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Slagging on the Olympics is a good way to make people think you’re a kook. Nobody likes a party pooper, especially one at a worldwide pageantry that’s bringing 82 nations together in peaceful competition. It’s definitely not in keeping with the nebulous concept of “Olympic Spirit,” which is, let’s face it, only rich in sentiment.

Nevertheless, such sentiment serves as a convenient rallying cry for corporations that stand to profit from the rapacious development of Olympic venues and public consumption of events, schwag and advertisements. It’s a feel-good moneymaker. Read the rest of this entry »

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“Unmarriage until gay marriage, no marriage until gay marriage.”

That is the phrase that will chime through the streets, Feb 14th in central park. Rev. Billy and his gospel choir are at it again. This time they are inviting married couples to unmarry. Ditch the vows. Shed the rings. No marriage until all can marry.

A mass ceremony, conducted by Rev. Billy himself, will unmarry those who are standing up for the rights of the gay community. Is this really official? I don’t know if you can actually unmarry, but who says you are married anyways? Or what defines marriage since it varies from culture to culture and religion to religion? It seems unconvincing that by a simple ceremony you are deemed fit to cohabit until death, produce offspring, receive certain tax breaks and share toothpaste.

My cousin and her partner are sincerely committed to each other, have lived together for ten years and have never participated in any sort of ceremony that declares them legally married. Then there are those who have grand ceremonies declaring their commitment and love for each other and they don’t make it past raised toilette seats and maxed-out visa cards. If a ceremony is so trivial in both these instances why is it being withheld from same-sex couples?

Unlike Canada, there are still states in our neighbor country where gay marriage is illegal. For details about same-sex marriage in the U.S. see here. Same-sex marriage has been legal everywhere in Canada since July, 2005.

I don’t know what I think of the whole thing as you can see from the scads of question marks. If you are like me and have more questions than answers you can check out freedomtomarry.org and see what questions they are answering. – megan kamei, editorial assistant

I asked Aiden what his thoughts were and here is what he said:

I like the references to your cousin and other attitudes to the marriage ceremony, but I’m left with the feeling that you think it’s just a ceremony and not a powerful institution of control: of men over women, of dominant culture over those who don’t choose partners of the opposite sex. I look at how institutions attain, retain and abuse power. In the case of the institution of marriage, it’s a very tangible expression of the “family values” that are so problematic for many people. Feminists, women who suffer, singles, childless couples, men who don’t identify as heterosexual, young people who are dating: each of these (and other) important groups of people are invited (often coerced) into conformity, at the cost of their humanity and the loss of diversity in our community. – Aiden Enns, editor

All I wanted to do was get some groceries, a bite to eat and then head back to the Geez office for a board meeting. I had conquered the grocery-getting and was working on satisfying the rumbling in my stomach when my oh-so-simple plan was interrupted.

Yesterday at Safeway an older woman in a navy windbreaker, sweatpants, neon skirt and torn sneakers shuffled her way around the tables by the Starbucks station. She held out her hand that contained a quarter and a dime to a guy enjoying a coffee and a newspaper. He looked up at her with wide eyes and then furrowed brow as he tried to make out her slurred words and muffled sounds. He soon looked back at his newspaper and the woman became invisible.

Read the rest of this entry »

This Saturday at Aqua Books, 7:30, I’m “debating” the topic of Christmas celebrations and shopping with “Mr. Christmas”  (details below). This is part of the Idea Exchange series coordinated by Jamie Howison and St. Benedict’s table.

 I’ve debated with Gerry Bowler before and he’s very good at the standard “shop to show your love” approach. It’ll be hard to compete with author of The World Encyclopedia of Christmas (true!), but I love discussions like this in the public square (well, it’s a private public square).

Event details:
 Keeping the [Christmas] Feast
Idea Echange with Gerry Bowler and Aiden Enns
Saturday December 5, 7:30 p.m.
Aqua Books, 274 Garry Street, Winnipeg

Fyi, previously, Gerry Bowler and I have “faced off” over Christmas:

The Mall or the Alley, Dec. 1, 2008
ChristianWeek, a discussion conducted/edited by Josiah Neufeld,
(See the full transcript here, which includes more comments on capitalism, scroll down to see pdf.)

 Christmas Shopping debate, November 30, 2008
CJOB’s GodTalk (podcast). I had a slow start in this one.

This is part of my involvment in Buy Nothing Christmas. – Aiden Enns, editor, Geez magazine

The annual peak of consumerism is just around the corner – Black Friday. Shop till you drop, max out all your credit cards and enjoy the spirit of Christmas. Forget about road rage, we now have consumer rage. People are so intoxicated with the desire for stuff that they actual are lashing out at fellow shoppers and retail workers that somehow prevent them from having what they want in the exact way that they want it.

I worked in a retail store for eight months and I tell you, I have never been yelled at so much and felt so degraded in my life – and I am a nice person! Usually people don’t scream at nice people. Read the rest of this entry »

Whatever ever happened to the year of Jubilee? It is hard to imagine all the world’s debts canceled, putting everyone back on a level playing field. You might think this concept has been lost with many of the Old Testament laws but think again. Jubliee USA Network is campaigning to see expanded debt cancellation in order to alleviate poverty.

“Still, 50,000 people die every day as a result of extreme poverty.  The gap between the rich and the poor is growing – at least 53 million additional people will be forced to live on less than $2/day this year, due to the global economic crisis.  Meanwhile, the world’s poorest countries send $100 million every day in debt repayment to the world’s richest countries and financial institutions.  We have the power to change this!” read more…

You can also check out Wikipedia and the Kairos website for more information. – Megan Kamei, editorial assistant