Deborah Gyapong: June 2006

Friday, June 30, 2006

Ever worry about laughing at the wrong time?

Here's a hilarious example.

I have no idea what they're talking about, but no one in the audience seems to find it funny. But gosh is it funny to watch.

H/T Andrew Sullivan.

From the Saudi women's rights blog

Islam believes and promotes only one relationship between male and female and that is the relation of lust: "If a man and a woman are alone in one place, the third person present is the devil". Prophet Mohammed.

I am not allowed to swim, ski, ride a bike, dance, learn to play musical instruments, practice gymnastics, or any other sport. I am not even permitted to watch men play sports, either in the stadium and/or on television.


H/T Dr. Sanity, via Front Page Magazine

The end of Anglicanism?

The apostolic church hands on what it has received; it cannot remake itself based on a political fudging of theological disagreements. We cannot create new apostolic churches; we can only be faithful to or abandon the tradition already received.

Is this the end of Anglicanism as it has historically understood itself as an apostolic church in the full-bodied sense of the ancient Nicene Creed? It may well be, and that would be a great sadness. But it may be inevitable now, for where there is no apostolicam, there can be no Ecclesiam.


Father Raymond de Souza's column in the National Post is entitled "The End of Anglicanism."

However, it is perhaps the death throes of the Canterbury Anglican Communion.

But Anglicanism, as a Western expression of Catholicism, is alive and well in the Traditional Anglican Communion, where we take seriously apostolic succession, the creeds and a desire for unity with Rome.

Let's hope we will soon be under the See of Peter, with our beautiful liturgy, one of the greatest works of English literature, the Book of Common Prayer.

Is U.S. court decision a political gift to Bush?

The news networks are proclaiming that the Supreme Court handed the President a "strong rebuke" in the Hamdan case by declaring the proposed Gitmo trials are illegal under U.S. law and international Geneva conventions.

Oh, really?

The decision is actually a huge political gift to President Bush, and the detainees will not be released that easily. The President and GOP leaders will propose a bill to override the decision and keep the terrorists in jail until they are securely transferred to host countries for permanent punishment. The Administration and its allies will release plenty of information on the terrorist acts committed by the detainees for which they were detained (see this great ABC News interview with the Gitmo warden). They will also release information about those terrorist acts committed by Gitmo prisoners after they were released. They will challenge the "judicial interference with national security" and challenge dissenting Congressmen and civil libertarians to either stand with the terrorists or the American people. The Pentagon will continue to release a small number of detainees as circumstances allow. The bill will pass easily and quickly. And if the Supremes invalidate that law, we'll see another legislative response, and another, until they get it right. Just watch.

UPDATES: Michelle Malkin quotes a statement by Sens. Graham and Kyl: "We intend to pursue legislation in the Senate granting the Executive Branch the authority to ensure that terrorists can be tried by competent military commissions. Working together, Congress and the administration can draft a fair, suitable, and constitutionally permissible tribunal statute." Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist echoed their comments and promised, "I will pursue the earliest possible action in the United States Senate."


via Michelle Malkin.

Mark Steyn on yesterday's U.S. Supreme Court decision

And this is a very good decision for every jihadist who now knows that he has...basically, he will be treated like a U.S. citizen if he falls into the hands of the U.S. military. Meanwhile, if the U.S. military fall into their hands, they get their heads cut off and left by the roadside.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Woman marries a cobra

Earlier this month it was announced that in Bhubaneswar, India, a woman who fell in love with a snake has married the reptile at a traditional Hindu wedding celebrated by 2,000 guests.

The bride, Bimbala Das, wore a silk saree for the ceremony. Priests chanted mantras to seal the union, but the cobra failed to come out of a nearby ant hill where it lives. A brass replica snake stood in for the hesitant groom.

"Though snakes cannot speak nor understand, we communicate in a peculiar way," Das, 30, said. "Whenever I put milk near the ant hill where the cobra lives, it always comes out to drink... I always get to see it every time I go near the ant hill. It has never harmed me."

Das has moved into a hut built close to the ant hill since the wedding.

"I am happy," said her mother Dyuti Bhoi, who has two other daughters and two sons to marry off.


Read the whole thing. Great points about marriage as a social institution, the importance of filiation, and the rights of children.

Thugs kill man because he asks them to stop intimidating bus passengers

This story from Belgium is a chilling example of what happens when police can no longer control the streets, roving gangs take over, and a populace is left without means to defend itself.

The Belgian state is no longer able to guarantee the security of its citizens. On Saturday afternoon Guido Demoor, a 54-year old Flemish train conductor on his way to work, was kicked to death by six “youths” on a crowded bus near Antwerp’s Central Station. The incident recalls the rush-hour murder ten weeks ago of Joe Van Holsbeeck, 17 years of age, in a crowded Brussels Central Station on 12 April.

Guido Demoor, a father of two, intervened when six “youths” got on bus 23 in Antwerp and began to intimidate passengers. There were some forty people on the bus. Demoor asked the “youths” to calm down, whereupon they turned on him, savagely beating and kicking the man. At the next stop thirty passengers fled the bus. The thugs kept beating Demoor. They then pulled the emergency brake and jumped from the bus leaving their victim to die.

Three Moroccans, two of whom are minors, were arrested today. The website of the Dutch paper De Stentor reports tonight that a fourth suspect, believed to be the ringleader, fled into a shop as the police were poised to arrest him. He managed to escape from the shop when dozens of “youths” came to his rescue. Witnesses had described the culprits as immigrant youths of between 18 and 21 years of age. During the weekend the police had called for witnesses as only four people had come forward. The police offered the witnesses absolute confidentiality and promised not to reveal their identities. “Obviously people fear reprisals,” Gazet van Antwerpen wrote today.

Belgians do not have a constitutional or legal right to bear arms, not even purely defensive arms such as peppersprays. With the police and the government failing to protect law-abiding citizens the latter are, however, totally unprotected. Saturday’s murder has shocked bus drivers and train conductors, but they stress that they are not in the least surprised. Violence on public transport has become a fact of life.

“You see what happens if you intervene,” one of Guido Demoor’s colleagues at Belgian Rail is quoted in the newspaper De Morgen today. “If Guido had not opened his mouth he would still be alive. [...] He was a good man. I would not have dared to do what Guido did. I was beaten up once and since then I have become very careful.”

Episcopalians embrace evolution

My friend Denyse O Leary eviscerates the Episcopalians' latest foray into pseudoscience. (Via Kathy at Relapsed Catholic.)

The American Episcopalian church - currently very unpopular in the 90-million-member worldwide communion - has decided to endorse "evolution."

The statement reads in part:

The theory of evolution is broadly accepted by the overwhelming majority in the scientific community as the most adequate explanation for the emergence of life on earth, and the ongoing adaptation of life to changes in environments. For example, knowledge of how evolution functions is essential in understanding the resistance of bacteria to antibiotics, the resistance of insects to insecticides, and the appearance of viruses such as HIV and influenza.



What has the tendency of bacteria or insects to develop resistance to threats to do with the emergence of life on earth? Or the appearance of specific viruses? All these events take place in a context in which the immense, super-computer-like complexity of life already exists. There is no good theory in science of the emergence of life on earth. (Note: Agnostic Darwin called his book Origin of Species precisely because he knew better than to tackle a problem like Origin of Life cold. Oh yes, he wanted to, but he was way smarter than his Christian evolutionist cheering section in the Episcopalian church.)

Apparently, the Episcopalian decision had something to do with influence from members and aficionados of of the American Scientific Affiliation, whose list serve is a home for all kinds of people who oppose the idea that life shows detectible evidence of intelligent design.

No difference between a terrorist and a lawful combatant?

By extending Geneva Convention protections to illegal, non-uniformed combatants, the Supreme Court has violated not only the spirit, but the letter of the Conventions. The clauses about non-protection of illegal combatants are specifically designed to protect civilians, from terrorists and brigands who would otherwise hide among civilian populations to escape justice. The harshest penalties are allowed for those who abuse this convention, up to and including summary execution on the field of battle.

Today the Supreme Court ruled, in effect, that there’s no difference between a terrorist dressed in civilian clothes and a uniformed soldier, and that civilians deserve no protection from war criminals.

Christopher Hitchen's on the enemy

I can only give you a panoptic answer to this, I think, which is that in the long run, I'm perfectly certain of victory over these people. And I think in some ways, it's impossible for them to win. They're too backward, they're too stupid, their ideology is self-destructive, as well as destructive. It's literally suicidal. Because I'm sure of that, I'm very anxious that we don't take any panic measures, that we don't act as if it's in the short-term, that at any minute, they might, as it were, win. I think it's very important that we be patient, and determined, and say we are quite confident of ultimate victory, and there's no need for any shortcuts or corner-cutting on things like torture, rendition, surveillance, infringements of the rights of the citizen, and so forth. What I read, however, of this program, didn't make me think that it was much of an infringement on anybody's privacy. It did seem that for once, the term safeguards was relatively kosher.

Peggy Noonan's on a roll

Peggy Noonan's Wall Street Journal column (Via Relapsed Catholic)

On Hilary Clinton:

Media people keep saying, as Hillary gears up for her presidential bid, that her big challenge in 2008 will be to prove that she is as tough as a man. That she could order troops to war. That she's not girly and soft.

