Coffee, a hot beverage brewed from the ground beans of the coffea plant, is a beverage I relish. I take two mugfuls of black coffee every morning, savouring the flavour as I sip it from my mug. The consumption of coffee is a pleasure so many people enjoy every day across the world. Coffee drinking originated in the Arab world in the 15th century and remains an integral part of Arab culture in the present. Coffee was introduced to Europe in the 16th century by Venetian merchants who had trade relations with North Africa, Egypt and the Middle East. Coffee was approved as a Christian beverage by Pope Clement VIII (1536-1605) in 1600, having been frowned upon by some Christians as a “Muslim drink.” Kudos to his Holiness Pope Clement in doing so as this delectable beverage and its consumption would play a role in the transformation of European society from the remnants of the social order of the Middle Ages to modernity. Continue reading
Today, Sunday February 24, 2013 kicks off Freedom to Read Week in Canada (February 24 – March 2, 2013). As such, it is apropos to say a few words about censorship in Canada. Geoffrey is a librarian; Mika is a bibliophile. Between them they have a personal library collection of approximately 5000 volumes. Having the freedom to read is is something to cherish and not take lightly. Section 2.(b) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms lists as “Fundamental Freedoms” guarantees “freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication.” In spite of these guarantees in law, the reality is in Canada, a society founded on the principles of pluralism and liberalism, efforts to censor in the form of book challenges are all too common. Public libraries and school libraries are where most book challenges take place. For more information on Freedom to Read Week in Canada 2013, check out this website: www.freedomtoread.ca. By all means enjoy your freedom to read and never take this freedom for granted.
Posted by Geoffrey and Mika
Freedom of conscience is a cornerstone in Western Civilization. However, history demonstrates that freedom of conscience often carries a high price. The quotation listed as the title of this post is attributed to Martin Luther (1483-1546) who was said to have spoken these words at the Diet of Worms on April 18, 1521. What he really said is as follows:
Unless I am convinced by Scripture and plain reason – I do not accept the authority of the popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other – my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and will not recant anything for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. God help me. Amen.
What brought him to make this declaration was his protest against abuses in the Church, particularly the sale of indulgences, written down in his “95 Theses” in 1517. Prior to his appearance at the Diet of Worms, his “95 Theses” was forwarded to Rome where a number of sentences upon examination were condemned as heretical. After ignoring a warning from Pope Leo X, Luther was excommunicated on January 3, 1521. Excommunication in 16th century Europe meant proscription. You were made an outlaw, that is, you no longer had the protection of the law, it was forbidden for anyone to offer you food and shelter and you could be killed on sight without consequence. As it was the responsibility of civil authority to enforce the law, Luther was offered the chance to recant at the Diet of Worms which was the general assembly of the estates of the Holy Roman Empire with Emperor Charles V presiding. He refused, in doing so putting his life on the line. He was offered protection from Prince Frederick III, Elector of Saxony, and continued his efforts which led to the Protestant Reformation. Continue reading
The term “homosexual agenda,” is a trope commonly used by social conservatives, particularly those from religious constituencies in referring to efforts by gay people who want tolerance, if not acceptance for who they are, their relationships and families. The term was invented by the Family Research Council in 1992, an Evangelical Protestant group and lobbying organization established in the United States in 1981 by James Dobson. Interestingly, Dobson is a licensed psychologist in the state of California. He has academic credentials, a doctorate in child development from the University of Southern California and held the position of Associate Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Southern California School of Medicine 14 years. In addition, he served for 17 years on the staff of the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles in the Division of Child Development and Medical Genetics. Dobson is intelligent, but remains a minor figure in academic circles. He is better known for his business acumen and influence as a conservative lobbyist. Continue reading
Having come across a parody on youtube made my two “good old boys” who use crude stereotypes in portraying gay hunters I comment on being a gay man with a passion for hunting.
Posted by Geoffrey
As a gun owner and hunter, I am familiar with the range of attitudes toward my hobby. I have a modest collection of sporting guns, shotguns and rifles designed for use in hunting. As I am left-handed I prefer break action shotguns and bolt-action rifles. I have two pump action shotguns in my collection and no semi-automatic firearms. I have no pistols in my collection either as these are not lawful for use in hunting in Canada. I spend time on the skeet range throughout the year to practice mounting and swinging my shotgun and go to the rifle range to make certain my deer rifle is sighted in before taking to the field. I am not really a gun enthusiast. I know enough about the guns in my collection to give them basic maintenance to see they work as they should. For more detailed maintenance I rely on my hunting buddy Jason or a professional gun smith. Continue reading
Pope Benedict XVI announced on February 11, 2013 he is leaving office. The reason he gave for reaching this decision is as follows:
in today’s world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the barque of St Peter and proclaim the gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary. Strength which has in the past few months deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity adequately to fulfill the ministry entrusted to me.
This came as quite a surprise to me and to many other people across the world. It is commonly understood that once elected pope, the holder stays in office for life. While I am no longer a practicing Roman Catholic, I maintain an interest in the Church, her history, doctrines and current theological discussions. Continue reading
If the ignorant were truly blessed, I swear this man, Charles L. Worley, Pastor of the Providence Road Baptist Church in Maiden, North Carolina, would be a living saint. He earned his fifteen minutes of infamy in 2012 when in addressing his flock he made the following comment:
I had a way, I’ve figured a way out. A way to get rid of all the lesbians and queers, but I couldn’t get it past the Congress. Build a great big large fence, 150 or 100 miles long, put all the lesbians in there, fly over and drop some food. Do the same thing with the queers and the homosexuals. And have that fence electrified till they can’t get out. Feed them. And you know what? In a few years they’ll die out. You know why? They can’t reproduce.
My immediate reaction upon coming across this story was a belly laugh. Is it really possible that someone could be so bloody ignorant? Beyond that, I was torn between feelings of hoping this man does humanity a favour in not reproducing and hoping if he does breed, one or more of his children are lesbian and homosexual. Seriously, I think it better that he not breed or at least that any progeny he has are heterosexual, because the thought of gay children having this man as their father is just too horrifying. Continue reading
Knox, a nondescript town located in the northwest corner of the state in Starke County, Indiana with a population of 3704 souls became the focal point in hard lesson of life for me. Knox is well represented with churches, primarily Protestant denominations including Pentecostal, Baptist and various semi-independent Evangelical sects. While Knox is well outside the Bible Belt, the religious culture is very much like that you will find there. This is particularly so with regard to attitudes toward homosexuality. Generally speaking, it is a religious culture in which homosexuality is neither accepted nor tolerated. You may be wondering how it is that I came to know about and am so interested in Knox, Indiana and its religious culture. The reason, in short, is that Knox is the birthplace of Thomas Lee Bridegroom, a young gay man whose life and untimely death I learned of in a youtube video published by his grieving partner Shane Bitney Crone. It could happen to you is the video Shane published in memory of his partner Thomas Lee Bridegroom. Continue reading
In the past few weeks the British parliament passed legislation to move forward in allowing same sex couples to marry in England and Wales. The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill for England and Wales received its first reading on 24 January 2013. On 5 February 2013, the House of Commons debated the bill, and later approved the legislation on second reading in a 400–175 vote. Hitherto, civil unions were allowed between same sex couples under the law since 2005. This is very welcome news indeed. Certainly English society has come a long way from when homosexual sex between consenting adults were decriminalized in 1967. Still, there is determined opposition to amending the law to allow same sex marriage, most notably from religious institutions. The Catholic Church in England and Wales together with the Church of England are campaigning against this legislation. The Muslim Council of Britain and the Rabbinical Council of the United Synagogue are also opposed. The more things change, the more they stay the same it seems. Continue reading