About a Cat: Part 1

June 6th, 2013 1 comment

Let me preface this post by suggesting that if you’re the kind of person who views pets as property rather than a member of the family, then you probably will want to stop reading now. Oh, and I’ll also forewarn you that this is a long story – I’ve got 18 years of stories to share. That said, I’ve decided to break it up into smaller posts.

This is about a cat – a cat that brought much joy, and admittedly, challenges to my life.  Today she would have turned 18 years old, but it was with great sadness that on November 9th of last year, that I had to say good-bye to my beloved feline companion, Osiris Maxwell – or Si, as most everyone called her.  This is a tribute to a cat that was with me during the most tumultuous times of my life – a cat that faithfully stayed by my side when my world seemed to be crumbling around me.  Whoever said dogs are the most loyal of pets, never met the Wusser-Si (my affectionate name for her).

It was in 1995, when I left home to pursue post-secondary studies that an almost two-decade bond with this larger than life feline began.  I had always wanted a cat.  Sure, we had cats growing up.  It’s just that those cats never seemed to stick around that long.  It might have had something to do with a kindly neighbour woman who liked to feed neighbourhood pets, and subsequently lure them into her own home with the promise of tasty morsels; or perhaps, it was because I was obsessed with dressing my cats up in doll clothes when I was a kid (which I later learned is a most undignified state for a feline).  For the most part, my childhood pets consisted of the non-furry variety: fish and lizards. So, I remember thinking that I could finally have any pet I wanted now that I was moving into my very own home.  I knew it was going to be a cat, and I knew that I was going to have that cat for its entire life because I felt strongly (and still do) that a pet is a ‘for-life’ commitment.

Baby Si

Baby Si (1995)

I met Si when she was only a few weeks old.  I instantly fell in love with the little grey and white spitfire of a kitten who hissed at me when I approached her.  Challenge accepted, I thought.  At the time, we all thought Si was a male which is why she ended up with a masculine name.  It was in August of 1995 that I packed up my belongings, picked up Si and headed east to my new home town. Si instantly took to her new home and house mates.  She delighted in all the attention she received, particularly from me.  Soon she was by my side or in my lap whenever she wasn’t eating or playing.  It became clear early on that she was full of ‘cat-itude’.  She ran the household and anyone living in it was there to serve her.  She did what she liked, when she liked and if Si didn’t like you, you’d find out.  What’s more, if I didn’t like you or was mad at you, Si made sure to take up those grievance on my behalf.

I first noticed this fierce feline loyalty when a friend of mine stopped by with a woman that I had met before, but of whom I wasn’t too fond.  This woman just wasn’t pleasant to be around and apparently Si had sensed my unease with her being in our home.  The woman bent down to pet Si and at the same moment Si reached up and clawed the woman across the cheek.  Now, in all fairness, this stranger shouldn’t have invaded an animal’s personal space without properly introducing herself.  This is just common sense.  After leaving four perfectly bleeding claw marks across the woman’s cheek, Si calmly walked away with tail proudly in the air.  Of course, I apologized profusely and scolded Si (then locked her in the bedroom), but the woman laughed it off, and went to the bathroom to clean her wounds.  This was my first indication that Si was an unusually loyal cat, some might even have called her my familiar.


Si (1996)

At the time, I was living with a friend and my boyfriend.  My boyfriend had issues with alcohol – meaning that whenever he drank, he became an issue.  Alcohol and he just didn’t mix, and unfortunately he became employed as a cook at a pub.  The temptation to drink (as much as he tried not too) was ever-present.  He eventually fell off the rickety wagon he was on and began coming home, after every shift, drunker than the patrons at the pub on New Year’s Eve.  This caused much discourse in our household.  I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown from trying to balance academic studies with my personal life that was slowly spiralling out of control.  Si began to react to the upheaval by letting the boyfriend know just how she (and I) was feeling.  One day she climbed inside his brand new twenty-hole Doc Marten boots and pissed.  I don’t think he ever did get that eau du cat pee smell out of them.  Yet another day, she quietly climbed up the couch behind him, stood up on her hind legs and proceeded to box the hell out of his ears.  I just pictured her feline thoughts something along the lines of “and this is for being a raging asshole at three o’clock every morning… and this is for playing loud death metal music at four o’clock every morning… and this is for …” well, you get the picture.  Each time she took her frustrations out on the boyfriend, I laughed on the inside.

