Category: Church and Culture

Movie Theatre

The Rise of the Empire

The Phantom Menace

Terrible movie, but the rise of the Empire narrative throughout the prequels has good lessons.

I haven’t seen The Force Awakens yet. I’ll get there soon. In the meantime, I decided to rewatch the first six. I will defend III as a respectable movie other than some terrible writing for Anakin and Padme. I won’t defend I and II at all except for one area of the plot that does always interest me: the rise of the Empire.

Prior to the events that open the first movie, the Galactic Republic had been in relative peace for a long time. Of course there’s still violence on the individual level up to the planetary level, but there’s no large-scale warfare like that which characterizes the six movies.

The Republic didn’t even have an army. They had the Jedi, who are probably best compared to the best-case scenario of police. They do not use force unless absolutely necessary. They don’t enforce laws which aren’t hurting anybody, but they do step in – including with some calculated violence if necessary – to help alleviate conflicts. I’m definitely not pretending they were pacifists, but they would probably mostly align with the goals of Just War theory.

Movie Theatre

Mockingjay Part 2: Empires and Scapegoats

Mockingjay Part 2When I first heard that the last book of The Hunger Games series was going to be split into two movies, as is all the rage these days, I didn’t like the idea very much. It wasn’t even my favourite book of the series (that would be Catching Fire). But seeing how they handled the two movies differently I began to appreciate it. The first primarily dealt with the role of media in propaganda, holding up empires by convincing the average person to fight on their behalf. Part 2 was much more action-packed but dealt with a couple different angles on the broader themes of the series: the nature of empire and the scapegoat desire.

Spoilers will follow.

One Empire for Another

It would be tempting to see the rebels, led by Alma Coin (Julianne Moore, probably my favourite actress), as the obvious good guys. They’re standing up to the evils committed by the Capitol against those in the Districts, evils which extend beyond The Hunger Games and the more subtle approaches (many similar to real life) into outright obliteration of those who stand against them after the war starts.

The Case for Christ

Approaching Apologetics

The Case for ChristIn my later teen and early young adult years, apologetics were a fairly important discipline to me. I read all of Lee Strobel’s “Case For…” books. Looking back on them, there were some great ideas that I’m glad I picked up in an accessible way there instead of in a philosophy class. There were also a lot of things that I soon realized were really bad arguments, such as the treatment of evolution as obviously contrary to true Christianity as well as a lot of thoroughly-debunked arguments against evolution. I have an easier solution to that one: why couldn’t God create the world and move it to where we are today through an evolutionary process?

Arguing Into the Kingdom?

At the time, the purpose for apologetics was essentially to be able to argue people into the Kingdom. That never works. Discussing issues with somebody may be helpful and I’ll get to that, but if you approach a discussion with the attitude that you need to convince inferior intellects of why you are right, you are never going to convince them you are right. People don’t respond well to being treated as inferior. They get defensive and usually end up further entrenched in their prior beliefs.

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Engaging with the Political System

Canadian FlagWith less than a week to go until the election, I’m going to try to summarize my general approach to faith and the political system. For more specifics on topics that have come up throughout our election season, check out the tag elxn42. The caveats for this post:

  • I’m talking about my context of a developed Western world democracy, specifically in Canada but most of the ideas would carry over.
  • Defining “politics” gets tricky. In a broader sense it simply means enjoying with the world around you, which is definitely necessary. Here I’m talking specifically about engagement with our government structure, particularly during election season.

Participating in Empire

This is typically the main question for traditional Anabaptists: to what degree do you participate in a system that is inherently anti-Christ? Among other potential conflicts, our governments – even our better democratic ones – rely on using force to get their way. This disproportionately affects marginalized groups who are harmed by the status quo. To what degree, if any, can we be a part of such a system while claiming to follow Jesus who lived and taught in ways sometimes strictly opposed?

Ethics and Justice - Holding Hands Across the World

Jesus and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms

Muslim woman in niqabThere has been a new development in the ridiculous debate in Canada about whether Muslim women should be allowed to dress as they like at citizenship ceremonies (not at any point requiring identification). The Courts previously shot down the Conservative policy that Muslim could not dress as they like because… well, because they’re Muslim and picking on them has picked up a lot of likely new voters before the election? I still haven’t really heard any actual reason beyond “we don’t like it because it’s different than us.” The Conservative government promised to take it to the Supreme Court to appeal and requested the policy be maintained in the meantime. Yesterday that request was denied.

