By Brian Bethune - Tuesday, May 7, 2013 - 0 Comments
Heaven is hot again, and hell is colder than ever
Death, it seems, is no longer Shakespeare’s undiscovered country, the one “from whose bourn no traveller returns.” Not according to contemporary bestseller lists. Dreams and visions of the afterlife have been constants across human history, and the near-death experiences (now known as NDEs) of those whose lives were saved by medical advances have established, for millions, a credible means by which someone could peek into the next world. Lately a fair-sized pack of witnesses claim to have actually entered into the afterlife before coming back again to write mega-selling accounts of what they saw and felt there. Afterlife speculation has become a vibrant part of the zeitgeist, the result of trends that include developments in neuroscience that have inspired new ideas about human consciousness, the ongoing evolution of theology, both popular and expert, and the hopes and fears of an aging population. Heaven is hot again. And hell is colder than ever.
Recent polls across the developed world are starting to tell an intriguing tale. In the U.S., religion central for the West, belief in heaven has held steady, even ticking upwards on occasion, over the past two decades. Belief in hell is also high, but even Americans show a gap between the two articles of faith—81 per cent believed in the former in 2011, as opposed to 71 per cent accepting the latter. Elsewhere in the Western world the gap between heaven and hell believers is more of a gulf—a 2010 Canadian poll found more than half of us think there is a heaven, while fewer than a third acknowledge hell. What’s more, monotheism’s two destinations are no longer all that are on offer. In December a survey of the 1970 British Cohort group—9,000 people, currently 42 years old—found half believed in an afterlife, while only 31 per cent believed in God. No one has yet delved deeply into beliefs about the new afterlife—the cohort surveyors didn’t ask for details—but reincarnation, in an newly multicultural West, is one suggested factor. So too is belief in what one academic called “an unreligious afterlife,” the natural continuation of human consciousness after physical death.
By Colby Cosh - Saturday, April 20, 2013 at 8:00 PM - 0 Comments
“Organized religion” hasn’t enjoyed very good press for the last 50 years. People only use the phrase when they mean to speak ill, as with “organized crime.” A lot of people remain quite keen on religion, or even unbelievingly convinced there are benefits from its existence; they are not so happy with the hint of menace and control that comes with the “organization” part.
But what if the “organized” bit in “organized religion” is actually the useful half? What if, as the philosopher Alain de Botton has been arguing lately, we would be better off dispensing with supernatural or mystical ideas but keeping the activities, the buildings, and the other external forms?
A weird but important new study out of the University of Saskatchewan’s psychiatry shop may serve to endorse this Bottonite impulse. The research on religion and mental health is a vast, contradictory mess that you can ransack for evidence of almost any hypothetical relationship. But doctors Lloyd Balbuena, Marilyn Baetz and Rudy Bowen have extracted new longitudinal data from a huge sample. They used repeated interviews of 12,583 people in the National Population Health Survey (NPHS), made over a period of 14 years, to check whether religion had any effect on the future incidence of major depression.
By Colby Cosh - Friday, April 12, 2013 at 10:45 AM - 0 Comments
It’s official: Ted Byﬁeld, Alberta’s legendary conservative media entrepreneur, has completed the latest in the series of audacious, contrarian, financially tenuous projects that has defined his life. In the early ’60s, the Old Man, as he likes to be called, dropped out of newspapering to help found a series of traditionalist Anglican private schools. In the early ’70s, he started to miss journalism the way old soldiers hanker for combat, so he founded the newsmagazine that would become Alberta Report, the notorious but inﬂuential voice of Western dissent and orthodox Christian values.
He spent much of the ’90s editing and compiling an enormous, popular, illustrated history of Alberta, with the idea of providing the province’s overlapping, restless demographic waves with a shared narrative spine, a structure of story within which even those who arrived last week can find a niche. (That’s assuming they can find the books.) And now he has applied those lessons to the most ambitious task of all: a 12-volume history of the Christian faith from the Pentecost to the present, covering everything from the Crusades to Calvinism to the Cathars.
