Deborah Gyapong: March 2006

Friday, March 31, 2006

Ecstasy and Intimacy: When the Holy Spirit Meets the Human Spirit


Last night I went to hear a friend of mine, New Testament scholar Edith Humphrey, speak about her latest book Ecstasy and Intimacy: When the Holy Spirit Meets the Human Spirit.

Here are some excerpts from her book's introduction:

At some point in the past twenty years, North Americans crossed a Rubicon. Perhaps we were unaware of it at the time, but it is now apparent that there has been a great divide, a sea change in our thinking, which has affected both academy and church.

When I was an undergraduate, the emphasis in class was completely upon "objectivity," "neutral observation," "proving one's point."

Now the spotlight is on "my story," "my response," and "celebrating diversity."


Humphrey rails against the diffuse, generic "spirituality" that has infected everything, including much of modern Christian practice.

"Today many confuse 'spirituality' with 'experience;--the unintentional result being that they actually worship human esoteric moments or points of wonder, without apprehending the fuller reality that God has in store for us. We must not place that One, from whom are all things, and in whom all things converge, in a subordinate position. A study of those who have been intimate with Christ in past age indicats that when the Spirit speaks, he directs us towards the unique and revolutionary Incarnation of God the Son."


"We may feel spiritual, but we need to watch the checks and balances that have been given to us--the Story of Scripture, the witness of the Church through the ages, and the voice of the entire communion today. We may well discover that our age and even our ecclesial community have become tone deaf to some of the most basic spiritual truths."


A thought occurred to me as I was posting some of the egregious outrages against freedom of speech in the post below.

Soon the kind of traditional, Trinitarian, orthodox Christian faith that Humphrey is trying to lead people back to in her book will be illegal.

But, the thought I had was this: when it becomes illegal, then it will become fashionable and attractive again to societies rebels.

Maybe not. Because if you are a rebel at heart you cannot grasp the Truth. As Jesus said in John 7 (NIV).

16 Jesus answered, "My teaching is not my own. It comes from him who sent me. 17If anyone chooses to do God's will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own.

Outrages against freedom of speech

LifeSiteNews.com has a couple of egregious examples in its news lineup today.

<A leader in Canadian human rights law has come out against a decision by the Alberta Human Rights Commission to prosecute The Western Standard magazine for publishing the Danish anti-Mohammad cartoons.

The Commission’s decision to pursue the Standard after they received a complaint from “radical” Calgary Imam Syed Soharwardy spurred the human rights lawyer Alan Borovoy to write to the Calgary Sun. “During the years when my colleagues and I were labouring to create such commissions, we never imagined that they might ultimately be used against freedom of speech,” Borovoy, who is general counsel for the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, wrote. Censorship was “hardly the role we had envisioned for human rights commissions. There should be no question of the right to publish the impugned cartoons,” he added.


And this yesterday
:

A Catholic priest in Belgium known popularly as Fr. Père Samuel is to be brought to trial for hate crimes according to a decision reached last week by the Belgian judiciary. According to the Brussels Journal (http://www.brusselsjournal.com/node/936 ), the priest, who fled from Turkey under Islamic persecution, is being prosecuted for warning against Islamic fundamentalism.

His offending statement: "Every thoroughly islamized Muslim child that is born in Europe is a time bomb for Western children in the future. The latter will be persecuted when they have become a minority."

After hearing of his upcoming trial the priest, who was suspended by his bishop but nonetheless remains a popular clergyman, repeated his statement and warns against "the islamic invasion" of the West.

While that sentiment may seem bitter to some, it is a sincere conviction for many prelates coming from Islamic nations.

In a startling statement which received very little coverage, the Patriarch of the Greek Melkite Catholic Church, stated in an interview published last October "According to me, after 11 September, there is a plot to eliminate all the Christian minorities from the Arabic world."


And, last but not least, I got an email today that had the following email correspondence in it.

Hi all,
>
> Are any of you familiar with a show on EWTN called Life on the Rock? It's
> a
> talk show aimed at a young adult crowd, and I watch it religiously :-)
> every
> week.
>
> A couple of weeks ago, they announced that the next episode would be on
> same-sex attraction. I tuned in as usual, but saw that instead, they
> showed a
> repeat of a previous show, on a completely different topic. The week
> after
> there was a new show, and they mentioned that the last week's show had
> indeed
> been about same-sex attraction.
>
> I e-mailed them, to find out why the show never aired here. I knew it
> was
> EWTN's decision and not Roger's Cable blocking out the show, because it
> was
> still a Life on the Rock Episode that got aired. I told them that the
> only
> reason I could possibly think of, was Canada's hate crimes legislation,
> never
> thinking that it would really be the reason. Guess what? It is.
>
> Here's the response I received from EWTN.
>
> God Bless,
> G-
>
>
> Dear Mr. G-,
> I apologize that you didn't get the show that you were expecting. Due
> to the new hate crimes regulations in Europe and Canada, it is against
> the law for us to air shows whose main topic deal with same sex
> attraction.
I would encourage you to purchase the dvd copy of the show
> through our EWTN Religious Catalogue. You might want to show it to your
> friends or family and maybe your parish as well. Here is the link to
> the page that sells past episodes (Stephen and Irene Bennett's show is
> on page 2).
> https://www.ewtn.com/vcatalogue/index.asp?category=liveshows
> In the future, if you see a show with that topic advertized, feel free
> to purchase it through the internet. We really appreciate your interest
> in this topic.
> God Bless you, and keep on watching Life on the Rock!
> Amalia C. Zea
> Life on the Rock Producer
> Eternal Word Television Network


Emphasis mine.

Salt and Light TV will have great coverage this weekend

For anyone who wants to think back over Pope John Paul II's legacy and Pope Benedict's first year, Salt and Light TV is going to have some great coverage this weekend.


This station is young, alive, and deeply faithful. Well worth the subscription.

CFRB Radio plans to remember Pope John Paul II

CFRB (www.cfrb.com) is going to have some good Pope coverage over the weekend, starting at 12:30 p.m. with an interview with Fr. Tom Rosica. You can listen live here.

On Sunday, from 11-noon, they will play an hour-long special, and on Monday, an interview with the Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Ventura on his memories of John Paul II.

Anyway, kinda nice that a MSM station is going to giving some respectful coverage to the late Pope.

I'm glad, too, that after Fr. Tom's work with the media as he organized World Youth Day 2002 in Toronto, he built relationships and is now a go-to person for various media outlets. He did outstanding commentary for CBC last year during the Pope's funeral and later at the installation of Pope Benedict XVI.

Fr. Tom now runs Salt and Light Television and the Salt and Light Media Foundation.

Mark Bertrand makes me wistful about the 16th Century

My fellow Master's Artist J. Mark Bertrand takes a journey through time to the 16th Century and I wish I could tag along.

There's something rather intriguing about those centuries: the rebirth of classical learning, the reformation of the church, the collapse of empire in the East corresponding with the rise of the state in the West, the emergence of trade and the middle class. Not to mention all the paige boy haircuts and the pointy shoes.

No, I wouldn't want to live there, but it's not a bad place to slip away to from time to time. I know that reading history is supposed to innoculate us against repeating our past mistakes, but that's not why I do it. If anything, I crave the sense of continuity, the realization that the arguments and ideas of today are not so new after all. We have this notion of linear progress, with modern man standing at the apex of a rising arc, but read enough history and you begin to suspect that our ancestors were never so naive as we've supposed, and often more insightful.


I think Mark is right, that those who were educated back in those days were a lot better educated than the average PhD student of today who tends to specialize so narrowly that they lose any perspective on where their knowledge fits.

The previous day, Master's Artist Mike Synder took us to the Waffle House.

The thing I like about Waffle House is, no matter where you sit, you can second-hand smoke. That, and the way my forearms always stick to the table.


Read the whole thing, it's better to read about the Waffle House than be there. Mike's piece also offers some wise perspective on our efforts to leave a lasting legacy when it comes to our writing.

And the day before that, Master's Artist Donna Shepherd wrote about an addiction I can relate to.

I attended a writers’ conference this past week. During our evening meal, several of us discussed website design. One woman, who has a site for her children’s writing, mentioned she has no idea how many visitors she draws. An editor who sat with us almost shrieked, “You’re kidding! You don’t have a stat counter?!”

As someone with stat counters on every site, I could hardly believe it either.

It drives me crazy that Jules [Another of the Master's Artists who administrates the group blog]hasn’t put a counter up on this site. But maybe she’s on the right track. When we watch that number tick over to another hundred visitors, we may be tempted to analyze the stats to cater to readers’ tastes, writing ‘to the numbers.’


I hope my number ticks over the 3,000 mark today. That's not a whole lot compared with some blogs I read that have had well over a million visitors and hundreds of comments on every post. But my blog is still only a few months old and it is really cool to see that people from all over the world visit this site, sometimes for the strangest reasons.

