Western Standard

The Shotgun Blog

« Your money or your life? | Main | We need more Cleveland »

Thursday, February 12, 2009

God's happy walls

Metro Vancouver won't be allowing those internationally notorious atheistic messages on its buses. That's the word from Translink after the B.C. Humanist Association sought to festoon Lower Mainland buses with ads reading, "You can be good without God."

It's too bad we won't be seeing the ads. As a committed Catholic, I relish just the sort of opportunity for engagement and dialogue that the ads present.

I particularly would have enjoyed discussing the idea, raised by one set of bus ads in Britain, that one should stop worrying about whether God exists, and just start enjoying life. I'd answer that it's far easier to have a really good time knowing that God does exist. G.K. Chesterton put it best in his book Orthodoxy:

Those countries in Europe which are still influenced by priests, are exactly the countries where there is still singing and dancing and colored dresses and art in the open-air. Catholic doctrine and discipline may be walls; but they are the walls of a playground. Christianity is the only frame which has preserved the pleasure of Paganism.

“We might fancy some children playing on the flat grassy top of some tall island in the sea. So long as there was a wall round the cliff’s edge they could fling themselves into every frantic game and make the place the noisiest of nurseries. But the walls were knocked down, leaving the naked peril of the precipice. They did not fall over; but when their friends returned to them they were all huddled in terror in the centre of the island; and their song had ceased.”

h/t: Tom McFeely at the National Catholic Register

Posted by Terry O'Neill on February 12, 2009 in Religion | Permalink


...wow! Good for BC Transit. I wouldn't have figured.

So there is hope after all for my home town.

Posted by: tomax7 | 2009-02-12 10:51:46 AM

tomax7, isn't there a free speech and expression issue here?

Those ads were hardly offensive, and, as Terry rightly states, could have initiated an interesting debate.

BC Transit may have some generic rule about staying away from political/advocacy ads, but I doubt it. Don't they display campaign ads on their buses in BC?

On a different point, I loved that Chesterton quote. While I'm not religious, the quote speaks to my adopted view that we need both the private contraints of social conservatism and the political freedom libertarianism provides in order to be happy.

At the very least, it's worth a debate.

Posted by: Matthew Johnston | 2009-02-12 11:02:55 AM

From the link Terry provided:

But TransLink officials have refused the request, saying the transit system doesn't accept ads that promote or oppose a specific theology or religious ethic, point of view, policy or action.

"It's the policy we've been adhering to for the past 20 years," said spokesperson Judy Rudin.

Posted by: Matthew Johnston | 2009-02-12 11:04:29 AM

Is "You can be good without God" really controversial? Seriously? Perhaps only with the most closed minded theists, but surely not beyond that. The fact that the B.C. Humanist Association would spend money to advertise that particular message and that some would celebrate the refusal of TransLink to accept it suggests maybe the religious bigot is more common than I thought.

Posted by: Fact Check | 2009-02-12 11:22:02 AM


About the Chesterton quote: Whenever I hear such religious talk it makes me think that the apitome of the "nanny state" is the Kingdom of Heaven. No wonder people are so often looking for a "higher power" here on earth to take care of them. It is what they are taught to expect from God. It's the ultimate comfort. It's funny that Marx was so opposed to religion when it is religion that teaches people to trust in the plan of a higher power that will make sure that if they do their part, they will be provided for. I don't usually have much nice to say about the crazy Randian cult, but she did seem to understand the role religion plays in politics better than most.

Posted by: Fact Check | 2009-02-12 11:29:44 AM

FC, yes Marx was opposed to religion - that is any religion other than his own, for that is exactly what it was and is. Furthermore, the only "religious bigots" you are likely to encounter in Vancouver are not Christians.

Posted by: Alain | 2009-02-12 11:41:01 AM

Fact Check wrote: "...Whenever I hear such religious talk it makes me think that the apitome of the "nanny state"..."

Even pretentious fact checkers need to spell check once in a while. The word is epitome.

Pay back is a bitch.

Posted by: John Chittick | 2009-02-12 1:42:57 PM


Oh no!!! I made a typo!!! The SHAME of it all!!!

"Pay back is a bitch."

Ummm ... it's "payback" when used as a noun, dumb-dumb. Now THAT'S an example of payback, bitch!


Posted by: Spell Check | 2009-02-12 1:52:12 PM

Bus ad message suggested on another blog.

‘There’s probably no global warming. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.'

Anybody willing to contribute?

Posted by: set you free | 2009-02-12 2:38:18 PM

I would throw some money at that SYF.

Posted by: Matthew Johnston | 2009-02-12 2:51:02 PM

Todd Bentley has remarried - but you know who to?!
Comment by Dumb & Dumberer | February 12, 2009

Posted by: susan | 2009-02-12 6:05:59 PM

Maybe I just missed the boat, but the one sentence on the side of a bus would only convince someone of the lowest mental capacity. I'm sure seeing eye dogs believe it, but we all know they get put down late in life anyway.

Posted by: Sam T. | 2009-02-13 7:38:50 AM

I don't get it, whats the big deal about this. I mean Evangelists have been advertising on TV for DECADES and no one complains about them. So what atheists are advertising on buses.

Posted by: Ometochtli | 2009-02-16 6:29:39 PM

Alain, I do not see anything particularly religious in Marx's writing. Marx engaged in an analysis of the social and economic systems of the time. He may have been wrong, probably was wrong, but I do not think he can be accused of putting forth a new religion any more than Adam Smith writing some fifty years earlier. Now Leninists and others in sunsequent times do have a religious character but that can be blamed on Karl. I suspect Alain that you have never read any of Marx's works.

Posted by: David Brown | 2009-03-02 7:27:04 PM

The comments to this entry are closed.