Deborah Gyapong: May 2006

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Deborah's Defilers an antidote to The Da Vinci Code

Here's Sean Durkan's write up from Embassy: Canada's Foreign Policy Newsweekly
Deborah's Defilers an Antidote to Da Vinci's Code?

Hidden in all the fuss over the release of the movie version of Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code is the growing demand for good, exciting fiction with a positive Christian twist. Former CBC journalist Deborah Gyapong is hoping to tap into it with her first novel, The Defilers.

Ms. Gyapong, who left the CBC to work in the Canadian Alliance, and now covers Parliament Hill for the Catholic and Evangelical newspapers, will launch the novel at the National Archives on June 1.

Ms. Gyapong originally began writing her suspense novel a couple of years ago for the U.S. market, where the Christian-lit phenomenon had already taken off, but found the Canadian setting and gritty gothic plot did not work for publishers there.

"Much of what Christian publishing had to offer put me in danger of getting spiritual diabetes because the stories were so treacly sweet," says Ms. Guapong. "I fell between the cracks: too raw and controversial for the Christian market, too Christian for the secular market."

Ms. Gyapong stuck with the more "gothic" theme, hoping to appeal to Christians such as herself who had "not led sheltered lives." American tastes have apparently matured because the publishers have now decided to also release the gritty novel in the U.S. this year as well as Canada.

The story remains far from treacly sweet. Heroine Linda Donner is originally from Boston but moved as a kid to Nova Scotia. Seduced by a priest as a teenager, she stopped believing in God. Now a Mountie, she investigates a pastor she suspects is guilty of arson, murder and child abuse, and finds herself pitted against evil supernatural forces that drive her to the edge of a nervous breakdown. The twist is she finds herself seeking God's help -- aided by the very pastor she suspected of committing terrible crimes.

Ms. Gyapong says she hopes her novel will serve as a counterpoint to the Gnostic messages of books like The Da Vinci Code.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Family breakdown and the creation of an underclass

The best cure for child poverty is strengthening marriage and encouraging the development of character and self-restraint among men and women.

The best predictor of child poverty is fatherlessness.

Here is an interesting essay that looks at how the breakdown of black families in the United States has been politicized. Theodore Dalrymple has documented similar effects of family breakdown and the creation of an underclass among whites in Britain.


Liberal advocates had two main ways of dodging the subject of family collapse while still addressing its increasingly alarming fallout. The first, largely the creation of Marian Wright Edelman, who in 1973 founded the Children’s Defense Fund, was to talk about children not as the offspring of individual mothers and fathers responsible for rearing them, but as an oppressed class living in generic, nebulous, and never-to-be-analyzed “families.” Framing the problem of ghetto children in this way, CDF was able to mount a powerful case for a host of services, from prenatal care to day care to housing subsidies, in the name of children’s developmental needs, which did not seem to include either a stable domestic life or, for that matter, fathers. Advocates like Edelman might not have viewed the collapsing ghetto family as a welcome occurrence, but they treated it as a kind of natural event, like drought, beyond human control and judgment.

Theodore Dalrymple challenges prevailing wisdom on opitate addiction

I have witnessed thousands of addicts withdraw; and, notwithstanding the histrionic displays of suffering, provoked by the presence of someone in a position to prescribe substitute opiates, and which cease when that person is no longer present, I have never had any reason to fear for their safety from the effects of withdrawal. It is well known that addicts present themselves differently according to whether they are speaking to doctors or fellow addicts. In front of doctors, they will emphasize their suffering; but among themselves, they will talk about where to get the best and cheapest heroin.

When, unbeknown to them, I have observed addicts before they entered my office, they were cheerful; in my office, they doubled up in pain and claimed never to have experienced suffering like it, threatening suicide unless I gave them what they wanted. When refused, they often turned abusive, but a few laughed and confessed that it had been worth a try. Somehow, doctors—most of whom have had similar experiences— never draw the appropriate conclusion from all of this. Insofar as there is a causative relation between criminality and opiate addiction, it is more likely that a criminal tendency causes addiction than that addiction causes criminality.

Furthermore, I discovered in the prison in which I worked that 67% of heroin addicts had been imprisoned before they ever took heroin. Since only one in 20 crimes in Britain leads to a conviction, and since most first-time prisoners have been convicted 10 times before they are ever imprisoned, it is safe to assume that most heroin addicts were confirmed and habitual criminals before they ever took heroin. In other words, whatever caused them to commit crimes in all probability caused them also to take heroin: perhaps an adversarial stance to the world caused by the emotional, spiritual, cultural and intellectual vacuity of their lives.

Mark Steyn on Iran and the nuclear bomb

Anyone who spends half an hour looking at Iranian foreign policy over the last 27 years sees five things:

1. contempt for the most basic international conventions;
2. long-reach extraterritoriality;
3. effective promotion of radical Pan-Islamism;
4. a willingness to go the extra mile for Jew-killing (unlike, say, Osama);
5. an all-but-total synchronization between rhetoric and action.


and

Back when nuclear weapons were an elite club of five relatively sane world powers, your average Western progressive was convinced the planet was about to go ka-boom any minute. The mushroom cloud was one of the most familiar images in the culture, a recurring feature of novels and album covers and movie posters. There were bestselling dystopian picture books for children, in which the handful of survivors spent their last days walking in a nuclear winter wonderland. Now a state openly committed to the annihilation of a neighboring nation has nukes, and we shrug: Can’t be helped. Just the way things are. One hears sophisticated arguments that perhaps the best thing is to let everyone get ’em, and then no one will use them. And if Iran’s head of state happens to threaten to wipe Israel off the map, we should understand that this is a rhetorical stylistic device that’s part of the Persian oral narrative tradition, and it would be a grossly Eurocentric misinterpretation to take it literally.

The Anchoress on the immigration debate in the US

The Anchoress makes a lot of sense.

Aside from the legal and moral ramifications of trying to “round them all up -” I got out of the car thinking, are they forgetting that we are talking about human beings, here? Many of whom have been here for years, initially through legal means, and who have created lives? People with lives and families who - like how they got here or not - are HERE and are mostly contributing to society in positive ways? Honestly, the folks on the radio sounded extremely narrow and over-the-top. The humanity of the illegals seemed as unmentionable to them as the humanity of a baby-in-utero is to a feminist.

And funnily enough, I didn’t hear anyone complaining about the annual influx of illegal Irish immigrants who come in via Montauk and stay. But they’re charmers, aren’t they? Good senses of humor, they work and they don’t ever cause trouble…right?

Build a wall, by all means. Make sure you build it deep, so tunneling is difficult. Arm it and stand guards. I’m all for it. But this overheated rhetoric, this astonishing willingness by too many to keep blowing on the flames until something erupts…this is not good.

Gateway Pundit continues to track protests in Iran

SHAME ON THE WESTERN MEDIA! When 200 Islamist thugs are bused in from across the country by the Islamic Republic to hold a rally outside the Danish Embassy the western news medias (BBC, CNN, AFP, Reuters...) are quick to cover the story live on TV making it seem like Iranians are crazy fanatics!

When tens of thousands of Iranians come out denouncing that very same regime that is doing these kind of acts, condemning them for the oppressive rule!!! EVERYTHING GOES SILENT!

Monday, May 29, 2006

Dan Brown's writing life

"Because my novels are so research-intensive, they take up to two years to write. If I am going to stay focused on a two-year project, it is imperative that I remain excited about the subject matter. Therefore I choose a subject which is not black and white, but rather contains a grey area. The ideal topic has no clear right and wrong, no definite good and evil, and makes for great debate. . . . For me, the 'must have' themes include codes, puzzles and treasure hunts, secretive organisations, and academic lectures on obscure topics."

He goes on to describe his routine. "Writing is a discipline, much like playing a musical instrument; it requires constant practice and honing of skills. For this reason, I write seven days a week. So, my routine begins at around 4 a.m. every morning, when there are no distractions. By making writing my first order of business every day, I am giving it enormous symbolic importance in my life, which helps keep me motivated. If I'm not at my desk by sunrise, I feel like I'm missing my most productive hours. In addition to starting early, I keep an antique hour glass on my desk and every hour break briefly to do push-ups, sit-ups, and some quick stretches. I find this helps keep the blood (and ideas) flowing."

Essential ingredients

He also talks about the way he maps out his books, with a recurring list of ingredients: "A murder, a chase through foreign locations, the action taking place all in 24 hours, codes, a ticking clock, strong male and female characters, and a love interest. The structural elements are consistent."


Thanks to Sally Apokedak for the link via Faith in Fiction. Check FiF's message board.

Overcoming moral paralysis--by Dr. Sanity

To confront evil in the world, one must first have the courage to confront it within one's self; to be able to see the dark side of one's own nature and accept one's own imperfections. If you are able to do this, then you will easily recognize the pathetic behavior at Abu Ghraib--and other places-- for what it is: a manifestation of human imperfection--which each one of us are capable of under the right circumstances.

