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Monthly Archives: February 2013

A few weeks ago, BC Premier Christy Clark spoke to a private audience about her Anglican faith.  The following week, former Reform Party leader Preston Manning came to the U of S to speak about ‘Politics, Ethics, and Faith.’  The Manning Foundation for Democratic Education is apparently looking to explore this issue further, and I’m intrigued.

I have always been uncomfortable with the intersection of politics and faith, mostly because of how that hasn’t worked out so well in the United States.  You have a small, mostly white, evangelical minority that cries ‘Persecution!’ every time it doesn’t get what it wants.  I don’t like how faith, and a specific faith, is a prerequisite for becoming President of the United States.  I don’t think being a Christian should automatically mean you vote for conservative parties.  And I generally don’t think you should use your faith to shape public policy…sort of.

Both Clark and Manning spoke of the need for politics to be more upfront about their faith.  I agree with this.  If your faith plays an important part if your life, your constituents should know about it, especially if it impacts what decisions you make.  I would rather someone be open about what they believe than hide it.

But at the same time, as a politician, you are a representative of your constituency.  Your function is to represent your citizens’ views.  Your election to political office does not entitle you to force your spiritual views on everyone else.

This is the crux of the problem: as a politician, how do you allow your faith to inform your politics when the decisions you make impact thousands of people, many of whom do not agree with you?

I think it comes down to loving your neighbour as yourself.  This requires not only respect for opposing points of view, but actual consideration of those opinions and a view towards the greater good and caring for those in need.  This is the basis of most religions, regardless of theology.

The current connection between faith and politics is perverse.  Christianity should not be reflected by political movements that protect the rich, denigrate the poor, call for blind patriotism and scorch the earth at the expense of future generations.  I do not understand how you can read the Gospels and not believe in the need for massive change in our politics.

In Jesus for President: Politics for Ordinary Radicals, Shane Claiborne writes that “the greatest sin of political imagination” is “thinking there is no other way except the filthy rotten system we have today.” It is a system that is broken, and we all know it.  If faith is going to affect politics in any way, it should be in creating a more equitable form of government that builds consensus and both truly speaks and cares for all.

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So at the end of last season, this guy was the Hamilton Tiger Cats’ head coach…

The all-time leading receiver was a BC Lion…

This guy was one of Rider fans’ most-hated players…

And this guy was a Grey Cup champion and the game’s Outstanding Canadian.

Now, these guys are all Saskatchewan Roughriders.

Which is SOOOOOOOOOO WEIRD.

I’m not sure what to think about the 2013 paper version of the Riders.  Is is better than what it was in 2012?  Yes.  The offensive line has a year of playing together under its belt, Jock Sanders will be back from what could have been a devastating career-ending injury, there is now another receiver who can take the pressure off of Weston Dressler, Kory Sheets understands the CFL game better, and George Cortez should be able to play to the strengths of Darian Durant and add some imagination to an offensive that was sorely predictable last year.  Ricky Foley adds dynamism to a sad-sack defensive line and is a ratio-buster, allowing the Riders to possibly start an all-American linebacking core or all-American backfield, and the secondary has been massively upgraded.  Special teams is a big question mark with the departure of guru Craig Dickenson, the lack of a big-time returner, and an inconsistent kicking game.

I would really like to be optimistic about this team.  Clearly the Riders are doing their best to give themselves a shot at playing in the Grey Cup on their home turf.

But like every year, it’s not so much the individual strengths that matter as much as how well they’re used.

The 2013 Riders are far better on paper than the 2012 Riders.  We’ll see what happens when they take to the field.

I hate it when holidays are over…

Links

Faith & Religion

Gary Thomas – The Corrosive Temptation of Being a Creative

Rev. Matthew Westfox – Blocking birth control coverage: ‘How is that Christian?’

Winn Collier – Tell Me the Truth

Justin Erik Halldor Smith – My Faith: A Confession

from two to one – When I Don’t Trust that God is Good

Shawn – Why the Church Should Quiet Down

Antonia Terrazas – This online thing (or why I am still here, with you)

Loren Siebold – High-contrast Morality

Rachel Held Evans – Swords into ploughshares and hate mail into origami

Libby Anne – …But I’m Still a Christian!