This is the exact opposite of the truth. Hillary doesn't have to prove her guy chops. She doesn't have to prove she's a man, she has to prove she's a woman. No one in America thinks she's a woman. They think she's a tough little termagant in a pantsuit. They think she's something between an android and a female impersonator. She is not perceived as a big warm mommy trying to resist her constant impulse to sneak you candy. They think she has to resist her constant impulse to hit you with a bat.


The New York Times

It was and is hurt by its longtime and predictable liberalism. Predictable isn't fun. It doesn't make you want to get up in the morning, tear the paper off the mat and open it with a hungry snap. It was hurt by technology--it lost its share of what was, essentially, a monopoly. And it's been hurt by its own scandals and misjudgments. The Times rarely seems driven by an agenda to get the news first, fast and clear; to get the story and let the chips fall. It often seems driven by a search for information that might support its suppositions. Which, again, gets boring. The Times never knows what's becoming a huge national issue. It's always surprised by what Americans are thinking.

-snip-

But one senses the people who run the Times now are not so much living as re-enacting. They're lost on the big new playing field of American media, and they're reenacting their great moments--the Pentagon papers, the Watergate days. They're locked in a pose: We speak truth to (bad Republican) power. Frank Rich is running around with his antiwar screeds as if it's 1968 and he's an idealist with a beard, as opposed to what he is, a guy who if he pierced his ears gravy would come out.

-snip-

I think it's personal drama in part because there's no common sense in it. Common sense tells you that when the actual physical safety of Americans is threatened by extremists who've declared a holy war, and when those extremists have, or can get, terrible weapons that can kill thousands or tens of thousands or more, and when the American government is trying to keep them from doing what they'd like to do, which, again, is kill--then you'd think twice, thrice, 10 times before you tell the world exactly how the government is trying, in its own bumbling way, which is how governments do things, to keep innocent people safe and bad guys on the run.

Jeanne Damoff's character file

From my fellow Master's Artist Jeanne Damoff:

With the mere flip of a mental switch, a person whose annoying personality or habits made me want to fling myself off the cliffs of insanity suddenly became the most fascinating individual in the world. Take, for example, Mr. H. (I wish I could tell you his name, because it adds so much to the whole picture, but he's just the sort who would google himself ten times a day, and it's a very uncommon name.) He was my bellowing, sanctimonious co-teacher, who several times a day went out of his way to enter my classroom and declare the painfully obvious in tones that suggested he'd just revealed the cure for cancer. He also thought himself the most hilarious person on the planet, guffawing over his non-jokes, and never taking normal hints like, "Would you please leave? The students are in the middle of a grammar test." Oh, no. He had important advice for those junior high students. Advice on test taking. On holding a pencil. On posture. I'm telling you, people, it was either put him in the character file or claw my eyes out.

Once he became a potential player, everything he did was audition. I could smile through his mind-numbing lectures, all the while sketching him in my head. I've lost track of how many times the character file has saved my reputation as a pleasant sort. (Not that I'm an unpleasant sort in reality. Shut up, Snyder.)

Of course the characters aren't all annoying. Some are just eccentric. Interesting. Three of them inspired likable minor characters in my recently finished novel. But here's the real beauty of it all. Ever since I created the file, my life has been a delightful quest of discovery. The misfit everyone else tries to avoid draws me like a magnet. And often to my surprise I find there's some unique loveliness or depth we were all missing because of the packaging. "Annoying" is in the eye of the beholder, and sometimes the beholder just needs to look a little deeper. (Sweet Polly to the rescue!)

Maybe you do this already, but if not, I recommend it. Next time you're irritated or frustrated--in traffic, in the check-out line, wherever--flip the switch and stock your character file. That barrel-shaped woman in the denim capri pantsuit with flamingo pink lipstick and faux turquoise jewelry who handed the cashier 350 coupons right after you unloaded your cart onto the conveyor belt? She's not annoying.

She's a character.

When jihad and rap meet

I'm convinced that Islamo-fascism is a mutated virus that combines several virulent strains in modern culture, among them extremist forms of Islam, nihilism, Marxism and gangsta culture. This kind of Islamism has nothing to do with moderate, decent Muslims who are trying to make a good life for themselves and their families in the West.

Michelle Malkin has a chilling round up of Jihad Rap in this video vent. Take a look. Some of it will make your hair stand up.

Coming to a boom box near you?

What I fear is that if authorities continue to cave to other mutating forms of barbarism, then there will be a barbaric backlash. I don't want to see that happen either.

But as metaphors go, "Dirty Kuffar" seems to be awfully direct. Among the text messages that flash across the screen during the video are "Be prepared for battle with the infidels" and "Jihad Against the Crusaders."

The closing lyrics leave little doubt the sympathies of the Soul Salah Crew: "Peace to Hamas and the Hizbollah / OBL (Osama bin Laden) crew be like a shining star / Like the way we destroyed the two towers."

If you do view the video (online at http://ipnews.planetgac.com), be prepared for the video's end: footage of the twin towers collapsing to the sound of laughter.

The misnamed war on terror round up for today

From Gatewaypundit:

The Supreme Court ruled today that the military tribunals the government created to try terror suspects violate both American military law and the "Geneva Convention".

** So, now that we're all in one big Geneva ruled War on Terror Hugfest... Do you suppose this decision in any way will get the terrorists to rethink their policy of booby-trapping the bodies of our decapitated soldiers once they slaughter our young men and women after taking them prisoner?


I am sure that American soldiers faced with torture and beheading would much prefer the option of going to a Guantanamo style prison facility where they would have three squares a day, an exercise yard, a Padre and access to Bibles.

When you have a war against people who refuse to abide by the Geneva Convention, then what are the Americans supposed to do?

Is every terrorist supposed to get access to a taxpayer-funded dream team on the order of the late Johnnie Cochrane so the terrorists can get off on a technicality and have CNN broadcast to the world the evidence against them and how it was obtained, effectively rendering any intelligence gathering ineffective?

And of course, once the dream team got them off, we would have to let them go free to wreak further havoc in our country since it will also be forbidden to send people to countries where they might face torture, i.e. much of the world where jihadis come from.

Here's a snippet from a piece that I came across via Dr. Sanity. Please read the whole thing.

And it is also interesting how whenever there is an incident of Americans killing civilians, either by accident or, in some rare possible instances, on purpose, that gets blown way out of proportion while the daily insurgent attacks against civilians are written up as if they are the Americans fault for being occupiers, when in fact they are there now to help an elected Iraqi government get established.

Let me make it clear that my point in drawing attention to the reports with which I began is not to draw attention away from any atrocities that have been committed in Iraq by US soldiers. At Haditha and elsewhere, if there have been transgressions of the laws of war by American personnel, then they should be investigated and prosecuted. What is breathtaking about Younge's piece, however, is the structure of justifying advocacy it contains. He talks of the wanton murder of civilians in order to delegitimize the US occupation, while passing over the fact that, almost daily, wanton murder is being committed by forces opposed to the occupation, and as a way of defeating not only the occupation itself but also political arrangements democratically voted for by the Iraqi people. It's just as if this weren't happening or else had no troubling moral implications in Younge's head. No, on the other side of things, there is just 'resistance' - almost like a natural phenomenon, beyond right and wrong, good or evil. How come it doesn't occur to him that if 'the wanton murder of civilians' - week in and week out - is part of the resistance to occupation, then there is 'clearly something wrong' with this so-called resistance? And how come he doesn't then go on to ask what it would mean if this so-called resistance were to enjoy the triumph of bringing about a coalition withdrawal? How come there isn't a two-sided assessment of the aforesaid 'mission', informed by all those wanton murders with which I began? It seems that wanton murder in Iraq doesn't show up on Younge's radar unless it's Americans who are responsible for it.


And while all this is going on overseas, we have this news from Canada today about what the wives of some of the 17 terror suspects charged recently have been saying on line and teaching young followers.:


There is nothing casual about Ms. Farooq's interpretation of Islam. She reiterates the belief that jihad is the "sixth pillar" of the religion, and her on-line postings are decidedly interested in the violent kind. In the forum titled "Terrorism and killing civilians," she writes a detailed point-by-point explanation of why the Taliban is destined to emerge victorious in Afghanistan.

Virtually every other government on the planet, however, she only has disdain for.

"All muslim politicians are corrupt," she writes. "There's no one out there willing to rule the country by the laws of Allah, rather they fight to rule the country by the laws of democracy." She criticizes Muslims in places such as Dubai for spending money on elaborate buildings while Iraqis are being killed.

Ms. Farooq's criticism is often directed first at other Muslims. When another poster writes about how he finds homosexuality disgusting, Nada replies by pointing out that there are even gay Muslims. She then posts a photo of a rally held by Al-Fatiha, a Canadian support group for gay Muslims. "Look at these pathetic people," she writes. "They should all be sent to Saudi, where these sickos are executed or crushed by a wall, in public."

The majority of Muslims Ms. Farooq does admire are ones currently at war, and she reserves her most vitriolic comments for the people they are at war with.

