Deborah Gyapong: September 2006

Friday, September 29, 2006

Toronto Support the Troops Rally

UPDATE: Not sure why the pictures aren't showing up. They were yesterday. Maybe it was all the extra traffic from Relapsed Catholic. If you click on each little box, however, the picture will show up. Sorry!

UPDATE: More about the Toronto Support the Troops rally at The Torch. Welcome Relapsed Catholic Readers.

I was there with Relapsed Catholic Kathy Shaidle. A heartwarming event that put a lump in my throat. Many people signed a card to send to soldiers in Afghanistan. For more about the rally read this. Here are some pictures.

Canadian prime minister failing to lead on marriage issue

Read my story here on Catholic Online. Ottawa blog readers, note that Farrow will be in the city speaking on this topic at a luncheon.

OTTAWA, Canada (CCN) – Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper is failing to show leadership on the marriage issue, and that failure could have serious implications for political freedom, said a McGill University professor.

Douglas Farrow, co-editor of Divorcing Marriage: Unveiling the Dangers of Canada’s New Social Experiment, sees not only the family weakened by the redefinition marriage, but also religious and political institutions, and wonders if Harper has taken the time to “grapple seriously” with the implications of bill C-38, which redefined marriage to include same-sex couples.

Some news reports indicate a promised motion on whether to reopen the marriage debate could be tabled as early as two weeks from Sept. 18, the day the House of Commons resumes after a summer break. Other reports say the date will be later in October. The Conservatives and Liberals will have a free vote, but the NDP and the Bloc Quebecois will try to force their members to vote against the motion.

“If Harper himself believed freedom was threatened by C-38, he wouldn’t be handling it the way he is,” Farrow said in a Sept. 12 phone interview from Montreal. “My guess is he hasn’t looked at it seriously and that to me is disappointing. I very much hope to be proved wrong about this.”

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Iain Benson weighs in on the Pope's Regensburg speech

There is a certain cartoonish quality about the recent attacks on Pope Benedict’s speech to his old university in Germany. If it is true, as one wag said, that “any stigma will do to beat a dogma” just imagine what you can do to the Chief Dogmatist when he has quoted statements about Islam that can be taken as derogatory!

Never mind that, in context, he was quoting a dispute from the Middle Ages to show that some things don’t change while others do and that some things should.

Of course, the statements were taken out of context. A critique of a certain Muslim endorsement of a notion of God that suggests that religious faith can validly be spread by the sword and that God can be understood as irrational, as against the Greek and developed Christian idea, is hardly out of place today.

Given how much mayhem currently comes from radical Islam or those claiming to be Islamic – how a suicide bomber can claim to be acting in the name of Allah, given the Koran’s prohibition against suicide for example – it is time that everyone, both inside and outside Islam, started asking questions about the kind of God that seems to be behind it. The Pope, as is evident from what I shall quote below, is asking about a tension within Islamic teachings about the role of violence in relation to religious faith. This nuance seems to have been missed by so many.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Tories cut Court Challenges program and Status of Women

The Tories have cut the controversial Court Challenges Program and taken $5 million out of the Status of Women.

Find out more here, here and from the Dept. of Finance's backgrounder here.

Here are links to some recent stories I've written about both these programs.

REAL Women find new support for battle against Status of Women Canada

Rights lawyers challenge Court Challenges Program

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

CRFA intervenes in abortion bubble zone case

My story about the Canadian Religious Freedom Alliance's intervention in the abortion bubble zone case before the British Columbia Court of Appeal has been picked up by Catholic Online.

Blogger is a little messed up right now so I can't make hyperlinks or block quotes. You can read the whole story here: An excerpt follows.

OTTAWA, Canada (CCN) – In British Columbia, someone who simply prays the Rosary outside an abortion clinic could get arrested. The same thing could happen if that person hands out leaflets or long-stemmed roses. The province’s Access to Abortion Services Act has created a “bubble zone” around clinics to ensure no woman seeking an abortion faces any obstacles.

The Canadian Religious Freedom Alliance (CRFA) thinks the act’s definitions of “sidewalk interference” and “protest” are too broad. It has intervened in a constitutional challenge involving Donald Spratt before the B.C. Court of Appeal.

Spratt ran afoul of the “bubble zone” law by bearing a nine-foot cross with a sign saying “Thou shalt not murder,” and speaking about the need for repentance and God’s forgiveness. A provincial court justice found Spratt guilty of “sidewalk interference” under the act. She said she was bound by a B.C. Supreme Court decision in the R. vs. Lewis case that found the bubble zone constitutional.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Opus Dei Prelate urges ongoing conversation with God

Here's the story I wrote on the Opus Dei Prelate's visit to Montreal on Saturday via Catholic Online.

MONTREAL, Canada (CCN) – Be faithful in the small things and transform ordinary life an ongoing conversation with God so you can share Christ’s love with your brothers and sisters.

That’s the message the prelate of Opus Dei, Bishop Javier Echevarria, brought to a gathering of about 900 in Montreal’s Place des Arts on Sept. 16 as part of a North American tour including visits to New York, Toronto, Vancouver, San Francisco and Houston. On Sept. 17, he addressed about 1500 people at Roy Thompson Hall in Toronto.

“We have to feel the joy of knowing that we are sons and daughters of God,” Echevarria said in Spanish. “This is a treasure. We cannot let it not have an impact on our lives and souls.”

Comedian Judy Savoy on using multimedia tools

Here's my story about comedian Judy Savoy that appeared on the front page of Catholic Online, one of the biggest Catholic websites in the world.

OTTAWA, Canada (CCN) – Catholic comedian Judy Savoy believes that Christians must speak with the multimedia tools of the culture, otherwise the “culture will pass us by.”

That’s why she has just had her one-woman show “Get Me Back to the Garden I’m Chokin’ on the Weeds” recorded on video for a DVD and why she has formed a close relationship with the John Paul II Media Institute in Halifax, founded by her parish priest Father James Mallon.

