Deborah Gyapong: February 2007

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Archbishop Hepworth's take on the Anglican Primates' gathering in Tanzania

They find it impossible to admit to an authority beyond themselves. In their mutual claim to find truth in Scripture, they expose themselves to myriad conflicting interpretations of Scripture, and reduce truth to majority opinions and winning votes. Gone is any image of a Church that lives beyond them and in spite of them. Gone is a Church that teaches with authenticity the truths for which the Apostles died. Yet these images where once held by Anglicans, who “had no doctrines but those of the whole church catholic”. For these Primates and, I fear, for the synods and trusts and churches that elect them, sustain them and direct them, the appeal to an unbroken apostolic tradition has become a foreign cry

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Secular fundamentalism on the move

There's a big debate going on about whether a young Muslim girl should be allowed to play wearing a hijab. If there are no safety issues---i.e. it's not so long and flowing that she's likely to trip over it or strangle herself, then reasonable accommodation is the best approach.

Why? Because Christians are also going to be asking for reasonable accommodation--whether it is for the rights of marriage commissioners to refuse to perform ceremonies that go against their beliefs, whether it is the rights of parents to have their children opt out of gay positive curriculum, or even the right to home school their children.

Years ago, when I was a television producer for the CBC, I had a conversation with a gay activist whom I had booked as a guest for a program. He told me that though he believes in freedom of speech, he considered banning parts of the Bible as hate literature preferable to the high levels of suicides among gay teenagers, something he blamed on Bible-based morality.

We've known for quite some time there's a war on against Judeo-Christian morality and increasingly, those who want to abolish it are gaining the levers of the state to quash their opponents.

John Pacheco over at warns that private schools will be targeted next.

If we can see the signs of the times in Europe, homeschooling may soon also be outlawed.

The Christian faith is in danger of being driven underground, Pacheco warns. While he focuses on the dangers posed by a radical gay rights agenda, I believe we also have to be careful about steps the state might take to deal with the threats of militant Islam, because many of the remedies will be applied across the board to all religious faiths.

That's because Canada is no longer recognized as a Christian country, but a modern, multicultural state where secularism is the new state religion and a form of soft totalitarianism.

It is the Christian underpinnings of Canada (with its Judeo-Christian morality) that have brought us religious freedom and pluralism. Alas, with multiculturalism, all cultures are considered equal, except the western Christian-based culture, which is seen as bad. This mentality has infected much of Canada's political and intellectual elite. If we allow secularism to kill expressions of religious faith in Canada, then we will kill the "goose that laid the golden egg" of religious freedom in this country.

That freedom will not survive under the domination of either secular fundamentalist or Islamofacism. But moderate, law abiding Muslims, Sikhs and other religious minorities, should be permitted to publicly express their faith within a Canadian society that respects and nourishes its Christian roots. And those of us who are Christian need to make sure that we know and live out our faith and exhibit the Christian virtues of faith, hope and most of all love.

If we do not stand up for ourselves, then our ability to pass that faith along will be severely tested.

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Saturday, February 24, 2007

School Halloween Policy: Devil and Witch Costumes Okay, Jesus? - No way!


PHILADELPHIA, February 22, 2007 ( - Attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund filed a complaint Tuesday on behalf of a 10-year-old boy who was prohibited by his school principal from wearing a Jesus costume for the school's Halloween parade and party because the costume was religious. Abington Township School District officials allowed costumes portraying devils and witches on Halloween 2006 but prohibited one student from dressing as Jesus.

"For the school principal to censor this young student at Halloween because he was dressed as Jesus is patently ridiculous. It's yet another demonstration of just how hostile to Christianity public school officials have become," said ADF Legal Counsel Matt Bowman. "It is unconstitutional to single out Christian students for censorship."

School officials at Willow Hill Elementary School had required that students wear a costume at school on Halloween, or they would be isolated from the rest of the student body during the school's parade and party. The 10-year-old student and his mother, out of Christian conviction, sought to avoid promoting Halloween and its pagan elements and determined that by wearing a Jesus costume the student could accomplish this goal while avoiding the compelled isolation imposed on those not wearing a costume.