In a thread started by Mr. Fahim's wife, Mariya, marking the death of Hamas leader Abdel-Aziz al-Rantissi after an Israeli missile strike, Ms. Farooq unleashes her fury: "May Allah crush these jews, bring them down to their kneees, humuliate them. Ya Allah make their women widows and their children orphans." The statement is so jarring that another poster complains it's not right for Muslims to wish such things on other people. Ms. Farooq's sister Rana is also in favour of violent resistance, posting often graphic photos of female militants and suicide bombers.


Troubling stuff.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Bishop Henry warns Catholic schools to stop support for gambling

Read the whole thing at LifeSiteNews.com:

In a pastoral letter on the matter, Bishop Henry explains that on December 9th, 2005 he renewed a request that he had made seven years previously—that the Calgary Catholic schools desist from fundraising monies by means of gambling, which, he says “exploits the weak and vulnerable.” On May 31st of this year the board formally refused to acquiesce to the bishop’s request, instead accepting a Task Force’s recommendation that Calgary schools remain free to determine what means to use to fundraise, including gambling.

“The acceptance of the Task Force’s recommendations constitutes a failure in Catholic leadership, pays lip-service to the pillar of ‘Catholicity,’ and is equivalent to Esau selling his birthright for a mess of pottage (cf. Gen. 25:29-34),” writes the bishop in the scathing pastoral letter that leaves little room for loose interpretation.

Ward 2 trustee, Janice Sarich, however, defended the Board’s decision, saying, “The feedback I’ve received from parents…is strongly against any motion that would restrict the flow of money generated by casinos,” according to the Edmonton Sun.

But in the Bishop’s opinion there is no room for negotiation; his request, he makes abundantly clear in the letter, is not a suggestion, but an order, and an order that he has the authority to enforce.

“Morality is not determined by a straw-vote,” he writes. “The School Board, the individual schools, and related parent councils and societies must get out of bingo and casino gambling fundraising activities. There is no question as to ‘what’ has to be done but there is room to negotiate ‘how’ and ‘when.’”

The School Board, and its trustees, says the bishop, must do more than merely “understand where the bishop is coming from.” He goes on to quote the Code of Canon Law—the code of law that governs matters in the Catholic Church—which states, “Even if it really be Catholic no school may bear the title Catholic school without the consent of the competent ecclesiastical authority,” suggesting that as Calgary’s “competent ecclesiastical authority” he would remove his consent for the schools to call themselves Catholic if the Board did not change its mind.

“Given the importance of the outstanding issues, and my disagreement with the Board’s conclusions, I will not be presiding at the opening of the year Calgary Catholic District School liturgy,” concludes the bishop. “If satisfactory solutions are not found, other consequences will also be forthcoming in September including the black-listing of schools that engage in immoral fund-raising.”


This is bracing stuff. What I find interesting is that the Globe and Mail and the Ottawa Citizen have both written editorials praising the bishop for his stand on gambling.

Barbaric tactics to save civilization? Is our civilization worth saving?

Interesting column by Diana West over at Townhall.com: (H/T Relapsed Catholic.)

I can see it now -- I think.

It's on the right-hand page of a book by or about Winston Churchill, and it is a quotation by Churchill on the subject on war -- specifically, what happens to a civilized society when it goes to war with a barbarous one. I can't find it (yet), but what I remember as being the main point was that if -- if -- the civilized society is to prevail over the barbarous one, it will necessarily and tragically be degraded by the experience as a vital cost of victory. Partly, this is because civilized war tactics are apt to fail against barbarous war tactics, thus requiring civilized society to break the "rules" if it is to survive a true death struggle. It is also because the clash itself -- the act of engaging with the barbarous society -- forces civilization to confront, repel and also internalize previously unimagined depredations. This is degrading, too.

In Churchill's era, the more civilized world of the Allies was necessarily degraded to some intangible extent by what it took to achieve victory over barbarous Nazism. For example, bombing cities, even rail transportation hubs, lay beyond civilized conventions, but this was one tactic the Allies used to defeat Hitler. However justifiably, civilization crossed a previously unimagined and uncivilized line to save, well, civilization.


-snip-


In the 21st century, however, there is something that our society values more than our own lives -- and more than the survival of civilization itself. That something may be described as the kind of moral superiority that comes from a good wallow in Abu Ghraib, Haditha, CIA interrogations or Guantanamo Bay. Morally superior people -- Western elites -- never "humiliate" prisoners, never kill civilians, never torture or incarcerate jihadis. Indeed, they would like to kill, I mean, prosecute, or at least tie the hands of anyone who does.

This, of course, only enhances their own moral superiority. But it doesn't win wars. And it won't save civilization.

Why not? Because such smugness masks a massive moral paralysis. The morally superior (read: paralyzed) don't really take sides; don't really believe one culture is qualitatively better or worse than the other
.

What about our civilization these days is worth saving? This might be part of the problem. We are developing amnesia about what made western civilization great. We have lost the overarching Biblical story that gave a foundation to all the rights and freedoms and understanding about the dignity of the human person and human life that The Christian faith gives. Even Christians don't know their faith anymore or their Scriptures. Our literature is not longer taught. Universities are bastions of politically correct nonsense. Would someone want to die for the choice of five porn channels and the rights of swinger's clubs to advertise?

But then....when you look at the kind of savage beheadings going on in other parts of the world then I'll take the porn channels and the western secularist fundamentalists because at least they only have human rights commissions to do their bidding and not people that'll hack your head off.

Oh for a third alternative and that is a recovering and renaissance of all that is good about Western Civilization, including an orthodox, intellectually grounded Christian faith, our great literature and music, and a genuinely pluralistic society with Christian foundations, but real respect for freedom of religion, thought, speech and association, grounded in respect for life. Where love of one's neighbor can flourish, even if the neighbor is of a different skin color or religion.

Only in the West and countries influenced or touched by the West has the kind of pluralism and tolerance we experience here been found. Look around the world.

Father Peter's Trinity II sermon

Jesus Christ has something to say to every single human being who has drawn breath, does draw breath and will draw breath. His earthly ministry excludes none; His sacrifice upon the Cross excludes none; His invitation to the heavenly banquet excludes none.

But Jesus knows that there are many who will exclude themselves. His whole discourse about the man who made the great supper and invited many refers to the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus does not mention that as such because He knows there are those present who rejected the Kingdom and simply did not believe in it. Such people make of their lives a tragedy and a travesty, but if you can catch them unawares, sometimes a seed can be planted.

Outside the walls of this church walk many souls whose lives are similarly tragedies and travesties. And so it is in every city, town and village across the planet. Everywhere there are people willfully distancing themselves from God.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

"The education of David Jeffrey" by Jennifer Green

Religion journalist Jennifer Green has written a wonderful profile of David Lyle Jeffrey in today's Ottawa Citizen. This piece should win her an award for religion reporting. Excellent. The photo is one of mine taken while David was in Ottawa giving Augustine College's annual Weston lecture,the speech Jennifer writes about below. Please read the whole thing.

On a recent rainy Friday night, when much of Ottawa was out celebrating St. Patrick's Day, several hundred people crammed into the auditorium at Saint Paul University on Main Street to hear one of Canada's most brilliant scholars give a rare lecture in his home town.

A thrill went through the room as David Jeffrey, just flown in from his current post at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, loped to the podium. The audience knew his lecture would be like a fast hike up a mountain: tough and steep, but worth the view.

Mr. Jeffrey, who had taught or mentored many in the audience during his days at the University of Ottawa, did not disappoint. He expounded on how many students in North American universities are blithely ignorant about the Bible, a complacency he says threatens Christianity and, as a result, Western civilization itself. In one of Mr. Jeffrey's classes before moving to Baylor, only three of 30 students knew about Noah and the flood, and none was really sure what the story meant. They weren't even embarrassed to admit it.

Without some knowledge of the Bible, we can't know the basis of our laws, literature, science, or our fundamental outlook on the world, Mr. Jeffrey told the audience. As knowledge fades, we cease to remember why it was important, and civilization loses its train of thought. After the applause, Mr. Jeffrey was besieged with so many well-wishers that it took him more than an hour to get from the podium to the parking lot.

Few of his fans knew that essentially the same speech, delivered two years earlier, had almost ended his career at Baylor, where he teaches English literature. Colleagues wanted him fired. His family was threatened, their tires slashed, sleep interrupted by anonymous phone calls. At college football games, Mr. Jeffrey and his family had to sit behind a plexiglass shield with armed security staff.


If you'd like to read the text of the speech, you'll find it here on the Augustine College site.

After the speech, I blogged on it over at The Master's Artist.

Jeffrey said subjectivism has infected the Church, so that private interpretations of Scripture abound,a "cheap version" of the doctrine of the priesthood of believers. Mea culpa. I was drawn originaly to the Baptist Church precisely because I would not have to sign onto any religious creed.

That was when I was a cafeteria Christian, seeking to understand before I would believe.

Then, somewhere in my journey, I realized that, like St. Anselm, I had to believe in order that I might understand. That made me desire an Apostolic faith, one that has been handed down from the eyewitness accounts of those who heard and handled and walked with the living Word, Jesus.

Since the lecture, I ache for a restoration of that conversation with the Story, for literature that engages with it and a readership that can understand it. What do we do as writers? Do we, as Flannery O'Connor did, resort to the grotesque, because it is the only way to get the wider culture to listen?

