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All the content of this blog has been moved to: http://michaelkrahn.com/blog/

The following content can be found by clicking below:
Richard Dawkins The God Delusion click here.

Rob Bell’s Velvet Elvis click here.

Pedro The Lion


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Quote for the day

William Feather – "No man is a failure who is enjoying life."

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Razing the Bar: Forgetting and Remembering

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“Reason is in fact the path to faith, and faith takes over when reason can say no more… Faith, without depending on reason for the slightest justification, never contradicts reason and remains ever reasonable. Faith does not destroy reason, but fulfills it.”

I started reading Thomas Merton’s “The Ascent to Truth” and it is, as usual for Merton’s books, well written and insightful. If there is a theme to this book it is that reason does not lead entirely to faith, it will only guide you to the point at which you can no longer rely on yourself. The trouble of course is knowing when it is time for reason to take a rest.

“The intelligence has no right to be consciously unintelligent.”

“Consciously unintelligent” – does anything describe North American culture better? We know we watch useless, worthless TV for hours every week (yes American Idol watchers, I’m talking to you). We know that there are better things to do with our time. It is probably the greatest sin of our generation: our reason is wasted in the pursuit of pleasure and entertainment.

Faith is often seen not only as a substitute for reason but as its opposite. Don’t bother exploring the reasonableness of your religion; accept that it is reasonable on faith. But one cannot accept as reasonable that which he has spent no time convincing himself is reasonable by means of both his reason and his faith.

“One of the paradoxes of our age is that millions of men who have found it impossible to believe in God have blindly submitted themselves in human faith to every charlatan who has access to a printing press, a movie screen, or a microphone.”

And it has only worsened since you wrote that in the 1950’s, Mr. Merton. He wrote this in 1951 prior to the ubiquity of television and the internet. I think it is accurate to say that we have not become less inclined to submitting ourselves in human faith to those who employ these means of self-proliferation… not to mention any names… (see picture at right—— à)

Luther’s self-proliferation is played out again and again whenever someone by technological means proposes to overthrow the current establishment by way of propagating contrary ideas. In a world where technology is king, the man with the microphone is a prophet. And each time a new prophet speaks, a certain number of sympathizers jump on board.

But eventually they too turn on each other and form and reform ad infinitum until they are no more than a loose body of believers that begins to resemble the opposite of what they started as.

And if it becomes large enough, the movement itself becomes the establishment and is therefore fair game for dissent and reform. And round and round we go… The bulk of any dissenting group is often comprised of people who are more in love with the act of dissent than they are in bringing about the opposite of what they are protesting.

Protest is exciting, it is an emotional thrill -and it is easy. Far easier than, say, figuring out a rational plan to disprove those ideas you claim are untrue. Protest imbues the protestor with a sense of personal freedom and individual power. But power to do what? Those who stir their emotions and give them hope are generally interested in the same things themselves and it should come as no surprise that they gather followers who will be useful to them in attaining their goals.

Any music, protest, art, or religion that appeals primarily to emotion will gain momentum to be sure, but it can lose it just as quickly if the appeal loses its flavour. And that is why the search is always on for the next effective appeal – by way of offense or giving a sense of belonging to masses that have never belonged makes no matter as long as the dollars end up in the right place.

I would rather converse with someone who believes in things that are erroneous than someone who has few thoughts on any subject at all. “We cannot respect their error,” Merton says “but at least we have to admit that they worked hard to reach it.” And it seems rare for anyone to work hard at reaching either error or truth. Just point me in the direction of someone who believes something, anything, strongly and I will have a great conversation. Not just believes, but has worked hard and reasoned his way into the belief.

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"If I can get away with not using that manual button, I do."

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Co-worker quote collection:


"Don’t open the door to a can of worms we don’t want."

"It was just an idea we were throwing around at each other."

"He was just flying off the wall!"

"I knew I was touching on new water there."

"We’re not breaking any daylight here…"

"I’m not saying we’re falling out of the bottom of the wagon here, but…"

"After his suspension he had a whole different light on the ball game."



"We’re really making some headwaves here!"

"It an anominally."

"He was white in the face and sweating profusably!"

“I have no quorums with that."

"Yes, it’s very simular."



"I’ll call him and ask him to announce his arrival if he wants to come unannounced."

"Yes, it is bad… but I use bad in the good sense of the word…"

"But if he doesn’t realize the guy did it, then the loophole is broken right

there, right?"



"It’s not that we’re winning – we’re just not losing as bad!"



"The bug is finally starting to settle in some people’s stomachs."



"Now that i’ve gotten in there before, I know what I’m looking at."



"He just opened the valve once and that lodged it free."



"Half of them are bent crooked"



"Uh Mike, I’m a little misunderstood here…"

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The banner of free speech has been unfurled again, as it often is in times like these. Who knew cartoons could evoke such a response?

We all did.

Free speech should generally be invoked as a shield and not a sword; it is for saying things you believe in that are also offensive. It should not be used as a weapon against those who believe differently than you do. When used in this way, it undermines the goals it was created to accomplish.

I do not argue that the lone Danish paper that ran the cartoons should not have. The cartoonist might judge religions by their most visible and least faithful adherents, but there is always someone waiting to wield the undeniable power of religion in a self-serving manner, often to violent and self-gratifying ends. But these are the exceptions. Judging any system, country or religion by its most unfaithful members is both an affront to those being judged, and a sign of poor character in those judging.

But then other newspapers ran the cartoons, not because they resonate with truthfulness or make an important statement, but because it really ticks Muslims off… or no, that’s not it… it’s because their countries practise what’s called “freedom of speech”. But abuse of this noble concept is far below the minimum requirements of civil society, and far beyond anything intended by those who conceived it. Freedom is not always exercised in DOING; often it is most beneficially enacted by resisting wrong action.

Many columnists have become missionaries of the deceitful application of the principle. Sadly, their justifications themselves have taken on the characteristics of an intolerant religion. It even has its own mantra: “We must, because we can… “

A fine line exists between free speech and avoidable provocation, and that line has been crossed. It seems almost automatic in democratic societies to publish what is controversial regardless of quality or validity. The reprinting of the cartoons is not an act of freedom but is rather a clear case of the opposite: automation. It offends, therefore it should be printed. The very state of being offensive validates it, regardless of its content.

British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw should be commended for acknowledging that every freedom must be both exercised with confidence and tempered with restraint, lest it become something other than freedom. “There is freedom of speech,” he said “we all respect that. But there is not any obligation to insult or to be gratuitously inflammatory.”

Columnist responses seem short on variety. Rex Murphy accuses protestors of insolence while other editorial comments write the affair off as over-reaction. However, the number of responses, while overwrought and unjustified, are still in proportion to the number of offences. Had a single Danish newspaper published the cartoons there would have been a level of protest but it would not have reached the volume it is at now. The divisive effects of these actions are now clearly seen. Are you on the side of the insolent fundamentalists or of free speech? Make your choice!

To say the choice of how to react is theirs alone is true, but it is a choice imposed upon them as one of two that are equally distasteful. They can ignore the insult and dishonor their religion or they can react to the insult and reinforce, as Globe and Mail reader William E. Henry writes, “the negative stereotype of Islam as a religion of intolerance, repression, and violence.” Such a stereotype may be reinforced, but equally reinforced is the stereotype of Western nations that offend because they can and not because they believe in the truthfulness of their actions. We are nations that often make a sport of offending.

“Artists, writers and the press in the Western democracies have the right to create and write as they please. And so they must.” Murphy writes, “And no fundamentalism, of religion or any other variety, should be given the slightest leverage over that right.”

True enough, but maybe common decency should

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