But this is something the left will not do--they dare not do--and so they will continue to encourage and enable that dark side of themselves; even as they tell themselves how virtuous and superior they are. They know they are not capable of such evil. Their motives are always pure; their actions are always perfect and have no negative consequences. They are the only truly morally superior beings on earth.

Hence they are blind and unable to recognize those who--like themselves--are capable of incredible atrocities on a scale beyond imagining, simply because they do it in the name of some"virtue" or "good". This blindness to their own nature renders them morally paralyzed and incapable of confronting the threat of evil.


Please read it all.

Cineplex Odeon won't run Campus Crusade Ad

VANCOUVER, May 29, 2006 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The Canadian Movie Theater chain Cineplex Odeon abruptly cancelled a planned in-theater advertising campaign by Campus Crusade for Christ May 17. Valued at more than $60,000, the ads were part of the organization's program encouraging the public to view The Da Vinci Code movie and explore religious issues raised by the film.

"We're very disappointed the movie chain cancelled our ads without any discussion or verification regarding our plans," said Campus Crusade Marketing Director Braden Douglas.

The Langley, BC-based organization had produced a 10-sec movie screen teaser ad encouraging the public to visit a special website - http://www.DiscussDaVinci.com - to explore and discuss religious beliefs and questions raised by the film. The ads were scheduled to run in theaters in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg and Toronto.

"Aside from the obvious concern for free speech, our campaign is a thoughtful and positive one with messaging that the public will find interesting," Douglas said. "Judging by the public's response so far, people are eager to explore their religious faith, which we believe is a positive step."

It is the sad, simple fact that we are most blind

It is the sad, simple fact that we are most blind to the divine presence among us. Even the disciples who walked this earth daily in the company of our Blessed Lord were, for the longest time, not entirely sure.

We believe that thou camest forth from God, they told Him. Jesus answered them, Do ye now believe? Behold the hour cometh, yea is now come, that ye shall be scattered every man to his own and shall leave me alone.

Countless times since then men and women have left the Lord alone, ignoring His word, forgetting the Cross, blind to the outstretched loving hand, secure in their stunning arrogance that they can get by without Him.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Why Victor Davis Hanson thinks the invasion of Iraq was a good thing

First, there is no longer a mass murderer atop one of the oil-richest states in the world. Imagine what Iraq would now look like with $70 a barrel oil, a $50 billion unchecked and ongoing Oil-for-Food U.N. scandal, the 15th year of no-fly zones, a punitative U.N. embargo on the Iraqi people — all perverted by Russian arms sales, European oil concessions, and frenzied Chinese efforts to get energy contracts from Saddam.

The Kurds would remain in perpetual danger. The Shiites would simply be harvested yearly, in quiet, by Saddam’s police state. The Marsh Arabs would by now have been forgotten in their toxic dust-blown desert. Perhaps Saddam would have upped his cash pay-outs for homicide bombers on the West Bank.

Mohammar Khaddafi would be starting up his centrifuges and adding to his chemical weapons depots. Syria would still be in Lebanon. Washington would probably have ceased pressuring Egypt and the Gulf States to enact reform. Dr. Khan’s nuclear mail-order house would be in high gear. We would still be hearing of a “militant wing” of Hamas, rather than watching a democratically elected terrorist clique reveal its true creed to the world.

More on outbreaks of dissent in Iran

Gateway Pundit is following the story.

It seems odd to me that in both of the newspapers I read this morning, not a peep about any of this.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Bush dancing

The Anchoress on U.S. President George W. Bush

People who have lived in freedom their whole lives and do not even realize how their own liberties are being undermined look at President Bush and see…well, I don’t know what they see. A swaggering cowboy, fratboy, stutterer who can’t be glib or polished and doesn’t hide his desire to distance himself from the elites and bluebloods. They see a warmonger who “lied” because he believed everything his predecessor believed and did something about it. They see hundreds of thousands of people freed due to his vision and efforts, they see women becoming educated and winning formerly denied rights, and proclaim it all “not worth it,” and write silly plays about assassination and sneer about how they keep champagne in their fridge waiting for the day he dies.


Read her post, then visit this one over at Gateway Pundit. Make sure you watch the video on Bush dancing.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Beltway snipers--lone nuts or terrorists?

For most people, the Beltway-area sniper case is a distant memory. Over and done. But in Montgomery County, Md., the pain and suffering caused by convicted killing spree murderers Lee Malvo and John Muhammad is as fresh and raw as it was three years ago when the pair terrorized the area--leaving 10 dead and three injured in their wake.

At the time, I covered two main aspects of the story that were underplayed by the MSM--Lee Malvo's illegal alien catch-and-release story and Nation of Islam convert Muhammad and Malvo's Muslim hate-mongering. Snide MSM'ers and the CAIR propagandists attacked those of who called these thugs what they are: terrorists.

What's happening in Iran?

Gateway Pundit has links to student protests.

Sure would be nice if internal revolt solves the nuclear weapons problem posed by its crazed theocratic rulers. But not getting my hopes up too high.

What should Anglican bishops be talking about?

Peter Hitchens has the answer.

So, if you were a Bishop, what would you be worried about? Would you get involved in an essentially political argument about income gaps and taxation? Would you make headline-catching criticisms of vulgar wealth? Would you put your name to yet another dreary politically correct tract, to join all the other standard-issue, half-baked leftist whingeing that has got us more or less where we are?

Or would you address the moral collapse of our society which is so very much more important, and which is actually so much more your business?


If virtue collapses and citizens no longer show restraint, if no means for inculcating character and moral behavior exists in families, schools and churches, then it doesn't matter if a society is capitalist or socialist, we'll have disaster.

Thanks to Kathy at Relapsed Catholic for the link.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

The Da Vinci Code--a slanderous attack on Christ

The book version of "The Da Vinci Code" is a slanderous, vicious attack on Jesus Christ, His church and the Bible. Unlike the book, the hero in the movie, played by Tom Hanks, makes some positive statements regarding the traditional view of Jesus Christ and His divinity. He then says, however, that it doesn't matter what the real truth is; it only matters what people believe. Such irrational, anti-historical statements may be even more insidious than Dan Brown's book, because they lull people into a deadly sense of apathy about the historical, moral and spiritual identity and mission of Jesus Christ.

What makes this even worse is the fact that children, teenagers and young adults, who don't have the knowledge and wisdom that comes with age and experience, are the most vulnerable to the wicked effects of popular works like "The Da Vinci Code."

No mater how you cut it, therefore, "The Da Vinci Code," though a work of fiction, will greatly weaken Jesus Christ's loving mission to bring salt and light to the human race. Anyone who reads or sees "The Da Vinci Code," especially those who advocate reading it or seeing it and those who say it doesn't matter if people read or see it, are taking a stand against Jesus Christ and His Gospel. It is they who are being unloving, not those who warn people about the dangers of such works like "The Da Vinci Code." It is also they who will be encouraging the entertainment industry to make and market more books, movies and videos viciously attacking Jesus Christ, His mission and the Bible.

Abortion as sacred ritual of child sacrifice?

Most agree abortion is at the very least unpleasant. Even two of its most ardent political supporters, Bill and Hillary Clinton, concur abortion should be "safe, legal, and rare." There's no reason to say that unless abortion is bad for some reason.

But latter-day feminist abortion advocates disagree. They think abortion is not just fine; it's holy.


-snip-

Cecilia has vowed to open an abortion mill on her reservation if the South Dakota abortion ban sticks. She will call it Sacred Choices Clinic.

The word sacred comes from the Latin sacrum, meaning "sacrifice." So in terms of child sacrifice, abortion is certainly sacred, but to whom?

''In my culture we have a goddess, the White Buffalo Calf Woman. It's a feminine power, and that's who I am. I need to honor the feminine power – so the goddess is making me do this," Cecilia said "with a laugh," according to Indian Country Today.

Cecilia may call the supernatural force behind abortion the White Buffalo Calf Woman, and I may call it what the Church Lady calls it. Whatev.

Still, it used to be that feminists didn't want religion brought into the abortion debate. "Keep your rosaries off our ovaries!" they shouted.


Interesting.

What I hear more of in Canada is that abortion is a "medically necessary procedure."

?????

Moral clarity needed says columnist

I have heard it said that what America needs to win the war on Islamofascism is moral clarity—a strong belief that our ideology and theirs are not comparable; that there is a good and an evil and we are on the good side; that Western civilization, for all its faults, is a damn sight better than that which seeks to destroy it.

Taheri-azar and the Duke lacrosse players were all technically innocent until proven guilty. In one case, public officials, the press, and the local community did their best to deny the accused that particular courtesy of American justice.


Thanks to Michelle Malkin for the link.

Monday, May 22, 2006

The Anchoress on George W. Bush

Perhaps I am a dim bulb, but President Bush has never surprised me, and that is probably why I have never felt let down or “betrayed” by him. He is, in essentials, precisely whom he has ever been.


Great post. Please read the whole thing.