I tweeted out that freedom wins and got this curious response:

and democracy looses[sic].What happened to the majority rules scenario!Like most things in Canada it’s gone to minority groups

Gender - Male and Female Gummy

Niqabs in Canada

Muslim woman in niqabRecently here in Canada, the Court struck down a move by our Conservative government that would require women to have their faces uncovered during citizenship ceremonies. Our Prime Minister referred to niqabs as un-Canadian. The Court disagreed and said she had the right to wear what she wanted under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, given there was no security risk or other argument against it. Now the government plans to appeal and it has become a bit of an election issue.

Islam and Niqabs

It is true that Islam as a whole does not require niqabs. I don’t think the Qu’ran requires any particular way of dress for women. It just says that both men and women should be modest. I haven’t read the Qu’ran, so I could be wrong on this, but I have seen Muslims saying the same thing. It is much more of a cultural thing for certain nations. Some of these were actually very open with how men and women dressed within the last generation or two. They were often very Westernized. Several wars later, understandably they wanted to distance themselves from Western culture. One way to do that was with clothing requirements for women.

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Scattered Thoughts on Faith and (Canadian) Politics

Canadian FlagIn our church’s adult Sunday School, we’re looking at the relationship between faith and politics this past week and the week upcoming. Here are some scattered thoughts from the first week:

Voting for the Marginalized

To me, the question for the Christian when considering who to vote is how the candidates/parties help those in need. Rhetoric during the election season is almost always about the middle class. Everybody wants to cut taxes, give more breaks, and provide more services for the middle-class. Nobody talks about the upper class, except indirectly when talking about keeping corporations in Canada. Rarely do they talk about the lower class because we prefer to pretend they don’t exist. (Municipal government do a lot better with acknowledging poverty, at least here in Kitchener)

Anno Domini or Common Era?

In a previous post I mentioned offhand how I found it strange to see an academic use the term A.D. instead of C.E. 9 years ago this week, I started my postsecondary education. I don’t recall ever seeing A.D. used in the following 6 years of academia, plus an audited course after that, except maybe in some classic texts written at least a decade earlier. Many of them were classes that did talk extensively about events in time periods where the clarification is necessary – the biblical time period, essentially. Some of those years of academia were in seminary after all. Most if not all books I’ve read since then have similarly used C.E. and B.C.E. In fact, I’m pretty certain that seminary – and probably undergrad before it – explicitly specified in style guides for writing that we were to use C.E. and B.C.E.

Why the shift? In short, I think A.D. carries some problematic colonialist overtones to it. A.D. stands for Anno Domini, Latin for the year of our Lord. It does not stand for “After Death” as many English-speakers assume – I know I did for years as a kid. To put it simply, how would it feel if every time you referred to something in history, you had to refer to it as the year of our Lord, when you don’t believe that Jesus is your Lord?

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Why I Won’t Vote Conservative This Election

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That’s right, I’m talking partisan politics on an Anabaptist blog.

We just passed the halfway point of Canada’s longest election since 1877. The incumbent Conservative Party called it earlier than usual after they had changed some rules allowing them to spend more money on a campaign the longer it goes, knowing they had the largest war chest.

Background

For non-Canadian readers, our political spectrum has three major parties.

On the right is the Conservative Party of Canada. It used to be split in a few, but amalgamated into one party so spans the entire right wing.

The Liberal Party of Canada is traditionally the central party, although I would consider making the case they are the most left-wing of the big three this election.

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Jobs My Faith Wouldn’t Allow Me

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I love Canada, but my loyalty is to Jesus.

There is lots of good commentary out there about why the whole Kim Davis story is ridiculous. She was elected to a government office that she wanted to fill, choosing to act as a representative of the government. She took an oath saying she would fulfill her duties without partiality, among other things. Now she has decided she doesn’t want to do her job. She doesn’t just resign, though. Instead, she insists that she gets to do her job her way instead of the way of her employer. The employer in this case is also the government, so by “their way” we really just mean “the law.” She thinks she is still entitled to the job that she refuses to do. Some Christians paint her as a martyr standing up for her religious freedom.

Let’s be clear here: there are no religious rights being violated. She hasn’t been told she can’t practice her religion. She hasn’t been told she can’t teach her religion to others. What she’s been told is that if she wants to keep her job, she has to keep actually doing her job. You know, like the conditions present for almost everybody else who has a job.