The series bears Ted’s personal stamp, partly because, as with many of his projects, Ted came to find that every bit of editing and writing he did himself was one less bit he had to budget for someone else to do. But he has been careful not to make it too polemical or idiosyncratic. Himself a member of an Eastern Orthodox denomination nowadays—capital-O Orthodoxy being an attractive refuge for high-churchish intellectuals who cannot swallow the notion of a Pope—he took advice throughout the production of the series from Catholic and Protestant scholars. Offshoots of the faith, from the Jesuits to Jehovah’s Witnesses, get a fair but frank hearing, and the books are at times startlingly candid about issues like slavery (a “brutal business” upon which Jesus remained mysteriously silent) and the early American republic (chapter heading: “The America that won independence could not be considered Christian”).
By Martin Patriquin - Tuesday, March 26, 2013 at 5:00 PM - 0 Comments
What Cardinal Marc Ouellet’s hometown says about the state of the Church
Quebecers and Argentines share deep Catholic roots, a hot-blooded Latin temperament and a general wariness of the Church’s place in their respective societies. Catholicism is on the wane in both, to the benefit of evangelical Christianity in Argentina and secularism in Quebec. Yet if God influenced Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio’s ascension over Quebec’s Cardinal Marc Ouellet, then He is a pragmatic higher being indeed. For, despite their similarities, the outlook for the world’s largest Christian denominations in Quebec and Argentina could not be more different.
The newly elected Pope Francis will likely favour the fate of Catholicism in Latin America, home to nearly 40 per cent of the world’s Catholic population. Ouellet himself knew of the continent’s fertile grounds: in 1970, he left his hometown of La Motte for Colombia shortly after his ordination. One of the reasons why this might be is plain to see in La Motte itself. Had Ouellet become pope, and at a youthful 68 he still might yet, he would have overseen a dwindling hometown flock in Quebec.
La Motte—literally, “the lump”—is a village of roughly 450 souls sitting in the middle of the triangle created by the mining towns of Val D’Or, Amos and Rouyn-Noranda in Quebec’s northwestern Abitibi-Témiscamingue region. It isn’t in the middle of nowhere, in other words, yet on snowy, wind-ripped winter days, it might as well be. The locals, made up of long-time residents and a burgeoning crop of artists who have moved here over the last 20 years, like it that way. To be sure, the few grey-haired residents who crowded into the town’s community centre to see if their native son would win were sad when he didn’t. “We’re a bit disappointed, it would have rejuvenated the parish,” said Marthe Béliveau, 81. Like many parishes in Quebec, La Motte’s certainly needs rejuvenation. Ouellet was ordained at its St. Luc Church in 1968—the same year the Quebec government shut down Séminaire d’Amos, the area’s only seminary, due to a shortage of would-be priests. Ouellet’s alma mater, Montreal’s Grand Séminaire, has suffered a similar fate; there were roughly 300 students when he attended the school in the 1960s. There are 18 today.
By Brian Bethune - Tuesday, March 26, 2013 at 2:20 PM - 0 Comments
Will the Pope with the wry sense of humour and common touch actually reinvigorate the Church and the papacy?
From the moment he became Pope Francis, Jorge Mario Bergoglio started adding to an already impressive list of firsts: the cardinal archbishop of Buenos Aires was the first New World pope ever, the first non-European pope in 1,300 years, the first Jesuit pope, the first pope since 913 CE to choose to be known by a name never used by one of his predecessors. When he emerged onto the balcony of St. Peter’s to receive the acclaim of a crowd 100,000 strong, Francis was not wearing the traditional—and monarchical—red papal cape; when he left for the night, he hopped on a minibus rather than in the papal limo; the next morning, he dropped by his hotel to pay his bill, now that he was no longer only visiting the bishopric of Rome. Perhaps most disconcerting of all, he’s been displaying open flashes of humour from the start, beginning with his remark to the cardinal electors—“May God forgive you.” And by doing all that, Francis seems to have accomplished something else new under the sun: freezing in place a rapt world’s judgment, now poised between hope and caution.
Whatever observers, Catholic and otherwise, expected from the new universal pastor of the Roman Catholic Church—and the pre-conclave claim that what the Church needed was a saint with an M.B.A. says more about expectations than possibilities—most remain uncertain about what, and whom, it got.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, February 19, 2013 at 3:40 PM - 0 Comments
The Prime Minister has named the government’s first ambassador for religious freedom. Here is the official biography for Andrew Bennett. And here is Mr. Harper’s response this afternoon when asked about whether the office would also concern itself with the freedom of atheists.