Jill Carroll shills for her kidnappers before release

Jill Carroll has a full blown case of Stockholm syndrome. She goes out of her way to praise her kidnappers and say they never threatened or harmed her and she goes out of her way to bash America and President Bush. She reminds me of Patty Hearst, the heiress who got kidnapped by the Symbionese Liberation Army back in the 70s. She then robbed banks with them. It took her a while to come back to herself after her ordeal. Maybe we can expect the same of Jill Carroll.

UPDATE: Bloggers are digging up the old video and reminding us how when she was captured, her translator was shot and killed. Thanks to Kate at Small Dead Animals for the link.

Borders follows Chapters into dhimmitude

Just dropped by Gates of Vienna and read more about the fact that the U.S. book chain Borders has decided not to sell a magazine or two that has the Danish cartoons in them. She has some links to another blog which reports that Borders just recently made a deal to open stores in the United Arab Emirates.

Hmmmm. Could there have been something other than fear, political correctness or dhimmitude to make Indigo-Chapters, the Canadian big box book chain, decide not to carry the Western Standard?

Americans are angry and promising to withdraw their business from Borders.

Dymphna writes:

I wonder if Borders can hear the rising chorus. I wonder if they care.

Somehow, I don’t think this is going away. The cartoons haven’t gone away, so Borders is now aligned with a totalitarian enemy. Good luck to them in the UAE, they will truly need it.

The only block bookstore near us is Barnes and Noble. Maybe they’re listening? Meanwhile, I’ll keep on trucking with Amazon, even if they do give so much room to trolls on the book pages of conservative writers. That seems mild in comparison to Borders’ blatant butt-kissing.

Jim Loney's partner forced to stay in closet during kidnapping

Kidnapped Canadian Peacemaker James Loney spoke to reporters yesterday and it looks like CBC News head Tony Burman is getting his wish that he be treated as the classic Canadian hero. No more criticism of the peacemakers for their fools's errand in Iraq or the organizations lack of gratitude for the hostages rescue. (Though Loney is about the only one among them to have been publicly grateful.) Instead, on the CBC anyway, we have been treated to fawning displays of propaganda and hero worship about what a great hero St. Jim is and what a wonderful, long-suffering partner he has because he voluntarily went into the closet for Jim's safety.

It's hard not to like Loney. There is something transparent and authentic about him, even if I totally disagree with his critique of the war. And I'm glad his supporters back home were wise enough to keep his sexual orientation under wraps while he was hostage. Yes, it could have led him to the same fate as that of his comrade American Tom Fox, who was murdered. At least it shows some level of awareness beyond the Stockholm syndrome of what kind of people they were dealing with in Iraq.

What I find interesting is what St. Jim's partner Dan Hunt said...or at least the portions the Corpse (for American readers, the nickname for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, or CBC)about how painful it was to have to keep the relationship secret, to go back into the closet, to not be able to plead publicly for his release.

Loney's partner, Dan Hunt, talked about "their rich life together" and "the excruciating pain" of waiting for four months in secret without being able to speak out for his loved one.


The "me, me, me, me, me, me" focus of that--which could be the CBC's selection of clips--rather than the terrible danger Jim was in---struck me as rather strange. It also seemed more of a swipe at western-style gay bashers, i.e. people who disagree with trumpeting the gay life style as equivalent to traditional marriage, than at the genuinely lethal homophobia of their captors.

Ottawa Citizen Columnist John Robson captures my reaction in this satirical take:

Then confusion came upon the CPT and they were sore afraid and muttered among themselves, saying verily one of our brothers is a homosexual person. And the virtuous oppressed strugglers for justice and holy war who have taken him captive being, even as ourselves, enemies of George Bush, will surely whack off his head if not other bits should news of this wondrous matter somehow reach their enlightened selves whilst they struggle mightily against American injustice.

Yea, said others, and how about that magazine story on the Internet wherein our brother declares that he is gay which could be a clue that he is homosexual if these jihadis are also McWorldly. We are compelled to witness for what we believe and fear not. So let us go unto the magazine and say in the interest of truth would you mind removing that story. And the magazine did, and was delighted to be a voice silent in the wilderness. And no one went about citing Bible verses about not putting candles under bushels or salt losing its savour or any of that rot.

As it is written, or at least read, ye shall speak truth to power in the form of rude noises against George Bush. But behold, when men wield power with not so much scrupulousness about injustice as among the wicked Bushites then maybe just clam up big-time about the truth lest willingness to risk martyrdom should lead to it. For a man should stand up for what he believes in even if it gets him thrown to the lions or stoned to death or nailed to a stick or some such fate but whoa nelly not us bud. Go then and angrily demand gay rights in America where there is sore oppression and much rending of garments before gay pride parades but trouble not the land of Iraq with such stuff.


Find other great columns by John Robson at his website TheJohnRobson.com

Thursday, March 30, 2006

The guerilla war being waged in Europe

In the late 90s, my mother and I visited Paris. As we were walking through an underpass a group of men stopped us, asked us to sign a petition to help Rwandan refugees, and demanded a donation. I signed the petition, but I refused a donation, since my "this is a scam" radar went off. But my gentle, generous mother opened up her purse and gave them some money. When I tried to stop her, the atmosphere became more ominous. We got out of there with our purses and none the worse physically but I looked for a gendarme to report them but there was none in sight.

I had also been shocked by how seedy Paris was looking. Graffiti everywhere. But still the subways seemed safe and relatively clean. We didn't worry about walking around at night. Maybe we should have.

But my mother's friend has since told her that thugs tore her son's baptismal cross from around his neck outside his high school. As Theodore Dalrymple wrote in his prophetic article Barbarians at the Gates of Paris, these kinds of events are the constant at dinner table conversation, but they are not showing up in the mainstream news.

Fast forward to 2005-2006 and the "youth riots" and carbecues from late last year, and the recent massive street protests against a law that would allow employeers to fire younger employees within two years of their taking a job.

Gateway Pundit has some scary pictures of something going on within those street protests. Some of those youth who exploded from the banlieus have been preying on the youth protesting against the labor law.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, what do they tell you about the complex problem afflicting the West? For one, they tell me that we are not just facing the problem of Islamic extremism, because the youths stealing cell phones and purses do not probably pray five times a day, or participate in other rituals and disciplines associated with the practice of Islam. They are products of the welfare state and modernity as much or more than they are products of Islam. Their own parents would likely disapprove of this behavior and have lost all control of them. The welfare state is creating a burgeoning underclass resentful of its dependency.

A majority of these youths make use of Islamofacism to justify its attacks on infidels to turn crime into something noble. And the youths protesting about their rights to jobs for life? Another side of the same coin. They too have a stifling sense of entitlement.

Rape is another tactic being used by criminal gangs. Girls 15 and under are targeted, and the fact that they are not veiled is blamed.

If I had a daughter who wanted to backpack around Europe, I'd do everything in my power to stop her.

What do we do about it? We have to stop apologizing for Western civilization. We have to start insisting on assimilation to it. We have to start insisting on the inculcation of character and virtue starting with our own youth, and demanding it of those who wish to live among us. We need to brush off the principles that made us great and start standing on them. These principles are grounded in the Judeo-Christian faith. Muslims who wish to be free to practise their religion in peace are welcome as long as they don't try to use the freedoms of the West as a way to remove the freedoms they enjoy for everyone else, especially Christians who receive none of the same reciprocity in Muslim countries.

And this is more than just a religious conflict. We have a huge underclass problem. And Theodore Dalrymple is right in that this is not a racial thing. In the U.K. the underclass is predominantly white, but exhibits the same breakdown of family, lawlessness and criminal behavior as underclasses everywhere.

Dalrymple analyses the beliefs and behaviors of the underclass and finds they more than anything explain their plight, not oppression, not racism since the ones he has studied most closely are white.

We battle not against flesh and blood--but against lies that have a stranglehold on the human mind and human heart, lies that create bondage. Lies that have a spiritual force to them. One thing Dalrymple misses is this....he thinks that the underclass could just decide to live differently. He says they choose evil because they all have moments of clarity when they know that their next lover is going to be just like the rest and probably abuse the children from a previous relationship. Or that having another son out of wedlock will leave that child as fatherless as the man was.

This morning I read in John 8 where Jesus says that those who sin become slaves of sin.

31 Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;
32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
33 They answered him, We be Abraham's seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free?
34 Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.
35 And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever.
36 If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.



We need a bondage breaker. We need a Savior, Christ the Lord, who can set the captives free. Those of us who know Him have to be on our knees begging to be freed from our own bondage to sin, so that He may shine in us and He can do His redeeming work through us. We have to stop being ashamed of the Gospel, because it is our only hope. Secularism will not save us. It is not saving the French, obviously. It makes them defenceless. It makes them commit demographic suicide.

Great links at Relapsed Catholic--one makes my blood boil

Kathy Shaidle as usual has been blogging up a storm this morning over at Relapsed Catholic. I suggest you go over there to read the items she's linked to on how North America is not assimilating immigrants (Peggy Noonan), how sports writers would better cover the war because they would be looking at the overall game rather than the injuries and deaths alone (Kate MacMillan, and on the Western Standard being forced to mount an expensive defense because a Calgary Imam has taken it before a human rights tribunal for printing the Danish Mohammed cartoons.