It was one night in particular that I realized that Si had adopted the role of my protector.  Boyfriend came home in an unusually raging alcoholic fit, so much so that it scared me to the point of locking myself in the bedroom.  Of course, Si was locked in there with me and as we sat listening to a mad man unleash his fury on the apartment; Si began to grab at my throat with her teeth and pull.  It wasn’t a violent bite and tug, but rather the kind mother cats do to their young when carrying them to safety.  From that point onward, whenever I found myself in a fit of tears, Si would bite and tug at me.  Yes, it was unsettling – but in context it was also endearing.

Of course, Si’s bites weren’t always meant as loving gestures.  There were also times when she would show her disapproval by lunging at my arms and biting me.  Those times were usually when I had gone away for a couple days and left her alone or in the care of someone who just didn’t understand her.  In fact, she behaved this way toward me for her entire life.  So much so, that many years later when I married, my husband had to calm Si down upon our return from a weekend away before I could even approach her.  The times that hubby didn’t do this meant Si cornering me and growling at me until she got one good bite into my arm.  Yep, I wasn’t kidding when I said she was a challenging cat.

Devil Si (2003)

“Devil” Si (2003)

It’s true that she scared the crap out of many people which is probably why she was called ‘Devil-cat’ and the ‘Cat from Hell’ by several of my friends.  She was known to bully not only other animals, but people too.  On more than one occasion I had to rescue someone who had been cornered by Si as she stalked them and prepared to strike.  Once I even had to lock Si in a bathroom when she tried to attack a pitbull. That was the thing about Si, she was both a lover and a fighter….


In tomorrow’s post, find out what happens when Si goes on a road trip, meets an iguana, is introduced to the man I would eventually marry, and the heart-wrenching decision I wish I never had to make…

M. xo

To read the continuation of this story, click here

Categories: Personal Tags: ,

Morgentaler and Abortion in Canada

May 30th, 2013 No comments

Yesterday, Canadians across the country were either mourning the loss of a highly influential man or praying for his soul.  That’s the kind of divisiveness Dr. Henry Morgentaler had on Canadians.  He was either revered or reviled for his contributions to Canadian society.  In case you’re wondering what the big deal is, Morgentaler is widely considered the man who initiated changes to Canada’s abortion laws.  He began his crusade in the sixties by opening up Canada’s first abortion clinic.  He also lobbied government to strike down the then existing laws that prohibited women from having control over their reproduction.  For decades, Morgentaler fought the system, during which time he was incarcerated, harassed, threatened, and attacked.

Canada’s history on abortion law is long and contentious.  The law was first enacted in 1892 when parliament passed legislation that prohibited “abortion as well as the sale, distribution, and advertising of contraceptives.” It was almost a century later, in 1988, that the Supreme Court struck down Canada’s abortion laws.   To date, there have been several failed attempts to legislate abortion in Canada.  Politicians typically keep a distance from such polarizing topics, meaning Canada has seen little in the way of debate in the House of Commons.  In fact, Canada is one of just a few countries around the world that does not have abortion laws.  This means that if you can find a doctor willing to perform the procedure, a woman can legally have an abortion in Canada at any stage of her pregnancy.

Indeed, proof of just how contentious this issue is can be gauged by the silence from various members of government on the passing of Morgentaler.  Given that Morgentaler is credited by vast numbers of women for advancing their rights, one would think that the Minister for the Status of Women might have released some official statement – yet, nary a peep from the Hill.  While no official statements were released, comments from politicians were quickly captured via Twitter.  Not surprisingly, very few Conservative politicians had much to say or anything positive to say about the man.  This is the same political party that appears heavily aligned with the evangelical Christian movement in Canada.

U of T Students for Life rally 2009

 Evangelical Christian groups are the biggest supporters of the pro-life movement.  There are several pro-life organizations operating in Canada, all of which appear to be aligned with various fundamental Christian groups.  When news of Morgentaler’s death broke, representatives from pro-life associations indicated that they had been and will continue to pray for his soul.  In contrast, the national group for pro-choice supporters released a statement praising Morgentaler for his “courage and compassion.”  Yes, in death, as in life, Morgentaler continues to divide Canadians.

