Deborah Gyapong: Mark Steyn on Kathy Shaidle

Mark Steyn on Kathy Shaidle

I've been working on a profile of Relapsed Catholic Kathy Shaidle. I hope it will published electronically sometime next week and I can supply a link. Knowing that Mark Steyn has quoted her on occasion, I wrote to him to get some quotes for the piece. Here's what he wrote back:

I’m a huge fan of Kathy Shaidle. I happened to be talking to her at a recent event (first time I’d met her) when the editor of The National Post came up, and I told him he should quit his doomed campaign to get me back at the paper and hire Kathy instead. It’s interesting to me when I see these lame-o attempts by wimpy Anglican clerics to incorporate bits of pop culture to get the kids cool with all this religion stuff – it’s so hamhandedly done, like watching your parents do the Macarena at parties. But Kathy actually does address both religion and pop culture in a way that’s authoritative and fun and all her own. She’s groovy on the cultural stuff but she’s morally serious, which is a rare combination. I quote her in my book, by the way. She was one of the first to spell out very clearly why hyper-secular Europe is not the solution to radical Islam but the vacuum into which it’s poured.

She’s a beautiful prose stylist, too, unlike a lot of folks on the Internet and in the newspapers. I’m sure if she were in Fleet Street she’d have one of those Evening Standard/Daily Mail-type multi-item columns where you kick around five subjects vigorously for 300 words apiece. If the Post or even The Toronto Star wanted to readers a favour, they'd hire Kathy and introduce the format to Canada.

I agree.

I don't know how I came across Relapsed Catholic or who told me about it, but Kathy's blog became a regular stop for me a couple of years ago and proved a portal to a whole array of interesting bloggers, websites and pundits that I had never heard of before. Reading her and following her links has been a consciousness-raising exercise accompanied by a lot of laughs.

What I love about Kathy is her unique voice, her unabashed insistence on saying what she thinks without worrying about how her words are going to be received. She's also got a quirky sense of humor. If you hate political correctness and admire people who refuse to bow down to it, then Kathy's your woman. She also writes beautifully. In the course of working on the profile I read her wonderful collection of essays God Rides a Yahama: Musings on Pain, Poetry and Pop Culture.

For anyone hungry for vintage Shaidle, I highly recommend the book.

I've gotten to know Kathy a bit through several phone calls, the interview for the piece and a lunch in Toronto. I find her warm, funny, and extremely bright. Yes, for those who are used to polite Canadians who consider what they say before they say it, her words can be a shocking experience. Those who disagree with her find her infuriating. I think she has a lot of courage to write and say what she does and I hope those who disagree with her will defend her right to speak her mind, however much they object to what she says.

Once upon a time being a small "l" liberal allowed for the principle of agreeing to disagree. I fear we're losing that concept and heading into a new secular fundamentalism where only one viewpoint will be allowed. And I fear those who would advocate using the power of the state to try to shut people like Kathy up. But not only opinionated folks like Kathy, but any Christians who are not ashamed of the Gospel or try to live out their faith. And don't think that just because you, who as a Christian try to be tactful and measured and cautious, that you will be spared if the forces of political correctness continue to gather strength. I see troubling signs all around me that religious freedom is in danger in Canada and so is freedom of speech.

People like Kathy are our canaries in the coal mine of our increasingly secularist, decadent society. Let's hope and pray that she can keep on singing a long, long time.

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