist, teacher, in Salt Lake City

Rossie Indira-Vltchek, writer, filmmaker in Jarkarta, Indonesia

Nora Barrows-Friedman, Pacifica reporter in Gaza

Delaney Bruce, Friends of Peltier

Keith McHenry, co-founder of Food Not Bombs

Michael Sprong, South Dakota Catholic Worker

Brian Terrell, Des Moines Catholic Worker

Bob Graf
, One of the Milwaukee 14

Loren Coleman, Bigfoot researcher

Monty Borror, Sci-Fi artist from Virginia

David Ray, Great American Poet

Jack Blood, radio show host, in Austin, Texas

Danny Schechter, A Real Reporter

Bob Kincaid, host, Head-On Radio Show

Tony Packes, Animal Farm Radio Host, Keeping An Eye on Big Brother

Richard Flamer, Working With the Poor in Chiapas

David Ray Griffin, 9/11 Truth activist author

Barry Crimmins, U.S. comedian, author, social activist

Bret Hayworth, political reporter for the Sioux City [IA] Journal

Lisa Casey, publisher of website All Hat No Cattle

Joe & Elaine Mayer, activist couple in Rochester, Minnesota

Fr. Darrell Rupiper, U.S. priest revolutionary

Whitney Trettien, MIT student, Green Party activist

Meria Heller, radio show host

Phil Hey, professor, poet

John Crawford, book publisher

Steve Moon, Iowa Bigfoot researcher

Carol Brouillet, California social activist, 9/11 Truth

Russell Brutsche, Santa Cruz artist

Kevin Barrett, professor, radio show host, 9/11 Truth activist

A'Jamal Rashad Byndon, social activist in Omaha

Chris Rooney, Vancouver, Canada Catholic Worker, website publisher

Marc Estrin, political novelist, from the left

Peter Dale Scott, poet, professor, author, activist

Anthony Rayson, anarchist zine publisher, works with prisoners

Alice Cherbonnier, editor of The Baltimore Chronicle, an independent newspaper

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