Deborah Gyapong: June 2007

Saturday, June 30, 2007

How blockbusters have skewed Christian publishing

Most interesting story about Christian publishing here. The excerpt includes a little anecdote about Cec Murphey, a mentor and friend to many of us writers who are Christian.

In the fall of 2003, Cecil "Cec" Murphey, a professional writer who has written or co-authored more than 100 books, got a call from a Texas Baptist minister named Don Piper. Back in the late 1980s, Piper had been in a horrific auto accident—his Ford Escort was literally run over by a semi truck. His left leg had been pulverized, his right leg broken, his pelvis shattered, and his left arm nearly severed. Yet Piper fought back and learned to walk again—an almost miraculous recovery.

The problem was in writing about another part of Piper's story.

When Texas state troopers arrived at the scene of his accident, they found no pulse, so they covered Piper with a tarp and began clearing traffic. When another Baptist pastor, Dick Onerecker, arrived on the scene, he prayed for Piper and sang several hymns. In the middle of "What a Friend We Have in Jesus," Onerecker heard Piper singing along.

During the 90 minutes between the accident and his reawakening, Piper says he went to heaven. He stood before a gate made of pearl and was welcomed by loved ones. Just before passing through the gate, Piper felt snatched back to earth and woke up in his crushed Ford.

Cec taught a course at Write! Canada in 2003. He blessed me a great deal, especially his advice to enjoy God in the process of writing, but to leave the results--i.e. publication etc.--to Him.

The rest of the article concerns blockbuster bestsellers and how they have skewed the market in the Christian publishing industry. Read the rest here.

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Thursday, June 28, 2007

Archbishop Prendergast says all are called to holiness

Here's an excerpt from my story on Archbishop Terrence Prendergast's installation as Ottawa's new shepherd.

In his homily he said all Catholics--including lay people--are called to the path of holiness:

You can read the whole story here:

Now the excerpt:

Archbishop Terrence Prendergast described how he walked by various Ottawa landmarks while pondering the challenges facing the archdiocese. He mentioned observing the Parliament buildings, the United States Embassy, the prime minister’s residence, Rideau Hall, and various museums and other landmarks on both sides of the Ottawa River.

He remarked how Ottawa not only contains the levers of government, the institutions of commerce, banking and technology.

“It must be very challenging, even heady, to be part of the apparatus that lies at the heart of Canadian life,” he said, noting that one can yearn for leadership, to “make one’s mark” and to “change things.”

He contrasted those desires with the prophetic promises in Isaiah: “to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to captives and release to the prisoners…to comfort all who mourn…to give them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness … the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit.”

“What could possibly stand in the way of our being able to do this?” he ask.

Read the rest at Catholic Online.

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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Blog posts elsewhere today

I've posted both at The Master's Artist and Canadian Authors who are Christian today.

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Friday, June 22, 2007

Pro abortion type admits to cheating on CBC wish list

From Babble,'s discussion board. Michelle is listed as a moderator.

I don't see why voting multiple times is "cheating". The whole thing is a
stupid farce anyhow and has been freeped by a tiny minority of people who
want to take away women's rights. And the CBC is thrilled with the result -
they think it proves something or other. It's a big sociological experiment
to them.

Well, voting multiple times is just as much a sociological outcome of some
stupid thing like this as allowing your poll to be freeped by a right-wing
minority and then giving them a national platform to spew their woman-hating
I wonder if they'd be so complacent if some racist, right-wing fringe
decided to freep the poll with something like, "I wish Canada could be
preserved for the white race" or "I wish all Jews and Muslims would convert
to Christianity in Canada"?
[ 22 June 2007: Message edited by: Michelle

Find out more about the Great Canadian Wish List at

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Thursday, June 21, 2007

Abolish Abortion still at top of CBC list

Here's a more expanded version of the story I did, picked up by The Western Catholic Reporter.