The latter one really has my blood boiling this morning. I'm glad I was faithful to do my Morning Prayer and readings before I read about it.

Ezra Levant, the magazine's publisher, writes:

We think we will be successful in the end – freedom of the press is still the law in Canada. But our attacker is using the abusive, costly process of the Human Rights Commission as a punishment in itself. Even if we win, we'll still have to spend tens of thousands of dollars fighting this complaint, and hundreds of hours of our time. Our attacker doesn't have to do anything but sit back – the Human Rights Commission uses taxpayer money and government employees to put us through the ringer.

Please help us fight off this dangerous assault on freedom of the press and freedom of conscience. Donate what you can to our Western Standard Legal Defence Fund – anything from $10 to $10,000 would be appreciated.


My blood boiled when Calgary Bishop Henry faced complaints for writing a pastoral letter on Catholic teachings about marriage and had to go before one of these tribunals. The charges were eventually dropped.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

My latest take on The Da Vinci Code movie

In theatres, as coming attractions previews start including trailers for The Da Vinci Code movie, the so-called "truth squads" have positioned themselves to combat lies and distortions likely to be repeated in the film."

Rather than organize protests or boycotts, evangelicals and Catholics are mobilizing "truth squads" reads a headline in the Christian Science Monitor March 22.

In fact, a whole industry has sprung up in the wake of Dan Brown's blockbuster novel by the same name and is gaining momentum as the movie nears its May 19 release date.


-and-

Catholic screenwriter Barbara Nicolosi may have the most effective strategy. She says go to the theatre on opening weekend. But don't see The Da Vinci Code. Instead, take your friends and family to see Over the Hedge, an animated feature DreamWorks is releasing at the same time.

"The box office is a ballot box," Nicolosi wrote recently on her blog Church of the Masses (churchofthemasses.blogspot.com). "The only people whose votes are counted are those who buy tickets. And the ballot box closes on the Sunday of opening weekend."

Opus Dei's Canadian vicar believes the movie creates an opportunity.

Montreal-based Msgr. Fred Dolan said he expects director Ron Howard will make a "beautiful movie," at least from a visual point of view.

"What we have to do is pray that the visual beauty of the movie inspires people to go back to their own roots, to ask What about Jesus? What about the beginnings of Christianity? What were the first followers of Jesus like, what did they believe?"

"If we can accomplish this, it will be fantastic," he says. "God can take things that are seemingly very negative and turn them to good use."

According to Nicolosi, however, the movie will be offensive. She has seen the script, which she describes as "somewhere between idiotic and way too cute."

"It is a movie which begins from the point that Jesus was a fraud," she warns. "He was not only not divine, he was less than a man, who didn't die and rise to save humanity, but rather settled down in Nazareth suburbia and fathered children.

"Oh yes, and the Christian Church which made up all the salvific Messiah stuff about him is a sham association of megalomaniacal conspirators whose unifying principles are in the oppression of women."


There's more at the Western Catholic Reporter website.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Claire Berlinski on European secularlism and anti-Americanism

(thanks to Kate at Small Dead Animals for the link)to this inteview with Claire Berlinksi, author of Menace in Europe.

. . . the popular view of Europe as a completely secular society is too facile. Anticlerical forms of religion have taken hold. Someone once sent me an article, perhaps in was in the Guardian, about three young women, imbeciles all, who had devoted themselves to radical beliefs: the first to the destruction of capitalism, the second to Islam, and the third to something like an old-fashioned Christian heresy, close in spirit to the Albigensian heresy. There is something going on in Europe, a flourishing of sects, all of which have something in common and that is an absolute, virtually pathological, refusal to profit from experience. Now, why should anyone devote herself to the destruction of capitalism when we know perfectly well, if we know anything at all, that the realistic alternatives are monstrous, inefficient, stupid, brutal and self-defeating? When it comes to anti-capitalism and fruity Christianity, it is quite interesting to think of both as Christian heresies. As official belief has waned in Europe, Christian heresies have come to flourish. Communism, after all, has its roots in certain apostolic teachings about poverty and property; and free love is just what the Church faced in the 12th century and effectively crushed. One can argue-and I do, in my book-that Europe remains what it has always been: a Christian society, one now tormented by heresies.


and

The phenomena to be explained are the irrationality and the ardor of European anti-Americanism. Irrational, because entirely disproportionate to any real faults in American society. Of course America has flaws, and no, it is not lunacy to point them out. But in poll after poll, you see substantial numbers of Europeans, non-trivial numbers, who believe the September 11 attacks were staged, yes, staged, by an oil-hungry American military-industrial complex to justify its imperialist adventures in Iraq. In Germany, 20 percent of the population believes this. In France, a book arguing this case was a galloping bestseller. Now that is bughouse nuts. Totally bats in the belfry. Then the ardor: "My anti-Americanism," wrote one columnist in the British Telegraph, "has become almost uncontrollable. It has possessed me, like a disease. It rises up in my throat like acid reflux, that fashionable American sickness." If only we could harness all that outrage and transform it into a non-polluting energy source! You see this kind of thing all the time in the European press. (Meanwhile, if the French, say, wipe out the entire Ivorian air force, do you see protestors on the streets chanting "No blood for cocoa?" What a question.) When you have these two phenomena together-irrationality and this curious passion, this fervor-it seems reasonable to conclude that you are in the presence of something like a cult. So you consider it, sociologically. What role does this ideology serve in the European psyche? One answer: It fulfills many of the roles once played by the Church. It offers a comprehensive-if lunatic-answer to the question, "Why is the world the way it is, and why is there evil in that world?" It provides a devil to excoriate and then to exorcise. There is community and belonging in anti-American activism, ecstasy in protest. Again, a form of Christian heresy, and no more lunatic, surely, than anything the Cathars believed, if also no less.

Bob Larsen performs exorcisms on CNN

Take a look at the video here.

It's a pretty straight reporting. Interesting stuff.

Monday, March 27, 2006

CBC news head weighs in on the Peacemakers

Tony Burman, the head of CBC News and Current Affairs, is dismayed by the articles and columns criticizing the Christian Peacemakers for their lack of gratitude towards their rescuers. (Thanks to Nealenews.com)

Burman writes:


I find these outbursts of media hostility toward the Christian Peacemakers somewhat perplexing. Informed criticism is legitimate, of course. But before any of these men have had the opportunity to utter a word, where does this come from?

There had been some of this criticism in British newspapers but that isn't surprising. The head of the British army had made a big point about how "saddened" he was that the peacekeepers' organization failed to express immediate "gratitude" to them for the rescue. This also happened with some in the U.S. media who were prodded on by their military.

But here in Canada, who really has the time for hand-wringing about people supposedly "being naive" or "unprepared" or not fast enough in "thanking" the military rescuers? Can any of us forget what is currently at stake in Iraq and throughout the region?

I suspect most Canadians have little patience for this. Most of us not only felt genuine relief and happiness about the rescue but, more profoundly, saw in these "peacemakers" something that was quite admirable, courageous — and classically Canadian.

A desire to get involved. To help out. To make a difference even if it involves real personal risk. That's what Canadians do, in very real terms.


I dunno. All I can say is I'm glad I no longer work for the CBC and have this guy determining the standards for objective truth and journalistic excellence.

Yes, I would agree ALL Canadians feel genuine relief and happiness at the rescue.

I differ on what is classically Canadian, however. What is classically Canadian are the rescuers, who resemble the liberators of Holland, the soldiers who died in various wars to defend what is good and free in the West.

It is not classically Canadian to, in effect, side with Islamofascists against America, or to blame America for the root causes that make the poor terrorists behave the way they do. Oh, but does Burman even allow the word terrorist on the CBC anymore? Aren't they all militants now? Insurgents? As if these Iraqi insurgents are like the French resistance during World War II, somehow noble in their fight against fascist oppression? What exactly does he mean about what's at stake in Iraq, huh? Does it occur to him that maybe some people want him and me and everyone else living here dead or converted to their stunted version of a great religion?

Methinks we have another useful idiot on our hands. It'll be interesting to see the response he gets to this.

Peacemaker thanks his rescuers

Canadian James Loney has publicly thanked the special forces who rescued him from captivity in Iraq. That's good news. I found it easy to share in his joy when I watched him on TV yesterday.


Former hostage James Loney appeared thin but grateful and a bit bewildered when he landed yesterday at Toronto's Pearson airport, four months after he was kidnapped in Iraq. Surrounded by loved ones, he praised the British soldiers and Canadian government officials who worked for his release, and said he looked forward to becoming "reacquainted . . . with freedom."

"I am grateful in a way that can never be adequately expressed in words," Mr. Loney, 41, told reporters at the airport three days after he was rescued, along with fellow hostages Harmeet Singh Sooden and Norman Kember. "It's great to be alive."