This is an office to promote religious toleration and religious diversity. And, in fact, as president Malik himself said, people who choose not to believe, that’s a valid religious and democratic perspective that we all must also accept and promote. We’re not trying to impose, we’re trying to respect peoples’ own religions, their own faith choices. Not impose those faith choices or non-faith choices on others. And so just as it is important that religion be respected in a pluralistic and democratic society by those who don’t share religion, it is likewise expected in a very religious society that those who don’t share faith will be respected as well.
Here is John Baird’s speech last year on the importance of religious freedom.
The New Democrats have responded with congratulations and a couple quibbles.
The Office of Religious Freedoms, as introduced today, represents both a broken Conservative promise and a missed opportunity. Conservatives had repeatedly promised a democratic development agency, but they broke that promise and now they’re moving forward on a much more limited and narrow approach.
That much is reference to the Conservative party’s 2008 platform, which promised a “new, non-partisan democracy promotion agency that will help emerging democracies build democratic institutions and support peaceful democratic change in repressive countries.”
By Emmett Macfarlane - Thursday, December 20, 2012 at 1:43 PM - 0 Comments
Balancing rules are akin to parking a tank on one side of a seesaw, writes Emmett Macfarlane
Ask observers to sum up Beverley McLachlin’s reign as chief justice of the Supreme Court of Canada and you’ll hear a lot about consensus building. Her modus operandi in difficult Charter of Rights cases has usually consisted of avoiding one-sided proclamations of principle in favour of meting out compromise and getting her colleagues to join her on a moderate, often minimalist, judicial path. Continue…
By Blog of Lists - Wednesday, December 19, 2012 at 9:30 AM - 0 Comments
Oil, lumber, autos, hockey players, comedians: all well-known Canadian exports to the U.S. But preachers? From Catholic missionaries to evangelical pastors, Canada has supplied American Christianity with many notable figures.
1. Aimee Semple McPherson (1890 to 1944): A Pentecostal founder of the Foursquare Gospel Church in Los Angeles, pioneer in the religious exploitation of mass media (especially radio) and media celebrity in the 1920s and ’30s, she was born on a farm near Salford, Ont. McPherson’s month-long disappearance in 1926, the same year in which the equally famous Agatha Christie later disappeared for 11 days, sparked the same press frenzy in both cases. (McPherson claimed to have been kidnapped, but the evidence points to a love affair.) The church she founded still claims 8.7 million adherents worldwide.
2. Francis Patrick Duffy (1871 to 1932): A distinguished theologian and the most decorated cleric in the history of the U.S. Army—including the Distinguished Service Cross and the Croix de Guerre—Duffy was a Catholic priest born in Cobourg, Ont. As chaplain to the 69th New York regiment, drawn mainly from first- and second-generation Irish immigrants, Duffy constantly accompanied stretcher-bearers during Great War battles, and was usually in the thick of the action. Duffy Square, the northern half of Times Square, is named after him; Pat O’Brien played him in a 1940 biopic.
By The Canadian Press - Friday, October 19, 2012 at 2:11 PM - 0 Comments
MONTREAL – A woman who is credited with several life-saving miracles is set to…
MONTREAL – A woman who is credited with several life-saving miracles is set to become North America’s first female aboriginal saint.
Kateri Tekakwitha is to be canonized by the Pope at a Vatican mass on Sunday.
Tekakwitha was born in New York state in 1656 before fleeing to a settlement north of the border to escape opposition to her Christianity.
She died in 1680 at the age of 24.
Tekakwitha’s body is entombed in a marble shrine at the St. Francis-Xavier Church in the Montreal-area Mohawk community of Kahnawake.
Approximately 1,500 Canadian pilgrims are expected to head to the Vatican for the celebrations.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, October 9, 2012 at 1:26 PM - 0 Comments
However, the government’s disregard for the principles of religious freedom and equality before the law — values enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms — is as inexplicable as it is unacceptable. Simply put, this move will have an adverse effect on the rehabilitation and reintegration of Canadian inmates and will infringe Charter rights, while at the same time contradicting the government’s own agenda of religious freedom.
