Required Reading for Religious Studies…

Small Gods, Terry Pratchett


And, as is generally the case around the time a prophet is expected, the Church redoubled its efforts to be holy. This was very much like the bustle you get in any large concern when the auditors are expected, but tended towards taking people suspected of being less holy and putting them to death in a hundred ingenuous ways. This is considered a reliable barometer of the state of one’s piety in most of the really popular religions. There’s a tendency to declare that there is more backsliding around than in the national toboggan championships, that heresy must be torn out root and branch, and even arm and leg and eye tongue, and that it’s time to wipe the slate clean. Blood is generally considered very efficient for this purpose.


Many feel they are called to the priesthood, but that they really hear is an inner voice saying, ‘It’s indoor work with no heavy lifting, do you want to be a ploughman like your father?’

It takes forty men with their feet on the ground to keep one man with his head in the air.ឯកសារ:Buddhist_monks_collecting_alms,_Laos.jpg

Take it from me, whenever you see a bunch of buggers puttering around talking about truth and beauty and the best way of attacking Ethics, you can bet your sandals it’s all because dozens of other poor buggers are doing all the real work around the place.

His philosophy was a mixture of three famous schools — the Cynics, the Stoics and the Epicureans — and summed up all three of them in his famous phrase, “You can’t trust any bugger further than you can throw him, and there’s nothing you can do about it, so let’s have a drink.

Where do gods come from? Where do they go?
Some attempt to answer this was made by the religious philosopher Koomi of Male in his book Ego-Video Leber Deorum, which translates into the vernacular roughly as Gods: A Spotter’s Guide.
People said there had to be a Supreme Being because otherwise how could the universe exist, eh?

And of course there clearly had to be, said Koomi, a Supreme Being. But since the universe was a bit of a mess, it was obvious that the Supreme Being hadn’t in fact made it. If he had made it he would, being Supreme, have made  a much better job of it, with far better thought given, taking an example at random, to things the design of the common nostril. Or, to put it another way, the existence of a badly put-together watch proved the existence of a blind watchmaker. You only had to look around to see that there was room for improvement everywhere.

This suggested that the Universe had probably been put together in a bit of a rush by an underling while the Supreme Being wasn’t looking, in the same way that Boy Scouts Association minutes are done on office photocopiers all over the country.
So, reasoned Koomi, it was not a good idea to address any prayers to a Supreme Being. It would only attract his attention and might cause trouble. ..

Any god could start small. Any god could grow in stature as its believers increased. And dwindle as they decreased. It was like a great big game of ladders and snakes.
Gods liked games, provided they were winning.
Koomi’s theory was largely based on the good old Gnostic heresy, which tends to turn up all over the multiverse whenever men get up off their knees and start thinking for two minutes together, although the shock of the sudden altitude tends to mean the thinking is a little wacked. But it upsets the priests, who tend to vent their displeasure n traditional ways.
When the Omnian Church found out about Koomi, they displayed him in every town within the Church’s empire to demonstrate the essential flaws in his argument.
There were a lot of towns, so they had to cut him up quite small.

Dr. Jim’s Vacation Bible School!

Ok, marks have been in for a few weeks, the student conference and its admin aftermath over (and was a GLORIOUS success!), my other conference for which I had to do a last minute paper because I wasted the last 4 months is over and done with, and there is nothing but the summer to look forward to!

So, what’s on the agenda? In short, I’m going to get Genesis-idle. at least I’m going to spend the summer in the garden, pulling weeds, putting in a few paths (again), a little pond and (finally) planting the delphinium forest I’ve wanted for years, and sitting by the rose bushes writing horrible things about the Bible on my Apple and…

… say biblical things like: “Woman! Makest me a sandwich and fetchest me a beer!” To which She Who Must Be Obeyed will say “That’s nice, dear, you just keep playing in the garden like a good boy.”

In any case, we have some super ginormous sunflowers planted. Well, they’re not super ginormous yet… And I have made a start on digging up some weeds, pruning some overgrown trees and shrubs, and we found a place for the little pond I  bought a few years ago but never dug in.

 Clearly NOT the pond I will install. Mary is blonde.

