Karen Armstrong does a good job of summarizing the history of the development of religion & state succinctly in each chapter, linking each of the histories to each other in terms of patterns in government. What really struck me throughout was how effectively autocratic governments have fared throughout the ages – well, they would, not having to go through all the other layers of government in order to get things done, but still! In addition to this, the seeming inability to remove religion from society completely was quite interesting to see: the nation took the place of traditional belief systems, and instead of fighting for those beliefs, people would fight for the sake of their nation. It almost seems like the issue isn’t so much religion in its inspiration of violent devotion so much as humans at large, to be honest. Continue reading
Ivan Coyote is the kind of storyteller who finds their way into the heart of anyone who takes the time to listen. In fact, one of the stories in Tomboy Survival Guide is kind of about just that! But I’m getting ahead of myself.
If you don’t know who Coyote is, I implore you to look into their work – they are a Canadian writer and storyteller who grew up in the Yukon. Their stories reflect their endless fascination with and love for people of all kinds, and they have a remarkable ability to pull beautiful things out of tragedy and pain. All of their story collections thrum with humanity (to the point where they even bring out the reluctant poet in me, apparently!)
Their most recent collection, Tomboy Survival Guide, is particularly dear to my heart, though. I originally discovered Coyote when they were touring with Rae Spoon, one of my favourite Canadian musical artists. The two artists collaborated on on the multimedia show Gender Failure, exploring their experiences growing up and failing to fit into the gender binary. I saw this show three times while it was touring, and I cried at each performance; it was that good. (The stories and lyrics from this show were also published as a book by the same title, so go ahead and check it out* for yourself!)
Tomboy Survival Guide also follows up on a collaborative performance project of the same title, that Coyote developed with an all-tomboy musical ensemble, an dit explores many of the same themes as Gender Failure. Here Coyote digs back into their own life, growing up from their tomboy roots into a young butch adult, and finally embracing the uncategorizable nature of their gendered experience. Funny, vulnerable, and sometimes sad, this is ultimately a heart-warming collection of memories that, like all of Coyote’s writing, inspires me to be a stronger and more compassionate person.
*pun very much intended
One of the less-known gems of the Vaughan Public Libraries online collection is the access we can give you to free online courses (just click on the Learn tab on our Lifelong Learning page). Here, you’ll find a list of different platforms available for various kinds of learning. We can help you out with, seriously, almost any topic imaginable, including options like:
- learning a new language (Transparent Language)
- getting help with high school or GED studies (or brushing up to (Khan Academy, TV Ontario Education)
- updating your resume with business or computer skills (maybe it’s time to get over your fear of Excel? Try out Lynda or Universal Class)
- or just exploring fun subjects you’re curious about, like dream analysis, game design, or pretty much anything else you can think of (Coursera, EdX, Universal Class, Lynda, or really any other resource that interests you). Continue reading