What about those authors who want to remain countercultural, and continue that conversation, even at the risk of not being understood? How can we read the great books, authors like Shakespeare and Dante, and enter into the ongoing conversation without a profound knowledge of the Story? I feel like I got gypped out of my highschool readings of Shakespearian plays because no one explained the Scriptural allusions. But I did attend Sunday school, so at least I knew about the Flood and the Lord's Prayer and the Tower of Babel. What about today's unchurched? Or the ones who get only Veggie Tales versions?

But how many Christian authors even care about continuing that ongoing conversation? Tradition is often a dirty word among us. It's been thrown out along with old-fashioned liturgy, music, and representational art.

I'm as guilty as any when it comes to making an effort to crack open the great books of the past. They are difficult. The conversation is often over my head. I'm lazy. And I just don't know enough. But I'm no longer proud of my ignorance.

Christians are reducing the Story down to sound bytes, a self-help Gospel, a feel-good it's just Jesus-and-me, babe, 'cause He's my friend. The Bible's authority, (and any authority of any Church to interpret it!) is being thrown out, it is not being learned, digested, prayed, and prayed over. We are losing a sense of God's majesty and holiness and with it, an understanding of sin and the need for Redemption. Jesus has become like Oprah or Dr. Phil in many people's minds, and Oprah has become like Jesus to the wider society....and the Jesus Dr. Phil Oprah helps us have better self-esteem but never convict us of sin. Rebellion reigns. And I've been as guilty of this as any.

I wonder whether the Christian artist has the right to work as if he or she is solitary and only his or her subjective interpretation of the Truth is important. What ever happened to the notion of apprenticeship, of learning a discipline, of being discipled in art as well as faith? I hope to do what I can to retrieve that sense of the artist in community, and the overarching Story and support the institutions like Augustine College and academics like Jeffrey who are trying to preserve it.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Latest The Defilers news

Yesterday I signed books at Salem Storehouse on Merivale Road in Ottawa. The first person who came had heard me on the Michael Harris radio program June 28. She had run out to buy a book after that show and brought it in for me to sign. Then she bought three more as Christmas presents. Michael had me on for the whole two hour show and gave me a chance to share the story of my adult conversion to the Christian faith.

Well, back to the book signing. I didn't have a big line out the front door and around the corner. We sold about eight or nine books, all the copies of The Defilers Salem had in stock except for one. Other book signings that I've been to though have been slower than that, so that's okay. But something happened that looks like a divine appointment. I sure hope so, anyway.

At 1:10 p.m. I headed out the door with my big poster of the book cover to my car and a woman came up to me in the parking lot and asked if she as too late. I told her there was one copy left. So I went back inside with her. Turns out she never listens to the radio, but happened to hear me on the Michael Harris program. She told me she stayed in her car to listen to the whole thing. Then two weeks later, she just happened to be listening to the radio again, this time at night and heard me on John Counsell's Ask the Pastor, also on CFRA radio. At the end of that show, I mentioned I was going to be at Salem, so she planned on being there. She came up from a town that's a good 45 minutes drive from Ottawa and got lost. She arrived just as I was leaving and only one book remained. She told me about someone she wants to give the book to and I have promised to pray for that individual.

Find the Michael Harris show here. (Thanks to CFRA and to Tony Copple, who put it online for me!)

Pictures of the June 1 Ottawa launch of The Defilers here, a news release on the event here, and Pastor Doug Ward's remarks at the launch here. Doug, who pastors Kanata Baptist Church, was my M.C.

Next book events will be in Nova Scotia. I will be at Blessings Christian Marketplace in Halifax from 10:30 to noon August 19 and that afternoon at the Blessings Store in Dartmouth from 1:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Let's go secular with this argument . . .

Predictably, following what I suggested yesterday, ABC's "World News Tonight" hailed the election of the new female Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church USA as a "milestone" and a "significant advance for women in religion." To the media elite, it is a political victory for feminism, and the religious angle is barely worth mentioning.

ABC reporter Dan Harris hailed Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori for denting the "stained glass ceiling," but said nothing about her theological beliefs, including her expressing the liberal view on CNN that homosexuality "is not a sin." The battle over gay clergy and "marriage," not female leaders, is the real battle in the Anglican Communion.

Harris just mangled the facts when he turned to claiming "a grandmother in Pennsylvania will be ordained as a Catholic priest...one the Vatican will not condone." So if the Vatican will not recognize the ordination, is it an ordination? In fact, Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) excommunicated women claiming to be priests. Let's go secular with this argument. If I decided to buy a microphone and a TV camera, and I put ABC logos on them, am I an ABC reporter? Or does ABC think I don't need to be officially recognized as an ABC reporter before I go around town claiming to be ABC?


Via Kathy Shaidle at Relapsed Catholic

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

First female Anglican primate

Katharine Jefferts Schori, a liberal bishop from Nevada who was raised a Catholic, was elected on Sunday as the first woman leader of the 2.3 million-member US Episcopal Church.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Bishop Schori, who has liberal views on homosexuality, is the first woman primate in Anglican history. Her role as Presiding Bishop is the equivalent to that of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

But the development is as historic as it is divisive and could see a potential break-up of the worldwide Anglican denomination.

Conservatives predicted Bishop Schori, 52, would lead the Anglican church further along its liberal path on issues such as homosexuality, and her election will dismay traditionalists opposed to women priests.

The only other countries to have women bishops are New Zealand and Canada.

A leading traditionalist, the Right Reverend Jack Iker, said: "She will be the only woman among 38 primates and the majority of them do not even recognise women bishops. This is going to be very difficult for the Archbishop of Canterbury."

Former police officer faces child pornography charges

VANCOUVER (CP) - A former police officer who once ran the department's school-liaison program faces child pornography charges.

John Dragani has been charged with one count of possession of child pornography and one count of accessing child pornography. Dragani, who was a sergeant, was suspended without pay last year until he retired.

No such thing as a purely private morality argues Farrow

McGill professor Douglas Farrow had the following op ed published in the June 17 National Post. He has given me permission to post it here. It will also soon be available at McGill's Marriage Institute website, where there is a treasure trove of information about why traditional marriage must be defended for the common good of society.


The National Post has rightly advised MPs to set aside partisan politics and “weigh seriously the responsibilities of a free vote” on same-sex marriage (“Vote your conscience,” June 16). It has also wisely urged that their votes be informed by the consequences of same-sex marriage. The Post's wisdom evaporates, however, when it claims that there are no consequences and opines that “despite predictions to the contrary, the fabric of Canadian society has not been rent.”

The Post appears to be labouring under the mistaken impression that the issue boils down to a conflict between “individual morality and religious beliefs,” on the one hand, and our collective commitment to equality rights as a kind of public morality, on the other hand. In point of fact, there is no such thing as purely private morality. Morality, whatever its guiding lights, is by nature public. But in any case – as every serious participant in this debate knows – what we are faced with here is a conflict of very different, and equally public, moral claims. Chai Feldblum, a legal scholar and proponent of same-sex marriage at Georgetown University, was quoted in The New York Times last week (10 June 2006) to the effect that it is only honest to acknowledge that “we are in a zero-sum game in terms of moral values.”

This game, or rather this conflict, cannot safely be ignored, as the Post imagines, on the grounds that “relatively few gay couples have availed themselves of the right” to same-sex marriage. For it is not a battle of numbers but of concepts and ideas. And ideas, as we all know, do have consequences.

“The fabric of Canadian society has not been rent,” says the Post. Or, to echo a refrain I’ve heard many times from proponents of same-sex marriage, “the sky hasn’t fallen.” But who is really so foolish as to suppose that the consequences of a major change in public moral values, or in the social institutions that embody them – especially marriage – will appear in the first year or even in the first decade?

In the original Halpern decision that eventually led to Bill C-38, Justice Robert Blair himself warned that “such a transformation in the concept of marriage” goes to the core of our “belief and value systems.” It is laden, he said, “with social, political, cultural, emotional and legal ramifications” that will be resolved only with enormous difficulty. We will face “a myriad .. of issues relating to such things as inheritance…, filiation, biogenetic and artificial birth technologies,” etc. (Cere and Farrow, Divorcing Marriage, p. 10). Not to mention issues of religious freedom and freedom of speech, the context in which Professor Feldblum used the phrase “a zero-sum game.”

Some of these issues we have already seen making their way into the courts, hard on the heels of C-38. Take filiation, for example, and the question of the parental names on birth certificates. Seems innocuous, you say? Perhaps that’s because you’ve never considered how fundamental to a free society is respect for the natural bonds between parents and their own biological children, a respect we are chipping away piece by piece. Many people do not seem even to be aware that C-38, in its consequential amendments, removed the very concept of “natural parent” from Canadian law and, at a stroke, made parenthood a gift of the state – a legal construct – rather than a natural right.

It was just such ramifications that the French National Assembly concerned itself with in its recent Parliamentary Report on the Family and the Rights of Children (26 January 2006). After examining developments in European and Canadian societies that have taken the path to same-sex marriage, the mission that produced the report concluded that these developments were contrary to the best interests of children and recommended against France embarking on the same path.

