Adam Snider

Archive for the ‘Faith in Action’ Category

Unitarian minister speaks out against Alberta gov’ts cuts to sex-change operations

In Faith in Action on April 14, 2009 at 8:33 am

This letter is just one of many reasons that I’m happy to call myself a Unitarian Universalist (yes, I’ve decided that it is appropriate to identify my religious beliefs in that way):

In a $36-billion budget, the Alberta government chooses to eliminate $700,000 for gender reassignment surgeries. By my calculation that’s a whopping 0.00194 per cent of the budget.

Sorry, but to me this looks like a convenient opportunity to disguise blatant and cruel discrimination as fiscal prudence.

If it wasn’t tragic, it would be laughable.

And the saddest thing is that the government will now have to spend considerably more than they will save in defending this policy before a human rights tribunal.

It’s wrong, mean-spirited and petty, and for what it’s worth, against my religious principles.

Rev. Brian Kiely, Unitarian Church of Edmonton

The emphasis in the final paragraph is mine, but it serves to highlight the way that my church matches my beliefs. I can’t think of too many other religions where a minister would sign his or her name to a letter like this. For that reason, among others, I can’t think of too many other religions where I’d feel comfortable exploring my spiritual side.

For a look at my own opinion on this issue, check out my (unpublished) letter to the editor, “Cutting coverage for sex-change operations shameful,” on my other blog,


Writing as a spiritual practice

In Faith in Action on February 25, 2009 at 10:28 am

Mary Jaksch has an interesting article on Write to Done about writing as a spiritual practice. As someone who is both a writer and a person trying to find greater spiritual depth in life, I found it an interesting read.

My favourite part of the article is when she describes what she means when she says something is spiritual:

When I say spiritual, I’m not talking about anything high-flying. I’m not talking about angels, higher vibrations, higher intuition, higher anything. I’m talking about something lowly: how to be grounded in the moment.

I like this definition of spirituality as something lowly and Earthly. To me, that’s the most important kind of spirituality. I can’t possibly know if all of the high-flying gods and angels stuff exists, but I am fairly certain about the reality of our physical realm (i.e.: the world that I can perceive with my 5 senses).

Thinking of spirituality in Earthly terms means that it becomes something tangible and accessible to everyone. I can’t think of a better way of thinking about spirituality.

As nice it is to think about the concept of a perfect afterlife, I’m much more interesting in exploring spirituality and faith in a way that impacts the life I have now. How can faith improve my life, and how can I help to improve the lives of others?

To me, that’s what faith and spirituality are all about.

To read the rest of Jaksch’s article, visit Naked Mind: Writing as Spiritual Practice.

Environmentalism as a spiritual practice

In Faith in Action on January 19, 2009 at 7:38 pm

Environmental stewardship is a key element of my personal faith, and I believe that it should be an important part of any faithful person’s life, regardless of what they find faith in. Whether it be rational humanism or fundamentalist Christianity, environmentalism should play a major role in a person’s faith.

In terms of my developing Unitarian Universalist faith, doing what I can to take care of the environment is a way of living up to the seventh principle: Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part. To neglect the environment would be to disrespect the interdependent web of existence and, by extension, all living things. That’s a lot of disrespect, if you ask me.

Having respect for the environment is also important to me because being in nature is one of the ways that I attempt to reach out to god. Being in nature is one of the most spiritual experiences that I know of. To neglect the environment—to let the Earth die—would be tantamount to killing god.

I also have reasons that are, perhaps, not as directly related to faith, such as wanting to leave my future children with a world that will sustain them and their children after them.

With these reasons in mind, here are some the efforts that I make to try and protect the environment.

  • Reusable shopping bags – I’ve been using reusable shopping bags for a while now. Canvas, cloth or other similar options all work well. I prefer the bags that Superstore sells here in Canada, because they’re actually made from recycled plastic. Since they’re made from a waste product, they’re doubly green.
  • Purchase local and/or organic products – While buying local can be difficult living up north in Edmonton, I do the best I can. I try to buy local produce and meat whenever possible. If it’s local and organic, all the better. If a particular foodstuff isn’t available from a local producer, I will generally try to buy the organic option, since it’s usually a little bit better for the environment than the non-organic version. One of the added bonuses of buying local, at least when it comes to food, is that your meal will usually taste better, since the food is fresher.
  • Use energy efficient light bulbs – I have been slowly switching over to CFLs. Whenever a light bulb burns out in my apartment, I replace it with a CFL. I know I should probably replace all of my incandescent bulbs with CFLs, but it seems wasteful to throwout a light bulb that is still in working condition, even if it does use more electricity.
  • Eat less meat – Raising livestock requires a massive amount of resources and produces a lot of carbon emissions. Because of this, I try to eat less meat. I generally eat at least one meatless meal a week. It’s not much, but if everyone did this, it would make a huge difference. Plus, we eat too much meat in the West as it is, so cutting back a bit is better for your body, too.
  • Turning off the lights – It’s a simple thing that we’ve all been raised to do: turn off the lights when you leave a room. I must admit that I’m not the best at remembering to do this, but I try not to have more lights on than I need. Often, I have only a single light bulb burning in my apartment in the evening.
  • Use human-powered appliances – This one is something that you might not think of, but something as simple as using a hand-powered can-opener instead of an electric one makes a difference. In this vein, I use a French press instead of an electric coffeemaker to brew my coffee in the morning. This has the added benefit of making coffee that tastes better, too. Obviously, I’m not suggesting you stop using electric appliances altogether, but that electric can-opener is overkill unless you’re opening the huge 4L can of ketchup or something like that.
  • Use environmentally friendly cleaning products – A lot of cleaning products are not environmentally friendly. Laundry detergent, which typically contains phosphates, is particularly harmful. I have begun using biodegradable, phosphate-free detergent that is 3x concentrated (cutting down on the package size). It’s also free of a number of other ingredients commonly found in less environmentally friendly detergents, such as petroleum products. These products are sometimes more expensive, but more and more often they are the same price as the less eco-friendly alternative.

Do you think that caring for the environment is important aspect of faith? What acts do you take in order to try and protect the planet? Share your thoughts in the comments section.