"Lots of people say it's a dead issue, but for many Canadians obtaining rights for unborn children is a top issue," she said. [Suzanne Fortin]

Fortin reported that pro-choice blogs are recruiting people, including Americans, to join Facebook and vote for the pro-choice wish.

"If their cause is so popular why do they need Americans to support their wish?" she said. "I've made it very clear in every communication I only want Canadians joining."

Fortin has also tried to bump the pro-choice wish from second place by urging support for additional wishes such as "For a spiritual revival in our nation" and "Restore the Traditional Definition of Marriage," socially conservative wishes that have remained in the top 10.

Fortin is not alone in her efforts. She described the grassroots movement to keep the wish at the top as "diffuse" and "widespread."

Facebook has exploded on the Canadian scene in recent weeks. News outlets have used Facebook profiles to find out information about murder suspects. Politicians are using Facebook to stay in touch with voters and journalists are using Facebook to gain access to the profiles of politicians.

Catholic groups abound, including one for the 2008 Eucharistic Congress in Quebec.

Make a wish

Fortin has instructions on how to join Facebook and register on the wish contest at her website

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Spiritual Brain gets a good review

My friend Denyse O'Leary, aka The Mindful Hack, reports that the book she has coming out co-authored with Montreal neuroscientist Mario Beauregard called "The Spiritual Brain: a Neuroscientist's Case for the Existence of the Soul" has received an excellent review from Publisher's Weekly. Denyse writes:

It was great that the reviewer homed in on some of what Mario and I are trying to do - expose the sheer shoddiness of so much materialist thinking in neuroscience in the area of spirituality.

Naturally, I wish more had been said about the growing body of non-materialist neuroscience - and how and why it works - which we outline in the book in considerable detail. Mario, after all, is recognized as a pioneer in this area. But hey, this is a 200-word review, and we are off to a good start if a non-materialist perspective can get serious, non-hostile attention for a change.

A"lively" introduction, the reviewer says. Yes indeed. I swore I'd die laughing when I heard some of the materialist theories of spirituality that have actually been taken seriously in recent years.
For links to the review and more, go here.


Female Presbyterian minister sues and wins

A most interesting story on

THE P.E.I. Human Rights Commission awarded a fired Presbyterian Church minister $600,000 last week, ruling that she was fired due to gender discrimination.

In 1986, Matheson began receiving anonymous letters which cited Bible verses against women clergy, complained about sermon lengths and service times -- and accused Matheson of having a lesbian affair, and of abusing members of the girls' choir. Matheson hired a handwriting expert to trace the letters to a female member of the congregation, but was forced to apologize when she could not prove the woman had written the letters.

About the same time, Elmer MacPherson, chair of the manse committee, began stalking Matheson. MacPherson was removed from the church in 1988 and was convicted of stalking in 1991.

The P.E.I. presbytery appointed a committee to investigate the problems; they cleared Matheson of the lesbianism and child abuse charges, but this did not resolve the other problems.

Presbytery appointed further committees in the 1990s to investigate ongoing tensions in the church. They finally concluded that the relationship between Matheson and the church could not be restored, and removed Matheson from the charge in 1996. She was asked to undergo a personal and professional assessment before being given another charge. She refused. Since that time, she has had only sporadic employment.

Read the whole thing. The EFC's Don Hutchinson talks about the legal and religious freedom ramifications in the piece.

Sounds like the making of a novel.

Abolish Abortion in Canada top of CBC list

Here's my story, posted on The Catholic Register's great new site.

OTTAWA - When the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) set up a Facebook group on the Internet called The Great Canadian Wish List , perhaps no one could have predicted that “Abolish Abortion in Canada” would rise to first place almost from the very start. is the latest Internet phenomenon. The web site allows people to connect, join networks and start and join groups. Members can upload photos, music and videos.

The CBC jumped on the bandwagon, sponsored the group and called on Canadians to post their wishes for Canada’s 140th birthday. It will announce the winning wish on July 1, Canada Day.

