Deborah Gyapong: May 2007

Monday, May 28, 2007

Our Sunday Visitor interviews Episcopal Bishop of Pittsburgh

We’re in the midst of a reformation of our tradition, and, in fact, we think we’re actually in the midst of a major Christian reformation. Pope Benedict XVI wrote, when he was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, that the Western church will not be fruitful again until it was severely pruned – referencing John 15. We’re in the midst of a significant pruning, and not only of the Anglicans but also of the whole of the Western Christian church.

That’s what we’re in the midst of. And again, it’s affecting all of the churches in the West, it must do so because God always reforms his church, and in the words of our lady, in her song, which we sing daily at vespers, he’s always casting the mighty from their thrones and lifting up the lowly, because the mighty think somehow they’re God, and so God always realigns his church.

Our Sunday Visitor: You are considered by many to be a leader of a “conservative” faction of the Episcopal Church. Is what you stand for a “conservative” viewpoint, or do you see it in a different light?

Bishop Robert Duncan: My understanding is that it’s simply what the gospel says, and that it is what the mainstream of Christianity has always held. All of the great Christian traditions, all of the major streams of Christianity would teach precisely what we teach on these issues. And again, it’s what the ages have always taught as well.

Read the rest.


Thursday, May 24, 2007

Dr. Sanity on the insanity of taking responsibility for the behavior of others

Dr. Sanity looks at the insanity of thinking you are responsible for the behavior of others:

She writes:

Way back when I was just beginning to practice psychiatry, I had a young woman patient (17 years old) whose name was Chris. She was one of those extremely difficult patients who we suspected of having a Borderline personality disorder (BPD) (you really can't diagnose personality disorders before the age of 18 or so)--and if she didn't have BPD, she was well on her way to developing it. She used illegal drugs and claimed they "helped" her; she was impulsive and histrionic; she cut herself frequently; made suicide attempts regularly; and was so desperate for attention and love that she would lie, cheat, and do anything for to get it. She and I had a particularly difficult session one day; and that night I happened to be on call in the emergency room. I was awakened at 2:00 am by a call from a "friend" of Chris, who informed me that Chris's body had just been recovered from the ocean, where she had gone and killed herself because she was so angry at me.
Read the rest of her That way lies madness post here.


Two moms not better than mom and dad say family groups

Pro-family groups are disputing the results of a federal justice department study that says two gay moms are maybe even better for children than a mom and a dad.

The study, commissioned in 2003 by the former Liberal government only became public after its principle author Concordia University Professor Paul Hastings filed an access to information request.

Canwest News reporter Jack Aubrey wrote about it in a story picked up by the National Post and other papers.

"A few studies suggest that children with two lesbian mothers may have marginally better social competence than children in 'traditional nuclear' families, even fewer studies show the opposite, and most studies fail to find any differences," the study says, according to Aubrey's May 7 story.
The Catholic Organization for Life and Family and REAL Women of Canada dispute that claim.

Read the rest here.

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Unpack the Catechism, don't throw it at people says Bishop Durocher

Alexandria-Cornwall Bishop Paul-Andre Durocher urges Catholics to "unpack"
the teachings in the Catechism of the Catholic Church to find the language and
images to "speak about our faith to others."

"We should never just pull out the catechism and throw it at someone,"
he told an adult faith development class in the Ottawa Archdiocese May 12. "We
need to be equipped with a vocabulary that is up-to-date."

While the catechism is indispensable, Catholics need to put its
teachings into words others will understand, words that will connect with them,
he said.

Parallel teachings

His teachings paralleled what Pope Benedict said during his five-day trip
to Brazil May 9-13, when he called for more use of the catechism for deeper
faith formation among Catholics of all ages.

The pope urged a "methodical
evangelization aimed at personal and communal fidelity to Christ."

Read the rest here at Western Catholic Reporter

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CBC criticized for "blasphemous" TV pilot

Two Conservative members of Parliament will seek to have Canadian
Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) answer to a House of Commons committee for a
television program the Catholic Civil Rights League has described as

"At various points in the program, the Communion host is depicted as
munchable snack food, possible poker chips and a repository for drops of LSD.
Drug-laced hosts are left in the confessional for pick-up," says a May 15 league
news release about The Altar Boy Gang, a CBC television pilot aired May 11.

