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“To be hopeful in bad times is not being foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of competition and cruelty but of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness.” – Howard Zinn

So much promise and hope, and yet so much, still, of all the worst of us. That is, though, the stuff activism is made of, I suppose. While so much is so good, with many dear friends and promising small-scale commons, our little household has also been dealt with a whole lot of shit over the last year, as we came up against a hostile and profoundly aggressive radicalism that seems to be more interested in inventing ever more enemies for itself than in building alternative communities of solidarity, mutual aid and respect. Continue Reading »

The End Times

I’m about to start reading Slavoj Zizek’s Living in the End Times. And as I look at it there on the side table, I filter through the news of the day, watching the devastation in Japan following its recent massive earthquake. The world changes, sometimes slowly, sometimes cataclysmically, and there seems no question to me that we are well into a dramatic geologic and ecological upheaval. Continue Reading »

More on the whole Jesus-theme today. Over the past few months I’ve read a couple of books dealing with the Jesus thing – Slavoj Zizek’s The Puppet and the Dwarf and Terry Eagleton’s Reason, Faith and Revolution: two books coming out of radical secular political traditions that grapple with the meat and potatoes of faith in general and Christian faith in particular, and do so with insight and with respect, both of which are all too rare in leftist treatments of religion. I also picked up Eagleton’s critical annotation of the Gospels – his contributions being an introduction and notes of interpretation and commentary appended to the biblical text. And I’d highly recommend all of these, though for different folks and different reasons. Continue Reading »

Everything that gets written on this blog is stream-of-consciousness. I sit down, I start typing, and at some point I stop typing. That’s it. Which is why there are typos, which is why it is sometimes way beyond dull, and which is why these little posts are, at their best, unpolished and kinda rambly and, at their worst, incoherent babble. But so be it.

It’s interesting though, how little thoughts turn into one another, the process of weird association in the brain that leaves us thinking what we are thinking. Today, then, an example of how such strangeness happens, this being the true story of my own brain’s journey along a few meandering pathways. Continue Reading »

It is International Women’s Day today. Originally called International Working Women’s Day, it was an explicitly working class day of honour when first celebrated 100 years ago. And IWD remains of particular importance for the Left, one of those days to remember past struggles, to pay due homage to those women – strugglers and diehards – who continue to resist and continue to hope big. But something more, too – a day to simply recognize the unpaid and so often invisible labour performed by women around the world to sustain their communities.

Today, personally, a moment to remember some of the outstanding women I have known. By no means all of them, nor even those I have known the best. But a few who cross my mind this morning as I take a moment to reflect. Continue Reading »

Been on a bit of Jesus thing lately. Thinking about religion, considering the role it plays in our understandings of the world, its function as an ethical code, a yearning for something more, a mark of community boundaries and so on. And generally considering the importance that religious symbols and religious communities have had at various time in my life. Continue Reading »

Been spending a bit of time each day with the new book project at http://requiredreadings.ca

As I’ve posted here before, it’s a page on which Meg and I are putting together a list culturally-significant writings across genres – fiction, non-fiction, poetry and plays. It’s a hell of a lot of work – the list sits at around 700 texts currently, and we know we are missing a whole lot. More, though, the task now is to write brief posts on every single item – not summaries, necessarily, but a couple of paragraphs on why the text is important and how it is had a lasting impact on the general consciousness. They are pretty quick to do, but I am fast realizing that it’s gonna be a long long while before I have everything up to date and can just do ongoing maintenance. I got Tarzan of the Apes up today, following yesterday’s foray into Gregor Mendel’s Experiments on Plant Hybridization and Wednesday’s Romeo and Juliet. But with 11 books down and hundreds more to go, it’s clearly going to be a slog. Continue Reading »