As of June 18, the “Abolish Abortion in Canada” wish had more than 4,200 votes, with “I wish that Canada would remain pro-choice” in second place, almost 1,000 votes behind early in the day but steadily gaining as the day went on.
Read the rest here.

Note that the pro-abortion forces are openly recruiting Americans.

Suzanne Fortin has the latest information on the vote at
You can find out how to register for Facebook and how to vote for your wish for Canada.

John Pacheco is also covering it at Socon or Bust.

He writes:

First, it will strike down the myth that abortion is a settled issue in this country. In fact, even if we were to lose this contest, we would still show that this issue is far from over. Indeed, it will
never ever be over until we have won. And we will win. Count on it.

Second, we need to show the CBC that their days of biased anti-Christian, anti-life bigotry and lame duck liberalism are over. If they want to stay relevant to a new breed of young Canadians (the ones who are the backbone of the pro-life wish), they'd better get with the program fast and start opening up opportunities for pro-lifers and other social conservatives to contribute their views on the nation's public airwaves, both in news coverage and programming.
Please note that, like Suzanne, he is specifically asking American friends NOT to vote for the CBC wish.

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Monday, June 18, 2007

Opus Dei celebrates 50th anniversary in Canada

OTTAWA (CCN) -- Opus Dei has come a long way in Canada since Cardinal
Paul-Emile Leger of Montreal invited Opus Dei to open its first centre near the
University of Montreal 50 years ago.

Read the rest here at B.C. Catholic.


Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Me and the Prime Minister

A couple of weeks ago, I attended a garden party for National Press Gallery members at 24 Sussex Drive, the Prime Minister's official residence.

There were tents out on the lawn, lots of entertainment for young children, food, wine and an opportunity to get your picture taken with Prime Minister Stephen Harper. So here I am.


Darwinism replacing the Christian story

OTTAWA, Canada (Canadian Catholic News) – Is Darwinism science or a form of religion? What are the consequences to the human person, especially in the practice of medicine through a Darwinist approach? A group of Christian medical doctors from across North America pondered these questions during a week-long course at Ottawa’s Augustine College June 3-9, examining Darwinism from philosophical, literary, artistic and ethical perspectives.

Augustine College president Dr. John Patrick, a pediatrician and retired Ottawa University professor, believes that the “Darwinian myth” is becoming the “ordering myth” for the West, replacing the Christian story, with potentially disastrous consequences.

“Who would you rationally trust when we legalize doctor-assisted suicide?” he asked. “A Darwinist physician or a doctor who believes in judgment after death?”

Darwin’s theories of natural selection, survival of the fittest and of evolutionary progress are making an impact on health care, even though Patrick describes the art of medicine as “very anti-Darwinist” in its care for the sick and the vulnerable. But that is changing as society becomes “profoundly incoherent,” he said.

Read the rest here.

The photo shows Dr. John Patrick. For more pictures of Augustine College and the recent course on Darwinism scroll down, or go here.

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Monday, June 11, 2007

Mark D. Roberts slices and dices Christopher Hitchens God book

Mark D. Roberts, a Presbyterian pastor, New Testament scholar, Harvard PhD, and expert on ancient Gnostic texts, is slicing and dicing Christopher Hitchen's anti-God screed god is not Great: How religion poisons everything.

Therefore, as I read god is not Great, wading through Hitchens's rhetorically-charged version of many purported facts, I was especially attentive to his statements about the New Testament and related scholarship. Would he get these "facts" right? Would he say things that most honest scholars, no matter their theological persuasion, would affirm? If Hitchens scored relatively high in his truth score when it came to the New Testament, then I'd be inclined to believe him about other things as well. He would have shown himself to be a careful thinker, researcher, and writer. If, however, Hitchens scored low in his New Testament truth score, if he made obvious errors and biased misstatements, then I would tend to question his reliability about other statements of fact as well.

