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Comic Book Religion

April 15th, 2012 1 comment
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I’m always fascinated with the infinite ways in which religion is intertwined into pretty well any aspect of life — and indeed, afterlife. Recently, I stumbled across this curious Web site called, Comic Book Religion.  Over 25,000 comic book characters and their religious affiliation are available to browse.

I have to admit, that I know little about comics; however, I do surround myself with geeks, freaks and assorted fan boys/girls.  I’ve been exposed to comic books through one channel or another for my entire life.  Yet, I’d never really given thought to whether any of the heroes or villains I’d heard about had anything at all to do with anything remotely religious.

Now, with just a few clicks, I can find out that Spider-Man was Protestant; The Thing, Jewish; and Green Arrow an agnostic.  And now you can, too!

http://comicbookreligion.com/

M. xo

 

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Bye, bye, Penny…

March 30th, 2012 1 comment
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Yesterday it was announced that the Canadian government will stop producing the one-cent coin. Personally, I think this make economic cents sense.  It’s long overdue.  Let’s face it, when it costs more to produce a currency than its actual value then it’s clearly not a financially sound practice.

Some have decried the move as one that will hurt only the neediest of our society because businesses will start rounding up the price, ultimately increasing the cost of goods and services.  Further, there’s speculation that charity boxes will suffer as people have less change (pennies) to drop into the box.   On these points, only time will tell.

Personally, I prefer to take a more optimistic view.  The government is going to save roughly eleven million dollars a year by phasing out production of the penny.  That’s eleven million dollars that could be spent on propping up some of our social and health programs.  That’s eleven million dollars a year less of taxpayer money that is being needlessly wasted.

Further, as the government starts collecting the billions of pennies assuredly sitting in old piggy banks across the nation – there may be an opportunity to make some extra money from the precious copper constituents of older pennies.  Seems like a win-win situation to me.

The penny is a currency of a bygone era.  There’s practically nothing left that can be purchased with the one-cent coin  (I think fondly of the penny candies that we so often purchased at the corner store in my youth).  So, let’s embrace this change.  I know change is hard, but ultimately this change is long overdue.

Photos: Canadian Penny 1858-2012 Source: The Montreal Gazette

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KONY 2012

March 8th, 2012 3 comments
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If you’ve yet to view the 30 minute video called KONY 2012, then you’re perhaps one of the few.  In just 72 hours, this video by the charity group Invisible Children has gone viral and introduced to millions of people the name Joseph Kony.  The film is riveting and eye-opening.  It also speaks to the power of technology and social media in particular.

I for one, intend to support the cause – because I believe that we are part of a global community and that in order to make this world a better place we have to care about what happens not just in our backyards, but in the backyards of our fellow human beings on the other side of the planet too.

This campaign is innovative, bold and may just prove to millions of people that when we work together we can make the world a better place.

Interested in learning more about Invisible Children and KONY 2012?  Visit the Web site.

And watch the video:

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The Gal Behind the Feathers Celebrates 1 Year of Hen-Pecking!

February 14th, 2012 1 comment
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Well, it’s officially a milestone!  This week, The Feed, celebrates its first year of feather ruffling and hen-pecking.  In all honesty, I’m not really sure what my goal was when I started this blog.  Truth is, I love to write and it’s much more about the journey for me than a means to an end.  Yeah, I know how ridiculously cliché that sounds, but it’s the honest-to-goodness truth.  And while I may not have posted as regularly as I had initially intended, the fact is I’m still perched here — chirping and squawking.  That, in itself is a pretty big accomplishment, so allow me a moment to strut.

Over the last year I’ve posted about the environment, art, family, religion, and general stuff that I found interesting.  I’m sure if you’ve read my blog you’ve discovered that I’m at times long-winded, passionate to a fault, and clearly looking for attention (isn’t that last point something common among all bloggers?).  I hope you’ve also been able to see that I am constantly asking questions and challenging myself and others to do the same.  I’m sure, as time goes on, that I’ll write things that seem to contradict or veer off onto a completely different path than what you’ve been accustomed to reading.  That’s because this is a journey, as are most things we do in life.  People change, grow and discover new things about themselves.  I’ve just chosen to share a part of my journey with the world.