MP Brad Trost (Saskatoon-Humboldt) and Andrew Scheer
(Regina-Qu'Appelle) have promised to send complaint letters to the CBC's
president and will ask colleagues from all parties to help get CBC officials
before the Heritage Committee.

"To depict the Communion host, something so sacred, in this fashion is
an extreme act of sacrilege," Scheer, a Catholic, wrote in a May 16 news

Read the rest in the Western Catholic Reporter here.

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My story about Blessed George Preca--or Dun Gorg

OTTAWA, Canada (CCN) – Tony Vella of Kingston, Ontario, hopes that Blessed
George Preca’s story will echo long after his June 3 canonization.

Vella, 64, who is related to the charismatic Maltese priest he knew as Dun
Gorg, hopes Catholics today will learn the virtues of their faith – just Dun
Gorg (1880-1962) taught the Maltese to deepen their understanding of the gospel.

When he began his ministry, Malta, an island nation off the coast of
Italy, was largely illiterate and though Catholic, the faith was mingled with
superstition and not deeply-rooted.

Vella, who served Dun Gorg as an altar
boy in his native town of Hamrun, calls him a “pioneer of the lay apostolate.”

“He was my mother’s uncle,” said Vella in a telephone interview from
Kingston in May days before he would join 4,000 Maltese from around the world at
the canonization ceremony in Rome. “I used to see him pretty well every day.”

Friday, May 18, 2007

League protests blasphemous CBC program

OTTAWA, Canada (CCN)—The Catholic Civil Rights League has protested against blasphemous content in a Canadian Broadcasting Company (CBC) television-pilot program “The Altar Boy Gang.”

The May 11 program featured a group of altar servers who are using their parish connections to enter the drug trade. “At various points in the program, the Communion host is depicted as munchable snack food, possible poker chips and a repository for drops of LSD. Drug-laced hosts are left in the confessional for pick-up,” says a May 15 news release.

“Within the past year, the CBC hired an independent Muslim Canadian consultant to ensure that religious sensitivities were respected in its program Little Mosque on the Prairie,” said League executive director Joanne McGarry, asking if any Catholic previewed “The Altar Boy Gang.”

“If not, why the double standard?” she asked.

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Thursday, May 17, 2007

Ann Coulter on Jerry Falwell

He was such a good Christian that back when we used to be on TV together during Clinton's impeachment, I sometimes wanted to say to him, "Step aside, reverend – let the mean girl handle this one." (Why, that guy probably prayed for Clinton!)

(via Kathy Shaidle, Relapsed Catholic)


Wednesday, May 16, 2007

More on Bella and Eduardo Verastegui at The Master's Artist

I posted over at The Master's Artist today:

Remember the story of the rich young man in Matthew 19? He asks Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life. Jesus tells him to sell all he has, give it to the poor and follow Him. The rich young man walks away sorrowful, because he has great wealth.

What if the story of the rich young man has a sequel, only the story's been retold in modern times?

Imagine the rich young man as a famous actor in his native land. Not only that, he has a growing career in Hollywood. Not only that, he's an international recording star. And he's been declared one of the world's 50 most beautiful people. In this music video as Jennifer Lopez' love interest, he resembles a god. Had they not limited his appearance he might have stolen the spotlight.

Then in the course of taking English lessons with a devout Catholic teacher in Los Angeles, he meets Jesus Christ in such a profound way that he realizes that everything he's been doing is not only empty, but poisonous. He spends months in tears. And unlike the rich young man in the Gospels, he obeys the Lord and literally sells everything he has. He thinks maybe God is calling him to be a priest, perhaps in the jungles of South America. But his spiritual adviser tells him, no, Hollywood is a bigger jungle. His name is Eduardo Verastegui, and yes, he's for real.

I heard Verastegui's testimony last week when he came to speak at Canada's annual March for Life. I also saw his latest movie Bella. You must see it, and get all your friends to see it. Here's why.

Read the rest here.

