Deborah Gyapong: December 2006

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

The Vocabula Review battles to preserve clear language

From an essay by Joseph Epstein in the Wall Street Journal (via the Catholic Education Resources Centre):

The Vocabula Review, in fact, has two mottoes: "A society is generally as lax as its language" and "Well spoken is half sung." Mr. Fiske believes that honest language is elegant language. His online magazine is neither a forum for prescriptivism nor for his prejudices, but deals extensively with the endless oddities and richness of language.

Mr. Fiske's own characteristic tone is perhaps best caught in his Dimwit's Dictionary. In that 400-page work a vast body of words and phrases are shown up for the linguistic ciphers they are. He has established a number of categories for "Expressions That Dull Our Reason and Dim Our Insight." These included grammatical gimmicks, which are expressions (such as "whatever," "you had to be there") that are used by people who have lost their powers of description; ineffectual phrases ("the fact remains," "the thing about it is," "it is important to realize") used by people to delay coming to the point or for simple bewilderment; infantile phrases ("humongous," "gazillions," "everything's relative"), which show evidence of unformed reasoning; moribund metaphors ("window of opportunity") and insipid similes ("cool as a cucumber"); suspect superlatives ("an amazing person," "the best and the brightest"), which are just what the category suggests; torpid terms ("prioritize," "proactive," "significant other"), which are vapid and dreary; not to mention plebeian sentiments, overworked words, popular prescriptions, quack equations, and wretched redundancies.

Behind Mr. Fiske's continuing project is the idea that without careful language there can be no clear thought. Politicians, advertising copywriters, swindlers of differing styles and ambitions know this well and put it to their own devious uses. The rest of us too easily tend to forget this central truth. All words and phrases, to fall back on what I hope isn't a plebeian sentiment, are guilty until proved innocent.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Why we must pray for our enemies

Wouldn't it be wonderful if this were for real?

Hat tip Dr. Sanity.

Michelle Malkin has a wonderful Christmas roundup, including these precious words of Pope Benedict XVI.

He is no longer distant. He is no longer unknown. He is no longer beyond the reach of our heart. He has become a child for us, and in so doing he has dispelled all doubt. He has become our neighbour, restoring in this way the image of man, whom we often find so hard to love. For us, God has become a gift. He has given himself. He has entered time for us. He who is the Eternal One, above time, he has assumed our time and raised it to himself on high. Christmas has become the Feast of gifts in imitation of God who has given himself to us. Let us allow our heart, our soul and our mind to be touched by this fact! Among the many gifts that we buy and receive, let us not forget the true gift: to give each other something of ourselves, to give each other something of our time, to open our time to God. In this way anxiety disappears, joy is born, and the feast is created. During the festive meals of these days let us remember the Lord’s words: "When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite those who will invite you in return, but invite those whom no one invites and who are not able to invite you" (cf. Lk 14:12-14). This also means: when you give gifts for Christmas, do not give only to those who will give to you in return, but give to those who receive from no one and who cannot give you anything back. This is what God has done: he invites us to his wedding feast, something which we cannot reciprocate, but can only receive with joy. Let us imitate him! Let us love God and, starting from him, let us also love man, so that, starting from man, we can then rediscover God in a new way!

Read the whole thing.

I wish you a joyous Christmas

This is the nativity scene from our little Cathedral of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Ottawa. Last night, we packed the place for more than two hours of worship, followed by hot mulled cider and a buffet table laden with goodies afterwards.

Funny that this is the first year that I noticed that the readings for Mass did not include anything about a Babe in a manger. Perhaps it is because Father David pointed that out.

Here are the readings:

The Collect.
ALMIGHTY God, who hast given us thy only-begotten Son to take our nature upon him, and as at this time to be born of a pure Virgin; Grant that we being regenerate, and made thy children by adoption and grace, may daily be renewed by thy Holy Spirit; through the same our Lord Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the same Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

The Epistle. Heb. 1. 1.
GOD, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high: Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son? And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him. And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire. But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows. And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands: They shall perish; but thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment; And as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail.

The Gospel. St. John. 1. 1.
IN the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

Amazing, isn't it? God the Son became a helpless infant, and dwelt among us, and died for us, so that we might be born again in Him and live with Him forever.

For further reading around the blogosphere, check out novelist Lisa Samson's post at The Master's Artist. She writes:

Does the love of Christ in you show forth in your words? Does your writing show a love for the images of God all around us, or would a person read your work and feel hated, judged and despised? Perhaps a common thread in writing done in the name of Christ should be that we love with all our hearts the reader who will ingest our words. Imagine what a difference that would make to the world God loves.

Love your reader as Christ loves your reader. Let the heart of Christ inform your actions, your thoughts and your words, both spoken and written. Maybe, when we begin to intentionally write through the lens of love, we’ll start to understand what this Christian writing stuff is truly all about.