One thing I do refrain from doing is posting too many personal details about myself.  Let’s face it, my subject matters are bound to incite some intense discussion, and I figure at some point in the future I’m bound to receive some hate mail.  After all, it’s not like I’m writing about my favourite recipes or the latest tech trend.  I write about stuff that gets people in a flap, and I certainly can’t expect people to always agree with me.  I do, however, expect that those who don’t will approach their discourse in a manner that is respectful.  This, I know, will not always occur.  That is the biggest reason why I, for the most part, keep anonymous.

Since it has been a year, I thought I would share a few details about myself that I haven’t yet.  Mostly, so you can get an idea of who the person is behind the feathers.

I love school.  The proof is in the fact that I’m a thirty-something gal who has been in school since kindergarten (except for a few year break where I was flying the skies in the working world).  I’ve studied advertising, public relations, marketing.  I have a degree in psychology and am on my way to completing honours degrees in both religion and psychology.

My career has been varied, mostly because I get bored so easily.  I’ve worked in events management, sales, marketing and administration.  I’ve been employed with high tech companies, not-for-profit organizations and as a freelance consultant.  I even had a stint as an online writer for a now defunct Web site.

I’m married to the most wonderful man who supports whatever endeavour I choose to pursue.  I have an awesome family and circle of friends that also support and encourage me in all my pursuits.  I love animals, especially cats.  I have three beautiful felines, one of which has been a companion for almost two decades.

I consider myself an amateur writer and artist.  I’ve written poetry and many short stories over the years – and have three novels in progress.  Someday I hope to finish at least one of them.  I’ve also kept a diary since I was twelve years old.  It’s turned into several volumes over the years, and while I may not write as often as I did in my teen years – I still find solace in the pages that hold my inner most secrets and desires.  My artistic pursuits have ranged from painting, mixed media and video.  A few years ago I had the pleasure of working on a couple independent documentaries as editor.  Mostly, I paint for the love of it; however, I hope to one day start selling my work.  A few of my friends and family have my pieces adorning their walls and this brings me much happiness.

Generally, I consider myself outgoing.  I do find this hard, at times, mostly because I have an anxiety disorder that makes the simplest of social exchanges difficult for me.  When you first meet me, I may come off as shy.  That’s mostly because I feel like my heart is going to explode and that I can’t breathe, especially in unfamiliar situations.  At times, my disorder has manifested itself as obsessive-compulsive in nature, and at least once in my life I experienced a depressive episode that made life almost unbearable.  I’m not ashamed to admit these things because I accept that I cannot change them.  We all have challenges and mine just happens to be one that I sometimes am not able to control, but I can manage it and that’s what I do.

People have told me that I have a unique laugh.  Some have said it borders on annoying, but mostly I’m told it’s music to their ears.  That’s another thing about myself that I can’t change, and I’m not sure I’d want too.  If people remember me because of my laugh, well, I can think of worse ways to be remembered.

Life is mysteriously beautiful and I embrace it.  I’m not perfect.  I have faults, but my intentions are always good -even if the outcome sometimes falls short.  The best I can do is continue on my journey and continue to learn more about myself, those around me and this crazy world we call home.  I’d be honoured if you continue this ride with me.   Here’s hoping you’ll find me a year from now, celebrating another milestone, and that I’ll find you here too.

M. xo

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Cure for Love

January 28th, 2012 1 comment
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I had the opportunity to watch a 2008 documentary called, Cure for Love.  It was such an interesting film, hence why I’m posting about it here.  The synopsis reads, “Cure for Love is a full-length documentary about a controversial evangelical movement that purports to convert gay people into heterosexuals. The film brings us inside this unusual Christian subculture and follows the lives of several young people whose homosexuality is at odds with their religious beliefs.”

Of course, I wasn’t surprised that the types of ministries featured in this doc actually existed – and let’s be clear, I am clearly at odds with the mission of these ministries, particularly those such as Exodus.  For me, the most intriguing part of the film was hearing the stories of those who live in tension with their faiths and how they have come to reconcile that dissonance.  These are powerful stories of people seemingly struggling with similar issues, yet each has taken a different path in finding a resolution to their conflict.