The bad news for Christopher Hitchens is that he gets a low mark for accuracy when it comes to his statements about the New Testament and New Testament scholarship. In fact, I found fifteen factual errors in this material. I also identified sixteen statements that show what I consider to be a substantial misunderstanding or distortion of the evidence, even though a few scholars might agree with Hitchens. That's why I distinguish between factual errors and misunderstandings/distortions, in an effort to be clear and fair.

If my evaluation is anywhere near correct, this does not reflect well upon god is not Great, since the New Testament material comprises only about 6% of the whole book. How many other errors fill the pages of this book? I'll let suitable experts answer this question. But the obvious implication of what I discovered is that Christopher Hitchens is not a reliable reporter of facts, probably because has not done his homework adequately. He is, after all, a brilliant man with an inquisitive and well-tuned mind. Given my evaluation of his errors in the field I know best, however, I'm inclined to question his statements of "fact" concerning many other things. And my disbelief is not a belief. It's a reasonable conclusion based on the facts of Hitchens's numerous mistakes and misstatements.

Read the rest here.

Listen to Roberts debate Hitchens here.

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Augustine College offers course on Darwinism

I love Augustine College. It offers students a one year program that exposes them to the foundational ideas of Western civilization within the context of a faithful Christian community. Every year the college also offers a week-long course to Christian doctors and dentists from across North America. This year the course looked at Darwinism from philosophical, ethical, artistic and literary perspectives. I got to sit in on some of the lectures and write about them. I will post a link if my story gets picked up. In the meantime, I promised some of the attendees I would post some photos, so here they are.

Catholic Online, one of the world's biggest Catholic websites has picked up the story I wrote about the seminar. You can read it here.

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Catholic Register revamps website

The Catholic Register has revamped its website. It will feature new stories every day and will likely feature a number of mine. One of them is the story I did last week on the pope's latest appointments to the episcopacy here in Canada.

OTTAWA - On June 1, Pope Benedict XVI made three Episcopal appointments in Canada and accepted two resignations, close on the heels of recent appointments to Ottawa, Edmonton and Saint John, N.B.

In this recent flurry, the Pope appointed a coadjutor archbishop for Vancouver (Archbishop J. Michael Miller), replaced the retiring Ukrainian Eparch of New Westminster, B.C., with Fr. Kenneth Nowakowski, filled the vacant Kingston archdiocese with Archbishop Brendan O’Brien, and accepted the resignation of Hamilton Auxiliary Bishop Matthew Ustrycki.

Two archdioceses — both in Atlantic Canada — and the Pembroke, Ont., diocese remain open.

Read the rest here.

Bookmark the Register's site, visit often and let them know if you like it.

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Monday, June 04, 2007

Peter Hitchens reviews Christopher Hitchens' anti-religion book

You must read this whole thing. Via Relapsed Catholic and Little Green Footballs.

Because my father was in the Navy, we were brought up in a very
old-fashioned Britain. Looking back, it often seems to have been a sombre
landscape of grey warships and the stench of fuel-oil – but also of cathedral
towers, bells and choral evensong.


At the heart of this book are two extraordinary, bold statements. One is a
declaration of absolute faith, faith that religion has got it wrong, a mental
thunderbolt of unbelief.

Christopher describes how at the age of nine he concluded that his teacher’s claim that the world must be designed was wrong. "I simply knew, almost as if I had privileged access to a higher authority, that my teacher had managed to get everything wrong."

At the time of this revelation, he knew nothing of the vast, unending argument between those who maintain that the shape of the world is evidence of design, and those who say the same world is evidence of random, undirected natural selection.
It’s my view that he still doesn’t know all that much about this interesting dispute.
Yet at the age of nine, he "simply knew" who had won one of the oldest debates
in the history of mankind.

Read the rest here.

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Conscience rights of pro-life doctors threatened

Should doctors who object to abortion on religious or conscience grounds be
forced to refer patients seeking to terminate their pregnancies?

