Deborah Gyapong: October 2006

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Chilling poll about conjoined twins

This is a chilling result for a Globe and Mail poll.

59 per cent of respondents say the pregnancy involving the conjoined twins recently born in Toronto should never have been allowed to come to term.

So....I thought the pro-abortion folks were pro-choice. Obviously the choice aspect is fast becoming a euphemism.

And Margaret Wente had a disgusting column today where she in effect says the same thing---that the mother should have aborted the baby girls. How long before Wente and the people who voted in the poll will make it illegal for a woman to choose what to do with her womb if she decides she wants to keep a baby to term that is not perfect.

Supreme court justice goes on nude cruise

What's up with all these nude public figures on the Canadian stage? Now we find out that one of Canada's nine Supreme Court justices went on a nude cruise. Yeah, that's right. The kind where people go to the blackjack lounge with no clothes on. I wonder whether this Supreme Court Justice was one of the ones who argued against the notion of shared community standards in the Swingers' decision. While Kirk Makin's story in the Globe and Mail makes this all sound like a lark, and such fun, I find the story embarrassing. What was this judge thinking of? Certainly not the dignity of his or her office.

Makin writes:


The anonymous judge's alleged unconventional vacation choice -- a nude cruise -- came to light in a San Francisco Chronicle travel article in the spring. It quoted a co-owner of the Bare Necessities cruise line, Nancy Tiemann, as saying that its clientele include: "actors, bus drivers, Fortune 500 CEOs, soccer moms, doctors, teachers, priests and at least one Canadian Supreme Court justice."

The April 2 article said that 40,000 people have stripped down so far for Bare Necessities' 38 cruises, and that passengers "can choose to be nude anywhere -- in the pool, at the blackjack table, while singing karaoke -- with the exception of the formal dining room, where clothes are required."


Good grief.

And former Liberal cabinet minister Scott Brison poses nude for a calendar.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Could this be . . . an example of media bias?

A CP reporter assumes that the conservative blogosphere is being orchestrated by the Tory government in Ottawa.

I beg to differ. And so does Kathy Shaidle, who responds to an email Alexander Panetta wrote to defend his accusations.

She writes:

So I wanted to try to follow up on that initial "success". Are you really so cynical that you doubt an ordinary person can convince other ordinary people to take part in a no cost, no overhead, minimal effort internet campaign, and maybe, just maybe, get results? The CCP had already been eliminated; my purpose was to send a message to those in charge that we supported their decision, and not to bow to CUPE pressure to reinstate it.

I resent (to put it mildly) your completely baseless suspicion that I am somehow being manipulated by the government of Canada. (I have no connection with the Manning Centre either.)

Next time, please produce hard evidence when accusing me or any other blogger of taking our marching orders from higher ups. I consider that a pretty serious smear on my independence and reputation.


I agree. Do your homework, Alexander. You could have at least checked with her, or the calendar to see when the CCP blogburst started. As a participant in the CCP blogburst, I can say categorically that no one from the PMO, Heritage or any other organ of the CPC had anything to do with my decision to take part, nor did anyone from those offices provide me with content.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

The Defilers News

Mary DeMuth interviews me on The Master's Artist.


UPDATED!!!!!!
Read what people are saying about The Defilers here.

On Friday Sept. 29, I taped an interview in Toronto with Gillian Kantor, who hosts a new program on books for Salt & Light TV. It will air some time in November.

See the pictures and read about my trip to the American Christian Fiction Writers conference in Dallas Sept. 21-24 over at the Master's Artist.

News about my trip to Nova Scotia here.

The Defilers is now on the shelves in Chapters stores in the Ottawa area. It's also available at Salem Storehouse and Prime Crime Books in the Glebe.

Hear my testimony in the Michael Harris Live interview on CFRA 580 AM here.
You can also read my testimony here.

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.

For more on The Defilers, go here. If you'd like to buy a copy, you can go here or find it on Amazon here. Canadians can find it at Amazon.ca here.

Friday, October 27, 2006

I became a Canadian citizen today

I have lived in Canada since December 1975. Today I officially became a Canadian citizen. Got my picture taken with the citizenship judge and the Mountie, a corporal who volunteers her time to take part. It was a good ceremony, in French and English, a happy occasion it seemed for the 104 people taking part. The judge gave a great personal talk and warm welcome to everyone coming about how important immigrants have been to the fabric of Canada. She is one of the rare people who actually grew up in the Ottawa area. The judge read off the 30 or was it 50 countries we came from. Given the anti-American sentiment you see in the Canadian news media at times I feared people might boo when it came to the United States of America. But I clapped even though I wondered if I was the only one. Turns out there were others who clapped too.

A young black woman turned around and asked why, if I had U.S. citizenship, I would move to Canada. I told her I still had my American citizenship, it's just that I had lived here for 30 years.

"You're lucky," she said and smiled.

That made me feel good. America is not so hated. And she's right. I am lucky. I love the United States of America and I love Canada.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Pro-marriage forces pressing for more study on effects of same-sex 'marriage'

OTTAWA, Canada (CCN) – Pro-marriage forces are pressing for more study of the implications of same-sex marriage Bill C-38 on children and on religious freedom in advance of a promised vote in Parliament on whether to reopen the marriage issue.

Contrary to some reports in the mainstream media, this approach does not represent a change in tactics on the part of these groups say their leaders.

“I don’t think there is a rush to put forward that motion,” said Michele Boulva, director of the Catholic Organization for Life and Family (COLF) in an interview. “There should be more debate on this because our country was rushed into redefining one of its fundamental institutions.”

Barbara Nicolosi's worries that Facing the Giants will set the standards for Hollywood's "Christian" films

Act One Founder and screenwriter Barbara Nicolosi has an excellent rant on her blog Church of the Masses about the latest film from evangelicaldom Facing the Giants and what its financial success might do to the Christian film industry now that some Hollywood studios are creating Christian movie brands. Nicolosi worries about the quality of these movies. And, speaking from a novelist's perspective, I sure hope that the movies won't represent what's worst about the Christian publishing industry. Yes, there are a number of us who are trying to show that not all Christians like to read Left Behind.


Facing the Giants from any serious perspective is a fantasy film. Its message is very dangerous for Christians, and scandalous for pagans. Adult Evangelical Christians watching Facing the Giants is like sex addicts watching the Spice Channel. (Nope. Not going to take it back.)

-snip-

The film tells the story of a poverty-stricken, generally disdained, losing football coach who drives a broken down truck and goes home at night to a devastatedly infertile wife. Incited by no particular plot point, the coach reads the Bible one day and then kneels down in a field (Why the hell is it always a field? Is that like in Zecharaiah somewhere?) and gives his life to Jesus. In short order after he utters the Evangelical commitment formula aloud, he wins back the esteem of his fellow townspeople, he turns around his terrible team so that they win the championship, somebody gives him a brand new shiny red truck, AND his infertile wife becomes pregnant!

WOW! Give me some of THAT Jesus-stuff!

-snip-

Anyway, everybody who has been laboring as a believer in Hollywood is talking about this film, because it is clearly what Hollywood thinks "the Audience of the Passion" wants.

At a dinner the other night, one of my fellow Able Christians looked at me sadly and said, "Is there a way we all can write a better Facing the Giants for the industry?" He was sad because he knows the answer. NO! We can't write a better version of Facing the Giants because that movie was designed to be easy. It was designed to not challenge the audience, but rather make the audience (of Evangelical Christians) feel good about being on the winning team. We can't make a better version of this film because easy is a lie. Human society is tinkering on the precipice of disaster today. "Easy" isn't going to be the fix.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Interesting debate about Rod Dreher's conversion to Orthodoxy

Ron Dreher has left the Catholic Church. He posts about his conversion here.

