Tag: Religion

1987, Books, Non-Fiction, Society

The Embarrassment of Riches: An Interpretation of Dutch Culture in the Golden Age (1987) by Simon Schama

I picked this book up because I thought Citizens was great, not because of any particular interest in this subject. That turns out to be a problem because Schama assumes a lot of knowledge on the part of the reader about Dutch political history and some knowledge Dutch cultural history. Fortunately, there’s the internet now. But that didn’t exist …

1999, Books, Fiction

Survivor (1999) by Chuck Palahniuk

Sometime in my early 20s I read Haunted, Palahniuk’s creative short story collection, and I fell in love. I had already seen Fight Club and enjoyed it, but Haunted felt to me like a really unique and fun way to present short stories, and I guess I felt like I discovered a singular voice for our time, or something stupidly …

1965, Movies

Simón del desierto (1965, Luis Buñuel)

This is a bizarre surrealist religious satire caught somewhere between a short and a feature (as it is 43 minutes long). It is acclaimed as one of Buñuel’s best films but I think you really have to be steeped in Catholicism to appreciate it.

2018, Books, Non-Fiction

Educated (2018) by Tara Westover

I’m not sure there’s a better word for this memoir than “harrowing.” So much about Westover’s story was shocking to me, shocking because of the behaviour of her family members, but shocking because this all takes place at the end of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st century in a country that …

2023, Movies

Praying for Armageddon (2023, Tonje Hessen Schei, Michael Rowley)

Apparently there is a term in investigations called “scope creep”; the longer the investigation goes, the greater the scope of the investigation and the more unfocused it is on its initial target. Well, this film about US evangelicals funding Israeli settlers to bring about Armageddon suffers from something like scope creep. There is just too …

2023, Movies

Time Bomb Y2K (2023, Brian Becker, Marley Mcdonald)

This is an amusing documentary about the Y2K bug and subsequent moral panic based almost entirely on archival footage. (This is a little bit of bad CGI, and that CGI might be deliberately bad.) However, the film doesn’t actually satisfy, despite making me laugh. I really wanted to watch this but it didn’t really give …

2010, Movies

In the Name of the Family (2010, Shelley Saywell)

This is an episodic and workmanlike documentary about girls killed by their family members, ostensibly because they are not behaving correctly. It feels a little like it was made for TV but that could also just be the budget.

2015, Books, Non-Fiction

All Who Go Do Not Return (2015) by Shulem Deen

This is an excellent, heartbreaking and infuriating memoir of a man’s loss of faith and subsequent expulsion from an extremist religious sect. I stumbled upon this book due to a Reply All episode (which I would also recommend) and I’m so happy that happened. This is not a world I know anything about so I am happy …

1981, 2001, Books, Non-Fiction

When Bad Things Happen to Good People (1981, 2001) by Harold S. Kushner

I have been incredibly lucky in my life. I was born into privilege (middle class/upper middle class in one of the safest large cities in the world) and I have been very lucky in terms of personal tragedy: I have suffered few major injuries/illnesses, and my family has been pretty much free of them as …

1968, Books, Non-Fiction

The Revolution of the Saints (19968) by Michael Walzer

Many years ago, I read a history of ideas about radical/left-wing politics, Main Currents of Marxism by Leszek Kolakowski, which felt to me like the definitive statement on the religious origins and nature of ideologies. The only thing lacking with that book, to my mind, was its scope was limited to the left; whereas liberalism …

2017, Movies

TIFF 2017: One of Us (2017, Heidi Ewing, Rachel Grady)

I have seen a few Ewing-Grady documentaries so far and I have always found they tackle fascinating subjects but I have never loved the way in which they tackle them. Though I appreciate their attempts at breaking outside of documentary norms and customs (to a degree) I also sometimes find their attempts to do so …

2016, Music, Religion, Society

The Tragically Hip Live at the K-Rock Centre, August 20, 2016

I wasn’t going to watch this show. The cynic in me found the sudden outpouring of interest in The Hip weird. I felt like people I’d never heard mention this band previously were now obsessed with getting tickets to shows, all because someone (Canadian) famous is dying of cancer. Instead, I was going to watch …

2014, Books, Non-Fiction

The Quest for a Moral Compass (2014) by Kenan Malik

I have been reading Malik’s blog for more than a few years at this point (I think), in part because I feel like he has much greater insight into the issues around jihadism than most of the people writing in North America (who I’ve had a chance to read). I find his approach not only …

1996, Movies

Andrei Rublev (1966, Andrei Tarkovsky)

Writing a brief review of Tarkovsky’s immense, uncompromising, willfully difficult Andrei Rublev seems inherently unfair. This is one of the most ambitious and difficult films I have ever seen, also among the longest. When I say it’s immense, I mean it: 9 chapters over nearly 3 ½ hours, ostensibly about the Russian medieval iconographic painter …

Philosophy, Politics, Religion, Society

The belief in Justice is probably the breeding ground for injustice

I have long identified myself as an atheist – even though I’m an agnostic – in religion, an existentialist in philosophy and “anti-apocalyptic” or “anti-ideological” person in politics (i.e. a pragmatist). I have long struggled with this last definition, not because I don’t know what I am – I know exactly what I am, politically …

2011, Books, Non-Fiction

The Divinity of Doubt (2011) by Vincent Bugliosi

It’s hard to know what to say about this book: I agree – most of the time – with Bugliosi’s position on this subject. But, as with his Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder, this comes off as an unorganized rant that is made all the worse because he constantly claims other people – …

2012, Movies, Politics, Psychology, Religion, Society

You pissed me off, it’s your fault!

Human beings are sensitive creatures. It’s interesting that this is so because, as a species, we have survived for an unimaginable length of time and more threats to our existence than we could count (none worse than ourselves). So it is always somewhat entertaining – or sad, depending on your point of view – to …

Psychology, Religion, Society

3* Reasonable Objections to All Conspiracy Theories

When I was in my late teens and early 20s, I was a big believer in conspiracy, particularly the “plot to kill Kennedy.” I ridiculed those around me who doubted a conspiracy in Kennedy’s death and regularly told them that they just didn’t know all the facts. Anyone who knew all the facts would clearly …


Reflections on the god thing

I’ve been trying to read up on chaos theory today, as I think there may be some sociopolitical implications that haven’t been addressed by most of what I’ve read for the book. The description of chaos I’m familiar with sounds an awful lot like life: minuscule changes in initial circumstances have a big effect on …

2007, Movies

The Pagan Christ (2007, directed by Cynthia Banks)

I just watched a brief news-magazine / “documentary” program about a book called The Pagan Christ by Tom Harpur. This book seems to put forward a new version of a fairly well-known (if not well-accepted) claim, that Christian beliefs have their antecedents in various pagan cults and religions. He also suggests that Jesus didn’t exist …

2007, Politics, Religion, Society

Student throws korans into toilets

Okay, so a student at Pace University has been arrested because he apparently threw some books in toilets back in the fall. As far as I know, he was not charged with stealing the books, and he has not been punished by the university for obstructing the septic system. (I don’t know if there is …