“Light My Fire”

Ever since I received the June 5 reminder about the “the opportunity to hear Jerry Coyne discuss his new book Faith vs. FACT: Why Science and Religion are Incompatible,” the song “Light My Fire” has been running through my head:

The organizers of the Jerry Coyne Event are appealing to Canada’s baby boomers when they say

The time to hesitate is through. No time to wallow in the mire. Buy now and you can’t lose, we’re trying to set Wednesday night on fire.

Coyne is already in Canada; he is in Vancouver where he had dinner with another baby boomer, scientist Larry Moran.

Next on Coyne’s itinerary is Toronto!

On Wednesday, June 10th, at 7:30, Jerry Coyne will be in the OISE Auditorium, discussing faith versus fact and signing his book: Faith vs. Fact.

Where is OISE? It’s at 252 Bloor St West, and since CFI Canada has prompted some of us to take a trip down memory lane, it is near 341 Bloor Street W., the former Rochdale College, which existed before that portion of Bloor Street became the Mink Mile.

As Timothy Leary advised, “turn on, tune in, and [buy a ticket to the Jerry Coyne Event].”

Thank you to Steve Oberski, who inspired me to write this post.

Call 911: Catholic Parents Out of Control

The hyperbolic rhetoric coming from Catholic parents and school board trustees who object to the Ontario government’s updated sex-ed curriculum, which is scheduled to be implemented province wide in September, was criticized on Canadian Atheist on May 28. The main target of the criticism was the Halton Catholic District School Board, which planned a meeting to vote on Trustee Anthony Danko’s motion “to delay implementing the controversial Liberal government’s sex-ed curriculum for a year.”

The HCDSB meeting took place last night, and parents who attended the meeting got so out of control that

Police had to be called . . . as tempers flared over a failed attempt to delay implementation of Ontario’s new sex education curriculum in Halton Catholic schools.

If, as the disgruntled parents claim, parents are the first educators, then these parents who “continued to yell their disapproval and were slow to vacate the building” are sending this message to their children: lose your temper, yell and refuse to obey a direct order when you don’t get what you want.

One parent claims,

If the curriculum becomes the new standard in schools, it will begin to erode and then destroy the innocence of children, now and for generations to come.

Oakville trustee Paul Marai assures parents that the new sex education curriculum will “be taught within a Catholic lens.” This from an organization that teaches children that Catholic priests are God’s representatives on Earth and should be obeyed at all times. We all know how that turned out: this allowed Catholic priests to destroy the innocence of more children than any sex education curriculum ever will.

However, parents whose children attend HCDSB schools are not the only parents  ramping up the hysteria about the Ontario sex education curriculum. On May 22,

A newly-formed parents group in the Peterborough area met Friday outside Liberal MPP Jeff Leal’s office to protest the Wynne government’s planned changes to Ontario’s sex-ed curriculum.

According to the group statement

“This curriculum . . . will wound our children’s purity and may launch them into premature sexual experimentation when they are not yet capable of the critical thinking necessary to understand the consequences of their actions.”

This suggests that children and young adults who attend Catholic schools are taught and encouraged to use critical thinking skills. That’s unlikely, especially during religious education courses or the Fully Alive program, which is

designed to complement the efforts of families, and to pass on a distinctly Catholic view of human life, sexuality, marriage and family. Its focus is the developing person, its content is an extended exploration of what it means to be human, and its core message is hope: The God who created you, the Son who redeemed you, and the Holy Spirit who lives within you will not abandon you.

Yes, parents play an important role in the education of their children. They can fulfill that role by talking openly and honestly with their children, by teaching them critical thinking skills and by removing them from Catholic schools and the toxic influence of Catholic education.

An unkind cut

For some reason gods seem to have an obsession with what humans do with their genitals, to the extent that they insist that baby boys and young girls need to have alterations made.  In the case of the girls, female genital mutilation (FGM)  is widespread in Africa and the Middle East (and also sometimes practiced by immigrants from those countries).  For boys, the practice of circumcision (removal of the foreskin) has religious origins, but, at least in the US, is a widespread routine procedure, with a rate of about 75% (which is much higher than the 15% rate here in Canada.

As for me, I support a consistent principle of bodily autonomy.  I assert that every person has the absolute right to determine what happens to their own body.  This informs my position on abortion:  I am pro-choice because a woman has the right to choose to be pregnant or not.  It informs my position on assisted dying: A mentally competent person has the right to choose when and how to end their life.  And it informs my opposition to alterations of genitals of boys and girls, whether for cultural, cosmetic, or religious reasons.  Babies and children are not able to make properly informed choices about this, but their parents are obligated to refrain from making irreversible decisions on behalf of their children (except, of course, where such things are medically indicated).

Which brings me to the sad case of Heather Hironimus , a mother who was recently jailed because she would not acquiesce to the demands of the father of her 4-year-old son to have the boy circumcised.  She was recently released from jail, after agreeing to allow the surgery, but claims that she was “bullied” into signing the form. (Meanwhile, the father apparently believes that circumcision is “just the normal thing to do.”)

I can’t imagine what the poor little boy will be thinking is happening to him. I can’t imagine the anguish of the mother knowing that her little boy is going to be put through a useless painful procedure on one of the most sensitive parts of his body just so the father can prove a point.  I can’t imagine the callousness of the father going ahead with this (though it does bring to mind the biblical tale of Abraham being quite willing to sacrifice his son just because he thought Yahweh was telling him to).

Quilts of Valour

I have a friend who likes to do quilting.  Yes quilting – hand-made comfort and warmth in the form of a blanket.

My friend, like me, is also very committed to contributing to Canada and the community whenever possible…so my friend started to contribute to an organization called Quilts of Valour.  According to their website, they’ve delivered 5978 quilts to soldiers and veterans.

I like small charitable organizations with dedicated groups of volunteers doing the things that matter to them.  QOV reminded me of campaigns that CFIC volunteers have implemented over the past year – gathering socks and winter clothing for homeless and vulnerable people and even projects similar to QOV in the form of handiwork. It’s real and it makes a difference.

I was struck by this quote on the QOV website

It was the first time I had ever received a tangible gift other then a thank you, or hand shake, here and there, which I appreciate and take with pride every time from our fellow Canadian Citizens! We do what we do because we believe in what we do and it is an Honour to be Canadian and represent our values for all here in our home land and abroad.
Adj/WO Yan Davey

Canadian soldiers are called on to go to places around the world in response to situations and issues that are written-about and commented on via Canadian Atheist.  I’m glad that Quilts of Valour volunteers do what they can to provide a gift, a bit of comfort and warmth to people who don’t necessarily receive much real and tangible evidence that their service is appreciated.

I’m also proud when I hear about CFI Canada (and other secular organizations) take active steps to be involved with the issues that matter to them.  Showing up at mid-winter protests to help Raif Badawi or pushing for social justice initiatives; educating people so they can live fully and freely of superstition; hosting an open house event where any and all people are welcome to friendship.

Quilting.  It’s real.  It might be the only tangible evidence that a soldier receives from the community that the service mattered.  If you’re ever looking for a way to keep your fingers busy while watching your favorite tv show, maybe you should take up quilting.  You could be providing tangible evidence of appreciation and respect.


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