The sex-abuse scandal can't be easily separated from the wider crisis in the American Catholic Church, involving the corruption of the liturgy, of catechesis, and so forth. I've come to understand how important this point is, because if most other things had been more or less solid, I think I could have weathered the storm. But I found it impossible to find solid ground. As most readers know, we moved to Dallas in 2003, and had a difficult time establishing ourselves in a parish. Dallas has had more than its share of problems with abusive clerics, as most people know. What I didn't understand, nor anticipate, was how difficult it would be to find an orthodox parish here. We have lots of faithful Catholic friends here, and I don't think it's unfair to say that most of them are doing what most (but not all) orthodox Catholics in this country do: grit their teeth and white-knuckle it out in their parishes, doing what they can to hang on. Without belaboring our boring saga of hunting for a parish here, we ended up in an orthodox parish in a nearby suburb, which had something rare in Catholic parishes: unity in belief. These were Catholics who really believed it, and did so joyfully. We thought we were home.


Mark Shea responds here.

It is this impatience with the ordinary, this assumption that the average person is a "self-satisfied ignoramus" that, I fear, has more than a little to do with Rod's choice, since I cannot credit any of the non-reasons he has actually given. Such impatience is, I think, the blessing and the curse of a Protestant outlook (I'm a former Protestant), but it will make Rod as unhappy in Orthodoxy as he was in the Catholic communion if he does not abandon it. For the great insight of both Catholic and Orthodox faith is that sin and mediocrity in the church are appalling, but not shocking. Why should they be? I'm in the church, after all. And if a loser like me can be a member in good standing, how can I be surprised that it's filled with other pathetic oddballs, factory rejects, jerks, schemers, and dolts? As is Orthodoxy—something that, sooner or later, Rod will have to face.


Ron replies here.


I perfectly well know that the family I've now become a part of is, like any family, flawed and broken. I don't expect perfection, and I won't be disappointed not to find it. What I have found is a beautiful and holy liturgy, serious spiritual guidance and teaching, and a family. I didn't have that before. I do now. And it makes a big difference. Thanks be to God. If you find that in Catholicism, God has blessed you too.


Most interesting. The whole thing makes me sad. The fact that we are not all one Holy Catholic Church....Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Anglican Catholic.....is a source of suffering. I was baptized Russian Orthodox, but my father's people were probably Ukrainian Catholics back in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. And now I'm an Anglican Catholic, part of the Traditional Anglican Communion actively seeking communion with Rome.

Some thoughts on the veil

From Fausta's blog:

I still feel, as I instinctively felt then - even when back then I couldn't articulate the thought - that the actual wearing of the veils in their many forms underlines the belief that men are incapable of self-control, even when men's self-restraint is a cornerstone of civilized society; and that women are simply a cipher, to be held as a nonentity, hidden under a mass of black cloth, unseen, never to be trusted, allowed to talk to no one other than a man that will speak for them.


She tells a riveting story. Read the whole thing.

Fausta also links to an Anne Applebaum op ed piece that she found via Dr. Sanity.

And yet, at a much simpler level, surely it is also true that the full-faced veil -- the niqab, burqa or chador -- causes such deep reactions in the West not so much because of its political or religious symbolism but because it is extremely impolite. Just as it is considered rude to enter a Balinese temple wearing shorts, so, too, is it considered rude, in a Western country, to hide one's face. We wear masks when we want to frighten, when we are in mourning or when we want to conceal our identities. To a Western child -- or even an adult -- a woman clad from head to toe in black looks like a ghost. Thieves and actors hide their faces in the West; honest people look you straight in the eye.

Given that polite behavior is required in other facets of their jobs, it doesn't seem to me in the least offensive to require schoolteachers or civil servants to show their faces when dealing with children or the public. If Western tourists can wear sarongs in Balinese temples to show respect for the locals, so too can religious Muslim women show respect for the children they teach and the customers they serve by leaving their head scarves on, but removing their full-faced veils.


Interesting perspectives. Someday I want to write a novel about a Western teenager who dons a black burka as her form of rebellion against her boomer parents.

Contest to find best examples of media bias

John Pacheco of Social Conservatives United is setting up a contest for bloggers to point out the top ten most egregious examples of media bias. Since I've been collecting a file of stories that I think show bias and ignorance against Christians, maybe I have a head start, heh heh heh.

I'll be keeping my eyes peeled for more examples. Watch out for the MSM Shakedown Awards and sign up. More information at Social Conservatives United. Here's an excerpt.


And while the internet has provided conservatives with an invaluable weapon against media distortions, it would help our cause even more if we were able to single out and focus on the worst of the perpetrators and "honour" them with an annual "award" for their biased and misleading news coverage. It would be yet another way of keeping the MSM accountable to the truth and accuracy that they purport to represent in their reporting.

The MSM Shakedown Awards seeks to achieve this objective by uniting Canadian conservative bloggers across the internet to help expose not only the top 10 offenders but also the systematic and virtually universal leftist bias in the mainstream media. While only the top 10 will receive awards, all contestants will have the satisfaction of participating in sticking it to the media that has stuck it to us for so long.

It is my profound hope that this small pilot project of SCU becomes a very popular and effective tool in making MSM reporters honest brokers in their reporting. If it is successful, I hope to make this an annual event.

So, conservative bloggers, it's time to let the truth out about the MSM's reporting. Good luck and Godspeed.

Let the Shakedown begin!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Bob Rae goes skinny-dipping with Rick Mercer

Bob Rae and Ricker Mercer: A Memorable Moment

Bob Rae---the guy with the white hair--is running for the job of leader of the Liberal Party of Canada.

The video shows Bob Rae skinny-dipping with comedy host Rick Mercer.

If Bob Rae wins the leadership race, he could become the next Prime Minister.

It's hard not to like Bob Rae as a person. He's bright, charming, goodlooking. But imagine, if he were a conservative politician, what damage he would have done to his image by such a caper. I'm less concerned about this, however, than I am about his record as NDP Premier of Ontario. The former socialist was pretty hapless. He says he's learned from his mistakes. Let's hope so.

His chief competitor for the Liberal Leadership, Michael Ignatieff, said Israel committed a war crime at Qana. I guess he never heard of Green Helmet Guy. Now he's talking about Quebec as a nation. Plays well in that province, but sounds like a trip to the dentist and the threat of reopening constitutional talks everywhere else.

Evangelical schools to be forced to teach evolution

This is a troubling story.


Private Christian schools in the province of Quebec must teach sex education and Darwin‘s theory of evolution, the province’s Ministry of Education has ordered, or they will be shut down.

The National Post reported today on a controversial decision by Quebec’s education ministry to force small Christian schools to comply with provincial curriculum standards for all subjects, regardless of whether there is a contradiction with the school’s religious beliefs.

A province-wide investigation followed complaints by an Outaouais school board that children at a small evangelical school near Saint-Andre-Avellin, Que. were not being taught the full provincial curriculum.

“Quebec children are legally required to follow the provincial curriculum…but these evangelical schools teach their own courses on creationism and sexuality that don’t follow the Quebec curriculum,” said Pierre Daoust, director-general of the Commission Scolaire au Coeur-des-Vallees in Thurso.

The 20 students attending the school operated by Eglise Evangelique, both in elementary and high school grades, are taught a “world view” that school administrators defend as essential, including both evolutionary and intelligent design theories.

“We offer a curriculum based on a Christian world view rather than humanistic world view,” Alan Buchanan, chairman of the school reorganization committee and a former Quebec public school teacher, told the Post.


Read the rest of the story over at LifeSiteNews.com.

The original National Post story is here.

The next thing that will happen is that homeschoolers will have this kind of curriculum forced on them as well.

It's interesting that the very ability of parents to pass their religious faith onto their children is directly under attack. And what's at stake here is freedom. Not just religious freedom vis. a vis. the state, but the kind of freedom that can only e found in Christ---the freedom to be independent of the state, the freedom to act morally and righteously because one is infilled by the Spirit of God. The kind of freedom seems so popular these days---the freedom to pursue whatever appetite or choice you wish and let the state care for the consequences of your actions---is really slavery. Unfortunately, real political freedom and genuine democracy depend on a virtuous, independent populace. Otherwise the state has to grow larger and larger to look after the selfish, appetite-driven people who make bigger and bigger messes out of their lives.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

MP Garth Turner bounced from Tory Caucus

Turner has been a maverick since he was elected in January. He has been outspoken and critical of Prime Minister Stephen Harper in his well-read blog. Though I am not a regular visitor, I think he's a captivating writer. And he dishes the dirt, including, apparently, confidential information from caucus meetings and such. No wonder his blog has a following.