Last year, she was the first instructor in the institute’s inaugural course and she shares Mallon’s vision for spreading the gospel in ways that reach the culture using the latest multimedia tools.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Relapsed Catholic throws Hitchens overboard

Kathy Shaidle has this to say about Christopher Hitchen's take on the Pope's speech.

Many of us have hung on Christopher Hitchens' every word for the last five years, and we've likely misplaced our trust -- if his intentional misreading of the Pope's speech is anything to go by.

Hitchens seems (like most Leftists, no matter how bright) to have gleaned his knowledge of Church history and theology from old Vincent Price movies and hoary Reformation propaganda.

Moreover, he's is basing his arguments on the exact opposite of what the Pope actually said. Since Hitchens isn't an idiot, the only reasonable conclusion is bad faith.

I'm blushing with embarrrassment just writing this, because I know how pathetic it sounds, but: what else has he lied about? What really happened on all those trips to Iraq and elsewhere? What else did he misinterpret, willfully or otherwise?

I'm ashamed to say I didn't trust my own instincts about the man from the beginning, and didn't listen to those who warned me he was trouble. I was too delighted to have such a stalwart, skillful fighter on our side.

On religion, the man truly is a boor. Like Kathy, I hope he pulls a Malcolm Muggeridge.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

John Pacheco on the Canada's moral disintegration

John Pacheco, who organized the March for Marriage last year, has started a new blog.

He writes in relation to the Dawson College shooting spree:

(Sidenote for Mr. Harper: if you don't find your backbone on the internal culture war that is ravaging this country, no amount of freedom fighting in Afghanistan is going to mean a hill of beans. Your attention to the disintegration of this country would therefore be most appreciated. We don't want more useless gun laws. We want a little bit of honesty, some moral courage and a dash of real leadership.)
Mr. Gill had no meaning in life. He hated God and he hated us "Church Going Assholes". He hated people who claim there is meaning and purpose to our existence. He hated authority - civil or moral. Mr. Gill is a by-product of our sick culture, a culture of nihilism and death. Granted, he took his views to the extreme, but they are not at all inconsistent with a culture that sees everything as relative and nothing as absolute. That treats human life, the Christian faith, and meaning to life as arbitrary and quaint ideas.
Let us not delude ourselves. There will be more killing rampages. There will be more laws to "protect us". There will be less freedom.Why did Mr. Gill kill? Because he hated God and could find no meaning to his existence. Kinda like us.
We refuse to accept that without the search for truth, freedom is nothing but crass immoral license dressed up in a cheap disguise. In the case of Mr. Gill, the license he chose was a license to kill.

The religion of peace demonstrates its character is keeping tabs on the rage and growing violent reaction in response to reports about the Pope's speech.

Why doesn't the Times, or anyone, point out that riots and threats are not a constructive way to demonstrate that Islam is actually peaceful?

Why doesn't the Times, or anyone, invite Muslims to bring us, and live out, teachings of Muhammad that are not "evil and inhuman"?

Why doesn't the Times, or anyone, take any serious note of the ongoing persecution of Christians by Muslims, as examples of Muslims "fomenting discord" with Christians not just with words, but with lethal deeds?

On the Pope's critique of Islam

It's a sad, sad day when religious or cultural differences can not be discussed in a calm, rational manner and any pointing out of weaknesses in arguments are taken as hurtful insults.

But there is much more at stake in the Pope's recent speech at Regensburg that is getting so much media play. There is one quote that has been repeated ad nauseam....a quote of a quote that the Pope neither agreed with nor disagree with. Here's what he said after the notorious quote of a quote.

The emperor goes on to explain in detail the reasons why spreading the faith through violence is something unreasonable. Violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul. "God is not pleased by blood, and not acting reasonably ("syn logo") is contrary to God's nature. Faith is born of the soul, not the body. Whoever would lead someone to faith needs the ability to speak well and to reason properly, without violence and threats.... To convince a reasonable soul, one does not need a strong arm, or weapons of any kind, or any other means of threatening a person with death...."

The decisive statement in this argument against violent conversion is this: Not to act in accordance with reason is contrary to God's nature. The editor, Theodore Khoury, observes: For the emperor, as a Byzantine shaped by Greek philosophy, this statement is self-evident. But for Muslim teaching, God is absolutely transcendent. His will is not bound up with any of our categories, even that of rationality. Here Khoury quotes a work of the noted French Islamist R. Arnaldez, who points out that Ibn Hazn went so far as to state that God is not bound even by his own word, and that nothing would oblige him to reveal the truth to us. Were it God's will, we would even have to practice idolatry.

As far as understanding of God and thus the concrete practice of religion is concerned, we find ourselves faced with a dilemma which nowadays challenges us directly. Is the conviction that acting unreasonably contradicts God's nature merely a Greek idea, or is it always and intrinsically true?

I believe that here we can see the profound harmony between what is Greek in the best sense of the word and the biblical understanding of faith in God. Modifying the first verse of the Book of Genesis, John began the prologue of his Gospel with the words: "In the beginning was the 'logos.'"

I hope people will take the time to read the whole speech and see that he was not insulting Islam at all, and that the way the news media has been reporting the story is highly irresponsible.

That's what David Warren writes about in his Ottawa Citizen column today.

By turning the story back-to-front, so that what’s promised in the lead -- a crude attack on Islam -- is quietly withdrawn much later in the text, the BBC journalists were having a little mischief. The kind of mischief that is likely to end with Catholic priests and faithful butchered around the Muslim world. Either the writers were so jaw-droppingly ignorant, they did not realize this is what they were abetting (always a possibility with the postmodern journalist), or the malice was intended. There is no third possibility.

From the start, the BBC’s reports said the Pope would “face criticism from Muslim leaders” -- in the present tense. This is a form of dishonesty that has become common in journalism today. The flagrantly biased reporter, feigning objectivity, spices his story by just guessing what a man’s enemies will say, even before they have spoken.

While I don’t mean to pick especially on the BBC, when other mainstream media are often as culpable, they are worth singling out here to show the amount of sheer, murderous evil of which this taxpayer-funded network is capable.

