Teaching religious diversity using “The Faith Project”

In a spectacular TED talk, explorer Wade Davis reflected on the world’s cultures saying, “These myriad voices of humanity are not failed attempts at being modern. They’re unique facets of the human imagination. They’re unique answers to a fundamental question: What does it mean to be human and alive?” We’ve captured just a few of those myriad voices and unique answers in The Faith Project, an interactive documentary exploring the religious diversity of Canada.

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Open call for stories: How do you pray?

I admit it: I struggle with prayer. The month of Ramadan is coming up in the Islamic calendar, which means I’ll be fasting from sunrise to sunset everyday for 30 days. (If you’re counting, that’s no food or drink from 4 a.m. to 9 p.m.)

It’s a time of introspection and prayer. Yet when I’m deprived of a good night’s sleep and regular food, I tend to space out. A few years ago, after my pre-dawn meal and morning prayers, I returned to bed for a few more hours of sleep before the start of the day. In a state of half-sleep during this holy month, I imagined I was in the Emperor’s throne room in a musical version of Return of the Jedi. The old guy can dance, let me tell you.

Yet despite the difficulty (and the show tunes), Ramadan is an essential part of my spiritual life. So is daily prayer; there are times in my life where prayer actually helped me survive. These practices help me cultivate a sense of gratitude and even optimism about my life. So, creating a space for that practice is important to me. Read more

Star Wars, orthodoxy and spirituality

I was looking over the post I made about The Hero With a Thousand Faces, and I thought back to actual philosophical conversations some friends and I have had about Star Wars.

We were all born in the late 1970s, so Star Wars was part of our childhood mythology. It’s a passion for us, and the debates have gotten quite heated, particularly surrounding the Prequel Trilogy and their place in the pantheon.

In all seriousness, the Prequels aren’t really respected by most fans I know. I don’t know about die-hard, convention-going fans, which we are not. But just regular people who, like us, grew up fantasizing about the movies, making lightsaber sounds every time we turned on a flashlight—we’re having trouble reconciling the quality of the Prequels with our love of the Original Trilogy.

So hoping to inject some intellectual coherence into the Prequels, I’ve been trying to figure out exactly what Lucas is try to say there. There’s this whole messy political plot that is incomprehensible to me. Mixed up in there is a statement about Messianic theology, dogmatism, orthodoxy, mysticism, and religion in general. (And now for the indulgent fan-boy analysis. Hey, I’ve got to do something to redeem this franchise.) Read more