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Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: 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 […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: 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 […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: 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 […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Revelations about Revelation

It’s got treachery, betrayal, politics, violence, skullduggery, sex, war, philosophy, politics, religion, an empire teetering on the brink of collapse, mystical visions, rebellion, emperors and slaves, angry priests accusing other priests, unrepentant martyrs going to their deaths in the arena, and the end of the world looming over it all. What more could you want? It’s all […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Canadian Ambivalence Towards Religion

A new Angus Reid poll underscores the changing, ambivalent nature of Canadian attitudes towards religion, but there are many things about the poll that concern me and make me question its methodology and whether an inherent bias influenced the results. First of all, what is “religion”? That may seem obvious, but there are conflicting definitions, […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Conrad Black: Off the Rails

I generally read Conrad Black‘s columns for their entertainment value, but I also read them for the language. Black is the best tosser of pithy epithets since Spiro Agnew*. And like the former US VP, he’s a pompous git who puffs up his intellectual feathers like a pigeon in heat – that puffery of sound […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Weaponized Aryan Jesus?

The term “weaponized Jesus” comes from an article I read on politicsusa.com, from November 2013, titled “The Religious Right With Their Weaponized Jesus Are Not Christians.” It’s worth a read, if you enjoy the political-religious debate. I eventually traced the phrase back to a 2010 story in Mother Jones. It’s a good description of the way […]

Bill Longstaff: The pope’s diminished freedom of speech

Did the pope just display an iota of sympathy for the zealots who massacred Charlie Hebdo staff? In response to a question about the attack, he replied, “One cannot provoke, one cannot insult other people’s faith, one cannot make fun of faith.”

The pontiff justified his position by stating that if someone cursed his mother, he would punch them. “It’s normal,” he insisted, “You cannot provoke.

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Hate Crimes Against Non-believers Growing

We all know about the hate crimes religious believers commit against one another, against people of a different faith. It’s headlines news, almost daily. Protestants against Catholics. Sunnis against Shiites. Muslims against Christians. Hindus against Muslims. Buddhists against Muslims. Christians against pagans. Christians against Jews. Muslims against Jews. Cults against anyone and everyone against cults. […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Camping’s madness carries on

Harold Camping has been dead for almost a year, but his legacy lives on. Not just in the broken dreams of his deluded followers, but in the many lives he destroyed through his madness. You would have thought that, having predicted the end of the world several times, and been wrong each one, because of the […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: A Buddhist Guide for Voters

While it was intended as a general ‘charter of free inquiry,’ the Buddhist Kalama Sutra (or sutta) contains wise words that all voters – especially local voters – should heed during the municipal election campaign. The Kalamas were a people in ancient India. Gotama visited them and stopped in a town called Kesaputta, where he gave a sermon, now […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Taoist Lessons for Politicians

Those who look down upon this world, will surely take hold and try to change things. So begins verse 29 of the 4th century BCE Chinese classic (Jonathan Star translation*), the Tao Te Ching. That verse suggests that those who feel themselves superior to the world and to others, who feel their actions, thoughts, views and beliefs are above […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Happiness & Fulfillment

There are ten methods for meditating on the world, begins one scroll in the 1,300-year-old collection of Tang-dynasty sutras from Xian, China, that can lead us to happiness and fulfillment. I realize that sounds like the opening of a New Age piffle book, but the sutras were actually discovered in a cave near a Buddhist […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: A Compassionate Buddha?

There’s a story in Valerie Roebuck’s translation of the Dhammapada (Penguin Classics, 2010, commentary on verse 6, p 115-116) that caught my eye recently, and it made me wonder what the moral or ethical precept was buried in it. And it makes me question what it says about the supposed compassion of the Buddha and […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Reading the Dhammapada

One of the most inspirational, moving books in my library is the Dhammapada, a collection of sayings of the Buddha, originally from the Pali canon. I’ve had a version of the Dhammapada in my library since the late 1960s, and read it through many times. It’s good to reread it often. My first copy I […]

350 or bust: Pope Francis: If We Destroy Creation, It Will Destroy Us

Pope Francis made the biblical case for tackling climate change on Wednesday, calling on Christians to become “Custodians of Creation” and issuing a dire warning about the potentially catastrophic effects of global climate change. Speaking to a massive crowd in Rome, the Pope delivered a short address in which he argued that respect for the […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: American belief in evolution is growing: poll

A new Harris poll released this month shows that Americans apparently are losing their belief in miracles and gaining it in science. The recent poll showed that American belief in evolution had risen to 47% from its previous poll level of 42%, in 2005. True, it’s not an overwhelming increase, and it’s still less than half […]

Politics and its Discontents: Another Refreshing Perspective From Pope Francis

I am finding more and more to like about the new Pope everyday. I am certain his distinction between faith and ideology will enrage some on the right – that is, if they even listen to anyone anymore.

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Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: The Moral Compass

I have a laminated card beside me, wallet-sized so it can be carried around easily. I made it at my shop a few years ago; just a simple, two-sided business card with some text. It’s part of my personal moral compass. We all benefit from some guidance, at times, something to remind us of the higher […]

350 or bust: Why We Do What We Do

It’s TED Talk Tuesday, and today’s video is Rev. Michael Dowd’s 2012 TEDx Talk which reexamines faith traditions and what science is now revealing about human nature and instincts: The world’s faith traditions offer conflicting beliefs about our inner and outer nature, and our challenges. Fortunately, a knowledge-based view of reality is emerging, which is […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: What’s it all about, Alfie?

“What’s it all about, Alfie?” sings Cilla Black in the title song for the eponymous 1966 movie. But it could be the anthem for the human race, or at least those with a philosophical bent. “What’s it all about?” is certainly a question that springs to my mind daily as I listen to the news, […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Hell 2.3

Before I carry on with my exploration of Miriam Van Scott’s Encyclopedia of Hell, I wanted to note that I just got my copy of her other book – the Encyclopedia of Heaven, from Abebooks. It’s dated 1999, so it’s a year later than her book on Hell. Yet it has many related topics – […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Hell 2.2

Might be time to recap my reasons for writing this series. New readers could get confused about the content in the Hell posts, of which this is the fourth. They’re all the result of a convergence of several recent themes and activities in my life; a lot of which have to do with recent reading [...]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Hell 2.1, a small update

I left you in my exploration of the Encyclopedia of Hell pondering which version of the Faustus story was better: with or without his final redemption. Personally, I prefer without, because it offers greater dramatic opportunities. I also don’t like the notion of redemption: it seems like a “get out of Hell free” card. Christianity [...]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Hell 2.0

I left you last time after finishing the letter D, in Miriam Van Scott’s Encyclopedia of Hell. I’m back in book form to take you through a few more entries in her exploration of the afterlife. But first a couple of additions to your reading material. First on the list is Alice Turner’s 275-page The [...]