I’m not sure what will happen in France, but I know what I would like to see happen in Canada. Let our MPs vote their conscience, by all means. But consciences require both formation and information. So pace the Post, here’s my suggestion: Prior to holding another vote on same-sex marriage, let the present Parliament act in a more responsible manner than the previous one and follow the French example. Let our MPs sit down and study the issues properly instead of behaving like, say, the Ryerson Student Union. Let them digest the French report, and perhaps even write one of their own. Then let’s have the vote.


Douglas Farrow is associate professor of Christian Thought at McGill University

The new prejudice

Janet Epp Buckingham on the new prejudice:

Ryerson University is also being painted as bigoted and homophobic even though the university's decision to honour Dr. Somerville has nothing to do with her stand on marriage. A look at the other candidates for honorary degrees could also refute this accusation: retired Senator Landon Pearson, former Governor-General Adrienne Clarkson, Buzz Hargrove (President of the Canadian Auto Workers Union). This is a pretty politically-correct bunch. But it seems as though Dr. Somerville, who has spoken out on an issue with which gays and lesbians take issue is to be castigated, marginalized, vilified, and all her work disregarded.

And it is not just Dr. Somerville who is facing protests from members of the gay community. Rabbi Rueven Bulka is to receive an honorary doctorate from Carleton University. Rabbi Bulka is a highly respected leader in the Orthodox Jewish community in Ottawa. The issue for the rabbi is that he is on the Advisory Board of the National Association of Research and Therapy Homosexuality. NARTH believes that therapy can assist those who wish to change their sexual orientation. This is, of course, painted as being homophobic.

Rabbi Bulka is being honoured by the university for "an outstanding career as a community leader and scholar, and as a leading figure in humanitarian affairs." It has nothing to do with his views on homosexuality.

And this is a Canada that supposedly prides itself on "tolerance"? It seems this tolerance is only for the politically correct.

Oprah Winfrey's profound effect

In a November poll conducted at Beliefnet.com, a site that looks at how religions and spirituality intersect with popular culture, 33% of 6,600 respondents said Winfrey has had "a more profound impact" on their spiritual lives than their clergypersons.

Cathleen Falsani, religion writer for the Chicago Sun-Times, recently suggested, "I wonder, has Oprah become America's pastor?"

"I am not God," Oprah said in a 1989 story by Barbara Grizzuti Harrison that ran in The New York Times Magazine titled The Importance of Being Oprah. But at the time, Winfrey called her talk show her "ministry," Harrison wrote. It remains an interview Winfrey says she hates. In a Los Angeles Times interview in December, the talk-show host said that "at every turn everything I said was challenged and misinterpreted."

She declined to be interviewed for this story, and she declined to allow USA TODAY to cover her most recent, and now rare, Live Your Best Life seminars. Tickets, priced at $185 each, sold out in minutes.

Katrina Singleton, 34, paid $450 each for tickets to the February event in Charleston, S.C., which she purchased through a ticket broker. "For Oprah, nothing is too much," she told the Associated Press. "It's a once-in-a-lifetime experience."

At the seminar, according to AP, Winfrey repeatedly spoke of her relationship with God. She even sang a chorus of I Surrender All.

"I live inside God's dream for me. I don't try to tell God what I'm supposed to do," she told the crowd. "God can dream a bigger dream for you than you can dream for yourself."

Claire Zulkey, 26, an Oprah follower who has written about Winfrey in her online blog at zulkey .com, says, "I think that if this were the equivalent of the Middle Ages and we were to fast-forward 1,200 years, scholars would definitely think that this Oprah person was a deity, if not a canonized being."

Marcia Nelson says that it's not going too far to call her a spiritual leader. "I've said to a number of people — she's today's Billy Graham."

Dick Staub on latest Christian movie to hit the screens

I can see where this is headed and it is going to be another artistic embarrassment in the name of Jesus.

I'm referring to "Facing the Giants"a low budget film produced by Sherwood Baptist Church that just received a PG rating from the Motion Picture Association of America. The church says the G-rated movie has been upgraded because the MPAA finds the religious content offensive. Sherwood Associate Pastor Alex Kendrick wrote and starred in the movie and was a little surprised when it received a PG rating. He said, "This movie is pretty clean. There is no violence or nudity or language in it." One scene though has a coach evangelizing a football player and that according to the church is what the MPAA finds offensive.


-snip-


Juxtapose this story on the following quote from Derek Webb, formerly of Caedman's call, and you see why I think this will be another embarrassment.

"Christian artists don’t seem to be focused anymore on making great art. That’s our main problem, not what our message is, not what we are trying to communicate, not how we are breaking down these barriers, but the fact that we are failing to make good engaging art is our main problem…Our industry, the way it is set up, who the gatekeepers are, it doesn’t encourage making unique art…We have a radio genre that is on the whole pretty uninteresting, and it’s pretty bland artistically."

Sherwood Baptist's efforts, which I'm sure are well meaning, reveal two major seismic fault lines in American Christianity and they are both rooted in our abandonment of a theology of creation.

Those who believe God is our creator and that humans have been created in God's image should understand that this means we should also be creative and should share God's passion for artistic excellence. At the end of each step of creation "God saw what He had made and IT WAS GOOD. I know big budgets don't guarantee good films, but I can guarantee you the Sherwood project made in the "hundreds of thousands dollars" range will be noticeably inferior to other Hollywood productions. A friend who has seen the film says it clearly looks like a low-budget made-for-TV project. Why should we be excited that an aesthetically inferior product will be released on over 400 movie screens? The film includes the line "We need to give God our best in every area." Do they believe this film is our best?

The church would argue that this film should succeed because it openly proclaims "the gospel." By this they mean it explicitly includes scenes encouraging "receiving Jesus as Savior." Being forgiven, received into God's fellowship and receiving the promise of our future perfection in Heaven is no small matter, but it is only the first part of the story. Art historian and L' Abri theologian Hans Rookmaaker reminds us, "Jesus did not come to make us Christian, Jesus came to make us fully human." By this he meant that Jesus' purpose is to make us new creatures, who can once again reflect the image of God in all it's splendor--intellectually, spiritually, creatively, morally and relationally.

Any Christianity that knows God as savior, but not as creator, will produce "Christians" who are less than fully human and such people will never create good art or care to.

Dennis Prager on global warming

People who don't confront the greatest evils will confront far lesser ones. Most humans know the world is morally disordered -- and socially conscious humans therefore try to fight what they deem to be most responsible for that disorder. The Right tends to fight human evil such as communism and Islamic totalitarianism. The Left avoids confronting such evils and concentrates its attention instead on socioeconomic inequality, environmental problems and capitalism. Global warming meets all three of these criteria of evil. By burning fossil fuels, rich countries pollute more, the environment is being despoiled and big business increases its profits.

-- The Left is far more likely to revere, even worship, nature. A threat to the environment is regarded by many on the Left as a threat to what is most sacred to them, and therefore deemed to be the greatest threat humanity faces. The cover of Vanity Fair's recent "Special Green Issue" declared: "A Graver Threat Than Terrorism:

Global Warming." Conservatives, more concerned with human evil, hold the very opposite view: Islamic terror is a far graver threat than global warming.

-- Leftists tend to fear dying more. That is one reason they are more exercised about our waging war against evil than about the evils committed by those we fight. The number of Iraqis and others Saddam Hussein murdered troubles the Left considerably less than even the remote possibility than they may one day die of global warming (or secondhand smoke).

One day, our grandchildren may ask us what we did when Islamic fascism threatened the free world. Some of us will say we were preoccupied with fighting that threat wherever possible; others will be able to say they fought carbon dioxide emissions. One of us will look bad.


Thanks to Kathy Shaidle at Relapsed Catholic for the link.

Monday, June 19, 2006

America's first war on terror

Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, then serving as American ambassadors to France and Britain, respectively, met in 1786 in London with the Tripolitan Ambassador to Britain, Sidi Haji Abdul Rahman Adja. These future American presidents were attempting to negotiate a peace treaty which would spare the United States the ravages of jihad piracy—murder, enslavement (with ransoming for redemption), and expropriation of valuable commercial assets—emanating from the Barbary states (modern Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya, known collectively in Arabic as the Maghrib). During their discussions, they questioned Ambassador Adja as to the source of the unprovoked animus directed at the nascent United States republic. Jefferson and Adams, in their subsequent report to the Continental Congress, recorded the Tripolitan Ambassador’s justification:

… that it was founded on the Laws of their Prophet, that it was written in their Koran, that all nations who should not have acknowledged their authority were sinners, that it was their right and duty to make war upon them wherever they could be found, and to make slaves of all they could take as Prisoners, and that every Musselman who should be slain in Battle was sure to go to Paradise.

Thus as Joshua London’s Victory in Tripoli elaborates in lucid prose, an aggressive jihad was already being waged against the United States almost 200 years prior to America becoming a dominant international power in the Middle East. Moreover, these jihad depredations targeting America antedated the earliest vestiges of the Zionist movement by a century, and the formal creation of Israel by 162 years—exploding the ahistorical canard that American support for the modern Jewish state is a prerequisite for jihadist attacks on the United States.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

The real sacred feminine

Contrast the Code’s approach with that of two successful motion pictures of the past few years — The Exorcism of Emily Rose and The Passion of the Christ.

Both films chose to personify evil. In fact, Mel Gibson purposefully inserted Satan as a character to remind us that he does exist — portraying him as an androgynous, ambiguous, slightly attractive yet repulsive figure that provokes the Roman guards. The devil also mocks the mother of Christ, the only other character in the film who seems to be able to see him.


