The Anglican Church of Canada does Interfaith Dialogue

From here:

Interfaith dialogue
Canada is an increasingly pluralistic country, and more and more Canadians are living, working, and socializing side by side with people of other religious traditions. For Christians, there is a growing need not just for dialogue with people of other faiths, but for genuine relationships with them. Increased awareness of religious plurality, the potential role of religion in conflict, and the growing place of religion in public life all present urgent challenges that require greater understanding and cooperation among people of diverse faiths.

The Anglican Church of Canada pursues formal dialogue with people of other faiths together with the other member churches of the Canadian Council of Churches.

I would like to commend the ACoC on this initiative. In fact, Interfaith Dialogue is so important, I feel compelled to make a contribution. So here goes:

Islam is wrong.

In defence of selfies

When taking photographs on my travels, I am inevitably confronted with people obscuring famous landmarks by standing in front of them taking selfies. They appear to suffer from the conceit that a grinning visage is of more interest than a 1000 year old cathedral. Consequently, I have developed an intense dislike of selfies. Until now, that is; a Muslim cleric wants to ban selfies. What more incentive do we need to start taking them?

From here:

A Muslim cleric has drawn ire after saying “stop, let me ban selfies.”

Indonesian cleric Felix Siauw took to Twitter to call selfies “shameless” and “unpure”.

“These days many Muslim women take selfies without shame. There are usually nine frames in one photo with facial poses that are just – My Goodness – where’s the purity in women?” he said.

Justin Welby the socialist

From here:

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby opened the discussion, which was part of the Trinity’s Institute’s conference on Creating Common Good: A Practical Conference on Economic Inequality, Jan. 22 to 25. Examining scriptures from both the New and Old Testaments, he said, “There is an ambivalence, an acceptance of wealth as blessing and yet a hesitation, a doubt, a fear about its consequences.”

Of course, examples of people who have created great wealth and used it for the common good, such as Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, spring to mind and are reason to give thanks, he acknowledged. There is no biblical injunction against all personal wealth but, he said, there is an injunction against “the systematic and indefinite accumulation of grossly unequal [wealth in] societies.”  That, he said, “always leads to abuse, even if every wealthy person is generous, because the asymmetries of power means that wealth allocation becomes a matter of paternalism not a basic issue of justice.”

There has never been – nor, I contend will there ever be – a society in which there is not an allocation of grossly unequal wealth. The difference between capitalist inequality, an inequality from which, as a salaried archbishop Welby derives considerable benefit, and socialist inequality is that the poor in capitalist countries tend to be far better off than the poor in socialist countries.

As Winston Churchill observed, the only equality that socialism manages to spread is equal misery – apart from the ruling elite, of course, who appropriate grossly unequal wealth.

I can’t help wondering if Welby believes his own Gospel – the one where the poor are blessed and a camel going through the eye of a needle is easier than a rich person going to heaven. In Welby’s red Christianity, the rich young ruler would not be invited to sell everything he had and give the proceeds to the poor: his wealth would have already been confiscated by the state, depriving him of the choice. But that’s what socialism is all about: removing choice.

Woman wants to marry her father

From here:

Yes. I want it to represent our uniqueness, so we aren’t doing a white wedding. The color scheme is black and purple, and we are both going to wear Converse tennis shoes. He’s wearing jeans and a nice dress shirt. He says he’s not wearing a bow tie, but it’s my wedding and I am saying that he is. My best friend will be my maid of honor and she’ll be dressed in purple. My grandmother and grandfather — my fiancé’s parents — are going to attend and my grandpa will give me away. The tables will have bouquets of trees without leaves to represent our marriage, which will be like a growing tree. My dress will be black.

Having already redefined marriage to mean almost anything – and consequently, almost nothing – how could the Anglican church turn this father daughter couple down? Gene Robinson could come out of retirement and preside at the ceremony. His purple shirt would match the bridesmaid’s: what could be more apt?

Freedom of speech according to Bishop Michael Ingham

From here:

If religious criticism is intended deliberately to offend, to vilify or to slander, it is not acceptable and I would be outraged. And not just for my own religious faith, but also for others’. I am not against satire. I am against hatred. If satire is intended respectfully to challenge or question a fundamental belief, or to expose the hypocrisy of the institution or its leaders, it is perfectly okay.

There is no unlimited right to freedom of speech and no absolute right to freedom. To exist, freedom needs self-imposed restraints, and democracy requires a consensus based on mutual respect. What we have in the Paris cartoons is a misuse of freedom…it is secular fundamentalism that insists on the right to cause offence in the name of freedom. Religious satire is not off-limits when it serves the public good by exposing hypocrisy and causing us to live up to our ideals in a better way, but when its purpose is deliberately to offend, how is that different from hatred?

Michael Ingham is in favour of satire and freedom of expression provided it is respectful and not offensive, thereby rendering it not free and not satirical. Additionally, satire has to serve the public good. Who decides this? In the absence of an ecclesiarchy, the state; welcome back to the Soviet Union.

