• This picture shows a Minecraft village built in the style of Catal Hoyuk
    history,  homeschooling,  politics,  religion

    Searching for Justice and Equality in Ancient Times

    One of the classes I’m teaching these days is a secular Bible study class. I treat the Bible like a work of literature. We discuss the different historical periods and the theologies within the Bible, but I’m not trying to convert them. I use the textbooks I had from university to help me, but simplifying stuff for children. I’m having wonderful fun with the class. Then on a different day of the week I teach an ancient history class that is looking more at other ancient cultures of the Middle East. So from this study of ancient times, what fascinates me is the frequency in which the different texts and…

  • history,  politics,  religion,  the ethical life

    Nellie McClung and the challenge of history

    Up until a few weeks ago, if I was asked my impression of Nellie McClung I probably would have said “oh, she was that suffragette, right? The one people say was racist and supported eugenics?” I started reading about Nellie McClung this past few weeks. I’ll still a newcomer to McClung’s story and I’ve already read bits that do suggest the darker parts of her beliefs. But what has amazed me is realizing how beautiful some of her thoughts and ideas were too. She wrote novels that promoted the idea that we are all called to serve community, love one another and by doing so to change the world. She…

  • religion,  the ethical life

    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 a bit of a feel for the time involved in…

  • God,  politics,  religion

    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 in an omnipotent force that intervenes in this world and…

  • meaning of life,  religion,  the ethical life

    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 about adults, including one about Muriel Lester. I don’t have…

  • politics,  religion,  the ethical life

    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.  I want to explain why I think the ideology is…

  • politics,  religion,  science

    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 that “Easily the biggest challenge facing the ID community is…

  • homeschooling,  politics,  religion

    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 don’t quiet the religious talk. After all, many religious homeschoolers…

  • books,  religion

    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, the poems are more focused on how certain of our…

  • books,  religion

    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 reclaim the original Jesus, a Jewish political teacher who argued…