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Today’s Top Tweet – What is Religion, after all?

This one isn’t exactly flying so I thought I’d mention it here:

I fell asleep around midnight last night and awoke about 3 a.m, quite awake, so began revising this entry at earthpages.ca. Finished a revised draft about 6 a.m. Napped again, awoke around 10:30 a.m. and further revised and illustrated.

Others with unconventional sleep patterns might see their condition as a “sleep disorder” and even seek disability payments from taxpayers. But I prefer to just work when I’m awake and sleep when I sleep. Just because someone is different does not necessarily mean they have a disorder. I believe it sometimes depends on how we look at things.


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Catholic gender stereotypes rooted in the ancient world?

Image via Wikipedia

Image via Wikipedia

Please don’t get me wrong. I consider myself a Catholic but, at the same time, cannot switch off my critical faculties just because I converted to that faith from a rather limp Anglican practice (limp because I rarely went to Church as a kid and young adult, except for the obligatory weddings and funerals).

I love the Catholic Eucharist and really don’t know if I could survive without its reliably uplifting love. For me the Eucharist literally is bread from heaven. I feel it and live it, and no atheist, materialist or neuroscientist will ever convince me that this experience is qualitatively the same as, say, a beautiful sunset, a Mozart sonata, or falling in love with another person. That’s just dead wrong.

However, some of the cultural and questionable aspects of the Catholic scene didn’t suddenly disappear the moment I was confirmed. It’s almost like I have to shut down my mind whenever I hear something that rings false or hypocritical during the Mass, all the while feeling the tremendous presence and power of the Holy Spirit.

It’s a slightly strange situation. But when was life ever simple or straightforward?

With this preamble complete, I’d like to ask. If women are especially “religiously receptive,” as we see below, why can’t they be ordained as priests?

Image via Tumblr click for larger size

Image via Tumblr – click for large size

I know the standard Catholic answers. Or most of them. The reasoning I’ve heard seems weak—both logically and ethically.

So what do you think? Will Catholicism ever get past its ancient male chauvinism and reach out to one half of the human population in a fair, sensible way?

My guess is it will take at least a hundred years. Maybe more. Right now there is a known shortage of priests. And it seems the Church is mining the so-called “underdeveloped” countries for potential priests because so few in the so-called “developed” world are willing to commit. This global search is a good thing because it makes the Church more international here at home.

But still, the priest situation remains all male. And I find it a bit unsettling that not a few Catholic women and men identify with prefabricated gender stereotypes that the Church continues to legitimize and reproduce.

Source for quote appearing in this article: Printed flyer distributed in Catholic parishes by http://www.catholicmomsgroup.com


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(The Other Day’s) Top Tweet – C. S. Lewis and others on science and scientism

Originally posted November 26

Today’s top tweet points to a list of the main points mentioned in a Cambridge talk commemorating the 50th anniversary of the death of C.S. Lewis. The target web page also links to a freely streaming or downloadable mp3 of that talk.

Edit, November 28:  

I finally listened to the whole thing and ate humble pie the whole way through. It really is quite a good talk. So much so that I just deleted my previous comments. Never good to rush or comment on something before giving it a fair chance.

The statue of C. S. Lewis in front of the ward...

The statue of C. S. Lewis in front of the wardrobe from his book The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe in East Belfast, Northern Ireland (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


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Storefront Seer

Image via Tumblr

Image via Tumblr

I actually don’t mind the commercialization of Christmas… as long as we remember what it’s all about. Mind you, I think I’d rather just give everyone a candle instead of the usual assortment of stuff. And I’m not wild about all the concrete in my city. Sometimes my dystopian sci-fi side imagines the Earth grumbling and breaking it all up. I guess that’s what we call an Earthquake.

Anyhow, this was more an exercise in Adobe Photoshop Elements than any great political or religious statement. Saw this storefront display the other evening and had to take a pic.


