I understand the importance of free thought and the necessity for societies to allow for variant perceptions on God including atheism. It is for this reason that I, as a religious person, strongly advocate for freedom of religion and decry these nations who persecute those who, in the process of thought, arrive at different perspectives.
There is a problem with the church today -- a problem that runs deep and wide and long. It's created a chasm actually and an exodus. It's a problem sourced by a history of church practices and traditions that serve to verify its authenticity as real and overt. It's a problem all right. And that problem is shaming, specifically the shaming of people, both Christian and otherwise.
You walk into a store and the salesperson is a different colour, a woman wearing a hijab, a young man with piercings and tattoos. You walk into a room and realize that no one looks like you. A sense of anxiety sets in from the fight/flight response to fear. That instinctual response to fear begins because we instinctively fear the unknown -- be it a place, an event, a person.
We can continue, today, to bring Darwin and God to the same table. I know the place of evolution in scientific knowledge. My left brain understands it completely. It's the right brain; the one that experiences all boundaries slipping away, that lets me imagine the hand of God, the ultimate artist working behind the scenes.
In a frightening display of rising sectarian violence, an atheist suicide bomber blew himself up on a busy street in Stockholm three days ago; killing eighteen agnostics and wounding over thirty. Members of the 'Swedish Atheistic Liberation Front' (SALF) have claimed responsibility for the bombing. Declaring the attack as revenge against the explosive agnostic riots, which, last week, hospitalized several atheists and terrorized the atheistic community.
Most atheists have read much more of the holy books than theists think. They are surprised when an atheist is able to quote a passage from holy scripture. So, atheists thank them very much for their concern, already know about the gods, but just don't share their faith in those gods. Can atheists have a dialogue with theists, then? Yes, if theists can agree to remove two hurdles.
I never thought I would feel the need to write in favour of the Office of Religious Freedom. I took my religious freedom for granted. I am a Chaplain. It seems that the readers know all about me from that title. It is assumed that if one believes in God, there is a lack of intelligence, that one cannot believe and have a background in science, philosophy, economics, medicine, the arts.
NOTHING polarizes parents more than Santa. It is where religion, idealism and perfection of parenting clashes with more debate and bluster. My son Adam told me that a kid in his class is telling everyone that Santa isn't real. This boy happens to be of a culture and religion that does not do Christmas. Adam and I feel that no matter your beliefs, you have to respect other peoples beliefs, cultures and origins so I tend to get a bit upset when other parents don't feel the same way I do.
As a younger woman, I stood beneath the arch on countless occasions at the height of the Cold War. It was a time when there were far fewer allied nations and as a Canadian teen I knew my closest allies were those I could reach through the arch to connect with. In 1984 the Americans were not just my neighbors, they were my family in every sense of the word. Suddenly, it's 28 years later. You find yourself in 2012 in the midst of the US election and you realize, with shock and awe that the gate is closing - not because of economics or war or terrorist threat or because a guard is standing at the border locking the gate in front of you - but in the name of blind adherence to ideology.
This family's privacy has survived a princely pater familias reputed to have enjoyed rather frequent romps with ladies who were neither his sovereign nor his wife and a promiscuous princess married to the heir to the throne among other things. After such a history, a little blurry bare breastedness, shot from a great distance, really shouldn't qualify to right-thinking people as either "grotesque" or "totally unjustifiable."
The Eaton Centre shooting this past weekend is not the first time Toronto has been faced with such angst. Yet despite the latest violent outburst, our city remains a safe place. We're very lucky to live in Toronto; in comparison to many other urban centres in North America, crime and violence rarely touch us.