Monthly Archives: February 2014

The religion then of every man must be left to the conviction and conscience of every man; and it is the right of every man to exercise it as these may dictate. — James Madison

Arizonapict31

Mika and I have never travelled to the United States together. We have, individually, visited the United States on a number of occasions. Growing up I lived in Laurel, Maryland for several months in 1965 with my family. My father was serving in the Canadian Army at the time and was posted to Washington DC briefly. As a boy, Mika visited Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming with his family. I have been as far south in the United States as Florida; I took a holiday with my family during March break in 1977. I have been to New England and in 2012 had a very nice time visiting with a good friend and his family in Washington state. I have made periodic visits across the border into upstate New York on shopping trips. For our first trip together to the United States, Arizona is a state Mika and I are interested in visiting for a holiday. The appeal for us is to see the desert habitat, its hot, dry climate, the plants, like Sonora cactus, the wildlife, like road runners and javelinas and to get a taste of the culture of the Southwestern United States. Continue reading

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A hallucination is a fact, not an error; what is erroneous is a judgment based upon it. — Bertrand Russell

Fran_alanjpgGender-Gap

Gender neutrality or gender-neutralism or the gender neutrality movement, is a topic that keeps cropping up in discussions across the blogosphere. These terms describe “the idea that policies, language, and other social institutions should avoid distinguishing roles according to people’s sex or gender, in order to avoid discrimination arising from the impression that there are social roles for which one gender is more suited than the other.” (Wikipedia) At face value this looks quite reasonable. Historically, the division of labour in the Western world was based on sex. Men worked outside the home and were mobilised in times of war to fight; whereas, women worked in the home and acted as a reserve labour force when the men were away fighting in wartime. In the present, men and women work along side one another in the labour force and in the military. Sex or gender based segregation is largely a thing of the past, but for a very long time it was a reality. There were occupations and past-times that were denied to women because they were deemed unsuitable for women. Continue reading

Piety is not a goal but a means to attain through the purest peace of mind the highest culture. — Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832)

Quebecpiety

Years ago I remember while having a discussion of theology with a group of friends, one in the group referred to himself as a pious atheist. I was taken aback by his comment as piety and atheism were not terms I associated with one another. Piety is most commonly associated with religious belief and practice. Since then I gave this notion a great deal of thought: is secular piety a possibility? This question is worth considering in light of the reality that how one expresses their piety in an increasingly secular society such as Canada has become a contentious issue of late as is evidenced by the controversy surrounding the proposed Quebec Charter of Values (Charte de la laïcité or Charte des valeurs québécoises). The stated aim of the charter is to ensure there is a clear separation of religion and state and that public employees have religious neutrality. What this means is the wearing of ostentatious religious symbols or garb on the job will be prohibited. Continue reading

I think Islam is in a sense, in crisis. It needs to question and re-question itself. — Azar Nafisi

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Criticism of religion is a tender subject. Criticism of Islam in particular is especially so as is evidenced by the court battle threatening to take shape between the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM), Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Jason MacDonald (spokesman for Prime Minister Harper). The NCCM filed a notice of libel in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice over remarks made by Jason MacDonald in dismissing their objection to the inclusion of Rabbi Daniel Korobkin of the Beth Avraham Yosef Synagogue in Toronto as part of the delegation that accompanied Prime Minister Harper on a visit to Israel in January 2014. MacDonald dismissed their objection stating “we will not take seriously criticism from an organization with documented ties to terrorist organization such as Hamas.” (as cited in CTV News) The NCCM objected to the inclusion of Rabbi Korobkin in the delegation accompanying Prime Minister Harper because he hosted speaking engagements featuring Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller, two noted critics of Islam, in September 2013. Continue reading