But on Oct. 31, Willow Hill Principal Dr. Patricia Whitmire told the fourth-grade student's mother that a Jesus costume would violate the school's religion policy. Whitmire required that the young student remove his "crown of thorns" and not identify himself as Jesus.

"Our client's teacher, perhaps missing the irony, suggested that he instead pretend to be a Roman emperor," Bowman noted.

Powerful series on the impact of abortion on demand

Shrinkwrapped has a three part series on the psychological impact of abortion on demand.

Read the whole thing, especially the fascinating story of Susan and how that changed Shrinkwrapped's own views about abortion. Follow the links. Most insightful. (Hat tip Dr. Sanity)

Consider the impact of a child growing up in a society which believes that a child is a gift from the Deity. A child in such a culture knows that their surround considers them precious above and beyond the love they may receive from their all too human and fallible parent. While such an "archaic" notion opens one up to ridicule in the precincts of sophisticated thought where the liberal pro-choice views hold sway, it was the prevailing wisdom not that long ago. In contrast, a child who is growing up in a culture which idealizes the freedom of women to abort for no more reason than her comfort or convenience, is a culture that fundamentally does not value children. Children who experience themselves as commodities whose existence serves the needs of others, have a natural tendency to treat themselves and others as mere "need satisfying objects."

Dr. Sanity writes in response to the series:

It seems to me that in many ways, the irrational, uncompromising and unequivocally histrionic behaviors that accompany any discussion about a woman's "right" to an abortion are nothing more than the leftover narcissistic rantings of the self-absorbed and rather adolescent 60's "Me" decade.

Surely as a society we are capable of some growth and maturity in revisiting this subject? Otherwise, we will will remain forever in that genderless pre-pubescent Peter Pan state of self-indulgent crowing. We were clever enough to insist that women ought to have control over their own bodies--are we mature enough to discuss some of the personal and societal repercussions of that decision?

For the narcissist, growing up--taking responsibility and facing consequences of one's choices--is awfuller than all the awful things that ever were.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Ragamuffin Diva takes a friend to rehab

Man, can Claudia Mair Burney write. Buy her book "Murder, Mayhem and a Fine Man." It's a great read, lots of fun, witty, but also full of insight.

Here's a recent blog post of hers. Read the whole thing.

Taking someone to rehab is a drag.

Well, I didn't really take her to rehab. I took her to a place where intake can be done and then she'd be taken to a program. It's a scary thing. I had some flashbacks myself from when I sat in that small room years ago, fresh out of the emergency room after I'd swallowed a handful of benadryl tablets on a day my anger blazed within and nearly destroyed me. But today wasn't about me. It was about her. See, I'd been in too many horrible places to be too afraid. The song Adoramus te Domine (Jesus we adore You) rang in my soul. God was more imporant than food still. I had a little joy to work with.

The people were a sad lot. A young white woman, blackened eye, ligiture marks on her neck where she'd been strangled. Poor thing. Fragile as burned paper.

A beautiful black woman, cautiously eating apple sauce, sitting to herself. Quiet. Looking out of place. Like she belonged in a classroom teaching school.

Two younger black women huddled together like they were the best of girlfriends, as if their pairing would guard them against the terrors lurking within and without.

I see that her second Amanda Bell mystery is now available. Can't wait to check it out.

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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The Charter @ 25 Conference

In a moment I'll supply a link to my Canadian Catholic News piece about the Charter @ 25 conference I attended last week in Montreal.

As I wrote over at The Master's Artist:

"The impression I got at the conference was that Canadian society has "evolved" to the point where Christian voices seem irrelevant to the conversation. The Christian point of view on rights was like the senile uncle sitting at the dinner table. When he speaks he gets a polite nod, but the conversation continues around him as if he doesn't exist."

The picture shows Canadian Supreme Court Justice Ian Binnie on the left and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia on the right. Scalia believes in looking at the original intent of the constitution, while Binnie argues that the framers of the Canadian constitution (much more recent in 1982) never believed that rights would be frozen, but that society would evolve, so would our understanding of rights. He calls the constitution a "living tree."

How postmodern everything has become. Words mean whatever we want them to mean. Rights mean whatever the state as interpreted by judges decide they are. As Scalia, a Catholic who believes in natural law, pointed out if new rights can be added, old rights can be taken away. And we're already seeing in Canada that freedom of speech is getting more and more restricted and so is religious freedom---especially if you are Christian.