Of course, when these media outlets consider the possible danger to themselves of
printing things offensive to Islamic extremists, such as reprinting the Danish cartoons to show what the embassy burnings and massive street demonstrations were about, they cravenly avoid doing so. But the danger to persecuted Christians is a big yawn to them.

Any religion that fears a rational discourse about its theology is a weak religion. Same with any ideology that refuses to allow criticism and clamps down on dissent.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Who funds the think tanks. Do we care?

Interesting column from Thomas Sowell on think tank funding and whether that has a bearing on what the scholars employed by these think tanks write.

For more on the controversy he is commenting on, see Michelle Malkin here.

Sowell concludes:

Our whole educational system, from the elementary schools to the universities, is increasingly turning out people who have never heard enough conflicting arguments to develop the skills and discipline required to produce a coherent analysis, based on logic and evidence.
The implications of having so many people so incapable of confronting opposing arguments with anything besides ad hominem responses reach far beyond Wal-Mart or think tanks. It is in fact the Achilles heel of this generation of our society and of Western civilization.

So true, unfortunately.

A view on multiculturalism from Brussels Journal

This is an interesting article about multiculturalism in Europe and whether Europeans have a cultural death wish in allowing so much unassimilated immigration.

I was criticised for a recent essay about Multiculturalism and Political Correctness, because I labelled Political Correctness as “cultural Marxism.” Danish writer Lars Hedegaard, whom I respect a lot, said that he believes Europe suffers from a death-wish following the world wars and de-colonization, and that Europeans allow themselves to be replaced through immigration because they want to die as a culture. It is true that there is a loss of cultural confidence in Europe, but there is one catch to this thesis: Many Europeans have never expressed any such desire to be wiped out.

Germany imprisons homeschooling mother

From Brussels Journal:

Last Thursday the German police arrested Katharina Plett, a homeschooling mother of twelve. Yesterday her husband fled to Austria with the children. Homeschooling is illegal in Germany since Hitler banned it in 1938. The Plett family belongs to a homeschooling group of seven Baptist families in Paderborn. We wrote about their case last year.

Stefan Sedlaczek of the Catholic website heard about her arrest on Saturday. He reports today that a female plain-clothes police officer rang at Katharina Plett’s house on Thursday around 11:00 am. When she opened the door other police officers, who had hidden themselves, forced their way in. Mrs Plett was allowed to change, but a police officer followed her into her bedroom in case “she would arm herself and shoot us all.” The woman was able to inform her husband by mobile phone before the police brought her to Bielefeld.

The West's homegrown barbarians

All afternoon yesterday as reports were coming out of Montreal about the Dawson College shooting I was wondering if this was a case of Sudden Jihad Syndrome and the news media as usual was playing down the connection. I was wrong.

Though still unofficial, the shooter has been identified as Kimveer Gill, and so far it's his Goth connections and sheer diabolical nihilism, fueled by the Heavy Metal and video games industry, that brought us the shooting spree. In other words, brought to you by the decadence of the West.

The Volokh conspiracy has several great links here. (H/T Gateway Pundit.)

Proves the points I and the people I linked to made here.

Many cogent observers such as Theodore Dalrymple and David Warren have noted that the modern day Islamofascist is not a product of Islam alone, but a viral mutation of Islam with modern memes such as nihilism and modern totalitarian ideologies such as Marxism and fascism.

Warren writes:

If I were a Muslim, with the inheritance of Islamic tradition behind me, I’d be deeply ashamed of the babbling idiots who claimed to speak for me. I would be very loud in contradicting them. Their ideology is tied to Islam, and constructed largely with an Islamic vocabulary and rough grammar, but hardly with an Islamic syntax. By this I mean, that it is inconceivable that anything resembling the “blovulations” of the Salafists, and Shia revolutionists of Iran, could emerge from a purely Islamic course of reasoning. There are too many extraneous elements. In the use of Islamic terms, there is too much slapstick and self-parody.

As many have now observed, the “Islamists” have semi-consciously spun together diverse ideological materials. They have borrowed uncritically from such 20th century totalitarian ideologies as Fascism, Nazism, and Communism. Each of these European ideologies, itself simplistic, had previously played a part in Arab nationalism.

Pope Benedict XVI, meanwhile, relected on the nature of faith and reason and moves in the West to decouple them, even in Christianity. The translated text is at under the heading "Papal Address at University of Regensburg." I can't link directly to that post, so I have copied and pasted it in its entirety here.

Benedict writes:

In the seventh conversation ("diálesis" -- controversy) edited by professor Khoury, the emperor touches on the theme of the jihad (holy war). The emperor must have known that sura 2:256 reads: "There is no compulsion in religion." It is one of the suras of the early period, when Mohammed was still powerless and under [threat]. But naturally the emperor also knew the instructions, developed later and recorded in the Koran, concerning holy war.

Without descending to details, such as the difference in treatment accorded to those who have the "Book" and the "infidels," he turns to his interlocutor somewhat brusquely with the central question on the relationship between religion and violence in general, in these words: "Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached."

The emperor goes on to explain in detail the reasons why spreading the faith through violence is something unreasonable. Violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul. "God is not pleased by blood, and not acting reasonably ("syn logo") is contrary to God's nature. Faith is born of the soul, not the body. Whoever would lead someone to faith needs the ability to speak well and to reason properly, without violence and threats.... To convince a reasonable soul, one does not need a strong arm, or weapons of any kind, or any other means of threatening a person with death...."

The decisive statement in this argument against violent conversion is this: Not to act in accordance with reason is contrary to God's nature. The editor, Theodore Khoury, observes: For the emperor, as a Byzantine shaped by Greek philosophy, this statement is self-evident. But for Muslim teaching, God is absolutely transcendent. His will is not bound up with any of our categories, even that of rationality. Here Khoury quotes a work of the noted French Islamist R. Arnaldez, who points out that Ibn Hazn went so far as to state that God is not bound even by his own word, and that nothing would oblige him to reveal the truth to us. Were it God's will, we would even have to practice idolatry.

As far as understanding of God and thus the concrete practice of religion is concerned, we find ourselves faced with a dilemma which nowadays challenges us directly. Is the conviction that acting unreasonably contradicts God's nature merely a Greek idea, or is it always and intrinsically true?

