• God,  how do we know what we know is true,  meaning of life,  religion,  the ethical life

    in pursuit of an academic religion

    I’ve been thinking about religion again. I think about the good things, like the way it can support a person’s ability to acknowledge their mistakes or the inspiration to care for others. Yet I’m also think about the problems with religion, particularily of finding a religious interpretation that can be a source of healthy challenge neither constructed to meet one’s own wants or to justify one’s oppressive situation. Inspiring me to write this post is, partly, a post titled Can reason and secularism protect kids from anti-science rhetoric (and build a better society)? over at a blog called Boreal Citizen. The post speaks about Democratic anti-science rhetoric being centered around unsupported fears…

  • environment,  food,  meaning of life,  the ethical life

    costs both hidden and obvious

    I wrote before about how I enjoy playing coasterville because I break everything down in my mind – a quest isn’t really a quest, it’s a matter of eight clicks, three clicks from a friend and two clicks at two hour intervals. Well my same love of breaking things down makes me fascinated by looking at what goes into creating real things. What all goes into feeding a family? Occasionally I keep track of what my family eats for a week and occasionally I think about laying out an equivalent amount of food in the style of the What the World Eats Photo Essay. When I was a teenager, I…

  • communication,  how do we know what we know is true,  meaning of life,  the ethical life

    thoughts about thoughts

    I just started reading the book The Curious Feminist by Cynthia Enloe and the first page includes this gem: I have come to think that the capacity to be surprised – and to admit it – is an undervalued feminist attribute. To be surprised is to have one’s current explanatory notions, and thus one’s predictive assumptions, thrown into confusion. In both academic life and activist public life in most cultures, one is socialized to deny surprise. It is as if admitting surprise jeopardized one’s hard-earned credibility. And credibility, something necessarily bestowed by others, is the bedrock of status. … Better to assume the “Oh, well, of course it would turn out like that” pose. …

  • letter writing,  meaning of life,  politics,  the ethical life

    writing letters to politicians

    My days seem a strange mix of tobogganing with the kids, cooking, reading to them, helping them with schoolwork and trying every day to understand the world around me and how I can be an influence in it. I feel very muddled. I haven’t been reading any books the past week or so really, just trying to catch up on the news and understand a bit about the new players in the Ontario Provincial Parliament. I am ever so slightly hopeful that Kathleen Wynne will at least try to live up to what she said she’d like to be: the social justice Premier of Ontario. I’m really hoping her appointing of…

  • communication,  education,  how do we know what we know is true,  meaning of life,  politics

    Interacting with those we disagree with

    What do you do with people you don’t agree with? Do you agree to keep quiet about the topics you disagree on? Do you cut them out of your life? Or keep them in your life but with a mental note not to take seriously any of their opinions? Do you argue incessantly? These questions permeate my life. Perhaps it is because I hold strong opinions about things. I care about a great variety of issues which means I have lots I could potentially disagree with people on. I notice subtle implications of things so I disagree with things other people think mundane.  Yet I think another reason the questions…

  • books,  communication,  culture,  meaning of life,  politics

    Personal Responsibility in the Age of Unlimited Choices

    Have you ever heard of “cafeteria religion”? The term refers to the idea of people treating religion like a buffet table where they can pick and choose what parts they want rather than accept someone else’s menu. It is an idea I’ve had trouble with for a while. On one hand I can see definite problems with the pick-and-choose idea. How can truth be truth if the measure of it is what you want to accept or not? On the other hand, what’s the alternative? Even those who belong to reasonably strict churches or religions are just following the beliefs someone else has chosen to dish-up. With so many religious…

  • meaning of life,  politics,  the ethical life

    Day to day life and looking at the larger issues too

    This weekend I took one son to beaver camp. Then later at home we set up our Christmas tree and sang Christmas carols. This morning the boys did some schoolwork and then played lego. My daughter took an early nap. Then with all the children occupied, I turn my attention to other things. One of the environmental organizations I really like is asking people to help advertise their facebook page. The organization, Citizen’s Climate Lobby Canada, focuses on creating the political will that allows politicians to enact the policies we need, such as a carbon fee and dividend. Clicking “like” on their facebook page is a very small quick thing people can do…

  • books,  communication,  meaning of life,  money,  politics,  the ethical life

    safety, efficiency, cost of human lives and work

    My children watched part of Back to the Future III a few days ago and afterwards expressed surprise at the amount of walking on train tracks that happens in the show. “Isn’t that dangerous?” they asked and I fumbled to explain how the absolute risk wasn’t that high but that it was still a completely unnecessary risk, and thus why we don’t do it. Then I was watching an episode of Star Trek Deep Space 9 and noting the scenes where the two kids, Jake and Nog, are always sitting on the balcony above the promenade, dangling their legs down, and all I could think of watching it is, why…

  • communication,  meaning of life,  Occupy,  the ethical life

    trying to understand yesterday

    Even in my sleep I over analyze things. The other night I dreamed that I was a government bureaucrat for the Nazis. In my dream I knew I had a choice between getting myself thrown into a prison camp right away for standing up for what I knew was right, or I could try to survive in the job and use my position to help others. In my dream I didn’t feel fear for myself, just a question of what would be best for others. After all, I thought, the job would be done by someone and if I was doing it maybe I could help smuggle Jewish families out…

  • bullying,  meaning of life,  the ethical life

    Your Opinion of Me Is None of My Business. Except when it is.

    I remember as a teenager reading the line “your opinion of me is none of my business” and really liking it. Naturally I’ve never lived up to it. I’ve always cared what others think about me, but at least it is something to strive towards. I like that line partly because it doesn’t demand that the other person’s opinion be good. It doesn’t say “don’t judge me.” The other person is free to judge, but that judgement is their business and not mine. I was at The Feminist Breeder’s facebook page a few days ago. I shouldn’t go there. She was posting about how sick she and her daughter are, and…