Thursday, April 13, 2006

"Good Riddance, Jesus Is Dead"-Meaning Of The Term "Good Friday"

The term "Good Friday" seems to be confusing, considering that it marks the observance of Jesus' death. Intuitively, you would ask yourself, "what's good about someone dying?" It's my understanding that the term "good" has origins close to the word "holy," so in this context the proper name is "Holy Friday." To take another twist on this event, it seems that for many Christians, Good Friday means, "it's a good thing Jesus is dead, because now we don't have to listen to Him."

We live in a culture that worships the idols of material gain, power, popularity, comfort, and selfish ambition. This stands in contrast to the teachings of Jesus, which were to love one's neighbour, defend the powerless, care about the outcast, and self-sacrifice. Many Christians have bought into a theology that has been fitted to suit this very culture. The self-contradictory logic behind this theology is that we are all filthy sinners who all need salvation from God or else we go to Hell, we cannot clean this filth ourselves, yet God also loves us so much that He sent Jesus to die on a cross to wash away our sins, yet only those who believe this will be spared. The main thing is to accept Jesus as your Saviour, so that you'll spend an eternity in Heaven, which is the goal. This despite Jesus never having said, "accept me as your personal Saviour," or the fact that Jesus' primary concern was more life in this world than in the next. It keeps Jesus in the 3 places that these Christians like to keep Him: the manger, the cross, and the sky. From these places, Jesus doesn't speak to us, and His words don't have any impact on us at all. Placing Him there also allows people to ignore those aspects of His message that make them uncomfortable, they believe that they're all going to Heaven automatically anyways, and that their actions and how they live their lives are of little consequence.

What does the holiday ultimately mean? Good Friday marks Jesus' death, to remind us of those times when hope is absent, the darkness of the world having fallen to pieces, and when God seems absent from the world. Yet, this is not how the story ends. The story ends with the Resurrection of Jesus. This means that Jesus is alive, and that He continues to speak to people and be present in the world, and that in spite of the difficulties that come with it, it provides Christians with the strenght and courage to work towards the Kingdom of Heaven that Jesus often talked about.

Monday, April 03, 2006

A Problem Of Epidemic Proportions

There is an insidious disease making the rounds. Its incidence is on the rise, it kills millions of people around the world annually, and those who survive often have to live with devastating consequences. Chances are, if you don't suffer this disease in your own lifetime, you know people who have. What is this disease? Avian flu? SARS?

No. It's cancer.

April is considered by the Canadian Cancer Society to be "cancer month." The CCS spends much of this time giving lifestyle advice for preventing cancer, and fundraising to promote research into treatments, and finding a cure. Yet, despite these campaigns, cancer is now the leading cause of death in the United States, and rates of cancer continue to rise, even among children, which rules out the possibility that cancer rates are rising as a result of an aging population. The World Health Organisation estimates that 7 million people die each year from the disease. Some who die from the disease do so after a prolonged period of suffering either from the disease itself or the treatments, and those who survive the disease often have to live with serious consequences. And despite following the steps to a healthy lifestyle according to the CCS, Canadian journalist Wendy Mesley was still diagnosed with the disease. Uneasy not only with her own diagnosis but with the sheer numbers of people who contract the disease, she did an investigation, and was shocked by what she found.

She found that what Dr. Samuel Epstein called the "cancer establishment" was more focused on treating the disease than on prevention. As people contract the disease, they require several treatments which can be expensive, and are major business for drug manufacturers. Some drugs may not even be covered under provincial health plans. As for the prevention angle, chemicals introduced into the envrionment in the last few decades have been linked to cancer, and that probably doesn't even include complex interatcions between chemical A and chemical B that can't be simulated in a laboratory. These chemicals are in many things, such as household cleaning and personal care products, things we come into contact with on a daily basis. Sometimes these ingredients aren't even listed on the product packages.

Yet like anything else, prevention is the key. Aside from the benefits of being healthy, it also reduces stress on the health care system. It's better if we can remove those things from our environment that cause problems. In addition to choices individuals can make, there is also a role to play for more regulations in terms of labelling and restricting carcinogenic elements. For example, the City of Brandon banned cosmetic pesticide use within city limits. One less thing we have to be exposed to. Why not use the opportunity provided by cancer month to learn about environmental contaminants and to reduce their presence in our environment?