William Morris and Jane Austen: Lens for Literature

I’m reading about William Morris, the 19th century designer and socialist. His company rejected the assembly line in favor of treating every creation like a work of art to be done by one person from start to finish. Morris learned old techniques and reinvented lost techniques. He hoped that as people saw the great quality products they would shun the cheaper mass-produced goods, but of course this didn’t happen and instead other companies produced cheap knock-offs of his work. I first heard of him years ago at university, when I was busy fingerweaving Metis-style sashes, which gave me at least Continue reading

Gretta Vosper and the atheist church

Gretta Vosper is a minister in the United Church of Canada, at least for now. A committee in Toronto has recommended that she not be allowed to continue as a minister, given her statements that she does not believe in God or call herself a Christian. The United Church, of which I am a part, is a church that recognizes that people’s understanding of theology changes. When someone says they don’t believe in God, the reaction is not necessarily shock as much as the question “what God is it you don’t believe in?” There is space a lot of space between believing Continue reading

making peace

As a child one of my favourite records was one produced by the Mennonite Central Committee. It was called “I can make peace” and it had a mix of stories and songs. One of the stories was about a family getting up to go to school and how one person’s grumpiness was passed on to the next person until even a friend’s family was affected, but then the reverse happens where someone’s joyfulness is passed on person to person. One story was about an elephant family. The stories and songs start off focused on families and move out to talking Continue reading

yep, I’m going to write about the Duggar scandal.

I’m writing about the Duggar family because I think what the situation is a good one for shining light on the different ways people interpret things. The Duggar family need to decide how they will handle it, and they will decide that but everyone else who hears about the case gets to decide how they will understand the story. For some that comes very quickly and easily, while for others the situation is a bit more challenging. For some it is a story about a bad man from a good family, and others about a man from a bad ideology.  Continue reading

Intelligent Design: money and PR instead of science

The book Only a Theory: Evolution and the Battle for American’s Soul by Kenneth R. Miller mentions this organization – Discovery Institute – which has a 4 million a year budget to promote their “Intelligent Design” nonsense. In 1998, as they were trying to get funding, a document known as the Wedge Document was written. It included their goals including a five year goal for “one hundred scientific, academic, and technical articles by our fellows.” This hasn’t panned out for them. They can’t write scientific papers because they have no real science. One of their senior fellows admitted in 2004 Continue reading

homeschooling, both religious and secular, and the need for accountability

In most settings I interact with people there is a presumption that a person will keep quiet about his or her religion, and not assume to know what religion the other person is. In homeschooling settings the rules are often different. Homeschoolers are often quite vocal about their religious beliefs. Of course there are many secular homeschoolers. Some of the secular homeschoolers are atheist, some are religious, but choose to homeschool in a relatively secular manner. There are regular news articles about “the new homeschoolers” and how “homeschooling isn’t just for religious people.” Yet still the abundance of secular homeschoolers Continue reading

looking at the theology of God got a dog by Cynthia Rylant and Marla Frazee

As soon as this book of simple blank verse poems about God showed up in the children’s section of my local library, I knew I had to grab it and check it out. What theology would peek through the cute word images? What does it say? In a style that reminds me of “One of us” by Eric Bazilian (sung also by Joan Osborn) or “Has heaven run out of miracles” the poems suggest God taking roles of normal people. However whereas in “One of Us” the emphasis is on how would the individual react if God was one of us, Continue reading

Three very different books on the origins of Christianity.

How Jesus Became Christian, by Barrie Wilson, describes a “Christian Cover-Up Theory” that Paul invented a totally new religion using aspects of the gentile mystery religions and his own understanding of Jesus. According to Wilson a fictional history linking Paul’s new religion with that of Jesus’ followers was invented by the author of Luke and Acts. Then as the new Christians gained followers they demonized and rejected the Jewish people so as to eliminate the witnesses who could identify that Christianity was a new invention grafted on with no legitimacy in the ancient Hebrew roots. Wilson argues we need to Continue reading

Inside the mall or outside: thoughts on the allegiance to capitalism.

It was bitterly cold today but I joined with others in handing out candy canes and holiday themed postcards in support of the campaign to raise the minimum wage in Ontario. There were six others from my anti-poverty group and we took turns warming up inside the mall and standing outside fumbling with our gloves trying to give things out. I did the interview with CTV. We gave out about a 100 candy canes and had some supportive feedback yet with weather this cold no one wants to stand and talk. Inside the mall feels like such a different world. The Continue reading

when religion again challenges me to stop spinning my wheels, but I don’t know how

Last Sunday I heard a wonderful sermon about how Jesus was wanting to bring changes here on earth, right now, not in heaven in some futuristic time. I was amazed at the courage of the (guest) speaker for being willing to pose challenges quite directly. Jesus was persecuted for his beliefs. Why aren’t we? Is it because we’ve toned our beliefs down, created a nonthreatening religion?  He talked briefly about some of the injustice in the world – I think one of his examples was the plight of the First Nations in Canada – and said, ‘how does what we do here Continue reading