Showing posts with label catholicism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label catholicism. Show all posts

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Conrad Black Has Done It Again

What have we done?
If I recall correctly, it began when Conrad Black wrote something about the shallow shabby world of the militant atheist. I assure you, I put my best men on round the clock duty to decipher his prose and tease out any meaning they could find -- even that guy who portrayed Alan Turing in that movieBenedict Cumberbatch. Yes, no expense was spared. Eventually I contrasted Black's work with a screed against atheists by a Zimbabwe preacher. It seemed like the right thing to do at the time.

Other atheist bloggers processed the Rorschach Test in their own way. They took what meaning they could from Black's words and attempted to address inaccuracies and absurdities outright. This was a noble endeavour, but what is the real cost here? Could it have agitated Black into writing this equally bewildering response piece in the National Post: A reply to my atheist critics — they protest too much? Can the planet sustain more of this?
Not since I have written about cats and dogs has a column of mine in this newspaper stirred such a voluminous and highly charged response as my reflections here last week on John Lennox’s success in debates, as a scientific Christian, with the most articulate and learned atheists on the anti-God debating circuit. These exchanges have become almost an itinerant counter-ministry of the media and academia throughout the Western world.

Most messages I have received have been favourable, but the tenor of the unfavourable messages the newspaper and I have received is so generally vitriolic, and often abusive and bigoted, that they incite my return to the subject. Obviously, if I had any problem with people taking exception to what I write, I wouldn’t write for publication, and as I have probably been more severely and lengthily defamed than anyone in Canada since Louis Riel (where the calumniators often had truth as a partial defence), I am not bothered by it. None of the abuse was noteworthy and there were only three cyber-assailants who were so unrelievedly uncivil that I asked my IT adviser to ensure that I never received anything from their addresses again.
Is this translated into English from some other language?

I'm sorry. I just had to get that out of my system, having read the piece in its entirety. I'll spare you the play by play on this. If you're interested in a little pain to break up a boring Saturday afternoon, please be my guest and assign any sort of meaning to it you wish. Believe me, there's enough there to write a book.

I will share this. During his piece, I felt like Black was being a real tease. It often seemed that concrete proof or specific argument was just a couple of sentences away --- like a mirage -- perhaps just beyond this historical or literary reference -- perhaps hiding behind that rhetorical flourish. But when I got there... nothing.

It was only the last paragraph that I obtained enlightenment. I got to a real piece of meat and it really stuck in my craw.
The atheists’ domination of our centres of learning and information is a great vulnerability in the West: it creates acute resentment and dissent among the more religiously tolerant majority, separates learning and information from the greatest pillar of our civilization’s historic development, invites contempt from violently sectarian societies, especially Islamists, and is repugnant to the entire concept of freedom of thought and expression that our universities and free press are supposed to be defending. This is why people like John Lennox, who flatten the marquee atheist tribunes at every encounter, perform such a valuable service. And it must also have something to do with the reaction, like that of roaring and wounded animals, of a distinct minority of my correspondents last week. If God were dead, they would not still be trying, very unconvincingly, to kill Him.
What the hell is Black talking about? Do we not have enough churches and religious schools in this country? Those are the places for religious instruction -- the point of a university is to provide an environment of absolutely free inquiry and learning outside of some stuffy minister's dogma. Is it possible for people like Black to give us a second, an instant outside of religion? Apparently not. Instead, universities must turn into places of religious regurgitation.

Oh, not religious? Don't bother attending, or shut up, or open your mind so we may fill it with our fairy stories.

Yes, when schools teach students to think on their own it can cause resentment and dissent among the more religiously tolerant majority, whatever that means. If it means that it upsets those who would prefer to tow the religious line and let the faithful call all the shots, then good.

As for inviting contempt from violently sectarian societies, whose problem is this exactly? Is this some sort of veiled threat? Is this a brave call to surrender? Is this informing us that we should shut up our opinions and questions lest someone get hurt -- lest someone have to drink the hemlock? People who cannot control their violent actions when they have their religious sensibilities upset need to be locked up, period -- even Islamists.

Then there's this absurd doublespeak:
... and is repugnant to the entire concept of freedom of thought and expression that our universities and free press are supposed to be defending.
That's right. Universities that do not shovel dogma down the throats of students and encourage them to think and express themselves in pursuit of truth in ways that may be offensive to some is actually against freedom of thought of expression! Has someone been drinking the Kool Aid, because this is profoundly wrong and either disingenuous or delusional.

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Irish Priest Just Wants to Save Us All From Satanic Yoga Threat

Totally corrupted hippy youth doing yoga at Woodstock! Do we need any more proof?
Why the hell is everything that makes us relaxed, happy and flexible in bed so goddamn bad for our eternal souls? Lust, (fun) sex, not being freaked out by hell, Burning Man (probably) and now yoga! Goddamn it! I need the yoga to cope with everything else the Church is telling me I cannot do. No wait, I'm an atheist now, so I don't care! What a relief!
Fr. Roland Colhoun, who is based in the Waterside, issued caution when saying mass in Drumsurn two Sundays ago, when he says he was drafted in at short notice. He said his sermon was based on the devil and exorcism.

“I mentioned a number of things that are part of the new age movement. It’s so embedded in our culture now that it has gained a kind of a respectability, but the new age practices, they’re certainly not good for us and the Church is very concerned about people employing them and has written specific documents on the new age movement. There is a great body of research (theological, spiritual and physiological) already done on it.”
Doesn't this remind you of the Satanic Panic back in the 1980s and early 1990s -- or something Pat Robertson would say these days? Pat's stuck in the 1980s... or 980s... and I know this is a cheap shot, but Colhoun looks like he might be trapped in the 80s too.

Fr. Roland Colhoun
Anyway, during the sermon he spoke about evil spirits that might be able to penetrate your mind via the Vulcan Mind-meld techniques yogi apparently use while giving head massages -- or something. Colhoun kind of admitted he was sort of winging it.
Fr. Colhoun said he mentioned yoga and Indian head massage. “The Indian head massage, while I haven’t done a great study into it, the difficulty is that it involves the laying on of hands on another person’s head. There is a risk when you do that because that is a rite we use in the sacramental practice for the communication of the Holy Spirit in baptism and confirmation, and ordination as well,” said Fr Colhoun, “but if you do that outside of a sacramental rite you’re running the risk of communicating a bad spirit, not the Holy Spirit.”
He's said similar Jack Chick type stuff about yoga:
“Pope Francis said ‘do not seek spiritual answers in yoga classes’. Yoga is certainly a risk. There’s the spiritual health risk. When you take up those practices from other cultures, which are outside our Christian domain, you don’t know what you are opening yourself up to. The bad spirit can be communicated in a variety of ways. I’m not saying everyone gets it, or that it happens every time, and people may well be doing yoga harmlessly, but there‘s always a risk and that’s why the Pope mentioned it and that’s why we talk about that in terms of the danger of the new age movement and the danger of the occult today. That’s the fear.”
This has pissed off a lot of people, especially Hindus -- because this is part of their religion, this isn't just a bunch of smoothie-drinking lululemon-wearing American yoga class attendees.