Our taxpayers dollars are funding porn star Sook-Yin Lee

A couple of weeks ago, I was listening to CBC Radio's Definitely Not the Opera on a Saturday afternoon and was appalled by an interview host Sook-Yin Lee did with a guy who reported on a computer conference and efforts to combine various sex toys with virtual sex online.

The dirty schoolboy/girl tone of the interview matched its graphic content and ever since I've been meaning to write to the CBC or to the Heritage Minister to protest.

Saturday afternoon someone could easily have had the radio on with children listening.

Now I see there's another reason why my tax dollars and yours should not be supporting the livelihood of this outrageous libertine.

From the Ottawa Citizen today:


Explicit sex -- with or without violence -- is an honourable tradition in Cannes, going back to such provocations as Gaspar Noe's Irreversible, Vincent Gallo's Brown Bunny and even David Cronenberg's Crash.

And now there's another Canadian connection: John Cameron Mitchell's Shortbus, an explicit comedy-drama about a group of young New Yorkers on a voyage of self-discovery, most of the time with their clothes off. The cast is headed by Sook-Yin Lee, host of CBC Radio's Definitely Not The Opera, in a performance that is -- and let me be the first to say it -- definitely not.

We meet her character, Sofia, leaning stark naked on a piano and having several varieties of what appears to be unsimulated sex with her husband Rob (Raphael Barker). Although Sofia is a sex therapist -- "I prefer relationship counsellor," she keeps saying -- she has never had an orgasm, and her journey on Shortbus includes encounters with an impressively rubbery vibrator and the insertion of a vibrating vaginal egg that is activated by a remote control. In a moment typical of the movie's wicked humour, the remote gets misplaced and someone uses it to try to change channels on the TV.

Sook-Yin Lee was almost fired by CBC when it was announced she was taking the role. "There was confusion and fear on the part of my bosses," she says now, adding that she was fascinated how they all supported the idea of the film, but they all said that the boss above them didn't want her to do it. The threat of firing was dropped in the face of a public protest supporting her decision.

"It was the most beautiful thing because in the end, my bosses just went 'Phew. You are allowed to do this. Go do it.'"


And there's more on the movie, via Dr. Sanity.

A US film featuring actors performing real sex is a "call to arms" against President George W. Bush, the director told journalists at the Cannes film festival.

"Shortbus," an explicit, largely improvised arthouse flick that includes a rendition of the American national anthem during a gay sex scene, is a direct provocation, director John Cameron Mitchell admitted.

"It's a little bit of a cri de coeur to us, a little bit of a call to arms" against the prevailing conservatism, he told a media conference, adding that his country was living in "the era of Bush, which is about clamping down, being scared."

The 43-year-old, whose previous work was "Hedwig and the Angry Inch," about a transsexual rock singer, said the film was his own small act of defiance against Bush.

"If you can't do elections you might as well do erections," he said.

Although the first half of the film is filled with sex, including orgies and masturbation, the act itself is not meant to be erotic but rather to challenge the audience and make it confront issues such as loneliness, the illusion of self-sufficiency and other seemingly unrelated problems, Mitchell said.


Dr. Sanity diagnoses the director:

This is the same kind of "artist" that delights in placing dung on an image of Mary and thinks he is making a serious statement about religion. The only serious statment he is making is about himself.

Most young children believe that their excrement-- and all their other bodily excretions--are pretty serious and special stuff; and for a brief time in their young life, they are correct (at least according to their parents). But real adults are expected to manage their exhibitionistic tendencies and not subject the rest of humanity directly to their unresolved shit. Great art--meaningful art--finds a creative way to transform those childhood conflicts into something positive.

A critic watches Flight 93 and . . .

There was a strange sound in the preview cinema last week. Normally, at the end of a critics' screening, there is a hubbub of gossip and the busy gathering of stuff. But when the screen went black at the conclusion of United 93, there was just silence. Nobody moved as a shocked pause spread across the room.

It was all the more astonishing since everyone knew what was coming. As a subject matter, the events of September 11, 2001 are hardly unexplored territory. We all know the plot of the film: aboard the fourth hijacked plane that morning, the passengers fight back and almost reclaim control.

Although they fail, at least their efforts mean it crashes in a field rather than into its intended target, the Capitol building. And yet such is the film's pacing, such is the director Paul Greengrass's craft, that, at its conclusion, even the most jaded of cinema-goers is left open-mouthed in astonishment.

In the four and a half years since 9/11, amid the plethora of articles, books, analysis, political gestures, wars, invasions, bombings and retaliations, nothing has made as much sense of the day as this film does.

What we see is ordinariness undermined to such a degree that no one has a clue how to respond. Until it is too late.

The film's first half-hour is a parade of such banality that you might think only an avid plane-spotter could maintain interest. Except, since every detail is freighted with the knowledge of what comes later, even the blandest of scenes becomes one of seat-gripping tension.

Refuelling, checking in, loading the luggage: everything is almost too unbearable to watch. When the door of the plane shuts and is bolted into place, a routine bit of procedure is transformed into something else entirely. It is as if the lid is being nailed down on the passengers' coffin.

In America, the film has been triumphantly received, applauded by critics, cinema-goers and, importantly, the victims' families.

What everyone warms to is the understated heroism of the passengers. This is no John Wayne gung-ho, up-and-at-'em. Even the now-legendary command of "Let's roll" is no more than a swallowed whisper.


Thanks to Kathy Shaidle at Relapsed Catholic for the link.

Don't beat up on the godlike says Ted Byfield

The endless yapping of Canada's liberal news media in favour of greater independence for Canadian members of Parliament is matched only by their consternation when some Tory MP actually does speak out independently.

He must be disciplined at once, the liberal media agree.

Just consider for a moment the case of Maurice Vellacott, Tory member for Saskatoon, who tried to defend Parliament against the invasion of its rights and prerogatives by the Supreme Court of Canada.

-snip-

His offence was to criticize Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin's notably exalted description of a judge's role, delivered in her celebrated speech in New Zealand.

She said, Vellacott charged, that when lawyers become judges, "all of a sudden there's some mystical kind of power comes over them by which everything that they ever decree then is not to be questioned, they take on these almost godlike powers."

Well, the chief justice admittedly did not use those precise words. But careful examination of the powers of moral perception which she did attribute to judges confirms that something very like it is certainly implied. Unless judges have been somehow endowed with the power to discern and invent "new natural law," as she calls it, whereas mere elected politicians lack that power, then how could the court justify making up laws, rather than allowing Parliament to do it? There's only one possible answer: Judges have mystical qualifications not bestowed upon most mortals.

If that indeed is what she is asserting, Vellacott is right.


Thanks to Robert Jason for the link.

The picture shows MP Maurice Vellacott addressing the recent National March for Life in Ottawa May 11.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

The Da Vinci Code has nothing to do with truth

Excerpts from Fr. Tom Rosica's Toronto Sun column today.
Just to whet your appetite for the whole thing:


The Da Vinci affair -- both the book and the movie -- has become a major cultural phenomenon reflecting, on the one hand, the ignorance of millions of people and, on the other, the delight the media take in promoting an entire product line that has nothing to do with the truth.

-snip-

Brown's attack on the very person and mission of Jesus Christ, must be named for what it is: a form of religious profanity. Why should Christians be expected to sit by while the media hails a movie that insults Christ, our Saviour and Lord?

-snip-

Relativism is nothing more or less than the deconstruction of all objectivity in our perceptions of reality. Accordingly, there is no real, objective and historical truth, only those notions which each special proponent offers as his own idea of truth. Isn't this the crux of the whole Da Vinci Code phenomenon?

-snip-

For Christians, Jesus said, "I am the Truth," and for this countless good men and women throughout the ages have lived and died. Nobody lives and dies for relativism and I doubt that anyone will die for Dan Brown.

If you are interested to know who Jesus really was and what he preached about, I encourage you to pick up the New Testament. If you wish to know his consolation in your life, spend some time before one of his countless images. If you wish to encounter him in a deeply personal way, try the Sacramental Life of the Church. You might be surprised at what you find and who you meet.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

John Zmirak on what he heard about Dan Brown at lunch recently

I perked up, and ordered another beer. “You know Dan Brown?”

“I knew him for years. He started out as a joke-book author.” Ted said, dunking a clam-strip in tartar sauce. “Some of the jokes were funny. But he wanted to be a novelist. He kept pestering me about it, so finally I gave him this paperback, Writing the Blockbuster Novel, by Albert Zuckerman. It’s a paint-by-numbers guide on how to write a page-turner. One important part of the formula was: Find a villain your readers can safely hate. A few months later, Dan brought me this manuscript to read—and it followed the formula precisely … as if he’d poured Jello into a mold. In this case, the ‘safe villain’ was the National Security Agency, government spies. It sold pretty well, and he kept on pounding out books—each time with a different ‘safe villain.’ Eventually, he started running out—Communism was gone, the Nazis were all dead…. That pretty much leaves the U.S. government, drug cartels, and the Catholic Church.”

I was taken aback. “Do you mean to say that Dan Brown came up with this theory about the Church just to sell a few lousy books?”

