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Sunday August 21, 2022
Colorado Republican Representative Lauren Boebert wants the U.S. to have a “biblical citizenship” test. Was she serious? On video clips, she sounds as if it was just a casual aside.
Serious or not, it may be the stupidest idea that the U.S.’s Christian Right has come up with yet.
The first casualty would be Donald Trump. The 9th Commandment forbids lying; Trump broke it 30,573 times during his presidency!
Beyond that, though, what constitutes biblical literacy? Is it enough to know the Ten Commandments, a few choice quotations from Jesus, and the 23rd Psalm?
Or should biblical literacy mean that you can open the Bible to any page, any verse, and know how it relates to the book’s larger themes?
Categories: Sharp Edges
Tags: Bible, Boebert, citizenship, tests
Thursday August 18, 2022
I got a cat last week. Correction – last week a cat got me. Because no human owns a cat. Cats may have been the first wild creatures to co-habit with humans, but unlike dogs, they have never let humans dominate them.
My cat is only eight weeks old, but he already runs my household. Wrong again – HIS household! He determines when I shall wake up. By licking the end of my nose..
He has found his own private cave between my pillows, where he spends the night. Unless he decides to wake up long enough to walk across my head.
I expected him to play with my computer mouse – cat and mouse, you know. I didn’t expect him to take naps on my keyboard. Now I know how those computer nerds come up with weird passwords like 8[UEVrn#ds-ibJEtb&iSio&hf. They invite a kitten to pounce on their keyboards.
Categories: Soft Edges
Tags: Dickie, kitten
Sunday August 7, 2022
You probably don’t have Monday August 15 circled on your calendar. Perhaps you should. It’s the 75th anniversary of the collapse of colonialism.
On August 15, 1947, India declared Independence.
I spent my first ten years in India. I remember standing on our hillside the summer before Independence, listening to waves of sound drifting across the forested slopes from the nearest town, as thousands chanted “Jai Hind! Jai Hind! Jai Hind!”
Loosely translated, “Victory to India!”
“What are they shouting for?” I asked my father. At ten, I was politically clueless.
“They want independence from Britain,” `he explained.
“Why?” I wondered. “Don’t they realize how good they’ve got it now?”
My father, wisely, said nothing.
Tags: India, independence, colonialism
Thursday August 11, 2022
I made a momentous decision a few months ago. I decided to quit playing minister.
A few people may be surprised that I’m NOT a minister. Because I often write about religious topics. I also write about evolution, life, economics, politics, and occasionally even mathematics. Somehow, no one suggests that makes me an economist, biologist, or mathematician.
Perhaps they assume that no one could possibly be interested in theology unless they were being paid to do so.
Tags: decisions, minister, ordained
Is it just my imagination, or is there a predictable pattern to news coverage these days?
The pattern starts with someone accusing, say, Hockey Canada for covering up charges of rape. Or attacking the Canadian Armed Forces for sex discrimination. Or a charity comes under fire for misusing donated dollars. Or a TV program unearths evidence that a renovation firm’s labyrinth of corporate connections defrauds both its customers and Canada Revenue.
The accusers are willing to go public with their names and faces.
The accused are not. They decline personal interviews. Instead, they issue carefully-worded statements which assert, essentially, that the conduct in question contravenes their code of ethics, didn’t happen, and if it did, won’t happen again.
The language used is numbingly bureaucratic.
Tags: Jan White, hierarchy, human interest
August 4, 2022
Zoology 101 was a favourite first-year course at the University of British Columbia. My class probably had 250 in it, enthralled by from Dr. Ian McTaggart-Cowan’s witty and profound explanations of what animals were, and how they related to each other.
As I recall those classes, McTaggart-Cowan talked more about animals than plants. Certainly it’s the animals I remember. Everything from single-celled amoebas to humans.
A lot of it dealt with taxonomy – the formal classifications of animals. That we humans, for example, are a species, Homo Sapiens. Of the genus Homo. Of the family Hominidae. Of the order Primates. Of the class Mammalia. Of the phylum Chordata. Of the kingdom Animalia. Of the domain Eukarya.
Taxonomy, however, doesn’t answer the question, “Why?”
Tags: Zoology, taxonomy, fours
Sunday July 24, 2022
There is only one event worth writing about this week -- Pope Francis’s “penitential pilgrimage.”
“Penitential” means doing penance -- making amends for having done something wrong.
The name alone acknowledges that the Roman Catholic church failed its indigenous members.
Church doctrines have long taught that Jesus took upon himself the sins of the world. Figuratively, Pope Francis chose to do the same with his church’s involvement in residential schools.
People have mixed feelings about his trip and his apologies.
Tags: Pope, Indigenous, Francis, pilgrimage
Thursday July 28, 2022
Last weekend marked a significant anniversary. Twenty-nine years ago, on July 23, 1993, Joan and I moved into our new home here in the Okanagan Valley.
It’s the longest I have ever lived in one place.
The previous longest was 25 years in Toronto – equivalent, I sometimes joke, to a life sentence without parole. Then we moved west. Back west, actually, since I had grown up in Vancouver, and Joan in the Kootenays.
So we watched our worldly possessions disappear into a moving company’s container, locked up our now-empty home, and set out across the country in a Honda Accord packed full of suitcases, house plants, and two panicky cats.
The cats yowled for 100 miles, and then became – dare I put it this way? – catatonic. They shut down. They didn’t eat, drink, pee or poo for five days.
Tags: alone, Anniversary, moving, retreats
Earlier this week, the B.C. Wildlife Society released a disturbing report. Steelhead are headed for extinction.
If you’re addicted to fishing, you’ll know what a steelhead is. It is considered a world-class sport fish for its spectacular size and fighting capabilities,
Steelhead fall into the crack between migratory fish and resident fish. Indeed, the federal Department of Fisheries (DFO) oscillates between defining them as salmon and as trout.
DFO has historically based its classification on the “looks like a duck” principle -- if it looks like a salmon, and acts like a salmon, it must be a salmon.
Except that it’s not.
Tags: steelhead, trout, fisheries
Thursday July 21, 2022
One morning this last spring, I went out for my morning walk. Unexpectedly, bird song surrounded me.
“Where did all these birds come from?” I wondered.
Then I realized they had been there all along. I just hadn’t been able to hear them. Because I had new hearing aids that let me hear the higher frequencies of bird songs.
As time has passed, I’ve learned to recognize some characteristic songs. The American Robin’s cheer-up, cheer-up, cheer-up. The goldfinch’s ti-dee-dee-dee. The doves, always in pairs, making cooing sounds at each other. And, of course, the magpies, which are capable of imitating every other bird, but prefer to sound like nails on a blackboard.
They were all there before. I just couldn’t hear them.
Tags: listening, Bird songs, hearing aids, mindfulness