Rajan Zed, President of the Universal Society of Hinduism, has been particularly vocal against the priest and has been quoted across several news agencies. Remember, this is the guy who got Urban Outfitters to stop selling a blasphemous Lord Ganesh duvet cover,  Ganesha socks and -- ironically -- Ganesh yoga mats and yoga pants. This was all for inappropriate use of a Hindu deity, which is about as insane as requiring that nobody draw your Prophet anywhere.

Well, this time I say go at it!

It's not just because I personally dislike the Catholic Church or that I have enjoyed doing yoga. It's because this priest is factually in the wrong: 1) Hindus do not believe in his evil spirits being channels by yoga; 2) There is no evidence that any spirits actually exist; 3) Because of #2, there is no spiritual health risk; 4) There is no evidence for any of the metaphysical claims Colhoun is making; 5) Nor for any metaphysical claims Hindus make; 6) It seems that yoga has positive benefits -- if only good exercise!

Friday, 20 February 2015

Pope Francis Compares Gender Theory to Nuclear Weapons

I think we can all agree that nuclear war is bad. Really, it's one of the worst things ever and having myself grown up in the tail end of the Cold War, it still terrifies the hell out of me. I'd be willing to bet that more people on this planet hate nuclear explosions more than, say, Jews, black people, women... insert your persecuted minority here.

This is what makes Pope Francis' (aka. The 'Good' Pope) latest comments about how gender theory is sort of kind of like nuclear weapons a little stomach turning.
Pope Francis has appeared to compare trans and genderqueer people to nuclear weapons, saying both do not 'recognize the order of creation'.
Are we a tiny bit threatened by queer folk?

The National Catholic Review gives us this short definition of gender theory:
Gender theory is a broad term for an academic school of thought that considers how people learn to identify themselves sexually and how they may become typed into certain roles based on societal expectations.
Certain societal expectations, like perhaps the Catholic Church?
'Let's think of the nuclear arms, of the possibility to annihilate in a few instants a very high number of human beings,' he says.

'Let's think also of genetic manipulation, of the manipulation of life, or of the gender theory, that does not recognize the order of creation.'

'With this attitude, man commits a new sin, that against God the Creator,' the pope adds.

'The true custody of creation does not have anything to do with the ideologies that consider man like an accident, like a problem to eliminate.'

'God has placed man and woman and the summit of creation and has entrusted them with the earth,' Francis says. 'The design of the Creator is written in nature.'

'If we fail in this responsibility, if we do not take care of our brothers and of all creation, destruction advances,' he added.
Perhaps a little hyperbolic? Maybe a tad fear-mongering? Could it be said that comparisons like this might also be a tiny bit incendiary and dangerous to trans people?

Naturally, the Pope doesn't seem to realize or care that trans people are not the result of an ideology.  This is who they are! Why would they risk life and limb in a world which, for the most part, loathes their very existence, to be themselves other than a yearning to be authentic?

The Pope apparently also addressed the threat of gender theory in an January interview where he called it ideological colonization!
Recounting the story of a public education minister he knew who was offered money to construct new schools for the poor, Francis said to receive the money, the minister had to agree to use a course book with students that taught gender theory.

"This is the ideological colonization," the pope said. "It colonizes the people with an idea that changes, or wants to change, a mentality or a structure."

"It is not new, this," he continued. "The same was done by the dictators of the last century. They came with their own doctrine -- think of the Balilla [youth groups of Fascist Italy], think of the Hitler Youth."
Ideological colonization? You mean like what the Catholic Church has been doing par excellence
across the entire planet for centuries. The forced conversions, well, everywhere, including the Native population right here in Canada where children were wrenched from their families and thrown into residential schools? Ideological colonization like that, maybe?

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Montreal Mayor Invites Pope to City's 375th Birthday

Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre inviting the Pope to Montreal. (source)
Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre, fresh from visiting the site of the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris, briefly met the Pope -- who, in the wake of the Paris attacks, reminded us that anyone who makes fun of one's religion deserves a good ol' punch! During the minute or so meeting, he invited the Pope to Montreal's 375th Birthday bash in 2017 -- cuz Catholicism has a long history in this city. Well, I cannot argue there.

Veronica Abbass brings up the Quiet Revolution in a piece reacting to this news over at Canadian Atheist. Quebec was literally a Catholic theocracy which brought it to a breaking point during the end of the socially conservative Maurice Duplessis government in the late fifties. This is a time referred to as la Grande Noirceur (The Great Darkness). Oh yeah, Quebec and the Catholic Church go back a long way!

So, the head of Montreal handed the Pope this letter. Here's a few interesting extracts.
La Ville de Montréal fêtera en 2017 le 375e anniversaire de sa fondation qui a eu lieu le 17 mai 1642. La mission d'évangélisation et de conversion des Amérindiens qui a mené à la fondation de Ville-Marie... 
The City of Montreal will celebrate in 2017 the 375th anniversary of its foundation, which occurred the 17th of May, 1642. The mission of evangelization and conversion of the American Indians which led to the foundation of Ville Marie...
In the letter, the mayor seems convinced that the Pope is a symbol of loving tolerance for free speech and freedom of thought.
Mais les tristes événements récents de Paris, d'Afrique ou ceux qui se sont produits au Canada, entre autres, nous rappellent combien il importe que les gouvernants ainsi que les leaders religieux envoient des messages de tolérance et de respect de l'autre ainsi que du respect de la liberté de pensée et d'expression.

However, the sad recent events in Paris, Africa or those which occurred in Canada, among others, remind us how it is important that governments as well as religious leaders express messages of tolerance and respect of the other as well as respect of freedom of thought and expression.
You mean like this?
"One cannot provoke, one cannot insult other people's faith, one cannot make fun of faith," Pope Francis said in response to a question about the Paris terror attacks during a press conference aboard his plane on the way to Manila, Philippines.

He was unequivocal that nothing could justify the massacre in Paris, but suggested the magazine had gone too far.

Using an analogy, the pope said if a dear friend were to utter "a swear word against my mother, he's going to get a punch in the nose. That's normal."

"There are so many people who speak badly about religions, who make fun of them... they are provocateurs. And what happens to them is what would happen to (my dear friend) if he says a word against my mother."
Or like this?
The Pope is “shocked” by Malta’s Civil Unions Bill, which will allow gay couples to adopt children, Auxiliary Bishop Charles Scicluna has told The Sunday Times of Malta.
Or this?
As Slovakia gears up for a referendum on same-sex unions this coming weekend, Pope Francis gave his blessing to the country's efforts to block marriage and adoption rights for gay couples.
Or this?
“One time, I heard a father in a meeting with married couples say ‘I sometimes have to smack my children a bit, but never in the face so as to not humiliate them’.

