Columns

From the category archives: Columns

Dr. Gerry Turcotte

Legends of Knights' initiation left college head squeamish

Dr. Gerry Turcotte
May 2, 2016

Both my father and uncle were Knights of Columbus. Unfortunately, they were also inveterate pranksters, so that when I asked them about becoming a knight the picture they painted for me of the process almost drove me into therapy. "The Knights?" my uncle said, raising his voice alarmingly, and then he melodramatically scanned the surroundings for spies and agitators. "You mean, the . . . Knights?" He looked at my father who inexplicably began to shake his head and mop his brow. Then began what can only be construed as a handshake performed by two men being electrocuted.

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Monthly column gives birth to 'small things'

Dr. Gerry Turcotte
April 4, 2016

One of the most unexpected joys of coming to St. Mary's University in Calgary was the opportunity to write this column. While it is a most modest affair, I confess to enjoying the process and discipline of writing a monthly reflection, and especially value the opportunity to discourse at will on whatever subject happens to take my fancy. As readers of the column will know, often that interest revolves around activities undertaken by my university.

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Driverless cars vexed by overly stringent adherence to moral laws

Dr. Gerry Turcotte
March 7, 2016

I read a fascinating report recently that pointed out how driverless cars have accumulated more than twice the number of accidents as manned vehicles. But here's the interesting statistic: in 100 per cent of those cases, the driverless car was not at fault. The reason for the higher accident rate? These cars always follow the rules. Now it doesn't take a philosopher to analyze the interesting ethical conundrum this provides (though it would help).

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Ashes prepare way for 40-day journey to Easter

Dr. Gerry Turcotte
February 8 , 2016

During Lent last year, Bill Donaghy of the Theology of the Body Institute posted a graphic on his Facebook page entitled "A Catholic Guide to Ashes." What follows is a series of examples of the signs priests place on worshippers' foreheads during Ash Wednesday services. These include a pristine cross labeled First in Line, a massive cross entitled Father's Revenge, a messy little blur called The Hasty, and a barely there impression that says simply Load Toner.

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Worn-out piano symbolizes new year's transition

Dr. Gerry Turcotte
January 25, 2016

Several years ago, when my daughter decided she wanted to learn to play the piano, a good friend tracked down a used upright for us on Kijiji. Even though it was on its last legs, Sophie was able to spend almost two years learning her basic skills until a better instrument was needed. When we discovered that the soundboard on the first piano was irreparably damaged, it became a large, useless, dust-collecting sculpture in the dining room.

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Our acts of charity, once born, never die or fade away

Dr. Gerry Turcotte
November 23, 2015

The month of November witnesses a number of important observances, from All Saints' and All Souls' Day which begin the month, to Remembrance Day in the middle, to Advent that closes out the month. All of these mark an engagement with birth, death and resurrection in some complex sense.

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Church signs can elicit giggles, guffaws

Dr. Gerry Turcotte
October 26, 2015

The feedback I received in response to a column about Church bulletins prompted me to consider that other powerful medium that parishes everywhere use to communicate with their communities - Church signs. We are all familiar with the unintentional messages that a hastily worded sign can send: 'Don't let worry kill you off - let the Church help.' Or the possibly intentional misspelling in this one: 'God's will is perfect; people make misteaks'.

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Life offers a balance of shadows and light

Dr. Gerry Turcotte
September 28, 2015

There is a funny story of identical twins, one always excruciatingly negative, the other indescribably positive. The first is given a horse and complains that he has to feed it; the other a room filled to the ceiling with manure who exclaims happily: 'I know there's a pony in here somewhere!' Optimists are often criticized for being unforgivably positive even when events would suggest otherwise. We can all think of the person who always says, 'Could be worse,' no matter how catastrophic an event.

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Life's failures can open creative doors

Dr. Gerry Turcotte
September 14, 2015

Recently, at a workshop for university presidents, one of my colleagues noted that at times he felt everyone was too afraid of failure. He challenged us to embrace failure - to give it a try, in order to understand its potential as a learning moment. The example he gave was trying to teach a young child how to do math. He told the child to imagine he had 36 donuts and to divide them into two lines.

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Mary's accessibility always brings comfort

Dr. Gerry Turcotte
August 31,2015

The first prayer I ever learned as a child was the Hail Mary. To this day I experience a sense of comfort and sacredness from those opening lines: "Hail Mary full of grace. The Lord is with thee. "I remember a feeling of awe when, as I backpacked through Turkey as a young man, I came across Meryem ana, the House of Mary, arguably the last place she lived before her death. This is where the Apostle John is said to have taken her after Christ's instructions, from the cross, to care for his mother.

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