The Institute for Canadian Values is happy to see him go because of his frequent anti-Christian remarks.



OTTAWA - The Institute for Canadian Values is applauding the decision by members of the federal Conservative Caucus to suspend MP Garth Turner.

"From our point of view, this is a welcome development," said Joseph Ben-Ami. executive director of the conservative-minded public policy group.

"On the whole, we would have to say that the real Mr. Turner has been anything but the carefully cultivated image that he tries to portray. His contribution to the dialogue on important social policy issues has been anything but thouhtful and constructive. On the contrary, to the extent that he has participated, his involvement has been invariably uniformed and divisive."

Furthermore, he has allowed his personal blog, which he himself moderates, to become a central collection and dissemination point for hateful anti-religious - particularly anti-Christian - messages. Indeed, Mr. Turner's own posted statements have often been intolerant."

Should dissenting Catholic politicians be denied communion?


CORNWALL, Canada (CCN) – Should Catholic politicians who openly dissent from church teachings be denied communion? What should a Catholic politician do when party discipline enforces positions that are anti-life or anti-family? How can bishops show support and encouragement for Catholics called to public life?

Those were some of the questions occupying Canada’s bishops Oct. 17 when they devoted a morning to these issues as part of the week long annual plenary in Cornwall, Ont., Oct. 16-20.

They invited Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, archbishop emeritus of Washington who led a task force examining Catholics in public life for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), to speak to the 80 or so bishops from across Canada.

Cardinal McCarrick said that prior to the 2004 presidential election the communion issue grabbed all the publicity.

“It became ground zero in a struggle to identify “the real Catholic Church” in the United States,” he said. “In a sense, I fear it diverted us from the fundamental concern for the life and dignity of the human person that are so central in the teaching of the holy fathers.”


Read the whole thing. It was a most interesting discussion and the responses of the Canadian bishops were also good. The picture shows the Primate of the Catholic Church in Canada, Cardinal Marc Ouellet of Quebec, and Cardinal Theodore McCarrick to his right. Cardinal Jean-Claude Turcotte, Archbishop of Montreal, is standing.

Muslim theologians respond in reasonable way to Pope's speech

Why isn't this front page news around the world?

Instead of saying they are offended and demanding apologies, they express their respect for him and dialogue with him on faith and reason. They disagree on many points. But they also criticize those Muslims who want to impose, with violence, “utopian dreams in which the end justifies the means”


This is wonderful news. Spread it!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Don't bring the Court Challenges Program back to life

Efforts are underway to bring the Court Challenges Program back. Now the Canadian Bar Association has jumped into the fray. It's time to fight back.

There's a blogburst going on to make sure the CCP stays dead.

Joanne is keeping track of the blogs and Kathy Shaidle has a couple of posts on the subject over at Relapsed Catholic.

Turns out the timing of this blogburst was uncanny: just this morning, the Canadian Bar Association issued a statement "urging the federal government to reinstate the court challenges program and restore its budget." Gee, they would, wouldn't they? They enjoy getting paid for these stunt court cases, right?

And to think we picked "Tuesday" cuz it sounded good...

It is imperative that you contact your MPs and the Prime Minister today. See what we're up against? But we have our own kind of power. Let's use it. This is what democracy looks like.


It's been interesting, too, how the mainstream media is focusing on the odd sympathetic case that is going to lose funding to make sure younger second wives get military pensions, for example.

If you want to know more about the program and why it should be cut, check out the blogburst links above, or take a look at some of the news stories I've written about the program here.

Sexual abuse victims offer suggestions to Catholic bishops

CORNWALL, Canada (CCN) – Clerical sexual abuse remained a hot topic for Canada’s Catholic bishops as they gathered for their annual plenary in Cornwall, Ontario Oct. 16-21.

According to Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) president Archbishop Gaumond, the bishops will be considering whether to make voluntary guidelines for the handling of abuse charges mandatory.

But victims of sexual abuse want the bishops to go further. At an Oct. 16 news conference, victims asked the bishops to automatically petition Rome to defrock any priest convicted of sexual offences. They also sought the creation of a national registry of convicted priests and the establishment of uniform standards to provide counseling for victims and alleged victims who have not completed the court process.

Carol Mieras, who was among the 47 female victims abused by Father Charles Sylvestre in the Chatham area, said London Bishop Ronald Fabbro’s vow to petition Rome to have Father Sylvestre defrocked was “a positive move.” Father Sylvestre recently received a three-year sentence after pleading guilty to the abuse charges dating back decades.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Andrei Krylov's works now available through iTunes

Those who attended my Ottawa book launch were blessed by the amazing guitar playing of Andrei Krylov. The picture shows him tuning up before the crowd arrived. Andrei's virtuouso playing (classical, Russian, Flamenco, and jazz) is also available on CD. He also has a number of his own compositions for sale.

Andrei just informed me that some of his tunes are now available through iTunes.

Here are the urls:

Andrei Krylov: Guitar music
http://phobos.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewAlbum?playListId=157639258

Andrei Krylov: Dreams
http://phobos.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewAlbum?playListId=160405883

Andrei Krylov: Reflections
http://phobos.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewAlbum?playListId=200232767


More about Andrei here.

Happy listening.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Wishing on Dandelions---


I you look at the link to "What people are saying about The Defilers" you'll find several reviewers who admit they were put off by the title and the subject matter, but once they read the book, were relieved to find out the book has a hopeful, redemptive theme. They're glad they read it, but it was a hard sell.

Author Mary DeMuth seems to be facing a similar problem. Her novels Wishing on Dandelions, which was released recently, andd its prequel Watching the Tree Limbs tell the story of a girl who finds healing from sexual abuse she suffered at the hands of a neighborhood bully. The first story focuses on the character when she is nine years old and trying to discover the secrets of family of origin. It is in this novel, the character suffers the abuse. Sensitively told, capturing the voice of the character in a way that reminds me of To Kill a Mockingbird for its skill, Maranatha finds a new family and a measure of healing from the abuse.

The second picks up the same character at age 17. She has a new set of problems, and residual shame from her abuse, despite the healing she has already undergone. It's a beautifully written coming of age story with memorable characters and humor . It has a delightful, emotionally packed ending. Both novels are packed with deep wisdom about God that is never preachy or unnatural.

Mary's doing a virtual blog tour and today's her day to visit me.

1) How hard are you finding it to sell your more realistic fiction?

Very hard. It’s a huge risk for a publisher, I’m guessing. It’s okay if I have violence-filled prose, but try to write about those hidden issues like sexual abuse or inauthenticity of Christian leaders, or the dichotomy of a “Christian” family at church and an abusive one at home, and you get the word “edgy” thrown at you. I’m just trying to write about real life, with truth and grace. And as I say that, I hear a bit of a whine in my voice. Please know I am so thankful I’ve had the chance to write what I’ve written so far. God is good to provide publishers.


2) How do you keep from getting discouraged by some of the industry trends you see?

Prayer. And a good sense of humor. I can’t change this industry. I’m a tiny little tadpole in the pond of CBA fiction, so I pray my little tadpole heart out. And I try to be true to what God seems to be calling me to write. I will write the stories of my heart regardless.

3) I found both your novels very positive and inspiring, despite the fact that they tackle some tough subject matter. How hard is it to convince people to pick up and read the novel, so they can receive the redemptive message?

Very hard. I think I’ll start paying people to buy my books. What a great marketing campaign that would be? Get some money, read a book. Hmmm. All I can do in this regard, seriously, is relying on word of mouth. Folks like you telling others that my books are redemptive and full of light really helps them to pick up a book.

4) When you read, do you read for escape? Or to wake up?

Fiction: escape. Nonfiction: wake up. The problem is, in terms of nonfiction, I find very little that revives, awakens, astounds or causes me to think differently. I keep picking up books that all sound exactly the same. Regurgitated words, over and over and over again. I’m tired of them, frankly.

5) How do you want your stories to affect your readers? What kind of journey do you hope to take them on?