Pro-choice counter-protest to the National March for Life in Ottawa, Ontario, in 2010

Yet, it isn’t the man himself that is polarizing as much as it is the symbol of a movement that he represents.  The debate often involves matters of religion and science intersecting ethics.  Indeed, many of the arguments put forth by pro-life advocates are laced in religious tones and scriptural connotations.  Public policies that are overtly influenced by theological considerations are not the norm in Canada.  Mixing religion and politics is frowned upon by the vast majority of Canadians – despite the fact that Canada does not have any legislation that officially separates church and state (like our neighbours to the South do).   Therefore, efforts to change the status quo through the voice of scripture just aren’t going to fly in the Great White North – at least not any time soon.  This is particularly true for a country whose demographics are shifting away from religious institutions toward a more secular spirituality.  Movements lose relevancy when changes to public policy are sought based on religious concerns (what the Bible, or other holy scriptures, say about abortion is another blog topic for another day).  The point is that debates concerning public policy cannot be framed within a particular theological worldview – especially in a country as religiously diverse as Canada.  Doing so, means your cause will no longer be about human rights – but rather a particular brand of divine ordinance that may not even be relevant to a large section of the population.  Religious groups have given us many fine social institutions in Canada (schools, hospitals, etc.), but that was during a time when religion dictated almost every aspect of life.  This isn’t the case in today’s Canada.  It likely won’t be the case in the very near future.

So, if we’re going to have a debate about rights, responsibilities, and life – let’s avoid the usual religious rabble-rousing.  This doesn’t mean that I think we should open the debate about abortion.  If you read between the lines of my post, it’s pretty easy to see where I stand on the issue.  That said, part of me is disconcerted that Canada theoretically allows fetuses to be aborted up to the moment before birth (if you can find a doctor willing to do it).  Even the staunchest pro-choice advocate must flinch – at least for a moment – at that thought.  But, where do we draw the line?  That my faithful flock, is another question to be answered another day.

M. xo

P.S.  An interesting – and perhaps highly sensational – book on the subject of the evangelical movement in Canada’s political system is Marci McDonald’s The Armageddon Factor: The Rise of Christian Nationalism in Canada.  Check it out, and then let me know what you think!



Reality TV gets Religion

May 22nd, 2013 2 comments

Earlier this month, I read an article that credited the Archbishop of Canterbury with suggesting that reality television should start including religion into its programming.  Part of his reasoning was so that people could learn more about other religions.  Now I don’t know if the Archbishop and I have a different definition of what constitutes reality television, but I’m pretty sure that reality television has already got religion, and it hasn’t always been the most flattering portrayal.

Some of the more well-known reality shows that have a religious angle include: Sister Wives, Breaking Amish, and 19 Kids and Counting, all of which are featured on TLC.  Religiosity may not necessarily be front and centre; however, it’s hard not to watch any of these shows and think about the religious paths that have influenced these people.  Yes, to some degree viewers are ‘educated’ about the different faiths followed by the show’s participants, but this ‘education’ comes with a huge dose of sensationalism.  On Sister Wives, viewers follow a polygamous fundamentalist Mormon family, while on 19 Kids and Counting the lives of a devout, fundamentalist Baptist Christian family who have (you guessed it) 19 children are showcased for viewers.  Breaking Amish diverts from showcasing a family, and instead follows a group of Amish and Mennonite young adults who leave their isolated communities and experience life in the big city.  Along the way, various mishaps and questionable adventures ensue.  Is this what the Archbishop had in mind?

Perhaps the new crop of religiously inspired reality television might prove less sensational.  Judging from the titles and reviews, I’m guessing that reality television has a cozy place in Hell waiting for it.  The Sisterhood which premiered early this year, follows the lives of several preachers’ wives as they interact with their communities.  I have yet to watch this series, but if reviews are any indication, it’s not as wholesome as it outwardly appears.  Sure to trump the aforementioned in the sensational department is the upcoming Divas for Jesus.  Described as a show that “follows a group of fabulous Christian women whose faith consists of guns, God, gossip and great wine,” you can bet this show is going to raise some eyebrows.  The recently premiered Preacher’s Daughters follows the lives of three preachers’ families and their teenage daughters.  It’s already been given a parental advisory rating.