What's the world coming to when the right to life---the basic, foundational human right--has given way to the right for women to get abortions, the right for same-sex marriage and the shrinking of the rights of those who would publicly defend traditional marriage. Coming soon the right to die and have someone, perhaps from the medical profession, assist you. As Scalia said on the last one: "Stay tuned." Of course, concealed in that right will be coercion, that is if you are old or disabled.

All this seems mighty important to me, but the funny thing was, while I was getting my hair cut before heading off to Montreal last week, when I told the young gal where I was going she asked, "What's the Charter?"

I'm sure, though I didn't ask, that she knows she has rights. Everyone has rights. But I guess it depends on what the meaning of the word 'rights' is. It's a sad that that's the case. The Christian leaders have a lot of work to do to try to find their way back into the conversation.

Here's the promised link:
MONTREAL, Canada (CCN) – Catholics played a key role in the development of Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms, yet increasing the Catholic Church is seen at odds with the so-called rights revolution that in 2005 brought the legalization of same-sex marriage.

“I always think it’s a bit odd to think of a tension between rights and Catholicism,” said Daniel Cere, professor of religion, ethics and public policy at McGill University in an interview during a major conference in Montreal Feb. 14-16, marking the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom’s 25th anniversary.

Cere cited the influence of Catholic philosopher Jacques Maritain, who helped draft the 1948 Universal of Human Rights, and Pope John XXIII’s call for every nation to entrench human rights. Both men had an impact on Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, who brought in the Charter in 1982.

Cere said in effect Trudeau was being “a good Catholic boy” following the pope.

At the “Charter @ 25 conference,” organized by the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada, distinctly Catholic conceptions of human dignity and rule of law seemed increasingly irrelevant to the conversation about rights. For example, the conference devoted no panel discussion to the Charter’s preamble: “Whereas Canada is founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law.”

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Ash Wednesday

From my Master's Artist post today:

This evening, I will go to my little Anglican Catholic cathedral, kneel at the altar rail and one of the priests will dip his thumb in ashes and etch the sign of the cross on my forehead. It is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent.

I grew up in a town outside Boston that was predominantly Catholic. The teachers would come to school with black smudges on their foreheads. The policeman at the crosswalk would have a smudge. Some of the kids in my class had them, too. Now I hardly ever see any smudges. Probably even many Christians won't know that today Lent begins. But they know about Mardi Gras, or Carnivale, or Fat Tuesday.

Salem Storehouse is creating community

From my post today at The Word Guild Author's blog: Canadian Authors who are Christian:

Recently, I attended a talk given by Doug Sprunt, one of the owners of Salem Storehouse, a Christian bookstore in Ottawa.

He had been working part time on staff of a local church, but felt called to return to work at the bookstore full time. Why? Because he and his partners realized that though they were successful in selling books, CDs and so on, they had not accomplished the full vision of ministry for the store.

When they'd started the store years ago, they had hoped to make it a place for people who were broken could come and find healing.

Sprunt said he recognized the growing need for that vision when he saw people coming into the store who didn't have a church. They called themselves Christians and were coming into the store to build relationships.

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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Giving the devil his due

My feature in Christian Week is available online here.

I hoped in writing The Defilers I might equip a new generation of readers with knowledge of God’s power and authority, while concealing this message in a gripping story that might appeal to people who fool around with the occult, take drugs and risk encounters with enslaving demonic forces.

Two lines of dialog distill the novel’s message. Constable Will Bright is speaking to Pastor David Jordan the day after he and the main character Mountie Linda Donner have barged in on the exorcism of a little girl. Will tells David that he had never believed him previously when he talked about demons. “After last night, I sure believe in them now,” he says.

David answers: “I hope you believe in the far greater power of God in Jesus Christ.”

The novel then goes on to show the triumph of God over evil both in Linda’s life and in the life of a backwoods community. Every generation needs to wake up to the spiritual battle we are in and learn how to find victory in Christ. The Defilers is my contribution to that effort.

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Sunday, February 18, 2007

Gagdad Bob on the real meaning of sophistication

Gagdad Bob at One Cosmos has a most interesting post up about sophistication and disillusionment, and the capacity for depth of soul.