With respect to the rehabilitation of offenders, it is clear that access to services and guidance of a religious character is essential. Regrettably, the government has demonstrated, yet again, that it is primarily concerned with the punitive aspects of the criminal-justice system, ignoring that those who are incarcerated will eventually be released and need assistance in their integration back into society.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, October 5, 2012 at 9:00 AM - 0 Comments
Prison inmates will now only be served by Christian chaplains.
Inmates of other faiths, such as Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhists and Jews, will be expected to turn to Christian prison chaplains for religious counsel and guidance, according to the office of Public Safety Minister Vic Toews, who is also responsible for Canada’s penitentiaries. Toews made headlines in September when he ordered the cancellation of a tender issued for a Wiccan priest for federal prisons in B.C.
Toews said he wasn’t convinced part-time chaplains from other religions were an appropriate use of taxpayer money and that he would review the policy. In an email to CBC News, Toews’ office says that as a result of the review, the part-time non-Christian chaplains will be let go and the remaining full-time Christian chaplains in prisons will now provide interfaith services and counselling to all inmates. ”The minister strongly supports the freedom of religion for all Canadians, including prisoners,” the email states. “However, the government … is not in the business of picking and choosing which religions will be given preferential status through government funding. The minister has concluded … [Christian] chaplains employed by Corrections Canada must provide services to inmates of all faiths.”
The CBC says the prison chaplain program costs $6.4 million and it’s not clear how much of that will be saved as a result of this change.
By macleans.ca - Thursday, September 6, 2012 at 10:17 AM - 0 Comments
Fearing tax-payer backlash, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews has nixed a recent request to…
Fearing tax-payer backlash, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews has nixed a recent request to hire a Wiccan chaplain to provide services for Wiccan inmates in British Columbia prisons. The position would have cost between $25,000 and $50,000, the Toronto Star reports.
Toews’ director of communications has stated in a press release that freedom of religion is “paramount.” Nevertheless, the minster decided that Wiccan services alongside other religious services in B.C prisons is not a good use of taxpayer money.
Wicca is a nature-based religion believed to have emerged from conceptions of ancient paganism during the 20th century. The chaplain would have been expected to lead rituals and hold regular services for Wiccan holy days.
It’s unclear just how many Wiccans practice in Canada, but B.C priestesses have estimated the number at anywhere between hundreds and thousands in B.C. alone.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, August 20, 2012 at 1:53 PM - 0 Comments
Over the last two weeks, the odd debate about Stephen Harper’s religion has wandered off in various directions.
Mr. Martin worries that faith is supplanting “reason.” I think “reason” is too far down the list of important policy-drivers in Ottawa to care very much. Politicians believe all sorts of stupid things for all sorts of stupid reasons. In the end, I fail to see the point of all this speculation … well, unless it’s to bash conservatives and evangelicals for sport. Democracy provides us with a wonderful opportunity, every four years or so at the most, to judge politicians for what they do. What does it matter why they do it?
As someone who supports rational, scientific, evidence-based policy making – at least as an ideal – I see a government which often chooses a different path for what often seem inscrutable reasons, or at least unspoken ones. If the Harper government has a better explanation than it has adduced for ignoring the climate science, it should offer it up. In the meantime, there is nothing wrong with posing sensible questions about what those reasons may be.
Harper does indeed make his decisions based on what might be called a religion. But it’s not Christianity, or Judaism, or paganism. Rather, it’s the one true faith for politicians world-wide; I call it The Holy Church of Winning Political Power.
All of this from the idle speculation of one writer (Andrew Nikiforuk) that the Harper government’s environmental policy is inspired by an evangelical rejection of climate science. Is it reasonable to probe the Prime Minister’s religious beliefs? Sure. Is is possible that his religious beliefs in some way inform his political actions? Sure. But is there any evidence that Mr. Harper’s environmental policy has been so influenced? No.
For that matter, is there a pattern of formulating policy according to religious doctrine that could lead one to believe his environmental policy was so influenced? I don’t think so. Has he previously acknowledged the science of climate change? Yes. Is there another, entirely plausible explanation—that the government’s environmental policies are in line with the wishes of an electorally significant plurality of voters—for the government’s actions? I’d suggest so.
