Giving Up God

I have learned in the last decade that giving up god is a little like coming out—you’re never quite done. I had thought I was pretty clear with myself and those around me where I stood, but I find as I enter into the task of becoming churchwarden at Holy Trinity (a story for another day), that I am often having to come out and explain myself again.

The season of Lent started today (at midnight or sundown yesterday, depending on how you like to measure the calendar). This is Ash Wednesday, a day on which Christians remind themselves that we are born from the earth and to earth we return. For Christians it is tied to death and resurrection and the idea that we were created by god and belong to god.

Lent has traditionally marked a time of reflection for Christians—40 days where something is given up in an effort to be more mindful in faith. Historically, fasting was common. In Europe, in the middle ages, this made a certain sense, since it was a pretty lean time at the end of winter anyway—may as well make virtue of necessity. It has morphed over time into a different kind of fast: giving up chocolate, TV, watermelon. Others have turned it into a time of taking on something new: bible study, prayer, a new volunteer project. Continue reading “Giving Up God”

Let’s Dance…

Kevin O’Leary’s rich guy moaning on CBC Radio this morning was only made tolerable by Armine Yalnizyan telling him to pack up and leave if he’s so unhappy. While she was advocating a kind of socialism, it is closer to my primitive anarchist heart than O’Leary’s tiresome libertarianism.

I remember discovering anarchism in high school. Not the way you probably think–with a bunch of wannabe radicals–but in a grade 11 history class on revolutions and political reformations in europe. I was particularly captivated by Russian revolutionary and social anarchist, Mikhael Bakunin. Continue reading “Let’s Dance…”

a child in science

I am an oldest child and was a peaceful baby who slept when I wasn’t eating. This left my mother unprepared for my future self or for my brother who left her sleepless.

My first experiments were in physics. They began at the age of a year and a half, learning to build potential energy by climbing the refrigerator. At two, I slipped away from my nap to play with gravity and friction on the slide two blocks away. The neighbours were very surprised to see me.

Continue reading “a child in science”

Can we choose our own death and still protect the vulnerable?

I don’t know the answer to that question, but I do know what we need to do to make it even possible.

There was a powerful article in the paper last week which described the author’s involvement in the death of a number of people over the years, who (according to the author) sought his help to end their lives. It was heartfelt I believe and made gripping reading. Especially since it ended with the author’s own journey to Switzerland to end his life. Continue reading “Can we choose our own death and still protect the vulnerable?”

Happy Solstice to all

Almost every culture and religion celebrates the solstice in one way or another, whether on the day or very close to it. Even for those whose cultural ties are weak and religious ties may be non-existant, the turning of the year is an undeniable and astronomic event which offers all of us a chance to pause and reflect on the good things and the hard things in our lives. The Winter solstice marks a move from darkness to light and gives hope at the same time as we remember that we are entering into the coldest part of the year. Continue reading “Happy Solstice to all”

Coming into being — An Athiest in Advent

IMG_20151218_125741_edit1Waiting. It can be a chosen tool of acceptance. It can be a way of building excitement. It can be a strategic position. Or it may be a grim necessity.

Telling someone else to wait can be a tool of control—demonstrating your power over another. It may be just gentle teasing. Or it may simply be a plea for patience.

Preparing. There is some common ground with waiting, but it is a position of action, of agency. This is not resignation, or simple hope that we will receive what we most desire. Preparation is about engagement. It is about creating possibility. It is a process of both action and openness. Continue reading “Coming into being — An Athiest in Advent”

collective responsibility to the poor

I was shocked to hear the premier promoting support of the food bank on CBC this morning. Our collective responsibility to each other should be exercised through adequate and humane income support, not haphazard charity.

I would like the premier to explain why she thinks that food banks are an answer to anything other than a desperation wrought by the provincial government.

More half-baked and piecemeal programs mostly mean more jobs for bureaucrats. The answers are more straightforward than most want to believe: raise the rates (minimum wage, social assistance), build housing, include dental benefits in OHIP. Get on with it. The government’s so-called poverty reduction strategy is inadequate and unnecessarily complicated.

It’ll even be good for the economy: the rich save, the poor spend, they have no choice.

Keith Nunn, Toronto
published in the Toronto Star, Dec 6, 2014

Taggers are thieves, not artists

Moustache man utility box
The moustache man in happier days
Moustache man defaced
RIP moustache man. We’ll see if we can avenge you somehow.

Some people like to pretend that taggers are artists or are somehow simply protesting “The Man”. Horseshit. I’ve made my share of art and been part of more than a few protests. Ai Weiwei may have defaced historic Chinese vases with paint, but they were his. He didn’t go to another artist’s studio and steal or vandalize their work.

Taggers are thieves stealing our public spaces and sometimes destroying works of public art. The tagger BAS is a thief whose “work” I saw yesterday. My first reaction when I saw his theft above was to wish he* was present so I could kneecap him. I have since calmed myself into a more reasonable state. However, I remain convinced these taggers are thieves at best and gangsters at worst. I don’t know how long it took the artist here to create this work, but that time has been stolen from her or him and the enjoyment of this work has been stolen from the whole community.

Continue reading “Taggers are thieves, not artists”

Living life and respecting limits

abilityI have been disabled for four weeks. I was hit hard by the flu and a series of opportunistic infections that followed it. This is likely a temporary situation, but one that has made me reflect on my life, and how I attach value to it.

My disability is minor compared to the challenges of some friends and acquaintances, but the reality of it has been sobering for me. I am not able to do any serious physical tasks. Sweeping and washing the kitchen floor wore me out for the day. I am bored in ways I am unused to. My house is a mess that I don’t like. Most of the things I do for fun or money, I can’t do. These things have defined my image of myself. I have had to rethink that. Age and a supportive family have made it easier to adjust, but it has not been fun.

Continue reading “Living life and respecting limits”