May I consider this words in the coming year as I write both fiction and nonfiction.

Siouxsiepoet describes a Christmas worship experience that reminds me of what it is like in our little Ottawa cathedral. Let her words warm your heart.

i felt sad and lonely when i walked in, when i processed to the front, i felt like the bride of Christ i kid you not. without being all religious, i truly had a rough morning, lots of baggage. but this evening, all dressed in white it felt like i was somehow redeemed. and i guess i was.

Suzanne over at Big Blue Wave links to the Pope's Christmas message.

Not much more to say right now. Hope you have a joyous Christmas.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Critics troubled by new fertility panel

Seems as if any time any social conservatives are appointed to anything there's a "problem." I'm thinking of cancelling my Globe and Mail subscription. If I weren't a journalist with a professional requirement of staying on top of the news, I would cancel in a flash.

The board's eight members include those who have in the past spoken out against abortion, embryonic stem-cell research and the way in which stem-cell scientists operate.

The board does not, however, appear to include any stem-cell scientists or fertility experts.

“They could steer this all in a very conservative way, and maybe that's what the federal government wants,” said Michael Rudnicki, scientific director of Canada's Stem Cell Network. “We will have to see whether the function of this board will be politicized and whether there is an agenda.

“This committee could make life very difficult for stem-cell research in Canada.”

No one was available yesterday afternoon in the office of federal Health Minister Tony Clement to comment on the new board. But one of its new members, Suzanne Rozell Scorsone, who has worked within the Roman Catholic Church for nearly 25 years, said, “One of the reasons the government has appointed as broad a group as it has is to ensure that all sectors of society have a voice in this, and that's fair ball.”

Elizabeth May responds to Judy Rebick's attack

Elizabeth May clarifies her pro-choice stance on abortion. She wants to preserve the "right" to choice, but questions whether abortion is a "good or desirable" thing for society and for women. Amen in that.

She writes:

"I'd like to continue to explore a dialogue about what our society really wants ... no one would suggest we want to see abortions as a measure of public health and well-being. We must have access to them as a right, but that does not elevate an abortion to a “good or desirable thing” — not for society nor for a woman's life.

If we could focus on what we want as a society, that might bring us closer together. We would want every pregnancy to be a wanted pregnancy and every child to be a wanted child. We would want to expand on the range of real choices a woman has as a right. We would want to build a society based on true gender equality with an appropriate balance of collective responsibilities and individual rights."

Get a load of the responses on Breadnroses to May's reasonable, charitable response to Rebick. My goodness! I mean, I disagree with 90 per cent of what May says in her response, but I have no anger or desire to shut her down. What further evidence of the totalitarian impulses of the Left does one need?

If you want to know the history of this debate, go here.

Suzanne at Big Blue Wave is following it.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

The sad legacy of sexual "liberation" for women

Danielle Crittendon reviews an anonymous doctor's memoir entitled Unprotected.

"My patients were hurting, they looked to me and what could I do?" So confesses an anonymous campus physician in the beginning of her startling memoir. Over the course of 200 pages, she tells story after story about suffering young women. If these women were ailing from eating disorders, or substance abuse, or almost any other medical or psychological problem, their university health departments would spring to their aid. "Cardiologists hound patients about fatty diets and insufficient exercise. Pediatricians encourage healthy snacks, helmets and discussion of drugs and alcohol. Everyone condemns smoking and tanning beds."

Unfortunately, the young women described in "Unprotected" have fallen victim to one of the few personal troubles that our caring professions refuse to treat or even acknowledge: They have been made miserable by their "sexual choices." And on that subject, few modern doctors dare express a word of judgment.

Thus the danger of sexually transmitted diseases is too often overlooked in the lifestyle choices of the young women at the unnamed college where the author works. But the dangers go far beyond the biological. A girl named Heather, for instance, has succumbed to an intense bout of depression. The doctor presses her to think of possible causes. She can't think of anything. Then she says: "Well, I can think of one thing: since Thanksgiving, I've had a 'friend with benefits.' And actually I'm kind of confused about that."

Heather continues: "I want to spend more time with him, and do stuff like go shopping or see a movie. That would make it a friendship for me. But he says no, because if we do those things, then in his opinion we'd have a relationship--and that's more than he wants. And I'm confused, because it seems like I don't get the 'friend' part, but he still gets the 'benefits.'" It finally dawns on her: "I'm really unhappy about that. It's hard to be with him and then go home and be alone."