In a similar vein, the imam pundit notes:

In a free society, people have the right to offend, but people do not have the right to incite hatred or to stereotype an entire community. When you depict Mohamed as a terrorist, 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide are considered terrorists, when 99.9 per cent of them are peaceful. We must use freedom of speech with responsibility. That is the price of keeping a civil society.

If the imam is correct and 99.9% of Muslims are peaceful (I have a suspicion that figure is too high), we are left with 1.6 million who are not only not peaceful but, since the context is terrorism, are terrorists; I don’t find that particularly reassuring.

Atheist files human rights complaint because school favours Christianity.

From here:

An Ontario school is fighting a human rights complaint over its Christian life centre and relationship with Habitat For Humanity.

In November 2013 – in his second action against the District School Board of Niagara – Rene Chouinard filed an Ontario Human Rights Code complaint arguing the board “continues to exhibit preferences for Protestant Christianity” at its facilities.

Chouinard, an atheist father, signalled out Eden High School in St. Catharines, Ont.

His complaint said the board has “continued to allow other missionary organizations, including Habitat for Humanity, to operate Christian mission activities within its programs.”

The school also has privately funded Spiritual Life Centre, which Eden’s website says provides a “meaningful program to assist in the development and support of Eden’s students through a rich array of life activities.”

That centre describes its mandate as “leading students to learn of Christ and live for Christ.”

A hearing on the complaint was held before a human rights tribunal in St. Catharines on Monday
The tribunal adjourned to rule on the issue of Chouinard’s standing – whether or not he has the right to take the complaint to tribunal. That written decision is expected to be made shortly.

“I have a kid in one of those schools,” Chouinard told QMI Agency after the hearing. .

Chouinard wrote in his complaint the board’s activities exposed him to abuse and “character assassination in the local media and community.”

Among other effects, he alleges are that there has been harm to his three children in that they have perceived Christianity as the norm and “concepts of non-belief were not respected.”

He is seeking $50,000 in compensation from the school board to run a long-term media campaign promoting the validity of secular humanism.

Chouinard is complaining that “concepts of non-belief were not respected.” If he is an atheist, he believes that God does not exist: he has a belief – admittedly, not a particularly rational belief, but a belief nonetheless, so the missing respect does not apply to him. An agnostic can claim “non-belief”, not an atheist.

Canada’s laws and standards of morality have their foundation in a Judeo-Christian understanding of how the created order works. If Chouinard can’t cope with this, he should relocate to a country where atheism is the state religion; he would feel more at home. North Korea comes to mind.

Something else that has nothing to do with Islam

From here:

RaifEnsaf Haidar stood beside the kitchen table, urging her three children to eat. Newspapers featuring her husband’s face on the front were spread in the spaces between three pizza boxes, and a banner covering most of the wall showed him as well, with several dozen signatures of those who attended a #FreeRaif vigil in Montreal.

“All he did was blog,” his wife said through an interpreter in an interview with The Globe and Mail on Wednesday. “Until the last moment, I couldn’t believe it. I kept telling him it wasn’t going to happen. It’s impossible, it doesn’t seem real.”

In Saudi Arabia, her husband Raif Badawi, 32, was preparing for the second 50 of his 1,000 lashes on Friday – but, as it turned out, that punishment was postponed, after a doctor concluded he had not sufficiently recovered from the first floggings administered Jan. 9. And according to Ms. Haidar, the Saudi government referred the case to the country’s supreme court, suggesting international pressure might be having an effect.

But Ms. Haidar isn’t holding her breath: “I won’t stop [fighting] until Raif is free.”

As it stands, Mr. Badawi is to receive 50 lashes every Friday for 19 more weeks after prayers in front of a mosque in Jeddah, a city on the coast of the Red Sea. He was convicted of insulting Islam and religious figures on his blog, the Saudi Liberal Network, and sentenced to 10 years in prison and a 10-year order not to leave the kingdom and not to practise journalism after that. He faces a fine of about $319,000.

Don’t be deceived by the phrase “[h]e was convicted of insulting Islam” or by the fact that the flogging takes place “in front of a mosque in Jeddah” or the “prayers” to Allah before the flogging. None of this has anything to do with Islam: Islam is a religion of peace, love and tolerance.

Anglican Church “explores the spiritual depths of David Bowie”

What is there to explore, you may be wondering.

For the Anglican Church of Canada, plenty: David Bowie is bisexual, an atheist manqué, and a mocker of Christianity; he fits right in.

From here:

Mike Daley, assistant music director at Church of the Redeemer, has been staging “Rock Eucharist” church services monthly. This Sunday will feature the works of David Bowie.

Mike Daley has a delicate task — selecting the most appropriate David Bowie songs to play during an Anglican church service this Sunday.


He has to strike the right balance between songs that people will know and that represent the artist, and pieces of music that are appropriate in a church setting and speak to the Bible readings that day.’

Geese galore

A few years back I was visiting my old home town of Cardiff. During a  stroll to Roath Park Lake, I was rewarded by the sight of a couple of Canada geese bobbing cheerfully in the water. They were imported from Canada, a local informed me. Obviously no one had bothered to tell the keepers of the lake that Canada geese reproduce – quickly.

Here they are in Oakville: