Saturday, July 09, 2005


The world is once again erupting in acts of hatred. Acts veiled by declarations of righteousness and twisted morality.

Religion is a topic that can cause great controversy. My views on religion, God and morality may not be yours.


Is a destructive force.

First off, I do not subscribe to any organized religion. I don't denounce them, I just don't believe in them. Most (if not all) organized religions were formed many centuries ago. Through the years, they evolved into instruments of control for the various societies that used them. Kings used them to guarantee obedience. To the unwashed, impoverished, they represented hope and a promise of something better than the miserable life they lived.

Modern religions still maintain some elements of this, but they try to focus on morality, community and faith (hope). Frighteningly, more and more governments and other institutes of power are using religion as their control tools. People are afraid, and fear makes religion a good tool of power. A tool that we are seeing used everywhere, including western cultures.

Religions cling to texts written centuries or millennia ago. They use these texts to justify actions, selecting the ones that work and dismissing the ones that don't. It is important to realize that these texts are not divine; they were written by men. Some may claim that these were the words of God transcribed by men, and I won't argue with that. Regardless, they were written by men, and have been transcribed by men, retranslated by men, reinterpreted by men. Every civilization has added their spin to them. This is not to say that they don't have relevance; they do. But they cannot be taken to be the only truth to live by. To do so would be to assume that God has not spoken since then, and that no wise men have existed since then. This is ridiculous.

Humans are intelligent beings. We have the capacity for great wisdom. We all, in our hearts know what is right and what is wrong. We are a social, communal species. To survive, we must cooperate. We must not kill, we must help each other, we must educate and share learning and knowledge, we must protect and preserve the elements of life that sustain us, we must love, we must minimize hate, we must strive to understand each other and our surroundings and we must go on.

When religions (and other powers) twist this knowledge to its own use, it corrupts.


Does not exist.

At least, not as an all-powerful overseer. God is probably the most confusing of all religious elements. Early stories of God would have us fear God's power. Throughout history, God has been a fickle being, able to show great mercy and issue great punishment. Modern religions have tried to focus on God as a caring, loving being not responsible for the great tragedies and horrors in the world. I certainly have an easier time with this.

But now, we see religions preaching that God takes sides. Radical religious groups do God's work by murdering countless innocents. Other's protect God's word by building walls, removing freedom, free-will and access to education.

God is frequently referred to as 'he'. I think this is rather interesting, and shows the evolution of an instrument of control created by men with ambitions of power. Certainly, if we are to believe that a God is a benevolent creator and care-giver, would it not be more appropriate to refer to 'she' as a mother figure?

In any case, we all seem to create God in our own image, and maybe that's closer to the truth than we think. Do I believe in God? No and yes. No, I do not believe in 'he' or 'she' guiding events on whims only understood by God. Yes, I do believe in God as a force of creation that somehow unifies us all, and as a force we cannot understand.


Is an act of desperation.

I cannot, will not believe that a God listens to, and selects prayers to answer. To believe this is to believe in a God that is more demonic than benevolent; more sadistic than nurturing. How can I believe in a being that would look down and say, "Oh well. Nobody prayed hard enough for her. Guess that little girl burns in that car. Tsk, tsk". How can I believe that an act of prayer would bring more home-runs to that millionaire baseball player, but no food to that boy living in squalor.

Now, I do believe prayer has a place in human comfort. Like meditation, prayer can help us focus and find paths that lead us to where we want to go. I believe there are elements within us that we don't, and may never understand, and that prayer is one way in which we can focus our senses and thoughts to achieve an end. Group prayer, brings us together as a community, and community's can do great things.


I hope exists.

Is there a heaven? Is there a hell? I don't know. Certainly, I don't believe there is a hell. Hell requires judgment. Judgment requires a judge. A judge goes against everything I believe above.

I have to believe in an afterlife. Otherwise, this life has no meaning. It may be simply what I leave behind; my thoughts, my creations, my children. And somehow, whatever it is that I am carries on through this. It may be that my spirit, my soul moves on to another level or another place.

All I know is that I have to believe in something. To do otherwise is too sad.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Supposed to be?

My oldest son has this way of asking a question that has no real answer. He’ll ask something like, “Is this door supposed to be open?” Now, mostly I think he’s asking, “do you want me to close this door”, but the question always irks me.

