Saturday, October 28, 2006


Much to-do in the media over the candidacy of a former male prostitute turned Roman Catholic priest for the Bloc nomination in the federal byelection in Repentigny, Quebec. It seems people are all for repentance and transformation when such experiences are safely in the pages of the Bible and only happen to long-ago figures like Moses (murderer), Matthew (agent of the oppressors) and Paul (human rights violator). If it happens today, there's a lot of tut-tutting and muttering; you can never escape your past.

I'm not a supporter of the Bloc - far from it - but Fr. Raymond Gravel, who seems to have a genuine concern for the disadvantaged, belongs in politics as much as many of the supposedly squeaky-clean folks who sit in parliaments now (and many of them may be like the whitewashed tombs described by Jesus, clean on the outside, filthy on the inside; the cover story in Rolling Stone looks at the American political scene and concludes that This is the Worst Congress, Ever).

Friday, October 27, 2006


A number of articles have appeared about the Oxford professor Richard Dawkins, who has a new book out, The God Delusion, showing that people who believe in God are, well, deluded. I haven't read it, so I'm not sure how Dawkins deals with Buddhists, who are religious without God. He also appears in Wired's cover story on the New Atheists (

I actually surprised myself by recognizing the validity of the arguments Dawkins makes against theism in the first chapter of his book (it's at the New York Times Sunday Review of Books site,; the review by Jim Holt is at But I have a few beefs:

I set aside whether Dawkins demolishes the ontological and design arguments for the existence of God, because I'm not sure that one can conclusively prove that God exists (although the ontological argument, a la Anselm, comes pretty close, and I'm not sure that Dawkins does in fact dismiss it). Religion is, as Kierkegaard said, a "leap of faith"; at some point one has to say, "I believe in this even though I can't prove it."

It seems to me that the atheists described in the Wired article as just as self-righteous as the religious believers they oppose. I guess you become your enemy.

Gary Wolf, who wrote the Wired article, and the atheists he describes assume that all Christians are either evangelical fundamentalists or Roman Catholics. The Wired piece, and most atheistic arguments, fail to see the great intellectual diversity within Christianity (not to mention Islam and Judaism as well), as there are liberal Protestants and Catholics, Progressive Christians, liberationists, Eastern Orthodox, Quakers, and evangelicals (who are themselves more diverse than they are often credited with being), all calling themselves followers of Jesus Christ.

But it's all worth reading. I had no idea the magicians Penn and Teller were so anti-religion.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Highway to Hell

The official website for the movie Constantine ( has a QuickTime Virtual Reality tour of Hell, allowing a 360-degree panoramic view of the underworld. Well done, with the ruined cars and burning buildings - but is that just Hell as urban Westerners would imagine it? Completely setting aside arguments about the reality and nature of Hell, of course...

Friday, October 20, 2006

Seeking Justice...

Today is cold and rainy, so after my morning meeting and running errands I stayed in and wrote an exciting paper on Francis of Assisi and read Greek vocabularly for a test - but I also took the time to write a protest letter to the Prime Minister of China. At the end of September mountaineers in the Himalayas witnessed Chinese border guards firing on a group of about 70 Tibetans trying to cross into Nepal. At least two were killed, nine children and a man taken into Chinese custody, and 20 unaccounted for. So international voices are needed to protest against these detentions and demand the release of the Tibetans and an independent investigation. There is an urgent appeal at with more details.

Starting Again...

Why again? Because I DID have a blog on MSN, but then Microsoft suddenly changed MSN Spaces to Windows Live Spaces and I was no longer able to publish from my Macintosh or from Solaris Sun Ray public access machines. So, without a Windows PC handy, here I am afresh at Blogger.