By The Canadian Press - Wednesday, August 15, 2012 at 10:47 AM - 0 Comments
But crucifixes are OK, of course
TROIS-RIVIERES, Que. – Pauline Marois’s vision for Quebec includes fewer hijabs and fewer symbols of the Crown.
She announced Tuesday that if her Parti Quebecois wins the Sept. 4 election, it will introduce a Charter of Secularism that would forbid public employees from wearing religious symbols on the job — like Muslim head scarves.
But the Charter of Secularism, it seems, would not be applied evenly.
The ban on religious symbols would not extend to employees who wear a crucifix necklace. Nor would it extend to the crucifix hanging in the legislature, which Marois says is part of Quebec’s heritage. The cross first found its way onto the legislative chamber’s wall in 1936 under the government of Maurice Duplessis.
The ban on religious symbols would extend, however, to some non-religious aspects of Quebec’s history as selected by the PQ.
Artistic references to the monarchy would also disappear from the legislature under Marois’ watch. She allowed that “some moldings” might remain.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, August 2, 2012 at 1:42 PM - 0 Comments
Four months ago, Andrew Nikiforuk theorized that the Prime Minister’s religious beliefs explained the Harper government’s approach to environmental issues. Lawrence Martin picked up the theory this week and concluded that “if his government’s policy-making in important areas like the environment is being motivated by religious faith at the expense of reason, it is cause for debate.” The Post’s Charlie Lewis then raised a number of issues with this theorizing and wondering. And now Lorna Dueck adds her thoughts.
In 2007, Mr. Harper said climate change was “perhaps the biggest threat to confront the future of humanity today.” And when last I checked, the Prime Minister believed that “preponderance of scientific evidence and opinion is that climate change is a very real challenge.”
But ultimately leaders have to translate the necessity of dealing with the challenge in the science of climate change with the very real impacts that trying to deal with it will have on our economy. And we should not try and kid people on this. I know people… there’ll be people running out there saying targets are not hard enough. But let me assure you what we and others are committed to do over the next decade will have real impacts and real challenges on players and the Canadian economy, but we’ll obviously work with them to ensure that we balance these objectives of environmental protection and progress with economic growth.
That seems a fairly straightforward explanation of the Harper government’s environmental policy: something should be done about climate change, but that something should be balanced against the need for economic growth. (The debate about the environment isn’t really about whether something should be done anymore, but rather what constitutes “balance.”)
Nonetheless, is the Harper government’s approach to climate change informed by religious belief? No one really knows. Nikiforuk concedes as much. He just then proceeds to substitute his own answer. Continue…
By Gabriela Perdomo - Friday, February 17, 2012 at 3:24 PM - 0 Comments
A course on ethics and religion taught in Quebec schools since 2008 does not…
A course on ethics and religion taught in Quebec schools since 2008 does not infringe on students’ religious freedoms, the Supreme Court ruled on Friday, meaning the students can’t opt out it. The ruling settles a dispute brought forward by two parents who had wanted to exempt their children from the course, which covers history of ethics and the different religions found in Quebec, and confirms a 2009 decision by Quebec’s Superior Court.
As the CBC reports, Madam Justice Marie Deschamps wrote in the ruling: “Exposing children to a comprehensive presentation of various religions without forcing the children to join them does not constitute an indoctrination of students that would infringe the freedom of religion of L and J [the appellants].”
The Supreme Court decision was unanimous. However, as La Presse reports, judges Louis Lebel and Morris Fish expressed some reservations. Lebel wrote an opinion warning that the course does risk trivializing and disrespecting some people’s beliefs.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, November 3, 2011 at 9:30 AM - 28 Comments
Dean Del Mastro, the parliamentary secretary to the Prime Minister, said on Facebook last month that it was “outrageous” the Catholic school board in Peterborough, Ont. had invited Trudeau to speak for a second time in three years. “If they are looking for a truly great speaker, who also happens to be Catholic, perhaps they might invite [Immigration] Minister Jason Kenney,” Mr. Del Mastro wrote on Oct. 12. “Are there any tenets of the Catholic faith that Justin supports?”
Here is video coverage of Mr. Trudeau’s appearance in Peterborough, including testimonials from obviously traumatized young people. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, October 4, 2011 at 9:45 AM - 37 Comments
The CBC considers the government’s new office of religious freedom.