Perhaps the most interesting reality show I came across in my research, is one originating from Turkey.  It’s called Penitents Competeand its premise is shocking (at least to this blogger).  Each week a rabbi, monk, priest, and imam (I think I’ve heard this joke before) attempt to convert ten atheists.  Any atheist that converts wins a free trip to one of four holy sites.  I can’t help but wonder how this show would be viewed if the roles were reversed.  You know, each week four atheists attempt to ‘convert’ ten religious people.  How’s that for sensational (or, I suppose, rational – depending on who you’re asking)?

I appreciate the Archbishop’s comments about people learning more about other religions, but there are much better ways to educate oneself than reality television.  One thought comes to mind – reality itself.  You know, go out and talk to real people about their religious perspectives.  Visit a mosque, church, synagogue and talk to the community.  You can’t get any more real than that.

Have you seen any of these shows?  Do you know of others that I haven’t included here?  Let me know.

M. xo


Categories: Religion Tags: , ,

NRMs: Satanism

April 14th, 2013 2 comments

I hesitated to write this post because I realize that it may cause some controversy and discomfort for some of my readers.  That said, I felt it was an important new religious movement (NRM) to discuss because it aptly demonstrates how beliefs that seemingly contradict our own, or are foreign to us, can lead to the proliferation of misinformation and false accusations.  Besides, I like to ruffle feathers on occasion –  particularly if that feather ruffling might shed some stereotypes.

Of course, some of the first images that are conjured up when one mentions Satanism are of people who worship the Devil.  This has been largely propagated by those who see the Devil as an enemy of mankind and God.  Images of Satanists have also been framed by Hollywood with movies such as Rosemary’s Baby and The Exorcist.  Yet, some who call themselves Satanists would find those images grossly amusing or offensive.

Satanism as an atheistic philosophy, invokes the imagery of Satan as a metaphor for rebellion, liberation, individualism, and self-indulgence.  Much like the Romantics, modern Satanists view the mythical figure as the bad boy bucking the status quo.  While there are Satanic rituals, they bear little resemblance to those of which tabloid newspapers and Hollywood blockbusters have imagined.  There are no sacrifices or sex rites.  Some rituals are designed for self-transformation and shedding unwanted emotional distress.  Other rituals may be to mark initiations, marriages, births, and deaths.  You know – the same kinds of life events that non-Satanists might honour.  One of the core tenets of the philosophy is individual responsibility for one’s own actions and choices.  Seems fairly reasonable, doesn’t it?

Followers of Satanism are recognized and protected in various countries that value religious freedom.  This, of course, hasn’t been without controversy – particularly in countries that hold a Christian majority.  Rightfully so, given the myths associated with Satan in their sacred stories.  Examining the archetype of Satan though, depicts this figure as not an enemy of God, but rather a counter-voice to a system of belief that has shaped civilizations around the world.  It’s the voice of the minority, the little guy, and the rabble-rouser.

Once again, I have only presented a brief snapshot of this fascinating, but small, movement.  There’s some great (and not so great) resources out there if you’re looking to learn more.  Some of the best comes from  The Church of Satan  and its founder, Anton LaVey who published The Satanic Bible in 1969.  In it, he lays out the nine Satanic Statements:

  1. Satan represents indulgence, instead of abstinence!
  2. Satan represents vital existence, instead of spiritual pipe dreams!
  3. Satan represents undefiled wisdom, instead of hypocritical self-deceit!
  4. Satan represents kindness to those who deserve it, instead of love wasted on ingrates!
  5. Satan represents vengeance, instead of turning the other cheek!
  6. Satan represents responsibility to the responsible, instead of concern for psychic vampires!
  7. Satan represents man as just another animal, sometimes better, more often worse than those that walk on all-fours, who, because of his “divine spiritual and intellectual development,” has become the most vicious animal of all!
  8. Satan represents all of the so-called sins, as they all lead to physical, mental, or emotional gratification!
  9. Satan has been the best friend the church has ever had, as he has kept it in business all these years!

These no non-sense, tongue-in-cheek statements are indicative of the kinds of beliefs you’ll find perusing Satanist material.  Of course, Satan himself has a rich history that embodies much of the imagery just presented.  A great documentary that examines The History of the Devil provides fantastic narrative of how this archetype has changed over the millennia.