The other day I chose to answer the question. I said, “I don’t think the door’s supposed to be anything other than a door. It’ll be opened or closed depending on what’s needed of it.”

Okay, it was a smart-ass answer. When I answer smart-ass answers, I almost always regret it afterward and start reviewing the things I say that are similar. In this case, I found some remarkable self-revelations.

I am constantly keeping myself in turmoil by asking, “What am I supposed to be?” If I look at the smart-ass answer I gave my son, maybe I’m not supposed to be anything in particular. Maybe I am what I need to be – and more than that, I am what I want to be.

Its subtle, but it takes a lot of pressure off. There is no “supposed to be”, in the sense of some fated goal I will be measured against. There is a “supposed to be”, in the sense of doing what needs to be done to achieve the choices I’ve made. The nice part of this is that choices can be changed.

What am I supposed to be? Right now, a good: father, husband, community citizen, teacher, learner, neighbour, son, brother, example, provider, listener, lover, friend, guardian, guide, healer, coach, and more that I can’t think of. These are things that I have chosen long term.

There are other things that I can choose, to be things that I have decided I want to be. Writer, musician, planner, artist, performer, developer. These things I had put aside because they weren’t possible. I now believe that was not true.

So now I think the answer I should have given was, “I don’t know, what does it want to be?” (okay, so that would still have been a smart ass answer.)

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Boys, girls, sports and P.C.

Should girls be allowed to play on boy's teams?

I've got into this discussion before and I have to admit, I like it. Bring it up at a gathering and I guarantee it will divide the room - and not necessarily the way you'd expect!

The question is simple, but the issues are complex. Certainly, we all agree that boys shouldn't be expected to play on girls teams, at least when we're not playing devil's advocate. So why then is the opposite not true?

At early ages (5-8?), it doesn't matter (generally). Of course this also depends on competitiveness and perceived importance. But once kids start to hit 10, 11, 12 and upward, things get more complex.

Sometimes, the issue is fairly simple. If you are in a community that cannot really field teams for both genders, certainly it makes sense to combine the team. But what about the communities that can support both? This is where the issue starts to get prickly.

I'm going to use hockey as the example sport. This is an activity that has almost religious significance in the communities I've been associated with. In Ontario (the province of Canada I live in), the hockey governors have decreed that girls shall be allowed to play on boy's teams. This even if an appropriate girls team exists in the same community. Additionally, by the age of twelve, rinks are required to provide separate dressing areas for the boys and girls. Hockey is a sport where you don't come to play dressed in your equipment and uniforms.

Why am I discussing this now? I just received a copy of a newspaper article from a friend of mine who has a son on a Peewee hockey team (12-13 year olds). His team also has a girl on it. The article is about this team and the complaint that has been lodged with the Ontario Human Rights Commission. The parents of the girl are upset because she is forced to change alone in a separate room from the rest of the team. Rinks do not often have enough rooms, and so the girl is required to change in another room (first aid room, for example).

Now here's the problem. Rinks are forced to provide separate change areas for the girls because of complaints in the past. Common sense says you don't want to submit your daughters to the leering stares of twelve year old boys. Now, one parent wants to force all girls back into the dressing rooms with the boys.

Reading through the article, I think the biggest issue is that she is all alone. This is because she is the only girl. Honestly, I think the solution is for the coach to provide a set amount of time before game time (say 10 minutes prior to the on ice time) for the entire team to gather in the one dressing room. Any boy not ready by then can have the girls' room, providing the girl is ready. Same for after the game; have a five minute period where the team stays in their uniforms for a quick team summary. If this isn't acceptable then someone's being unreasonable.

But I want to touch on some of the other issues in the article. The big one being a statement that "she plays on a mostly boys team" (emphasis mine). She plays on a boys team! Why can't we allow there to be just boys teams, or clubs, or organizations. We allow girls teams. In the community she plays in, there is a huge girls league, at all competition levels. Having a boys team is not a violation of human rights. If it is, then so is having a girls team. So far, in all of the arguments I've had on this issue, no one has been able to come up with a rational explanation for this accepted inequity.

And, on a lighter note, the article also complains that the girls are required to "dress alone in tiny rooms" that are "dirty with no chairs". This sounds like every hockey dressing room I've ever been in. The disgusting state of some dressing rooms is promoted as a feature of some rinks.