What Would $101 Million Buy?

The answer to that question could be very long. I’ll bet among all the things you thought of buying with that much, you weren’t even once thinking it could buy a 510-foot replica of the mythological Noah’s ark. But that’s what it is buying the folks who run the Ark Encounter theme park in Williamstown, Kentucky. You can see video “encounters” of it being built. Sort of (they … (more–>)

The Blackened Nose

There’s a famous Zen tale that I was reminded of as I was reading the media release about the Collingwood Airport this week. It somehow seemed remarkably fitting. It’s about the folly of selfishness, of thinking yours is the only way forward, of possessiveness, of narrow views. I first came across this tale in the late 1960s, in a copy of Zen Flesh, Zen Bones, by … (more–>)

Judas, a Biography

Long before Darth Vader, long before Lord Voldemort, long before Stephen Harper, Judas Iscariot reigned as the supreme icon of evil in Western mythology. Judas betrayed God. How much worse can you get?* For 2,000 years we’ve used the term Judas to refer to anyone who betrayed anything, any cause, any belief, any friendship. Yet, like all the icons of evil that came before, and who have followed, … (more–>)

Going Clear Reviewed

[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=19YGhuORcJk] I found it difficult to read Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief by Lawrence Wright (Random House, 2013): it gave me a sense of unease, forcing a frequent over-the-shoulder glance to see if someone was following me just because I was reading it. But nonetheless, it proved compelling – so much so that I dropped all other books and read it cover to cover, uninterrupted earlier … (more–>)

One Small Step, One Long Whine

The Supreme Court of the United States made a landmark decision last week that states cannot constitutionally (i.e. legally) ban same-sex marriage. The bottom line: under the Constitution, every citizen is entitled to the same rights and freedoms regardless of sexual orientation. Most of the world celebrated with the USA over this decision (the US thus became the 21st nation to legalize same-sex marriage). Homophobia – … (more–>)

The Slow Path to Happiness

If 15 minutes of stillness change the 23 hours and 45 minutes left in your day, including your sleep and your human relations, it seems to be worthwhile. So said Matthieu Ricard, a Buddhist monk who has spent the last 45 years in the Himalayas pursuing the goal of mindfulness. Ricard was interviewed in January, following along the lines of a TED talk he gave in … (more–>)

How Many Virtues?

The Greeks had but four cardinal virtues: prudence, justice, temperance, and courage (or fortitude). To this, many centuries later, the Catholic church (notably Aquinas) added three theological virtues: faith, hope, and charity (or love). These are the seven basic virtues of Western culture. But they’re not the only ones. In 410 CE, Aurelius Clemens Prudentius listed seven ‘heavenly’ virtues in his religious poem, Psychomachia: chastity, temperance, … (more–>)

Atheist Spirituality?

Andre Comte-Sponville’s elegantly-written book, The Little Book of Atheist Spirituality, has occupied much of my thoughts and reading time these past few weeks as I try to grapple with his message. I find I need to re-read sections of it, perhaps more than once, to digest and weigh all of the ideas presented. I’m more accustomed to the polarizing polemics of Hitchens, Harris and Dawkins, and … (more–>)

Death by Bacon?

Buddha’s death considered as we approach Vesak Shakyamuni died from eating tainted pork accidentally offered to him by a well-meaning lay devotee…. that story permeates Buddhist history and mythology, and has spawned many debates both about both his death and the morality of eating animal flesh. Okay, it wasn’t necessarily bacon… This story is mentioned in the book, Faces of Compassion: Classic Bodhisattva Archetypes and Their Modern Expression, … (more–>)

Conrad Black: Wrong on Religion, Again

Atheists renounce and abstain from religions; they don’t reform them. So said Conrad Black in a recent National Post column. Black seems to be increasingly theological in his writing; perhaps he has had some sort of epiphany in prison. If so, it seems to be pushing him towards a Pauline-style intolerance and exclusivity, religiously speaking. That attitude is not conducive to dialogue, but it certainly suits … (more–>)

The Four Books

For many centuries, the core of Chinese education was focused on four classical works from the Confucian school: The Analects, The Great Learning, The Mencius, and Maintaining Perfect Balance. This didn’t really change until the arrival of the West and the industrial era was forced onto China in the 19th century. These were sacred books and intimate knowledge of them was considered the mark of a literate, … (more–>)

Written by God?

I don’t pay as much attention to American politics as I suppose I should, in part because despite the entertaining craziness of some of their politicians, the internal politics seldom affect Canadians, and also in part because the craziness not only baffles me – it scares me. But this week I paid attention when I read year-old statements made by former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, … (more–>)

Another TEOTWAWKI

TEOTWAWKI – The End Of The World As We Know It – has been predicted ever since humans looked up in wonder at the sky and decided it was peopled with invisible beings. Beings who wanted to do us harm, it seems. And as quickly as we people the sky, there developed an industry predicting when they would harm us, which soon led to the invention … (more–>)

Master Shih Te’s Words

I see a lot of silly folks who claim their own small spine’s Sumeru, the sacred mountain that supports the universe. Piss ants, gnawing away at a noble tree, with never a doubt about their strength. They chew up a couple of Sutras, and pass themselves off as Masters. Let them hurry and repent. From now on no more foolishness. This is poem XI* from Master … (more–>)

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