'I gave him this paperback,' Ted explained, 'Writing the Blockbuster Novel...'
Ted chuckled, ruefully. “Thirty million lousy books. I remember when he was working on it. We went to lunch with an editor, with a name like Chaim Rothstein, or Izzy Stein—not exactly an Irishman. Dan started rattling off this conspiracy theory about the Church, then he got really nervous and turned to the editor, almost blushing. ‘Excuse me,’ Dan said to him. ‘You’re not Catholic, are you?’” Ted downed his beer. “That’s how much Dan Brown knows about religion.”

A thought-provoking lunch. It convinced me that admirable efforts such as Amy Wellborn’s to refute the assertions woven throughout the turgidly typed pages of The DaVinci Code might just be beside the point. It’s probably not worth protesting this silly, mercenary book—or the boring movie made of it by hack director Richie Cunningham… I mean, Ron Howard. If you know someone gullible enough to take a pulp airport novel as “evidence” that Jesus Christ was not divine—but rather a horn-dog rabbi eager to “hook-up” with a former hooker, in order to father a race of bumbling French kings…do you really think the answer is to argue with him? Using, you know, reason? You might just as well pick up the book, smack him on the nose and say “No! Bad! No! Very bad!” That’s likely to be more effective, and a heck of a lot more fun.


Thanks to the comments section over at Church of the Masses.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Media paid attention to the National March for Life this year

When nearly 6,000 pro-life demonstrators descended on Ottawa for the ninth annual National March for Life May 11, the national news media paid attention this year.

Usually press gallery members ignore the march or give it scant coverage that vastly underestimates crowd figures. This year, they were in the crowd with their cameras and microphones.

"I think it's great the media's here," LifeCanada president Joanne Byfield said in an interview. "I just wish they would hear the message and not just lay a political trap for the Tories and social conservatives."

"I think the message is getting out," said Aiden Reid of Campaign Life Coalition, which organizes the annual march. "It's less and less of a political hot potato every year. The media is slowly coming around."

He pointed out that in recent elections there is a marginal increase in the number of pro-life MPs elected each year.

"I'm optimistic we're going to win this battle," he said. "It's just a matter of when."

Charges of a hidden agenda to turn back abortion "rights" played a role in the last three federal election campaigns.


Read the rest of my coverage of the National March for Life entitled Media responds to pro-life story at the Western Catholic Reporter.

Here is LifeSiteNews.com's coverage.

The ninth annual March for Life which took place last Thursday attracting some 5,700 participants (coverage: http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2006/may/06051502.html) garnered more press coverage than in any previous year. However, the public broadcaster - CBC television, the nation's largest circulation paper - The Toronto Star - and the supposedly 'conservative' National Post all offered no coverage.

CTV and Global television both offered reports on the March for Life. (See on line article: http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20060511...
Note that the photos do not show any youth and mostly older men)


Read it all.

Contraception debate is back in the public square

As much as North Americans - including a majority of Catholics - may hope modernity has driven a stake through the debate on artificial contraception, it's back.

"With a vengeance," said Ottawa Catholic John Pacheco, who organized Humanae Vitae 2006 conference held May 12-14 in Ottawa. "It's the elephant in the room."

For Catholics, the teachings against contraception have been "one of the most well-kept and embarrassing secrets of the Church," said Janet Smith, a keynote speaker at the conference.

Smith, an expert on Church teaching on life ethics, said a 1995 study showed 80 per cent of Catholics used some form of artificial contraception. In 1960, before the advent of the birth control pill, about 60 per cent of Catholics practised natural family planning.

Chances are most Catholics have never heard a homily on the issue, nor have new converts received any instruction, she said.

The modern world no longer sees babies as blessings but burdens, she said.

Interest in the issue is changing, Pacheco said in an interview. Not only Catholics but also an increasing number of evangelicals are re-examining whether artificial contraception is a good thing.

For Smith, the devastating consequences of artificial contraception are numerous: the facilitation of sex outside of marriage; a huge increase in the number of sexually transmitted diseases and infection rates; increased levels of abortion as a back-up; and higher divorce rates.


Read the rest of my story Contraception debate rises again in the Western Catholic Reporter.

Water for flowers but not for Terri Schiavo

When Father Frank Pavone sat by Terri Schiavo in the hours before she died, he noticed the flowers in a vase by her bedside.

The flowers were vibrant and alive, nourished by the water in the vase, while Schiavo was dying of thirst and hunger because a judge had ordered the removal of her feeding tube.

Pavone asked himself, "How did we get here?"

"Armed police officers were standing there to make sure we did not dip our hands into that water and put it on her tongue," he told more than 900 people at the annual Rose Dinner, an event following the National March for Life May 11.


Read the rest of my story Every human has the right to life, say speakers in the Western Catholic Reporter.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

The DVC is a dud but people will flock to see it

I'm afraid I agree with Barbara Nicolosi who writes:

People are emailing me asking if I think that people will still throng to The Da Vinci Code even knowing that it is a boring mess. The answer is yes.

Banality is the mark of Satan's handiwork. He is incapable of contact with the beautiful. It is repugnant to him as are all of the hallmarks of the Divine.

It is necessary for the rejection of Christ in this generation, that they swarm to this movie knowing it is blasphemy AND banal. The crowds didn't scream for Barabbas because he was more charming and good than Christ!


As far as I'm concerned the book is a dud, too. I cannot understand its popularity. As art it stinks. It's because it is anti-Christian and specifically anti-Catholic.
Barbara nails it.

The Da Vinci Code--it's a dud say critics

Heh heh heh

The Da Vinci Code movie is a dud according to critics. While they say the movie did soften some of the anti-Catholic aspects, it lacked suspense.

From the Globe and Mail:

Critical consensus seemed to coalesce even before the credits finished rolling. Journalists quickly agreed the film was a dud, that it had neither the interactive code-breaking fun of Dan Brown's book nor the deft hand that a director more versed in thrillers might have brought.

"They didn't break the code, they dumped the code," quipped Stephen Schaefer of The Boston Herald. Chris Craps, with Belgium's Telenet NV, called the lack of preview and screenings for news media, "a kind of hoax. They don't show it to anybody, and now you see why."


Also from the Globe and Mail:

There was blood in the water by the Palais tonight, and it didn't belong to Jesus Christ. After the 8:30 showing of The Da Vinci Code, which was the world's first screening of the film for the “public” (that is, people who are not studio functionaries and yes men), critics from around the world tore into Ron Howard's hugely anticipated (or maybe just hugely hyped) adaptation of Dan Brown's potboiler.

“It's a complete mess,” declared one Belgian journalist, a fellow by the name of Chris Craps who apparently apologizes for his name whenever he meets someone who speaks English.

-snip-

It's true, reading The Da Vinci Code and watching the film adaptation is like the difference between experiential education and lectures: even when the lecturers are Ian McKellan and Tom Hanks, all of that ancient history and code minutiae does tend to get boring. But in retrospect, with so many theories and threads of history to plow through, how could any screenwriter have felt they might have captured the thrill of the book? I'm afraid to say that, when the big reveal about one of the characters comes near the end, the audience was actually hooting in derision. Yikes.


From Reuters:


CANNES, France (Reuters) - Critics panned "The Da Vinci Code" on Wednesday ahead of the world premiere of the year's most eagerly awaited movie.

Opening the annual Cannes film festival, Ron Howard's adaptation of the Dan Brown bestseller was described variously as "grim", "unwieldy" and "plodding".


UPDATE:

Barbara Nicolosi has a lot more over at Church of the Masses. In fact, just go to the main page of her blog and scroll around for all kinds of interesting DVC stuff.

She also posts a piece from Zenit by a spokesman for Opus Dei in response to some comments DVC Director Ron Howard made:

On Thursday the Italian press published interviews with Ron Howard, director of "The Da Vinci Code" film. In statements attributed to him, Howard said that "to deny the right to see the film is a fascist act," and also "to tell someone not to go see the film is an act of militancy and militancy generates hatred and violence." The Opus Dei is mentioned several times in these interviews. The phrases seem to refer to recent statements by Church authorities.

I would ask Ron Howard to keep calm and express himself with respect.

It is not wise to lose sight of the reality of the situation: This film is offensive to Christians. Howard represents the aggressor, and Catholics are victims of an offense. The one offended cannot have his last right taken away, which is to express his point of view. It is not the statements of ecclesiastics or the respectful request of Opus Dei -- to include a notice at the beginning of the film that it is a work of fiction -- which generates violence. It is rather the odious, false and unjust portrayals that fuel hatred.

In his statements, Howard also repeats that it is simply a film, an invented story, and that it must not be taken too seriously. But it is not possible to deny the importance of the movies and literature. Fiction influences our way of seeing the world, especially among young people. It is not right not to take it seriously. Artistic creativity certainly needs a climate of freedom, but freedom cannot be separated from responsibility.