“How beautiful! He knows the sense of dignity! He has to punish them but does it justly and moves on.”
Or this?
"It is horrific even to think that there are children, victims of abortion, who will never see the light of day," he said in a section of the speech about the rights of children around the world.
 Or this?
Pope Francis has denounced the right to die movement, saying it's a "false sense of compassion" to consider euthanasia as an act of dignity when in fact it's a sin against God and creation.
Or this?
In advance of a vast rally on Sunday that could draw as many as 6 million people, the pope called on families to be “sanctuaries for respect for life”, and praised the church for maintaining its opposition to modern birth control, even if all Catholics could not live by such rules.
Sounds totally compatible with modern-day secular, multicultural 21st century Montreal, doesn't it? No, not really. Sounds more like a throwback to la Grande Noirceur.

While Quebec is definitely a secular province, it seems like mayors are a whole other breed. You've got the 2005 lighting of the Mont Royal crucifix purple to mark John Paul II's death and that guy in Saguenay.

via Veronica Abbass, Canadian Atheist

Friday, 6 February 2015

Pope Is Totally OK With Spanking Children, So Long As Their 'Dignity' Is Left Intact

Giving your kid a whack is A-OK with Pape Frank.
It really seems to me like the Catholic Church has a bit of a bum record when it comes to responsible child care. Maybe it's because they're a bunch of (ostensibly) celibate single men (and women) who do not have children of their own? Maybe it's their history of cultural-genociding entire peoples by locking their children up in residential schools? Maybe it's because they seem to have an unusually high percentage of pedophiles? There really are so many options.

Then there's spanking, which I've heard can be a rather pleasant thing between two consenting adults, of course. When the spankee (otherwise known as the victim) is not an adult and is consenting only under duress, it might not be so good. If the child even knows what they did wrong, they'll learn that the proper way to treat people who make mistakes is to beat them.

Pope Francis is totally down with spanking children.
The Pope said: "One time, I heard a father in a meeting with married couples say 'I sometimes have to smack my children a bit, but never in the face so as to not humiliate them.'

"How beautiful," he added. "He knows the sense of dignity. He has to punish them but does it justly and moves on."
Oh how beautiful is the dignified act of smacking your kid. It so does teach them by example how they must control their own violent urges and impulses.

I know some of my readers won't likely see any problem with corporal punishment. I personally was raised with it, while my wife was not. There doesn't seem to be any difference in outcome and I just don't believe it's necessary. I will admit it's effective but I see it as fear based and ultimately not productive at all.

I see it as child abuse and do not spank my child.

You know what's sort of funny? My wife and I are on the Quebec adoption list and one of the stipulations for adopting or fostering in the province is the understanding that no physical violence in the form of corporal punishment will ever be used with the child for any reason. You might remember the evil Christian group, Focus on the Family, more or less advised their members lie to the social workers when it comes to their opinions about spanking.

Under these rules, Quebec adoption agencies would never put a child in Pope Francis' custody! A little ironic because Francis recently endorsed a Slovakian referendum denying LGBT couples marriage and adoption rights. Isn't that hilarious?

It's okay, anti LGBT bigots who are against birth control, a woman's right to a safe abortion and dying with dignity probably don't make the best dads anyway.

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Vatican's Tackiest Ever 'Sexy Woman' Outreach Video Mocked By All!

You! Yes, YOU are important! MERRY CHRISTMAS!
So, apparently the Vatican is inspired by Pope Francis' new openness, or something and so they finally want to maybe listen to what women have to say, because YOU ARE IMPORTANT! -- (dramatic head turn and zoom) -- MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Just take a look at this, okay?

It's apparently a call to action for women all over... okay with access to smartphones and the Internet... I guess the other women aren't being so 'difficult' these days with all their demands of 'equality'.  Rich Western women are asked to share a film or picture of their life (#lifeofwomen). The Vatican video shows a single photo of a woman sitting with a bunch of kids... that would be the suggested photo I'm sure.

I'm pretty sure, for example, they probably aren't expecting submissions from women like Jacqueline Straub. She submitted a video to #lifeofwomen of herself being totally kickass while boxing. She's essentially asking this convention to consider women priests, because she wants to be one (Priesterin: priestess) -- an obviously cooler one than most priests. Here's hoping she becomes a priest so she can kick any man priest's butt who comes near a little boy. I think I could have a clergy crush...

You go, Jacqueline!

Anyway, here's the transcript, which talks about this conference:
At the Pontifical Council for Culture, in the Vatican, they have taken inspiration from Pope Francis’ openness and are reflecting on women’s cultures and the place for women in societies today, between equality and difference.

At what point are we today, as women?

I am sure you have asked yourself many times, who you are, what you do, what you think about your being a woman, your strengths, your difficulties, your body, and your spiritual life. If you want to, you can share your vision.

Why not tell it with a one-minute film, or in a photo. Put your work online with the hashtag #LifeofWomen, and send a link to

It could be chosen to be part of the opening event of a great meeting of cardinals and bishops in Rome in February 2015 and as part of a crowd-sourced film on YouTube.

You have until 4 January to send in your materials.

You are important!

Merry Christmas!
Apparently, it took some 2,000 years, but because the new Pope is so totally progressive, the Vatican has finally been inspired to reflect on women's cultures and the place for women in societies today. It's nice to see them finally thinking about women's cultures -- uhmmm.. whatever that means! They are continuing a longstanding tradition of exploring women's position in societies, though. They've been telling women where they have to be for centuries.

(The description of the topics covered are available on the website in both Italian and Theology. Since I do not read either, I leave it to qualified scholars to decipher.)

Understandably, many Catholics were not impressed with the cinematography of the above video.
Aside from the obvious — sexy sell has long gone by the boards in developed nations and is totally unacceptable in predominantly Muslim countries — the fact of the matter is that highlighting a stereotypical spokeswoman is not the way to ask for women’s input. Or is the Vatican convinced women’s intellectual abilities rise only to the level of televised soap operas and cosmetics commercials?
We cannot know what Ravasi’s high-production call for women’s photos and videos will bring. He’s already pulled the English-language version of the video, but maybe a few American and other English-speaking woman have ideas that do not depend on heavy makeup and low necklines. Think so? Pass it along.
To me the video looked like something put out by an isolated religious cult full of men -- or a time capsule from the 1950s. Actually, why not both? I'm obviously smitten, but they should have gotten Jacqueline to make their promo video for them!

Others wanted to know what was up with choosing a sexy blonde woman all plastered with makeup, lights shone in eyes, delivering her bit while dramatically turning and tossing her curly locks -- the opposite of priest-wannabe friend Jacqueline Straub. All that was missing were a few 1970s soft focus shots.