The whole piece is well worth the read. Here's a taste.

Thus, to pick a name at random, one may think that, say, Bill Maher, is a highly "sophisticated" man, when in fact he is obviously quite sophisticated. Cynical, worldly-wise, disillusioned, etc. He may or may not be "intelligent" in the narrow and morally and developmentally neutral sense of the term, but I can assure you that if you were to be cornered into a conversation with him, you would immediately become uncomfortably aware of the "narrowness" of his soul horizons -- or shall we say the "thinness" of his being. For depth of being is not only the measure of soul, but soul is the very measure of depth in the Cosmos.

Or put it this way: there is nothing intrinsically deep in the world, there are only deep souls who make it so. Animals do not experience cosmic depth, only surfaces. And quite obviously, "depth" is a thing entirely apart from mere intelligence. The presence of depth is one of the first clues of the awakened mind as it journeys back to God, who is obviously the ultimate source of the depth. There can be no depth without God, if for no other reason that there can be no interior without God, "the interior of interiority," so to speak.

Let's take William Shakespeare and, say, Steven Pinker or Noam Chomsky. Here are two statements that are equally accurate: "William Shakespeare was an expert in language," and "Noam Chomsky is an expert in language." Obviously this is an absurd comparison, because next to Shakespeare, Chomsky is a frivolous ass and a silly retard -- full of sound and fury but signifying tenure.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Kathy Shaidle profile posted on Catholic Online

As promised, here's a link to the profile of Relapsed Catholic Kathy Shaidle.

Born in 1964, Shaidle describes herself as a Generation-X-er who was brought up in a working class Hamilton, Ontario, family, attending Catholic schools.

“I would have appreciated more grounding in the faith in elementary school and high school,” she said, noting “feeding hungry children in Guatemala” seemed to be higher on the agenda. “I’m sure they’re all learning about global warming now. I feel sorry for them if that’s the case.”

Shaidle hungered for the faith that “went back centuries.” As a child, she loved holy cards and statues. “I don’t know if they make that kind of child anymore,” she said.

In God Rides a Yamaha, she wrote about playing nun, fashioning habits from blankets and sheets, “a tea-towel ‘veil’ bobby pinned to my four-year old head.”

“No loaf of Wonder Bread was safe from my pinching fingers, as I squished slice after slice into bite-sized ‘hosts.’ ”And I much preferred ‘holy’ statues to Barbies. True, you couldn’t change Joseph’s hair or Mary’s outfit, but that didn’t stop me from concocting elaborate adventures starring my nativity scene ‘dolls.’”

As a teenager, however, Shaidle drifted away from the Catholic faith. “You read one bad book by Bertrand Russell, and think you’re smarter than everyone else,” she said. “It wasn’t really that I was an atheist, I decided God and I were not speaking to each other.”

After obtaining a media arts degree from Sheridan College in Oakville, Ont., she moved to Toronto and, in the 1980s, became actively involved in the peace movement.

Pro-choice on abortion, she adopted a libertarian, anarchist philosophy fed partly through her interest in punk rock. She and her friends thought government was inherently evil. They especially hated U.S. President Ronald Reagan, whom they believed was going to “nuke” everyone.

Political correctness drove her out of the movement, she said.

“Not everyone has three-hour debates on whether women should shave their armpits or if deodorant was fascist,” she said. “I got fed up with the dumbing down of all this. A noble enterprise ended up being grim and tedious, run by people with all brains and book-learning but very naïve about the way the world worked.”

As she drifted away, she found aspects of Dorothy Day’s and Thomas Merton’s writings stayed with her. “I found I cared more about the actual Catholicism than the political stuff they were talking about.” She also realized that perhaps her faith grounding as a child had not been as shallow as she had thought.

For more on Kathy and a photograph, go here.

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Saturday, February 10, 2007

But freedom for what?

Dr. Sanity as usual has an excellent post this morning. Check it out.

She concludes:

But, if history teaches us anything, it is that those ideologies that attempt to suppress the insatiable human desire for freedom are the ones on terminal life support. In their last gasps they may appear to be regaining health and power, but death is imminent nonetheless; and they will be taken out with the trash to be buried along with all their previous historical incarnations.