I believe that here we can see the profound harmony between what is Greek in the best sense of the word and the biblical understanding of faith in God. Modifying the first verse of the Book of Genesis, John began the prologue of his Gospel with the words: "In the beginning was the 'logos.'"

This is the very word used by the emperor: God acts with logos. Logos means both reason and word -- a reason which is creative and capable of self-communication, precisely as reason. John thus spoke the final word on the biblical concept of God, and in this word all the often toilsome and tortuous threads of biblical faith find their culmination and synthesis. In the beginning was the logos, and the logos is God, says the Evangelist. The encounter between the biblical message and Greek thought did not happen by chance.

(emphasis mine.)

Folks, we have our work cut out for us. We must re-establish and revive the roots of Western Civilization or we perish. They flourish in a unique blend--that did not happen by chance--of Jerusalem (the Jews), Athens (The Greek philosophers) and Rome (The Church)

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

The war to save civilization

In his 9/11 speech from the Oval Office on the fifth anniversary of the terrorist attacks, U.S. President George W. Bush said the war against terrorism is not a war of civilizations, it is "a struggle for civilization."

He's right in ways that he probably was not thinking about. And that struggle for civilization is not only a war against Islamofascism, it is a war against the homegrown barbarism and darkness that is eclipsing the West and raising up people who believe everything bad about their own civilization, even to the extent that they believe outrageous conspiracy theories that Bush and Cheney and Israel masterminded 9/11 to give them a pretext for war.

Yesterday, the Ottawa Citizen carried a story on a survey that shows 22 per cent of Canadians believe that garbage. And, a McGill professor told me he thinks the percentage of Americans who believe this is about the same. And who do these people think Osama Bin Laden is? Cheney's puppet? That maybe disinformation experts were behind this video Al Qaeda released yesterday showing footage of their planning 9/11?

The 55-minute documentary-like retrospective of the five years since the attacks was unusually long and sophisticated in its production quality compared to previous al-Qaeda videos. The footage -- with English subtitles -- surfaced on the eve of the fifth anniversary of the attacks on a website that frequently airs messages from Mr. bin Laden's terrorist network.

"Planning for Sept. 11 did not take place behind computer monitors or radar screens, nor inside military command and control centres, but was surrounded with divine protection in an atmosphere brimming with brotherliness ... and love for sacrificing life," an unidentified narrator said.

David Warren's column today talks about the enemy within. And it is not Muslim terrorists. It is us. It is our own offspring who reject Western "notions" of objective truth and therefore reject reality, living in pipe dreams and virtual reality.

He writes:

Our real enemy is within us, in the immense constituency of the half-educated narcissists pouring from our universities each year -- that glib, smug, liberal, and defeatist “victim culture” itself, that inhabits the academy, our media, our legal establishment, the bureaucratic class. The opinion leaders of our society, who live almost entirely off the avails of taxation, make their livelihoods biting the hands that feed them, and undermining the moral order on which our solidarity depends.

Amen! Emphasis mine.

I think the Michael Moores and Noam Chomskys are traitors.

For anyone who wants to see a debunking of various 9/11 conspiracy theories, go here.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Ezra Levant on Sept. 10 people and Sept. 11 people

Ezra writes in the Calgary Sun:

"September 10th people look at Islamic fascists and project their own liberal values onto them. They wonder what we did wrong to provoke such rage; they wonder how we could split the difference with our attackers and buy peace, for that is what reasonable people do. If only we can sit down and reason this thing out together.

Jack Layton is a September 10th person. He thinks we can negotiate with the Taliban, to tackle the "root cause" of their alienation. Maybe he'd bring Dr. Phil along to really get a good discussion going, have a good cry and walk away as friends.

September 11th people are more culturally aware. They know liberal ideas -- like allowing a difference of opinion, like peaceful resolutions of disputes, like a belief in the innate worth of every man and woman -- are not shared by all men. In fact, liberal values like tolerance of dissent and freedom of religion and speech are the "root cause" of terrorism; it is that liberty the terrorists seek to replace with abject submission. The concept of compromise itself is anathema to the perfect truth the terrorists claim to represent. It is liberal arrogance to think they can negotiate true believers away from their true beliefs.

September 10th people serve up Western-sounding excuses for terrorists (they're poor; we have not treated them fairly, it's all Israel's fault). September 11th people actually listen to what the terrorists say when they explain themselves: they are on a holy mission to make the entire world submit to Islam's sharia law. September 11th people take the jihadists at their word. September 10th people find that too terrifying to contemplate."

I'm a September 11 person.

Ira Rifkin on 9/11 and an Interfaith Reality Check

Ira Rifkin writes on 9/11: an Interfaith Reality Check in this must read essay. Hat tip Kathy Shaidle at Relapsed Catholic.

Yet despite all I've said here, I continue to second guess myself. I fear being blinded by anger. I mourn the loss of compassion for dead children no matter whom their parents were. I question whether I have adopted simplistic and even bigoted thinking.

Or worse, that I might stereotype all Muslims as ordinary Germans came to stereotype Jews, and in doing so lose all touch with my reason and humanity.

Is it an accident that 9/11 coincides with the Jewish calendar's most intense period? From Tisha b'Av, when we mourn the multitude of Jewish tragedies, we move to Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, to repentance and forgiveness for ourselves and for others. What timing!

Stripped of all theology, Judaism for me comes down to a simple article of faith: What is today need not be tomorrow; the possibility of a better day is always there. This is the messianic principle at its most basic, a heartfelt prayer of hope that the process is indeed intelligently designed.

We must never, ever allow terrorists to strip us of our humanity and tempt us to become like them. Yet at the same time, we must keep our eyes open to reality and not be prisoners of denial or wishful thinking about human nature.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Robert Sibley's series on 9/11 continues

Robert Sibley has posted another in his series on Terrorism, 9/11, the decadence of the West and the anti-Western ideology of multiculturalism.