Of course, the Church has tonnes of worthy things to discuss when it comes to the status of women across the globe. They really didn't need to make this cheesy video. Phyllis Zagano over at National Catholic Reporter gave 7 important cases of women's human rights being grossly violated and asked why the promo piece couldn't have addressed any of these. I would have added the very important topics of women's control over their reproduction via birth control and access to safe and affordable abortion, FGM, domestic abuse, rape culture, low and no education of women, etc. -- but that's just me.

After listing her cases, Phyllis exclaims:
These are the stories of women around the world. They are put down and held down by the same logic that says women cannot image Christ. The Vatican, as others have noted, simply does not get it.
I'm utterly mystified why this realization isn't the biggest red flag that this organization is not the Church of any god, but rather constructed around a god created by men in their own image. 

Monday, 12 January 2015

Saguenay Mayor: The 'Devil' Did It! #JeNeSuisPasJean

It's been awhile since we've heard from our favourite mayor, Jean Tremblay. What's he up to these days when he's not in the Supreme Court trying to force everyone to listen to prayers to his god in city council meetings, anyway? Is he still on his barnstorming cross-province book tour after declaring journalists and atheists nincompoops? Does he finally have his apparent xenophobia problem out of his system?

Aren't we about due for something to pop up?... say on Twitter.
We're forgetting the real author of this event: "The Devil".
It seems that Tremblay is convinced there is a diabolical supernatural force behind the Charlie Hebdo attack. Satan apparently despises political satire in cartoon form. In fact, he went out of his way, apparently, to attack this French magazine, which has published some real doozies against the Tremblay's own Roman Catholic church. It doesn't make much sense -- but does it really need to make much sense?

The tweets generated dozens of sarcastic responses. The Huffington Post article on this points out this new classic.
Stop everything! We're no longer searching for two men but rather a little red devil with horns and pointy tail!!
Thus was born the twitter hash #jenesuispasjean, I am not Jean.

It's nice to see people ridiculing this sort of thing here in Quebec.

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Incomprehensible Catholic Arguments For Opposing 'Gender Theory' Published Days After Trans Teen's Tragic Death

By Tim Evanson from Washington, D.C., USA, United States of America [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
There's a horrendous piece of theological gobbly-gook over at The Catholic World Report by Bill Maguire. The website chose to publish just three days after transgender teen Leelah Alcorn tragically killed herself.  (An online letter penned by her detailed that she could no longer bear living as a transgender child in a deeply Christian family.)

Here's the title of this piece:

Christmas Season and Gender Theory: The pernicious ideology of so-called “gender theory" is a rejection of the gift of our bodies and, ultimately, a rejection of the Giver

Because of the mention of Christmas, it appears that this was not meant as a direct response to the death -- unlike Michael Brown's dreadful piece. Still, it offers a window into a cold, logically abstract, disconnected from reality, and utterly incomprehensible theologically inspired 'response' to the pernicious ideology of gender theory. Ideology? Could you imagine being a transgender teen trying to get some sort of insight from this article?
Christ did not come as a pure spirit with the mere appearance of a body; nor did he come as an androgynous person. Rather, he came as a male-person. Jesus took on real human flesh and united his real human body and soul to his divine Person. The Incarnation, then, plunges its roots back to “the beginning,” back to the sacrament of creation. When the eternal Word became flesh, he reaffirmed the two fundamental words of his creation: male and female. And in reaffirming these two words of creation, these two ways of being human, Jesus reaffirms the sacramental function of the body: to bear the image of God in the visible cosmos through the dual-unity, the unity-in-difference of man and woman.
Confused yet? How about this.
Gender theory, then, insists on rejecting the symbolism of the body in its masculinity and femininity. Interestingly, the term symbol comes from the Greeks words sym+ballein, which means “thrown together.” Thus, gender theorists are in fact trying to put asunder what God has joined together: the body, in its masculinity and femininity, as the visible sign of the invisible reality of who God is (an eternal communion of three divine persons) and the nature of his love for humanity (spousal—the love of the Bridegroom for the Bride).

In a real sense, then, gender theory is diabolic. The term diabolic comes from the two Greek words dia+ballein, which means to “throw apart” or “separate.” In Christian theology, the diabolic is that aspect of evil which tears apart and fractures. Gender theory tears apart the body and the soul; it fractures the personality and causes alienation between one’s identity and one’s body. It is, moreover, diabolic in a second sense. Gender theory enshrines as its first principle a Promethean will to power: it introduces a rivalry between God and man in that it presupposes the rejection of God and his created order—the given order of the body in its masculinity and femininity—as the precise precondition for the authentic exercise of freedom and self-realization.
It was difficult for me to choose parts to highlight from this because pretty much every paragraph is just as intensely confusing as the previous. None of it seems to be the slightest bit rooted in reality.

I'm from a Latin-mass-going Catholic family myself. I'm now trying to imagine now, if I were transgender rather than cis (and still religious), what I would make of this. How could I even begin to unpack these sorts of arguments which are rooted down to their foundations in Catholic theology.

To be honest, my brain shut down after the first few paragraphs. All I was left with is the message that if I were transgender, I would be somehow diabolic and destructive to myself and others. What an inspiring Christmas message -- what wonderful timing so soon after the death of a transgender teen.

The Catholic World Report apparently let the post go up at the height of media attention for this story. I can only assume this could be their response to this tragic story which didn't have to happen if people would only accept trans teens for who they are.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Catholic School Blocks Students' LGBT Rights Research Project, Then Forced to Retract. Now, Students to Form GSA.

Quinn Maloney-Tavares and Polly Hamilton with Jeremy Dias, founder of Jer's Vision restaurant and LGBT rights activist (source).
Methinks that Ottawa's St. George Catholic School principal Ann Beauchamp should have just let students Quinn Maloney-Tavares and Polly Hamilton just do their project about LGBT rights when they first asked, instead of forbidding them. Because, Quinn's mom went to the media and the school board it quickly backed down to try to save face.

I'm not sure if the principal, the Catholic School Board or the writers over at LifeSiteNews -- who seem to be getting hysterical about this -- all quite understand just how educational and instructive all of this really is. The girls got to experience censorship firsthand and now it looks like they'll get to experience what it's like to open a Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) in their Catholic school.

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Does The Pope 'Get' Atheists? / Korean Culture and Information Service (Photographer name) [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
On October 29th, the Pope said this.
Causing scandal and being a bad example turn people off, making them think, "Hey, if that is being Christian, I'll be an atheist.' That's because our witness is what makes people see what it is to be a Christian," he said.
He really doesn't get it. I didn't become an atheist because I was turned off by Catholics. The scandals in the Church merely point out to me that it's a human construct and that there isn't anything particularly special or holy about it. On the contrary, it looks completely messed up. This gave me doubts about the Church, not God.

I could never choose to not believe in something. My non belief happened on its own after years of reflection.