The History of the Devil:

M. xo


Adopt a Cardinal Website

March 11th, 2013 No comments
Papal List

Papal List

You’d have to be living under a rock to have not heard about the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI.  It’s not everyday that a Pope resigns.  In fact, the last time it happened was in 1415 with the resignation of Pope Gregory XII.  A media circus that rivals the biggest Hollywood scandals  has surrounded the resignation of Pope Benedict.  Now that he’s officially stepped down, the media is hot on the heels of the papal shoes to report every second of the conclave and upcoming appointment of the 266th Pope.

Most Catholics have very little say on who might be the next Pope – although this hasn’t always been the case.  One site, however, offers laity the opportunity to ‘Adopt a Cardinal‘ who you can pray for during the process of election, and for three days following (of course, should you wish to continue your prayers afterwards,  I’m confident the Big Guy upstairs wouldn’t have any objections).  It’s easy to adopt a Cardinal.  Simply provide your name and email address (go figure) to be randomly assigned a Cardinal that you can support.  Of course, most people know that they don’t need a website to tell them where their prayers should be directed, but the Adopt a Cardinal site is just another way that religious groups are taking to the Internet to reach younger audiences.  It’s also amusing to see who the site assigns you.  This Canuck had hoped to be assigned Canadian papal contender, Marc Oulett – but, it seems the powers that be had other plans.

Adopt a Cardinal:  https://adoptacardinal.org/

M. xo

Categories: Religion Tags:

God Hates…. Shrimp?!?

March 5th, 2013 No comments

churchsignIn one of my classes we’ve been examining what the Bible says about various hot button topics including homosexuality, abortion, capital punishment, and the environment.  Despite what many people on both sides of these debates say, the Bible doesn’t necessarily speak to many of these issues.  Various interpretations and translations over the years have skewed or taken these topics completely out of context.  Personally, I take issue with a literal or fundamental view of the Bible – particularly when those adhering to such worldviews attempt to take away freedoms or oppress people based on these ancient writings.  That doesn’t mean that I can’t find value in Scripture, but it does mean that I don’t believe that laws should be based solely on Biblical interpretations.  We must be careful in how we give relevancy to the Bible.

In response to some of these groups (WBC comes to mind), parody sites have turned the table, so to speak.  One such site points out that you can’t pick and choose what is an abomination in order to satisfy some social agenda.  It’s either all, or nothing.  The God Hates Shrimp parody site provides a tongue-in-cheek look at two Biblical passages that suggest that God forbids the consumption of all shellfish, thus we are Divinely mandated to boycott any restaurant that is serving up these abominations.  Remove the bib, put down the claw cracker, and repent your sins.  And while you’re at it, wipe that butter off your chin…


M. xo

Images provided by: God Hates Shrimp




Categories: Religion Tags: , ,

Soaring out of the Spiritual Closet

February 13th, 2013 8 comments

When I tell people that I study religion there is often one of two assumptions made – either that I am deeply religious or that I am unreservedly anti-religious.  These assumptions are inaccurate.  So, in honour of my second year of blogging under the Black Chicken moniker, I thought I’d soar out of the spiritual closet, so to speak, and clear up a few things (and undoubtedly ruffle a few feathers in the process).

I do not consider myself religious in the sense that I am a follower of any particular faith, institution or path.  I do, however, consider myself a student of all religions and paths – both the traditional and esoteric.  The closest definition I can attribute to my beliefs is agnostic.  Simply put – I don’t profess to know one way or the other.   I’ve never been particularly fond of rigid definitions, but for sake of classifying my beliefs, it’ll have to do.

I consider myself a secularist.  In this sense, I mean that I don’t believe politics and religion should mix.  It does not mean, however, that I think religion should be banished from society or that religious groups shouldn’t have a voice (just like any other group representing a segment of people within society).   I just believe that when one group is given preferential status to shape politics, this inevitably leads to alienating people within that society.  For me, it doesn’t matter how small or fringe the out-group happens to be, they are still part of the make-up of society and have just as much right to express themselves to the powers that govern.

I am a secularist, religious ‘none’, but this does not mean that I don’t find value in religion.  I hold the view that religion has inspired people to create some truly beautiful things in the world.  From artistic expression to revolutionary movements, religious motivation can be wonderfully awesome.  I am also aware that this same motivation has aroused some truly heinous things.  I don’t deny that, but I think it’s important to point out that religions are not inherently good or bad – it is people that hold these qualities.  Sure, I can prattle off images of violence in sacred texts and historical examples of religiously-motivated atrocities.  In the same breath I can identify calls for peace and love in scriptures and point out divinely-inspired movements that have had great benefit to mankind.  It’s not as black and white as far too many people claim.