I want my readers to have an epiphany, on a small scale or large scale. I want them to be challenged to think just a little bit differently about who God is, how He works, what He says. I want to take my readers on a journey of discovery, without oversentimentalizing or trivializing God.

6) What's your next novel going to be about?

It’s set in France! It’s about marriage. I can’t say much more.

7) Any more stories about Maranatha coming?

In my head, yes. In print, no. I have an outline and the first few chapters of Maranatha’s third book, but I don’t think it will be bought, unfortunately.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

They say God was their co-producer

If so, I sure hope that it is a good movie artistically. I'm inclined to doubt that it is, alas. So often in cases like this---movies, books, drama--the quality of the work stinks from any objective artistic standard because everyone was a novice. According to this Washington Post story, the fact that they were all novices is part of the proof of God's involvement. Success is deemed proof of God's favor. That makes me cringe.

Many critics have been savage, condemning the movie for proselytizing and a flimsy plot. (At one point, the wind changes direction to enable a field goal, an almost literal deus ex machina .) A review in the industry trade paper Variety scolded, "by preaching to the converted so heavy-handedly, the filmmakers fumble an opportunity to reach beyond their target demo of devout churchgoers."

Yet it may be that preaching is exactly what will make it successful. The industry considers the huge success of "The Passion of the Christ" a sign of the untapped Christian market. Last month Fox created FoxFaith, which will release as many as a dozen religious films annually. "Love's Abiding Joy," based on the novel about a frontier family by the Christian writer Janette Oke, is showing in four theaters in the D.C. area.

But for the appreciative and tearful crowds filing out of a theater here last week, none of that mattered. What they repeated over and over is that the script seemed so faithful to their view of the world.

"It was so real," said Linda Kile, 59, a school bookkeeper. "If you believe in the Bible, it's just so real."


I haven't seen the movie, but my heart sinks because so many Christian artists who have worked hard to gain the chops to compete on an artistic level, get bypassed or ignored, then there's some kind of moneymaking phenomenon like this to prove that, well, God backs bad art.

Here's what a reviewer at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops had to say about the movie.

Given the film's almost entirely nonprofessional cast, the earnest performances are surprisingly competent. The movie's look has a reasonably professional polish -- especially the football sequences, which are all the more impressive for the meager budget.

But while the movie's heart is in the right place, its positive theme about trusting in God is handicapped by a prosaic script, written by Kendrick and his brother, Stephen, that tends toward the preachy.


Here's what Barbara Nicolosi, who heads up Act One, a workshop to train Christians on how to write quality screenplays, had to say about Facing the Giants. Prior to its release, the movie had become controversial for the fact that it got a PG rating that some thought was because its many references to Jesus might be offensive to some.

Having said that, I did find the film mildly offensive. And I mean for more than the usual sins against artistry that we have come to expect in movies written, produced, directed and starred in by Christians outside of Hollywood. And though I did see some talent in the directing here, the movie is uneven in acting, it's production value is low, and the script is pedestrian. But, honestly, more offensive was the on-the-nose, born-again languagey, prosperity Gospel stuff in the movie. I brought a young Catholic intern with me to the screening and he described the experience of watching the film as "awkward and embarrassing." It's a very particular strain of Christianity being spotlighted in this film, and, unfortunately, the filmmakers either aren't aware that they will be watched by most viewers as an anthropological phenomenon, or else they don't care.

The people behind Facing the Giants had every right to make a movie for the few hundred thousand folks in their sub-culture. Understanding that they made a movie they and their friends at church want to see, the critique of the film should be limited to how well they executed the kind of movie they made -- not whether they should have made that movie. Dissing Facing the Giants for Christianese is like attacking a porn film for having nudity in it. Or attacking the Food Channel for having too many cooking shows. That's what they do. Now, the question should be how well the Food Channel does cooking shows. My sense is that many of the secular reviewers who get a look at Facing the Giants will fall into this trap. Of course, if the filmmakers behind the film put their film into the mainstream, they have it coming. This isn't a film for the mainstream audience.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Brilliant talk on the meaning of education

Edward Tingley, Dean of Augustine College, gave a brilliant commencement address on the meaning of education. He has posted a PDF version here. Please print it off and read it. It is wonderful.

Dr. Sanity on the demonization of the Christian right

Dr. Sanity talks about how claims that the Right is about to set up a theocracy really mask the Left's totalitarian impulses to impose its views. I have often thought this is the case in Canada.


Psychologically, it is very difficult to abandon paranoia once it is taken on by a particular group, since it--and the accompanying delusions that it generates-- serves the purpose of accounting for an unacceptable status quo. Without a scapegoat who is considered to be racially, sexually, physically, or intellectually inferior, onto which your own fears can be projected; it would be horrifying and untenable to look inside one's own heart and soul for the source of the fear.

This is the nature of projection and paranoia. The unacceptable thoughts or feelings are denied ("not owned") by the person experiencing them, and instead are projected onto another individual or--as in this case--a group. Thus, the person who originally had the offensive thought or feeling becomes the helpless victim of the evil "other" and they do not have to cope with the fact that the evil lies within themselves. This is the origin of almost all acts of racism, sexism, anti-semitism, etc. It is the source of most prejudice in the world; and certain prejudices that become socially acceptable--like the casual anti-semitism of the Middle East; or the causal anti-Republicanism adopted by the intellectual "elite" of this country.

The commenter on Jonah's column above is exactly correct. The left believes that Republicans are imminently going to impose their belief system on the American public because that is exactly what they would do--and did--when they were in power. That is their modus operandi. They don't want their ideas adopted by reasoned debate or even by democrat majority rule.

They are the one's who constantly seek to impose their values on others by fiat or judicial decree. They are the ones who claim that all morality is relative, except for their ideas, which represent absolute truth. They are the ones who, to put it bluntly, wish to impose their religion of multicultural diversity and political correctness upon America, and have been doing so at every level of society for decades. Just try to violate the dogma of their religion and see the outrage that is generated, if you have any doubts about their level of committment to free speech and thought.

When is it right to refuse a service on basis of religious belief?

Here's an interesting post about Muslim taxi drivers refusing to transport passengers carrying alcohol or suspected of carrying alcohol. It puts a new perspective on issues concerning faith say when it comes to same-sex 'marriage' and the rights of religious believers to refuse various services on the basis of that belief. Should a printer be able to refuse printing wedding invitations? A florist refuse making the centerpieces?

What about doctors or pharmacists who think abortion is murder. Should they be allowed to refuse to perform an abortion or to fill a prescription for a morning after pill?

I have tended to think conscience rights need to be respected....but that doesn't mean it is easy to draw the line on where. For example, should taxi cab drivers be allowed to refuse to pick up women who are not veiled? Or refuse blind people with seeing eye dogs?

Tricky questions.

A minor issue at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP) has potentially major implications for the future of Islam in the United States.

Starting about a decade ago, some Muslim taxi drivers serving the airport declared, that they would not transport passengers visibly carrying alcohol, in transparent duty-free shopping bags, for example. This stance stemmed from their understanding of the Koran's ban on alcohol. A driver named Fuad Omar explained: "This is our religion. We could be punished in the afterlife if we agree to [transport alcohol]. This is a Koran issue. This came from heaven." Another driver, Muhamed Mursal, echoed his words: "It is forbidden in Islam to carry alcohol."

The issue emerged publicly in 2000. On one occasion, 16 drivers in a row refused a passenger with bottles of alcohol. This left the passenger - who had done nothing legally wrong - feeling like a criminal. For their part, the 16 cabbies lost income. As Josh L. Dickey of the Associated Press put it, when drivers at MSP refuse a fare for any reason, "they go to the back of the line. Waaaay back. Past the terminal, down a long service road, and into a sprawling parking lot jammed with cabs in Bloomington, where drivers sit idle for hours, waiting to be called again."

To avoid this predicament, Muslim taxi drivers asked the Metropolitan Airports Commission for permission to refuse passengers carrying liquor - or even suspected of carrying liquor - without being banished to the end of the line. MAC rejected this appeal, worried that drivers might offer religion as an excuse to refuse short-distance passengers.