The Code, too, mocks the mother of Christ. It is a fundamental attack on Mary. For, it is the Blessed Virgin Mary, not Mary Magdalene, who is the true feminine icon for the Church. Christ protects the spotless bride — the Church. To degrade the Church is to desecrate Mary — the authentic “sacred feminine.”

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

The Defilers Toronto launch June 14

The Defilers official Toronto launch will be held June 14 at World Vision headquarters in Mississauga in conjunction with The Word Guild's annual awards gala.
Find out more here.

The Ottawa launch took place June 1 at the National Archives of Canada. You can find pictures of the Ottawa launch here.

I had my first book signing at Hull's Family Book Store in Winnipeg May 4. You can find out more about it here.

The Defilers won the 2005 Best New Canadian Christian Author Award sponsored by Castle Quay Books, and administered by The Word Guild.

The Word Guild has just announced the finalists for the 2006 contest. Congratulations to the seven people on the short list. I have posted the press release here.

The Defilers can be purchased through the Augsburg Fortress online store and on Amazon.com or Amazon.ca.
You can find out more information about the story at The Defilers own blog. Or scroll down to find links to the latest news on The Defilers website under The Defilers News, where I'm tracking news items that touch on some of the novel's subject matter.

Thank you to all who came to the launch. It was wonderful to feel so encouraged and supported.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Pastor Doug Ward's remarks at The Defilers launch

Here are the remarks Pastor Doug Ward made at my book launch June 1. What a privilege to have him as my master of ceremonies.


The launch of a book is a special thing for an author. It is the completion of a work that is like giving birth, and then in several respects, unlike it as well. The development of a child has the DNA of the parents built right in. We know the science. But the character and means by which the child presents himself or herself to the world depends on many alien factors. Environment, parental affection, or lack thereof, early childhood trauma - such is the adventure. The experience can be rather painful, but utterly life giving and marvelous at the same time.

We look at this new baby and say how cuddly and cute, until the child matures and we articulate, at times uncontrollably, “What have I wrought”.

This is a great achievement. This novel has been given life by its author. But the true story of the text behind the text lies in the community – Deborah’s neighborhood – for stories are always based in community.

As private as this story is, born of the mind and laptop of its writer, it is not to be read outside of its real world of which it is a reflection. So these are more than mere words. An author is caught between being entertaining – or we might as well read the encyclopedia – and making a statement about life – without being overbearing or pretentious. Deborah, you have succeeded in producing a thoughtful page-turner that mirrors our values, our dreams, and our fears.

We live in a world of reality TV and banality. Last night, in our own country Canada, not 1000 yards from where we now stand (Christ Church Cathedral), a minister of the crown was run out of a church, manhandled and shut down, with nary a helping hand. We can pass off reality TV as distant and frivolous, but this is prime time Ottawa, and we can pass off banality as where someone else lives, but this is our backyard and it is real.

We live in a world where meta-narratives are lost, where overarching themes and stories that have bound us together are disappearing. This is happening not only in the Glebe and Rockcliffe and Kanata, but Aklavik and the Annapolis Valley as technology and world culture seeps into every nook and cranny.

The great narratives of our culture are being overrun by the immediate, the fresh, the available, the sexy, the eye popping and the visually arresting. The visual and the auditory have risen a hundredfold in speed and availability in only seven years. In this era of the short and the urgent, where the different is normal and the normal is old news, where the wisdom of the ages is passé until the next sound bite or public relations campaign, we need groundedness and thoughtfulness.

Writers wrestle with the weighty issues of the day, reframe the questions, find new means of expression, and refuse to accept the lowest common denominator. Instead they challenge us, anger us, and make us rethink our priorities and values.

Deborah, you have given us a work that ably reflects your own life journey of faith and unfaith. You have reasoned through writing and stuck your neck into things that concern you and should concern us. You have never been without an opinion and this book is no exception. We would not have you or anything you write be anything less than honest and thought provoking

Crafting a book is an exercise in courage. You have worn your heart on your sleeve and I believe, though strange to say as this late stage in your writing career, you have found your voice. Few of us ever do. We are fortunate to be here to witness a voice all of us trust will continue to find its lucid expression.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Defilers launch news release


OTTAWA (CCN)—Canadian Catholic News’ Ottawa correspondent Deborah Gyapong celebrated the release of her award-winning novel The Defilers June 1 at a glittering launch party in the marble lobby of the National Library of Canada.

Among those who lined up to get copies signed were Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day, the Prime Minister’s Parliamentary Secretary Jason Kenney and Conservative MP Scott Reid, who used to represent the riding Gyapong lives in before a new riding was created several years ago.

In addition to the politicians, the event drew clergy from a range of denominations, representatives from several pro-family organizations, political staffers, journalists, family, friends and neighbors.

“Deborah, you have found your voice,” said Pastor Doug Ward, senior pastor of Kanata Baptist Church and director of mentoring with Arrow Leadership Ministries Canada, as he introduced the author to a standing-room-only crowd of over 100.

Ward spoke about the importance of stories in building community, especially as Canadian society loses any sense of a meta-narrative. Ward said Gyapong’s faith journey found its way into the story, even though Gyapong stressed the subject matter is not autobiographical.

Gyapong spoke of the importance of community in the creation of a work of art, especially a Christian work and thanked those who had vetted the work for its theology, including Ward and Dr. Allen Churchill, RCMP Chaplain, United Church minister, and chair of the 1998 Ottawa Billy Graham Mission.

“A gripping, credible story about human nature and the rediscovery of a relevant Christian faith,” said Churchill in his endorsement on the novel’s back cover. “As a former Mountie, I found the author’s portrayal of the RCMP authentic. I had trouble putting The Defilers down. Mature beyond what one would expect for a first novel. I highly commend the book.”

“The novel is a fast-paced intense drama written in the genre of Frank Peretti and Dennis Lehane,” said publisher Larry Willard in a May 31 news release. “The author, Deborah Waters Gyapong, is a professional writer with a journalism career that spans more than 20 years. In this story she applies all her skills to give us a twisting, suspenseful thriller, with great insight into the complexity and sinfulness of human nature and of the supernatural power of an all-good God.”

In 2005, The Defilers won the Best New Canadian Christian Author Award at the Word Guild Write! Canada conference’s awards ceremony. The prize included publication.

Castle Quay and The Word Guild, a national association of writers and editors who are Christian, sponsored the contest to encourage, raise the bar of quality, and promote quality Canadian authors from all denominations who believe the Apostles’ Creed.

On June 14, The Word Guild will announce the 2006 winner at its Gala Awards Ceremony that has been moved to World Vision headquarters in Mississauga to accommodate the who’s who in Christian publishing and media and the wider community expected to attend. Salt and Light Television will be covering the event, as will 100 Huntley Street and other news media, Christian and non-religious.

Castle Quay, a division of Augsburg Fortress Canada, will hold a Toronto launch for The Defilers in conjunction with the awards ceremony.

Gyapong, who spent 12 years as a television producer for the CBC, joined Canadian Catholic News in October 2004.

The Defilers is a novel about a Mountie who finds redemption through her encounter with a man she suspects of murder and child abuse.

The story centers on Boston native Linda Donner who starts a new life in Canada, becomes a Mountie and takes a post in rural Nova Scotia, seeking balance in her life.

Her efforts to heal herself explode when she meets a strange pastor whose house has been firebombed. The pastor has been ministering in South Dare, a backwoods settlement where a sordid criminal subculture flourishes among dilapidated shacks and trailers.

She breaks in on the pastor while he’s conducting an exorcism on a little girl. Convinced she’s caught him abusing the terrified child, Linda finds herself hampered by a downward spiral into what seems to be a nervous breakdown.

Linda gradually realizes she is fighting supernatural forces and thinks about trying to find God. Trouble is, she hasn’t believed in Him since her priest got her pregnant when she was thirteen. The only person who seems able to help her is her chief suspect, the pastor.

Only after Linda recovers her childhood faith in Christ does she see clearly who is good and who is evil. By then, the evil gripping South Dare has reached well beyond the settlement to threaten everything she holds dear.

Castle Quay is an imprint of Augsburg Fortress Canada. Augsburg Fortress will distribute the book in Canada and the United States. It will be available in Christian bookstores across Canada, at Chapters and Indigo bookstores and through Amazon.ca and Amazon.com as well as through Augsburg Fortresses online book store at www.augsburgfortress.org.


Contact: Castle Quay
http://www.augsburgfortress.org , CA
Deborah Gyapong - reporter with Canadian Catholic News, 802-655-4847
Keywords: Books, new release, award-winning
Category: Catholic Publications

The picture shows Deborah and Pastor Doug Ward.

More launch pictures here.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Could concern over backlash be projection?

Most of the concern about a possible backlash against Muslims seem to be coming from Muslims themselves and the Left and their allies in the MSM. It occurred to me that much of that fear might stem from projection of their own tendencies onto others.

Many on the right are reacting with annoyance that there seems to be more concern about backlash among Muslims than there is about possible home grown terrorists who worship at their mosques. Thankfully, some Muslim groups and individual Muslims are saying they support Canada's security forces in bringing potential terrorists to justice.