Mr. Loney's praise was effusive compared to the more guarded expressions of gratitude uttered by some of his colleagues at Christian Peacemaker Teams, a pacifist aid organization that has been working in Iraq since 2002. Mr. Loney thanked both "the British soldiers who risked their lives to rescue us" and "the government of Canada, who sent a team to Baghdad to help secure our release." He made no mention of the U.S. troops who were also involved.


I believe along with Loney that his rescue is an answer to prayer. And I share in his gratitude, even though I do not share his unconditionally pacifist views. I was among the many who prayed for him and the others.

Another thing has emerged about Loney now that he's freed:

"After this, I'm going to disappear for a little while into a different kind of abyss, an abyss of love," he said. "I need some time to get reacquainted with my partner, Dan, my family, my community and freedom itself."

As he read his statement, Mr. Loney was flanked by his partner, Dan Hunt, and two of his brothers, Ed and Matt Loney. When he finished reading, police ushered Mr. Loney to a waiting limo on a beautiful spring day.


Had this been made public prior to the rescue, Loney's life would have been in even more danger than it was. His being gay might have gotten him killed.

This raises a whole series of questions for me. One of them is---I cannot understand at all the Left's alignment with Islamofacism when the latter is so dangerously opposed to much that the Left holds dear, such as gay rights and feminism. I just don't get it. By alignment I mean that they always seem to take their side against the "evil Americans" and the U.S. administration. They excuse the Islamofascists, blaming their behavior on root causes created by the U.S. "occupation." And they seem to ignore the fact that gays in some Muslim countries have been known to be punished by having walls pushed over on them until they die.

And the other questions this raises for me are: who is a Christian? Who is a Catholic? What whole or part of the Christian faith do I have to believe before I qualify? Does baptism mark me as a Catholic for life, even if I don't hold to everything the Church teaches as true?

I remember a discussion with relatives once wherein I said that anyone who doesn't believe in the Trinity is not a Christian. I was met with a certain level of shock. How could someone be so restrictive? If someone is a good person, shouldn't they have the right to call themselves a Christian if they wish?

The issue of active homosexuality and Christianity is at the cutting edge of a lot of controversy in the Church. There are those who argue that the Church's understanding must evolve to accommodate new social developments, just as it evolved concerning slavery. There are others who argue that Scripture and Tradition are clear that sexual activity outside of a heterosexual marriage is not what Christians are called to. That doesn't mean that homosexuals are unwelcome, it means that like single heterosexuals they are called to chastity. The whole controversy hinges on authority--the authority of Scripture, the authority of Tradition, the authority of the Church in determining how Scripture gets interpreted.

If I were to convert to Roman Catholicism, I would have to sign a statement saying that I believe in everything the Church teaches to be true. Yet baptized "cradle" Catholics go forward and receive communion on Sunday, then publicly proclaim views in direct opposition to what the Church teaches on marriage, and on women and active homosexuals in the priesthood among other things.

There is a lot I still have yet to understand about ecclesiology and sacramental theology. I think Father Carl would say that when one is baptized, one becomes a Christian, because God is the one who chooses us. But we may turn out to be a bad Christian or a good one. But something happens in the sacrament of Baptism, an outward sign of an inward grace. God regenerates us when we are baptized. But, in a talk with some knowledgeable Catholics at a recent ROFTERs meeting, I was told that being baptized does not prevent one from becoming a heretic.

I have no doubts that Jesus loves James Loney and vice versa. Perhaps there are many areas in which his faith is more fully formed than mine. All I know, is that I desire to have a full, Catholic and Apostolic faith. No more cafeteria Christianity for me where I am my own mini-magisterium, picking and choosing what I like and rejecting what I don't. I want to hold to what the Apostles were taught when they saw, heard and handled the Living Word of God. I've been a cafeteria Christian for most of my journey since my adult conversion. When I decided to stop, that's when I began to more consistently experience the fruits of the Spirit in my life.

Believing the truth makes it a lot easier to behave as a Christian, because it is not only be beliving that we are saved, it is by believing that we are sanctified, not by the works of the law. (Galatians 3) That's why it is so important to have the right faith.

Loney's public relationship with his partner, coupled with his being a Catholic, plays into a watering down of the faith and the high standards of following Christ that it sets. Instead it's as if people are saying: Let's not set our standards too high in the sexual arena, folks. The Church needs to change with the times.

What I fear is that this will lead to people being unable to discover a whole new level of freedom in Christ that comes from believing the Catholic faith whole and entire and putting on Christ. Instead of putting on Christ, we will be putting on our version of Christ. Without the real Christ, our charity becomes enabling, our peace-at-any-price becomes weakness, our truth relative to all the other truths out there.

Islam and the Catholic Church

From John Allen's latest The Word from Rome:

Sources told NCR that on the subject of Islam, several cardinals touched on the need for greater emphasis on reciprocity -- the idea that if Muslim immigrants to the West claim the benefit of religious freedom, the same should be true for Christian minorities in majority Islamic states.

"I think most of us felt that Islam represents a challenge to the church, and we need to reflect on how to respond," one cardinal told NCR.

In that regard, sources told NCR that the emerging line of Benedict XVI's papacy on Islam, featuring more explicit challenges to Islamic leaders on terrorism and religious freedom, enjoys strong support in the College of Cardinals.

Seven Angels for Seven Days


In 2004, my novel The Defilers came in a close second to Angelina Fast-Vlaar's Seven Angels for Seven Days in the Best New Canadian Christian Author Award. Last June, I won the prize after what seemed like the millionth revision.

I recently bought Seven Angels for Seven Days at Chapters and just finished it. I loved the book. It's a nonfiction account of a loving married couple's once-in-a lifetime trip to Australia. While in a campground, in the Outback, far from any relatives or friends, Angelina's husband Peter dies. This is a story of love, of grief, of God's provision and mercy, of miracles. A story that is heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time.

I invited Angelina to "stop by" for a virtual blog tour visit.


1. What motivated you to write Seven Angels for Seven Days?


My motivation to write the book came from several sources. First and foremost I wanted to leave the story for my children as they did not experience their Dad's last weeks and days and the amazing events surrounding his death.Seven_angels_sm_descr
More than that, I felt a definite urging from the Lord to "proclaim what the Lord has done." (Ps. 118:17) This urging became especially strong during my cancer journey when the question, "What have you left undone?" seemed to push itself to the surface again and again.

2. What sort of response have you had to the book?

The responses have been heartening, surprising and somewhat overwhelming.
Many readers tell me their faith in, and love of God have been renewed or strengthened after reading the story.

Others find encouragement that God will also provide for them in difficult times. Couples tell me of renewed love and appreciation for each other and a valueing of time together.
One elderly, terminally ill lady identified with the assault incident as she had kept her own incident hidden for over six decades. My story helped her to talk about it and finally find peace about that as well as other issues before she passed.

Many readers tell me the book is helping them to grieve and even release grief they had stored for years.

All find the trip through the outback fascinating, "as if I were travelling with you."
A constant comment is, "I couldn't put it down!"

3. I found the descriptions of Australia haunting, and your portrayal for your husband Peter so loving and complete, it was as if I had lost someone too as I read the book. How hard was it for you to revisit all these events.

This was more difficult than what I had imagined it to be. To open the journals and reread my experiences brought me back to that place with all the accompanying emotions. I closed the journals and said, "This will not be happening." I'm married again and value my new relationship. But the "urging" would not leave me. One day I read Robert Frost's line, "No tears for the writer, no tears for the reader. No surprise for the writer, no surprise for the reader." I realized my "new" tears would be the price I needed to pay in order to complete the "work" I felt called to do.

4. You also took a second trip to Australia to retrace your steps a year later. Why did you do that?

A return trip to Australia seemed a given if I wanted to complete and resolve my grief journey. Yet, I was surprised to find how healing that second trip was. It enlightened me about so many things, it helped me to put things to rest, it helped me to see that my time of turmoil and grief was the time of God's coming to me.

5. What's the most important thing you hope that people will realize or understand once they read your book?

Our continual prayer for the book is, "That they may see the love of the Father."

6. How much did your being a regular journal keeper help you in fleshing out the story?

I wonder if there would be a book had the journals not been kept. An article, maybe, but the journals provided me with the whole story in all it's detail. Peter even kept track of what we ate, gas mileage, when the speedometer turned over another 1000 miles, how many kangaroos he saw etc. etc. Our photos triggered a lot of memories not recorded. Maps, newspaper articles etc. helped to get the facts right, e.g the crocodile attack.

7. How do you look on the whole journey - to Australia, through losing your husband there, back to Australia, writing a book about it, winning a contest that includes publication...what kind of perspective do you have on it now?

"It's a God-thing." That phrase sums up my perspective. It's really His story. He orchestrated the events, daily guided me in the often overwhelming task to garner a complete story from a dozen journals. Entering the ms. into the contest was definitely His doing. Joe [her present husband] was without a drivers license for a year due to a stroke. The return of the license was delayed and this in turn delayed our annual trip South. During this time, I found the last notice for The Word Guild contest and realized I qualified. We had one week to get it all together. We took the package to the post-office and when we returned home, Joe's license was in our mailbox!

