• 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…

  • history,  politics,  religion

    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 food court was packed.  The security guards were lingering and…

  • activism,  religion

    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 change any of that? How, if we continue doing what…

  • Biblical history,  history,  religion

    Bible stories according to a knight in 1372

    I’m reading the book Book of the Knight of the Tower by Rebecca Barnhouse. This is a translation and commentary of a book of the same name by Sir Geoffery in 1372. Sir Geoffrey’s book was written in France, but became popular in both England and Germany as well. It was translated into English by William Caxton, the printer who brought the movable type to England. The knight and his priests wrote the book for the knight’s daughters, so that they would know how to act. It included stories about his life as well as stories ‘from the Bible.’ Except the Biblical stories are just barely recognizable: I’ll tell you about…

  • books,  God,  religion

    Luba and the Wren, The Magic Fish, greed and God in children’s books.

    Luba and the Wren by Patricia Polacco sounds remarkably like The Magic Fish by Freya Littledale. In both stories an enchanted animal is spared from capture and offers to grant a wish. In both stories the person who makes the wish is in fact contented with nothing to wish for, but is badgered into making repeated wishes on behalf of someone else. In both stories the wishes increase in size, from a larger house to a palace, and so on. In The Magic Fish the hero is a fisherman who gives into the wishes of his wife. in Luba and the Wren the heroine is a young girl who gives…