Let's take a look at how much backlash actually has happened.

When you look at the extent of the backlash after 9-11, you'll see that most of it was relatively minor. A Sikh man wearing a turban was killed perhaps by someone mistaking him for a Muslim. That's horrible. There was some vandalism and some namecalling. But there was nothing like the Muslim backlash against the Danish cartoons, which saw a Catholic priest in Turkey shot in cold blood, churches bombed and burned along with embassies, and rioting that left hundreds dead.

In the U.S. right after 9-11, the extent of anti-Muslim incidents probably didn't even rise as high as the routine incidents against Christians or Jews in the United States. Certainly I haven't ever heard of a string of mosque burnings in the U.S., but there was a string of church burnings not long ago in the States.

And now we have reports of some vandalism of a mosque or two after the reports of arrests thwarting a terrorist plot in Canada. Still, I don't think the level of attacks will even come close to what is happening to Jews in Canada, but gets ignored by the news media.

Why all the overwhelming concern about a backlash that I don't think is going to happen?

Because people tend to project onto others what they themselves tend to be guilty of.
So, if I am someone who is prone to overreacting, I will be fearful of other people overreacting. If I am someone who is prone to shutting down the freedom of speech and religion of others, I will be paranoid someone is going to do it to me.

Muslims may be afraid of a backlash, and the Left is afraid of civil rights being violated. Why? Because those on the Left are the quickest to violate the civil rights of others.

When's the last time you heard that skin heads shut down a meeting that some leftwing people were holding? Noam Chomsky has come to Canada with nothing more than some head shaking and tsk, tsk and perhaps a column or two from the right. But speakers from the right are routinely blocked from speaking at universities, shut down by demonstrators and even threatened with violence.

They have had objects thrown at them and recently a group even shut down the Immigration Minister, preventing him from giving a speech in Ottawa.

In the Muslim cartoon case, radical Danish imams added some cartoons to the dozen or so that had appeared in the Danish newspaper. These disgusting faked cartoons would never have been published in a mainstream western newspaper. Then they circulated those faked cartoons with the others to show how badly the Danes were treating Muslims.

Could some of the cries of mistreatment, and complaints of threats be similar to the faked cartoons? Could they be projection? Could them in part be fomenting the idea they are victims to massage the hatred some among them feel towards their adopted country? I think there is a great deal of goodwill towards Muslims in Canada and concern for them. These arrests don't change that. These arrests should, however, wake all Canadians, Muslim and non, to the very real threat in our midst.

I can understand why political leaders and news media are being careful to make sure people distinguish between ordinary Muslims and extremists whether you call them terrorists, Islamists, or Islam-fascists.

I sure as heck do not want to see right wing hate groups rise again in this country as they have in now in Russia.

But I can't recall the last time I heard about skinheads breaking up or even threatening a meeting by their attendance.

Years ago, I attended a meeting sponsored by a group called Citizens United for a Responsible Education. CURE wanted to have equal time in the schools to combat what they saw as gay propaganda coming from the Pink Triange gay positive curriculum being introduced into the schools.

Extremists from both sides attended this meeting and it was pretty scary. All CURE wanted to do was have equal time. They were moderate. They weren't trying to shut down the Pink Triangle group, they just wanted to be able to combat some of the figures and statements of the group, such as that 10 per cent of the population is homosexual, and that it is an inherent trait that can't ever change.

On one side, were about a dozen gay activists, on the other were a handful of skinheads. No violence broke out, thank God, but for the majority of people who came to get information, it was a pretty raw, rude and uncivil experience.

If our security forces don't act to prevent terrorism, if cries of racism or racial profiling make them ineffective, then we will, I fear see the rise of violent right wing groups. That's the last thing I want to see happen.

So let's have balance, and moderation, and civility, folks. On all sides. And lets insist that Muslims and lefties extend that moderation and civility to the rest of us.

UPDATE:

Apparently I'm not the only one who is thinking about possible fake hate crimes.

Theodore Dalrymple on Islam

It is important, of course, to distinguish between Islam as a doctrine and Muslims as people. Untold numbers of Muslims desire little more than a quiet life; they have the virtues and the vices of the rest of mankind. Their religion gives to their daily lives an ethical and ritual structure and provides the kind of boundaries that only modern Western intellectuals would have the temerity to belittle.

But the fact that many Muslims are not fanatics is not as comforting as some might think.

-snip-

The urge to domination is nearly a constant of human history. The specific (and baleful) contribution of Islam is that, by attributing sovereignty solely to God, and by pretending in a philosophically primitive way that God’s will is knowable independently of human interpretation, and therefore of human interest and desire—in short by allowing nothing to human as against divine nature—it tries to abolish politics. All compromises become mere truces; there is no virtue in compromise in itself. Thus Islam is inherently an unsettling and dangerous factor in world politics, independently of the actual conduct of many Muslims.


Via Dr. Sanity, who has some interesting commentary of her own here.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

French Jews subjected to intimidating attacks

But the police are afraid to act, according to this story via Brussels Journal.

Last Sunday evening about thirty members of Tribu Ka, armed with bats and sticks, staged a march through the Rue de Rosiers in the historic Jewish quarter of Paris, shouting “Death to Jews” and “Let the Jews fight us if they dare!”

Tensions between black Muslim immigrants and French Jews have been rising since another black gang, who call themselves “the Barbarians,” kidnapped Ilan Halimi, a 21-year old Jew, last February. Halimi was tortured for three weeks and subsequently murdered. Youssouf Fofana, the imprisoned leader of the gang that murdered Halimi, is acclaimed as a hero by groups such as Tribu Ka. Tribu Ka was founded by Kami Saba [Kémi Séba], a black Parisian who says he has been inspired by the Black Muslims in the United States.


Though a police officer admitted that the authorities knew the “tribe” was going to march through the Jewish neighbourhood last Sunday, as “it had been announced on the Tribu Ka internet site,” twenty minutes lapsed before the police arrived. According to a Jewish source a senior police officer, called to account by angry inhabitants of the Rue de Rosiers, said that the police “had received instructions from the top not to intervene.” The French authorities apparently did not want to provoke the thugs. As a result some Jews openly wonder whether the Jewish community should not organize its own militia.

The authorities fear that provoking the thugs could trigger a new round of urban violence, similar to last November’s riots, in predominantly immigrant suburbs of major cities across France. The situation in the “banlieus” appears to be tense again. On Monday night around a hundred youths clashed with French police after setting fire to cars and rubbish bins in Clichy-sous-Bois, a Parisian suburb that was the scene of violence in November.


If the authorities do not act in an evenhanded way to protect people, whatever their religion or race, from the actions of hateful thugs of whatever religion or race, then we are going to see the rise of militias, and right-wing and left-wing hate groups to fill the void.

It must stop.

Details about the terror suspects

Here's some interesting information on the terror suspects and the attitudes of family members that these men have been victimized from the Globe and Mail. (Via Damien at Daimnation)

Most of the group, who were remanded into custody until their next court appearance on Tuesday, wore street clothes although some appeared in white jump suits.

The majority sported the traditional Muslim male beard.

Alvin Chand, brother of Toronto suspect Steven Vikash Chand, scoffed at the charges outside the courthouse.

“He's not a terrorist, come on, he's a Canadian citizen” Mr. Chand said of his brother. “The people that were arrested are good people. They go to the mosque. They go to school, go to college.”

Aly Hindy, an imam at the Salaheddin Islamic Centre in nearby Scarborough, said the centre's mosque had been monitored by security agencies for years. He said Muslims were once again being falsely accused.

“It's not terrorism. It could be some criminal activity with a few guys, that's all,” said Mr. Hindy.

“We are the ones always accused.”

Rocco Galati, lawyer for two suspects from Mississauga, said his client Ahmad Ghany, 21, is a health sciences graduate from McMaster University in Hamilton. He was born in Canada, the son of a medical doctor who emigrated from Trinidad and Tobago in 1955.

Mr. Galati said neither of his clients have criminal records and are both “model citizens.”

“Both of their families are very well-established professionals, well-established families, no criminal pasts whatsoever,” Mr. Galati said. “That's why we're anxious to see the particulars of the allegations against them.”

The father of accused Shareef Abdelhaleen, a 30-year-old computer programmer from nearby Mississauga, said the charges made no sense.

“I am shocked,” said the Egyptian immigrant who came to Canada with his son 20 years ago and is an engineer on contract with Atomic Energy of Canada.


Captains Quarters is a good source of information about these arrests.

MSM all over story about vandalism at mosque

I abhor the kind of vandalism reported against a mosque and other buildings associated with Muslim believers.

The CBC and other mainstream media (MSM) are all over some incidents that could possibly have occurred in the wake of the arrests of 17 terror suspects.

The question I have to ask though, is where are these media when this kind of vandalism occurs against Jews? Or Christians?

When B'nai Brith announced its yearly report of antisemitic incidents this year, I was one of a handful of journalists in the room. The report was chilling. In the last several years, incidents have skyrocketed, though they had dipped slightly from the previous year.

Journalists did find time that same day to pack a news conference featuring Brigitte Bardot weeping over seals.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Run your home as a business

Mary Goyens of Montreal experienced tremendous pressure to work outside the home in order to find fulfillment when she first started having children.