So, what else?  Oh yeah, hopefully I will get some paid-for work done; i.e., writing horrible things about the Bible. Of which there is much to write:

First off, I must write a paper on Kings as authoritative literature in the Persian Period. This is for a volume edited by Diana Edelman covering the Deuteronomistic History’s status in the Persian Period. My paper is LONG overdue. I say Diana at the Edmonton workshop I attended2 weeks ago and I’m rather glad she didn’t kill me. The problem is I’m not sure HOW the book would have been authoritative and/or to whom. I think it will be a paper of hypotheticals: how certain features of Kings may have produced a culturally validated myth enshrining some important points of identity for the Persian community. It will be a rethinking of sorts of my thesis, Israel in the Book of Kings of which still apparently has some unsold copies (probably the entire print run of 7). When that is done, I shall have another drink, but probably not of this:

Secondly, I must turn my Edmonton conference paper into a publishable piece. This was a paper done for the Thinking About Water in the Persian and Early Hellenistic Period Workshop hosted by Ehud Ben Zvi and Francis Landy at the University of Alberta. The workshop is an expression of the partnership between the U. of Alberta and Theological Faculties at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich. The workshop was lots of fun, with 18 presentations from May 8-11. Besides Ehud and Francis and a few of their students, there was an international cast of contributors and one of the best parts of the workshop is that us North Americans get to see what the Germans and others are up to.None of them tried to uncover the biblical principles behind this:

The radiation-free contributors were:

Bob Becking, Utrecht University, the Netherlands

Ehud Ben Zvi, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada

Kåre Berge, NLA School of Religion, Bergen, Norway

Diana V. Edelman, University of Sheffield, UK

Louis Jonker, University of Stellensbosch, South Africa

Peter Juhás, Catholic University in Ružomberok, Slovakia/Ludwig-Maximilians Universität München, Germany

Sonya Kostamo, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada

Francis Landy, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada

Christoph Levin, LMU, Munich, Germany

William S. Morrow, Queen`s University, Kingston, Canada

Reinhard Müller, LMU, Munich, Germany

Martti Nissinen, University of Helsinki, Finland

Urmas Nõmmik, University of Tartu, Estonia

Juha Pakkala, University of Helsinki, Finland

Peter Sabo, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada

Hermann-Josef Stipp, LMU, Munich, Germany

Ian Wilson, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada

The schedule and titles can be found here. The proceedings will be published sometime next year. Hopefully I will be able to finish the paper this summer sitting in my garden wearing sandals sans socks, although I might get arrested for that…

This will be the third volume from this workshop. The first dealt with the theme of Exile (from a meeting in Edmonton in 2008) and another in 2009. It is published as

E. Ben Zvi and Christoph Levin (eds.) The Concept of Exile in Ancient Israel and its Historical Contexts (BZAW, 404; Berlin/New York: de Gruyter, 2010). I posted on my two contributions here“Myth of the Exilic Return: Myth Theory and the Exile as an Eternal Reality in the Prophets.” and “

The second volume is forthcoming and was on Memory and Forgetting in the Hebrew Bible (Munich, 2011) and hopefully that one will be out in time of SBL this November. My paper was:

 Lest we forget our sins: Innovative religion, “exilicist” ideology, and the sanctification of disjunction.

 This paper explores the production of various “exilicist” traditions in select Second Temple Judean writings that both institutionalize and problematize a theology of divine retribution. The book of Lamentations will be presented as routinizing past pain, continuing guilt and hopes for salvation and creating cultural “memories” in the wake of Persian restoration efforts in Yehud. This will be contrasted to the less emotive reporting of these events in Kings and elsewhere.

Implicit in Lamentations is not only an expression of trauma and shame but the craving for a resolution between these and hopes for vindication. The book may be described as opening a sacral space comparable to the way some physical monuments and memorials preserve and transmit memories of pain, suffering and the search for a positive meaning in past tragedies. The hoped for resolution cannot ultimately be found within the text of the highly organized poetry of Lamentations itself and the disjunction between textual order and imagined chaos is only reinforced by the continued transmission (and eventual canonization) of the book. The book, therefore, creates and transmits “memories” of pain and shame that it cannot sooth.

Anyway, my new paper was well received, despite being another last minute job. It does need some fixing, but I’m rather proud of the way it came together. It is probably the most wide-sweeping thing I ever wrote. I talked about Genesis, Isaiah, Psalms, the blurry boundaries of monotheism/polytheism, gods as representing paradoxical relationships and all sorts of other stuff. Bob Becking liked the cats that were on the draft that went around. Here are the first two pages (citations need to be fixed).