Nativity scenes desecrated across North America


WASHINGTON, December 21, 2006 ( - The Catholic League is reporting vandalism to nativity scenes across the United States.
Figures from nativity scenes were stolen or vandalized in Tucson, AZ ; Millbrae, CA; Mission Viejo, CA; Moorpark, CA; San Francisco, CA; Naugatuck, CT; Waterbury, CT (Jesus was taken, but one of the arms was left behind); Fort Walton Beach, FL; Des Moines, IA; Sioux City, IA; Ammon, ID; Chicago, IL (32 figures of baby Jesus were nabbed-they were later dumped on the lawn of a Catholic church); Jackson County, IL (two incidents); Tinley Park, IL; Floyd County, IN; Fort Wayne, IN; Montgomery County, IN; Wichita, KS; Hardin, KY; Lafayette, LA (two incidents); Youngsville, LA; Fitchburg, MA; Southborough, MA; Winthrop, ME; Portage Township, MI; Fayettville, NC; New Bern, NC; Columbus, NE (12 baby Jesus figures were stolen in one day); Plaistow, NH; Dover, OH; Utica, OH (three incidents); Artemis, PA; Bucks County, PA; Greenfield, PA; Hilton Head, SC; Halom City, TX; Santa Fe, TX; Salt Lake City, UT; Winfield, WV and West Allis, WI.

"Some of these attacks were clearly motivated by malice," the League's Bill Donohue commented. "The baby Jesus figure stolen in Plaistow, NH was later returned, having been defiled by a pair of devil horns. The hooligan who stole the manger from Southborough, MA left the surrounding secular decorations standing."

Donohue continued, "In Sioux Falls, SD, someone crushed the face of the statue of Jesus. What's worse, the creep in Des Moines, IA burned Jesus' face, doused the statue with red nail polish, and twisted the electrical cord around its neck."

Vandals were busy in Canada as well.

TORONTO, December 20, 2006 ( - Vandals in Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa attacked major nativity scene displays. The displays in Toronto and Ottawa were both hit last night, and Montreal's major nativity scene sustained damage Friday night.

In Toronto, the display set up by the Catholic group Gethsemane Ministries had its baby Jesus stolen and lights and wiring destroyed. In Old Montreal, the huge statue of one of the Magi was cut off at the knees, and light fixtures were also damaged. In Ottawa, Creche outside St Patrick's Basilica was broken into. The large and antique statue of St. Joseph was found toppled on the lawn with the fingers broken off. In addition one of the statues of the Magi and another of an angel were missing.

Judy Rebick's bizarre reaction to Elizabeth May's abortion musings

Suzanne is following this closely over at Big Blue Wave. Make sure you take a look at what Elizabeth May actually said, then look at Judy Rebick's response.

Rebick writes:

I personally have debated right-to-lifers for 30 years. There is no dialogue here. They put the life of a foetus above the rights and even the lives of women. Whether or not you agree with this, by raising the issue in the way that you did, you contribute to their position.

We had a debate on abortion in this country for decades. Raising the need for further debate as you have done is a serious error in judgment and in the unlikely possibility that Stephen Harper wins a majority in the next election, you could have done irreparable harm.

I have worked on many issues in my life but this is the one where I have suffered threats up to and including death threats: physical attacks; attempts to get me fired from my job and crass anti-Semitism. I hope you understand who you are crawling into bed with here.

I am very sorry about this Elizabeth, but I cannot attribute your comments to ignorance of the issue since you were around when the issue was being debated.

Best wishes for a good holiday,


Don't you love the last line?

To me, Judy's comments show the real fundamentalism is on the left and all the attacks on social conservatives as "theocrats" are projection. And Elizabeth May isn't even calling for a change in the law.

According to Rebick there is no middle ground on abortion. You are either "anti-choice" or you believe women have the right to kill their unborn child right up to the minute it exits the birth canal. Surveys show that most Canadians don't agree with late term abortions and are squeamish about aborting for sex selection, for example. But neither do they take the life begins at conception view either.

While I personally believe that life begins at conception, contrary to what Judy Rebick believes, I do care whether women die, I do understand that abortion is problematic because there is a collision of rights. If it were just about the human rights of the unborn child, or just about the rights of privacy and autonomy over a woman's own body, we would not have this quandary.

John Pacheco gets at the real problem here. He writes:

Abortion is not the beginning of the problem, it is the end of it. Well before a woman chooses to kill the child within her womb, the foundation for the culture of death and meaningless sex must have been first well embedded. No woman kills her baby unless some serious self-delusion and hefty philosophical error have first entrenched themselves in the culture's mentality.

The mentality of no to human life finds its impetus first and foremost in a rejection of God. With the rejection of God the Creator, there is a rejection of meaning (the only real meaning which transcends the current world). With the loss of meaning, there is a loss of the sense of sacrifice. (When, for instance, was the last time you saw a leftist sacrificing for anything other than himself? That's why leftists are against war and for abortion: the opposite positions require their assent to personal sacrifice.) And with the loss of the sacrifice, comes the inevitable destruction of human life. Because bearing and rearing of children requires plenty of sacrifice.