I hope she's right. However, what do we mean by freedom? Freedom has become another debased word in the West. Freedom has come to mean individual choice, but individual choice that seems to boil down to how many porn channels one might choose from, or whether or not to kill one's child in the womb, or soon whether to be able to off grandpa or the baby that has the wrong number of chromosomes. I know this is not the freedom Dr. Sanity is referring to, but we need to take back this word. Freedom exists FOR something and for Christians it is freedom to serve God, to serve the common good, to exercise virtue and character. It means freedom of speech to serve the interests of Truth, not merely the rights to spout obscenities or burn flags.

The biggest bondages of all are the bondages of individuals to their petty pride, their animal appetities and their resentful fantasies. Alas, the decadent West has turned all of these into "freedoms" and quickly making it illegal to talk about the real freedom which comes from being free of those compulsions, free of that slavery to self, free to be the person God created you to be. Free. Thankfully, not even a prison cell can destroy that kind of freedom.

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Theology of individualism detrimental to Christian artist

Christy Award winning author Lisa Samson has a great essay over at The Master's Artist this morning entitled: a theology of individualism: detrimental to the Christian artist.

She writes:

Art is, by nature, communal. Even as we sit in our chairs writing words streaming from our consciousness, and sometimes sub-consciousness, we sense, if we are at all aware, that we are a part of something far larger. Many people gather around us, looking over our shoulder. Perhaps it's a teacher who informed you of your gift, a parent who encouraged you to find your means of expression, or a host of artists, living and dead, who set stepping stones, one by one, on the path beneath your feet.

Read the whole thing, and follow the link at the top of the post to her first in this series where she examines a theology of comfort and how that is detrimental as well.

Amen, and amen, Lisa. As Christian artists especially we have a level of accountability to the Truth and the Body of Christ. I recall a wonderful homily given by Bishop Robert Mercer when he was Anglican Catholic Bishop of Canada in the Traditional Anglican Communion. He wrote about how Christianity uniquely sees the human person as both an individual and part of something bigger, the Body of Christ. Some cultures, he said, don't see the individual at all, only the collective, the group. The West has taken the notion of individuality too far and lost the original Christian basis for the notion of the individual.

The whole romantic notion of the lonely artist struggling for his or her individualistic vision is a throwback to Gnosticism.

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Story about danger to charitable status gains traction

The story I wrote about dangerous trends in the debate about religious freedom keeps gaining traction. Ted Byfield has written a column about it on World Net Daily.

He writes:

Canada's ideological left, confident of its control of academe, the Supreme Court and the federal Liberal Party, appeared this month ready to declare war on its most formidable enemy of all, namely conservative Christian churches that refuse to make their teachings conform to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms as defined by the Supreme Court.

Janice Gross Stein, Belzberg professor of conflict management and director of the Munk Centre for International Studies at the University of Toronto, a luminary and advanced thinker in the feminist and human rights movement, effectually disclosed the new campaign in an article published in the Literary Review of Canada, entitled "Living Better Multiculturally: Whose Values Should Prevail?"

Her answer was clear: The Supreme Court's values should prevail. Then she played her trump card. Churches whose teachings fail to conform to the Charter should be denied charitable status in Canadian tax law and exemption from property taxes. To my knowledge it was the first time the tax threat was seriously levied. It will seek to force the churches to accept gay rights, abortion and (in the case of the Catholic and Orthodox churches) female priests.

The Stein article appeared in the fall edition of the Review, but did not attract media attention until an Ottawa reporter, Deborah Gyapong, quoted it last week in the Canadian Catholic News.

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Friday, February 09, 2007

What do Canadian Christian authors need?

The Word Guild co-founder N.J. Lindquist has an excellent post about the plight of Christian authors in Canada over at The Word Guild Author's blog.

She writes:

What's the biggest problem Canadian Christian authors face?

Getting their voices heard!

My investigations tell me that right now, less than 2% - maybe even as low as 0.1 % - of the books in a typical Canadian Christian bookstore are written by Canadian authors.