***************

It's a great read, quite different from my novel, so comparing them is like comparing apples and oranges. In 2005, I entered the contest again. I grappled again with the "what ifs" and settled down to a state of dispassion about the outcome that almost resembled persuading myself I would not win. So I was genuinely surprised when my name was read. The prize includes publication, so The Defilers is expected to be out in mid-April. That makes is all the better that Angelina's book is wonderful, because it serves the whole purpose behind having the contest in the first place: to encourage Christian authors, raise the bar of quality, and to help get the word out about them.

Dee Stewart on McAuthorship---and why I'm glad it eluded me

Author Frank Peretti is going to make movies and his first production is set for release in September.

In God’s grace, He finally brought me together with some filmmakers who really wanted to work with me and let me work with them. That’s something I’ve always wanted to do – make movies. The bigger picture is that we’re not just making movies; we’re in it for the long haul. We want to follow that Christian principle of, “If you’re faithful in the little things, then God will entrust you with bigger things.”

The question always comes up, “When’s This Present Darkness going to be a movie? How come This Present Darkness isn’t a movie?” Well, I’ll tell you why This Present Darkness isn’t a movie. It’s not a movie because we cannot make a movie that big, that expensive, that technically demanding. It would take incredible resources, staff, studios, special effects, actors ... everything.


You know, all too often we shoot real high, but we don’t realize that the Lord wants to bring us there step by step. So, in good faith, we want to be faithful in the little things. Let’s start with this movie. This is something we can handle. Let’s do the best job we can on it. Let’s learn from it. Learn from our mistakes. Learn from our strengths. Do better each time.


Master's Artist Dee Stewart concerned. She applauds Peretti's willingness to work at the craft, to develop his talent in this area. But she sees something else happening to the culture.

So what concerns me is that some of the things that I see and review--things that have the potential to have been greater than great--fall short of its potential glory, because the writer didn't (like my great grandma used to say) stir up the gift.


-snip-

Yet, I'm concerned that something beyond are ability to think well is driving this push for McAuthorship--my term for instant publishing gratification. A while back just publishing a short story in a magazine or being picked to read at a readers series or presenting your play at your church were gratifying enough. But somewhere in our society(See. this isn't just a Christian writing thing.) We have decided to forget about craft and become the Next American Idol forget about grass roots success through our local community. We don't want to get our hands dirty anymore. And that's problematic for the christian writer, or at least for me, since I am not supposed to follow the world too closely.


I would add to this, that the drive for McAuthorship is fed by dreams of the fame and money that come with success. People would rather "be a writer" than actually write, because writing is hard work. In fact, many a time, I myself have yearned for McAuthorship because being a good writer is just too hard.

I've been blessed by the fact that McAuthorship eluded me. I have had to work extremely hard because easy publication did not come my way. I can be grateful for the tough knocks writing school because I am a better writer for it.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Sandmonkey worried about impact of Rahman's release

While Sandmonkey, an Egyptian blogger, is happy that Rahman isn't going to get the death penalty, he's concerned about how this issue is going to play in the Muslim world and how it could drive more people to extremism.

Instead of this case sparking the much needed debate inside Islam over whether or not people who convert to christianity or judaism should be killed for apostacy and having that debate affect the outcome, the decision was made by the people in power for political reasons and changed the debate to how weak the leaders of muslim countries are these days. Had this case been allowed to proceed and that guy was allowed to walk away based on the argument of the defense and a judge’s verdict, saying that we can’t kill people who leave Islam anymore, there is no telling what positive effect this could’ve had on the average muslim’s psyche. Instead of seeing this case tilt the international muslim community towards moderation, this will further prove the held belief by millions of muslims that their leaders aren’t really concerned for Islam and muslims, and are more worried about pleasing the west than God or their people, which will tilt them more towards extreemism. This was a wasted opprutunity that could’ve sparked much needed change, but alas, it’s now too late.

Oh well, I am still glad he gets to live though!

Is Rahman going to be released?

Looks like he might be. Michelle Malkin is following this. She has great links. Thanks to Kathy Shaidle for the heads up.

Is the Rahman case the tipping point?

If Abdul Rahman gets executed in Afghanistan, will that end the support for the war among those who believe establishing a democratic country there is a good thing?

Dr. Sanity thinks it may be.

Kate McMillan at Small Dead Animals thinks not.

I do not join with those, however, who have called for a withdrawal of Canadian troops from Afghanistan should the efforts to have Rahman freed fail. As much as I am troubled by the details of the case, I'm no more so than I have been by reports of corruption, honour killings, human rights abuses or any number of injustices perpetrated under, or tolerated by, regimes that enjoy various types of Canadian military and/or foreign aid. If the Rahman case is justification to pull Canadian troops from the theatre - in a country that was used as safe haven and launch point for Islamist terror attacks on the West - then surely the revelations of United Nations child porn rings should prompt the Canadian government to send back our blue helmets for a refund as well.

We might at least set a precedent by cutting off all foreign aid to China.

It's disturbing to hear voices on talk radio and across the blogosphere suggest Canadian military support for the fledgling Afghan government be withdrawn as a mere consequence of the trial taking place at all - for none of them seem to have considered the obvious followup question - "and then what?"

As we are often reminded - democracy is a process, not a destination. One does not have to dig too deeply into the histories of our own Western democracies to realize that our modern protections of human rights and personal liberty did not congeal fully formed from the ether - they evolved over hundreds of years.

As the beneficiaries of that long and bloody process of democratic trial and error, living in societies more likely to face problems created by the excesses of liberalism than any shortage of it, we tend to view fledgling democracies like Afghanistan from the wrong end of the lens. Instead of comparing them to current Western democratic norms, it is probably more appropriate to measure events against that of Western democracies of the 1800 and 1900's.

In that context, Afghanistan has come a very long way from the unspeakably repressive Taliban regime, and in an extraordinarily short time. But the process has only just begun, and progress is not likely to be plotted on a linear graph. Nor, needless to say, is the outcome assured.


I dunno. We live in an increasingly dangerous world. Thinking like Kate might bring us back to the old RealPolitic type of foreign policy where the West props up thugs and dicatorships, uses divide and conquer strategies, and other even more shadowy means to protect her self interest.

We haven't entirely left that strategy. Working in concert with Saudi Arabia is a prime example. It's also illegal there to convert to Christianity, or even to have a Bible.

But then, our soldiers are not shedding blood to bring democracy to Saudi Arabia.

I'd hate it to boil down to being "all about oil." I don't think it is, though, what's wrong with a nation trying to protect the oil supply of law-abiding nations that pay handsomely for it?

I think Mark Steyn has it right:

Fate conspires to remind us what this war is really about: civilizational confidence. And so history repeats itself: first the farce of the Danish cartoons, and now the tragedy -- a man on trial for his life in post-Taliban Afghanistan because he has committed the crime of converting to Christianity.


One of the main tasks for each and every one of us, whether this is the tipping point or not, is to revive confidence in our civilization.

Interestingly, the Ottawa Citizen this week had an editorial about new evidence on the Crusades--how they were really a defensive war.

The modern impulse to understand the past is what motivated the Roman Catholic church to host a symposium on the Crusades last weekend.

The meeting, called by Pope Benedict, sought to set the record straight on events that began some 900 years ago and lasted for three centuries. The record needs straightening because jihadists in the Muslim world have used the Crusades, or their interpretation of them, as a propaganda weapon in their war against the West. Osama bin Laden teaches that the Crusades marked a murderous aggression against an enlightened Islam.

It serves Mr. bin Laden's purpose to demonize Christendom, thereby keeping his followers in a constant state of mobilization against an external enemy. Contemporary church leaders including the late Pope John Paul II have apologized for the Crusades, which has helped to legitimize the historical view that they represent a stain on Christianity.

In fact, some scholarly research now suggests that the Crusaders were not necessarily motivated by greed and the lust of conquest. The Crusades were, according to current assessments, at least in part an act of self-protection, a defensive move against an expansionist Islam that had captured all of North Africa, most of Spain and parts of southern Italy, and was angling for more. Some historians are even arguing that without the Crusaders, Christianity itself might have disappeared under the heel of militant Islam.

From the left's Holy Bubble. . . Acts of the Appeasers

Dr. Sanity occasionally does some brilliant satire and this is one of them. Using a take-off on the Bible, she catalogues some recent acts of appeasement on the part of the left.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

My Lenten journey gets derailed, but I hope I'm back on track

I hit a bad patch in my Lenten observances, falling into self-indulgence and over-eating, one of my besetting sins. I've also come down with a slight cold and that makes me want to feel a little sorry for myself and drop some of the prayer I'd hoped to do over Lent. I've been less reliable in doing evening prayer and in posting it over at The Daily Offices.

