Je Suis Charlie

Yes, I am Charlie! We all are.

The massacre at the offices of Charlie Hebdo (translation: Charlie Weekly; named for Charles Shultz’s iconic everyman) is not just about freedom of the press; it’s about the right of every person to live free and say what’s on their minds without fear!

It’s also about art; specifically, the art of satire. Since the earliest days of human civilization the number one sign of a tyrannical government, administration, monarchy or any other form of leadership is the suppression of criticism. Even Emperor Nero, for all his many faults would pardon the satirists in advance of their performance so they could present their art without fear of not living long enough to get to their next gig.  In fact, the Muslim author, Al-Jahiz, introduced satire into Islamic texts “based on the premise that, however serious the subject under review, it could be made more interesting and thus achieve greater effect, if only one leavened the lump of solemnity by the insertion of a few amusing anecdotes or by the throwing out of some witty or paradoxical observations. ” [1]

So it affects us all; even more so in our new digital, media-enhanced society because so many of us have become publishers of our opinions. For example; I have this blog. I do not have a huge following (according to the stats my largest audience for any given post was 76— not even enough circulation to get Google Ads interested), but as cathartic and/or narcissistic an exercise it may be, in a free society I have the right to express myself here, in this way, without fear of violence to my person.

So do you when you post to your Facebook page, or throw that inappropriate selfie up on Instagram, or even share you Grandmother’s recipe for pork roll ups on Yummly. We are all publishers in one way or another and it is freedom of speech that allows us to do so.

However, freedom of speech does sometimes bite us in the ass. The same freedom that lets us share what is important to us allows others to share what we would consider offensive. The problem is, if we pass laws that prevent the offensive, idiotic, bigots from having their say then that same law can one day be turned around and used to shut us up as well. It’s why I oppose hate speech legislation. As Evelyn B. Hall expressed on behalf of Voltaire, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” [2]

Je-suis-CharlieSo for the next few days I’ve changed my profile pic and cover photo on Facebook to reflect my grief at the slaughter of four cartoonists and their co-workers in France. I’m no satirist, or even really an author, but I have an opinion and I value the right my society gives me to express it.

Je suis Charlie.


[1] Bosworth, Clifford Edmund (1976), The Mediaeval Islamic Underworld: The Banu Sasan in Arabic Society and Literature, Brill Publishers, ISBN 90-04-04392-6.

[2] Right now many of you are fuming, “That was Voltaire!” But actually it was one of his biographers Evelyn Beatrice Hall who wrote the line as an example of Voltaire’s beliefs. It’s been miss-attributed to him ever since.


Well friends, this is it!

20080406-043This post marks the official opening of the new location of Myriad Shades of Gray.  Feel free to look around and comment on what you do and do not like. There a few things here you wouldn’t have found at the previous location. There will be additional features added in the future I’m sure.

One thing that will be familiar is the scope of the content.  Namely, just about anything that catches my attention. From Achilles Heels to Zingers, from Antiquity to the Future;  all of it with an eye to how it impacts my spiritual walk.

All the posts from the old site have been imported here. I will catalog and tag them as time permits.  The old site will be deleted at the end of March 2009.  My other blog – Java and Jesus – will stay where it is for the time being; and yes, new posts are coming. I haven’t made up my mind about the History Blog yet.  Only time will tell.

So once again welcome – and please drop by often.

Until next time…  Enjoy!

Dennis Gray

Warning: Blogging can be Habit Forming!

It has been just over a month since I started blogging again and I have made a discovery. Blogging (for me anyway) is like potato chips – I can’t write just one!

Here’s the deal. Back in November I purchased a new study Bible – the ESV Study Bible (English Standard Version) published by Crossway. I’ve used a number of different study Bibles over the years and this is one of the nicest I’ve seen. The translation is a literal translation but with more than the usual attention given to sentence structure and syntax making it more readable than say, the NASB (New American Standard Bible). The extras are top notch, the contributors the best in their fields, and the artwork is amazing. You can check it out at the link above.

During my recent recovery period, I started reading the book of Matthew in the ESV and it wasn’t long before I started thinking about the work I left unfinished at my blog ‘Java and Jesus‘. I found that I wanted to finish the work, and so, after some prayer and contemplation, I have decided I shall.

And so starting today I shall once again be posting to on a regular basis. How regular, I’m not sure, but I will pick up where I left off with little fanfare and a lot of trepidation. If you enjoyed what I posted before, or are intrigued by what you’ve read here, I invite you to join me. If you know of anyone who used to read J&J then please pass this along and let them know it has started up again.

That’s it for now… see you over there, and here as well.



The Chinese Gov’t Doesn’t Like Me!!!

Well, It would seem that folks surfing the Internet in the People’s Republic of China are not allowed to read the musings of yours truly.

But then that’s hardly surprising when you think about it. I mean, it’s not like they would want the Christians in China being encouraged, or exchange ideas about what the Bible is really saying, or learn something of church history. No we can’t have that now can we? If you want to know if your favorite URL is blocked in China check out The Great Firewall of China. Just enter the URL in the space provided and see if their test location can access your site from inside China.

Sarcasm aside, it actually serves to remind us that we are extremely privileged in this country. For all of our complaining about inept government, inconvenient bureaucracies, lengthy commutes and the lineup at Tim Hortons, the fact remains that we are the most fortunate people in the world.

We live in a country where we are free to vote for the worst candidate, make the wrong career choice, and over indulge our every desire. We can be complete and total idiots and the only consequence will be those of our own making. There’s no one telling us where to live, what to do for a living, or what to think. We can worship who we want; Jesus or Buddha or Mohammed or no one at all. And it’s all because of the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice to secure these freedoms for us.

So I add my voice to the hundreds of others and ask you, when you see the poppy displays at Tim Hortons, or the veterans in the mall with the poppies and pins, please give generously, shake a hand, and say, “Thank You!”