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Sunday September 26, 2021
A small news item, tucked in the back pages of my newspaper, said that across the U.S. more and more people were citing “religious exemptions” to avoid -- well, to avoid almost anything they don’t like.
The current issue is COVID-19 vaccinations. In the past, the “religious exemption” has been used by employers to exclude abortion and family planning from health plans. To refuse to hire gays and lesbians. To reject same-sex marriages.
And so on.
According to Associated Press, “Religious objections, once used sparingly around the country… are becoming a much more widely used loophole…”
Categories: Sharp Edges
Tags: religions, exemptions
Thursday September 23, 2021
A while ago, I was driving along between appointments, listening to classical music on CBC -- not long enough, unfortunately, to hear the source of a symphonic piece. The sounds of the orchestra filled the car, filled my head, filled my mind.
For a few glorious moments, I heard music a different way.
I didn’t hear it so much as see it. I saw the sounds as colours, swirling and dancing. The brasses were, of course, brassy. Woodwinds were shades of green; drums, deep brown. The strings ranged from deep purple cellos to sapphire-blue violins. A solo violin soared into a laser beam of pure white.
Granted, that’s not how I normally hear music. But why not?
Why do we limit music to the single sense of hearing?
Categories: Soft Edges
Tags: Senses, music, Art
Sunday September 19, 2021
We’ve had a vaccination passport for slightly under a week here in B.C. Obviously, it’s causing problems for the stores and restaurants that have to check patrons at the door – especially when some of those patrons, who should know better, verbally abuse a high school kid 30 years their junior.
Lest there be any doubt where I stand on this issue, I have no sympathy for the protest mobs that have travelled – sometimes right across the country – to demonstrate in front of hospitals and medical clinics.
Protest at political rallies if you will – though I wish you wouldn’t. But you’ve gone too far when you start harassing healthcare workers already on the thin edge of burnout after 18 months of busting their butts to save patients from a disease that you claim doesn’t exist.
Your actions wipe out any tolerance I used to have for you.
Tags: Masks, Vaccinations, protesters, passport
Thursday September 16, 2021
Everyone has dreams. So say the medical specialists, who observe our sleep patterns. Rapid eye movement (REM) signals the state of dreaming, even if we can’t remember having had a dream.
A few years ago, I decided to include my dreams in my daily journaling. It’s been an interesting exercise.
I wake up, for example, clearly recalling two dreams overnight. I sit down at my computer to write about them. By the time I’ve tapped a few notes for the first dream, the other has vanished. Completely.
Writing down my dreams has, however, had a practical outcome. I discovered that there’s a flow to my dreams, a progression of themes and contexts.
Sunday September 12, 2021
With a Canadian federal election drawing near to voting day, the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 bombings, the Taliban taking over in Afghanistan and Texas, and the Delta variant running rampant through the un-vaccinated, you’d think I couldn’t run short of things to write about.
And you’d be right. There’s no lack of things to write about. The trouble is, they all weave together. Every time I start writing on one subject, I find I have to drag in another, and another. And it’s sufficiently laced with profanity that any spam filter worth its subscription price would instantly flag and quarantine the message.
So all you’re getting this week is your own responses to my 85th birthday column last week. There’s lots of reading, here, and I think you’ll enjoy the readers’ comments.
Thursday September 9, 2021
At some point in the years before his death, Peter Gzowski interviewed a musician who played temple bells in southeast Asia. Was it in Thailand? Cambodia? I can’t remember. Nor can I remember the musician’s name.
I can remember the conversation.
The musician talked about the resonance of the temple bells. The resonance could still be heard for a minute or more, after a bell was struck. As long as the bell was inside the temple. Taken out into the open air and struck, it made a dull chunk.
“You’re not really playing the bells,” Gzowski exclaimed. “You’re playing the temple!”
Tags: churches, Temples, bells, Peter Gzowski, echo chambers
Sunday September 5, 2021
I had my 85th birthday this last week. It’s a new experience for me. I’ve never had an 85th birthday before; I’ll know I’ll never have one again. Obviously.
My 85th birthday made me feel I have crossed some kind of threshold, some invisible Rubicon. I have entered a new phase of my life.
My almost-brother Ralph Milton defines it as the division between the young-old and the old-old.
The young-old are the newly retired. Without employment to tie them down, they’re free to do all those things they always wanted to do.
Almost all books and magazines about aging deal with the young-old, assuring people they can still enjoy life to the fullest.
But that doesn’t apply to the old-old. Their backs hurt too much to play golf. Their fishing buddies have died. They can’t drive. Their children want them to live where someone will look after them.
Tags: birthdays, aging, young-old, old-old
Thursday Sept. 2, 2021
My minister starts her morning with yoga. “Then I do the dishes. Something about putting one’s hands in hot soapy water is a reset for me -- a mindless task that produces something valuable. I dry the dishes and put them away, so I can begin again.”
Her confession elicited mild snickers from the congregation. All of them had had, at one time or other, the experience of washing dishes in a sink. Most of them had automatic dishwasher snow, so that they could avoid the chore.,
But why not let dishwashing be a significant time?
After all, the Bible often uses the metaphor of washing.
Tags: Dishwashing, togetherness, Psalms
Sunday August 29, 2021
Three days left until the last western troops leave Afghanistan – unless President Joe Biden changes his mind at the last minute.
Afghanistan has been the U.S.’s longest war. Twenty years, give or take a couple of months. Longer even than Viet Nam – and with a strikingly similar ending.
Who will forget the pictures of America leaving Saigon. Helicopters lifting Americans to safety. Desperate people clinging to wheels and handles..
It was an ignominious and humiliating ending.
Likewise, who will forget footage of desperate people running along a runway beside a troop carrier the size of a freight train, hoping to hitch-hike a lift out of their country? Who will forget people clinging to the plane’s undercarriage, its doors, its fuselage, as the plane lifts off into the skies?
Tags: Afghanistan, Vietnam, humiliation
Thursday August 26, 2021
I no longer believe in conversions. I mention this, because conversion therapy has become an election issue.
I had a classic conversion experience, once -- down on my knees, acknowledging my sinful nature, turning my life over to Jesus, emerging wrung out and tearful.
In truth, I’ve probably had a dozen conversion experiences. They might better be called Epiphanies -- moments when the pieces I had been shuffling suddenly snapped into place, a “Aha!” moment.
A couple of friends have been trying to change my mind -- and I theirs -- on several topics for about 20 years. I see no sign that I have influenced them.
And all they have done for me is push me farther along the direction I was already going.
Tags: bullying, Conversion