As a voyeur into their lives, I found myself at times doubtful that some of the folks featured in the film actually had found a way to make peace with the tension between their faith and their sexuality; however I am mindful that I don’t live their lives and really can’t relate to their struggle – seeing as how I am neither a Christian nor a homosexual.  This film did reinforce, yet again, the powerful influence that religion has over people’s lives (a concept I cannot personally relate too – but one that fascinates me).

If you, like me, are intrigued by the power faith has in the lives of so many people, then this film is worth checking out.  It’s a well-balanced documentary that does shed some light on (IMO) questionable dogma, but even more than that, it is a film that speaks of the power of love.  For some that is the love of their Saviour, Jesus Christ; for others that is the love they find in their same sex partners.

Run time: 59 mins

Source: National Film Board of Canada

 

 

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When did Christmas stop being a Holiday?

December 3rd, 2011 3 comments
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The real war on christmas

It’s that time of year again. No sooner do the first snow flakes fall and the rhetoric around whether it’s appropriate to replace “Happy Holidays” with “Merry Christmas” begins to fly. It’s one of the most divisive issues surrounding this season.

Firstly, there are the annual campaigns via email and social media promoting the “put the Christ back in Christmas” polemic. I’ve always found this particular argument curious. Last time I checked, Christ hadn’t left Christmas. What has changed is that fewer people are celebrating Christmas as a religious holiday — if at all. Christmas is still a Christian derived holy day, and Jesus is still very much a part of that day for those who follow his teachings. For believers, Christ is present and accounted for in the celebration of this holy day.

Following this are the claims that somehow Christmas has been hijacked by other cultures’ religions. The arguments usually follow the reasoning that because we live in a Western society built on the Judeo-Christian tradition that Christmas should take it’s rightful place as the holiday of the land.

XMASWARS1

It’s true that our heritage is that of a Judeo-Christian tradition, but our heritage also includes unequal rights for women and minority groups, child labour, the assimilation of First Nation’s people… need I go on?

Societies evolve, and for us this has included the separation of church and state.  Citizens are free to practice the religion of their choice.  States, however, are required to keep religion out of its affairs (in principle anyway). It’s a bit ironic that so many Westerners have much to say about Eastern nations living under religious rule, yet so little to say about the idea of forcing Christmas on ever person living in this hemisphere.

So, we’ve reverted to calling Christmas a holiday. What’s so wrong with that? It IS a HOLY day for Christians, but it’s also a HOLY time of year for a number of other religious groups. Using the term “Happy Holidays” is merely an inclusive way to wish everyone a joyous season — and really isn’t that what this time of year is all about?  Shouldn’t we be trying to spread joy and our very best to everyone?

Christmas-vs-Holidays-Holidays

It’s interesting that while so many of us have been debating this tiresome rhetoric, that we’ve failed to notice how the sacredness of this holy season has been hijacked by rampant consumerism.  Maybe those are the real issues we should be examining.  Why has a holy day meant to bring families and people together in joyful spirit become a sacred day for big box stores and credit card companies?  Just something worth thinking about…

Happy HOLY-DAYS!

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The Common (and not-so-common) Sense Etiquette of Public Transit

November 9th, 2011 2 comments
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A few months ago I became a regular public transit user. As is the case in many big cities, our buses are overcrowded and, at times, woefully behind schedule. In my few short months as a transit user, I’ve quickly adapted to the often uncomfortable conditions and I’ve learned a few things about public transit culture and etiquette.

Recently, there have been several videos surfacing showing some deplorable behaviour by the drivers employed to chauffeur the commuter masses in our nation’s capital. Commuter videos have captured cellphone use while driving, paperwork being completed while driving, and the most recent incident involving an expletive verbal assault on an autistic passenger. Clearly, these are some serious infractions that need to be investigated; however some of the public has been quick to vilify all bus drivers, and frankly I think this is just plain wrong.

Public transit drivers have a difficult job when they have to deal with hundreds, if not thousands of people on the move. It would behoove those who are quick to lash out at all drivers to remember that some passengers make their job even more difficult. While I don’t condone the aforementioned infractions, I think we all need to take a step back and look at what we as individuals can do to make public transit a more pleasant experience for everyone.