What I fear is that anger over demands for accommodation by Muslim believers will boil over into a secularist clampdown where no public expression of religion or conscience will be allowed. We'll have one size fits all secular fundamentalism shoved down our throats. No one will be allowed to homeschool as is the case in France and other EU countries.

Of course, as a Christian I want to have the rights for Christians to dissent from the secularist agenda, so that means I have to, to an extent, grant the same to believers of other faiths.

To an extent....because ultimately, I believe our freedoms, our rights and everything else good about our modern, liberal democracy, rests upon a Judeo-Christian moral foundation and we cannot depart from that into moral relativism. Yes, there needs to be fairness and accommodation of diversity and differences and respect for freedom of belief and conscience....but within a moral frame that rests securely on transcendent moral principles rooted in the Ten Commandments, the teachings of Jesus Christ and the best from the Greek and Roman world as reinterpreted by the Church.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

What people are saying about The Defilers

A great read that had me pinned to the book long into the night. Deborah treats this difficult subject matter with realism and grace and with traces of Frank Peretti. I highly recommend this book.


Linda Hall, author of Dark Water and many other award winning mysteries


The Defilers has all the components of a commercial bestseller: strong plot, interesting characters, suspense, surprise, and, at the right times, beautiful ambiguity. Gyapong's characters are multi-dimensional; they don't fit into simple stereotypes. The book tackles a difficult subject matter (the child porn industry) with grace. The Defilers is a good plane read--fast paced and well written--but its story will stay with you long after you disembark.


Mary E. DeMuth, author of Wishing on Dandelions and Watching the Tree Limbs.

Best New Canadian Christian Author Deborah Gyapong delivers a layered spiritual thriller told through the eyes of protagonist Linda Donner, a Mountie who finds herself entangled in a demonic murder, drug, kiddie porn drama spanning the globe. While Linda and her partner, Will, and pastor, David, fight the dark forces that have ensnared the town of South Dare, Linda must also fight her own personal demons and find a faith that was shattered years before by sexual abuse she suffered by a priest.

Fast-paced, authentic, intelligent and engaging with a satisfying ending, I would highly recommend this novel.


Jennifer Peacock, writer and journalist

The Defilers is one of those books that you're not sure you want to read when you look at the cover and read the blurbs. The subject matter - child pornography and the reality of the demonic - is disturbing, but the author, Deborah Gyapong handles it well. The suspence in the book keeps you going and the characters are engaging. The main character's struggle is real and compelling.
Highly recommended.


Marci Laycock, winner of the 2006 Best New Canadian Christian Author Award for One Smooth Stone.


The Defilers features Linda Donner, a Boston native and lapsed Christian with emotional baggage including a reluctance to trust men because of the sexual abuse she suffered as a teenager. Linda heads north to Canada to find herself, joins the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and is posted to (fictional) Sterling County in rural Nova Scotia. There she encounters the community of South Dare, whose residents wear greasy red and green checked shirts, live in tarpaper shacks with satellite TV dishes, and are afraid of outsiders--especially the police. Linda is hardly settled in a rural farmhouse with a smelly oil stove when somebody burns down a local pastor's house. When Linda investigates, she finds a body in the woods. Who is the murdered man? Who murdered him? Who burned down Pastor Jordan's house? Is the pastor as tacky as he seems? Does he molest children sexually, as South Dare residents claim? Pursuing the answers to these questions takes Linda on a journey through a near nervous breakdown, encounters with supernatural evils whose existence she never dreamed of, romance--and a rediscovery of the God she stopped believing in as a teenager. This is a good read for anyone interested in mystery, psychological and spiritual awakening, and the plight of 'the defiled' in society--children subjected to sexual exploitation and abuse.


Elma Schemenauer, author and editor.

The Defilers is a very good read, by the way, with well-drawn characters and a compelling plot. Check it out.


Alan Yoshioka, aka The Sheepcat
I finally got to read The Defilers, and want to say what a strong
novel Deborah Gyapong has written. I knew it would be well done, but
I confess I was afraid of the subject matter. If any of the rest of
you are hesitating like I was, I can say that this wimp wasn't
traumatized, and yet the novel still felt real. Excellent job, Deborah!


and

If Linda Hall and Frank Peretti were to co-write a novel, it might feel like this one. Authentic, wounded people and spiritual warfare bring depth to this fast-paced novel. Deborah Gyapong handles the troubling subject matter in a way that feels real without being traumatic to the reader. The Defilers is a good read, and a fine first novel. Expect more good things from this author.


Joanna Mallory, writer, member of the The Word Guild.





So very well written from all standpoints: Christian, relationships, the subject matter and the Constable's connection with the past, and last but certainly not
least, the exquisite descriptions of Nova Scotia weather. I could see, hear,
smell and feel the weather through her words, and every day or so I recall
certain aspects - the single car tracks on a wet-snow road, the crunching
across the field in boots, the fog, the blizzards. I'm off tomorrow to go
back to the Annapolis Valley. Sure, my visit is during the gorgeous month of
October but I'm still haunted by Deborah's word pictures of winter down
home. Deborah! More!


Maggie Charleton, writer, member of The Word Guild.


"Deborah Gyapong writes of the physical world and the spiritual world with maturity and extensive attention to detail. It’s obvious Gyapong took great pains to portray spiritual warfare with realism and theological accuracy, and the police investigation rings authentic as well."

-snip-

"As I read the final chapters of The Defilers, I realized I held my breath, turning each page with trepidation. Pick this book up and expect a gripping, mature story you won’t soon forget."

Children's author and inspirational writer, Donna J. Shepherd, Ohio


"Deborah's debut, The Defilers, is the first fiction book I've read in years. When she sent it to me, she described it as "an airport novel", and indeed, some smart mass market paperback publisher should snap it up. This police procedural has it all: exorcisms and the occult, murder, cultish kiddie p*rn, romance -- but Deborah didn't win this year's Best New Canadian Christian Fiction Award for nothing. Believe it or not, she manages to tell this twisted mystery tale without graphic sex scenes -- or even swearing -- but this isn't "goodie goodie" tacky "Christian" fiction, either.

Each chapter is a cliff-hanger. It was a fun, yet reverent read, with lots of unexpected plot twists (and characters who aren't who you think they are...) to keep you guessing. I think most of my readers would be quite touched by the angry heroine's faltering journey back to the faith.

Deborah's own faith history is harrowing in its own way. She has more about the book, including reviews, at her site."
Poet, author and blogger Kathy Shaidle, of one of the blogosphere's first Catholic bloggers, at Relapsed Catholic.

"I knew it was going to be a suspenseful mystery, well written and well crafted, but it was all that and much more. Reading your book taught me not only a great deal about structuring an exciting plot, but it also reinforced the notion that a great writer can manage to get across some very deep information within a popular genre. It's a hard thing to do, but all the best writers manage to succeed in that way. Cervantes did it, and so did Dickens, Balzac, Galdos, and Gyapong. I found myself turning the pages and reading fast to find out what would happen next, but at the same time I did a lot of thinking and shed the occasional tear. Writing in the first person was quite a tour de force, since the narrator had to spy, eavesdrop, and hide a few times in order to let the reader know what was in the minds of some of the other characters, but she didn't have to do that very often... which again shows the skill of the writer. The very fact that the narrator didn't know what was in the other characters' minds allowed her to be wrong sometimes, too, without making the reader feel hoodwinked. So thanks for a great read."

Best-selling author Sonia Jones of Nova Scotia who wrote "It all Began with Daisy"

"A gripping, credible story about human nature and the rediscovery of a relevant Christian faith. 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."

Dr. Allen Churchill, RCMP Chaplain, and chair of the 1998 Billy Graham Mission to Ottawa


"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.

-snip-

"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."

Pastor Doug Ward, Senior Pastor of Kanata Baptist Church from remarks made at the launch of The Defilers in Ottawa June 1, 2006.


"I just completed The Defilers by Deborah Gyapong. Wow! I could not put the book down. Over the weekend, we went visiting friends up north, and I read the book the whole way in the car. When we arrived, I risked being rude by continuing to read in the car until I had finished the chapter. Then I "snuck" in reading when no one was looking and continued to read even when the adults had settled down to watch a movie that night. When everyone went to bed, I stayed up until 2:30 to finish the novel!