Here is today's:

The West's Choice: Courage or Collapse Part I

You also saw the defeatist nature of the post-modern mind in prominent academics promoting, in Roger Kimball's words, "an anti-patriotic stew of politically correct ideas and attitudes distinguished partly by its penchant to vague but virtuous sounding abstraction, partly by its moral smugness." Philosophers like Martha Nussbaum regard "patriotic pride" as "morally dangerous," while Amy Gutmann thinks it "repugnant" for students to be taught that they are "above all, citizens of the United States" rather than adherents of "democratic humanism."

But perhaps most of all, you see the mentality of appeasement reflected in the refusal of leftists and progressives who, in their embrace of cultural relativism, hesitate to denounce the Islamist ideology because, well, that's being judgmental. Islamism promotes practices that are anti-homosexual, patriarchal in the worst sense, regards women as second-class citizens, and takes religious intolerance to new extremes. Yet, the progressives seem to think that if the West would only understand the "root causes" of terrorism, and then apologize for being the guilty party responsible for those causes, well then the terrorists would leave us alone.

There is a colossal irony in this attitude. By embracing the moral equivalence of all cultures, the liberal left "has all but refused to denounce the illiberal ideology of our enemies -- an ideology that supports polygamy, gender apartheid, religious intolerance, hatred of homosexuals, and patriarchy," writes historian Victor Davis Hanson in a recent essay in City Journal. "For 30 years, our schools have pounded home the creed that all cultures are of equal merit -- or, more accurately perhaps, that no culture is worse than the West's. Millions of Americans consequently aren't sure whether radical Islam is just another legitimate alternative to the dominant Western narrative."

The same can be said of the many Canadians who are so proud of their anti-American posturing. More than two dozen Canadian soldiers have died in Afghanistan so that the Taliban won't return and force Afghan women to wear the chaddor against their will or little girls won't have acid thrown in their faces for attending school. If the "progressives" truly believe in women's rights, why aren't they staging anti-Islamist demonstrations in front of the embassies of Iran, Syria and Pakistan, instead of protesting American "imperialism?" Indeed, why aren't they applauding George W. Bush's effort to plant the seeds of liberal democracy in the Middle East so that someday, possibly, women in those countries can enjoy the same benefits as their western sisters?

Part II

From Saturday, Sept. 9:

Age of Terror; Age of Illusion:

Sibley writes:

Sunday, September 10, 2006

What Pope Benedict said to the Ontario bishops

If you want to know the full text of what Pope Benedict XVI said to the Ontario bishops last week, here it is. You will see there is nothing to fear despite the media accusations that church and state separation risked being violated.

The following text came from

Pope's Address to Bishops of Ontario
"Make God Visible in the Human Face of Jesus"

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 8, 2006 ( Here is the address Benedict XVI delivered today in English and French to the bishops of Ontario, Canada, on the occasion of their five-yearly visit to Rome.

* * *

Your Eminence,

Dear Brother Bishops,

1. "God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him" (1 John 4:16).

With fraternal affection I cordially welcome you, the bishops of Ontario, and I thank Bishop Smith for the kind sentiments expressed on your behalf. I warmly reciprocate them and assure you, and those entrusted to your pastoral care, of my prayers and solicitude.

Your visit "ad limina apostolorum," and to the Successor of Peter, is an occasion to affirm your commitment to make Christ increasingly more visible within the Church and society, through joyful witness to the Gospel that is Jesus Christ himself.

The Evangelist John's numerous exhortations to abide in the love and truth of Christ evoke an appealing image of a sure and safe dwelling place. God first loves us (1 John 4:10) and we, drawn toward this gift, find a resting place where we can "constantly drink anew from the original source, which is Jesus Christ, from whose pierced heart flows the love of God" ("Deus Caritas Est," 7).

St. John was also compelled to urge his communities to remain in that love. Already some had been weakened by the disputes and distractions which eventually lead to division.

2. Dear Brothers, your own diocesan communities are challenged to resonate with the living statement of faith: "We know and believe the love God has for us" (1 John 4:16).

These words, which eloquently reveal faith as personal adherence to God and concurrent assent to the whole truth that God reveals (cf. "Dominus Iesus," 7), can be credibly proclaimed only in the wake of an encounter with Christ. Drawn by his love the believer entrusts his entire self to God and so becomes one with the Lord (cf. 1 Corinthians 6:17).

In the Eucharist this union is strengthened and renewed by entering into the very dynamic of Christ's self-giving so as to share in the divine life: "He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me and I in him" (John 6:56; cf. "Deus Caritas Est," 13).

[The Pope read the following in French]

St. John's warning remains however always timely. In our increasingly secularized societies, which you yourselves have experienced, the love that flows from God's heart toward humanity can be unperceived or even rejected. On imagining that removing himself from this relationship constitutes, one way or another, a solution for his liberation, man becomes in fact a stranger to himself, because "in reality, the truth is that only in the mystery of the incarnate Word does the mystery of man take on light" ("Gaudium et Spes," No. 22).

By their lack of interest in the love that reveals the fullness of the truth of man, numerous men and women continue to estrange themselves from God's dwelling to live in the desert of individual isolation, social brokenness and the loss of cultural identity.

[Translation of French original by ZENIT]

3. Within this perspective, one sees that the fundamental task of the evangelization of culture is the challenge to make God visible in the human face of Jesus. In helping individuals to recognize and experience the love of Christ, you will awaken in them the desire to dwell in the house of the Lord, embracing the life of the Church.

This is our mission. It expresses our ecclesial nature and ensures that every initiative of evangelization concurrently strengthens Christian identity. In this regard, we must acknowledge that any reduction of the core message of Jesus, that is, the "kingdom of God," to indefinite talk of "kingdom values" weakens Christian identity and debilitates the Church's contribution to the regeneration of society.

When believing is replaced by "doing" and witness by talk of "issues," there is an urgent need to recapture the profound joy and awe of the first disciples whose hearts, in the Lord's presence, "burned within them" impelling them to "tell their story" (cf. Luke 24:32,35).