The Fluid Boundaries of Life, the Universe and Yahweh    

Under heaven nothing is more soft and yielding than water.
Yet for attacking the solid and strong, nothing is better;
It has no equal.
The weak can overcome the strong;
The supple can overcome the stiff.
Under heaven everyone knows this,
Yet no one puts it into practice.

                                              Tao Te Ching, 78.

In the Tao Te Ching, water was a metaphor and symbol of the ineffable Tao, the unifying and underlying cosmic principle. Later Taoist religious expression, however, populated the heavens with a bureaucracy on the model of the Imperial court. Against the boundlessly fluid and dynamic nature of the Tao was a more rigid, unyielding edifice built not on the patterns of nature but on society and authority.1

The result was a cosmology of polarity: on the one hand, the uninhibited freedom and suppleness of the Tao, on the other, the formal hierarchy of empire.

It was a human society that produced the idea of Tao and the Taoist pantheon, only to relegate itself to a status dependent upon these creations. Berger and Luckman (Social Construction, 106) call this process “reification” which they describe as:

 the apprehension of the products of human activity as if they were something other than human products – such as facts of nature, results of cosmic laws, or manifestation of divine will. Reification implies that man is capable of forgetting his own authorship of the human world, and, further, that the dialectic between man, the producer, and his products is lost to consciousness.

It is not my purpose in this essay to turn the Israelites into Taoists. Rather, I would like to play with the nature of the biblical deity as a reification of social and environmental realities, potentialities and necessities with the result being an ever- shifting, and multi-faceted set of portraits of the god. This collective always seems in the long run to wear down the foundation stones of academic theories about just what was going on in the minds of Yahweh’s ancient creators.

Kurt Noll (“The Kaleidoscopic Nature of the Divine Personality in the Hebrew Bible”)   comments on the kaleidoscopic nature of the biblical deity. He paraphrases Emile Durkheim and writes, “each Yahweh is a projection onto the heavens of a Yahwistic society”.  Many of these Yahwehs are given control of the weather and other natural phenomena, and so one might think that the reification of Judaen society in the image of the god was an attempt to gain social control over nature.

So what I also hope to illustrate today is how, in thinking about the poly-valence of water in the biblical literature, we might be able to think about ancient Judah’s deity, and how thinking about the deity’s portraits, something of that society’s thoughts about water might become evident.

To do this, I think we have to first dislodge Yahweh, at least temporarily, from his throne over the flood (Psalm 29:10) to see something of what was involved in the process of hoisting him up there in the first place. And, having hoisted him, foisting upon him the ambivalence, uncertainty and dynamic fluidity of life and the water that sustains it. As Levi Strauss said about food, water is “good to think with”. And to my mind, people tend to think with gods far more than they think about them.

Although the divine entity Elohim or Yahweh in the biblical text is cast as the master of the waters, the figure of the god does not really calm the stormy ocean of clashing images of water in the Bible. Rather than being an organizing principle according to which the water is bound according to a logic of divine purpose and reason, the chaotic and sometimes absent water becomes a metaphor for the instability and precariousness of the created order and of the deity itself.

Now, what else do I have to do?

I got TWO papers in the SBL November meeting, and both have respondents so I will have to get them done early. Actually I had THREE accepted but had to back out of one (two is the limit). Unfortunately, it was the most fun one that I had to give up. The other two are for the brand new Metacriticism of Biblical Scholarship Program Unit. I’d originally thought that we would only get one session of the two or three that we had to propose to the SBL, but they gave us two, and I thought they needed me more that The Bible and Film unit, alhtough I really was looking forward to doing my paper on “And the Lord Human made Huey, Dewey, Louie, Wall-E, and Eve from the dust of excess.  The deification of humanity in Silent Running and Wall-E.” Alas, some other time.

I’ve got my abstracts here for both of the paper I will be presentings: “The Royal Scam: Josiah, Joseph Smith and Believing One’s own Pious Fraud” and “On the Fairytales of Bronze Age Goat-Herders. Ancient Israel as the New Atheists’ Foil.”  Now just to write the darn things!