If given equal opportunities, there is absolutely no reason why Canadian Christian authors would not do just as well as their peers in the mainstream acting, music and the writing worlds. But at this time, with the exception of a few – such as Janette Oke, Sigmund Brouwer and Phil Callaway (all of whom are published in the United States) – many Canadian are unaware that there even are Canadian Christian authors.
She concludes:

Many Canadian Christian writers have spent months and years writing and rewriting what God has put on our hearts. When we are ignored or put down, it hurts not only us, but also those who need to hear our message. Who knows? There may be few miracles here until our fellow Canadians listen to what God wants to say through us. At the very least, writers are a vital part of the body of Christ in Canada, and need support from the rest of the body. And if we are given a chance, there may be a few surprises.
Please read the whole thing because she has numerous suggestions about what you can do to change this.

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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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I love this story about Archbishop Collins

This morning I read this story in my copy of Western Catholic Reporter and it gave me great joy. It is by the paper's editor Glen Argan, who worked closely with Archbishop Thomas Collins while he served in Edmonton.

Let's hope Toronto does "catch the fire."
Argan writes:

Toronto has received her new archbishop. The question that needs to be asked is whether the Church in Toronto will ever be the same. Or, is it Archbishop Thomas Collins whose personality will be altered?

Coming to Toronto, Collins has moved to head a local Church that is not only much larger than that of Edmonton, but of a totally different magnitude.

In Toronto, the archbishop has traditionally lived in a mansion or an "archbishop's palace" and is feted by members of a wealthy and powerful national elite that simply does not exist in the Alberta capital.

It will be interesting to see how it works out. Collins arrived in Toronto not in a chariot or a private jet, but on a Greyhound bus rolling in from his sisters' home in small-town Guelph.

I'm leaving out lots of great stuff, so please go to WCR and read the whole article. Argan continues:

Three years ago in an interview, he told me, "If people can just catch the fire and experience the glories of the faith, that will draw them to the great glorious realities of God."

Does this sound like a man who would leave the real ministry to the masses to parish priests while he sits in meetings with his auxiliary bishops charting the course of the world-class archdiocese?

Also in that interview, he said, "Give 20 per cent of your time to the problems (of the Church) and 80 per cent to the beautiful, glorious realities of the faith and the problems will disappear on their own." Well, 80 per cent should be enough to get him out of the office with great frequency.

Various posts on writing at The Master's Artist

Lots of good stuff to read over at The Master's Artist.

Mark Bertrand on writing with a theme in mind:

If a guy sits through a symphony then corners people in the lobby asking what the music meant, we know right away he's making a mistake. The musical notes are not like so many taps of morse code, communicating a melodic message, and to treat them that way is to be guilty of an awful bit of reductionism. Somehow, though, it seems appropriate to look at stories this way, to interrogate them for an abstract meaning rather than seeing their significance as wrapped up inextricably with the experience.

Jeanne Damoff on showing vs. telling:

If you've ever attended a writer's conference or read any books on craft, you've most likely encountered the rule "Show, don't tell" at least several (hundred) times. I have good news for you. I don't plan to address that rule in today's post. Except to say this: like Mustang Creek, with its rapid shallows and its unfathomable deeps, there's a rhythm to good writing, and that rhythm varies from genre to genre. It also varies within genres, from author to author. When you "show," the waters splash and sparkle. When you "tell," they gain depth, resting for the next leg of the race. Only you can determine the right rhythm for your voice and your story. Show and tell. Just tell well.

Chip MacGregor on finding one's voice.

I keep hearing people at writing conferences who more or less want all writers to sound alike. They tell you how to write a story, how to keep the reader hanging, how to use certain tools. The result is a sameness to books -- or, if you prefer, a lack of authentic voice.

Maybe that's why I keep seeing the same novel come across my desk -- instead of Fiona and Drake in Scotland, the characters are now Becky and Travis, and the setting has been moved to the American west. Or maybe it's Katherine and Clive in Victorian England...still, the STORY is the same. Only the costumes have changes. And it's boring. This is the curse of writing conferences.

Don't get me wrong -- I love writer's conferences. They're a great gathering spot for authors, they allow wannabe's to rub shoulders with be's, offer great learning opportunities, and are one of the few remaining venues that can get you face-to-face with an actual editor. I just don't want everybody coming out of them sounding the same.

