Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Simple Matter

A quote I found by Soren Kierkegaard:

"The matter is quite simple. The Bible is very easy to understand. But we Christians are a bunch of scheming swindlers. We pretend to be unable to understand it because we know very well that the minute we understand, we are obliged to act accordingly. Take any words in the New Testament and forget everything except pledging yourself to act accordingly. My God, you will say, if I do that my whole life will be ruined. How would I ever get on in the world? Herein lies the real place of Christian scholarship. Christian scholarship is the Church's prodigious invention to defend itself against the Bible, to ensure that we can continue to be good Christians without the Bible coming too close. Oh, priceless scholarship, what would we do without you? Dreadful it is to fall into the hands of the living God. Yes, it is even dreadful to be alone with the New Testament."

I'd say it's food for thought, but it's just that sort of scholarly musing that I think Kierkegaard was railing against. Unless, of course, it digests quickly and becomes grounds for action.

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Context

Foggy brained... I'm fighting off a cold.

Anyways, a lady at church was talking to me about my petition and my activist stance on the whole pro-life/free speech kerscuffle here at the uni. She was enthusiastically encouraging me to keep at it and reminding me that our fight is not against flesh and blood, so I shouldn't be bitter towards the people involved. I think she was happy that I was throwing myself into the mess. Eager to back up her support of me with scripture, she asked me, "What did Mordecai say to Esther?"

Confused, I responded, "...um.... 'If you don't do this, someone else will'?"

Needless to say, that wasn't quite the quote she had in mind, but I was only half a verse off. We got a good laugh out of it. And in case you're curious, she was thinking about "Perhaps you were meant for such as time as this." (Both are found in Esther 4:14)

Yes, I realize we paraphrased both quotes, but the intent is the same.

"Taken out of context I must seem so strange." Ani Difranco

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Plotting Away

I've been told that there are only 6 different sorts of conflicts to tell of when writing or reading a story:

1. Man vs. Man
2. Man vs. Himself
3. Man vs. Nature
4. Man vs. God
5. Man vs. Society
6. Man vs. Machine

This seems about right to me (assuming "man" can mean "woman"... or even "anthropomorphic being"). Let's see, Lord of the Rings would be both Man vs. Himself (Frodo fighting to stay uncorrupted by the ring) and Man vs. Man... or God, dependent on how you categorize Sauron. Lord of the Flies would be Man vs. Himself and Man vs. Society. Fahrenheit 451 is Man vs. Society, and I have no clue what Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is. I suppose this categorical list applies only to stories with a plot.

And speaking of plots, I've also been told that there are also only a few different sorts of those, too:

1. Chase (Good guy trying to catch the bad guy, or vice versa)
2. Romance (Love fulfilled or love spurned)
3. Mystery (Quest for truth)
4. Transformation (Good to bad or bad to good)
5. Origins (How something was made, or how it came to be - a history of sorts)

I'm not so convinced about this one. They seem like pretty broad categories if you ask me (which you didn't, but you are still reading, so presumably you're interested in what I have to say). But if we assume that this is the case, Lord of the Rings would be mostly Chase and Transformation (there's a wee bit of Romance), Lord of the Flies would be almost entirely Transformation, Fahrenheit 451 would be hmm... Chase? or Mystery? That one's a little more vague. And again, Hitchhiker's Guide probably doesn't count.

But what about works like fables or satires? Where would they be slotted?

At any rate, the Bible has a bit of these categories, so it MUST be good reading, right?

"Montag picked a single small volume from the floor. 'Where do we begin?' He opened the book halfway and peered at it. 'We begin by beginning, I guess.
'" from Fahrenheit 451

Friday, 6 February 2009

Petition

I have created a petition, which any U of C student or Albertan taxpayer is encouraged to sign here.

***

The University of Calgary recently attempted to censor and intimidate a group of its own students who wished to engage in a civil expression of their ideas by placing a pictorial display in a public area of campus. Such lawful expression is guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and is in keeping with the University’s own mission to “seek truth and disseminate knowledge.” Now that the University’s censorship and intimidation tactics have failed, it has decided to maliciously charge and prosecute the same students for trespassing. Ironically, the University has no institutional definition of offensive images and no rules for how to display sensitive material. The University’s actions are arbitrary and discriminatory.

The purpose of universities is to provide a safe environment in which students and faculty can freely explore various ideas and opinions in the pursuit of truth. This can only be done in an atmosphere of liberty and tolerance of all lawful expression. The University of Calgary has not only failed to adhere to standards set down by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and by its own mission statement, but has set aside the long-established tradition of Academic Freedom.

Insofar as the University of Calgary is a publicly-funded institution, it has also broken the public trust of all Albertans.

In light of these actions committed by the university, we, the undersigned, demand
a) that all students be refunded individually and proportionately whatever amounts of their tuition the University has spent on legal fees against all and any students in order to limit or stifle their constitutionally-granted right to Free Speech and

b) that the University of Calgary President, Harvey P. Weingarten, on behalf of the institution issues a public apology along with the guarantee that the University of Calgary in the future shall actively protect the freedom of expression, academic freedoms and the standards set for all citizens by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

***

"If we don't believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don't believe in it at all." Noam Chomsky

Monday, 2 February 2009

So Not Funny

The University of Calgary is a joke, and a pathetic one at that. A number of students have been charged with "trespassing" for setting up the pro-life display this past November, and will be in court probably sometime later this month. One of the higher-uppers has stated that the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms doesn't apply on university campuses. What a repulsive abuse of power. Universities used to be the place to discuss controversial ideas.

So far even the left-wing media seems supportive of the students, but I hope it goes further and that the public heaps massive amounts of shame and ridicule on the uni for this. My personal opinion is that if any academic institution such as the U of C doesn't allow discussion of ideas and free speech, it shouldn't be considered an academic institution at all, and isn't worthy of being held in any sort of esteem.

What a bad, bad joke. I seriously hope that I can find a better place to go to school come the fall. The only drawback to not being a student there would be that I could legitimately be charged with trespassing if I stood in solidarity with some other politically incorrect group that was being bullied.

"The fact is that censorship always defeats its own purpose, for it creates, in the end, the kind of society that is incapable of exercising real discretion." Henry Steele Commager