I’ve also been asked by the Center For Inquiry to speak the weekend after the SBL in Ottawa for their Eschaton 2012 conference! Hooray! More baby-eating atheism!  Noteworthy speakers for the conference will be PZ Myers of Pharyngula fame and Eugenie Scott, from the National Center for Science Education. No idea what they or I want me to talk about, yet, but I’m really looking forward to it.

Oh yeah, and I’ve really got to get going on those damn books I’ve been meaning to write… and the huge list of books I’ve been meaning to read…

This is probably what I need…

Dr Jim wins the internet AGAIN!


My first attempt at LOL ing a sci fi scene at Set Phasers to LOL is on the front page!


And so does T Rex

The Recipe for tonight’s BBQ

Here is what I will be attempting for the BBQ for the conference Meet and Greet tonight:

Found the recipe here. 

4-7lb. Eye Round Roast
Large Onion
Olive Oil
Beef Rub
Beer, Apple, Grape Juice, or Water

This is about a 6lb. roast. Prepare the meat as shown. Sprinkle on your favorite Rub. Coat with some olive oil. Sear over high heat on all sides for a minute or two. Put roast in a shallow and grated roasting pan, and then place opposite the hot coals in your 400f-500f covered grill. Add some beer, or apple juice, grape juice, or water to cover the bottom of the pan, but well below the roast. Add a sliced onion. Cover grill and roast for about 45 minutes (7 minutes per pound). Remove cover to quickly lower the temperature of the grill to about 225-250f. Cover again and cook “low and slow” for about 2-3 hours or until the internal temperature of the roast reaches your desired “doneness” -Rare, Medium Rare, or Well. Remove, and let the Roast rest for about 20-30 minutes before slicing. Serve with grill roasted potatoes veggies, and your favorite beef or steak dipping sauce.

 I’ve actually got two 8-9 lb Eye of Round roasts, so hopefully there will be a good turnout.

I recon the best way to die would be to travel the southern states going from BBQ joint to BBQ joint and letting cholesterol have its own sweet way with me…

For the vegetarians, Mary is making marinated tofu/eggplant/Portobello mushroom skewers.


Research in Religious Studies Conference Schedule

It’s Our Tenth Anniversary! 

As in previous years, we have a great selection of papers from across the broad spectrum of Religious Studies and its many associated disciplines. This is the second year running that we have nearly fifty papers on the schedule, and their variety and sophistication clearly shows the depth of research conducted in undergraduate and Masters level programs in Canada.

The conference itself has been a tremendous success, developing from a rather humble meeting of around half a dozen students in 2003 to what it is today. In the past several years only about one quarter of the presenters come from Lethbridge, and so our conference is clearly addressing a need for students to find venues for their work outside of the classroom as well as the need to compare notes, make connections and friends in the larger world of academia.

We owe a tremendous debt to Prof. Anne Moore of the University of Calgary and the many students there who have supported our efforts so enthusiastically over the past six or seven years. A quick look at this year’s lineup reveals their investment in the meeting! It is also encouraging to see students travel from the East and West coasts and many points in between.

With the increasing size of the conference came increasing complications in organization and rising costs. A great thank you goes out to Bev Garnett, our admin assistant, for doing so much of the work and putting up with me. And thanks once again to Jessica Swann, our student volunteer and other students, current and past, who have agreed to host sessions and otherwise help out. Our gratitude also goes out to the various academic departments in the University of Lethbridge for their interest and to Conference Services, Sodexho caterers, Printing Services, and others who have provided so much of the infrastructure for our meetings.

As always, Chris Nicol, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, has found room in an increasingly tight budget to generously support our conference. So too has Mike Mahon, the new president of the University of Lethbridge.

Special thanks to Prof. James McGrath, our keynote speaker this year, for venturing here all the way from Butler University in Indianapolis. I’m sure we will truly enjoy his talk on “Religion in Star Trek and Doctor Who: From a Gallifreyan God to the Enlightened Enterprise”!

And, once again, thanks to you for your own interest and involvement. We look forward to this year, and the next ten years.