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Most interesting column by Bernard Lewis

Middle East expert Bernard Lewis:

During the Cold War, two things came to be known and generally recognized in the Middle East concerning the two rival superpowers. If you did anything to annoy the Russians, punishment would be swift and dire. If you said or did anything against the Americans, not only would there be no punishment; there might even be some possibility of reward, as the usual anxious procession of diplomats and politicians, journalists and scholars and miscellaneous others came with their usual pleading inquiries: "What have we done to offend you? What can we do to put it right?"

H/t Kathy Shaidle at Relapsed Catholic.


Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Feeling small? Read this and know you have a great God.

Mary E. DeMuth writes for all of us who are feeling small today, especially the writers among us.

Go read it all here:

You are the mystery my heart longs for in the darkness. The reason for all the whys. The bigness that fills my tiny soul. You are God. I am small. My words are small. They are little offerings of love to You and to those You cherish. I shout with Isaiah, "Lord, You will grant us peace for all we have accomplished is really from you" (Isaiah 26:12). These words I spill from my weary, needy heart to the empty white page--they are Yours. To do with as You see fit. You see? I'm small. So very small. I look at the stars and I feel insignificance sink into my bones.

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If the story of the rich young man had a sequel

I loved hearing Bella lead actor Eduardo Verastegui and producer Leo Severino speak at the annual Rose Dinner following the March for Life in Ottawa. Here's a link the story I wrote about their testimony, picked up by Catholic Online:

OTTAWA, Canada (CCN) – If the story of the rich young man from the Gospel of Matthew had a sequel updated for modern times, it might resemble the life of actor Eduardo Verastegui, a Catholic who stars in the new film “Bella.”

In the gospel account, a rich young man asks Jesus what he needs to do to inherit eternal life. Jesus tells him to sell all he has and follow him, but the man goes away sorrowful because he had great wealth.

In the modern day sequel, the Verastegui, a rich young man, does sell all he has and is prepared to give up his budding acting career to follow Christ.

Verastegui had reached the zenith of Mexican celebrity as a soap opera star and singer who had toured at least 13 countries to sold-out concerts. He’d appeared as Jennifer Lopez’s love interest in her popular music video “Ain’t it Funny.” His growing Hollywood television and movie credits included the starring role in the 20th Century Fox movie “Chasing Papi” and a co-starring role in the independent film “Meet Me in Miami.” He’d been listed as one of the 50 most beautiful people in the world in People en Español.

Read the whole thing and get your inspiration for the day. I love doing stories about people like Verastegui and Severino. (And getting to meet them too!)

And by the way, the movie Bella is a joy to see.

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Monday, May 14, 2007

Archbishop Terrence Prendergast coming to Ottawa

Today I filed a story about Archbishop Marcel Gervais' retirement. Will post a link when it is posted online somewhere. I'll also be attending the news conference tomorrow with his replacement Archbishop Terrence Prendergast, now overseeing the Halifax archdiocese.

Here's what Rocco Palmo had to say about the appointment at Whispers in the Loggia:

Within the hour, as the papal plane touched down at Fiumicino, Pope Benedict named Archbishop Terrence Prendergast of Halifax as archbishop of Ottawa. The 63 year-old Jesuit succeeds Archbishop Marcel Gervais, who reached the mandatory retirement age last September.


Prendergast's decade in the Maritimes has provided a re-energizing catalyst to its local church, even in the midst of parish closings and consolidations. In recent years, the archdiocese has hosted Atlantic Canada's incarnation of the wildly-popular Steubenville weekends for young people, and the appointment-day release from Halifax cites, among other particular initiatives, the archbishop's advocacy of the church's teachings on marriage and family life and a renewed appreciation for sacramental confession.
They're going to miss him in Halifax.


In Brazil the pope says focus on Jesus

From the Catholic News Service:

APARECIDA, Brazil (CNS) -- On a five-day visit to Latin America, Pope Benedict XVI identified a host of social and religious challenges and said the church should respond by focusing more clearly on the person of Jesus Christ.

"This is the faith that has made America the 'continent of hope.' Not a political ideology, not a social movement, not an economic system: faith in the God who is love -- who took flesh, died and rose in Jesus Christ," the pope said on the final day of his May 9-13 visit to Brazil.

