Betrayed By A Kiss

“Judas, is it with a kiss that you betray the Son of Man?”

Surely this is one of the iconic questions of all time.

“Really, Judas? With a kiss?”
“It is one thing to betray me, but with a sign of such affection?”

But isn’t betrayal always connected to affection?

If your enemy attacks you, or a stranger deceives you,
that isn’t betrayal.
It is violence and deception, but not betrayal.

No, betrayal happens when promises are broken,
when trust is violated,
when covenant is defiled.

When affection is deceitful, a pretense for some sort of control,
then betrayal is always close to the door.

And such betrayal is at the very heart of Canadian history.
Indeed, betrayal is foundational to Canadian identity.

How else could we tell the story of the relationship
between the Indigenous Peoples of this land and the colonial powers,
if not with reference to betrayal?

From the Royal Proclamation of 1763,
through the process of signing Treaties,
to the residential schools,
to the housing, water and educational crises,
to the pandemic of suicide amongst First Nations’ youth,
it has been a story of betrayal after betrayal.

This week at Wine Before Breakfast we remember our beloved brother Iggy.
Gregory “Iggy” Spoon died on March 17, 2015.
Many members of our community held vigil at Iggy’s side,
many more were deeply saddened by his death.

And, let me say it, Iggy was betrayed by a kiss.

The kiss of a paternalistic colonialism.
The kiss of a history of Treaties, all signed in good faith,
with smiles and the exchange of gifts.
The kiss of a church that wanted to educate the ‘savages,’
so they could become well assimilated ‘Christians.’

Betrayal always happens with a kiss.
Betrayal always kills.
And it is invariably multi-generational.
It ripples through time like a stone dropped in a still river.

There was much more to Iggy’s life than the ravages of betrayal.
But we cannot remember our brother outside of such betrayal.
He was born into a history of betrayal.
And he bore the scars of that history.

Maybe we could even say that Iggy was killed by that betrayal;
murdered by betrayal,
a sacrifice in service of colonial gods.

And … I find myself struggling to say this …
maybe my friend Adam Wood
was also a victim of this history of betrayal.

None of this is easy to say.

I am a white man, the beneficiary of colonial betrayal.
In this story I am not the betrayed, but the heir of the betrayers.

Brian Walsh
Brian is an activist theologian and the CRC Campus Minister at the University of Toronto. He engages issues of theology and culture, and has written a couple of books you might want to check out. His most recent offering is entitled Kicking at the Darkness: Bruce Cockburn and the Christian Imagination.
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