Imagine a film that says that Sony was behind the attacks on the Twin Towers, which it promoted because it wanted to destabilize the United States. Or a novel that reveals that Sony paid the gunman who shot the Pope in St. Peter's Square in 1981, because it was opposed to the Holy Father's moral leadership. They are only invented stories. I imagine that Sony, a respectable and serious company, would not be happy to see itself portrayed in this way on the screens, and that it would not be satisfied with an answer such as "Don't worry, it's only fiction, it mustn't be taken too seriously, freedom of expression is sacred."

In any case, those who have taken part in the film's project have no reason to be concerned. Christians will not react with hatred and violence, but with respect and charity, without insults or threats. They can continue to calculate tranquilly the money they will make on the film, because the freedom of financial profit seems to be in fact the only sacred freedom, the only one exempt from all responsibility. They will probably make a lot of money, but they are paying a high price by deteriorating their prestige and reputation.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Conservative Fatigue Syndrome

Great post from ShrinkWrapped that looks at the growing phenomenon of Conservative Fatigue Syndrome. I had my own CFS symptoms flare up after reading about the attacks on Paul Belien at the Brussels Journal. I fear that we are in a similar period to what Europe was in in late 1930s before World War II broke out. Same kind of denial and appeasement going on.

All of the explanations for CFS have some explanatory power, but symptom complexes are always multiply determined. I would propose that in the background of all our discontent there lurks the sense that the worst is yet to come.

The elephant in the room, which too much of our political and media culture seem to have conspired to overlook, is that the war is still in its early stages and we are finishing the easy parts, al Qaeda and Iraq. If we have had so much trouble mobilizing the support for the easy work, how can anyone be confident that we can address the more difficult problems that are facing us? Unless our enemies make the foolish mistake of attacking us again before they are ready to destroy our ability to carry on the fight, I think there is almost no chance that we can preemptively and adequately wage the next phase of this war.

The idea that we will have to struggle to protect ourselves and maintain support for the Military and the Intelligence services to do their job, and ultimately will almost certainly be attacked again, is enough to make anyone disconsolate.



Please read the whole thing.
Thanks to Dr. Sanity for the link.

Dr. Sanity reminds us of what we need to do when the symptoms get bad:

Like Cassandra, we conservative bloggers have our warnings routinely labelled as "lies" and discounted, minimized and ignored by the very people we are trying to convince. Postmodern rhetoric simply ignores reason and logic and thus cannot be easily deflected by those methods. Much as we would like to ignore it, it's quasi-intellectual persuasiveness represents the easy way to avoid thinking entirely, and provides a justification for emotional recklessness.

Neo-neocon mentions Winston Churchill and I also would like to bring him into this discussion. If we are to avoid this "Cassandra Syndrome" that leads to burnout and fatigue in this war, we must look to someone like Churchill to inspire us at our low points:

"I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat. We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many, many months of struggle and suffering.

You ask, what is our policy? I say it is to wage war by land, sea, and air. War with all our might and with all the strength God has given us, and to wage war against a monstrous tyranny never surpassed in the dark and lamentable catalogue of human crime. That is our policy.

You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word. It is victory. Victory at all costs - Victory in spite of all terrors - Victory, however long and hard the road may be, for without victory there is no survival.

Let that be realized. No survival for the British Empire, no survival for all that the British Empire has stood for, no survival for the urge, the impulse of the ages, that mankind shall move forward toward his goal.

I take up my task in buoyancy and hope. I feel sure that our cause will not be suffered to fail among men. I feel entitled at this juncture, at this time, to claim the aid of all and to say, "Come then, let us go forward together with our united strength."


So, we bloggers must also wage war by doing what we do best--blogging; and fighting this battle the best we can; taking R&R whenever it is needed to keep our spirits high.

Brussels Journal may have to shut down

What follows is an extremely depressing story about the spiritual darkness engulfing Europe and how the forces of appeasement are putting out any real light that might be shed on what's going on. The only hope for Europe is a return to its Judeo-Christian roots, because only then can society come to respect human life from natural birth to natural death, and allow freedom of religion and freedom of speech to flourish within the natural law framework that has evolved in the West. No where else do we see these freedoms. They do not exist in a vacuum. And the kinds of madness that will rise up as those roots are suppressed and cut off are only the beginning. Please, though it is not the fault of those who tell the truth. It is the fault of those who fail to tell the truth and fail to live by it. But it may be too late for Europe. I don't know.

Here goes.

Last Thursday a young man went berserk in Antwerp and shot three people.

Like the Columbine School Massacre a few years ago in the US, Hans Van Themsche’s killing spree is indicative of a society where young people have lost all respect for human life. Is it a coincidence that this should happen in a society that has lost respect for human life itself? Belgium has a very liberal abortion law and wants to extend its euthanasia legislation to minors and to the senile elderly (whose guardians will decide for them). Is it a coincidence that at the same time so many young people have also lost their faith in the future? They listen to Satanic and “goth” music, dress in black, shave their heads and write in farewell letters that “heaven does not exist.” Having lost faith in heaven, they then decide to turn the world into hell.


The government reaction is apparently to seek to silence people like Paul Belien over at the Brussels Journal, one of the few sources for what is really going on in Europe.

Belien writes:

Following last Thursday’s Antwerp massacre the Belgian authorities have announced zero tolerance for racism. Belgian journalists, lawyers and politicians (including Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt), say that I am responsible for creating the atmosphere of hatred that led to the massacre. Some people even demand that I be prosecuted.

Belgian television and the Brussels papers say that the Antwerp shoot-out is the result of my writings. Regular readers of The Brussels Journal know my view well enough: I have repeatedly defended the view that Muslim immigrants are not to blame for Europe's predicament. The latter is entirely of our own making. Europeans have foolishly replaced God by the State as the one on whom they rely to take care of all their needs from cradle to grave. The religious vacuum has led to a demographic vacuum, because those who lose faith in God lose faith in the future as well. A civilization that has created a religious and a demographic vacuum is bound to perish.

The lights are turning out for Europe. If America follows Europe’s example Christendom is lost.


Ron Dreher has this to say. (Via Kathy Shaidle at Relapsed Catholic.)

This is an outrage, and beyond chilling. As I understand it, Belien could go to jail for his words. What we're seeing here is the same thing as in Holland: cowed, simpering societies who are so unwilling to defend their own freedom in the face of radical Islamist assault that they punish the messengers -- Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Paul Belien -- who are trying to warn them what's at stake. You don't have to agree with Hirsi Ali or Belien at all to be shocked by what's happening to them.

We have the First Amendment in the US, so thank God the fate of Paul Belien could never happen here. But I have had the experience of local Muslims who do not want critical attention paid to their radical associations and activities trying to use the "safety" issue to get me silenced. I've written in the Dallas Morning News before questioning the claims of a Muslim group to be dedicated to peace and reconciliation, when in fact its top leadership has a different record, and have been critical in print of certain things that the local Islamic leadership here has engaged in (e.g., holding a tribute to the Ayatollah Khomeini). I happened to sign on to a listserv for Muslims who don't like my newspaper's coverage. It took them a day to find out I was on -- I used my own name -- and kick me off, but in that time, I downloaded emails listing a proposal to run a stealth whispering campaign among local businesses and religious organizations to pressure my newspaper into firing or demoting me on the grounds that my commentaries pose a danger to Muslims. Of course I sent copies of all of this to company lawyers, because the language here was potentially actionable under libel law. Nothing ever came of this plan. Still, it was quite a lesson to me to see how these leaders were attempting not to meet my speech with speech of their own, but to use the so-called threat of physical danger to silence legitimate scrutiny and criticism of their policies and actions.


And now, sadly, a Catholic priest has joined the chorus against Belien.

According to Father Leman I have incited racial hatred, with the result that extremist or unbalanced people, such as Hans Van Themsche, have decided to take the law into their own hands and shoot immigrants. Father Leman blames the Belgian authorities and the CEOOR for not punishing me. In the reverend father’s own logic, if his hate speech against me should lead to extremist and unbalanced people threatening or hurting (“punishing”) me in any way he is the culprit.

The Meatrix

Consciousness raising cartoon about factory farming here.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Barna on the impact of The Da Vinci Code

The Barna Group released new findings Monday on the impact of Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code, and according to the study, the novel has not affected Americans in the way many Christians have imagined.

The new Barna study found that the controversial best-seller confirmed what many people already believed, but altered the pre-existing beliefs of only a few.

The Da Vinci Code is the most widely read book with a spiritual theme to be read by Americans other than the Bible. One out of every five adults has read the novel "cover to cover" – or roughly 45 million adults.

Within the American population, Catholics are more likely than Protestants to have read the book with 24 percent of Catholics and 15 percent of Protestants having read it. The research went further into detail, noting that among Protestants, those associated with a mainline church are almost three times more likely than those associated with non-mainline Protestant congregations to have read the thriller.

The likelihood of having read the book also correlated with education and income. Those with a college degree and whose household income exceeds $60,000 are nearly four times more likely to have read it than "downscale" individuals.

The Barna survey revealed that among the adults who have read the entire novel, 24 percent said the book was either "extremely," "very," or "somewhat" helpful in relation to their "personal spiritual growth or understanding." Additionally, only five percent said they changed any of their religious beliefs because of the book's content.

