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Is faith really a virtue as many claim, or is it a fundamental flaw in humanity that must by all means be rooted out in order to achieve a progressive society? This is a question I have come across all too often lately.

There are basically two camps that have sadly become polarized as the "religious" and the "non-religious" (though I would argue that some of the so-called religious are not and equally vice versa). In essence, the first perspective values faith as a benefit to life and to knowledge while the second degrades it as a crutch for the weak and an opponent to "real," testable knowledge. The former maintains faith as necessary for enlightenment while the latter calls it blind, stupid and ignorant. So who's right? Much more importantly, what's true?


 
 
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‎10 years ago today, a few men changed the world forever.

I was in my first year of high school, Phys. Ed. class. Another teacher stood in the doorway and informed us that something tragic had happened. Something big. We congregated later in the library to see the footage for ourselves. I doubt any of us fully understood what was going on. There was confusion, disbelief, rumours of other planes flying up north to us in Canada. I don't think any of us fully understood that we would remember this moment for the rest of our lives. That we would tell our children where we were on that fateful day. That the world would never be the same again.

10 years ago today, a few men changed the world forever. Their actions were wrong, as were their motivations. But nobody can ever take away from them their passion and willingness to act on what they believed to be true. 

May we who stand for truth and righteousness live out what we believe every day that we have left. May we rid the world of apathy. May we not be only reactive to evil, but also proactive to prevent and change it. May we love truth, but may we also love indiscriminately. May we truly change the world.

 
 
In April 2011, soul artist Anthony David put out the above music video for his song "God Said." Watch a few minutes of it and you'll start to get the idea behind the lyrics. On his own blog, David outlined his reasons for writing this song and making the video. Here's an excerpt:

"I wrote a song called GOD SAID after watching Pat Robertson declare that the earthquake in Haiti was because of a curse from God. After hearing a man named Rev. Wiley say that he was praying for President Obama's death during the election (the prayer didn't work BTW). After hearing people fiddle around with the idea of a curse on Japan after their recent disaster. After hearing about Koran burnings and battles that seem to have peoples' interpretations of religious texts at the foundation of them all. 

I'm not one of those who claims that religion is the ONLY thing that causes all of the wars and bloodshed, but it has caused many. But not necessarily even the religion but the interpretation of a few dangerous minds put into the wrong position of power or influence.  I figured it was time to have a conversation with extremists like this, and put that kind of thinking in its proper perspective.

It's just my opinion, but I suspect peace-loving people from all walks of life will agree with me on SOME level." 

Let me first say that I have a huge amount of respect for David just for writing and releasing this song. He shows that he cares about this world, about his fellow man, and about truth. He cares about making a difference through his music, not just selling records. And he cares about people, not just winning an argument. For these reasons alone, he is automatically a better artist to me than the vast majority of them out there. 

He has a lot of good things to say too. He rightly criticizes Rev. Wiley Drake for praying for Obama's death and calling it God's will (should we really be giving people like that the title of Reverend?). He demonstrates his heart for the people of Haiti and Japan by speaking out against those who would call them cursed. And there is no question that he is right about the atrocities caused by "a few dangerous minds put into the wrong position of power or influence."  

BUT there are some clarifications that need to be made...
 
 
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THE END IS NEAR, at least according to the warnings of a Christian group called Family Radio. The group, led by their 89-year old founder Harold Camping, believes that the Bible mathematically predicts that May 21, 2011 (this Saturday) is Judgment Day, when a massive earthquake will shake the world and all 'real' Christians will be raptured to Heaven. This is to be followed five months later by the actual end of the world as we know it on Oct. 21, 2011.

The vast majority of us aren't taking them seriously for obvious reasons. Their mathematical formula supposedly taken from the Bible is just absolutely ridiculous for one thing. Jesus himself specifically says that nobody will know in advance when he is coming back for another. This also isn't exactly Harold Camping's first kick at the can. He predicted the world would end in 1994, but when it didn't happen, he was forced to recalculate. And then some of us subscribe to some other belief system altogether or don't believe in God at all. 

Regardless of what you believe though, it is incredibly interesting to see how those who believe their world is about to end are behaving during the limited time they have left. 

 
 
Note: If you are not familiar with Westboro Baptist Church prior to reading this open letter, watch a bit of ABC's 20/20 report here. You'll get the idea.

Dear Pastor Fred Phelps and members of Westboro Baptist Church;

I forgive you.

That's probably not what you were expecting. You probably don't think you need my forgiveness. Most other people reading this probably don't think you deserve it. Nevertheless, I forgive you.
 
 
I often hear that Christians are "intolerant" and "impose" their beliefs upon others. 

And it's understandable, really. There have been many tragic incidents, both today (see Terry Jones) and in the past (see the Crusades) where intolerant and imposing people identified themselves with Jesus. Why this applies only to Christians and not to all of society, however, baffles me. Joseph Stalin's administration was pretty intolerant too (atheist regime). So is Osama Bin Laden, at least from what I hear (Muslim). So are Canadians (...pretty much everything you can think of).