Today, the impediments to the spread of Christ's kingdom are experienced most dramatically in the split between the Gospel and culture, with the exclusion of God from the public sphere. Canada has a well-earned reputation for a generous and practical commitment to justice and peace, and there is an enticing sense of vibrancy and opportunity in your multicultural cities.

At the same time, however, certain values detached from their moral roots and full significance found in Christ have evolved in the most disturbing of ways. In the name of "tolerance" your country has had to endure the folly of the redefinition of spouse, and in the name of "freedom of choice" it is confronted with the daily destruction of unborn children. When the creator's divine plan is ignored the truth of human nature is lost.

False dichotomies are not unknown within the Christian community itself. They are particularly damaging when Christian civic leaders sacrifice the unity of faith and sanction the disintegration of reason and the principles of natural ethics, by yielding to ephemeral social trends and the spurious demands of opinion polls.

Democracy succeeds only to the extent that it is based on truth and a correct understanding of the human person. Catholic involvement in political life cannot compromise on this principle; otherwise Christian witness to the splendor of truth in the public sphere would be silenced and an autonomy from morality proclaimed (cf. "Doctrinal Note on Some Questions Regarding the Participation of Catholics in Political Life," 2-3; 6).

In your discussions with politicians and civic leaders I encourage you to demonstrate that our Christian faith, far from being an impediment to dialogue, is a bridge, precisely because it brings together reason and culture.

4. Within the context of the evangelization of culture, I wish to mention the fine network of Catholic schools at the heart of ecclesial life in your province.

Catechesis and religious education is a taxing apostolate. I thank and encourage those many lay men and women, together with religious, who strive to ensure that your young people become daily more appreciative of the gift of faith which they have received.

More than ever this demands that witness, nourished by prayer, be the all-encompassing milieu of every Catholic school. Teachers, as witnesses, account for the hope that nourishes their own lives (cf. 1 Peter 3:15) by living the truth they propose to their pupils, always in reference to the one they have encountered and whose dependable goodness they have sampled with joy (cf. Address to Rome's Ecclesial Diocesan Convention, Living the Truth that God Loves his People, June 6, 2005).

And so with St. Augustine they say: "We who speak and you who listen acknowledge ourselves as fellow disciples of a single teacher" (St. Augustine, Sermons, 23:2).

A particularly insidious obstacle to education today, which your own reports attest, is the marked presence in society of that relativism which, recognizing nothing as definitive, leaves as the ultimate criterion only the self with its desires. Within such a relativistic horizon an eclipse of the sublime goals of life occurs with a lowering of the standards of excellence, a timidity before the category of the good, and a relentless but senseless pursuit of novelty parading as the realization of freedom.

Such detrimental trends point to the particular urgency of the apostolate of "intellectual charity" which upholds the essential unity of knowledge, guides the young toward the sublime satisfaction of exercising their freedom in relation to truth, and articulates the relationship between faith and all aspects of family and civic life.

Introduced to a love of truth, I am confident that young Canadians will relish exploring the house of the Lord who "enlightens every person who comes into the world" (John 1:9) and satisfies every desire of humanity.

5. Dear Brothers, with affection and fraternal gratitude I offer these reflections to you and encourage you in your proclamation of the Good News of Jesus Christ.

Experience his love and in this way cause the light of God to enter into the world! (cf. "Deus Caritas Est," 39).

Invoking upon you the intercession of Mary, seat of wisdom, I cordially impart my apostolic blessing to you and the priests, religious, and lay faithful of your dioceses.

[Original text: English]

© Copyright 2006 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana [adapted]

Robert Sibley's excellent essays on terror and multiculturalism

Award winning Ottawa Citizen senior writer Robert Sibley has done an excellent series on self-hating Western intellectuals who have undermined Western civilization and harmed its immunity to anti-democratic ideas and movements.

From Saturday, Sept. 9:

Age of Terror; Age of Illusion:

Sibley writes:

Decadence is not only a matter of artistic fashion or literary style; it is also a question of self-defence. A society that is unwilling to defend itself, and justifies that refusal with clever rationalizations, can only be described as decadent. This is especially true when the decadents include those elites that provide the ideas and concepts that guide society in its attitudes and conduct. When a society's opinion-makers, its teachers, writers, scholars, artists and thinkers, no longer uphold the values and traditions necessary for that society's survival, well, you're on the downward slope. The question thus needs to be asked: Is our time also an age of self-destructive illusions?

The question is, why are so many unwilling to acknowledge the threat Islamism poses to western civilization? More to the point, perhaps, why are so many so quick to blame the West itself, particularly the United States, for the attacks, as though the 3,000 who perished in the collapse of those 110-storey towers, including many Canadians, deserved their fate?

From Sunday, Sept. 10:
The Dark Side of Multiculturalism

Thursday, September 07, 2006

St. Francis Herb Farm

One of the blessings of my journalism work is the chance to meet people with amazing stories to tell about God's providential hand in their lives. Recently, I drove up to Combermere to meet Monique and Jeremy Rivett-Carnac who operate St. Francis Herb Farm, a company that prepares herbal remedies. I had become acquainted with some of their herbal remedies through my local health food store before meeting them and had been impressed by how efficacious they were.

Western Catholic Reporter has published an electronic version of the story I wrote about the couple's faith journey and vision for their company.

St. Francis Herb Farm owners Jeremy and Monique Rivett-Carnac share a passion for promoting the healing properties of herbs. As devout Catholics, they realize their message is "as countercultural as you can get.

But they are determined to reach Christian consumers because they see their mission as pro-life.

Pro-life is a life-long process of proper stewardship that does not stop once the children are born, Jeremy said. "We have been brought up in a culture over the last 80 years where if we have a headache we take a pill. I don't want this baby; I take a pill. It's the same pro-death consciousness."

Follow the link and read the rest of the story to find out about their faith journey. It might raise a tingle on your spine.

Dr. Sanity's struggle with faith

As anyone who reads this blog regularly knows I love Dr. Sanity. She is one of the most sane and lucid voices blogging on the 'net. She considers herself an agnostic.

She posted recently about her struggle with faith.

