Unexamined assumptions

Respect Justice Camp will be open to those 18 and over and will be hosted at St. Clair College in Windsor, Ontario, August 13-19

By Rev. Chris Brouillard-Coyle

Alexandar Raskolnikov/Unsplash

A young girl watches intently as her mother prepares the Sunday roast. Wanting to learn what to do, she asks mom why she cuts the end off of the roast.

Her mom is left to admit she does it only because her mom did it. So they call grandma. Once again, they learn she did it because her mother did it. The three, thus embark on a trip to great grandmother’s nursing home to ask her. Smiling she says, matter-of-factly, she always cut the end off of the roast because that was the only way it would fit in the pan.

How often do we act based on unexamined assumptions, traditions and practices? How many, reading this story, didn’t think twice about the fact that it references only females as cooks in the household?

So often, what our mothers and fathers do creates a lens through which we come to expect all men and women to act. Deviation from these norms for us, can lead to a sense of discord. We want women to be women and men to be men. We want their actions to ‘fit’ our expectations so that we can continue to feel comfortable about the way the world works, at least as we perceive it.

What would happen if we start to consider why we act the way we act, believe what we believe and expect what we expect? What might we learn about ourselves and the world by taking the time to ask questions and explore the implications of our unexamined assumptions? Is it possible that educating ourselves could actually help to strengthen our relationships to each other, the wider world and God?

This summer, Respect Justice Camp offers an opportunity to examine our unexamined assumptions by providing, what some may perceive as, atypical experiences. Have you ever considered the extent to which when you were born influences your sense of who you are and how the world is viewed? To what extent have you experienced other faith traditions? Have you ever stepped foot in a synagogue, Hindu or Sikh temple? Have you ever spent time with Muslims?

Do you ever ponder why we have green lawns, plant annuals that we have to purchase each year and spend money to eliminate ‘weeds’? What do you know about people with disabilities, those experiencing mental illness, migrant workers, people living in poverty, those who are LGBTQ+ and First Nations? How do you ‘know’ it? What more could you learn? To what extent might this impact your unexamined assumptions?

“For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another. We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us…” (Rom 12:4-6)

Every person is unique. Every person has gifts that can make a difference in this world. Every person faces challenges that can make it difficult to share these gifts.

Respect Justice Camp invites us to consider the ways in which our unexamined assumptions influence the ways in which we live as one body in Christ, and how alternative experiences might help to transform our views of the world and each other.

Respect Justice Camp is open to those 18 and over and will be hosted at St. Clair College in Windsor, August 13-19, 2019.

For more information and registration check out our website:;

Facebook page: Respect Justice Camp; Twitter feed: @CampRespect.

Rev. Chris Brouillard-Coyle is the Social and Ecological Justice Huron chair.