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At year end, many columnists share their reading recommendations. My recommendations are quite short. Just two books.
I’ve read more than that, of course. But these two left a lasting impression on me: A God That Could Be Real, by Nancy Ellen Abrams, and The Righteous Mind, by Jonathan Haidt.
I like the Abrams book because it takes a totally different approach to discussing the reality — or not — of a divine being. I don’t recall her ever quoting the Bible. Or the doctrines of any church. Or the theories of any theologian.
Instead of starting with whatever people already know and assume about the nature of God, she starts with science. With what we already know, and we can know, about the universe we live in.
Categories: Sharp Edges
Tags: books, Jonathan Haidt, Nancy Ellen Abrams
Every year, my old friend Kenn Ward sets up a Nativity scene in his front yard in Winnipeg.
Many of us have indoor Nativity scenes, often called a creche. And we never set the figures up exactly the same way each year. Joseph and Mary and the baby Jesus take centre stage, of course. But the shepherds, the visitors from the east, the animals – they get shuffled around, depending on what we feel is the essential theme of the story, this year.
Kenn has that problem too, with the bigger figures for his outdoor creche. “I never know quite what to expect,” he wrote on Facebook. “Usually one of the figures, or a group of them, insist that they have been neglected and deserve more prominence in the scene. There is often a clash of egos…
Categories: Soft Edges
Tags: Bible, Nativity, creche
A friend is going through a deep depression. I tried to imagine myself inside his skin, and out came another poem. It begins
Dimness descends like a curtain.
Murk buries me, plugs my nostrils,
seals my ears; I hear nothing,
not even my own thoughts.
I wallow in my private pig-sty.
I want to move, but my muscles
have turned to water; every step feels like
wading in molasses....
Tags: Depression, misery, despair
“All the leaves have gone,” sang The Mamas and the Papas in their short but brilliant musical career.
Their words come to mind as I look out my office window. Joan and I planted a Japanese red maple out there, 20 years ago. All its leaves have gone.
Except for two lonely twigs that still have bright red leaves clinging to their tips. The twigs lash about in winter winds. But those last leaves won’t let go.
Perhaps I should go outside and say a prayer for the last leaves on my maple tree. So that they can let go too.
Tags: life, death, autumn, leaves, atonement
The space probe InSight landed safely on Mars last Tuesday. NASA is working on plans to send humans to Mars. When it happens, I hope NASA will include some real estate developers.
They would love Mars. It looks exactly like what they do to the earth when they’re building new projects.
Mars has no vegetation. No tree-hugging residents to protest about the destruction of their natural habitat. No cuddly animals to arouse the sympathies of sentimental do-gooders.
For over 20 years, I have taken my dog for walks on the ridge that rises to the east of my home. Although it doesn’t have palm trees and sandy beaches, it’s about as close to paradise as I can imagine. Knee-high grass grows wild among the pines. Sunlight filters through the branches, illuminating the local sunflowers. From a rock bluff, I have a view along the 160-km lake that fills the Okanagan valley.
But a developer – I could name the company, but any other developer would do the same – bought that ridge.
Tags: mission, global warming, subdivisions, bulldozers, Mars, wasteland, IPCC