Other scholars are more blunt in their assessment that with its announcement the Canadian government is essentially entering an international policy minefield. Arvind Sharma teaches religious studies at McGill University who has just completed a book called Problematizing Religious Freedom. Sharma argues that the very concept of religious freedom has become an excuse used by proselytizing religions, particularly Christianity, to convert people. He says that was the clear goal of the U.S. model from the start.
“My concern is that this office will be used… by missionary religions, especially by Christian missions, will be interpreted by them as giving them the right to proselytize,” Sharma says. “I agree that the right to change one’s religion is a part of religious freedom but I don’t agree that my right to change … my religion is symmetrical with somebody else’s right to ask me to change my religion.”
Below, the text of John Baird’s speech on the opening of consultations. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, October 3, 2011 at 10:52 AM - 20 Comments
Paul Dewar discusses the impact of his faith on his politics.
Dewar’s background is as a teacher, but his call to politics was heavily influenced by the religious beliefs passed on to him by his activist parents, Ken and Marion Dewar, and by the Ottawa church the family attended for decades, St. Basil’s Roman Catholic.
“Faith and politics are congruent and we have no option but to be political if we are going to live the gospel,” Dewar is quoted as saying in the forthcoming book Pulpit and Politics: Competing Religious Ideologies in Canadian Public Life by Ottawa author and former NDP MP Dennis Gruending. “We have to constantly question what the Christian message is and we can never stop trying to change the way things are in society.”
REVIEW: Sex, Mom, and God: How the Bible’s Strange Take on Sex Led to Crazy Politics—and How I Learned to Love Women (and Jesus) Anyway
By macleans.ca - Wednesday, September 21, 2011 at 6:55 AM - 3 Comments
Book by Frank Schaeffer
Former evangelist Frank Schaeffer may have quit the business and turned his back on what he now calls “our dreadful, vengeful little God,” but the man clearly still has a knack for sermon titles. And Sex, Mom, and God is nothing if not a righteous, furious, cringe-inducing and surprisingly nuanced sermon delivered in book form against Schaeffer’s heavenly demons. Schaeffer knows the evangelical world well; his father Francis Schaeffer was also a father to America’s evangelical right who oversaw its post-Roe vs. Wade politicization. Frank followed in his father’s footsteps—he helped produce Ronald Reagan’s 1984 anti-abortion book—before an abrupt, late ’80s volte-face that, in many respects, he’s still trying to explain.
Sex details Schaeffer’s upbringing at L’Abri, his parent’s Swiss commune and base for their evangelical publishing empire. He was an obsessively horny teenager damned by the Good Book; Schaeffer argues that he was warped by the Bible’s violence and distinct anti-female tracts. (His frequent citing of Leviticus is a reminder how, when it comes to brutal misogyny, hard-core rap could take a few lessons from the Old Testament.)
Saving him from all of this is Edith, Frank’s beloved mother, at once a lingerie-wearing, Bob Dylan-quoting free spirit and an unalloyed proselytizer of her husband’s fire and brimstone—“a much nicer person than her God,” as Schaeffer writes. Schaeffer loves his mother too much to call her a hypocrite, but it is difﬁcult to otherwise imagine this ebullient mother who loved life and high fashion in practically equal measure was also responsible for such subservient tracts as The Hidden Art of Homemaking. (Like her son, Edith had second thoughts.) Schaeffer’s contention that most, if not all, of organized religion’s shortcomings stem from hang-ups over sex is nothing new. What’s compelling about Sex is Schaeffer himself, who bashes away at what he held dear for so long.
By Barbara Amiel - Tuesday, August 16, 2011 at 12:00 PM - 3 Comments
You’d think, given the prices, “Book of Mormon” audiences would be more finicky
There’s a bit of a Mormon moment right now. Think me crazy, but I rather like the sound of a life in which men address each other as “elder” and the womenfolk call each other “sister”—or, when circumstances warrant, “sisterwives.” There’s a respect lost when complete strangers who obtain your credit card take to addressing you by your first name. When the HBO series Big Love brought Mormons into our living rooms, I also rather warmed to the idea of receiving testimony. Though Big Love never quite made the notion clear, I think receiving testimony is a moment when what you want to do gets heavenly sanction.