Thank you, Elizabeth May, for raising abortion as an issue in a sane, reasonable way. While I don't agree with her stance, I admire the forthright way in which she expressed her position. She won points with me for that.

Yuletide reception at 24 Sussex Drive

Here I am shaking hands with the Prime Minister at a "Yuletide reception" at his official residence 24 Sussex Drive, and joining other journalists in singing Christmas carols. That's CTV's Rosemary Thompson at the piano and Reuters bureau chief Randall Palmer holding the music.

It's the first time in living memory journalists have been invited inside. Previous Liberal PMs have held garden parties in June under a tent on the grounds.

Supreme Knight meets with Harper

Carl Anderson, supreme knight of the Knights of Columbus, met with Prime Minister Stephen Harper the day before the marriage motion was introduced in the House of Commons.

It was a friendly and historic meeting because it was the first time the Knights had met with a Canadian prime minister, Anderson said in a telephone interview from Knights' headquarters in New Haven, Conn.

Anderson saw the date as providential. He told Harper that he applauded him for taking the initiative to reopen the debate on marriage.

During the meeting, Anderson said, "there was general agreement" on the marriage issue, so it was not discussed at great depth.

"We did talk a bit of the burden this puts on religious people and religious institutions whose moral teaching is at odds with this kind of distortion of the institution of marriage," he said.

"From our side it was more of an input meeting and he listened very carefully. We were very pleased with that."

Anderson said he was disappointed with the Dec. 7 defeat of the motion.

"As far as we're concerned, we're going to continue to press home the point that traditional marriage is in the best interest of children, in the best interest of couples and in the best interest of the country," he said.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Marriage is an institution not a bundle of rights and benefits

The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada's public policy director Doug Cryer blogs on marriage.

In the long run, the government's redefinition of marriage will weaken Canadian society. In its single-purposed drive to give equality to all, our leaders have undermined the feasibility of the next generation by weakening the only institution that consistently and universally provides Canadians with the safest environment for rearing children.

Ultimately, the courts will have the power to decide who the parent is, not biology.
Marriage is an institution. From time immemorial this institution has been defined as the union of one man and one woman, to the exclusion of all others. It is a covenant union of a man and a woman – the two becoming one flesh. Marriage is not only for companionship. It is also a relationship for procreation and rearing the next generation of humankind. This understanding of marriage predates all governments, all states, all nations and all courts.

Marriage is not a bundle of rights and benefits. Redefining marriage as an individual right and benefit is an innovation with no grounding in history and is inconsistent with the beliefs and practices of most of the world. To make such an innovation is to undermine marriage, because it replaces the tried and true institution with a whimsical social experiment. Canada's attempt to redefine marriage is similar to Canada trying to tell the rest of the world that from now on we will call the sun, "moon," and the moon, "sun."

Read it all. And bookmark his blog. Good stuff.
The photo shows Doug all bundled up at a prayer meeting last January by the "eternal flame."

Monday, December 18, 2006

Toronto's new archbishop on Toronto's new replacement for Cardinal Ambrozic, Archbishop Thomas Collins of Edmonton.

While a serious academic with a licentiate in Scripture from the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome and a doctorate in theology from the Gregorian University, Archbishop Collins nevertheless speaks with simplicity bringing the faith home even to the common man. For example he was once interviewed on the controversial book the Da Vinci code. Calling it an "an anti-Catholic Raiders of the Lost Ark," he noted to the interviewer that he read a borrowed copy. According to the Toronto Star he explained, "I read a borrowed version, I mean this guy is attacking the Lord: He's attacking my church, he's attacking Catholics. So why am I going to pay this guy money?"

He is noted a as a man of joy who is eminently approachable and has a real heart for youth.

In an interview with today, Archbishop Collins, speaking from Edmonton, said that one of the "main" challenges facing the Church in Canada is "evangelizing and developing the culture of life, and spreading the faith within our country."

While not as outspoken as his former Alberta confrere Calgary Bishop Fred Henry, the former Archbishop of Edmonton does deliver the teaching of the church when asked. "Marriage is a covenant between a man and a woman faithful in love and open to the gift of life," Collins told the Toronto Star Saturday. "Certainly that's what the Catholic church believes, and absolutely what I believe marriage is. But this is not just a Catholic belief, but a reality that is valued by Catholics, by Protestants, by Jews, including many people of no faith - the fundamental structure of marriage, the fundamental meaning of marriage," he said.

The picture shows Archbishop Collins (left) and Calgary Bishop Fred Henry at the 2004 Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops plenary.

In 2005, I heard Archbishop Collins present a talk on the Eucharist to the CCCB plenary in advance of a Synod on the Eucharist to take place in Rome. I was struck by how his face lit up with joy as he gave his presentation. I have not run across anyone who is not thrilled with his appointment.