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Why I switched my major from Sociology to Religious Studies (not that that was the be all and end all…)

This morning I came across a tweeted story (below) that at first glance I liked. It reminded me of my sociology days at Trent university where many of the professors in that department were above average. Especially in sociological theory. John Hillman covered the classical thinkers with an admirable depth for an undergrad course. Frank Nutch was the fun, alternative professor; a real gem of a guy who introduced me to the sociology of science. Andrew Werknick covered contemporary sociological theory, mostly European. Coming from the UK, Wernick seemed to have a close connection to the European scene. And the late Alexander Wilson was one of the coolest guys you could ever hope to meet. Up from California, he talked about Disneyland as a microcosm for all the imagery and spin we see in the greater North American media. These guys and a few other professors, male and female, really opened my mind. And I thank them.

But it wasn’t enough and I had to move on to something more comprehensive. Hence my switch to comparative religion and then religious studies. Not surprisingly, I used a sociological method (the postmodern work of Michel Foucault) in my doctoral thesis on Carl Jung. I was happy to graduate but, to be honest, that work was the outcome of so many strange and unsettling political forces that I don’t see it as a pinnacle of personal achievement. In retrospect, I see my graduate studies as another bridge I had to cross.

Anyhow, here’s a quote from this morning’s tweeted story:

For Bahro, a peaceful eco-communist alternative to capitalism is both possible and essential, but the belief that capitalism offers a life that is desirable must first be overturned if this alternative is to flourish. Through a variety of psychological strategies subsumed under the rubric of ‘retail therapy’, capitalism promotes pseudo-individualistic lifestyles, drives the desires of the self-absorbed, and promises fulfillment from the menu of all-you-can-eat. Retail therapy locates meaning in life through clothes, cars, homes, holidays and furniture. (view in context).

So what’s wrong with this view?

Well, the overall piece talks about spirituality but it sets up a false conflict between capitalism and spirituality. For me, going out to shop can be a spiritual exercise. We don’t need to compartmentalize “spirituality” and “the world” as so many hack thinkers do. It’s not as if God closes his or her eyes the moment we decide to enter a Pizza Hut or Tim Hortons. Far from it. If we do not objectify other people, interacting with employees can be quite spiritual and an important part of one’s overall journey.

So why the sharp division between “capitalism” and “spirituality?”

A person with any spiritual depth understands that God is everywhere. He or She is not just locked up in monasteries or in the Green movement. Everywhere is everywhere. Period.

All we really have to do is open our eyes and see what’s already there. And I think this perspective, if anything, would help to make the world a better, fairer place. If we see other people as our human brothers and sisters, there is far less chance of wanting to exploit, lie, cheat or rob.

Sadly, the biggest joke is that religion often bolsters people into doing bad things. These people believe the end justifies the means. But in most cases that’s ass backwards. As the good book teaches:

A good tree bears good fruit but a bad tree bears bad fruit (Matt. 7-17).

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Going Through The Years – Unconscious vs. Controlled Regression

I listened to one of my old Supertramp albums last night on Spotify. It was sublime, and went well with my latest update at earthpages.ca:


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Today’s Top Tweet – Every nation has a shadow, says Quartz author

Quartz just posted a Jungian article about how every nation has a shadow (or shadows), a topic I talked about here.

The tweeted article probably uses the singular “shadow” in the header because this reads better and is more attention grabbing than the plural, “shadows.” This usage seems simplistic but if we read on, the plural form arises:

Just as individuals have shadows, so do societies and nations. And, according to Jung’s theory, it’s important to be aware of your shadow in order to manage it. “If you’re aware of it, you can have more control over it instead of it controlling you,” says Bennet. “The more things are being repressed, hidden and denied, [the more likely] they will emerge in other ways.”

Not to imply that I am a die-hard Jungian. Far from it.

The shadow is an archetype in Jung’s theory of the collective unconscious. But feminist scholars like Naomi Goldenberg have been questioning the Jungian idea of the archetype for decades.

Goldenberg says that ideas about an “Eternal Woman” can lead to and reinforce unfair sex role stereotypes. And I, myself, have questioned the idea of the archetype when New Age enthusiasts say that The Virgin Mary, Kali, Kwan Yin, and Isis (the goddess) are all the same.

Still, it’s not unreasonable to suggest that different nations respectively have something in common which comes out as national identity. On the other hand, with increased globalization we have to wonder if this is an idea subject to change.