Amy Lepine Peterson – The F-Word: Why Feminism is Not the Enemy

Culture, Society & Life

Kimberly Burge – The Importance of Men seeing Women as Human Beings

Sierra Crane-Murdoch – On Indian Land, Criminals Can Get Away with Almost Anything

Hilary Mantel – Royal Bodies (the media really, really, really fudged the thesis of this)

Dylan Stableford – Mississippi newspaper owner defends gay marriage cover story

The money quote:

We have stories about child molesters, murders and all kinds of vicious, barbaric acts of evil committed by heinous criminals on our front page and yet we never receive a call from anyone saying ‘I don’t need my children reading this.’ Never. Ever. However, a story about two women exchanging marriage vows and we get swamped with people worried about their children.

Traci Lee – Jon Huntsman says legalizing gay marriage is ‘the right thing to do’

Anne Kingston – Lainey Lui: Canada’s gossip magnate (LOVE HER!)

Politics & Law

John Ivison – The Parliamentary Budget Office is a good idea the Tories wish they never had

Steve Benen – Welcome changes of heart on marriage 

Rob Boston – Religious right opens up to church-state separation in California yoga case

Murray Mandryk – Public Crowns balancing Saskatchewan budget

Jeffrey Simpson – The Office of Religious Freedom, more conservative slice and dice

John Allemang – She’s married to a Trudeau, but she’s not your typical political wife

Random & Weird

Raw Story – Police called after man refuses to remove pasta strainer from head (??), Texas bans shooting immigrants from helicopters, Walmart pressing felony charges against employee who ate ‘multiple’ Oreo cookies

Salon – Walmart is an aphrodisiac!

What I’m reading…

          

What I’m watching…

    

You really must watch the first ten minutes of Jon Stewart’s February 19th show, because the Russian dashboard cam clips are priceless.

Here’s a sample:

All of the cows survived, as did the truck driver.

Goodness, that vocal STILL takes my breath away.

There are two types of changes in our lives: changes we choose to make and changes that are forced upon us.

Both can be devastatingly hard to deal with.

I’ve lost 60 pounds not once, but twice.  That was hard.  But I chose to change.

I’ve been anxious and depressed, illnesses which changed me whether I liked it or not.

I used to think I was averse to change, but now I realize that I like change.

Well, most of the time.

I’m not afraid to change.  I’ve change my hair a million times because it’s just hair.  It’ll grow back.  And there are always hats.

My style also changes frequently, as do my reading habits, my interests, my nail polish and a million other things.

But there’s one upcoming change that is terrifying me.

In less than two months, I will graduate from university and head into articling.

I am terrified. Scared. Frightened. Afraid.

Honestly, I’m scared sh**less.

As excited as I am to finally leave behind my life of low-paying jobs and no vehicle, I am worried that I won’t be able to hack it out in the real world.

Here’s a sample of one thought process I had this week:

So, I’ll quit work at the end of March and give myself a couple of months to rejuvenate before articling.  That sounds excellent.

But then I won’t have a lot of money to play around with.

That’s okay.  I’ve got my income tax money.  I’ll be okay.  Plus, there’s the bonus I get the week I start working.

But I need to buy a car sometime before I start working.

It’s okay.  Remember: income tax and bonus.

Right.

Then in six months my student loans will come due.  And I’ll probably be paying double the rent I am now, plus the car payments.

That’s okay.  I’ll just have to budget carefully.

What if I have another breakdown?  What if I can’t work?  Then what’ll happen? I’ll have no money, all of these bills and they’ll repossess my car, I’ll lose my job and I’ll be a Masters/Law graduate with no job and no money.  And then I won’t be able to finish my articling and I won’t be a lawyer and then what?

Wasn’t that fun?  Welcome to my brain.

At this point, my biggest fear about the impending major change in my life is that I won’t be able to handle it.  That I’m going to break down again.