Friday, December 15, 2006

How the story of Dion's dual French citizenship went viral

According to Kate at Small Dead Animals:

Warren "Harry Potter Is not a documentary*" Kinsella sees dark spirits at work on the interweb

but the story of Stephane Dion's dual French citizenship did not spring from some kind of conspiracy on the "right." She tracks how the story really developed.

And went viral.

On the real meaning of Emmanuel "God with us"

A powerful post by my fellow Master's Artist Jeanne Damoff on Emmanuel, and how God's presence with us plays out in our everyday lives.

It was 1988. I was walking down the hall, carrying an armload of clean laundry, when a vivid image popped into my head. I saw my three-year-old son, Luke, floating face down in our bathtub. As far as I knew, Luke wasn't taking a bath, but the image was so distinct and horrifying, I headed toward the bathroom just to ease my own mind. As I passed his bedroom I peeked in, but he wasn't playing there. The bathroom door was closed. With mounting dread I opened it, and my heart rate quadrupled when I heard water trickling into the tub and saw steam rising above the sliding glass doors. I dashed to slide the door open.

Luke was leaning against the sloped back of the tub, his heavy eyelids almost shut, his head relaxed to one side as he slowly slipped into water that was already chest deep.

Emmanuel. God is with us.

It was 1996. My fifteen-year-old son, Jacob, sank beneath the murky water of Caddo Lake. A dozen or so of his friends talked and laughed nearby on the shore. Half that many adult chaperones were also present, including two Texas State Game Wardens. It's almost unbelievable that none of them saw--as though their eyes had been veiled in that moment. But One did see. And waited. When the group finally missed Jacob and couldn't find him, then God spoke to one man there.

"Look in the water."

The man didn't question, he dove. Blindly. In fourteen-feet-deep, nasty water, groping along the bottom until he felt a body. Jacob's body.

Jeanne has written an amazing manuscript about Jacob and the impact his near drowning has had on her family and on the rest of her community. I hope it sees its way into publication soon. It is beautifully written, poignant and full of faith in the sovereignty of God.

A blog worth checking out regularly


The great paradox of the "war on terror"

The great paradox of the "war on terror," of course, is that as our capacity and desire to protect civilians in warfare grows, our enemy's capacity and desire to kill civilians as a means of warfare grows also. Our fathers saved us from having to say, "Sieg Heil," but what's next — "Allahu akbar"?

What really happened to Dolly the cloned sheep.

First Things magazine looks at the real legacy of cloning in its January issue.

Cloned embryos are generally quite abnormal, with those that are sufficiently normal to survive to live birth typically representing between 0.1 and 2 percent. The problems do not end with the technical difficulty of somatic-cell nuclear transfer itself. Extensive evidence indicates that even the cloned animals that make it to birth are not untarnished success stories. Following Ian Wilmut’s production of Dolly the sheep, the world’s first cloned mammal, it was almost immediately evident that Dolly was not normal; she experienced a number of medical problems that resulted in her being euthanized, due to poor health, at the age of six years, about half the lifespan of a healthy sheep. Dolly was the only clone to survive to live birth out of the 277 cloned embryos Wilmut’s group generated, yet this success did not prove that cloning can produce a normal sheep. Dolly was merely normal enough to survive to birth.

In the past five years, a number of studies have carefully examined patterns of gene expression in mice and other cloned animals that survived to birth. Not one of these animals is genetically normal, and multiple genes are aberrantly expressed in multiple tissues. Both the severity and the extent of these genetic abnormalities came as a surprise to the cloning field, and yet, in retrospect, they are not surprising at all. The fact that most cloned embryos die at early stages of development is entirely consistent with the conclusion that somatic-cell nuclear transfer does not generate normal embryos, even in the rare cases where clones survive to birth. Thus, the optimistic contention that “therapeutic cloning” would fix the immune problem facing potential embryonic stem cell–based therapies for humans seems thus far entirely unsupported by the scientific evidence.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Why heterosexuals make it hard to make the case against same-sex marriage

Moral theologian and ethicist Dr. Pia de Solenni spoke in Ottawa recently as a guest of the Cosmas and Damian Society for Medical Ethics. She said that as long as heterosexuals are treating marriage in such as way as to include easy divorce, children a "maybe" and sex to mean purely genital pleasure, then it becomes hard to make a case against same-sex marriage. She is right.

Here's a link to the story I wrote about de Solenni's talk picked up by Catholic Online.

OTTAWA, Canada (CCN) – The spreading the ideal of Catholic marriage depends on the personal witness of loving couples more than any arguments in a national debate on same-sex marriage, said a moral theologian.

Most decisions and behavior changes are influenced by people with whom we have personal contact, Pia de Solenni told a gathering Dec. 9 sponsored the Ottawa Cosmas and Damian Society for Medical Ethics and the Ottawa Catholic Physician’s Guild.

