• 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…

  • 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…

  • culture,  politics,  religion,  the ethical life

    Reasons to NOT Support Operation Christmas Child

    Schools and individuals are already taking advantage of back-to-school sales to gather supplies for Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes. While I think it is great to try to give extra joy to others, I want to write to urge people not to support this program. I have a whole list of reasons (see below), but right now (November 2015) I am editing this to add the most important reason at the top. Franklin Graham, the head of the group that runs OCC, promotes fear and hatred. Here is an example of a post from his facebook page. You can check his page out and see that there are more like this.…

  • history,  homeschooling,  religion

    Biblical history from a progressive Christian standpoint.

    I’ve been trying again to teach my children Biblical history. Our last attempt involved building a lot of block cities while talking about the various tribes that attacked the kingdoms of Israel and Judah, and the children have long-since forgotten the list, though the whole attempt helped me learn to keep them straight in my mind. We talked about empire and we talked about the idea of whether the people were going to try to form an alliance with one empire or another or whether they were going to have faith in God. Now I’m getting ready to try again. We started with the patriarchs, telling and retelling their stories…

  • politics,  religion

    Progressive Christian response to the book: Armageddon Factor: The Rise of Christian Nationalism in Canada

    I’m reading the book The Armageddon Factor: The Rise of Christian Nationalism in Canada. This alarming book traces the interconnectedness of mega-preachers and certain Canadian politicians. It talks about how the religious right are getting organized pouring money into the infostructure to train young people to take on government and beaurocratic positions, including in 2009  more than $26 million in public funds going to private Christian colleges as part of the economic stimulus package. (This wasn’t business as usual. James Turk, executive director of Canadian Association of University Teachers is quoted as saying “The fact that this money is going to private institutions – and fundamental Christian ones at that –…