I’d like to suggest some common sense (and maybe some not-so-common sense) etiquette for passengers of public transit.

  1. Unless you’ve paid for two fares, you get only one seat. Sure, if the bus is empty feel free to put your bags on the seat next to you; however, be prepared to remove those bags as the seats fill up.
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  3. Courtesy/Priority seating is meant for passengers that may have difficulties standing for long periods of time. If you’re occupying a seat near the front of the bus and someone gets on the bus that requires the use of the seat – MOVE! Nothing ruffles my feathers more than seeing a young, able-bodied passenger completely ignore this common courtesy.
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  5. Be aware that odours you emit affect those around you. Whether it’s the lack of personal hygiene or the overabundance of perfumes and colognes, how you smell impacts other passengers. Maybe it results in mild discomfort due to your noxious odour, but for some it has far greater implications such as allergic reactions. Overcrowded transit results in crossing the boundaries of personal space, so be kind to those around you and tone down the perfume (and remember to brush those pearly whites before leaving the homestead).
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  7. The buses and trains are not a garbage can. Question: Would you toss food on your floor at home? By the end of the day, most public transit vehicles look like the morning after a frat party. Seriously, folks – use a garbage can. Can’t find one? Then take the garbage off the bus with you and find a proper receptacle to put it in. Think it’s a harmless act? Not only do rolling juice bottles create a safety hazard on an over-capacity bus, but our taxes pay people to clean up after your mess.
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  9. Don’t block the exits. Yes, it’s pretty difficult not to block an exit on an overcrowded bus, so have some common sense to move when the bus stops so that departing passengers can exit quickly. This is not only courteous; it helps to keep transit on schedule.
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  11. Turn down the volume. I’m less concerned about that fact that your hearing is going to be completely shot by the time you are forty, than I am by the fact that I’m subjected to the siren calls of Celine Dion at 7:30 in the morning. Enough said.
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  13. Tone down the language and your voice. It’s completely unnecessary for me to be able to hear every word of the conversation at the front of the bus, when I’m sitting at the back of the bus. Furthermore, the use of colourful language isn’t necessary to get your point across. If you wouldn’t want your grandmother to hear you say those words, then don’t say them on the bus. Chances are someone else’s grandmother is on that bus, so extend the same courtesy you would to your own matriarch.
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  15. Be respectful to other passengers and your driver. Think of all the behaviours you wouldn’t want perpetrated on you and then do the opposite. Don’t like the grumpy looks of most commuters? Try getting on the bus in a pleasant mood and smile when someone makes eye contact. Be polite. It goes a long way to establishing a pleasant commute.
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  17. Don’t distract the driver. This means stay behind the designated line so as not to obstruct the driver’s view and try to avoid unnecessary conversation with the operator of the 12 tonne metal box on wheels you’re riding in. Transit operators are professional drivers, but a distraction at the wrong time can have fatal consequences.
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  19. Thank your driver. Sure there are a few bad apples in the bunch, but the majority of drivers are professional, conscientious, and polite. Transit operators are providing a service that is invaluable to your city. Sure, it might not have been the most pleasant ride, but drivers have a lot of distractions to deal with, including those both inside and outside their vehicles. Distractions that they often don’t have control over. While you are in their vehicle, your life is in their hands. So, take a moment and thank them for getting you safely to your destination.
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I’m sure there will be dissenters out there who will insist I must be in cahoots with some transit union (or married to a bus operator). Fact is – I’m not. I’m just a gal who commutes, and who has observed some very unbecoming behaviour of passengers – and, yes, some drivers. Given the recent onslaught of media coverage concerning drivers’ behaviours, and the subsequent backlash from the public – I’d like to encourage every transit user to take a moment and evaluate their own behaviour before they start pointing fingers to the operator behind the wheel. If we learn to be better passengers, we’re bound to encourage better drivers.

