• food,  seasons,  the ethical life

    Reflections on Thanksgiving

    It is Thanksgiving here in Canada, and I’m not entirely sure what to think. As a child in school the emphasis was on pilgrims and settlers and natives and pumpkins and turkeys. Now of course I know that the stories about the first European settlers aren’t exactly as simple and straightforward as they make it sounds to eight year olds and I’m not sure that time of history is something I want to celebrate. Should we celebrate the contact between the “old world” and the “new” when it resulted in such a loss of population for those of the new? Thanksgiving as a celebration of the harvest does make sense to…

  • God,  religion,  the ethical life

    Skim Reading Not Recommended: On what it means to be (hesitantly) Christian

    I’ve gone back and forth on whether I want to include religious content on my blog. I fear doing so will alienate practically everyone and bring no real benefit, so why bother? But the long story short is that I’ve decided I will include some religious thoughts, occasionally, though I’ll keep the bulk of the blog about books and homeschooling, math and occasional politics. This post is about why I want to be more open about my religious beliefs, and the story starts with me reading this blog post and with the following paragraph sticking out to me: For those of us who try every day to walk the talk,…

  • books,  communication,  culture,  God,  meaning of life,  the ethical life

    A book about the Harry Potter books, and the many questions they invoke.

    My current light-reading is the book Harry Potter and the Bible: The Menance behind the Magick by Richard Abanes. In some ways it is a very weird book for me to read because I do not share the author’s conservative Christian religious beliefs. Why then should I concern myself with the criticisms he has of Harry Potter based on those religious beliefs? I am drawn to the book for the chance to see a little window into the ideas of others. How does his understanding of the Bible effect his understanding of Harry Potter? How does his understanding of Harry Potter help me understand my own views of the world? Much of the book ends…

  • books,  communication,  the ethical life

    Great Book: Mistakes Were Made (but not by me)

    I’ve always been fascinated by disagreements and alternative perspectives on things, so I’m greatly enjoying reading the book Mistakes Were Made (but not by me) by Carol Travris and Elliot Aronson. The subtitle to the book is “Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts.” One of the key metaphors in the book is of a decision being like the tip of a pyramid. At some point a person might be uncertain about which way he or she will go. Once a person makes a decision and starts down that one side of the pyramid the person will be constantly attempting to justify the decision. Whereas before the choice is…

  • books,  homeschooling,  the ethical life

    What do we owe our fellow human? Ethics in children’s books.

    Without meaning to, I picked up from the library two books whose plots are in some ways very similar and in other ways very different. The books provided us with a framework for some interesting ethical discussions. One of the books is Dr. Seuss’ Thidwick The Big-Hearted Moose. In that story a kind moose agrees to allow a bug to hitch a ride only to find himself soon burdened down by a whole crowd of animals. When hunters draw near he escapes only by throwing off his horns and running on his own. The animals are not so lucky. The other book is called The Rescue Bunnies by Doreen Cronin…

  • meaning of life,  religion,  the ethical life

    "Is everything okay mom?"

    “Is everything okay mom?” my sensitive little guy asks me after doing something he knows is wrong. He sounds really upset, so I say yes, everything is okay. We can clean up the mess. This continues over and over for a few days till I stop and say, no, it isn’t okay. Yes, we can clean up the mess, but I don’t want to have to keep doing that. The messes and problems my children cause are really not all that serious, yet they bring to light a difficult skill and that is the need to be able to maintain a sense of things being alright while acknowledging that something isn’t…

  • meaning of life,  the ethical life

    sad stories and questions arising from them

    One situation I’ve been reading about online is the story of Veronica Rose, an American child just two years old. On New Years Veronica was handed over from her adoptive parents to her biological father. The details of the story are unclear. Veronica’s biological mother accuses the father of refusing to financially support her unless she marry him and so she said she had to give the child up for adoption because she couldn’t afford to raise Veronica herself. Veronica’s biological father says the biological mother cut off all contact and refused to answer his calls or communicate, so how was he supposed to offer support? The adoptive parents say…

  • culture,  homeschooling,  Occupy,  the ethical life

    Social Skills, Homeschooling and Occupy

    I’ve written a bit already about my experience with my local Occupy group, and how I love the idea of Occupy but had problems with the reality. So when I recently saw a link to an article about Occupy Toronto, I was very interested to read it. After a lengthy recounting of some of the safety hazards and failures of Occupy Toronto, the article concludes: The unwillingness of Occupy Toronto’s membership to develop and enforce standards of behaviour consistent with the values of social justice exemplifies a deeply flawed process. These problems are not unique to the Occupy movement; they have been present in many organizations, including our own. Yet they…

  • culture,  movies,  the ethical life

    arts, culture and environment

    About a week ago I went to a candidate’s forum focused on environmental questions. The Green Party, Liberal, Conservative and First People’s National Party were there. The Conservative candidate didn’t bother showing up, but that’s another rant for another time. Right now what I want to write about is one of the questions that was asked. The question was regarding the topic of good green jobs and promoting a green economy, and the question was, have the candidates ever considered the arts as a source of green jobs? It was an interesting question, I thought, and the mainstream candidates were all struck dumb. The First People’s National Party candidate, Will…