Greyfields Illustrated

I’ve talked about this before: urban sprawl is continuing, with our outer suburbs adding big box store power centres to their arsenal. However, our downtowns are also coming back as cultural centres and pedestrian friendly environments. So as the pull of our urban development heads out, and in, something has got to give. More and more, that something is the old-style suburban mall, built in the fifties, sixties and seventies, that used to be the bane of the downtowns’ existence. Used to be.

An illustration of this trend in action can be found at Dead, a site full of eerie photographs of ghostly, dying malls. The once popular Honeydale Mall, in western Etobicoke, was recently profiled.

The site even has its own blog.

Project Chapleau Article Now Online

I’m very pleased to announce that my article on Project Chapleau, the first freelance article I tackled since Vivian’s birth, was published in the April 13th Ontario edition of Business Edge. You can see the online version of the article here.

Project Chapleau is a fascinating project, full of stuff that really filled out the article. The technology involved in creating the gigantic wireless hotspot is fascinating, and it’s encouraging to see this small town in Northern Ontario fighting back against the challenges today’s wired world is throwing at rural communities these days. This required considerable effort on the part of the residents of Chapleau, Bell Canada and Nortel Networks, but it appears to be the start of a trend. So consider visiting Chapleau Township. Greg Bester calls it one of the most beautiful middles of nowhere anywhere, and now it could well be a twenty-first century trendsetter.

Ordinary Christians Stand Up

Tired of the intolerant and angry face the religious right seems to have put on Christianity? You need to visit the Green Knight for a reminder that the silent majority of Christians are as open-minded and sensible as the rest of society. His blog challenges the attempts of the religious right to speak for all of Christianity, and highlights the uphill battles of progressive and centrist Christians to get noticed, even while calling out the fools who play into the religious right’s hands.

He links to an interesting assessment of the mentality of individuals who, recently, walked out on Bill Nye, the Science Guy during a school presentation in Waco, Texas.

Who doesn’t love the Science Guy? Well, I guess the fundies don’t:

The Emmy-winning scientist angered a few audience members when he criticized literal interpretation of the biblical verse Genesis 1:16, which reads: “God made two great lights — the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars.” He pointed out that the sun, the “greater light,” is but one of countless stars and that the “lesser light” is the moon, which really is not a light at all, rather a reflector of light.

A number of audience members left the room at that point, visibly angered by what some perceived as irreverence.

“We believe in a God!” exclaimed one woman as she left the room with three young children.


This sad, angry woman has somehow been convinced that it is impossible to believe in God without also believing in an illiterately literal reading of Genesis 1:16. She’s painted herself into a corner in which she must reject not only evolution, but the existence of the dark side of the moon. She is forced to regard Neil Armstrong as the pawn of Satan.

This is the inevitable conclusion of the brittle faith she has been taught. It is impossible, she has been told, to believe in God without also accepting this unworkably literal reading of every phrase in the first 11 chapters of Genesis. Thus, if the moon simply reflects the light of the sun and does not itself project light, she believes, then there is no God. And that means, she has been taught, that life is random, meaningless, nasty, brutish and short.

Her three young children are being taught this binary worldview. What will become of them? I’ve seen this story play out before, dozens of times. The only way to preserve the fragile faith they are being taught is to keep it sheltered from the world….

Some few of these kids will somehow manage to maintain this soap-bubble faith all the way through to adulthood. They’ll marry within the bubble and teach this fundamentalism to another generation of children. But those cases are the exceptions. Reality is too hard and pointy a place for soap bubbles to survive very long and most of these kids will end up being forced by reality to reject Option No. 1. Unsurprisingly, they tend to turn to what they have been taught is their only alternative….

They became drop-outs, drunks and druggies. Why? Because at some point they had seen a lunar eclipse, or they had learned that the Andromeda Galaxy is 2.5 million light-years away. And they had been taught that if the moon itself is not a “light,” or if the universe were older than 6,000 years, then there’s no reason to become anything other than a drop-out, a drunk and a druggie.

It’s worth reading the whole thing.

I should point out that what we’re describing is a small minority of even those who call themselves fundamentalists. It’s one thing to question the theory of evolution, which does pose hard theological questions that even I wrestle with, even though I accept that it’s the likeliest explanation of how we got here. It’s another thing entirely to refuse to acknowledge the structure of the moon, even though we’ve walked its surface, and brought back some very dull, non-glowing rocks. (Sadly, perhaps this was the reason Fox was able to cash in on a special suggesting that the moon landing was a hoax.)

To refuse to accept the physical evidence put before the eyes, ears and mind that God gave you isn’t faith at all. Faith requires thought, an acceptance of the free will God granted us from the beginning. Being a good Christian requires humility — especially the humility that we might not know everything there is to know. There is no thinking involved in taking the Bible this literally. There is no humility. God has been reduced to the size of a book, not accepted as the creator of everything, especially the complex and unknowable.

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