Saturday MAY 5 

8:00 a.m. Continental Breakfast/Registration AH175 

8:50 a.m. OPENING COMMENTS AH 117 John Harding Chair, Dept. of Religious Studies, University of Lethbridge

SESSION 1 RELIGION IN MODERN MEDIA AH 117 Jessica Swann, University of Lethbridge, presiding

9:00-9:30 Virtuous Vampires: Religion and Agency in the Twilight Series Brooke Brassard, University of Victoria

9:30-10:00 Sacred Space: There’s An App For That Alex Tkach, University of Regina

10:00-10:30 The “Ninja” Women in the “Other’s” Side: Depictions of Muslim Women in North American Political Cartoons Erendira Cervantes-Altamirano, University of Alberta

15 Minute Break 

SESSION 2A ISLAM AH 117 Atif Khalil, University of Lethbridge, presiding

10:45-11:15 Hadrami in Indonesia Ron McTavish, University of Lethbridge

11:15-11:45 The Myth of an Andalusian “Golden Age”: The Status of Non-Muslims in Ummayad Spain Imran Mohiuddin, University of Calgary

11:45-12:15 Development through Contestation: the Consequences of Interaction between Shi’ism and Sunnism between 9th and 11th Century Nabila Islam, York University

SESSION 2B HINDUISM AH 118 Nicole Hembroff, University of Lethbridge, presiding

10:45-11:15 The Unveiled Self: Removing the Illusion Within Prakṛti Amidst Puruṣa Sharon Mann, University of Manitoba

11:15-11:45 Radha’s Strength and the Status of Women in the Vaisnava Bhakti Tradition Eileen March, University of Calgary

11:45-12:15 Bhunda in Himachal Hills- Story of Faith and Beliefs in the Himalayas Kuldeep Singh, Himachal Pradesh University

SESSON 2C RELIGION AND HEALING AH 176 Hillary Rodrigues, University of Lethbridge, presiding

10:45-11:15 Grasping for the Goddess in Ecofeminism Crystal Mackenzie, University of Calgary

11:15-11:45 The Religion-Health Dialogue: Understanding Ancient Infanticide Gina Carroll, University of Calgary

11:45-12:15 Mediums and Mental Health: The Need for Traditional Buddhism in Cambodian Refugee Mental Health Treatment Savhanna J. Wilson, University of Saskatchewan

SESSION 2D HEBREW BIBLE AH 177 James Linville, University of Lethbridge, presiding

10:45-11:15 The Dichotomy of Hannah: A Comparative Study of the Greek and Hebrew Texts of 1 Samuel Christie Fredrick, University of Alberta

11:15-11:45 “Truth” and Memory: The Implications of the Josianic Narrative in Second Kings Jessica Swann, University of Lethbridge

11:45-12:15 “I Want What She Has!”: An Exploration of the Sororal Rivalry Between Rachel and Leah Fong H. Lopaschuk, University of Alberta

LUNCH 12:15-1:00 

SESSION 3A METHODOLOGY OF RELIGIOUS STUDIES 1 AH 117 Anne Moore, University of Calgary, presiding

1:00-1:30 The Bible: Broken Scripture, Unbreakable Icon Shaun Fowler, University of Calgary

1:30-2:00 You Have Your Religion, and I Have Mine: Studying Religion without Remainder Roxanne Korpan, University of Regina

SESSION 3B LDS STUDIES AH 118 Kurt Widmer, University of Lethbridge, presiding

1:00-1:30 “In Columbia we are free:” The Hope and Failure of Religious Freedom for Mormons in Western Canada James Forbes, University of Lethbridge

1:30-2:00 Alberta’s Wild Rose: The Life and Times of Zina Woolf Hickman Brooke Brassard, University of Victoria

SESSION 3C BUDDHIST STUDIES AH 176 John Harding, University of Lethbridge, presiding

1:00-1:30 Tea Ceremony as Religion Kelsey Nawrot, University of Lethbridge

1:30-2:00 Yakṣas in Early Buddhism Adeana McNicholl, University of Manitoba

Break: 10 Minutes 

SESSION 4A METHODOLOGY OF RELIGIOUS STUDIES 2 AH 117 Ron McTavish, University of Lethbridge, presiding

2:10-2:40 Mysticism and Methodology Campbell Peat, University of Lethbridge

2:40-3:10 Myths of Mahayana’s Origins: A Dead End for Scholars of Religion Michael Ruecker, University of Regina

SESSION 4B ANTHROPOLOGICAL STUDIES AH 118 Hillary Rodrigues, University of Lethbridge, presiding

2:10-2:40 Religion in the Midst of Borderland Violence Brenda Garcia, University of Lethbridge