She writes:

That dynamic tension remains and the struggle continues unabated. I don't seem to have progressed too far along in resolving that conflict, but I have progressed. And, it is reassuring to realize that Siggy is correct when he says, "To struggle with faith is as much a part of faith as anything else."

And Gagdad Bob at One Cosmos has picked up on the discussion.

He writes:

Is it real, this part of us that cries out for transcendence? I don’t know if that is the proper question. It’s somewhat analogous to falling in love and asking yourself if love is real or just an illusion, a trick of the nervous system. I’m imagining the Gagboy 10 or 20 years down the line, when he is at the peak of his enchantment with the opposite form of the complementary gender. “I know it looks like women are attractive, but don’t be fooled. It’s just Darwin playing tricks on you, trying to get you to reproduce. In reality, woman aren’t attractive or unattractive. To the extent that you find them beautiful, just remember that it’s an illusion programmed into you by evolution.”

“Gee, thanks, Dad!”

But isn’t this the same kind of “sophisticated” advice we might receive from the typical college professor regarding religion? “God? Probably nothing more than an illusion programmed into our nervous system. You can ignore it.” But doesn’t that just beg the question of whether everything isn’t just an illusion built into our nervous system, including the statement that everything is? That way madness lies. But also tenure, so there are compensations.

REAL Women gets help from the blogosphere

The Western Catholic Reporter has posted an electronic version of a story I did covering REAL Women of Canada's efforts to end federal funding for Status of Women Canada.

I wrote:
For decades, REAL Women of Canada has been lobbying to have the federal Status of Women Canada (SWC) abolished. For decades their campaign fell on mostly deaf ears.

Now thanks to the Internet's blogosphere, its efforts suddenly have traction, and the pro-family, pro-life women's organization is being flooded with media calls. Now a real debate on whether Canada needs this agency has begun not only on the Internet, but in the mainstream news media.

"We were shocked," said national vice president Gwen Landolt in an interview. "We've been saying this for a thousand years, it seems."

Landolt opposed SWC because it does not represent all women of Canada, it only "represents feminists."


According to Landolt, only groups that "take the perverse position" that women are "victims of a patriarchal society" get support from SWC.


When the Conservatives were elected in January, REAL Women revived its efforts to abolish SWC, sending a letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and "friendly" MPs in various parties. That move prompted a counter-effort to save the agency.

Soon, a Catholic, pro-life blogger named Suzanne F. at called for the elimination of SWC.

Many other bloggers joined in, including Toronto-based Catholic author, poet and columnist Kathy Shaidle, whose is one of the oldest and most popular Catholic blogs on the Internet.

Shaidle criticized the feminist notions that patriarchy was holding women back. "SOW does not represent all women, and therefore shouldn't use my taxes to lobby for a radical feminist agenda dominated by abortion rights, victimhood, junk science and male bashing," she wrote. did a great story on this
with many links to the original blog posts. Check it out.

There will be another blogburst on SOW or SWC as the agency prefers tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

America convert to Islam or else . . .

New video that exposes what Jihadis want for America. MEMRI has the transcript:

"Those who think democracy is synonymous with freedom are either people who haven't experienced life in America, or Americans who haven't lived abroad. To America and the rest of Christendom, we say: Either repent of your misguided ways and enter into the light of truth, or keep your poison to yourself, and suffer the consequences in this world and the next. But whatever you do, don't attempt to spread your misery and misguidance to our lands. Muslims don't need democracy to rid themselves of their home-grown despots and tyrants. What they do need is their Islamic faith, the spirit of Jihad, and the lifting of foreign troops and interference from their necks. And if Muslims don't need democracy, then they certainly have no need for what is known as Christianity - that hollow shell of a religion, whose followers cling to an empty faith, and a false conviction of their inevitable salvation, regardless of what they do or believe, as long as they accept the core tenets and doctrines of Paulian Christianity, which also happen to be its most unbelievable, untenable, and illogical. Like the belief that the Bible that we have today, with all its contradictions, errors, deletions, and outright fabrications, is the infallible, revealed word of God... Like the doctrine of the Original Sin, which states that Man is born in sin, because of the lapse and subsequent fall of his parents, even though we know from the Koran that God forgave our father Adam and mother Eve when they repented... Like the incomprehensible, illogical, non-biblical doctrine of Trinity... Like the belief that God sent His only begotten son, who is also God in human form, to die on a cross for the sins of mankind, which, is implied, He could otherwise not have forgiven..."


"Isn't it time for the unbelievers to discard these incoherent, illogical beliefs, theories, and conjecture? Isn't it time for every Christian, Jew, pagan, and atheist to cast off the cloak of spiritual darkness which enshrouds them, and emerge into the light of Islam, to live a life illuminated by faith and die the death of a believer, return to his Lord, pleased and pleasing to Him, God willing, rather than living out his days in blindness, to die as an unbeliever and be resurrected as an unbeliever, whose eternal abode is a fire from which the fire of this world screams in fright?"


Michelle Malkin is on it with lots of updates and links, including one to the video.

The jihadi in the video is pretty articulate about some theological issues such as the Trinity. I wonder how many self-professed Christians could defend the doctrine of the Trinity? We have our work cut out for us.

This shows how prepared they are and how full of "passionate intensity."

Monday, September 04, 2006

Dr. Sanity attacks denial in another stellar post

Dr. Sanity has another great post on denial and how to deal with it in yourself and others. Then she talks about the rampant denial on the Left in America. Please read the whole thing. It is especially relevant as we come up to the five year anniversary of 9/11.

She concludes:

9/11 did not wake many of the leaders of the left up; rather it forced them to openly move toward what they have supported surreptitiously all along--the elimination of free speech in the name of political correctness and multiculturalism; a dictatorship where the pseudo-intellectual, politically correct priesthood rule; and complete control over the lives of others (for their own good, of course). Since their objectives dovetail nicely with those of the Islamic terrorists, they have made common cause with them and have not lost many opportunities to enable and encourage them, even as they denounce America and the principles of freedom and democracy.

They pretend their actions are motivated from love and peace and patriotism; but this is only how they rationalize it to themselves. Their self-deception and denial is simply stunning in its sweeping grandiosity and self-righteousness betrayal of the good.