She seemed to receive that message from every side while coming of age in the 1970s. Then she attended a talk at a Catholic retreat centre that turned her life around. An older woman with a large family shared how a mother could bring passion and professionalism into running a home like a business.


Read the rest of my story at The Western Catholic Reporter.

Parliament Buildings among targets of terrorist group

Michelle Shepherd writes in the Toronto Star:

For the spies who work on the 10th floor of a Front St. office building, with the CN Tower looming above and a hub of Toronto's tourist district buzzing below, this investigation was personal.

The group arrested yesterday allegedly had a list of targets, sources have told the Star, and the Toronto headquarters of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service was one of them.

So were the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa and a smattering of other high-profile, heavily populated areas. But since most of the suspects lived in the GTA, it was the potential threat to the spy service's office and the chaos an attack would create in the heart of Toronto that concerned CSIS most.

According to sources, the suspects allegedly planned to target the spy service because many of them had encountered agents early in the investigation, when they were interviewed and put under surveillance. They also were allegedly angered by media reports accusing CSIS of racial profiling of Muslims.

Many of the agents were known to members of the group only by aliases, but the belief that the office had been targeted led to months of unease among CSIS staff, sources said.

Some of the group's members had even been spotted taking notes around the building, and at least one had reportedly visited the basement, one source told the Star.


Andrew Coyne has more.

Home grown Islamist terrorist cell busted

Stephen Taylor as a round up of various news links.

In a series of police raids last night, over 400 RCMP officers in joint operation with CSIS, arrested up to 12 suspects across Ontario suspected of plotting a series of terrorist attacks in the province including one in downtown Toronto at an office building near the CN Tower.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Deliver us from Evelyn

If you're looking for a good read this summer, you might want to consider Chris Well's book "Deliver us from Evelyn."

Here's a little about the book and the first chapter to whet your appetite.

Everyone from the Feds to the mob is scrambling to find the husband of heartless media mogul Evelyn Blake. But no one can decide which is worse—that he is missing, or that she is not ...

CHAPTER ONE

Sunday night. April 23.

On his last day of this life, the Right Fair Reverend Missionary Bob Mullins checked the party dip. Just stuck his finger right in there, pulled some glop free, stuck it in his mouth and sucked.

Hmm, good dip.

He wiped his saliva’d finger on his jacket, popped the top off a can of Pringles, shuffled a neat row of curved chips onto a Dixie brand paper platter.

There.

Setting the can down, he stepped back from the secondhand coffee table in the middle of the shag-carpeted office, looked at what his party planning skills had wrought. And he saw that it was good.

He went to the stereo system across the room, selected a CD. Personally, he would have preferred something by the Rolling Stones, maybe Exile on Main Street or Beggars Banquet -- muscular, honky-tonk rock ’n’ roll you can get drunk or stoned to, depending on your mood. He could really go for the bluesy wail of “Tumbling Dice” right now.

But the music library here offered none of that. Besides, his marks -- that is, the members of his “flock” -- held certain expectations regarding what music was appropriate for a prayer meeting. Especially in a small armpit of a town like Belt Falls, Illinois.

(Who names a town “Belt Falls,” anyway?)

The ladies would be here soon. Then Missionary Bob could use his people skills, honed from his years of "ministry," to good effect. Would lead the group in a spontaneous (but carefully planned) evening following “the Lord’s leading” -- some Bible, some hymns, some ministry time. A carefully rehearsed prayer, a combination of wails and pleas, which experience had shown to be a very effective prelude to the passing of the offering plate.

Swept up by the rush of maudlin and spiritual emotion, the ladies would cough up plenty.

“Yea, but there are those who do not have it as comfortably as we do,” he found himself practicing, fiddling with chair placement in the circle, maneuvering pillows on the couch. “Poor children who do not have the food or clothing or shelter such as we take for granted.”

He double-checked the handy photos on the table. The orphanage in Mexico went by a lot of names. It would not do for the Right Fair Reverend Missionary Bob Mullins to get all weepy-eyed over JESUS AMA A LOS NINOS PEQUENOS and then whip out a photo showing a bunch of tiny brown faces smiling under a banner that said CHILDREN OF HER MERCY ORPHANAGE.

Following the fiasco in the last town, he’d played it cool once he got to Belt Falls. (Really, who brings a wagon train across the frontier, breaks ground on a settlement and says, “From henceforth, this shall be known as ‘Belt Falls’”?)

Ever since Andrea -- his partner, his companion, his ray of light -- had got Jesus, she'd stopped helping with the scams. Stopped helping him fleece the flock, so to speak. She laid it on thick enough, It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment, and all that.

He tried to smirk it off, tried that face that always brought her around, but it didn’t seem to work anymore. Whatever had got hold of her wasn’t letting go.

Missionary Bob would never admit it to anyone, least of all himself, that the dividing line between success and failure began and ended with Andrea. When she was working with him, the scams worked like butter.

But then she got religion and the whole machine went up in flames.

Not that Missionary Bob got the clue. He kept working his games, town to town, each new gambit failing, each new town harder to crack than the last.

Once he set up shop here in Belt Falls (don’t even get him started about the name of the town), he took his time getting to know the people. He found them to be a small, close-knit community, smugly going to their church services.

Smug, but not that pious -- it did not take much effort to plant sufficient evidence that the only pastor in town was a raving drug user, maybe even a dealer. Not enough evidence to get the man convicted -- even the hick sheriff saw it was a weak case -- but the hapless pastor had to make only one phone call to the wrong deacon asking for bail money before word of his unholy lifestyle rushed through the congregation like wildfire.

In the eyes of God and the law, he was probably an okay guy. But once a congregation chooses to believe the worst, a preacher may as well pack his bags and move on.

Missionary Bob had even heard tell of one particular church, somewhere in the Midwest, where the members had booted the pastor because he'd had the temerity to wear short pants to a church potluck.

Yep, hell -- if it existed -- would be packed to the lips with smug, busybody churchgoers who ran their preacher out of town because he had worn shorts to a church potluck. Or, as in this case, was the victim of circumstantial evidence planted on him by a traveling huckster.

He stood and straightened his dress jacket. Felt a bulge in his left pocket, was surprised to discover a coaster with the face of Jesus on it.

He looked around the office, befuddled. When had he picked this up?

You don’t have to lift anything here, he reminded himself. You’ve pretty much lifted the whole office already.

Missionary Bob, in what used to be the hapless pastor’s office, heard steps echoing from the foyer, somebody clomping up the stairs. My, my, thought the Right Fair Reverend Missionary Bob Mullins, these ladies do need to lose some weight, don’t they? Whoever this was, she was pounding the stairs to wake the devil.

He stopped fidgeting with pillows and stood up straight, getting into character. Thinking of his plan, his mission, remembering the correct accent and speech patterns of a Right Fair Reverend Missionary, an accent as specific and undeniable as the drawl of New Orleans or the wicked blue-blood of Boston.

There was an insistent pounding on the door, a battering, really, if he had stopped to think about it. But he was too wrapped up in the character of a Right Fair Reverend Missionary. He slapped on a toothy grin and opened the door. “Welcome, child, to -- ”

It was a man. A. Large. Man. A grizzled bear towering over him, bloated flannel shirt cascading out of pants where they were almost tucked, tractor cap on his head declaring EAT ROADKILL. The grizzly bear pressed his flannelled beer belly against the Right Fair Reverend Missionary, leaned down from on high and belched, “I’m Darla Mae’s husband.”

The Right Fair Reverent Missionary Bob Mullins broke character and cursed.

The rest of the confrontation was like a dream, a nightmare of slow motion, the bear smacking him, a freight train to the skull, tossing Missionary Bob across the room. Hitting the coffee table as he went down, elbow in the dip. The grizzly roaring, storming in, Missionary Bob on the floor, scrambling backward, away, fleeing in the only direction he could, farther into the room. The angry husband kicking the table over, party snacks flying, dip spattering across the bookcase.

As Missionary Bob kicked to his feet, always moving backward, until the wall stopped his escape, one question kept flashing through his mind: Is this about the fake antique Cross of James or is this about the adultery?

Either way, his back against the wall, this grizzly man bearing down on him, Missionary Bob was out of options. The giant man, his eyes red, had barrel fists clenched and ready to swing, like jackhammers.

There was a noise behind the grizzly, at the open door. “Missionary Bob?”

One of the ladies.

The enraged husband turned at the voice. Missionary Bob took his one and only chance, grabbed the stone head of Moliere, clubbed the grizzly across the side of the head. The man stumbled backward and fell.

Missionary Bob, fueled by anger and fear and blind, stupid adrenalin, kept clubbing, again and again. The man on the floor now, blood streaming from his head. Missionary Bob clubbing him with the bust again and again. On his knees, on top of the man, clubbing him again and again and again.

Finally, adrenalin loosening its grip, Missionary Bob became aware that the man was not moving. Clutching air in hot, painful gasps, he dropped the bust to the carpet.

Felt something wet on the side of his face, wiped it with his sleeve, saw blood smeared on fabric. Not his own blood.

Gasping, wheezing, he looked up and saw the witnesses, ladies pooling in the doorway, staring agape at the Goliath on the floor, downed by the David with his stone.

© 2006 Chris Well


You can visit Chris's blog here.