Originally I did not really want to read the book because of the subject matter. But Linda Hall highly recommended it to me, especially given the novel I am currently working on, so I gave in. :) Boy, am I glad I did!

If you have something you must do, do NOT pick up this book. Once you start, you won't be able to put it down."

Kimberley Payne, Author of Voice of a New Christian - a collection of 52 devotional articles and Author of Fit for Faith - 7 weeks to improved spiritual and physical health
--


Deborah Gyapong (Ottawa), who won the “2005 Best New Canadian Christian Author Award” for her now newly published book, The Defilers (Castle Quay Books, 2006), will surely rob you of a few hours sleep as you work your way through her first novel—a suspense-filled story set in rural Nova Scotia, involving the RCMP, clergy suspected of arson, abuse and murder and a credible rediscovery of Christian faith. One reviewer says Gyapong’s book is “mature beyond what one would expect for a first novel.” Learn more at www.thedefilers.ca.


David Daniels, book review coordinator for ChristianWeek and director of Toronto's New Covenant House.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police Officer, Linda Donner, is struggling to overcome severe childhood trauma, suffered when she was abused by a priest who came to counsel her. Linda's distrust of men and authority figures is causing her problems at home and in her work place. As she works to solve a death in the seamier side of town, Linda must come face to face with her fears.

The Defilers has a Christian message, including a salvation scene for one of the characters, showing how this person's life is changed afterwards. The author did a nice job depicting the new believer as a new creation in Christ.


Nancy Farrier, Armchair reviews.

Monday, October 09, 2006

The lowdown on Gitmo

What we saw is a place so steeped in political correctness that it comes close to caricature. Make no mistake: The detainees occupy cells in a high-security facility. But almost every room has an arrow on the floor pointing to Mecca. Signs demanding silence stand ready for prayer time. Korans are cradled in surgical masks. Detainees are interrogated while sitting on sofas or cushioned reclining chairs.

Mary DeMuth on her novel Wishing on Dandelions

Mary DeMuth's Wishing on Dandelions is a wonderful about a seventeen year old girl coming of age in a Texas town. Maranatha suffers from an all-pervasive sense of shame that colors her reactions to the quirky characters around her. Beautifully written and full of wisdom, this novel tackles interracial love and the mysteries of God's love without ever falling into cliche or pat answers.

I interviewed Mary over at The Master's Artist about her novel. I also plan to have Mary drop by again on her virtual blog tour later this month.

Check out Mary's website here.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Mark Bertrand examines the "Christian" novel

Mark Bertrand, a fellow Master's Artist, has a comprehensive essay on the ongoing debate about what constitutes a Christian novel.

One assumption that seems to be shared across the spectrum, from revolutionaries to old guard, is that the Christian writer is distinguished, first and foremost, by his message. The important thing about him is not that he is a Christian, but that he has something Christian to say. Otherwise -- or so the logic goes -- it would be impossible to tell him apart from non-Christian writers by his writing alone. So really, we have two assumptions. First, that it must be possible, based on his writing alone, to distinguish a Christian writer from a non-Christian writer. Second, that the way this distinction is made is through message. The Christian writer is the one who is (a) trying to "reach people" (b) with the "truth."

Is it really necessary that the Christian's work be inherently distinguishable from that of a non-Christian? Not if we're talking about bankers or doctors or taxi drivers or any profession other than art. But for some reason, when evangelicals approach the question of artistic expression, the tune changes. A Christian lyricist or novelist whose writing is not immediately distinguishable from that of a non-Christian is seen as somehow deficient in a way that a Christian surgeon whose stitches look like everyone else's is not. Perhaps this is because art is an expressive profession, while others are seen as "message neutral." If the Christian is called upon by work to express something, then it had better be different from what a non-Christian would say.


Please read the whole thing.

My take on what makes a Christian writer? I focus on the Christian part first. It has to do with the character and faith formation of the writer. If that part is taken care of, coupled with excellent skills as a writer achieved through discipline, practise and training, then the art will be Christian even if the message is not overtly evangelistic.

The focus then has to be on deep faith formation, obedience, grounding in orthodoxy, and accountability in a church community, hopefully one that supports the artist. Now many might argue that such a grounding would stifle originality and creativity and bring about a conformist type of art. Certainly there is a danger in that if your concept of faith formation is a narrow set of intellectual propositions. But if your faith formation includes the breadth of Christian teaching, art, literature and music over the past 2,000 years then you have fertile ground for feeding the Christian imagination and a basis for continuing the conversation within the Communion of Saints.

We've lost so much when we confine our explorations of the Christian faith to the four spiritual laws, a superficial reading of parts of the New Testament with some comforting Old Testament verses thrown in, some contemporary praise songs and theological offerings along the lines of a Purpose Driven Life.

If this is all we feed on, our faith will be pretty superficial and so will our writing.

I'm not saying though that just following Christ is enough to be a writer. Following Christ will improve one's writing. It will improve one's ability to see. It will make one become more focused on others rather than internal angst. But becoming a writer requires learning a range of skills, perhaps even a period of apprenticeship.

It's too bad that people assume that because we can talk we can write. I can stack bricks but that doesn't make me a mason.

Was it Flannery O'Connor who said bad art is bad theology?

Bad theology also makes bad art. And good theology has to be more to us than an intellectual deposit of knowledge. It has to infuse our lives. As Jesus said, those who will to do my will will know whether the words I say come from God or now---whether we are able to really understand and discern God's Word is coupled directly with our willingness to be obedient to Christ.

That has to be the key to Christian fiction. Then, the work will speak for itself even if there is not an overt Christian message.

What if Foley were a Democrat?

A "Democrat" muses about how "Mark Foley Falls Victim to a Fitter Species" aka the Democrats. Via Dr. Sanity.


There is, of course, a magic bullet that could kill us off completely. It's the spreading of the idea that moral relativity is a logical fallacy and that ethics and morality can only be absolute and objective, following our human nature as rational beings, as it has been engraved in the Judeo-Christian tradition of reason and objectivity. But that will never happen as long as the media, academia, and trivial entertainment outlets remain liberal.

That's why it is so easy for us to bring about the end of the GOP reign thanks to Mark Foley scandal and resignation - how dare they stand for family values while allowing one of their own to be gay and hit on teenagers? They are hypocrites! Of course this could never happen to us. We may be gay and hit on teenagers all we want, but if that is consistent with our beliefs, where's the scandal?

Thursday, October 05, 2006

An intifada in France?

However, not all officers on the ground accept that essentially secular interpretation. Michel Thoomis, the secretary general of the hardline Action Police trade union, has written to Mr Sarkozy warning of an “intifada” on the estates and demanding that officers be given armoured cars in the most dangerous areas.

He said yesterday: “We are in a state of civil war, orchestrated by radical Islamists. This is not a question of urban violence any more, it is an intifada, with stones and Molotov cocktails. You no longer see two or three youths confronting police, you see whole tower blocks emptying into the streets to set their ‘comrades’ free when they are arrested.”


Via Little Green Footballs.

Michael O'Brien's latest reflections on the state of the world


From the StudiObrien newsletter:

The world grows more complex and inflamed, violence erupts everywhere, evil seems to be spreading. I think of the massacre of students a few weeks ago in Montreal by a youth who left a message declaring his hatred of Christians, and the massacre of Amish children in Pennsylvania a few days ago by a man who proclaimed he was doing it because he hated God. I think of the wars in the Middle East, and the rage of Islamic extremists over an academic paper delivered by Pope Benedict XVI at the University of Regensburg, and the murder of a Catholic nun and burning of churches in reprisal for his talk. The list goes on and on and where it stops only Christians know — because the only place it stops is on a Cross on Calvary.

Looking closely at what is happening in the world, or for that matter only superficially, we see murder in the human heart, violence as old as the story of Cain and Abel. Lately I’ve been pondering those two brothers, and it seems to me that in a sense we are like a third brother: We are witnesses to the scene (through the hindsight of history) and yet somehow participants. When radical evil strikes, our instinctive response is to defend and deflect — especially to protect the innocent and vulnerable. This is a necessary and just thing to do. Our response to evil, however, becomes problematic when we consider the ways in which we are to defend the good. In one form or another this is the test we all must pass through.