This morning, I debated about whether to go to church as today is the Feast of the Annuniciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, commemorating that moment in time when Jesus was conceived by the Holy Ghost in her immaculate womb. Since the little cathedral I attend bears the name Cathedral of the Annunication of the Blessed Virgin Mary, there was additional incentive to attend.

Confessing my manifold sins and wickednesses in the car on the way there, I realized that one of the benefits of having tried many, many times to be disciplined in prayer, is that I have discovered that without God I am helpless to be good. I cannot even stay awake to pray without His help. That's why I love the fact that we open our Morning and Evening Prayer with: O Lord open thou our lips. . .

I don't need to whip myself for failing, or try extra hard to be better, just believe that He who has begun a work in me will complete it, believe that He will open my lips to praise Him if I ask Him to, that He knows I have no power to be good in and of myself but He's willing to supply me with rivers of living water if I'll let Him.

If you'd like to join me over at the Daily Offices to do the readings associated with this important event in the life of the Church, nine months before Christmas, come on over to the Daily Offices.

BTW, as I was entering the cathedral this morning, I saw my first robin. It flew away before I could take a picture.

Kathy Shaidle guest blogs over at Beliefnet

Relapsed Catholic is a more than daily stop for me in the blogosphere, and for Kathy Shaidle fans, there's an extra opportunity to enjoy her acerbic wit over at Beliefnet where she is guest blogging this past week and next.

Straining at gnats and swallowing camels

This morning, I read in the Globe and Mail that the Canadian hostages rescued by British, Canadian and American special forces refused to cooperate by giving any information about their captors when they were debriefed.


Maxine Nash, a member of the Christian Peacemakers Team in Baghdad, said that the group is considering leaving Iraq. She conceded that the pacifist hostages had mixed feelings about being rescued by the military.

“Our mandate is violence reduction, so this was a tough call. Before they were kidnapped, both Tom and Jim had said they didn't want to be rescued,” Ms. Nash said.

The security source who described the schism among the abductors said that the former hostages had denounced the U.S. occupation of Iraq after they were freed. Attempts to debrief them were unsuccessful and no gratitude was offered to the soldiers for rescuing them.

“The old English guy wasn't too bad, but the Canadians have continued to be stroppy,” the source said. “A lot of people are not too happy about the way they have been.”

Although the activists may not have wanted a military rescue, their liberty comes after long efforts by a team of Canadians deployed to Iraq with the sole aim of finding and freeing them. Among the people working on their behalf were RCMP officers, diplomats and members of JTF2, the secretive anti-terror squad.


I hate the way these people conflate force with violence. We need proper authorities willing and able to use force to maintain the law and to protect the innocent.

It seems odd to me that, in the terms developed by Daniel Patrick Moynihan in his famous 1993 essay Defining Deviancy Down, that the peacemakers define the deviancy of the Americans and the West way up, but define the deviancy of Islamofascist terrorists and criminal kidnappers way down. It's a classic example of what Jesus described as straining at gnats and swallowing camels. The Americans are morally culpable even for honest mistakes, but Islamofascist terrorists are only behaving the way they do because of "root causes."

There's a radio host in Ottawa who justifies holding the microscope to America's flaws the way he does because he says the United States holds itself up to a high standard, therefore she must be judged by it. Noam Chomsky does the same thing.

Well, Dr. Sanity has made her diagnosis, that has, as a preamble a fascinating story from early in her career as a psychiatrist.

Be sure to read the whole thing. In the meantime, here is a salient passage about the peacemakers.

In the case of the peace activists' rescue, there may be some slight degree of neurosis in some of the expectations of gratitude. As my grandmother used to say, ta good deed is its own reward, after all. But OTOH, simple human decency would dictate something more than the graceless attitude exhibited by the rescued toward the rescuers; as well as the appeasement and further enabling of murderous and brutal agenda of their captors. In short, those who were rescued display an enormous degree of self delusion, characterized by the moral contortions and pervasive lying to one's self that goes on in the minds of people who clutch their victimhood and/or martyrdom tightly as a shield against reality.

As I learned all those years ago, no good deed for professional and paranoid victim will ever go unpunished.

-snip-

The same holds for the topsy-turvy world of the the activists and their parent organization. They are psychologically resistant to examining any lies that form the foundation of their belief system, which allows them to see themselves as morally superior beings. It allows them to shirk the responsibility and consequences of their own ill-thought out behavior that led to the death of one of their own. Not only do they shirk their own responsibility for events, but these champions of the oppressed, have enabled and protected those who casually murdered and tortured one of their own (and undoubtedly will do the same to future captives). In a breathtaking inversion of morality, decency, and common sense, they applaud their captors and protect them even as they accuse their rescuers of the responsibility for a plight that was brought about by their own thoughtless and "loving" behavior.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Dr. Sanity's blast of reality this morning

According to Dr. Sanity, these are the troubling facts of life:

More and more information is now becoming available (see here, here, here, here) about two of the most sacred beliefs of the left and cornerstone of their faith in the evil of George Bush, I am speaking, of course, about their belief that Saddam did not have WMD's and that there was no connection between Saddam's regime and Al Qaeda.

Yet, I predict that much of this new information will be discounted, dismissed, disclaimed and denied by both the MSM and the lefty blogs.

To acknowledge even the slightest possibility that either of the two fundamental butresses of their religious faith are severely damaged would be enormously threatening and totally out of character for the left, who like to think of themselves as the "reality-based" community.

Except, apparently, when reality doesn't agree with their preconceived notions.


-snip-

The unacceptable knowledge is that we are in the midst of a terrible global war that we neither wanted nor provoked; and that there are evil people who want to destroy our civilization and kill or enslave all of us.


Read it all.

All you might need to know about Abdul Rahman

Thanks to Kathy Shaidle at Relapsed Catholic, I have been directed to this link where there is a treasure trove of information on the Afghani man who faces a possible death sentence for converting to Christianity 16 years ago. All kinds of troubling information, including the fact that Germany had deported him. And apparently that doesn't reflect badly on Rahman but on Germany.

Illan Halimi murder getting traction in Canadian MSM

The Globe and Mail has a half page spread on Ilan Halimi, the Jewish man who was kidnapped and tortured to death in France. It still hedges a bit on whether antisemitism or greed was the motive.

PARIS — The gang leader could not have been more clear.

"At the end of 2005, we decided to kidnap people," Youssouf Fofana, the central figure in France's most violent anti-Semitic crime in decades, told investigators. "We targeted the Jewish community because, for us, it's a community that has money and it sticks together."

Mr. Fofana, 25, and his acolytes are accused of kidnapping a young Jewish man in late January, torturing him and finally dumping him three weeks later along a railroad line southeast of Paris when their ransom demands went unmet.

Burned, beaten and stabbed, his eyes covered by a layer of tape, the victim, a Paris cellphone salesman named Ilan Halimi, died in the ambulance rushing him to hospital.

The casual cruelty of the crime made it front-page news in France. Initially described as an act of greed but not racial hatred, its character changed in the public mind after Mr. Halimi's mother, in an interview with an Israeli newspaper, declared that her son died because he was a Jew.

Her words were immediately reprinted in French papers, creating their own momentum of blame and making the Halimi case a matter of state concern.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Barbara Nicolosi on the Christians in the film industry.

Three parts of her "Wichita Interview" have been uploaded to Church of the Masses.

Part one here.

We Christians do not have the luxury of being lousy. If we are really only going to have a substantial creative impact on five films a year they cannot be sloppy and stupid.

But yes, the incentive for me to be part of starting Act One came out of a tremendous sense of frustration with the work of Christians that I was reading in the production company. The product being sent to the industry by believers was marked by a complete lack of professional understanding of the technical needs of the industry in a screenplay.


Part two here.


At the same time, Flannery said that when you have God in your life you are healthy, and the healthier that you are, the more you are going to be aware of the sickness all around you. She said it takes a healthy person to recognize a freak. So therefore, Christian arts projects today should be stuffed with freaks! What else can we do with the euthanizers down the hall waiting for grandma, and the weird scientists wanting to experiment on little humans, and barbarians coming over the walls in every sense!? Entertainment has to be better than real to be engaging for an audience. When "the real" is a freak show....

The other problem I find with young writers has to do with the failure to create real comedy. I think it is safe to say comedy is almost dead is a genre. For comedy to work, you have to have purity. The audience has to start with some sense of normalcy and purity for something to else to register as a joke.

For example, I was at a real live freak show not long ago with a woman who is a studio writer. Her daughter was playing in a soccer game. This woman was divorced and remarried. So, sitting at the game was my the woman and her ex-husband in the center - because they are the "parents of note", even though they don't live together. Next to the woman is her new husband cradling their new baby. Next to husband number two is his fifteen year old - really bored son from his previous marriage. Meanwhile, on the other side next to the ex-husband is his new wife with their new baby. And next to her is Debbie, with whom the father lived for three years after the initial divorce, and before he married the new one. In the three years of co-habitation, Debbie bonded with the little girl out there kicking the ball around, because she was there from 8-11, so Debbie was another pseudo mother figure. But wait, Debbie’s new boyfriend is also there. And then also in the line is the nanny, who has been the only real constant in the little girl’s life.