Unless you’ve been through it, it’s difficult to understand how paralyzing this fear can be.  The memories are so strong, and the pain is still so fresh that sometimes it’s hard to see the good, positive things that are happening, the baby steps that are leading you back to wholeness.

Lately, I’ve been stuck in the fog.

While I am desperately ready for change, to begin my life as a certified ‘adult,’ I am also frightened that I’m going to fail.

So what do I do?

I try to remember all of the times I thought I would fail and didn’t.

I’m in the process of learning to trust myself again.  That’s the most frustrating part of depression and anxiety; they rob you of what little self-confidence you had.  Regaining that trust is a long, slow process with a lot of ups and downs.  And right now, I fear I won’t regain it in time.

Regardless, change is coming.

I hope I’m ready for it.

Image via CBC.ca

So Canada now has an Office of Religious Freedom.

Lately I’ve read and heard a lot about the intertwining of politics and religion in Canada, so the actual establishment of such an office warrants some consideration.

The most basic question is why do we need an office of religious freedom?

I can practice my faith quite openly here in Canada.  Religiously and spiritually, I don’t feel constrained in any way.  Conservative Christians often feel otherwise, but it’s mostly because they don’t understand the mammoth difference between persecution and not getting their own way (insert commentary on privilege and entitlement here).

Unfortunately, people of faith (which includes anyone and everyone that espouses religious belief of some sort; in other words, Christians sure ain’t the only people of faith out there) are tortured and even killed because of their belief.  A lot of this is sectarian violence, but there governments that routinely punish religious minorities.

The Prime Minister says the assassination of Pakistan Shahbaz Bhatti, the country’s Catholic minorities minister, inspired the creation of the office (ORF is an unfortunate acronym; if you remember the Conservative Reform Alliance Party, you know Conservatives aren’t great with acronyms).

Fine.  Nobody should be gunned down simply because they have different religious views than somebody else.  I can get behind that.  But religious freedom comes in many forms, including the freedom to be free from religion.  And the office doesn’t seem to be too concerned with that.

Here’s ORF’s mandate:

The Office will focus on advocacy, analysis, policy development and programming relating to (i) protecting, and advocating on behalf of, religious minorities under threat, (ii) opposing religious hatred and (iii) promoting Canadian values of pluralism and diversity abroad.

ORF even has a religious freedom fund:

The Office of Religious Freedom will administer the Religious Freedom Fund that will seek to:

  • Compel action internationally against violations of religious freedom by contributing to greater awareness of threats to religious freedom and by promoting pluralism;
  • Strengthen the Government of Canada’s response to specific violations of religious freedom; and,
  • Promote education on issues related to freedom of religion.

The most troubling part of the Frequently Asked Questions is the question, “Will the Office remain objective and treat every religion equally?”  The fact that they felt they had to address this question no doubt demonstrates that people are a little bit skeptical about what exactly this office plans to do.

But I’m with David Carment: ORF is nothing but a blatant attempt to shore up the votes of ethnic minorities and has the nice side effect of pandering to the Conservative right.

Personally, if the Harper government wanted to create an office dedicated to fighting human rights violations, it should have focused on gender discrimination.  These days, the deadliest words in the world are ‘It’s a girl,’ not ‘I’m a Christian/Muslim/Jew, etc.’  Ask Aboriginal and other minority women in Canada about it.

Here’s something I’ve been mulling over today…

David Bryant writes:

Faith is not the progressive unearthing of God’s nature but a recognition that he/she is fundamentally unknowable. The signpost points not to growing certainty but towards increasing non-knowing. This is not as outrageous as it seems. An apophatic thread, a belief that the only way to conceive of God is through conceding that he is ineffable, runs throughout Christian history. Jan Van Ruysbroeck, the 14th century Augustinian and man of prayer, maintained that ‘God is immeasurable and incomprehensible, unattainable and unfathomable’. St John of the Cross, one of the pillars of western mysticism, put it even more succinctly: ‘If a man wishes to be sure of the road he travels on, he must close his eyes and walk in the dark.”

Hmmm.

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