When you see a man “angry against God” slaughtering innocents, or a man slaughtering innocents “in the name of God” do you not feel, as I do, an instinctive flash of horror, rage, and desire to kill the killer? Is there not a corollary instinct to seek out and find anyone like him, thus making preemptive strikes against more atrocities? When you see hate-possessed Islamic extremists killing and spreading “blood and chaos” as a messianic mission (the stated objective of the current leader of Iran) in the name of Allah, do you not want to eradicate this danger in a bigger and more decisive way? Such feelings are usually overcome quickly, transformed into prayer for the victims and their families, and a less easily prayed invocation of divine mercy for the souls of the killers. Reason takes over, offering all the crucial qualifications and reflection on strategies. Yet the shock and its residual fear persist. Then the temptation grows and grows to definitively solve this murderous tendency in human nature by applying radical therapy of a socio-political or military-political or geo-political nature. Is there not a niggling little voice inside us suggesting that if we kill enough of the killers, then the world will become safe for nice people like ourselves, good people like ourselves? Or in less violent scenarios, do we hanker for a world-system of absolute control over all aspects of life, public and private, presuming that in such a world there would then be no more room for violence?

Palliative care at a crossroads

The federal government has cut funding to the Health Canada's Secretariat on Palliative and End-of-Life Care, a move advocates say is a step in the wrong direction.

A previous Liberal government set up the secretariat four years ago, following a report on palliative care by Senator Sharon Carstairs.

The $400,000 it will receive, with another $300,000 pending is substantially less than the $1.7 million budgeted for 2005-06. And there is no guarantee the secretariat will receive the pending funds.

In an interview Carstairs said she was "disturbed" by the cuts.

"If we're going to deal effectively with promoting palliative care instead of euthanasia and assisted suicide, the public has to be aware of the alternative which is palliative care," Carstairs said.

She has argued repeatedly that no debate about euthanasia or assisted suicide should take place until Canadians have a real choice through access to quality end of life care.

Bishop Henry on the response to the Regensburg speech

From the Western Catholic Reporter.

Death threats issued to Pope Benedict XVI, Muslims burning the pope in effigy, promises to conquer Rome and slit the throats of Christians, at least seven churches in the region of Palestine torched, a nun murdered in front of a children's hospital in Somalia.

This state of affairs is sadly ironical - violent protests from a religion of peace. We all have to move to a position where it is not sufficient to reject violence generically, nor to attribute such violence to "a few radicals," nor to sit back in silence. Even brothers can be wrong. Many of us cannot help but ask where is the outrage, the condemnation and apologies from Muslims?

Vachon kept faith in changing times

Quebec Cardinal Louis-Albert Vachon, who died Sept. 29 at age 94, will be remembered as a cultured man of deep faith who occupied key positions as an educator and an archbishop during massive cultural change in Quebec, says Quebec Cardinal Marc Ouellet.

On Sept. 30, Pope Benedict XVI sent a telegram to Ouellet describing Vachon as a "zealous shepherd, who consecrated his life at the service of Christ and the Church, into the kingdom of peace and life."

In an interview, Ouellet agreed Vachon was a cultured, learned man of deep faith and a pastor "full of zeal and very committed to his people."

As a university professor with a doctorate in philosophy and theology, then a pastor and a bishop, Vachon "occupied key positions in Quebec society and the Church between 1950 and 1990 without interruption," Ouellet said.

Canadian bishops to tackle issue of Catholic politicians

OTTAWA, Canada (CCN) – The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) will tackle the controversial issue of Catholic involvement in public life during its annual plenary in Cornwall, Ont., Oct. 16-20.

This issue jumped to the fore across North America in recent years as Catholic politicians on both sides of the border have voted or advocated positions in favor of abortion and same-sex marriage, contrary to church teachings.

The bishops’ conference has invited Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, archbishop emeritus of Washington, to speak on the issue as well as on the church’s social teaching on Oct. 17. Discussion groups and a question and answer session will follow.

According to the CCCB’s general secretary, Msgr. Mario Paquette, Cardinal McCarrick will include a discussion of “the involvement of Catholic politicians, their faith, and the laws of the country.”


LifeSiteNews has more on the story here.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Shrinkwrapped on the Amish school shootings

In the depths of our unconscious minds, the world is female. For the infant, everything about the world that matters is female, Mother. We emerge from union with an all nurturing Mother, we are nurtured and deprived by our Mother, and childhood is a slow separation from the font of all goodness. Fantasies of, and wishes for, reunion are ubiquitous, and the source of considerable difficulty for those who fail to create a fulfilling life for themselves. Utopia is a derivative of such fantasies, the wish for a world in which all of our material needs are met.

For people whose development has been impaired and have never been able to give up such fantasies, the constant feelings of deprivation it engenders can be extraordinarily painful. Narcissistic character traits often are the result of too little or too much deprivation during our earliest years. Further, even in people who have made an apparently adequate adjustment, in regressed states, as in a Major Depression, earlier conflicts and developmental failures, can be re-evoked, and lead to disaster.

Liberals bash Christians again


In Question Period yesterday, the Leader of the Official Opposition Bill Graham, in the heinous tradition of his predecessor former Prime Minister Jean Chretien, resorted to bashing a staff member of a Conservative cabinet minister. Though in QP the Liberal leader brought up remarks that were erroneously attributed to Darrel Reid, former head of Focus on the Family Canada, a Liberal "Reality Check" sent to journalists attacked Reid's Christian faith.

Reality Check

Date: October 3, 2006

DARREL REID
ISSUE:

Darrel Reid is the newly-appointed Chief of Staff to Environment Minister Rona Ambrose.

REALITY:
Reid was defeated in the 2006 election as Conservative Party candidate for Richmond B.C., having previously been defeated in 1997 as Reform Party candidate in Lanark-Carleton. Previously Reid was Canadian president of the U.S. based social conservative group Focus on the Family. He was an aide to Preston Manning in the 1990s.

“This [Bill C-250, which adds ‘sexual orientation’ to the list of ‘identifiable groups’ to be protected] isn't the first time in human history where tyranny has been imposed on people, you know it happened in Germany in the '30's, and frankly I see some real parallels there, because you know Adolf Hitler and his bunch really didn't care ultimately what you thought personally, but they really cared about what you said, because that became dangerous, and therefore when people spoke up about things like freedom or spoke up about their religious values, that was when the power of the state started coming down.”
(Canadian Press, Jan. 16 2006)

“The rest of Canada, it appears, could be following Quebec’s lead. When it comes to marriage, sexual mores and abortion, that’s not reassuring.”
(Focus on the Family Magazine, http://www.family.org/fofmag/pp/a0023975.cfm)

[On Western Standard Publisher Ezra Levant’s publication of the Mohammed cartoons]: “It is about high time that Muslims the world over show the world that theirs is a religion of peace, rather than a religion based on threats, intimidation and terrorism.”
(Western Standard, March 13, 2006)

“Liberalization of divorce laws was the biggest disaster to hit Canada, short of common law marriage…. Every Christian’s under an obligation to change laws to reflect biblical values.”
(The Report Magazine, April 24, 2000, Volume 26, Number 52)

“Darrel Reid, the Conservative candidate in Richmond, has described parents of an evangelical perspective as being ‘in a war’ when it comes to what children are taught in the public school system. He worries about children being bombarded with messages about permissive sex education, evolution, or a curriculum that encourages young people to understand Islam.”
(http://thetyee.ca/Views/2005/05/23/MartinStoryTime/)

“Only God can make Canada a truly Christian country… Christians are called to be faithful where God places them. We are called to speak biblical truth to seek justice - and that obviously has implications for our political life.”
(http://www.canadianchristianity.com/cgi-bin/bc.cgi?bc/bccn/0900/day)

-30-


LifeSiteNews is on the story.

Following in the "scary" Christian theme, made famous in the Liberal Party attacks on former Canadian Alliance Leader Stockwell Day, the Party's 'reality check' noted that "Reid was Canadian president of the U.S. based social conservative group Focus on the Family."