Should abortion be a required procedure for all medical students?

These questions are at the heart of a looming battle over a Canadian
Medical Association (CMA) policy that presently allows doctors to refuse to make
referrals. The National Abortion Federation (NAF) is lobbying CMA to change the

"I find as a Catholic physician, it is extremely important that
both Catholics and people of good will make an effort to politely request to the
powers that be - colleges of physicians, the CMA, and the government - to uphold
these protections for conscience," said Dr. Rene Leiva, an Ottawa-family doctor,
in an interview.

"If you take away the conscience and the right to object of a Catholic
physician, you are taking away their integrity."

Read the rest here at the Western Catholic Reporter website.


Archbishop Gervais looks back on his years in Ottawa

Here's a link to the profile I did of retiring Ottawa Archbishop Marcel Gervais, published last week in The Catholic Register and available through their website. I also grabbed this shot of Archbishop Gervais as he joined the procession into Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica for a mass celebrating his 18 years in the archdiocese. I love the joy on his face. Unfortunately, it's out of focus, so I couldn't publish it---except here.

Since he arrived in 1989, Ottawa Archbishop Marcel Gervais has done a
deft job of maintaining unity in the bilingual diocese covering Canada’s capital
where national concerns like same-sex marriage become a unique challenge.

He has managed to keep the peace between French- and English-speaking
Catholics during a time of demographic change, leading to church closings in the
city centre and sod-turnings for new churches in the suburbs. He has kept the
church unified in a diocese where parishes run the gamut from traditionalist St.
Clement’s with its Latin Mass, to the liberal St. Joseph’s with its
inclusiveness and love for social justice. He has overseen the flourishing of
the charismatic Companions of the Cross and recently blessed the habits of the
Companions’ first nuns. Not only that, Gervais has contributed immeasurably to a
spirit of Christian unity in Ottawa. His willingness to support the 1998 Billy
Graham Mission in the national capital is widely credited with helping drop
denominational barriers. Inspired by the Second Vatican Council, Gervais has
also been tireless in promoting interfaith dialogue with Jews, Muslims, Hindus
and other religions.

Read the rest here.

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Friday, June 01, 2007

Opus Dei Vicar describes how God "zapped" him

There are days when I love being a journalist. Monday was one of those days. I got to spend more than two hours interviewing Msgr. Fred Dolan, the Vicar for Opus Dei in Canada.

Though I obtained material for three or more stories, I confess my favorite stories to write are those that highlight the supernatural moves of God on individual lives, so I wrote up this one first.
Today it got picked up by Catholic Online.

OTTAWA, Canada (CCN) – Canada’s Opus Dei Vicar Msgr. Fred Dolan, like many boys growing up in devout Catholic families, used to play priest as a child, but he had no intention of becoming one.

Even after he joined Opus Dei as a teenager, he dated “like any other kid” fully expecting to one day marry and have a family, he said in an interview here.

While attending Columbia University and living in the Opus Dei center in Manhattan, the center’s director asked him if he had ever considered apostolic celibacy.

After two weeks of prayer, Msgr. Dolan told him, “I don’t see it.”

God had other plans. On Dec. 5, 1975, Dolan had what he calls his “Road to Damascus” experience. Working on a paper on Gulliver’s Travels, he decided to take a study break. He went over to the center’s book shelf and took down C.S. Lewis’s The Great Divorce. A friend had told him about scene depicting a lizard on a man’s shoulder arguing with his guardian angel on the other. He found it immediately.

“The Holy Spirit used the pages of C.S. Lewis to zap me,” Msgr. Dolan said. Instantly he saw two paths open up before him.

Read the rest here. All week, things he said have come to mind as I go about my daily work, things that have lifted my spirits and helped me do everything "heartily as unto the Lord."

I have better photos, but alas, I must save them for the papers I write for.
This shows Msgr. Dolan in the lovely chapel at the Opus Dei residence for men in Ottawa.