Although The Da Vinci Code has sold some 60 million copies to date and has been the subject of discussion and controversy since its publishing three years ago, the research institute founder George Barna saw that it has not changed the way Americans think about Jesus.

"Before reading The Da Vinci Code people had a full complement of beliefs already in place, some firmly held and others loosely held,” explained Barna, who has authored of numerous books about faith and culture. “Upon reading the book, many people encountered information that confirmed what they already believed. Many readers found information that served to connect some of their beliefs in new ways. But few people changed their pre-existing beliefs because of what they read in the novel. And even fewer people approached the book with a truly open mind regarding the controversial matters in question, and emerged with a new theological perspective. The book generates controversy and discussions, but it has not revolutionized the way that Americans think about Jesus, the Church or the Bible."

Nevertheless, Barna did not ignore the fact that many people's view on Christianity has been affected. Altered views were mainly seen among Hispanics (17 percent), women who are three times more likely than male readers, liberals who are twice as likely as conservatives, and upscale adults.

A devotional by Donna to help you slow down

My fellow Master's Artist Donna Shepherd writes great devotionals. This one today spoke to me especially, since I rushed around like a Keystone Kop all day, with scarcely time to brush my teeth it seemed.

Donna's having the same problem, it seems. She starts off her devotional remembering when it was not always so rushed.

As children, my brother, sister, and I looked forward to visiting our grandmother during the sweltering days of summer. Dad would drive along the winding gravel roads, with me getting sicker by the moment, until we finally came to her small house, deep in the hills of Kentucky.

Every evening she’d cook a big supper over the wood stove. We ate green beans fresh out of the garden, chicken, cornbread, and crispy fried potatoes – browned in the cast iron skillet.

After we ate, I’d help Grandma wash the dishes using spring water warmed on the stove. With the kitchen cleaned, we’d head out to the front porch to ‘sit a spell.’ Without electricity, we had no television or even a radio. The sound of crickets chirping and the croaking frogs lulled us into a slow and easy time of relaxation.


Doesn't that make you yearn for one of Grandma's dinners and some time to just sit on the front porch until bed time?

Read the rest though, because as usual, Donna has some wise words for those of us who are busy as bees.

Swingers clubs booming thanks to Supreme Court decision

TORONTO -- A 2005 Supreme Court decision that cleared the way for swingers clubs appears to be bringing out Canada's more, well, adventurous side.

Those who prefer life closer to the edge of the conjugal bed say the high court's re-interpretation last December of the definition of indecency has fuelled a growing interest in private clubs that feature group sex, partner swapping, voyeurism and exhibitionism.

The high court effectively legalized such clubs when it rules that consenting adults who engage in sexual activity behind closed doors while like-minded people look on are not committing indecent acts.

Five months later, their operators say more aggressive advertising and marketing efforts in the wake of the ruling have attracted significantly more people to their events.

"I think there's a great opportunity to provide a safe environment where couples can really enhance their sex life," said Linda Fox, who operates Club Eden in Vancouver with partner Jason Walters.

Club Eden, which opened just last weekend, is a so-called "on-premises" club, which means private and shared rooms are available for members. Other clubs typically meet in hotel rooms or private homes.

The Supreme Court decision allowed Club Eden and others like it to stop being so discreet about what's been going on behind their closed doors - and to try to open people's minds at the same time, Fox said.

"There's a lot of perceptions about (the swinging community). One of the things we're trying hard to do is to eliminate the negative perspective that does surround it and really bring forward the positive."

At the Taboo trade show in Vancouver this past January, Fox said she and her husband heard just one negative comment from the more than 30,000 people who made their way on to the convention floor.

Members of Club Eden are educated and respectful of others, she said. Guests are required to follow strict rules about conduct and privacy. No drugs are allowed; even smoking is restricted to the back deck.

Most clubs typically charge an annual fee of their members, but no money ever changes hands for sex. The bulk of the X-rated action takes place in "play rooms" which can host small or large groups of people.

At the largest swingers club of its kind in the city of Toronto, the play rooms apparently aren't big enough: Wicked Club's membership list has grown so long it will be moving to a significantly larger location by the end of the summer.

Wicked, Ontario's only on-premises swingers club, has 13,000 members from all walks of life and a rapidly growing public profile that included a feature appearance last week on MTV Canada by its owners and founders, Aurora Ben Zion and her husband, Shlomo.

Since the ruling, the couple has fielded a "huge number" of calls from people interested in opening branches of Wicked across the country, Ben Zion said.

Those opposed to the Supreme Court decision and to the lifestyle in general say they're not surprised by the surge in the popularity of such clubs, and pledge to fight back against what they see as an assault on family values and the country's sexual health.

"We believe it's an important issue because Canadians are concerned about swingers clubs," said Janet Epp Buckingham, director of law and public policy for the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada.

"They're concerned about the fidelity of relationships, but they're also concerned about the spread of disease."


Via Kathy Shaidle at Relapsed Catholic.

Why wasn't this man charged with treason long ago?

According to Hizbullah's Al-Manar TV network, Professor Noam Chomsky of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) visited Hizbullah headquarters this week, meeting with the organization's secretary-general Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah in a Beirut suburb as well as with other Hizbullah leaders. The U.S. State Department lists Hizbullah as a "terrorist organization." [1] It should be noted that Sheikh Nasrallah frequently calls for the destruction of the U.S. [2]

On May 13, 2006, Professor Chomsky was quoted by Al-Manar as saying, "Hizbullah's insistence on keeping its arms is justified... I think Nasrallah has a reasoned argument and [a] persuasive argument that they [the arms] should be in the hands of Hizbullah as a deterrent to potential aggression, and there is plenty of background reasons for that. So until, I think his position [is] reporting it correctly and it seems to me [a] reasonable position, is that until there is a general political settlement in the region, [and] the threat of aggression and violence is reduced or eliminated, there has to be a deterrent, and the Lebanese army can't be a deterrent."

Al-Manar goes on to state, "When asked about the U.S. list of terrorist states, he [Chomsky] said [that] if the U.S. was to stick to the clear and precise definition of terrorism in its code of laws, it would be the leading terrorist state." [3]

Hirsi Ali and the battle between secularism and pluralism

The West's battle is not only against radical Islamism. There's an internal battle raging about whether a new one-size-fits all form of liberalism called secularism will be forced on everyone, or whether pluralism that respects religious freedoms and the right to agree to disagree civilly in the public square will prevail.

The problem is that pluralism needs to be nourished by its Judeo-Christian roots because the freedoms we are in danger of losing in the West have not been flourished anywhere else in the world. The problem with the secularist model is that it would cut off those roots.

Here's an interesting article that takes a look at the courageous Hirsi Ali, the former Muslim from Somalia now a Dutch politician and her securalist beliefs.


From Brussels Journal via Gates of Vienna via Dr. Sanity.

Hirsi Ali became known worldwide as a paragon of the successful immigrant: bright, loquacious, a modern woman readily assimilated into Western society, and aware of the necessity to adopt the values of the nation that she has made home. But how Dutch is she really? This seems to depend on whether or not secularism is seen as the core value of Western society, or rather the Judeao-Christian heritage.

Her recent clash with Wiegel revealed an appalling insensitivity to issues relating to religion but also to classical liberalism, where parents, rather than the state, have always been allowed to decide about the education of their children. Though Hirsi Ali exercises her freedom of speech to the full (and rightly so – it is an indication of the intolerance of certain Muslims that she needs constant surveillance at the expense of the taxpayers), she seems never to have heard of freedom of religion and freedom of education – basic freedoms which have always been as central to the concept of the free society as the freedom of the late Theo Van Gogh to shout abuse at people he did not like.

One may also wonder how much Hirsi Ali really knows about the history of the Dutch. Like other European peoples, they have waged fierce political battles over education and the right to organise independent schools where children could be educated in accordance with the religious values of their parents. Without this system, all traces of Christianity would have long since been eradicated from Dutch society by the secular, anti-religious, “enlightened” establishment. As it is, Dutch society has become largely secular and anti-religious. In all its “enlightenment” it has refused to procreate and, in the name of tolerance, it has accepted alternative lifestyles and multiculturalism. To compensate for the demographic void it created, it has opened its doors to millions of immigrants from an entirely different cultural background, thereby creating the problems that some, such as Ayaan Hirsi Ali and even Frits Bolkestein, now hope to fight by restricting the existing freedoms of the West even further for the small band of remaining Christians. Their children will be forcefully secularized by the state, because the latter is frantically searching for a means to forcefully secularize the children of Islam.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

"Jane Roe" lawyer urges use of abortion to eliminate the poor

A letter to Bill Clinton written by the co-counsel who successfully argued the Roe v. Wade decision urged the then-president-elect to "eliminate the barely educated, unhealthy and poor segment of our country" by liberalizing abortion laws.