2:40-3:10 “Minkisi: Stewards of the Kongo” Jenny Davison, Mount Saint Vincent University

SESSION 4C EARLY CHRISTIANITY AH 176 James McGrath, Butler University, presiding

2:10-2:40 Revelation, Classification, and Redescription: Tenable Futures for the Study of Religion Jesse Bailey, University of Regina

2:40-3:10 Play On Words: Acts of Andrew Target Audience Ryan Kerr, University of Calgary

Break 10 Minutes 

SESSION 5A MODERN CHRISTIAN IDENTITIES AH 117 Ron McTavish, University of Lethbridge, presiding

3:20-3:50 “Authentically” Christian: Missions, Conversion, and the Diversification of Evangelical Ethnicity in America Saliha Chattoo, Wilfrid Laurier University

3:50-4:20 The Concept of “Orthodox Diaspora” and Development of the Eastern Orthodox Christianity in Canada: an Example of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada Yuriy Kirushok, University of Saskatchewan

SESSION 5B THE ROMAN GOD AND THE IMPERIAL CHRISTIAN AH 118 Tom Robinson, University of Lethbridge, presiding

3:20-3:50 A Roman God: An Examination of the Nature of Pre-Christian Monotheism in the Greco-Roman World Zak Stinson, University of Lethbridge

3:50-4:20 The Portrait of Constantine Painted by Eusebius, Shaped by Roman Oratio Brittany DeMone, University of Calgary

SESSION 5C PHILOSOPHY AH 176 Anne Moore, University of Calgary, presiding

3:20-3:50 Why Kant Women Be Rational? Implications of Kant’s Ideology Concerning Gender Christie Mellan, University of Calgary

3:50-4:20 For Tenderness Christopher Schillling, University of Manitoba

6:00 p.m. BANQUET, ANDY’S PLACE (AH-100), ANDERSON HALL Keynote Speaker: James McGrath

“Religion in Star Trek and Doctor Who: From a Gallifreyan God to the Enlightened Enterprise”


8:00 a.m. Continental Breakfast AH175 

SESSION 6A EARLY CHRISTIAN LITERATURE AH 117 Tom Robinson, University of Lethbridge, presiding

8:45-9:15 “We Left Everything to Follow You!”: Home, Household and Mobility in Mark’s Gospel Miriam L. C. Fry, University of Calgary

9:15-9:45 Speak of the Devil and the Pharisees Appear: An Examination of “Satan” within the Gospel of Matthew Allan Wright, University of Regina

9:45-10:15 The Mystique of Melchizedek Nairn McLean, University of Calgary

SESSION 6B PHILOSOPHY AND THEOLOGY AH 118 Anne Moore, University of Calgary, presiding

8:45-9:15 The Deity in the Church of Hobbes Stephen Woodcock, University of Lethbridge

9:15-9:45 Theological Contours: The Shape of Rabbinic Thought in A.J. Heschel’s Torah Min haShamayyim Zvi Andrews Pardes, University of Calgary

9:45-10:15 Where Was God? Jewish Responses to the Shoah Stacy Hill, University of Calgary

SESSION 6C GO WEST, YOUNG BUDDAH AH 176 John Harding, University of Lethbridge, presiding

8:45-9:15 Jodo Shinshu in Japan And Canada: Ongoing Challenges Within Changing Societies Jessica Swann, University of Lethbridge

9:15-9:45 The Systematic Dynamics of the Guru/Disciple Hierarchy in Traditional Tibet and Modern America Christopher Emory-Moore, University of Calgary

9:45-10:15 —-

SESSION 6D MIND MATTERS AH 177 Campbell Peat, University of Lethbridge (Graduate), presiding

8:45-9:15 Meditation in Today’s World: Study and Practice Kelsey Nawrot, University of Lethbridge

9:15-9:45 The Kundalini System: “Esoteric Anatomy” and its Psychospiritual Function Sharon Mann, University of Manitoba

9:45-10:15 Transformative Sounds: A Comparison of Tibetan Buddhist Mantra & the Icaros of the Peruvian Mestizo Ayhuasceros Matthew Koczkur, University of Calgary

Break 15 minutes. 