It was a comment echoed in many of his encounters, which included a rally with young people, the canonization of the first Brazilian-born saint, and the inauguration of the Fifth General Conference of the Bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean.

The pope cited inroads by secularism, threats against the family and the institution of marriage, and an erosion of traditional Latin America values and said that in response the church needs to put greater emphasis on the religious education of its own members.

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More on the 10th annual March for Life

From my story for Canadian Catholic News posted on Catholic Online.

OTTAWA, Canada (CCN) – Concern for human rights and the growing use of abortion for sex selection dominated the annual March for Life May 10.

Canada’s known around the world for its support of human rights, but one right is missing and that’s unborn child’s right to life, Deputy Supreme Knight Dennis Savoie told the estimated nearly 7,000 people on Parliament Hill, the largest crowd in march’s ten-year history. Savoie, a Canadian, said Canada needed more politicians who were pro-life so this gap in the law can be filled.

Priests for Life national director Father Frank Pavone said a country cannot advance social justice, peace on earth or end terrorism unless it “starts at the beginning and stops the killing of the unborn.”

Pavone said the United States’ pro-life movement has “made some progress” with the recent Supreme Court decision upholding the partial birth abortion ban. He said opponents have cried the decision “chipping away at our right to choose.”

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Saturday, May 12, 2007

Great debate with Christopher Hitchens on Christianity

Thanks to Denyse O'Leary and her great blog The Mindful Hack, I followed a link to this exchange between Christopher Hitchens and Douglas Wilson.


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Friday, May 11, 2007

Two of my fellow bloggers at The Master's Artist Nominated for Christy Awards !!!!

Way to go Lisa Samson and Mary E. DeMuth!!!!!

More details here.

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Almost 7000 attend National March for Life

I dunno. It's hard to estimate crowd sizes at these things, but Campaign Life President Jim Hughes usually stands on a corner with a clicker to count participants in the annual March for Life. He said 6800 marched, while an estimated 100 stayed behind on the Hill.

It was one of the largest gatherings I've attended on the Hill, rivalling the March for Marriage in 2005.

Maclean's correspondent Kady O'Malley estimated 3,000.

I'll post more pictures and links as I get the time. Suzanne has posted some video of the march.

More later.


This just in on what the CBC reported about the March.

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Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Fathers and mothers best advocates for children

An all-party Senate report on children's rights that recommends creating a children's commissioner and abolishing spanking has raised concerns among some traditional family advocates.

"A children's commissioner could never replace a pro-active and comprehensive family policy," said Michele Boulva, director of the Catholic Organization for Life and Family (COLF).

Boulva would like to see Canadian families supported in their "irreplaceable role and mission" through tax policies and other government programs.

"Today, we find Canadian families are treated as an afterthought."

"I think the best commissioners for a child are mom and dad," said Dave Quist, executive director of the Institute of Marriage and Family Canada, an Ottawa-based think tank.

Children: The Silenced Citizens, a 296-page report by the Senate human rights committee wants to bring Canada more in line with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, ratified by Canada in 1992.

"The whole idea that you've got some fundamental right to know who your biological parents are and be reared by them is not mentioned at all," said Margaret Somerville, founding director of the McGill Centre for Medicine, Ethics and Law.

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Torture never justified according to Catholic Church

If Canadian soldiers are handing Taliban captives over to Afghan authorities, knowing they face torture, the soldiers, their commanding officers and the Canadian government are complicit and morally compromised, says Jesuit Father John Perry.

In a telephone interview, the author of Torture, Religious ethics and National security (Novalis 2005) said there is enough evidence that the Afghan prison system applies torture "just in case someone knows something" as routinely as North American police take DNA samples.

Perry, a professor at St. Paul's College at the University of Manitoba, said even a suspicion that handing over prisoners to torture demands that one adopts the conservative position.

"We can't smugly say they promised us they won't do this and we believe them."

Allegations that Afghan officials are torturing Taliban captives have dogged Canadian officials for months. Most recently an April 23 Globe and Mail story based on 30 face-to-face interviews with prisoners reported they claimed to have been beaten, starved and otherwise mistreated.