Jesus and the Jihadis

Hilarious and insightful post by Doug Giles over at Townhall:

There’s a prevalent perception among Christians that when it comes to conflict (like the War on Terror), Christ’s teachings go limper than an ED laden Pillsbury Dough Boy after six hours in a Sioux sweat lodge.

Yeah, Jesus is seen in certain sectors of emasculated evangelicalism and in some spiritually castrated Catholic circles as an altruistic bearded lady who traipsed around Israel spitting out courteous clichés and nifty narratives like an over-medicated Garrison Keillor.

Because of these notions, which were constructed by torturing the scripture via inane eisegesis and icky exegesis, it’s hard for the follower of this Effeminized Christ to come to a place of clashing with the likes of Osama and his mama.

Hat tip Gagdad Bob at One Cosmos, who has an interesting post on being obnoxious---and how sometimes it is necessary to be so, especially if you are a therapist.

Debate rages over the forced conversions

David Warren has elicited much ire in the blogosphere for this post about the forced conversions to Islam of kidnapped Fox journalists.

He posted more on these conversions in this column.

He writes:

Let us be clear on one fact. Such videos have serious consequences. They are used as a powerful propaganda weapon across the Muslim world, to show aspiring fanatics how spineless Westerners are. And that video in particular was priceless, for the degree of prostration it exhibited. We cannot dodge this issue.

Most of my correspondents were favourable to what I wrote, but many, including several who said they generally agree with my views, were horrified by the tone of that column, which they found merciless and uncharitable. This is as it should be: I meant it to be hard. I meant to cut with a dull blade through the glibness with which we accept treason and apostasy, as a small price to pay for one’s personal safety.

I refused, in that column, to take the easy way out, to lard it with empathy for the captives’ plight, and other concessions to moral relativism -- let alone to add the excuses the captives themselves have made, on behalf of their captors and the society that encourages them.

Mark Steyn's take here.

He writes:

One hundred ten years later, for the Fox journalists and the Western media who reported their release, what's the big deal? Wear robes, change your name to Khaled, go on camera and drop Allah's name hither and yon: If that's your ticket out, seize it. Everyone'll know it's just a sham.

But that's not how the al-Jazeera audience sees it. If you're a Muslim, the video is anything but meaningless. Not even the dumbest jihadist believes these infidels are suddenly true believers. Rather, it confirms the central truth Osama and the mullahs have been peddling -- that the West is weak, that there's nothing -- no core, no bedrock -- nothing it's not willing to trade.

Kathy Shaidle over at Relapsed Catholic has some good links to blogs where debate rages in the comments sections, including Captain's Quarters and Tim Blair.

Go on over and read the comments. Most interesting. The word "sanctimonious" is bandied about quite a bit in relation to Warren.

Kathy chimes in:

I'd add that a well brought up, commited Christian does in fact know what he or she should aspire to do in the face of martyrdom, or when faced with an incurable disease or the murder of a child, just as a well trained fireman knows he will run into, rather than away from, a burning building. Such a Christian, having practiced spiritual disciplines such as prayer and fasting, and therefore being more receptive to supernatural grace, may be surprised herself by the relative ease of "doing the right thing."


To say that "no one knows what they would do" makes cowardice the default position.


My take here.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Violence okay but sex and swearing....nah

Interesting article in Publishers' Weekly about how CBA (aka Christian Booksellers' Association) fiction is opening up to graphic depictions of violence, but, er, still closed on depictions of sex or swearing. Me personally? A little bit of crap, or damn in the dialog is preferable to graphic violence and an honest depiction of sex (not meant to be titilating and gratuitous) is also preferable. In fact, I detest gratuitous anything, whether swearing, sex or violence.

Hat tip Lisa Samson at Author Intrusion.

Jana Reiss writes:

I am concerned about the cavalier way some CBA authors seem to employ violence simply for shock value. I also worry that the disproportionate depictions of violence against women subtly reinforce cultural stereotypes of women as victims. In many of these books, we see women tied to beds and gagged so they are voiceless. Could the symbolism be any more clear?

Finally, there's a real irony to the almost bipolar selectivity with which Christian fiction is pushing the boundaries of "acceptable" content. You'd think that if the standards for violence were becoming increasingly porous, the bans on profanity and sexuality might be loosening up, too. But the general idea among publishers seems to be that readers who would not bat an eyelash at seeing victims disemboweled in excruciating detail might roar in collective indignation at a naughty word like "damn." Anecdotally, the numbers bear this out; of the buyers and storeowners I've talked to, all had stories of customers who protested the presence of even barely questionable language or hotter-than-usual romance. When I asked how many complaints they've received about violence in CBA fiction, the answer was precisely none.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Religion a "feeding ground" for obesity . . .

Here's a fascinating story from yesterday's Ottawa Citizen by Joanne Laucius about the incidence of obesity among religious people. Turns out Baptists and Pentecostals don't fare so well, according to this study. And if you're a religious couch potato attending too much "electronic church" watch out. Your risks could be even higher.

Religion is a "feeding ground" for obesity, says a U.S. sociologist who has studied the relationship between fat and religion since the early 1990s.

But it's not the Sunday school doughnuts or the potluck dinners that pile on the pounds, says Ken Ferraro, a professor at Purdue University. It's more likely the "electronic church" is at fault.

Those who practised religion through "media practice" -- this is, by reading, watching services on television or listening to them on the radio, were likely to be obese.

Mr. Ferraro's study, published in the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, found that the incidence of obesity increased by 14 per cent for women who engaged in media practice. However, the more often women attended religious services, the less likely they were to be obese.


Of the subjects in the study, Baptists were the most likely to be obese, with 24 per cent of them obese at the beginning of the study and 30 per cent at the end.


"This trend could be related to the strong emphasis for Baptists to avoid alcohol and tobacco, and, as a result, many of them indulge in overeating instead," said Mr. Ferraro.

Baptists were followed by fundamentalist Protestants, such as Pentecostals, with 18 per cent of that group obese at the beginning of the study and 22 per cent at the end.