I believe in tolerance and respect.  I seek to achieve these in my own life by removing myself from my context and trying to understand and even appreciate the worldviews of my fellow human beings.   No, I don’t always agree with everyone or everything I come across.  That’s not the point.  I don’t have to agree, but I do believe that I have a duty to earn respect by giving respect.  It is far too often that I see extreme groups both religious and irreligious condemning the other for so called atrocities.  Let’s get real on this subject.  It is fine to align anywhere along the spectrum of belief.  That’s your choice, but to infringe on the rights of others to do so is horribly hypocritical – especially when one of your base arguments is that the ‘other’ forces their beliefs on people.  Kettle meet pot.   Far too often I see online groups that supposedly represent a rational worldview calling for an end to religion because it indoctrinates and dictates.  I hope they see the irony in these arguments.  On the other side, I see groups claiming a moral ambiguity and an erosion of ethics due to a lack of religious values.  Again, I think we need to get real.  Religion does not make people evil or righteous.  It is people who can be considered good, bad, or somewhere along the spectrum.  Yes, religion may inspire or motivate them.  So too can art, literature, politics, experiences, illness, and a host of other variables.  Again, it’s not as black and white as some claim.

Further, I’m not saying that you can’t critique, satirize or poke fun at beliefs.  Sure you can.  In my opinion, it should never be to hurt, mock or incite violence and hatred.  If you’re going to do it, be respectful and open to dialogue.  I realize this is a very fine line (one that I too have been guilty of crossing), but that’s how freedom of expression works.  The problem is when we express in a manner that is disparaging.   If the intent is malicious, then it really serves no good purpose such as engaging in critical thinking or laughing with someone instead of at someone.

We will never find peace in the world or within ourselves until we stop the madness of forcing other people to adopt our worldviews whether they are religious or otherwise.  We also cannot say that we are truly secure in our own beliefs if we are belittling and bullying others for theirs.  On this, the second anniversary of my online squawking and feather-ruffling, I extend a wish that you all find your inner peace and security.  Live and let live.

M. xo

Categories: Religion Tags: , ,

Project Conversion – Book Review

February 5th, 2013 No comments

(Note:  Project Conversion is available through Amazon.com in either print or Kindle format)

If you’re a regular follower of my posts, you’re already well acquainted with my deep concerns about religious/irreligious intolerance.  Through my blog posts and academic pursuits, I’ve tried to understand what causes such hatred to exist, and how we can move forward to collectively embrace a mindset that celebrates, rather than condemns, our differences of faith and philosophy.

It wasn’t always this way for me.  I’ve been both the condemner and the condemned; the believer and the non-believer.  I didn’t always walk the middle path that I find myself now embracing.   Like so many others, I’ve struggled to reconcile the conflict within me.  I’ve read untold numbers of psychological research studies and various other social scientific theories in an attempt to find those answers.   I could find no simple answers.  Then, on the 11th anniversary of a day burned into so many of our minds, I was introduced to Project Conversion.  The sheer simplicity of the concept, although certainly not its implementation, was brilliant.

I first encountered Andrew Bowen’s Project Conversion on a post he contributed to the State of Formation web site.  I was immediately drawn into his story.  It was compelling, brave, heart-breaking, and inspiring all at once.  Soon after, I joined the ranks of his Facebook page and began following his journey to publication.  I was not only intensely interested in his pursuit to create an atmosphere of interfaith dialogue and tolerance; I also wanted to help spread the gospel – so to speak.  If this man, who once had such intense hatred, could become a believer in the humanity that binds us all, couldn’t others experience this same awakening?  If all it took was simply getting to know those who we fear, hate, or condemn – wouldn’t it be worth it if we could stop the violence, turmoil, and sheer madness?  Yes, I believed it was, and is, worth it.  So, when Bowen put out a call to bloggers to read his memoir detailing his Project Conversion experience,  I gladly knocked on his door.

The Project Conversion memoir is not only a testament of one man’s journey of immersion into twelve faiths over the course of a year; it also bears witness to a remarkable group of people who guide, support, and provide unconditional love during the process of this spiritual metamorphosis.   There is no doubt that readers will find the brief historical and descriptive surveys of each of the traditions enlightening, but they will also be compelled by Bowen’s candid, and often very personal, glimpses into his personal life.

