"Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you." This verse, objectively radical given its relevance today, is particularly applicable in the context of terrorist violence, where strangers are willing to viciously stab, shoot and murder total strangers. One need only think back to the Paris attacks and ask: how can such hatred be justified?
There is much commonality between religions in urging us to overcome our attachments to money, property and the material, to give generously of ourselves in as many ways as possible, and to realize that nothing is ours. In many ways, it's a call to overcome our selfish nature and to realize our deep interconnectedness with each other and all of creation.
Congratulations to me on having finally arrived at that wonderful place wherein it doesn't matter to me if people don't find me bright, interesting, engaging, articulate or attractive. I am finally -- at 52 -- happy with who I am. I have finally decided that I have things to say that are worth taking note of.
When it comes to solving climate change, we have all the technological solutions we need. But as the recent climate talks in Lima reaffirmed, political solutions remain more elusive, largely because of the vastly different perspectives of developed and developing nations. As well, it seems we as individuals have a ways to go, both in thought and action.
Despite spending most of my life as an atheist, I have come to realize that spirituality is part of the human condition. So is the ability to think for oneself, to follow one's own moral compass and to challenge stereotypes that others have created for their own purposes. If you agree, you might have a spark of Vesta's ancient fire in you after all.
Ali A. Rizvi recently wrote an open letter to "moderate Muslims." I'm not sure if Rizvi's letter was directed toward me, as I don't measure my faith in chicken wing flavours, but I'm going to respond anyway. Rizvi's good will doesn't last long as he immediately begins to lecture Muslims about our "increasingly waning credibility" in the West.
Historically, prejudice of any kind could be freely expressed with few repercussions (emotional, legal, or otherwise) so long as there was a reasonable justification. Religion has often served as the justification, and has therefore facilitated an array of prejudice, from racism to sexism to homophobia. Over time, the use of religious beliefs to justify prejudice has tended to decline, but still persists -- especially when it comes to homosexuality.
You do have the freedom to say what you want. You don't have the freedom to escape the fallout from your words. When you are a bigot -- and I use the word without malice -- you are trying to block another human being from having the same rights you have. You can feel however you want to feel. There is nothing wrong with your religious or philosophical beliefs, and in our society, you are free to practice them and believe what you wish. But freedom of speech does not carry a get-out-of-jail-free card.
According to a Facebook post of his estranged son, Nathan, Fred Phelps Sr, the founder of the notorious Westboro Baptist Church, is dying. In life, Phelps evaded prison on several occasions, and in my view at least he'll also escape the punishments of the non-existent hereafter. Westboro Baptist continues to picket funerals and to applaud every American misfortune, from earthquakes to school mass shootings, as the glorious work of an angry, hateful and vindictive God. But hate in all its forms is not the work of God, but instead of small and broken people.
I refuse to be part of any organized Christian sect because my problem, I realized, isn't with God. It's with a lot of his followers. It's why I ended up leaving the church a few years ago. It's why I struggle so much with hatred and disgust when it comes to Christianity.But it changes at Christmas time.
While there was undoubtedly something less than consistent about his "Stop being so preoccupied with abortion!/Let's talk about abortion!" chain of commentary this week, the Pope still deserves credit. His actions and words have been constant in their focus on delivering people help, love and protection, rather than on condemning people for their choices or natures. Even Pope Francis's anti-abortion comments to Catholic gynecologists on Friday seemed to centre on the dignity of life, rather than on the sin of those who would take it.
Like millions of other people, I watched the Fox News interview with Reza, and I found him to be a very likeable guy, writing sincerely his "take" on Jesus. But if you get a chance this summer, why not balance Reza's "liberal" take on the life of Christ with C.S. Lewis's conservative "take." And to help with this here is my book review of Lewis' famous book, "Mere Christianity."
In the wake of yesterday's mind-boggling announcement out of Quebec, we must ask: Why is there the need to accommodate religion in this way? I have never quite figured out how someone else's attire affects my philosophy. Seeing a man wearing a kippa has never pressured me to consider Judaism as an option for my personal philosophy.
Years ago I found out that someone I love is gay. I was instructed to love the sinner and hate his sin. My fidgeting became loud and urgent. How could I be part of a community that knowingly marginalized? I watched his faith circle adjust to the news of his homosexuality. Christianity framed our world in a way that created this need for a period of mourning over something sacred. Personal. None of our goddamn business.
A few days ago, the well known and respected commentator Rex Murphy presented a blistering critique of atheists, which seems to have been triggered by the recent debate over whether atheists soldiers should have access to their own chaplain. I believe it is worthwhile to highlight another glaring weakness of Mr. Murphy's article -- his misuse of the term anger.
Four years ago I made a contemptuous comment on Twitter about a dude in a speedo. It was hi-lar-ious. I envisioned thousands of favourites and retweets and "OMG YES!" replies. And all the speedo-wearing die-hards would obviously read my tweet and be converted to the side of something more sensible and loose-fitting. I was a Twitter hero. And then a friend of mine replied, "Body shame sucks." Seventeen characters to wake me up. I felt small. I had acted small.