If heterosexuals are sending a message that any kind of relationship is defined as intimate and entitled to rights, if couples consider sex as strictly genital pleasure, use contraception, consider children a “maybe” and can divorce at anytime, then it becomes “very difficult to make the case against same-sex marriage,” she said.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The bane of message-driven Christian fiction

My Master's Artist post this morning:

Thomas Nelson CEO Mark Hyatt dropped by last Friday to respond to Mark's post concerning a Publisher's Weekly article about Nelson's new editorial standards. CEO Michael Hyatt wrote a long post here that takes issue with some misinformation in the article and explains in depth what the company is trying to accomplish.

When I read how he sees Philippians 4:8 applying to what Thomas Nelson will publish, my heart sank. Though I see the merits of applying those standards to non-fiction books, applying them to fiction spells D-I-D-A-C-T-I-C-I S-M. I cringe at the prospect of idealized characters, doing pure things, to exhort us all to live out our lives in truth and holiness. Doesn't sound like any fiction I'd ever want to read. Or write. And one of the curses of so-called "Christian fiction" has been the message-driven imperative. Has anyone come across a book proposal yet that doesn't ask what the takeaway value of your manuscript is?

Several months ago, someone gave me a book featuring a homeschooled main character who was so good, so earnest and so prayerful that I thought I'd stepped into a Thomas Kincaide painting. Though self-published, the writing on the individual sentence basis wasn't all that bad. In fact, it was good enough that the author had managed to get onto a big television network and now has a following. She's sold thousands of books, so obviously there is an appetite out there for the terminally sweet . In her first chapter, she intruded into the story to make sure we got the point she was preaching. I have not been able to bear reading any further.

On the other hand, I just finished Alice McDermott's After This, a breathtakingly beautiful novel but would probably fail to pass muster at Thomas Nelson because, among other things, the f-word is used a couple of times, some of the characters have sex while unmarried, one character has an abortion, realistically and heartbreakingly described, and among her complex feelings is one of relief.

While I personally think the abortion scene is a tragedy in this novel, and the author does not sugarcoat the experience her character goes through, her duty as an artist is to render the story realistically from the perspective of the character in question, not to create propaganda--either for or against abortion as the case may be. McDermott does it beautifully.

Someone you know deserves to get this novel in their Christmas stocking.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Stephane Dion slaps journalist down in scrum

The new Liberal Leader does not suffer fools. But this might affect his likeability quotient.

From the scrum following Question Period today:

A journalist asks:

"Tell me more about the Marshall plan? Who was Marshall and what exactly was the plan and under what circumstances was it...

Stéphane Dion replies "You know that, come on! You don’t know what is the Marshall plan?"

Now of course, the journalist may have been trying to get a good set up for a clip and in a subsequent answer, Dion recognizes that perhaps he needs to explain the Marshall plan for Canadians. Given the kind of postmodern education a lot of people are getting these days maybe a lot of people 35 and under don't have a clue who Marshall is and what his plan was and don't give a hoot either.

Anyway, Dion is experiencing a honeymoon right now with the media. Be interesting to see how long it'll last if he keeps this up.

Journalists must never be afraid of asking stupid questions. Sometimes it is the elephant in the room that never gets asked about because everyone's afraid of appearing stupid. I wonder how many people have been listening to Dion talk about the need for a Marshall Plan for Afghanistan and haven't had a clue what he is talking about.

Monday, December 11, 2006

The gay couple denied communion in Nova Scotia

The Politic has a review of CTV's story last night about the gay couple denied communion in Nova Scotia. This kind of story represents a danger to religious freedom. I would not be surprised to see a human rights complaint launched sometime soon, not necessarily by these dudes, but by someone who feels emboldened by the implied "injustice" CTV is "exposing."

Thanks to CTV we have another completely unimportant news story, of no public interest whatsoever, peddling a secular progressive agenda. Are we actually supposed to feel sorry for two elderly dudes, living contrary to the teachings of the Catholic church, now whining that the Catholic church is denying them communion? Are we actually supposed to believe that the moral condemnation of their lifestyle by the church constitutes grave pharisee-like self-righteousness on the part of Catholic leadership?

CTV certainly hopes so! At least one is left with that impression, anyway, otherwise they might have actually interviewed more individuals who do not share the plaintive cry of the story. Fair and balanced journalism would have dictated that they find interviewees believing: A.) it is a private matter between these men and their church and B.) if they live contrary to the teachings of the church, they can hardly expect its blessing.

Marci Laycock interviews me about The Defilers

Marcia Laycock is the 2006 winner of the Best New Canadian Christian Author Award for her soon-to-be published novel "One Smooth Stone." I recently did a virtual blog tour over to her blog and answered several questions about The Defilers.