10:30-11:00 Fire and Water: Exploring Conceptualizations of Sexuality and the Feminine in the Daodejing and Spiritual Feminism Christie Mellan, University of Calgary

11:00-11:30 Second Class Citizens: The Construction of Women in Roman Catholicism Sarah Frances Hagel, University of Regina

11:30-12:00 Breasts for Sale Crystal Mackenzie, University of Calgary

12:00-12:15 Closing Comments, John Harding, Chair, Dept. of Religious Studies University of Lethbridge


NDP Crimes Revealed

The NDP made Stephen Harper shave his moustache.

Ah, Stephen Harper, Canada’s Conservative  Party Prime Minister and  megalomaniacal control freak and increasingly tin-pot dictatorish tea-partier! He’s really outdone himself this time. His latest gaffe was to declare in the House of Commons that the opposition, New Democratic Party (a left leaning bunch) was opposed to Canada joining World War Two against Hitler. Of course, the New Democratic Party didn’t even exist in the late thirties! The National Post reported:

NDP MPs gently reminded Harper from across the aisle that the NDP didn’t come into existence until 1961, birthed by a union between the socialist Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) and the Canadian Labour Congress.

“CCF, NDP, same difference,” Harper responded curtly.

“I guess we can start talking about Reform Party policies,” Mulcair replied, to the delight of the opposition benches.

[The current Conservative Party is a schnozzle of the old Tory party and the right wing "Reform" party].

And the CCF Party was NOT in favour of Hitler or against fighting the Germans. Rather, it was ONLY the party leader  who, for reasons of being a pacifist, voted against war. Every other CCF member of parliament voted for joining the war.

It is true that Mr. Woodsworth, leader at the time of the CCF, the party that would become the NDP some 22 years later, opposed Canada’s involvement in the war. Mr. Woodsworth was a pacifist. But he was also the only member of the CCF to oppose the declaration of war. Indeed, he was the only MP in the entire House of Commons who opposed the motion. Major James Coldwell, who would soon thereafter succeed Mr. Woodsworth as leader of the CCF, supported the declaration.  (quote from Aaron Wherry, MacLean’s magazine).

Tea, anyone?

Now, the continuing silliness from the “Harper Government” (in which other Tories are toeing the PM’s historical claims) is all good fun, but the funnest bit is that the NDP are guilty of SO MUCH MORE! Twitter is a twitting with all sorts of newly revealed truths about NDP wickedness [#HarperHistory]. For example:

The leader of the NDP couldn’t even be bothered to stop the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs.

The NDP refused to come to the aid of men when Mordor invaded Gondor.

The NDP forced the Israelites to build the pyramids of Egypt.

The  NDP discovered Nickelback

Anyway, I thought I would share some of the NDP misdeeds that my research has uncovered.

The NDP knows who put the bump in the bomp bah bomp bah bump and they’re not telling.

The NDP did nothing to prevent the Prime Minister of Canada from being found  in contempt of Parliament.

The NDP is against helping our American allies in the war against women.

The NDP has never been in favour of repealing the Law of Gravity, a law which keeps airline fuel costs unreasonably high.

The NDP hid the beef.

The NDP  cleaned out my savings account and kidnapped the nice man in Africa who promised to send me $12,285,398.37 if I gave him my banking information.

The NDP said my cat “can not has cheezburger”.

NDP leader Thomas Mulcair shows how he carried Jesus’ body out of the tomb.

The NDP tells Canadians to hang up when they receive helpful automatic calls from the Tories about changes in voting stations.

The NDP hates Canada so much they even boast of being “democratic”.

The NDP tried pushing over the Tower of Pisa.

The NDP voted in favour of simply walking into Mordor.

The NDP introduced John to Yoko.

The NDP lost 10 of the tribes of Israel.


Truly a wicked bunch!

The true god, demonstrated


Stolen from somewhere on FRDB

Categories: Fun

Leave a Comment

Holy Enterprising Stormtroopers, James “Dr. Who” McGrath! It’s the University of Lethbridge’s Faculty of Artsy-Science Fiction!

We finally got the poster for the Research In Religious Studies Conference (May 5-6) done, and Bev, our admin assistant put our keynote speaker front and centre (well, a little off to the left, but that’s politically OK in my books). And who is it? None other that Biblioblogging’s own James McGrath!