M. xo

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The Haunted History of Halloween

October 29th, 2011 No comments
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Halloween is my favourite time of year.  At no other time of the year can you completely alter your ego, and be encouraged to do so.  In addition to the identity shifting fun that can be had by kids and adults alike, the natural world is also shifting.  Gone are the hot humid days of summer- replaced by the slow fall into winter’s slumber.  We watch as the landscape transforms in dramatic ways – sometimes from a cornucopia of colour to a stark white overnight.  Visually, at least in my part of the world, it’s the season of dramatic transformation.  As if nature is making a grand statement before the long sleep of winter – lest we forget her majesty.  It seems rather appropriate that we engage in this rite of transformation called Halloween.  Why exactly do we shift our identities and parade door to door looking for sweet treats?  The History Channel’s “Haunted History of Halloween” has your primer for this ghoulish night of transformation.  The video is approximately 45 minutes long, so bookmark this page and put it on while you’re handing out treats to the ghostly revelers.  Happy Halloween!

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Canadian Thanksgiving, eh?

October 8th, 2011 No comments
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It’s the start of the Thanksgiving long weekend here in Canada.  What makes Canada’s Thanksgiving holiday differ from the American holiday of the same name?  Aside from falling on different dates, the historical underpinnings of this celebrated occasion is markedly different too. Here’s a primer for you on the origins and rites of a Canadian Thanksgiving.  My fellow Canucks, enjoy your holiday weekend.  May it be filled with laughter, great food and warm company.  Cheers, eh! M. xo

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Is Capital Punishment Ever Justified?

September 22nd, 2011 No comments
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Two news stories caught my attention this morning.  One about the execution of convicted cop killer, Troy Davis and the other regarding the execution of white supremacist, Lawrence Russell Brewer.  Two men, two executions — yet, the discussions concerning both are very different.

Many claim (including Davis himself), that Davis was an innocent man being put to death.  There were international protests, sparking celebrities to use their star power to support a stay of execution.  In the end, Davis died at the hands of the Georgia judicial system.  Meanwhile, Brewer’s execution was met with little pleas for leniency – other than from the victim’s family who wanted Brewer’s sentence to be commuted to life in prison.  Despite the wishes of the victim’s family, Brewer met a similar fate as Davis.

In my opinion, neither of these executions should have gone forth.  Davis’ case is wrought with doubt, which clearly (to me, at least) should have led to a stay of execution.  Brewer’s case is a bit different.  His guilt is less questioned; however, the victim’s family steadfastly opposed the execution.  In this instance, I believe the wishes of the family should have been considered.

In broader terms, is capital punishment ever justified?  My belief is that in a civilized society, it isn’t.  Killing is not ‘civilized’.  Furthermore, the irony of this discussion is that justice systems in ‘civilized’ societies have a mandate to protect the rights of their prisoners.  In many cases this means suitable living conditions, access to adequate nutrition, medical care, the pursuit of higher learning, the right to vote, access to various forms of entertainment, etc.  In ‘civilized’ societies, where the death penalty exists, these rights may be granted to death row inmates.  Yet, the right to life is not.  It’s seems like a tragic irony that these institutions spend untold amounts of money keeping prisoners healthy and well that they are eventually going to kill.

Personally, I think the solution is to abolish the death penalty and simultaneously start clawing back some of the ‘perks’ enjoyed by the most hardened criminals.  I don’t believe ‘civilized’ societies should be in the business of killing.  Neither do I believe that the worst of criminals should enjoy what average, law-abiding citizens work hard to obtain (such as a university or college education or access to cable television).  Sure we must treat all people with some level of dignity, but should murderers be treated better than law-abiding citizens?  Hell, no!

For me, killing is not the best option we have in a civilized society.  Nor do we have to grant heinous criminals the good things in life that many citizens struggle to obtain.  The monsters among society should be locked up with the absolute basic necessities to ensure a long and miserable life behind bars.  No access to the internet, television, or education.  They lost those pursuits when they barbarically took another life.

Somehow, I doubt we’ve heard the last of the Davis case.  Was he innocent?  I don’t know.  The facts of the case certainly support doubt of his guilt.  That, for me, is enough to take a long hard look at capital punishment.  I also doubt that this is the first case of a potentially innocent man being put to death.  For me, that equates to murder.  In these cases, how will justice be found for the potentially innocent citizens killed by the societies meant to protect them?

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