I, like so many other people, scrambled into the light over a long arduous period of questioning and thinking. It took me years of reflection to finally realize that there was no good evidence for a God.

Atheism is not a rebellion against any church or a simple dislike of God or the church.

Friday, 24 October 2014

Montreal Catholic School fires Teacher for having done Porn Forty Years Ago

Sinner: The Secret Diary of a Nymphomaniac (1973) -- (source). Sinner is ironic, isn't it?
The beautiful woman pictured in the above 1973 photo, Jacqueline Laurent-Auger, is 73 today. She just got fired for something she did back when she was a starving actress -- forty years ago.

She had been working for the uber elite Catholic Brébeuf College in Montreal for fifteen years and then some students found some pornographic films she was in back before I was born and the school sacked her.

Montreal teacher, 73, loses job over film nudity more than 40 years ago

I'm sure this is because if there's one thing Catholic institutions are really sucky at it's forgiving what it sees as sexual misconduct... well... unless you've got a penis and happen to be a priest, bishop or cardinal and sexually abuse children, that is. They've got a bit of a history of sheltering the pedos, but Papa Francesco's got all that totally covered now, so no more of that, I'm sure!
“I did it as a young actress to make a little money,” she said in an interview on Monday. “The idea of throwing someone out the door for something they did almost 50 years ago is idiotic. It makes me angry.”
The school was widely derided for its decision. In the Journal de Montréal, blogger Tania Longpré said many actors have some nude scenes in their repertoire, and they can’t afford to refuse them on the chance that one day they might want to go into teaching; she said Brébeuf’s decision hid “hypocritical puritanism.
Her story has elicited widespread sympathy in Quebec since it first surfaced late last week. Meanwhile, the school – a Jesuit-founded institution that groomed leaders such as Pierre Trudeau and his son, Justin – has come under attack for a decision characterized as prudish and shortsighted. One blogger called it a case of “retroactive slut-shaming.”
It indeed does seem to be retroactive slut-shaming.

I consider myself to be a bit of a film buff -- mostly because one of my good friends is a film professor. Movies like The Devils (1971), Zabriskie Point (1970), or Ciao Manhattan (1972) were bold in their openness and were not afraid to show nudity and sexuality. These films were nothing like pornography or even cheesy erotica these days, they were real movies with real plots, real budgets, real actors. They were more like art films. This was not vulgar hardcore.
Ms. Laurent-Auger’s early films, including such titles as Le journal intime d’une nymphomane (The Secret Diary of a Nymphomaniac), date to the 1960s and ’70s when she was a struggling actress who had just graduated from theatre school in Montreal and moved to Paris.
The movie itself seems sort of compelling -- read a review -- other than the initial revolting and unfortunate premise that the heroine's nymphomania (if that even exists!) is awakened by a sexual assault. There is a hell of a lot going on there, over and above today's typical offering. It sounds a little like a B-movie offshoot of CandideAlthough I haven't seen the film, it's now on my list and judging by the reviews. I'm not expecting a masterpiece here, but there is likely something of a little 1970s time capsule there -- a product of its times.

It's easy to see how a young woman right out of theatre school would take it on as a serious role. At that time, European and even some American films were leaning in this direction and she might have seen a future there.
She said the films in which she performed were not pornographic, but part of an artistic trend of openness in the film world in the 1960s and ’70s. “I would never do pornography,” she said. “We called them light, erotic films, and they have nothing to do with the kinds of things you see today.”
There really is a difference between this and crude 8mm pornography of the time and it was almost half a century ago! Still, the school is firing her because she isn't a good role model for the students.
Ms. Laurent-Auger stars in some of the films, which feature “erotic scenes,” raising the question of whether the movies are “models to follow for high-school students becoming initiated into theatre and arts in general,” the college said.
I question whether the school itself is a good role model -- firing someone for not breaking any laws and not forgiving someone after fifty years! I mean, I know this is all about a private school saving face but come on, we're forty years on here. Perhaps this is a good Catholic role model -- to fire a 73 year old woman who did something half-a-lifetime ago, force her into retirement.
“The fact that these films were shot 40 years ago doesn’t change their bold and suggestive – even explicit – character,” said the college. The Internet had brought the “erotic portion of [Ms. Laurent-Auger’s] career into the present,” and the students’ discovery of their teacher’s films affected the atmosphere in class, the school said.
I'll admit, that is a little awkward. However, the students discovered these films on their own. They were very likely already consuming pornography online and they are very likely to continue and they are very likely to see the equivalent amount of sexuality on shows like Game of Thrones. This is not Ms. Laurent's problem nor should it be a problem for the school.

Should these students be banned from any viewing or interaction of any actor who has made nude or sex scenes in cinema or television?

This women is obviously a different person now than who she was so long ago. However, what the school did here isn't very surprising to me. There is apparently no redemption from this Catholic institution for a woman who is tainted with sexuality like this. Her dirty act has apparently turned into something 'filthy' that this organization doesn't want to be associated with.

Opening scene to Diary of a Nymphomaniac. Obviously not safe for work.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Calgary (Catholic) Public Schools Sent Scary Anti-HPV-Vaccine Letter To Parents

Gardasil anti-HPV vaccine (aka. sexytime inducer) (source).
So, for five years, the publicly funded Calgary Catholic School Board refused to let their girls get vaccinated against HPV. Then, back in November 2012 they finally caved and allowed it. Now they want to extend it to boys as well. Well, the Catholic bishops are just not happy, not one bit.

Debate over HPV vaccine flares up in Alberta after Catholic leaders warn shots encourage pre-marital sex

Alberta is now  going to begin vaccinating boys as well as girls -- because boys can get cancer from HPV too and they can be carriers that infect girls. You think this would be a good thing. Oh no, think again.
The emotional battle over HPV vaccination in Alberta has flared up again, after Calgary’s Catholic school board directed parents to a letter from Church leaders that warns the shots could encourage pre-marital sex.
A little background. If there's one thing Catholic bishops are absolutely obsessed with, it's sexytime. In an article from October, 2013 -- nearly a year on after the board reversed its stand on the vaccine after much resistance -- Bishop Fred Henry  had this gem:
Bishop Fred Henry said society should try to curb sexually transmitted infections (STIs) like the cancer-causing human papillomavirus by encouraging abstinence and monogamy, not by using medicine to “palliate our vices.”
This stance seems so utterly revolting to me that I must take a step back and do a little analysis. Basically, I read it a little like this.

The good bishop is getting no sexytime at all -- at least as far as I know. So, he's not directly affected by any of this and I have no clue how anyone could consider him an authority either. I could only postulate he could be a little frustrated, but that's none of my business.

Anyway, some people could be getting sexytime. It's a shame many are underage, but this is a completely different problem -- the sexytime is happening in reality.