If you’re like me, you’ll fall in love with the women in his life who, for all intents, seem to embody the triple Goddess archetype.  The innocent wisdom and humour of his daughters are perhaps some of the most persuasive sections of his memoir.  There’s just something utterly compelling about the untainted perspectives of children who have yet to be exposed to the often harsh cruelties of the world.  I guarantee that the anecdotes and quips of these young ladies will make you laugh and reflect.  Not to be outdone, Bowen’s Grandmother lends an unmatched wit to his adventure as she steadfastly keeps him clothed in custom-made attire indicative of some of the traditions he embraces.  Of course, I would be doing a huge disservice if I didn’t acknowledge the fortitude, compassion and insight of his wife, who provides the solid foundation in this uncharted, and at times rocky, terrain.

Family, friends, and strangers embrace Bowen as he undertakes a voyage to discover the divine manifested through a variety of lenses.  Beginning with a foray into the celestial complexity of Hinduism, he travels through a mosaic of faiths.  He embarks on a journey to understand the world’s foremost traditions, but also those often viewed as fringe or downright strange.  Certainly, the various stops along his voyage reveal our common humanity, but it is the people along his travels that stand as the true testament to these blessings.

Andrew Bowen’s Project Conversion memoir is a literary tapestry woven together with stunning metaphors, engaging anecdotes, clever humour, and modest candour.  It’s a book that I hope you will all consider reading.  It’s a book that’s sure to impart insight into beliefs you may not have known about, but more importantly it’s a book that speaks to the collective consciousness that transcends faith.

In celebration, Project Conversion (Kindle version) will be available free to download for a very limited time.

M. xo


Categories: Religion Tags: ,

Holy Daze: World Religion Day (January 20th, 2013) – Bahá’í Faith, Interfaith

January 11th, 2013 No comments

World Religions

In 1949, The National Spiritual Assembly (a governing body of the Bahá’í Faith in the United States) proclaimed that every year on the third Sunday of January, the Bahá’í community would observe World Religion Day.  Despite this observance being originally founded by the Bahá’í community, it is intended to be celebrated by all the world’s religious traditions. 

It is a day to celebrate the unity of all people of the world and all faiths.  A core message of World Religion Day is “Religion must be the cause of unity”.  Personally, I think this is a wonderful concept.  I hope you will take a moment on this day to reflect on your own faith traditions or viewpoints, while also seeking to understand and appreciate other faiths and viewpoints. 

Various communities throughout North America will be holding interfaith services and celebrations.  If you want to learn more about this inclusive holiday, check out the World Religion Day Web site for more information.

M. xo

“We are only as strong as we are united, as weak as we are divided.” ― J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

“Hey you, don’t tell me there’s no hope at all. Together we stand, divided we fall.” ― Pink Floyd

“The Destiny of Man is to unite, not to divide. If you keep on dividing you end up as a collection of monkeys throwing nuts at each other out of separate trees.” ― T. H. White, The Once and Future King

“The earth is but one country and mankind its citizens”― Bahá’u’lláh, The Kitab-i-Aqdas: The Most Holy Book

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons



Saying Good-bye to 2012

December 30th, 2012 No comments

I’m finally emerging from my self-induced holiday coma.  The holidays were splendidly relaxing.  Good thing too, because I always feel like I need to recharge as the end of the year approaches and a new one beckons on the horizon.

Since I’m still feeling the effects of the holidaze, I haven’t been up to the task of writing something provocative, informative, or even all that interesting, but I didn’t want 2012 to slip by without imprinting the InterWeb with one last message for the year.

So, what to write about?  I could write reflective lists highlighting memorable people and events from the past year.  Or I could publicly profess my resolutions for the upcoming year (which incidentally would have little impact on whether I actually stick to them).  Perhaps I could regale you with my thoughts on the apocalypse phenomenon that pervaded much of 2012, or maybe even the much ballyhooed discontinuation of Twinkies in the United States.  I could contrast the darkest incidents of 2012 with the brightest and most heart-warming.  Yet none of these messages would convey what I’d want to pass on.

Simply, best wishes to you and yours.  Happy New Year!

M. xo

P.S. Cool video alert!  2012: What Brought Us Together.