Part three here.


Too many Christians think we are supposed to use the arts to give people the answers. We’re not. We’re supposed to use the arts to lead them into a question. And that is just one stage in their personal journey of divine revelation. Once they have a new question, they will be on a search - consciously or subconsciously. They are going to read, they are going to meet people, God is going to send other things in their life. They are not going to get dunked in the baptismal font and raised to the altar from a movie. That’s too much. But the arts can definitely send people delving.

If you understand that, then you understand presenting an artful paradox is enough. We used to say in the convent, “Humble tasks are still necessary ones.” I think the arts task is very humble in getting people to a place of discomfort, what Plato called the stinging fly around the thoroughbred, getting it so angry that it runs. That is enough.

Of course, the purpose of the art is not this. There is no purpose! That's why it is art. But there are goods that come from the arts, and leading peole to wrestle with the Truth is one of those goods.

So, the first mistake beginning screenwriters make is the failure to even understand what the art form is. That is, the power to combine he different levels of meaning in a movie to create paradox that will lead people to ask questions.

Canadians involved in rescue of peacemakers

Wow! Canadian special forces were involved in the rescue of Christian peacemakers in Iraq. And so were RCMP and CSIS agents.

Gee, what a nice feeling to have one's heart swell with pride and patriotism for Canada instead of shame and embarrassment at anti-American remarks and an unwillingness to pay to protect our own sovereignty.

Yeah! Canada!

Truth Squads forming to combat The Da Vinci Code movie

Rather than organize protests or boycotts - steps taken in the past against controversial films - Evangelicals and Catholics instead are mobilizing "truth squads." They're producing books, websites, TV documentaries, DVDs, and study guides. Some hope to use the film as a "teachable moment" that could turn the occasion to their advantage.


Opus Dei launched a revamped website yesterday to help give answers about their organization defamed in Dan Brown's runaway bestseller.

I have more links to truth squads here.

And remember to tell your friends and family to go to the movies on DVC's opening weekend May 19-21 and see "Over the Hedge" instead. Spread the word.

If you want to know why, Barbara Nicolosi at Church of the Masses will tell you.

Why they refuse to say thanks for their rescue. . .

Kathy Shaidle at Relapsed Catholic has added some analysis of the Christian Peacemakers based on her experience with the Catholic Worker movement.

Sadly, it comes as no surprise that the Christian Peacemakers would use the rescue (not just "release", but "rescue") of their deeply delusional brethren to launch a predictable, cliche ridden tirade against, not the terrorist kidnappers, but the very people who saved their lives.

These guys switched from run of the mill KoolAid to double strength Goofy Grape Funny Face sometime back in the "liberation theology" 80s. Expecting them to even fake a little gratitude to the British Secret Service, just for the sake of the cameras and the poor benighted general public, is expecting far too much. Why, that would be inauthentic. Bourgeois. What would Kirkegaard say? ("Thank you", I imagine. But that's just me).

Brigitte Bardot gets more coverage than rising anti-Semitism

As I posted earlier, I found it astonishing how few journalists attended yesterday's B'Nai Brith Canada news conference on anti-Semitic incidents in the year 2005.

Okay, okay, so the number of incidents were down a tad from the year before, but the trend upwards since 2001 is alarming. They are up threefold in that time period, and the group warned of the terrible proliferation of hate on the Internet and on university campuses--often perpetuated by professors---in Canada.

Last night I watched CBC's The National to see if they carried a report on the newser, as there was a CBC reporter and cameras there. Nothing. But, they carried a whole story on aging French film star Brigitte Bardot, a sex symbol from the 60s. She is now in her 70s and let me write a memo to myself to avoid lots of eye make up and avoid the "bed head" look when I reach her age. I digress. There was a wide shot of her press conference on the National's report and the SESSION WAS PACKED.

That's where they all were.

Bardot was protesting against the seal hunt and a shot of her weeping graced the front page of the Ottawa Citizen this morning, with several inside stories.

Anti-Semitism? One short story, no photo, stuck on A6. The Globe and Mail also had a witchy-looking photo of Bardot weeping over the seals on page A8. The anti-Semitism story is on the middle of A 10, no photo. At least it has a big headline.

Now to the CBC's credit, they ran a wonderful Mark Kennedy documentary on the communities that do the seal hunt later in The National. If they had been gushing over the "poor baby seals" that would have been the last straw.

Christian peacemakers RESCUED not released

UPDATE: Mike's Noise has good links to stories with some of the details of their RESCUE, including the fact that the American capture of man only hours before led to information about where the peacemakers were held. Their kidnappers were not present. The hostages were tied up.

UPDATE: Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper starts off saying RESCUED then in every subsequent paragraph slips into the word "released." What is wrong with people? Also something seems to be wrong with the PMO website. I haven't been able to get onto it for two hours to post the link to his statement.

UPDATE: Kathy Shaidle at Relapsed Catholic is disgusted. She has more analysis here.


I rejoice that three Christian peacemakers kidnapped along with martyred American Tom Fox last fall have been rescued, by British special forces in a multi-national effort that included Americans and Iraqis.

But I just heard an interview with Canadian James Loney's brother and sister-in-law in which they kept saying he was released.

No, he was not released. He was RESCUED. At the point of a gun. Several guns. Perhaps stun grenades. According to another interview I heard on CBC Newsworld this morning, there were no casualties. That is miraculous, no?

Could God have orchestrated this? Could this have been the answer to the prayers of thousands who have held vigils and sent up private prayers on their behalf? I wonder if the peacemakers might have have preferred a different storyline: that their peaceableness and love would have convinced their captors to release them.
That their captors could be redeemed from demonization in the eyes of the West. Shown to be the good guys, blameless because of the root causes that forced them to behave that way.

But instead, the most militant and well-trained among British forces and perhaps American forces("killing machines" might be the way some anti-war types might have thought of them) mounted the rescue, and did so without harming anyone.

If the meme of "they were released" rather than "they were rescued" takes hold, then the West will lose a beautiful lesson about the nature of force used in a just way vs. violence motivated by revenge.

And not a casualty! What a testimony to the training of those special forces. They are heroes. I believe God made this posssible. And sometimes, yes, even soldiers can be the instruments of His divine plan.

I wonder if the peacemakers will continue to disparage America and their coalition partners. They blamed them for the kidnapping. If they continue to do so, we will have something like the old story about the man who prayed to God for rescue as flood waters rose around his house.

First a man came with a rowboat and asked him to hop aboard. The man said, no, I'm praying that God will rescue me.

As the waters came up to the second floor, a team in a motorboat came by offering to take the man to safety. No, he said, I am praying that God rescue me.

The waters rose further, forcing the man to flee to his rooftop. A helicopter swooped over head and another rescue team lowered a basket to save him from the flood waters.

No, I am praying to God to save me, the man told them.

The waters rose and the man drowned. As he stood before his Maker, he shook his fist and said, "I prayed and prayed for you to rescue me. Why didn't you answer my prayers!"

God said, "But I sent a rowboat, a motorboat and a helicopter! What more did you want me to do?"

Michelle Malkin is on this: She writes:

Our troops teamed with British forces to rescue three left-wing, anti-war activists kidnapped by terrorists in Iraq. Those freed were Canadians James Loney, 41, and Harmeet Singh Sooden, 32; and Briton Norman Kember, 74. The men, who were members of the Chicago-based Christian Peacemaker Teams, were kidnapped on Nov. 26 along with their American colleague, Tom Fox, 54, whose body was found earlier this month.

Reader Jen M. took at look at the Christian Peacemaker Teams website for the group's statement on the rescue and she e-mailed me her observations:

Not once do they thank or even reference the fact that a Special Forces team rescued these guys. In fact, the only reference to military at all is blaming them for the kidnapping in the first place. Nice!

Also on their home page is a long statement about how terribly treated terrorists are when detained by evil soldiers.


The statement also talks of release:

Harmeet, Jim and Norman and Tom were in Iraq to learn of the struggles facing the people in that country. They went, motivated by a passion for justice and peace to live out a nonviolent alternative in a nation wracked by armed conflict. They knew that their only protection was in the power of the love of God and of their Iraqi and international co-workers. We believe that the illegal occupation of Iraq by Multinational Forces is the root cause of the insecurity which led to this kidnapping and so much pain and suffering in Iraq. The occupation must end.

Today, in the face of this joyful news, our faith compels us to love our enemies even when they have committed acts which caused great hardship to our friends and sorrow to their families. In the spirit of the prophetic nonviolence that motivated Jim, Norman, Harmeet and Tom to go to Iraq, we refuse to yield to a spirit of vengeance. We give thanks for the compassionate God who granted our friends courage and who sustained their spirits over the past months. We pray for strength and courage for ourselves so that, together, we can continue the nonviolent struggle for justice and peace.