Now, they might be tempted to use condoms. Condoms are, of course, a Catholic no-no. They get in the way of the proper Godly punishment outcome of sexytime which is getting knocked up. God thwarting is bad! However, if the teens should not use condoms then there is the additional circumvention of God's proper punishment outcome of getting infected with HPV and eventually God-sanctioned cancer. Now how were the kids supposed to properly learn their lesson if they don't get cancer? I mean, is anyone thinking about God here? Hello!

How are these children supposed to properly suffer and atone for their transgressions against the Almighty?

Maybe I'm wrong, but this is the sort of message I read from the good bishops. This is a real disease and people are really getting sick from it. Why wouldn't the nice bishops want the children to get a medicine so they wouldn't get sick?

Okay, I'm getting ahead of myself. The bishops are saying they're just concerned that these kids could be having immoral out-of-wedlock sex. They believe that giving the children vaccine will make them even more horny and reckless than they already are. No, really! They actually believe this.

Here's a copy of the letter that was sent out this month.
The decision to permit your daughter or son to receive this inoculation rests solely with you as parents/ guardians. AHS provides you with medical information about the Gardasil HPV vaccine so informed decisions can be made from a health perspective. Some very important moral and spiritual considerations have been articulated about how this fits within our Catholic faith. On our website you will find a letter from the Catholic Bishops of Alberta at Alberta_Bishops_letter.pdf which can also help guide you in your decision-making process. 
The above-referred-to Bishops letter is from 2008 and essentially says that if your kid gets this vaccination they'll think it's all fine and dandy to go out and sex it up big time.
Secondly, although school-based immunization delivery systems generally result in high
numbers of students completing immunization, a school-based approach to vaccination sends a message that early sexual intercourse is allowed, as long as one uses "protection." 

This societal message also implies that young people are not capable of making
decisions for themselves or they are too young to make good decisions. We think more
highly of our youth and would prefer to equip them for proper decision-making.
Have these bishops ever been Catholic teens? Only if you can first get over the guilt instilled into you over years of indoctrination, you might find yourself in a situation where sexual intercourse is a possibility.

Have these bishops ever been teens? When you're fooling around stuff can happen. You know, when stuff is already underway it can sometimes be rather difficult to think with your "in-skull brain" about whether or not you've got a condom (not allowed) or have been properly vaccinated (not allowed) before the stuff continues and "in-pants brain" is leading the show. Protection failing or not being properly used or not used at all is how girls end up pregnant and at the abortion clinic! People make mistakes! Not just people, kid-people! That's what this whole goddamn 'sin' thing is all about, isn't it? Why is this so hard to understand? Or is this all about letting God mete out punishment unimpeded? Moar Catholic babeeze? It really makes me wonder.

As if getting an injection will determine whether or not a couple of teens hook up. Will this curb their hormonal urges? Please! Need common sense!

Well, here's what some (obviously materialist godless non-Catholic) scientists have to say:
However, a U.S. study that reviewed medical records of nearly 1,400 girls showed HPV shots does not increase sexual activity, said Juliet Guichon, spokeswoman and founder with HPV Canada, a group of doctors, health scientists and concerned citizens.
Furthermore, the very same Juliet Guichon, who's friend died of cervical cancer, had this other sensible thing to say.
The Calgary board should disseminate only science-based health information and is misleading parents by pointing them to the Church critique, complained Juliet Guichon, a University of Calgary bioethicist who has long advocated for the vaccine.

“This letter encourages fear, and undermines a public-health program that’s designed to help children avoid cancer,” she charged.
She also said this very true thing:
“What’s sad is that educated people don’t distinguish double-blind, randomized clinical trials and gossip. There’s a huge difference,” said Guichon, whose friend died of cervical cancer, leaving behind two young children. “If they want good information they can look at Health Canada, the Canadian Society of Obstetricians and Gynecology, the Canadian Cancer Society, or if they want to go abroad they can look at the CDC (Centres for Disease Control and Prevention), in the UK, there’s the National Health Service. There’s many, many good sites for information.”
Feeling better? Here's what an actual scientist had to say.
As well as raising the promiscuity issue, the letter suggests the public-health community is divided on the vaccine’s benefits, a statement one leading scientist said on Friday was “hogwash.”

“We’re going to have to go back to square one and start the fight all over again,” said Eduardo Franco, a McGill University cancer epidemiologist and one of the world’s top experts on links between the human papillomavirus and cancer. “Too bad.”
Ahhh, yes that's better, thank you.

And then...
A spokeswoman for the board, however, said the district only wanted to expose parents to different viewpoints.

“We’re trying to balance the spiritual perspective and the health perspective and the parents’ perspective,” said Tania Younker, the district’s director of communications. “The bishop does guide us in our spiritual decision making. So we are respectful of the opinion he has. And we’re also very respectful of the health information.”

Since 2012, the number uptakes of the vaccine has gone from 24.5% to 61% with girls (I've seen as high as 75% elsewhere). Apparently, cancer rates related to HPV are still on the rise and vaccination is the best way to fight it. So I say, okay, bishops, you guys keep saying this and we'll let parents keep ignoring you to be pro-life of their children. We'll see who ends up on the right side of history.

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Catholic School Disciplines Teacher For Informing Students of Their Rights & A Poll!

Another week, more news about Catholic schools in Ontario.

This time, a teacher at a Peterborough Catholic school got rapped on his hand with the ruler for simply informing his students about a recent court ruling allowing them to skip religious courses and ceremonies.
An Ontario Catholic high school teacher was disciplined for informing his students they can’t be forced to study religion, underscoring the determination of Catholic school boards to get students to take religious studies.

The teacher, Paul Blake, had a disciplinary note attached to his file in May, after he told a group of Grade 12 students of a recent court case that affirmed their right to an exemption from religious courses and ceremonies.
Grant Lafleche wrote an excellent article about this and the general path to extinction the Catholic school system is taking in Ontario: Catholic schools on slow march to extinction. In it he amusingly compares to the Catholic School Board to a sort of Wily Coyote.
You have to give Catholic school boards in Ontario props for being consistent. You know, in the same way that Wile E. Coyote is consistent, no matter how many times he falls off that cliff or runs headlong into a stone wall, he still gets up and tries to eat that bird.
Lafleche's piece does a magnificent job of explaining how the Catholic church has reacted to the court ruling.
In April, the courts told the schools students can be exempt if their parents wish it.

The Catholic boards reacted by jumping into bed, pulling their blankets over their heads and pretended the court ruling doesn’t exist.
Along with what, one school at least, has instructed their teachers to do.
[ ... ] Given the court ruling and the number of news stories about it, he thought it prudent to discuss the issue with his students. When he asked his principal how he ought to approach it, he was told never to discuss it.

Because, you know, the best and most responsible way to handle things is to pretend they aren’t happening.
Because knowledge is bad and apparently a student body and parents who are aware of their rights is also bad. All in all, it seems like the Board is in denial about the trajectory Ontario is on and... perhaps... on its way to extinction.

Go read the article, and vote in the poll!