Deborah Gyapong was the 2005 winner of The Best New Canadian Christian Author Award.
Her novel, The Defilers is a suspenseful tale of intrigue, spiritual warefare and the sexual exploitation of children.

I asked Deb a few questions recently and these are her answers -

What was the germ of the Defilers? Where did the idea come from?

I’m not sure exactly where the ideas came from, since I started it more than ten years ago. I knew I wanted to write a redemption story that would show a character going from being anti-religious to discovering a deep faith in God. Because I had had such a dramatic adult conversion, I hoped to borrow on that experience. At the same time, I did not want to write anything autobiographical, so I created the main character with a personality as opposite to mine as I could make it.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Marriage issue not dead

My piece on the marriage vote last Thursday picked up by B.C. Catholic. Read the whole piece to see that the marriage issue is not dead, despite what Prime Minister Stephen Harper says.

The Catholic Bishops weigh in here.

OTTAWA (CCN) – The promised motion on whether to restore the traditional definition of marriage went down to defeat in the House of Commons Dec. 7 by a vote of 175 to 123.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper said he does not see the marriage question reopening.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper said he does not see the marriage issue reopening after a promised motion was defeated in the House of Commons by a vote of 175 to 123.

“We made a promise to have a free vote on this issue; we kept that promise, and obviously the vote was decisive, and obviously we’ll accept the democratic result of the people’s representatives,” Harper told journalists after the vote.

The motion, introduced Dec. 6, read: “That this House call on the government to introduce legislation to restore the traditional definition of marriage without affecting civil unions and while respecting existing same-sex marriages.”

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

"A fetus is comparable to a parasite"

UPDATE: The Carleton University Students' Association (CUSA) passed a motion to refuse recognition, funding and space to "anti-choice" groups or actions. The Ottawa Citizen story is here. CBC Radio's report is here.

Suzanne Fortin was also there.

You'll note if you follow the links to the Citizen that threats of violence were played up, as if all of them were coming from the Pro-life side. Judging however from the temperature of the room and some of the comments, the most heated, angry comments were coming from the odd member of the audience on the pro-abortion side. Given that CUSA representatives have used their power as a "collective" (the word they used to describe their speaking for the student body as a "collective") to force their views on others and to marginalize those who disagree, I think there's a whole lotta projection going on.

The pro-life speakers who got up were respectful, dignified, and no one who spoke was angry or hateful. And, to their credit, so were the vast majority of the pro-choice speakers.

I spent five hours listening to students at a Carleton University Student Association (CUSA) meeting debate a motion to deny recognition and funding to "anti-choice" groups on campus. When it was nearing 11:00 p.m., I gave up.

While the debate was civil and the CUSA representatives showed a lot of patience, there were some things said at this meeting that were truly troubling about the state of the intellects our universities are producing.

Like this remark from a CUSA rep: "A fetus is comparable to a parasite."

The gist of what CUSA folks who were pro the motion were saying is that you can be pro-life as long as you are pro-choice. As soon as you start advocating any legal defence for that parasitical fetus you are denying a woman her constitutional rights to security of the person and freedom of choice. Anti-choice actions such as lobbying for political change that might impede that choice, or leafleting, or posters will not be allowed.

And it makes women feel insecure, apparently, to even have people advocate these ideas. In fact there were lots of comparisons of pro-life views to hate speech, and analogies made to the KKK and racist groups and comparisons with holocaust denial and hate speech. This is a classic marginalization tactic to shut down debate.

"This particular movement is incredibly violent and it is time to start looking at it like any hate group," said one student about the prolife movement.

When the issue as raised about the rights of unborn children and the fact that the unborn child doesn't have a choice, the bright light that first introduced the motion on behalf of the Womyn's [sic] Centre said the CUSA decision applies to Carleton students and would "not apply to the unborn child since they are not a Carleton student."

"When someone is saying I have a right to choose is wrong, that's an attack on my person," said another bright young female student.

There were some good passionate defences of free speech and pro life views.

Carleton Lifeline treasurer Nicholas McLeod pleaded with the 150 or so attending the meeting to "see from my side." (He is the young man at the standing at the microphone)

The anti-abortion side is not trying to take away anyone's rights, he said. We are defending what we say are human rights. We are putting forward another idea of what human rights are. If you look at most injustices, whether against Jews, natives, or women, the issue always comes down to what are people. The fetus is a person and they have to be respected the same as you, the same as me.

An idea cannot hurt someone. It cannot be wrong to say an idea, he said.

Do you think my beliefs are hateful? he asked. "They are not based on hate. They are based on love.

Sad day for Carleton University.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Some reviews on the Liberal speeches

UPDATE: On CBC Newsworld, Rex Murphy just described Ignatieff's speaking style as "lethargic fluency."

