I am replying to the letter Who needs theology? (Aug. 21) by Bob Russell. I am quite surprised at the writer's ignorance of what theology is, namely the study of God and what has come from that.
Your ability to write came directly from people who spent their life studying God. People who study God find themselves drawn to help humanity. Over 200 years ago, Sunday school was started to teach children to read and write so that they would not be condemned to child labour their whole life.
Hospitals and medicine were a direct result of men and women who studied God and cared enough for humanity to begin learning the care and practice of medicine. Medicare was an idea put forward by Tommy Douglas, who was a minister.
Did you know that it was people who studied God that decided that it was wrong to throw dead people to the scavengers and began the practice of burying the dead? The great universities of the world were started by men who studied God. Humanitarian agencies were birthed out of the hearts of people who studied God.
What have atheists given to this world? Nietzsche, the man who said God is dead and died insane, or maybe Joseph Stalin, the man who sent 46 million people to their death. Or Hitler, who instituted the Holocaust and destroyed millions of people.
I think humanity needs God because on our own we are really making a mess of things. I think Jesus had two commands, love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and strength. The second is like the first; love your neighbour as yourself. Yup, I think maybe if we did that we might be in a bit better place. Of course that's theology.
Two things need to be said in response to Bob Russell. First, without the theologian John Calvin (the 500th anniversary of his birth is this year), modern science as we know it would not exist. Calvin argued God had provided two books which when studied would tell humanity about God: The Book of Nature and the Book of Revelation (The Bible). In elevating the study of nature in this way, Calvin laid the theoretical framework for modern science.
Second, the quotation from Richard Dawkins implies the only things worth doing are those that produce a functional product. So singing a song of love and joy to the newborn in your arms is not worth doing; neither is standing on the dock and watching in awe as the sun sets. These and moments like them draw us out of ourselves to experience a reality that can not be measured in the lab. These moments feed our souls. We live in a world of wonder that mere functional science can not touch. The best science never loses the joy of wonder. And wonder brings us closer to God.
Theology, from the Greek theos (God) and logos (word), can be understood as a science, doctrine or theory. I believe it is the mother of all sciences and that it allows the development of fundamental qualities, like discipline, meaning and hope.
In response to Bob Russell's letter, may I submit this suggestion? Bob, step out of your residence, constructed from materials designed by scientists, cooled, or heated, by systems designed by scientists and take note of your surrounding buildings, vehicles, roads and bridges, and aircraft, all designed by scientists and marvel at their accomplishments. And enjoy.
I, in the meantime, will step outside of my home and take in the fresh air, grass, vegetables, fruit, trees, elm, oak, ash spruce, etc. This planet is such a beautiful gift that it leaves me in perpetual awe. This is something that no team of scientists can duplicate. What they can do, though, is make use of the properties bestowed upon them and make our lives more comfortable. Me? I'm going with a higher power, whom I refer to as God.
They deserve our support
One of the issues now before us is the behaviour of one firefighter working out of the Osborne Street station (Firefighters fear sex-romp backlash, Aug. 24). Many of us have on occasion fallen from grace. This is not condoning the man's alleged actions but rather looking at the entire picture. Generally, gratefulness is an appropriate word to use when speaking about our fire and police departments. They risk their lives daily for our safety.
Consider this quote: "There is some bad in the best of us and some good in the worst of us." Three cheers for our public servants. When we need their services we are on our knees.
Show us the Games
Where in blazes is the television coverage of our Canada Games? Doesn't CBC stand for Canadian Broadcasting Corporation? What an insult to our Canadian athletes who have devoted years of dedicated practice to their sport in hopes of representing the country at the Canadian Games.
Shame on CBC! It should change its name to ABC, namely, Anything But Canadian. The other Canadian networks aren't much better. If it were not for the newspapers, we wouldn't even know the games were being played. Disgraceful!
I loved Meghan Daum's column of Aug. 24 (Bad parent porn appeals to the smug). The media circus surrounding the woman who gave birth to eight babies never stops. Daum wisely claims that "bad parenting has emerged as its own entertainment genre." Is it really necessary to have front page headlines like Mom plans surprise for bully with supporting comments from a parent who gives her son "full permission to kick the snot out of the other boy (bully)"? Please leave this kind of story for the tabloids so I will not be assaulted with the kind of story that could easily incite violence in our schools.
Bullies have problems
Your article Should bullied kids fight back? (Aug. 24) struck a personal chord with me. I was bullied as a teen and lived in constant fear of my peers. I tried fighting back, even telling someone in authority at school, but that only seemed to make matters worse. Back then schools didn't have any anti-bullying programs or policies like they do today. I was made fun of simply because I was different. Yes, the name calling and the physical abuse hurt. But I wasn't about to change who I am or what I believed in. And why should I? The kids who bullied me were the ones who had a problem and not me. I made the decision not to behave as they did. I would help people and not hurt them. I wanted to make a difference in people's lives and in my community. And that is what I'm doing today.
Freeing a terrorist
The decision of the Scottish justice secretary to release the Lockerbie bomber has understandably created great consternation. No one can fail to appreciate the feelings especially of the families of the 270 who perished on the plane that came down over Lockerbie in 1988.
We might give some thought, however, to an aspect of this story that few are considering. Justice Secretary Kenny Macaskill concluded his statement of explanation about the release by saying, "Mr. Al Megrahi now faces a sentence imposed by a higher power. It is one that no court, in any jurisdiction, in any land, could revoke or overrule. He is going to die." Then, he added, "The perpetuation of an atrocity and outrage cannot and should not be the basis for losing sight of who we are, the values we seek to uphold, and the faith and beliefs by which we seek to live."
It will not go unnoticed by many in the Arab and Muslim world that a politician of a largely Christian nation should invoke his faith in coming to a decision such as this. Even if there was jubilation within Libya at this turn of events, thoughtful people will see a face of Christianity that can go a huge distance to lessening the animosities that now exist between the largely Christian west and the largely Muslim Middle East, and perhaps even open them to very different understandings.
I for one applaud Macaskill for the courage to make a very difficult decision despite his awareness of the strong feelings on all sides of such an action. A reading of his entire statement makes it abundantly clear that it was not done lightly.