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

It's Time For Ontario Parents To Stop Supporting Catholic Schools With Their Tax Dollars

I just saw this infuriating story on Hemant Mehta's blog about how Catholic schools are shoving 70 minutes of their own religious education down the throats of their students -- whether the parents like it or not. And they're doing it with public funds. And they don't care what the court said on the matter.

Catholic schools force students to study religion despite court order
Catholic schools in Ontario are requiring students to take religious courses despite a recent court decision that ruled they can’t be forced to attend.

In multiple correspondences reviewed by The Globe and Mail, Catholic school board officials from across the province have denied requests from Catholic high-school students that they be excused from religious studies on the basis that their parents are Catholic school ratepayers.
The way I understand it, this ratepayer business refers to a box on your property taxes that designates whether you support the Catholic public school system or the secular public school system.
Property owners are asked to designate themselves as supporters of either Catholic or public schools. While this affected school-board funding in the past, it no longer does – as of 1997, school boards have been funded solely by the province. 
So, it doesn't matter which box you check on your taxes, you're still funding these Catholic institutions. However, if you check the Catholic box, the Catholic school board is unilaterally claiming authority to indoctrinate your kid, whether you like it or not -- even if your child has an compelling reason not to be wasting their time getting Catholicized -- even if you happen to be Catholic and take care of all the Catholocizing at home and want the school to help your kid learn about science or math or something useful. Really, you have no freedom at all.
The issue of whether Catholic schools can require students to participate in religious programs – not just courses, but also liturgies and retreats – was the subject of a recent court case brought by a Brampton father against the Peel-Dufferin Catholic District School Board. A panel of three judges ruled in April that students had a right to be exempted from religious programs. Catholic school officials are interpreting that decision as applying only to those students whose parents declared themselves as public-school supporters.
It's so nice they've taken to interpreting the laws for us. I suppose courts and judges are no longer required in Ontario. It's like the good old days in Ontario.

Got an autistic kid who needs extra help in math so he can get a job and support himself? Too bad, you'll need to hire a tutor for that since the school needs to fill 70 minutes of their day with religious instruction at your expense and your child's time. You checked Catholic on the tax form -- too bad so sad.
But Ms. Borgstadt said she has been told by the school principal that Cameron isn’t entitled to an exemption. “I feel that my son has been cheated,” she said. “It’s 70 minutes every day for an entire semester. Nobody needs that much religion, particularly when you’re talking about a child who’s struggling in the school.”
The solution here is obvious and the article even goes into it. If parents, even Catholic parents, wish to be free to decide, they must start out by revoking their support for the Catholic school board on their property taxes immediately. This institution must be shown it cannot take such outrageous liberties as it's apparently grown grotesquely accustomed to in the past.

Of course, the State should stop funding these schools altogether. Maybe if people begin to revoke their support, the numbers will dwindle to the point that politicians stop being so cowardly and finally do the right thing.
“It had nothing to do with religion, nothing against the courses or what was being taught,” Mr. Barbo said. “It was simply about my son’s dedication and getting into his goal university.”
The Catholic Church is all about religion and apparently the school -- a sort of state-funded extension of the Church -- is completely uninterested in Mr. Barbo's son's educational goals.

Visit and CFI Canada for more information and share this with your Catholic parent friends.

Friday, 4 July 2014

Vatican Approves Of International Association of Exorcists!

You can smile all you want! They're coming for you! (source)
Watch out, Satan! The Vatican is all done with all the easy problems, like witches and heretics who desperately needed to get burnt -- that was so 17th century!  Nobody believes in those silly things anymore! Now they can focus on real problems: devils and demons etc. etc. possessing people all over the place.

Move over, psychiatrists. Out of the way, Teen Exorcists! Young ladies, you have nothing on this latest batch of Vatican Endorsed(tm) demon hunters!
Exorcists now have an extra weapon in their fight against evil – the official backing of the Catholic church. The Vatican has formally recognised the International Association of Exorcists, a group of 250 priests in 30 countries who liberate the faithful from demons.
Isn't it funny how it always seems to be the faithful who require liberating? You would think that people of the faith would be less vulnerable to spiritual attack. For all I know, there could be demons fluttering in and out of my nostrils this very minute but they really don't seem to be bothering me. It really seems like they're just ugly figments of people's imaginations.

No matter! The Church is all about capitalizing on people's imaginations!
The head of the association, the Rev Francesco Bamonte, said the Vatican approval was cause for joy. "Exorcism is a form of charity that benefits those who suffer," he told L'Osservatore.
Is it tax deductible though?

I wonder if there are any fee being charged for this or if it's completely charity. How does this International Association of Exorcists get its funds? If so, then how is this any different than Benny Hinn and his exorcisms? Even if this snake oil works, is it ethical?

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

The Mission Of Ontario's Publicly Funded Catholic Schools

I've been following the whole publicly funded Catholic school debate in Ontario from a distance. So, this interview with retiring Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board director of education, Patricia Amos, piqued my curiosity. She's had the job for over 40 years, so this should be the inside scoop.

When asked what the biggest challenge is facing Catholic education, she responded. Emphasis is mine.
Catholic Education has to be able to clearly articulate the mission and value of Catholic education to the broader community – that our schools are rooted in the faith traditions of our church and that our students are guided by gospel values and that they view the secular world through the lens of their faith. We have to demonstrate that Catholic education is not a duplication and that it is cost efficient.

Some perceive education to be merely an instrument for the acquisition of information that will improve the chances of worldly success and a more comfortable standard of living. Catholic schools emphasize the inalienable dignity of the human person and our mission to form our students to be good citizens of the world, loving God and neighbour, thus enriching society with the leaven of the gospel.

Our schools are not institutions but rather genuine communities of faith. Our goal is to promote “overcoming individualistic self-promotion, solidarity instead of competition, assisting the weak instead of marginalization and responsible participation rather than indifference.” As a catholic school system we must ensure that the spirit of Catholicism permeates the entire curriculum, not only in our religious education courses.
Isn't that great, Ontarians? Those public schools aren't merely instruments for the acquisition of information. Oh no! They're not institutions but rather genuine communities of faith! Just think of all the new young minds that can be Catholicized with your tax money.

Later in the interview, she was asked why the Catholic school board should remain publicly funded.
Catholic schools make a distinct contribution to the well-being of our province and our communities.

Education in faith is similar to education in general – in that it is a lifelong process.

Our students go forward as effective communicators who use and integrate the Catholic faith tradition, in the critical analysis of the arts, media, technology and information systems to enhance the quality of life for members of our society. They are reflective and creative thinkers who manage and constructively influence change in a discerning manner; as self-directed, responsible, lifelong learners who examine, evaluate and apply knowledge of interdependent systems (physical, political, ethical, socio-economic and ecological) for the development of a just and compassionate society.
No doubt they will view the secular world through the lens of faith. The very same secular world that's paying for their god-coloured glasses.