Counterterrorism expert John Thompson, a Catholic, is more skeptical of the Globe's allegations. In a telephone interview from Toronto April 23, he said Jihadis have all been instructed to say they've been tortured.

"The claim is always there. Often there is no physical evidence of torture at all."

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Faith-based successes against poverty greatest untold story

Canadian Catholic News: Faith-based successes against poverty greatest untold story, says veteran journalist
By Deborah Gyapong

Canadian Catholic News (

TORONTO, Canada (CCN) – The success of churches and faith-based organizations in providing disaster relief and fighting world poverty is one of “the greatest overlooked stories of our time,” said a veteran journalist.

Speaking to the Canadian Church Press (CCP) and Association of Roman Catholic Communicators of Canada (ARCCC) conference in Toronto May 3, CBC television journalist Brian Stewart praised the “courageous” work of churches and faith-based nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), calling them “uniquely efficient engines of human development.”

These organizations have had a “profound impact” on human rights, peace, health care, clean water, and education around the globe said Stewart, who has covered more than nine wars in his 43-year career.

Intractable world poverty is the “greatest problem of our time with the exception of global warming,” he said, yet the successes churches and NGOs have had are “almost always overlooked by the mainstream media.


The Defilers shortlisted for two awards

The Defilers has been shortlisted in two categories for awards sponsored by The Word Guild, a Canadian association of writers and editors who are Christian.

In the contemporary novel category it is up against Keith Clemons' beautifully-written These Little Ones. Keith stopped by The Master's Artist several months ago for a blog tour.

In the mystery/suspense category, The Defilers is up against Linda Hall's absorbing and interesting mystery Dark Water. Linda is one of my favorite mystery writers.

Awards don't do a whole lot for sales, alas, but they do provide a lift and a bit of encouragement. I remember sitting next to Jules three years ago at that same awards ceremony--the year before it became glitzy--when I came in second. Nothing sells books better than word of mouth, so, if you read The Defilers and liked it, please tell someone! The photo is another by Chris Humphrey Photography.

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Monday, May 07, 2007

Rocco Palmo on news coverage of Pope John Paul II

From his Whispers in the Loggia blog:

Having known a newsroom since my youngest days, I know all too well that few stories get a scribe's heart beating quicker than turning up the Klieg lights on a high-flier whose deeds don't match.up with their words. (This is something which, painfully, the church has experienced in unprecedented ways in recent years.) Even though one would be challenged to find a hotter spotlight than the papacy, it'd be an error to say that John Paul was Teflon, because there was little that could be thrown at him -- he got the marks he did for simply living the message, his message: He said "be not afraid," and he wasn't. He preached peace, and he lived it. He didn't just teach mercy -- he gave it, even under the most humanly challenging of circumstances.

At its best and fairest -- which it is more than it usually gets credit for -- the press doesn't demonize or hunt down at will; it simply holds public actors responsible for the standards they set for themselves. This shouldn't be a concept foreign to the life of the church. We even have our own term for it: "faithful witness." The editorial boards might voice gripes about some aspects of church teaching on the occasional slow news day, but in the face of Papa Wojtyla's testimony of faith and the end of its earthly chronicle, even on those same opinion pages no doctrinal qualms could dilute an overarching sense of respect, appreciation and admiration, whether from people of this faith, those of other faiths, and even those of no faith.

Moral of the story: the credibility of an exemplary witness is not limited to this flock alone. Talk of policies, documents, spats and speculation will come and go, but in the modern Areopagus the story of this church -- both in history and in the daily papers -- is written with the ink of its sons and daughters, whose fidelity becomes (even in these oft-underrated times) a contagious light and leaven in the world for people of good will, or whose glaring inconsistencies become the perilous obstacle to faith.

Read the whole thing. I agree with Rocco that the mainstream news coverage of Pope John Paul II around the time of his death was deserved, and wonderful. However, I see it as miraculous. I remember how often previously he was painted as a right-wing reactionary, a scold, a man bent on imposing his authoritarian views on the Church. So---while it is true that in death he finally got the positive coverage he deserved, in his life he was often portrayed in a negative, moralistic light. Same with the new pope, who is surprising many that he doesn't live up to his nasty reputation as a legalistic, harsh dictator.