Throughout these difficult months, we have been heartened by messages of concern for our four colleagues from all over the world. We have been especially moved by the gracious outpouring of support from Muslim brothers and sisters in the Middle East, Europe, and North America. That support continues to come to us day after day. We pray that Christians throughout the world will, in the same spirit, call for justice and for respect for the human rights of the thousands of Iraqis who are being detained illegally by the U.S. and British forces occupying Iraq.

During these past months, we have tasted of the pain that has been the daily bread of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. Why have our loved ones been taken? Where are they being held? Under what conditions? How are they? Will they be released? When?

With Tom’s death, we felt the grief of losing a beloved friend. Today, we rejoice in the release of our friends Harmeet, Jim and Norman. We continue to pray for a swift and joyful homecoming for the many Iraqis and internationals who long to be reunited with their families. We renew our commitment to work for an end to the war and the occupation of Iraq as a way to continue the witness of Tom Fox. We trust in God’s compassionate love to show us the way.

Living through the many emotions of this day, we remain committed to the words of Jim Loney, who wrote:

"With God’s abiding kindness, we will love even our enemies.
With the love of Christ, we will resist all evil.
With God’s unending faithfulness, we will work to build the beloved community."


This is amazing. No mention of RESCUE. At least they recognize that the hostage-takers are enemies in that they are committed to praying for and loving their enemies. No mention of rescue as a hope or even a consideration while they were still held captive. No mention of the rescue, no thanks to the liberators (they would call them occupiers) who made it possible.. No "thanks"!!!!!! Astounding.

I wonder what Dr. Sanity has to say about this. She hasn't posted on it. Will link when she does.

Why can't they love Americans and British special forces with the same fervor--if they are the enemy, too? They don't even get a mention, as if they are so evil as to not exist in their eyes.

Sad.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

If the MSM ran the United States

Ben Shapiro muses about what would happen if the mainstream media ran the country:


March 21, 2006, WASHINGTON -- Today, after six years of unending attacks on the honor and credibility of his administration, President Bush called for a constitutional amendment to hand over the reins of American governance to members of the mainstream press. "It has been my privilege to work for the American people," Bush stated, "but I now realize that I can never satisfy the requirements of this office. In my opinion, only one person can meet the challenges we face today: respected journalist Helen Thomas.

-snip-

*****
April 1, 2006, WASHINGTON -- Helen Thomas took her oath of office today, officially becoming the 44th president of the United States. In her inaugural address, President Thomas announced the guiding policy for her administration: "We will seek to ensure the security of our citizens without bloodshed and without compromising the values that make America great. We will pull our troops out of Iraq. We will pull our troops out of Afghanistan. We will immediately shut down Guantanamo Bay and release the prisoners of war being held without charge there; we will compensate them for their unjustified detention. We will end warrantless wiretapping, and we will end the torture of terrorists for information. We will shut down the racist vigilante group now patrolling our border with Mexico. I pledge not to threaten or cajole any country into adopting values in concert with those of the United States -- we must earn respect by deference to the values of others. Let us end the War on Terror; let us begin the War for Peace."

-snip-
*****
April 2, 2006, WASHINGTON -- -snip-

Secretary of Defense Moore was optimistic about the new administration: "We're going to let the freedom fighters have their freedom. We're going to bring the baby-killers home. We're going to force business owners to hire more workers at bayonet point. And we're going to put George W. Bush on trial for war crimes." NSA Maureen Dowd issued the following statement: "Bush and Rummy are gone; the big, burly rough-guys with their impetuously masculine attitude are outta here. -Snip-

Read the whole thing. It starts out amusing, but ends darkly. Let's just hope those folks are never in charge. They do enough damage where they are.

Some second thoughts on the Missouri resolution

From the Centre for Cultural Renewal and Iain Benson's Centreblog:

A recent measure in the Missouri house introduced by Republican Representative David Sater calls for that State to officially recognize “a Christian God” and though, apparently, the measure has no legal effect it has been supported by many people as recognition of the fact that the Founders of the United States of America were overwhelmingly Christians and, so the reasoning goes, the majority of citizens of the State remain Christians today.


-snip-

The Missouri issue shows very different approaches to the role of the state in relation to religion. How many Christians, supportive of the “Word” could deny, if they considered the matter, that the God of Abraham is also the God of Jesus? Why then the exclusive language affirmation? Is this just bad theology or bad politics, or both, or neither? Why do certain kinds of Christians seem to feel they need Caesar to affirm God?

Whatever the answers, the Missouri initiative and much other recent commentary shows that the nature of faiths in relation to politics is a serious issue for America; a country that has never really managed to get its population, and many of its politicians and religious leaders, to understand the nature and limits of theocracy. Some are suggesting that this now poses a serious threat to the United States.


-snip-

It is with the second of these that I am concerned here; “the ominous intrusion of radical Christianity into politics and government.” Much turns, of course, on what we deem “radical Christianity” to be and how we view the appropriate relationship between religious beliefs and government.

Two things are necessary to state up front. First that government now as always must be concerned with beliefs. These beliefs may be religious, non-religious or, as is most likely in the contemporary West, a combination of the two. Second, every set of beliefs, except those established with a proper understanding of the role of freedom in relation to governance, has the likelihood of over-extending itself in relation to power. I have mentioned before French philosopher Jacques Maritain’s useful creation of the term “theocratic atheism” (Evans and Ward eds. The Social and Political Philosophy of Jacques Maritain (New York: Scribner, 1955, 248). Atheists and agnostics have shown themselves just as capable of erecting totalitarian systems; worse, they tend to have no “internal” critique of such a strategy as communists and certain socialists have shown throughout history by their perpetual justification of the suspension of liberties for some in the goal of ultimate liberation (so they argue) for all – those fortunate ones in the future.

The central question for belief systems of all kinds is: “what is the proper role and extent of the state?” Theocracy is defined as follows:

A form of government in which God (or a deity) is recognized as the king or immediate ruler, and his laws are taken as the statute-book of the kingdom,
these laws being usually administered by a priestly order as his ministers and agents; hence (loosely) a system of government by a sacerdotal order, claiming a divine commission; also, a state so governed: especially applied to the commonwealth of Israel from the exodus to the election of Saul as king.
Oxford English Dictionary (Compact Edition, Vol. II, p. 3282).

Theocracies attempt to use the beliefs of some (perhaps a majority of citizens as in the Missouri example) to first affirm principles that others (whether minority or not) do not support. Then, as history shows, they move to suppress the appropriate freedoms of others. Both aspects are a problem.


-snip-

It is not the fact that governance is rooted in beliefs or what motivates them per se, that causes the problem, however, but in the sphere of action of the beliefs. Theocracies go too far with governance. They claim to have powers over things they should be leaving alone. They attempt to make Caesar into God and God into Caesar. Either way they make an idol of the state.

Christian beliefs are no more dangerous here than any other beliefs and, in fact, because the Christian religion at its most mature recognizes a limited confidence in the role of the “church” in relation to governance (and vice versa), it could be argued that recognizing limits on the role of “Casear” provides a guideline that other belief systems do not have.


There's a lot more, so read the whole thing.

Startling increase in anti-Semitism in Canada

The League of Human Rights for B'nai Brith Canada released its annual audit of anti-Semitism in Canada for the year 2005 and, while there was a slight decrease over the previous year, the number of reported incidents "has increased almost three-fold since 2001."

All in all there were 829 incidents that included death threats, bomb threats against synagogues, and 113 targeted at individual Jewish homes.

The elderly and school children were also disproportionately targeted.

Executive Vice President Dr. Frank Dimant asked why there was a double-standard in the treatment of the Danish cartoons of the prophet Mohammed, which were widely condemned not only by Muslims, but Jewish and Christian organizations and editorials in Western media. Why the silence over the constant barrage of anti-Semitic cartoons and propaganda in the Islamic world? Good question.

Dimant held up a sample of anti-Jewish cartoons that the MSM is greeting, imo, with a huge yawn.

The group also warned about the proliferation of hate on the Internet, and how formerly groups had to hold a rally or a meeting in order to disseminate hate, now they can enter into "directly into your child's computer."

Alain Goldschlager, the director of the Holocaust Literature Research Institute also condemned the rise of anti-Semitism on university campuses, noting that it is often from professors and cloaked in anti-Zionism and comparisons of the way the Nazis treated the Jews to the way the Jews treat the Palestinians.

They dedicated the news conference to Ilan Halimi, who was tortured to death during a kidnapping in France.

Most mainstream news media reports, especially initial stories, refused to say there was any religious motive in his horrific death, nor did they mention the religious affliation of the gang that murdered him and had tried to lure other Jews.

It's sad to say that the news conference in Ottawa was sparsely attended, maybe a dozen or so journalists. Not quite enough to be an embarrassment, but still an indication that the media is a bit ho-hum about what I see as an alarming and growing problem since 9-11.

The group said the rise of anti-Semitic hatred and propaganda is reminiscent of what happened during the Nazi era prior to World War II.

"It's like a wildfire at the moment and we need a lot of dedicated people to put out that wildfire," Dimant said.