Murphy and Andrew Coyne predict Bob Rae will win tomorrow. Chantal Hebert and Dan Legere (who, watching from Halifax) thought Rae bombed and predict Ignatieff will win.

Warren Kinsella is awfully interesting when he turns his eye on fellow Liberals.

Here's what he has to say about Michael Ignatieff's speech.

December 1, 2006 - Ouch. He got hotter at the end, but he sounded medicated for a lot of it.


-----Original Message-----
To: Liberal Convention
Sent: Fri Dec 01 20:00:13 2006
Subject: CTV cut away from IGGY

CTV NewsNet cut away from Iggys speech.

Were they bored too?

Kate at Small Dead Animals has this observation:

Good God, does Michael Ignatieff talk slowly.

Or maybe he's just considering the audience.


Update I've changed my mind.

I ... think ... he's had ... a stroke. "Let's win ...some seats ... in .... Al------berta,"

BWAAHAAA... CTV just cut away from the convention in the middle of his speech. They've gone overtime.

As I said - these are the same people who have been confessing all evening long that they ran the country into the ground - so expecting them to get a few convention speeches wrapped up in time is probably unreasonable.

You can also find some live blogging over at Blogging Tories.

The marriage motion text is now out

And it reads:

Today, December 1, 2006, the following Government motion was placed on the Order Paper:

“That this House call on the government to introduce legislation to restore the traditional definition of marriage without affecting civil unions and while respecting existing same-sex marriages.”

Hmmmm. I'm not sure what all this means. What does civil union mean?

Here's the story I wrote about the vote, with response from the Canadian Catholic Bishops and the Catholic Organization for Life and Family.

OTTAWA, Canada (CCN) — The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) is urging a completely free vote on a motion on whether to reopen the debate on marriage, asking that all politicians be allowed to vote “in accordance with their conscience.”

The Catholic Organization for Life and Family (COLF) is calling on all Catholics to contact their MPs in advance of the vote.

Sounds like a good idea to me!

I'm hearing the debate will be extremely short and the vote could take place as early as Thursday. But that's just rumor. Nothing confirmed.

Your MP is in his or her riding this weekend. Why not seek him or her out, make a polite phone call, or send a nice note urging your representative to restore traditional marriage and protect religious freedom in this country.

Father Andre Drouin's on the two faces of the Church

I love my work as a journalist because it gives me the opportunity to meet and write about people like Father Andre Drouin, on Ottawa priest.

Here's a link to my profile carried on Catholic Online.

OTTAWA, Canada (CCN) – Father André Drouin rushes from his office here and returns with a woven white and black rug. He holds up a side where black dominates the weave; when he turns it over, white dominates. He explains that just like the rug, the church is one, but it has two different faces: a celebratory face reflecting the love towards God, and face of service to others, reflecting love of our neighbors.

“We have been showing to people too often one face, the celebratory church,” Father Drouin said. “We have to show a little bit more the other face.”

“Some of the ceremonies for a new generation it says absolutely noting to them. But to be really involved we must make sure we keep contact with the Lord,” he said. “We cannot separate the celebrating church and the church that is involved.”

In his 49 years as a priest, Father Drouin has practiced what he preaches. For 23 years, he has been ministering to people dying of HIV/AIDS in the Ottawa Archdiocese, where he was born and raised. With the advance of life-prolonging drugs, there are fewer people he needs to see, but when he first started an HIV/AIDS diagnosis was “a death sentence,” leading to a burial within two years.

J. Mark Bertrand on tanks and Casanova

My bedtime reading for the past week has alternated between Patrick Wright's social history of the tank -- titled, appropriately enough, Tank -- and a slender volume by Casanova called The Duel, an account of a fight the famous libertine had over a ballerina in Warsaw. It should be clear from this combination that I'm reading without a plan. Oddly enough, the material has started to merge in my head, perhaps because I'm reminded once again how very different people in the past really were. What are we to make of a world in which a man answers the charge of cowardice by offering to let the accuser murder him? What are we to make of people who send wave after wave of young men pointlessly "over the top," then wake up the next day and do it all over again? Both of these choices are inconceivable today, and it's hard to regret their passing.

According to Wright, when tanks first rolled onto the battlefield, a curious melding of art and life took place. "It quickly became conventional," he writes, "to describe the tank in terms borrowed from the European avant-garde." The tank was dubbed by one author a "gigantic cubist steel slug." Indeed, the whole war came to be seen through a Cubist lens:

"Gertrude Stein remembered standing with Picasso on the Boulevard Raspail in Paris during the early days of the war; a camouflaged truck went by and Picasso immediately hailed it as an outcome of Cubism. In fact, she claimed in the nineteen-thirties, the entire ‘composition’ of the Great War had been Cubist . . . ” (p. 55)