Even righteous living inside and out does not spare Christians from being lied about and portrayed unfairly, and John Paul II was no exception, unfortunately.

I do see signs of improvement, at least here in Canada and lots of that has to do with the willingness of faithful Catholics like Fr. Tom Rosica, who organized World Youth Day 2002 in Toronto. He built bridged with members of the mainstream media and has consequently become one of the people in their digital equivalent of the Rolodex. Thus he was one of the on air commentators during the CBC's wonderful coverage of the Pope's funeral. It used to be that the one of the few contacts in the Rolodex was an ex-nuns with an anti-Catholic agenda. (And, interestingly, the first post on the CBC's web upon the pope's death was an interview with said ex-nun about how awful he had been.)

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Kathy Shaidle on upcoming Marxist conference in Toronto

Kathy writes: "Hey, now that's something new: a "Marxist Gala", complete with vegetarian buffet and "Resistance thru Modern Dance". Bet the women grow out their leg hair for that special event!"

Kathy links to Blazing Cat Fur who has more details about the various speakers at this event.

He writes: "On with the Show ! Marxists & Muslims together again in a Festival of Resistance here in a Canadian city! Blazingcatfur can't make this stuff up, they won't let him."

I join them in wondering about this odd alliance between the left and Islamic extremists. When I need an explanation, I turn to Dr. Sanity for a diagnoses.

Today Dr. Sanity writes (about the left in general):

Their agenda isn't about reality at all. It is about being able to prance around demonstrating what wonderful people they are because they sincerely believe in peace and justice and brotherhood. Who cares if such behavior supports the real warmongers of the world; results in horrific injustice; and makes the concept of brotherhood laughable? They meant well and that's all that counts in their delusional brains.

Read her whole post and follow her excellent links.

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Sunday, May 06, 2007

Kathy Shaidle on the 9/11 "truthers"

No one with an ounce of integrity could sincerely believe in 9/11 conspiracies and continue to go on, not only living, but grabbing their morning vente latte and texting their equally vapid pals as if nothing had happened. Your actions do not match your thoughts and beliefs. And isn't "hypocrisy" the worst sin in the lefty handbook?

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Balanced abortion story in the National Post

This story is one example why The National Post is Canada's best newspaper.

Amazing. It's a reasoned, reasonable look at the abortion debate. Read it now as I'm not sure when it will go behind a subscriber firewall. The blog photo is from last year's March for Life. An excerpt of Anne Marie Owens excellent piece follows:

How did abortion, that most contentious of issues, become one that is simply not discussed publicly?

Anne Marie Owens, National Post

Published: Saturday, May 05, 2007

When several thousand anti-abortion demonstrators gather on Parliament Hill next week, as they do every year at this time, their protest is likely to be largely ignored, as it is every year, by most politicians and the media. The annual silent treatment could be explained away by the frequency of protest marches on Parliament, if the reaction was not such an apt reflection of the state of the abortion debate, such as it is, in Canada.

While the American squabbles between the religious right and the pro-choice movement spill over into the mainstream, the Canadian abortion debate is largely reserved for the fringes. But does the silence in the middle, which is typically put down to complacency, really signify that most Canadians consider the abortion debate pretty much over?


Saturday, May 05, 2007

Relief Journal -- an antidote to gag-inducing fiction

Over at The Master's Artist, Dave Long's Faith in Fiction Blog and Mick Silva's Your Writer's Group there has been an ongoing discussion on the quality of so-called Christian fiction. This discussion has resulted in some hurt feelings, some noses out of joint, and a circling of the wagons in some quarters. is understandable that writers who have worked very hard to get where they are, who have paid their dues and who are far better than the stereotype of bad Christian fiction might lead most people to believe would feel they are being unfairly tarred by a broad brush. And given that many of the critics are wanna bes who have never been published, or like me, have only one novel out, it's easy to see why they might think we're crying sour grapes. It is easy to criticize. It's not easy to write fiction well.

It is also not easy to turn the publishing industry around. Even editors who are sympathetic with a move to more literary work have their marketing and sales folks to persuade. It is not easy selling books. However, there is a growing group of people who are trying to do something about the state of Christian fiction and Christian writing in general.