Scroll down and visit with us for a a while. You'll also find my recent confession that I would rather be a writer than actually write.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

U.S. journalist and blogger cites my story about Catholic bishops

My piece on how bishops are chosen in Canada gets picked up by Whispers in the Loggia, Rocco Palmo's blog.

He writes:

"A Church That Says 'Yes'" -- And Bishops Who Do, Too

Coinciding with tomorrow's installation here, a piece has popped up with a good, long look at how Canadian appointments are made, with two top clerics breaking taboo and going on-record.

Toto, I don't think we're in the US anymore.
He quotes the piece at length.

There's an interesting profile of Palmo here:

Bill McGarvey writes:

He is a wiry bantam rooster of a man; a ball of nervous energy with brown hair and rectangular glasses sitting atop a Roman nose. From a row home in South Philadelphia he fields emails and phone calls day and night from sources around the globe who feed him inside information on all things ecclesial: what the Vatican is saying (and what it really means), which Bishops are being moved where, who’s in and who’s out. His blog, Whispers in the Loggia, is read by a growing legion of fans that includes everyone from very prominent cardinals and Vatican bureaucrats to parish priests and lay people. His knowledge of arcane Church traditions is so thorough that the New York Times and Associated Press now use him as an expert source on Roman Catholicism.

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Sunday, February 04, 2007

J. Mark Bertrand on a confident Christian worldview

Fellow Master's Artist J. Mark Bertrand has an interesting series of posts on the elusive meaning of "a Christian worldview" in fiction over at his site. Head on over and scroll down to read them all.

Here's a sample from the latest:

As I pointed out in yesterday's post, "writing from a Christian worldview" means different things to different people. It took me a while to appreciate this point. When I first heard evangelical novelists employing the term, I was optimistic, because it seemed to express a newfound theological confidence. It promised a kind of fiction more deeply Christian, in contrast to the christened surfaces I'd observed in the past. In some cases, I'm happy to say, that's precisely what it meant. Over time, though, I came to see that the confidence I expected was not always present. Instead, for some the idea of "writing from a Christian worldview" exemplified anxiety, or even retreat.

Worldview confidence means acting as if what is asserted in your theology is true, and not just a case to be argued. This confidence includes a willingness to confront reality head-on, to face even the most difficult questions, trusting that nothing such honesty might uncover will topple the house of cards. Worldview anxiety, though, takes the "already, not yet" of the Kingdom and replaces it with "not yet, maybe never." It stage-manages reality to insure that all the questions are answered and certain problems are never faced. While it parades itself as a kind of faith, what it projects is quite the opposite. The impression worldview anxiety gives, when it finds its way into fiction, is that the perspective on display cannot stand up to scrutiny. It is, in a sense, self-refuting.

Christian celebrities hiring authors to write novels for them?

It's a sad day that this kind of thing is happening.

Linda Hall writes:

Did you know that not all the novels you see on the shelves of your favorite Christian bookstore are actually written by the individuals whose names you see under the 'by' line? Shocked? Or does it even matter to you? It should.

This issue was recently addressed on a Christian novelists' group I belong to when one of our members was approached by a Famous Christian Person asking her - through her agent to ghostwirte a novel. The author would come up with the idea and write the book for X amount of dollars (in the case a lot) and then hand the whole thing over to Famous Christian Person who would stamp his name on the front, just like he was the author. The real author would be sworn to secrecy about the fact that it was she who really wrote the book and not Famous Christian Person.

As I comment over at The Word Guild Authors blog, I'm afraid we're going to see more ghostwriting for celebrity Christians as Christian imprints get bought up by multinational conglomerates who care more about the bottom line than ministry.

What do you think? If you'd like to put a stop to it, go read Linda's post and she'll direct you to where you can make your voice heard.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Civitas lands Theodore Dalrymple as speaker

Civitas is holding its annual conference in Halifax this spring over the first weekend in May.

Just got word they have landed author and retired psychiatrist Theodore Dalrymple as one of their guest speakers. Read Paul Belien's Brussels Journal interview here.

Drat! I have other commitments that weekend in Toronto and Ottawa or else I'd be booking my plane ticket today.

I think he is not only a marvelous writer, but a cogent observer of present day social and psychological ills. I especially love his essay Barbarians at the Gates of Paris.