Just in case the type is too small on the poster, here is the text:

“Religion in Star Trek and Doctor Who: From a Gallifreyan God to the Enlightened Enterprise”

 The treatment of religious themes and ideas in science fiction has been a focus of significant scholarly attention in recent years. Doctor Who (the longest running science fiction TV show in history) and Star Trek (a close competitor in terms of longevity when sequels and spin-offs are considered) provide an opportunity to trace how the intersection of sci-fi and spirituality has changed and evolved over the past half a century. Both shows tend to elevate scientific perspectives and regularly feature characters offering science as an antidote to superstition. And yet both depict scenarios in which mythical entities are encountered, albeit under the guise of aliens. So is the message of these shows that science triumphs over superstitious religiosity and mythology, or is it instead that we as viewers want to enjoy the same sorts of classic mythical stories, set within the framework of an updated worldview?

 We already have just over forty papers accepted for the conference, from across Canada. As usual, we did extend the deadline for papers to this Friday (April 23), since undergrads are always so last minute (well, I am too!). I’m really looking forward to it. It’s our 10th anniversary! For more information, go to our conference blog:
And keeping with the Sci-Fi, U. of Lethbridge theme, here is a 3D motion-capture video recently done by Matt Lunde, a U of L student in New Media


When is a Leech a Leech? When He’s a F*cking Bigot. Alberta Election: Wildrose (Tea) Party

A candidate for the Alberta Provincial Election (on Monday, April 23) from the right-wing nutcase Wildrose Party (which is probably going to win) has shown himself to be a fucking bigot. According to the Edmonton Journal today:

Ron Leech, from the Edmonton Journal

I think as a Caucasian I have an advantage,” Ron Leech told a radio station on the weekend. “When different community leaders such as a Sikh leader or a Muslim leader speak, they really speak to their own people in many ways. As a Caucasian, I believe that I can speak to all the community.”
Leech, a longtime pastor running in the multicultural riding of Calgary-Greenway, has previously been at the centre of controversy for some of his religious views against homosexuality and abortion.

The Journal’s story goes on to say that Leech apologized but can anyone really take that seriously? Honestly, can anyone who really does not believe that “White is Right” even generate that kind of BS in the first place?

Of course, the Wildrose party leader, Dannielle Smith charged to the rescue of decency and egalitarianism Leech, refusing to condemn the remarks. Instead, she tried to explain their correct interpretation spin-doctoring them into something else entirely:

“I think every candidate puts forward their best argument for why they should be the person the way represent the community,” she said in Calgary. “I know Dr. Leech runs a private school that has a large number of people from cultural communities, he has an ethnically diverse riding, he’s made great friendships and inroads with leaders of different cultural communities there so I assume he was probably commenting on his own ability.”

Own ability? What special ability does being Caucasian have to do with anything? According to the Journal’s story, Leech prefers the title “Dr. Leech” since he has a degree from an unaccredited university (the article does not name which one). But the article does remind the reader of something else that happened recently with the Wild Rose:

The incident comes a short time after Edmonton-South West nominee Allan Hunsperger, another pastor, came under fire for a blog posting made last year that decried “godless” and “wicked” public education, and questioned the Edmonton public school board’s policy of welcoming and accepting gay students.

“You will suffer the rest of eternity in the lake of fire, hell, a place of eternal suffering,” Hunsperger wrote, suggesting gays and lesbians have chosen a sexual orientation for which they will suffer in the afterlife. The blog was removed Sunday afternoon.

Smith also refused to condemn Hunsperger, calling the controversy a product of fearmongering and saying her party will not discriminate against anyone’s religious views. She said the Wildrose will not legislate on any controversial social issue, though rivals have said Wildrose plans to allow citizen-initiated referendums will open the door to exactly those kinds of debates.

Now, Dannielle Smith seems to be getting a lot of mileage from these two boobs.


The party appeals to the right builds on long-standing fears about a meddling federal governments, out of control human rights legislation, loss of control over oil revenue (while letting big Oil pay a pittance for it in the first place), godless liberalism and environmentalism that has been the staple of Provincial propaganda for decades. Most of their support comes from disgruntled former supporters of the Progressive Conservative Party which has run this place for decades (and they took over from the Social Credit Conspiracy Theorists Party in the 1970’s.

It seems that Alberta is closing in on the US Tea Party in terms of nuttiness and general bullshittiness.

I don’t always let Republicans tell me about Jesus…

OK, a little un-American snark about the US election. Sue me. I couldn’t resist… I guess I’m just a little lefty.