This line of thought accelerated last week on seeing The Book of Mormon, the most sought-after ticket on Broadway. The plot line is an account set to song and dance of some Mormon missionaries taking their message to Uganda. Doesn’t take a high IQ to predict whose side the writers (credits include the animated series South Park) and audience are on. Let’s just say it isn’t God’s. The play is a musical with superb performances, bad music and largely adolescent lyrics. It’s guiltily watchable, rather like the sloth of reading a bad book at the beach on a hot day. Given the sky-high prices of the tickets (don’t ask, but scalpers are getting nearly four-digit prices for back-of-theatre seats), you’d think the audience would be a tad more finicky over the song Hasa Diga Eebowai, loosely translated as “F–k you God,” rather than screaming with joy over the endless repetition of that banal scatology.
Making fun of Mormons is easy stuff. Mainstream Christians and Jews have the mists of time to cushion any inspection of their peculiar stories.We’ve got accustomed to the Red Sea parting, Lazarus rising. It was all so long ago. The patina of antiquity, backed up by great religious institutions reaching back a thousand years or more, bequeaths respectability. Christian congregations don’t sneer when their minister reads, “Behold there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it.” That’s the Gospel according to Matthew. But when your prophet is not named Matthew but Joseph Smith and his revelation takes place in the upstate New York of 1823 during a visit from the angel Moroni, who tells him of religious writings buried on gold plates along with two stones called the Urim and the Thummim, the message sounds rather Lord of the Rings.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, July 13, 2011 at 4:32 PM - 2 Comments
Jason Kenney talks about faith and politics with the National Catholic Register.
I guess the big question is how your religious faith and your politics relate. Is there a connection?
Well, I believe in a pluralistic, liberal democracy. Everyone comes into the public square with certain core convictions, a certain worldview that’s informed by most deeply held convictions about the ultimate questions. For me, that view is partly formed by my Catholic faith. I think it’s important in a liberal democracy that people of faith not be excluded from participating in democratic debate, but it’s also important they not impose a kind of narrow, sectarian agenda, but rather to advance the common good in a way that brings others along.
For me, the lodestar is human dignity, the inviolable nature of human dignity. This is a principle which obviously is deeply grounded in Catholic social thought, but it is also one that has universal social application.
By macleans.ca - Tuesday, May 24, 2011 at 5:18 PM - 2 Comments
B.C. punks bow to criticism over controversial album
Vancouver punk band Living With Lions is recalling their latest album, the controversially-titled Holy Sh-t, after the band was criticized for taking a government grant to record it. The band will not only pull the album off store shelves, but will also return the $13,248 grant they received from FACTOR, the government-funded Foundation To Assist Canadian Talent On Records, which came under fire from federal Heritage Minister James Moore last week. At issue is the band’s depiction of Jesus as a turd, among other creative uses of Christian imagery. A statement by the band’s label, Black Box Music, said “the album will be re-released as a non-FACTOR supported project in the coming weeks.”
By macleans.ca - Thursday, May 19, 2011 at 2:08 PM - 16 Comments
Living With Lions criticized for releasing government-funded album that mocks religion
The Vancouver punk band Living With Lions has drawn the ire of Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore, due to the band’s controversial new album entitled Holy Sh-t, which was funded in part by the Canadian government. The album is packaged in the likeness of the Bible and compares religious imagery to excrement. The liner notes acknowledge the government’s support through FACTOR (Foundation Assisting Canadian Talent on Recordings), which approved $13,248 in funding to the band’s label, Black Box Recordings Inc. “The content of this CD is offensive and the fact that that it is clearly designed to offend a group of Canadians based on their faith is simply wrong,” Moore’s spokesman, James Maunder, told the Vancouver Sun. “The Minister has called Duncan McKie, president and CEO of FACTOR to express his profound disappointment with this content.” Black Box Recordings co-owner Ian Stanger responded by saying the album title and content should be interpreted with a sense of humour, saying, “I think there’s a tongue-in-cheek element of this recording people may be missing.
By Erica Alini - Tuesday, May 17, 2011 at 1:00 PM - 91 Comments
The Vancouver Sun publishes some of the demographic findings of an election day poll conducted by Ipsos Reid.
Attended church/temple at least weekly
Attended church/temple monthly or less