I highly recommend his books, which are listed alongside the article above.

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Dr. Sanity diagnoses global warming hysteria

Dr. Sanity examines the current preoccupation with global warming and likens it to a substitute for religion. Most interesting post with some fascinating links. Please read the whole thing. I personally believe that we must be good stewards of the environment but I am suspicious of the current bandwagon. She writes:

Now, the problem of global warming is essentially a scientific one, as would be any solutions; but the entire thrust of the environmental movement has always been political. The bad guys have been identified (it is the capitalists, of course, and by definition America) and what we are witnessing is a grab for unlimited power. The only solution ever proposed are to give governments more and more power to control the villains whose actions are leading us inevitably toward doom (that includes you and I, by the way, since we drive gas-guzzling cars). After controlling the evil capitalists, they will need to control everyone's life, because by our very existence, we are contributing to the problem. It is no laughing matter that some of the high priests of this movement have called for the death of millions of humans to save the planet. (Dunn, btw, points out that millions have already died because of the environmentalists--consider the DDT hysteria of the 70's that led to the banning of this chemical, resulting in insect-borne diseases like malaria sweeping the globe).

I have written previously on the hidden agenda of the radical enviornmentalists, most of whom could care less about any scientific evidence one way or the other. They are merely concerned with implementation of their neo-marxist and fascist dreams of domination, and generating environmental hysteria is currently one of the more efficient ways of making that dream come true.

It is also important to note that by focusing the fears of the unwashed masses onto the imminent global warming apocalype, it makes it easy to ignore a threat that is not imminent at all, but which is actually right now at this moment spreading its darkness.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Mark Steyn examines Little Mosque on the Prairie

I haven't bothered to watch Little Mosque on the Prairie. Mark Steyn's views have convinced my instincts were right.

He writes:

Never mind all that. There is after all no more heartwarming tradition in Canadian popular culture – well, okay, unpopular culture: it’s the CBC, after all – than the pleasant frisson induced by the routine portrayal of rural Canadians as halfwit rednecks. One would characterize it as Canadophobic were it not for the fact that the CBC’s enthusiasm for portraying us as a nation of knuckle-dragging sister-shaggers reinforces our smug conviction that we’re the most progressive people on the planet: we celebrate diversity through the ruthless homogeneity of CBC programming; we’re so boundlessly tolerant we tolerate an endless parade of dreary sitcoms and dramas about how intolerant we are. In that sense, the relentlessly cardboard stereotypes are a way of flattering the audience. In the second episode of Little Mosque, for example, the non-Muslim gals of Mercy, Sask stage a protest against the mosque: every single woman in the march is large and plain and simple-minded. The only white folks who aren’t condescended to are the convert wife of the Muslim patriarch and the impeccably ecumenical Anglican minister (though his church, unlike the mosque, is dying).
Hat tip Kathy Shaidle at Relapsed Catholic.

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Dr. Sanity on psychological defenses

Read Dr. Sanity's excellent primer on psychological defenses here.

She writes:

Defenses are typically considered in a hierarchy extending from immature to mature. The least mature—or psychotic defenses include: denial, distortion, and delusional projection (paranoia); the immature defenses are: fantasy, projection, hypochondriasis, passive-aggression and acting out. Neurotic defenses are: intellectualization, repression, reaction formation, displacement, and dissociation. The mature defenses include: sublimation, suppression, anticipation, altruism, and humor. Other defenses exist, but these are the ones most commonly discussed.

The purpose of all psychological defenses, whether mature or not-- is to assist the individual in coping with sudden changes; or severe internal or external conflicts that threaten to overwhelm the sense of self. Such changes or conflicts may relate to the people in our lives; to factors or behavior which challenge our values or our emotional capabilities; or to changes in reality that shake the foundations of our view of the world.

All such defenses-- to a greater or lesser extent-- distort reality. The less mature distort reality greatly; while the most mature allow for the expression of the inner conflict in socially appropriate--i.e., civilized-- and psychologically healthy ways that at least conform to reality, even if they don't necessarily acknowledge it.

Make sure you watch the video example she links to showing healthy defenses. Read the whole thing and bookmark her site.

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