Saturday, 21 June 2014

A Little Ironic?: Pope Francis Opposes Recreational Drugs

I just don't know. There seems to be something vaguely ironic about this slideshow picture on a recent CNN article about the Pope's opposition to anyone using recreational drugs because...
"Drug addiction is an evil, and with evil there can be no yielding or compromise," he told participants at the International Drug Enforcement Conference in Rome.
In case the Pope forgot, alcohol is a drug and alcohol addiction -- alcoholism -- is no joke at all. Thousands of people have died from this disease. It tears up families and destroys lives. I suppose the Pope is just fine with that.

Of course, if alcohol were made illegal (again in the States), the Church could be exempted from the prohibition like they were at the beginning of the last century. Because: 'religious freedom' and because --- after all -- 'it's not wine, it's Jesus blood,' or something.

Luckily, like other matters, the world is moving on and progressing in the right direction while the Catholic Church remains in the Middle Ages. Public opinion in the United States is moving to the much more reasonable idea of legalizing drugs like marijuana which have been shown to be practically harmless compared to alcohol.

Monday, 26 May 2014

A Young Autistic's Journey out of Institutionalized Education and Socialization toward Clarity

This is a guest post by author Michael Scott Monje, Jr. who blogs over at Shaping Clay. Michael is running an Indiegogo campaign to write about their own experience being an Autistic atheist through the imagery of an upcoming fictional web serial. 

Their story is a fascinating one and I've asked them to share a little of it here and tell us about their upcoming project, Imaginary Friends, and how we can directly help give time to work on it.

I have been an atheist for much, much longer than I have known myself to be autistic. In some ways, it feels like a stronger, better-mapped part of my identity. In other ways, though, it hardly feels like a part of myself any more. From the time that I first read the Gospel of John on my way through the New Testament, I have known, deep in the part of myself that speaks moral truths in a physical language, that the stories are stories, and not histories. Years before I had a way to explain how I knew this, I felt it as I read my way through fantastic story after fantastic story about miraculous events and world-shaking prophecies.

My lack of belief did not prevent me from cheerfully participating in the Catholic church at first. As a child, it seemed natural to me that I would know something is make-believe and still act as if I was dedicated to the belief that it was otherwise. It felt like a healthy suspension of something that I was asked to wear like a cloak over my natural attitude all week, and I imagined that this playing time (mixed with the discussions about morality that ran through each week's sessions) was a healthy and natural thing that everyone did to stay relaxed.

It wasn't until middle school, or rather, until the Sunday night youth groups for teenagers, that I realized how different my theory of religious participation was from everyone else's. It was a rough and rude awakening—I had taken it so for granted that everyone else understood our religious practice the same way I did, and as I realized through the social events and the classes that they did not, I became very disillusioned with the character of my community. It ceased to be a comfortable place for me, and instead it became a place where people I did not understand reassured one another that things that could not possibly be true were, in fact, true. When you add to that the kind of rude and confrontational social atmosphere that is almost like air to adolescents as they first start to negotiate adult socialization, the youth group was a terrifying place for a young Autistic to find themself in.

Years later, after my diagnosis, I started to reflect on the social structures within the church and on the way that they shaped my level of comfort with the practice of the faith. It's not that I think being Autistic necessarily made me more or less likely to be an atheist. On the contrary, I'm pretty sure it had nothing to do with it, since I know many, many Autistic people who practice a faith tradition. I do think, though, that the combination of my communication difficulties and my divergent social development produced situations where I was not participating in the same conversations that other people thought I was participating in, and the resolution of these miscommunications—both negatively and positively—definitely had an effect on my ability to participate in these communities.

I also think that my divergent intellectual development, along with my fascination with belief and myth as structures, strongly influenced my orientation toward my faith community. Given some slight differences in the level of guidance and the exact order of my literary development, I might easily have turned into a practitioner of the “of course it's not literal, it's a moral metaphor” kind of faith tradition that many of my friends practice. That did not happen, though, and partially, I do think it was early exposure to a wide and diverse range of myths and traditions that primed me to see a recursive pattern of fulfilling cultural needs where other people saw a truth that they could live by.

In my new web serial, Imaginary Friends, I will be telling a story that is very close to my own developmental pattern. The goal of the project is to use fiction to do what I have always understood it is supposed to be used to do: To create an imaginary allegory for a specific cultural understanding or event. In this case, Clay Dillon, an Autistic boy around the age of 8 or 9, is thrust into a nexus of early literacy, religious instruction, and institutionalized education and socialization (American public schooling), and the narrative focuses on how the intersection of these factors, along with many others (including class, ethnicity, and family structure) shape his emerging sense of himself and his relationship to his community.

The first chapter of this story will go live on June 6, and it will run for roughly 50 chapters. I have an Indiegogo page up (see below), and I'm offering perks that include my other books and some authorial services. If we make the funding goal, I will be able to run 2-3 chapters per week. If we fall short, the project will still go forward and the perks that are purchased will still be honored, but I will only be able to afford to run 1 chapter per week.

You can check out my campaign here. You can also find my blog, Shaping Clay, here.

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Catholic School Refuses to Allow Sick Girl Attend Prom

Vintage photo of 1950s(?) prom night. (source)

Katie Bialy isn't allowed to attend her prom because she didn't complete enough course credits. The Catholic Holy Cross high school principal is sticking to their guns and taking a principled stand here. I suppose it's all part of the good fight, right?

I mean, she was only unable to complete her credits due to Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, which can cause her joints to disconnect at any moment. What kind of excuse is that?

‘It wasn’t fair’: Why an Ontario school isn’t letting a sick girl go to prom

Actually, this really is a heartless and dour act.  This is not letting this girl attend even as someone else's guest her prom night due to circumstances beyond her control. She wanted to go to this year's prom to be with her friends in her class.

She tried to complete her courses at home because should wasn't mobile enough to attend class but the pain was too much and now the school has decided to pile a little more emotional pain on top. How could anyone be less in touch with human empathy?
“While typing, my fingers dislocate. So it gets really hard. And I have a lot of anxiety when it comes to school work. I get really nervous,” she said.

The genetic condition with no cure is also associated with a lot of pain and discomfort.
And EDS is accompanied by chronic pain that simply does not go away.

One thing that does apparently go away is Bialy's chance to even attend a prom. She's 17 this year and...
When Bialy does graduate, she still won’t get to go to prom. Once students past the age of 18 work to complete a high school diploma, they will be enrolled in the Adult and Community Education Program. According to Bialy, students enrolled in the program do not attend prom.
I keep hearing on and on about how the (publicly funded) Catholic School system is  so very necessary and that we must keep faith in them. Surely, they must be bastions of Catholic ethics and morality.

What does it say when these schools reject the formation of GSAs, pushes political agendas onto its students and now refuses to let someone into a prom because she was too ill to study? Is this leading by example?

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