Ron Weddington, who with his wife Sarah Weddington represented "Jane Roe," sent the four-page letter to President Clinton's transition team before Clinton took office in January 1993.

The missive turned up in an exhibit put together by the watchdog legal group Judicial Watch, which has been researching the Clinton administration's policy on the abortion drug RU-486, notes James Taranto in the Wall Street Journal's Best of the Web.

Weddington told the president-elect: "I don't think you are going to go very far in reforming the country until we have a better educated, healthier, wealthier population."

He said the new leader can "start immediately to eliminate the barely educated, unhealthy and poor segment of our country."

Weddington qualified his statement, saying, "No, I'm not advocating some sort of mass extinction of these unfortunate people. Crime, drugs and disease are already doing that. The problem is that their numbers are not only replaced but increased by the birth of millions of babies to people who can't afford to have babies.

"There, I've said it. It's what we all know is true, but we only whisper it, because as liberals who believe in individual rights, we view any program which might treat the disadvantaged differently as discriminatory, mean-spirited and ... well ... so Republican."


Read the whole thing and follow the links over at WorldNetDaily.

Thanks to Kathy Shaidle at Relapsed Catholic for the link.

Powerful testimony of ex-Fatah fighter

From Christianity.ca:

I was born in Gaza. My parents were originally from Jaffa—your next door neighbour! Their building was then the highest in Jaffa. Today the building still stands by the orange orchard that was also my families. Before the war in 1948, my parents, like the rest of the Arabs here, heard the call of the Arab nations to temporarily clear out of Israel during the war; and they did leave their home. My parents fled to Gaza so that they could return later. But as we know, the Arabs lost the war and my parents stayed in Gaza.

Soon after my birth in Gaza we emigrated to Saudi Arabia and I was raised as a Palestinian emigrant who had left his country. The Saudis often harrassed us, accusing us of selling our lands to the Jews and then coming to live in their land. So I grew up in Saudi Arabia with a lot of hate towards the Jews - they had caused me to be an emigrant and to lose the land that was ours. I wish that I had known the Word of God then, because then I would have known the truth—that it was not the Jews that caused me to be an emigrant, but the Muslims and the Muslim system.

When I was ten, my parents decided to move to Qatar. After the Six Day War, I felt as if I was having a nervous breakdown and my hatred just grew and grew. I didn't understand how we could lose so many wars against Israel; we were bigger than Israel in numbers and in size; we had more equipment—everything we had was more than they had, but still we lost the wars against them. I was thinking that once again our leaders sold us to the Jews. That was when I decided to go and fight for our land, which I believed was ours. I went to my father and asked him for permission to join the Fatah. He told me, "Son, what are you talking about? You have to continue your studies and get an education. You leave these ideas alone!"


-snip-


Nobody can tell me that [God's Word] is a dead thing. It's alive! This Living Word showed me who Yeshua the Messiah is. I looked at Charlie and I saw that he also was shaking, so I thought that he too was having a spiritual experience. I asked him what happened and he told me that he really got scared for me because I was shaking so violently; he had never seen something like that before. He told me that as he was reading I first started to shake and then I kneeled down and started to talk and to pray. I told him that I had seen a Light and [the Light] told me that it is the Life, the Way, and the Truth—it was Yeshua!

I ask you, do we pray for our loved ones, do we love our enemies as we love ourselves? Do we comply with God's Word? Love your enemies and pray for those who hurt you! If God is really within us then we can move mountains and move people to reach out to our people for the glory of Yeshua.

Believe me, brothers and sisters, the Muslims are not the enemy and the Arabs are not the enemy; Satan is the enemy. He is the one who destroys and kills. Pray for the Arab people and call them to come to your homes and show them the love of Yeshua that is inside you. If Yeshua's love is in you, it has to show. Don't just talk God's Word, but live it so that people will see it. Our people need you; my people in Gaza need you.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Residential schools not to blame for all ills suffered by Aboriginal Canadians

Excerpt from my story on residential schools carried in the Western Catholic Reporter.

Residential schools are not to blame for all the ills suffered by Canada's Aboriginal peoples, says Winnipeg Archbishop James Weisgerber.

Relations with Aboriginal people are not going to be solved until we see the issue in its complexity, he told the Canadian Church Press convention May 4.

Speaking as an individual and not on behalf of the archdiocese or the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, Weisgerber questioned the narrative that has developed over the last 16 years that paints all residential schools as places of degradation and humiliation.
The history

The narrative suggests all the social problems of the Aboriginal people date back to residential schools where children were routinely sexually and physically abused, while being Christianized and deprived of their language.

"In Canada, it is no more possible to question this narrative than it is to question the Holocaust," he said.

Residential schools began out of necessity once the buffalo were gone and the fur trade collapsed, he said.

Native people were in "dire straits" and many were starving. Missionaries and Aboriginal leaders recognized education was necessary for them to survive.

"It was all begun in good faith," he said.

Weisgerber admitted the Church had its cultural biases and did many things that would never be done today, but asked whether it was fair to judge the past with the acquired knowledge of the present.

The schools did good work as well.

The Sisters of Providence, for example, were asked to build a school in northern Alberta because there were so many orphans.

"There were always more requests than spaces available. This is all part of the narrative."

Weisgerber described the history of residential schools as a "continual example" of the government coming in and "imposing their agenda on us" without giving enough money to help.


Read the rest here.

Catholic faithful on hook for $80 million residential schools compensation

From my story carried in the Western Catholic Reporter:

Catholic faithful will need to dig deep to help fund the $80 million 41 Catholic entities must deliver as part of a recent comprehensive agreement to compensate Aboriginal Canadians who attended residential schools.

"That's a huge amount of money," said Winnipeg Archbishop James Weisgerber, pointing out much of it will come from religious orders that fund many projects for poor and vulnerable people.

"That money (for the poor) is going to dry up," he told the Canadian Church Press Convention May 4.

Speaking in his own name and not on behalf of the archdiocese or the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB), Weisgerber predicted the settlement is going to "immensely weaken the Catholic Church."

One casualty is the image, perception and reputation of the Church, he said, noting that the Church is perceived today as not only irrelevant, but also harmful because of a simplistic narrative that blames the residential schools for all the ills facing native peoples.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

What would you ask God if you knew he'd answer?

That's what a radio host in Winnipeg is asking. He's launched a post card campaign asking people to send their questions in and he'll put some of those questions on air. Put your question into the online postcard here.

That was only one of several original and fascinating ideas David Balzer, co-host of "God Talk" on CJOB radio, shared with editors, publishers and journalists attending the Canadian Church Press Convention in Winnipeg last week.

Among some of the features on God Talk:

They had a Christian and an Atheist come onto the show, got them to debate, and then asked their audience to decide which one should get voted off the island. Well, turns out the Christian got voted off.

A local columnist from the mainstream media, Charles Adler, reads an Old Testament Story and invites callers to interpret them in a feature called "Community Hermeneutics."

They have "mystery worshippers" who go attend local church services, then report on the show what it was like.

They invite someone who ministers in the inner city to come on the show to blast away the stereotypes of people who seem down and out and maybe even dangerous and criminal to passers by.

Balzer said his goal is to create an itch in hopes that his listeners will scratch it to find out more about the Christian faith.

Sounds to me like some inventive ways to engage the culture, no?

Should sex and procreation by separated?

I'll be attending a conference this weekend called Humanae Vitae 2006 and its subject matter--contraception--is a highly controversial subject. If people think the debate over abortion is over, then contraception is, well, ancient history.

But maybe it shouldn't be.

As I wrote about the gay marriage issue all last year, and delved into the many reasons why changing the traditional definition of marriage was a bad idea, I read a most interesting collection of essays in a book called "Divorcing Marriage: Unveiling the Dangers in Canada's New Social Experiment".

This collection of lucid, non-religious arguments defends marriage as a social institution that best guarantees a child's right to be raised by its biological parents. It talks about the dangers of divorcing marriage from procreation. When procreation is cut away from the definition of marriage, then the marriage bond merely becomes a close personal relationship. And if marriage is a close personal relationship why should there not be two men or two women?

But then, why should the number be two?

Taking procreation out of the definition opens Canada up to all sorts of new variations, such as polyamory or polygamy. It might lead eventually to gay couples insisting on their rights to cloning or other forms of genetic manipulation so they can have offspring biologically related to them. The poor child is lost in the shuffle. What about the child's rights to her biological mother and father?

Reading those arguments got me thinking more closely about sex and procreation. Not having grown up Catholic, and still relatively new to a Catholic faith, I hadn't thought much about contraception. But I am thinking about it now, and how many evils spin out of sex separated from the giving of life--pornography, perversions of all kinds, making people, including our spouses, into sex objects on the sex alone side and ever more bizarre kinds of manipulations of the human sperm and ova in petrie dishes and the commodification of human beings on the procreation alone side.

So maybe these Church Fathers in their wisdom were on to something we need to recapture today.

It turns out the Dalai Lama has recently spoke out against sexual behavior that is not open to life and that's launched quite a discussion over at Brutally Honest.

