Friday, May 19, 2006

What A Way To Get Noticed

Well, my home town, Salluit, has finally hit the headlines across Canada. Was it because of some heroic exploit by one of its sons and daughters? - No. Was it due to some tragedy? - No. Was there a major meeting or event there? - No. So what was it?

In true Salluit style, it was the abysmally petty and incredibly stupid policies of the town's administrators which have garnered national attention. Apparently, our high school principal has reprimanded a teacher for teaching the accepted science curriculum of the province of Quebec and the regional Kativik School Board. His offense: to teach evolution to his students as required by his contract.

Before I go any further in my tirade, I should declare my religious affiliation: I am Christian but have respect for those of different beliefs. But what often masquerades as Christianity in many places in the Arctic bears no resemblance to mainstream Christian beliefs; rather, it is an adaptation of shamanism as practiced by Inuit for many milennia. And it is primarily being driven by the lunatic fringe of Christianity from the south.

When I first arrived in Salluit in 1987, some asshole of a Pentacostal preacher from the south incited the public to burn all cassette tapes and vinyl albums in a massive public bonfire. As well, at one of our many "Bible Studies", which are really old fashioned rivival meetings, one participant showed me gold dust from heaven which showered down upon those assembled - a cheap carnival trick.

As long as people keep their personal beliefs to themselves I really don't mind. But what really presses all of my buttons is the sheer hypocracy and selective reading of the Gospels. Molest children - let's cover it up. Misappropriate public funds - what the fuck it's only money. Assault someone - blame it on the victim or the influence of non-Inuit culture.

But let a teacher actually teach the accepted curriculum, let's screw him to the walls for offending some personal beliefs of the narrow-minded bigots in our town.

You want to teach creationism or intelligent design? My five children attend religion classes in school and Sunday school on the weekend for this purpose. You want to teach science and biology? Well, you have to discuss the theory of evolution and natural selection. You want to debate the differences, use some other class as a forum for this discussion.

I shall be returning to Salluit on Sunday (weather depending) and when I do I will be wearing a paper bag of shame over my head.

If any of you share my feelings and are aware of any organizations which would like to apply pressure on my community for this attrocity, please contact me by email.


Blogger The Phosgene Kid said...

I was fairly religious, but things like the teacher being assholed for doing his job, priests with an appetite for young boy and a bureaucracy striving to cover it ups, major disasters and loss of life - well, if there is a god he/she/it is pretty damn negligent.

As you said everyone is entitled to their beliefs, as long as those beliefs don't include strapping on an explosive cummerbund and blowing up some poor snapper-heads that are just trying to make a living. Faith has its place and it can help a person hold on in the face of adversity, but respect for and reliance on fellow humans will go much further than talking to the sky and hoping some deity will shit gold bricks on you or extract you from a jam.

1:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I’ve been raised as a Anglican / Catholic for as long as I can remember, yet my beliefs have developed more into a common respect to the values in which the bible is trying to teach us, and to any other religion and beliefs that have true values that I can relate to. You could say that I am an atheist for now, I guess till I come to an age where I will be wondering what is next and what will happen to me after my death…

But coming back to that teacher that will no longer be able to teach in Salluit. I feel it is really sad not only for the teacher whom has just lost his job, but mainly for the result in which this situation has created and that is creating for young Inuit today. ``We don’t want to hear that stuff! `` The Kativik School Board doesn’t realize the severity of its mandate. How can you expect these children to become scientists, biologists, engineers and astronauts? The simple fact the Darwin theory is not being told in Nunavik’s elementary and secondary education directly affects the future of our young Inuit.

I do not have all the solutions but feel we should discuss this matter more and try and find a right balance between these contradictions. Maybe this will take time to adjust and to be accepted by northern religious groups but we need to talk more about this.

The common respect between any religion and beliefs will always be hard to achieve yet I still believe you can respect any man for his true nature and kindness.

4:44 PM  
Blogger nanuk said...

TPK: You know, there are times I do pray, either for thanks or for some sort of guidance. Inevitably, the way it gets resolved in me is to love and respect others, and above all be kind. For the life of me I cannot understand any god, demi-god, spiritual force or supreme intelligence could respond by telling us to be totally self-righteous and hateful of others who do not share our views.

Anon: Agreed. There is a very easy way to accommodate both views (religious and scientific) within our schools. As long as you have an open mind and a willingness to hear others, that is.

5:15 PM  
Blogger Sarah Letnes said...

Bummer. It's hard for me to imagine a group burning music in the late 80's. Do you think it was Boy George who pushed that Pentecostal preacher over the edge?

7:10 PM  
Blogger nanuk said...

Sarah: the scary thing was that our Kristallnacht was completely all-encompassing. If it wasn't gospel, it was the devil's music.

8:00 PM  
Blogger Eternally Curious said...

It's reading stuff like this that makes me really wonder where we (mankind) are heading? Rather than evolving...I fear we are lost, quite possibly forever. We live in an insane world. Extreme "pro-lifers"...killing and bombing. What the...? God's Representatives (work with me here - I'm using the term as a generality not a statement of fact)...molesting, harming and hurting. All of God's "houses", which are supposed to be open and welcoming to entirely focused on money and social status that if the Bible's Jesus were to try to walk into any one of them today he'd be turned away...and worse, he'd be ridiculed and humiliated. And religious extremists, such as in your town Nanuk, vehemently denying generally accepted scientific beliefs such as evolution and even the existence of the dinosaurs for Pete's sake - all because they can't make those facts "fit" with their interpretation of the Bible. Which, by the way, was written by men interpreting the word of....oh what the heck, not even worth going down that road!

All I can say is this: I do happen to believe in a Something bigger than me. And I thank that Something as much and as often as I can? For what? That He/She/It is in charge ... and not me ... 'cuz I would have given up on mankind (again...please...I am speaking in sweeping generalizations and most definitely not in specifics) long ago.

8:58 PM  
Blogger marty said...

Sounds like George Bush's America migrated North.

Sorry Nanuk.

11:19 PM  
Blogger nanuk said...

Eternally Curious: The sad part is that it has always been thus. Just type in the word "heresy" into Wikipedia and look at the myriads of what are basically similar beliefs, but adherence to which could lead to excommunication or death.

Marty: I'm afraid this pre-dates Bush by a couple of decades. But the underlying so-called Christian movement supporting Bush and the neo-cons is the same up here, except some Inuit really get into the wilder and weirder versions of it.

7:12 AM  
Blogger Anna said...

That kind of stuff never ceases to shock and amaze me.

8:17 AM  
Blogger The Wrath of Dawn said...

Egad. I didn't think that kind of narrow thinking was still prevalent anywhere. Silly, aren't I?

It sounds to me like we share similar religious beliefs, Nanuk - "there are times I do pray, either for thanks or for some sort of guidance. Inevitably, the way it gets resolved in me is to love and respect others, and above all be kind. For the life of me I cannot understand any god, demi-god, spiritual force or supreme intelligence could respond by telling us to be totally self-righteous and hateful of others who do not share our views."

Well put.

10:47 AM  
Blogger The Phosgene Kid said...

Hey Nanuk, do you know where I can get some accessories for my auto??

10:18 PM  
Blogger merlinprincesse said...

Sad... :(

5:35 PM  
Blogger The Phosgene Kid said...

Nanuk - please tell your folks to quit killing bears for British military bear hats. Apparently some of the Britsish folk are taking their clothes off to protest, and from pictures I've seen of most Brits with their clothes on that thought just scares the hell out of me.

8:04 PM  
Blogger Tillerman said...

Religious fundamentalism is a scourge on the world.

3:53 PM  
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