Andre Fortin, the press secretary the office of Liberal Party Leader Bill Graham, told LifeSiteNews.com that "A number of positions Mr. Reid's taken in the past he's made comments about Quebec, about gays and lesbians, about the Muslim world, all these things we're concerned about."

One of Reid's quotes the Liberal Party highlighted in the list of quotes referred to by Fortin of concern to the Liberal Party was the following: "Only God can make Canada a truly Christian country... Christians are called to be faithful where God places them. We are called to speak biblical truth to seek justice - and that obviously has implications for our political life."

Asked what was objectionable about the quote Fortin evaded the question. He said: "We just decided to highlight the quote made by Mr Reid and it'll be up to Canadians to see if they think this person is fit to work in a minister's office in one of the highest positions in our government all these quotes will be object-able (sic), or will be objected by some Canadians, and we just wanted to put them out there and let the Canadian people make their own decisions about it."


The Institute for Canadian Values responded right away to the Liberal attack.

OTTAWA - Joseph Ben-Ami, Executive Director of the Institute for Canadian Values, is criticizing the federal Liberal Party for attacking a recently hired government employee because of his Christian faith.

"As a Jew, I strongly deplore attacks on any individual's religious faith, whether direct or indirect," said Ben-Ami. "It reminds me of how people used to be encouraged to vote against a particular candidate just because that candidate was Jewish."

Ben-Ami was responding to questions raised in the House of Commons concerning a member of Environment Minister Rona Ambrose's staff.

"This is Canada. An individual's religious faith is not a legitimate target to attack in order to score cheap political points. It's especially inappropriate when that individual does not even hold elected office."

"This is just one more sign of the real and growing menace of anti-religious bigotry on the political left in Canada that Canadians need to be alert to," Ben-Ami continued. "That, and intolerance for sincere and constructive dissent, are more than just "un-Canadian" - they are, in fact, fundamentally anti-liberal and are the hallmark of totalitarian regimes throughout history."


And Michael Medved has an essay that examines why liberals in North America find Christians so threatening. (Via Relapsed Catholic)

Those who believe that religious conservatives want to impose a nightmare of intolerance and oppression on those who disagree with them must classify the nation’s heroic past, from its founding through the landmark school-prayer cases of 1961, as representative of a similar nightmare. It’s secularists and leftists who seek to alter the long-term essence of this deeply religious, majority Christian country (as Sam Harris, for one, freely acknowledges), rather than believing fanatics who want to remake the nation as an alien, unrecognizable theocracy.

Why, then, the current paranoia over the often exaggerated prominence and power of religious conservatives? In “Letter to a Christian Nation,” Sam Harris unwittingly provides the answer. Addressing his believing fellow citizens, he dramatically declaims: “If the basic tenets of Christianity are true, then there are some very grim surprises in store for nonbelievers like myself. You understand this. At least half of the American population understands this. So let us be honest with ourselves: in the fullness of time, one side is really going to win this argument, and the other side is really going to lose.”

Mr. Harris, in other words, seems to worry that people assume he’s bound for damnation and an eternity of regret because in one tiny corner of his mind, at least, he fears they may be right. In the argument he describes, it’s not possible that Christian believers are “really going to lose.” If Mr. Harris is right about humanity and materialism, then there will be no sense of regret or despair if religious people fail to reach heaven after death. If we are, indeed, just spiritless chemicals and soulless matter, then we won’t be around in any sense to feel remorse over a life wasted in prayer, religious fellowship, love of family and good deeds. When he suggests that one side is “really going to lose” he can only have his own side in mind.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

A review of Andrew Sullivan's latest book

From Books and Culture's Mark Gauvreau Judge.

While Sullivan praises "the marking of nuance, the weighing of things from different perspectives, the desire to understand something as it is, and not as we would like it to be," his thirst for knowledge falls short when it comes to the teachings of his religion. This champion of the supposedly hungry and expansive mind can't be bothered to honestly engage with ideas with which he disagrees. He touts his Catholicism and pushes homosexuality and gay marriage but can't be bothered to tackle John Paul II's Theology of the Body, the late pontiff's massive and revolutionary work about the meaning of sex and the human body. His engagement with Benedict and other thinkers he disagrees with is superficial and dishonest. Apparently for the thinking, reading, praying, ever-expending conservative like Sullivan, there's just no time to read things one disagrees with, or engage opposing argument honestly. Sullivan is like Jesus' friend Mary—that is to say, like Mary in Sullivan's version of the story. He sits at the feet of Jesus, not listening.


Andrew Sullivan was the first blogger I used to visit everyday. I seldom visit anymore. He used to be one of the clear voices on Iraq, but it seems his views on gay marriage have colored everything now, including his views of the Bush administration.
He is a wonderful writer and communicator. Too bad.

Sullivan equates Christian believers with Islamists, calling them Christianists.
That's a slur and a smear and extremely dangerous to Christians.

Monday, October 02, 2006

An anthropologist's take on a year among the Saudis

Interesting participant observation view from Stephen Browne, a cultural anthropologist. A must read, via Gates of Vienna, via Relapsed Catholic


I went to live and work in Saudi Arabia in 1998, and I "made my year" as expats there put it. That phrase means that I actually stuck out the whole year, instead of "running" from my contract, an occurrence so common that you only have to say "he did a runner" to explain why someone isn't showing up for work anymore. And while my experience wasn't nearly as unpleasant as Jill Carroll's, I could have told her a thing or two before she went to Iraq armed with her overflowing good will.

In Eastern Europe and the South Balkans, whenever I have gone to live in a place which I had formed opinions about, the actual experience of living there has always radically changed those opinions, sometimes into a completely contradictory ones. Most often, my academic research led me to form a beautifully coherent model which experience turned into a semi-coherent collection of observations and tentative conclusions.

In the case of the Kingdom, I went there with a certain sympathy for Arab grievances, a belief that America had earned a lot of hostility from "blowback" from our ham-handed interventionist foreign policy and support for Israel etc.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Pro-life blog burst


Suzanne over at Big Blue Wave started a pro-life blogburst today as many people across the country formed a Life Chain to pray for the unborn.

She has a great post with beautiful pictures.

As for me....the sanctity of human life from conception to natural death and the God-given rights that every human being has to life and freedom of conscience are precious realities that we are losing sight of in the West. Human rights are increasingly seen as something the Charter gives us in Canada or the Bill of Rights gives us in the United States. In other words, rights are seen not as inherent, transcendent and God-given, but as granted by the state.

What the state grants, the state can and will take away.

I didn't make it to the Life Chain this year. But here's a picture from a previous year.

I was with them in spirit, and am thankful that my work as a journalist allows me to be on the frontlines of the battle to preserve the sanctity of life in the culture realm.

C. Difficile. Here's a wake up call.

Thankfully, this killer is starting to get the publicity it needs. Let this be a wake-up call.

Check out this piece by Andrew Nikiforuk in the Sept. 30 Globe and Mail.


CALGARY -- In September of 2002, Jacques Besson, a retired allergist, checked into a Montreal hospital for an operation on his disc hernia only to find himself in the middle of an undeclared epidemic.

After surgery, the 83-year-old fell ill with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). The superbug, a formidable hospital invader that has killed thousands of patients in Britain and the United States, can rot the lungs, poison the blood or infect bones, skin and joints. Since 1995, MRSA rates have climbed tenfold in Canadian hospitals, especially in Quebec and Ontario, where five out of every 1,000 patients pick up the bug.

Dr. Besson had no problems recovering from his surgery, but his MRSA infection proved to be another challenge altogether: It so debilitated his health that he remained in bed for nearly four months under heavy antibiotic treatment. At the end of his stay, he picked up another formidable invader, Clostridium difficile, a diarrhea maker that killed nearly 2,000 elderly patients from 2003 to 2004 in Quebec.

Peter Naglik, may he rest in peace

Along with everyone else who knew him, I was shocked to find out that Peter Naglik died in the wee hours of Friday morning. The Ottawa Citizen wrote a nice tribute to him here. He was only 39. I met him when we worked together in the war room during the 2000 election campaign. He was a great help to me as I was new to politics.

May he rest in peace.