The Dali Lama said:

"A gay couple came to see me, seeking my support and blessing. I had to explain our teachings. Another lady introduced another woman as her wife - astonishing. It is the same with a husband and wife using certain sexual practices. Using the other two holes is wrong."

At this point, he looks across at his interpreter - who seems mainly redundant - to check that he has been using the right English words to discuss this delicate matter. The interpreter gives a barely perceptible nod.

"A Western friend asked me what harm could there be between consenting adults having oral sex, if they enjoyed it," the Dalai Lama continues, warming to his theme. "But the purpose of sex is reproduction, according to Buddhism. The other holes don't create life. I don't mind - but I can't condone this way of life."


Thanks to Kathy Shaidle at Relapsed Catholic for the links.

The Sheepcat also has some good links on contraception.

He put me over to this post from Square Zero who writes in a post entitled The Language of the Body vs. Language of the Condom:

The simple truth is that a couple using a condom is not saying no “with their bodies”—they are saying “no” with a condom. It’s the condom, and it alone, that makes visible the invisible intention to say no to conception. Everything their bodies are doing—whatever their interior disposition towards conception might be—is saying “yes” to conception.

It is the condom that says “no” And the fact that a couple would have to resort to this manufactured piece of latex to express on their behalf the intention to avoid conceptions says everything you need to know about how contraception mars the language of the body. The condom claps its gloved hand over the body’s yes and squeeks out its own little rubbery no.

Such a couple—the Torodes or anybody—who resorts to a condom to say “no” on behalf of the body is tacitly admitting that the body is inadequate to say no while engaged in the one flesh union of marital intercourse. And they’re right: the body can’t say “no” and “yes” at the same time.

What’s more, they are confessing, whether they know it or not, a conviction that their bodies are inadequate. They are in effect accusing God of having provided them with bodies so “marred by sin,” in the Torodes’ phrase, that they lack all that is necessary to express the gift of self that is marital love. Far from rejecting a negative view of the body as the Torodes suppose, the embrace of contraception is nothing less than an endorsement of that negative view.

Of course, the body as created by God and redeemed by Christ lacks nothing for expressing the fullest possible message of love. As we know, their are times in a couple’s life when they must say, not so much “no” but “not now,” to another child—when the most loving thing for them to do is to carefully postpone pregnancy.


One of the reasons why we have to start re-examining contraception is that heterosexuals do not get a pass on this chastity thing that God calls us to and Christians are so quick to insist homosexuals live by if they want to follow the faith.

I've heard many a Christian man (not so many a Christian woman) say that "anything goes" on the marriage bed, as long as the couple is made up of a man and a woman.
That I would take to mean that any number of activities are okay for married heterosexuals but not for gays and lesbians. Sorry. If we want to use a natural law argument to undergird heterosexual marriage, then we might have to think as well about using a natural law argument for sexual behavior as well.

Just think of what a different world it would be if every child was a wanted child, and every sexual act was the coming together of a married man and woman who were conscious that their sexual intercourse could bring a new life into a the world.
How different marriages would be if couples did not decide, okay, we have the marriage certificate, now it's okay to use each other as objects, and use each other to satisfy our needs. If there were love and restraint instead of use and abuse?

The kinds of demands we as Christians place on homosexual Christians to lead chase and holy lives are also upon us as heterosexuals. Chastity is not an easy road for married couples either. For all of us that kind of pure inside and out lifestyle is impossible but for the grace of God. But it is not impossible with the grace of God. And the grace comes through believing the Truth about Jesus Christ.

Ottawa Citizen columnist does spoof on the Da Vinci Code

Ottawa Citizen columnist Dan Gardner does a spoof on the Da Vinci Code that highlights the double standard on how the western media treats Islam and Christianity.

He outlines the plot for a blockbuster novel that follows many of the plot points of The Da Vinci Code, except he takes liberties with beliefs about Mohammed. He calls his prospective novel "The Shakespeare Code" because he claims the secrets about Mohammed are concealed in the Bard's plays.


Of course some cynic may say this is a rip-off of The Da Vinci Code. It's not. It's totally different. The Da Vinci Code is about Jesus, for one thing.

Another difference is that the secret organization in The Shakespeare Code is a fictional Muslim group. In The Da Vinci Code, that role is taken by Opus Dei, a Catholic organization that is very real.

Of course, I would have liked to use a real Muslim fundamentalist group, but someone reminded me of what happened to Theo van Gogh and I'd rather not be stabbed to death, no matter how good that would be for pre-release publicity.

Dan Brown had it a lot easier. Sure, Opus Dei and the Vatican have a reputation for putting the smackdown on heresy, but look at how they responded to The Da Vinci Code. No fatwa. No promise of heavenly virgins for separating the author's head and body. Not even a decent riot. No, all Opus Dei and the Vatican did was explain the historical errors in the book and issue press releases asking for respect. I mean, really. Some people say Dan Brown is a hack, but only a great writer could make that lot sound scary.


Then he goes on to describe the kind of response he's getting from prospective publishers.

Another time, I had lunch with a New York big shot. I told him I'm writing a thriller about a fanatical religious cult and he loved that. Turns out he hates fundamentalist types. The Pope is a bastard for telling people not to wear condoms, he said.

But the secret society in my story isn't Catholic, I responded. It's Muslim.


The facetious conclusion Gardner draws? He figures once he finds a publisher and the movie is made it will a blockbuster. Though he admits that during the Danish cartoon controversy he thought maybe the media had repented of gratuitous offence against religions.

I remember thinking at the time: poor Dan Brown. At least the cartoons touched on important public issues. The Da Vinci Code is just a crappy novel. Gratuitous offence doesn't come any more gratuitous. When the movie comes out, the media won't have anything to do with it.

Wow, was I wrong. All the media's pious talk went straight down the old memory hole and we're right back to the irreverent, sensational, buck-chasing, free-speech free-for-all that makes Western civilization great. I'm sure those Danish cartoons will be published any day now. Same for my novel.

It'll be big. Huge. If only I can find a publisher who won't run shrieking in terror when I get to the part about Muhammad.

Ottawa Citizen editorial on Chinese organ transplant scandal

Yesterday, former Liberal MP David Kilgour and human rights lawyer David Matas announced they will lead an investigation into claims that the Chinese government is harvesting organs from prisoners of conscience held in Chinese prisons. The Chinese government has been offering state of the art organ transplants to citizens who travel there from all over the world to receive a new kidney or liver.

Today the Ottawa Citizen features an editorial that looks at what they describe as "organ theft."

You'd have to be pretty desperate to go to China, pay tens of thousands of dollars, and come home with a kidney of dubious origin in your body. Disturbing as it is, many Canadians are in fact that desperate.

For a Communist regime, the government of China seems to understand supply and demand very well. There's a high global demand for organ transplants, and China happens to have a steady supply of organs. Where does China get all the organs? Well, China executed an estimated 3,400 prisoners in 2004, according to Amnesty International. (Chinese law allows capital punishment for all kinds of offences, violent and non-violent.)

Human-rights groups have accused the Chinese government of harvesting prisoners' organs without consent. In April, the British Transplantation Society said an "accumulating body of evidence" suggests China is guilty of the practice. The Chinese government recently admitted it does harvest organs from prisoners, but said it obtains consent.

Presumably in response to international concern, China also announced it is banning the sale of organs and strengthening regulations regarding how the authorities get that consent. Yet it's unclear whether the new rules will make a difference in practice: When is a payment an organ sale, and when is it a "fee" for medical service? Until China earns the benefit of the doubt, it is unethical for Canadians to pay for transplants there. If the accusations are true, organ sales that enrich China's hospitals give the Chinese government an incentive to keep executing people.

Christians targets of radical Islamists says terrorism expert

David Harris has this commentary over at the Institute for Canadian Values:

In the real world, when someone says he's going to kill you, it's a good idea to pay attention. But first you have to hear the threat. My question is: have Christians recognized that they are among those targeted by radical Islam?

On April 17 the terrorist group Hamas, which now controls the Palestinian Authority, issued a statement threatening to attack "Zionist" targets outside of Israel if the Jewish States refused to give in to its latest ultimatum.

"Zionist" is the term used by media-savvy Islamo-fascists, neo-Nazis and assorted thugs when they really mean Jews. It's a deception aimed at getting around the average person’s revulsion of racism. "It's the State of Israel and Zionists we have an issue with – not the Jews," say sophisticated Jews-haters.

Christians have long understood this manipulation of the word Zionist. Martin Luther King, for one, was not fooled. King recognized and condemned early uses of the sly propaganda technique. Zionism is so intimately interwoven with Jews and Judaism, he said, that it is an intellectual fraud – or worse – to claim you can readily distinguish Zionists from Jews.

The effort to expose "anti-Zionist" doublespeak has mainly, and understandably, focused on the most obvious victims of it, our Jewish brothers and sisters. Largely overlooked though – or obscured by the naïve intercultural and interfaith "outreach" initiatives that are so much in vogue today – is the fact that to these fanatics, "Zionists" include Christians as well.