One effort is the new Relief Journal. Mark Bertrand is the fiction editor. I've received too issues so far and my oh my is it good!

At Relief's website the mission is as follows:

A full picture of Christ involves a juxtaposition of life and death, this moment and eternity, crucifixion and resurrection. Death and heaven and hell are only half of the picture. Many examine life only through a lens of death, as if life is only valuable as a tryout for the afterlife. Christ did speak to what would happen when we die, but he was also extraordinarily concerned with what can happen when we live. He focused often on the here and now of life, teaching that he came to give us life, and life abundantly.
The goal of this publication is to pursue a complete picture of Christ and life –- real, gritty, painful, wonderful, this-side-of-heaven life. In an effort to never offend, too many Christian publications fail to express the power of a real Christ in a real world, opting instead for clichés and placating expressions of the ideal. Relief seeks to bridge the gap between mainstream fiction and cotton-candy Christianity. Christ's goal was never to keep us sheltered and comfortable. He did not pull his punches. The primary measuring stick for good Christian writing cannot continue to be safety. It must be skill - the ability to expose what is real, express it eloquently, punch the reader.
For authors who cry out for a venue and readers who long for stories that don’t make them gag, we present Relief.
Faith in Fiction and Relief recently held a short story contest. The winner and the runner up have been announced. Both will be published in Relief. Faith in Fiction also published some of the runners up and boy oh boy are they ever good! Congratulations especially to my fellow Canadian author Susan Fish, a member of the Word Guild for her memorable story.

Subscribe to Relief Journal. Support efforts to make Christian writing the best writing there is.


J. Mark Bertrand on his favorite fifth grade teacher

Over at The Master's Artist, Mark Bertrand has this gem. Bookmark this site. Everyday there is something new and all the posts are worth reading.

He writes:

Mr. Gabbard wore plaid, Western yoke shirts with pearl snaps, and a thick leather belt with his name embossed on the back and a broad silver buckle under his belly, its surface embellished with a big gold G. His black, wavy hair glistened with Brylcreem, and he had a splendid, old-fashioned mustache. I remember, too, his coppery, leather-like skin, evidence of all the years he'd spent in the sun. Mr. Gabbard was no ordinary fifth-grade history teacher. No clip-ons and pocket protectors for him. His idea of "dressed up" was a bolo tie. His classroom had windows down one side and blackboards on the opposite wall and up front, and these he filled with exotic locations and dates until there was hardly an empty space left. Above the boards, several tiers of roll-down maps were mounted. As he taught, Mr. Gabbard pulled one down, then another, until half his writing was covered over. I remember that room being larger than it probably was. I remember it being big as the whole world.

What I received from Mr. Gabbard was a love of geography and maps, an interest in other places and their curious names. As a young man, he had shipped out with the Navy to see the world, so his love of far-off locales wasn't secondhand. He waxed eloquent one afternoon about shore leave in Naples, a faraway look in his small, black eyes. Maybe it wasn't appropriate to reminisce about such things in front of fifth graders, but I don't imagine Mr. Gabbard worried much about what was appropriate.

He didn't teach like a man who'd studied past conflict. It was more like he'd been there personally, and even thrown a few of punches himself.

Read it all.

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John O'Sullivan on Pope John Paul II, Reagan and Thatcher

OTTAWA, Canada (CCN) – Pope John Paul II, President Ronald Reagan and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher were individuals considered unlikely to become leaders, but they played a key role in the defeat of communism.

That’s what author, commentator and former Thatcher advisor John O’Sullivan argues in his latest book The Pope, the President and the Prime Minister: Three Who Changed the World.

All three leaders were deeply Christian, with the Pope and “arguably” Reagan both mystics, he said during a talk in Ottawa April 30.

O’Sullivan, a practicing Catholic, said John Paul II was considered “too Catholic to be pope” when he was elected in 1978. As a Pole, and a fervent anti-communist, he resisted appeasement, putting him out of step with Vatican policies that treated communism as “here to stay” in Eastern Europe and sought accommodation so has to protect church members behind the Iron Curtain.