Deborah Gyapong: July 2009

Friday, July 31, 2009

Act of love of the holy priest of Ars

I am looking forward to Archbishop Prendergast's updating his blog. In the meantime, I had hoped to steal a beautiful prayer that he included in this most recent post. But alas, it won't seem to paste for some reason. So, go on over and visit the Archbishop's excellent blog for your edification. You won't regret it, even if you are one of my evangelical readers.

He makes the life of a bishop seem like such a joyful enterprise.


Here's the prayer. A gift and not stolen!


I love you, oh my God and my only desire is to love you until my last breath.

I love you, oh infinitely loveable God and I prefer to die loving you than to live a single moment without loving you.

I love you, oh my God and I long for heaven only in order to know the bliss of loving you perfectly.

I love you, oh my God and I only fear going to hell because there I will never experience the sweet consolation of loving you.

Oh my God, if my tongue is not able to say at every opportunity that I love you, I want at least my heart to repeat it to you as many times as I take a breath.

My God give me the grace of suffering out of love for you, of loving you while I suffer. Give me the grace of one day breathing my last out of love for you and at the same time feeling how much I love you.

The closer I come to my final end the more I beseech you to intensify and perfect my love for you. Amen

Isn't that beautiful? I especially love this verse: My God give me the grace of suffering out of love for you, of loving you while I suffer. Give me the grace of one day breathing my last out of love for you and at the same time feeling how much I love you.

Michael Harris calls it a cover up

Michael Harris's investigative journalism has led to I don't know how many Royal Commissions, but there have been more than a few. Now a talk radio host on CFRA, Michael also has a Friday column in the Ottawa Sun. Today's is blistering on the Communion controversy. He writes (my bolds):

For observant Catholics, the host is the body of Christ in the Eucharist, so it obviously matters to them. We do all Catholics a disservice by trivializing or totally ignoring that part of the story, no matter how deep our secular stupor has become.

Does it matter to the prime minister? Of course it does, because he says he received the host, which means his credibility is on the line. It also matters because he was apparently set up by someone to make Canadians believe he had palmed the wafer like a card shark might slip an ace up his sleeve in a crooked poker game.

Does it matter to the newspaper that broke this story, the New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal? Now we are back to Scobie and Graham Greene, for this is a matter of the newspaper’s soul. This is not getting something wrong, this is making something wrong.


The apology is a cover-up, not a remorseful recognition of a mistake. I have been a publisher and an editor-in-chief. I know that what happened at the New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal had nothing to do with “editing.” The copy of two reporters was transformed and sent on a mission, not edited.

Michael demands the answers to a number of questions that I, frankly, am surprised to see that he is the only one asking. But then, Michael has a prophetic streak and saw the innocence and railroading of Donald Marshall when everyone had written him off, who recognized the sexual and physical abuse of Mt. Cashel orphans by Christian Brothers when no one else is paying attention, and so on.

He concludes:

Someone tried to corrupt the public record through a newspaper. If that’s a laughing matter, the joke is on everyone.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Not the way to woo Catholic voters

Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff has been making a concerted effort to Catholic voters back through the efforts of Liberal MP John McKay, a staunch pro-life evangelical. They want to show that socially conservative Catholics and evangelicals have a home in the big Liberal tent. I know John and he's a good guy. I've met Michael Ignatieff and heard him speak on religious matters and I like him.

But like "revanche," who made the following comment over at Steve Janke's site, I'm puzzled by the official Opposition Leader's Office response. Here's "revanche."(my bolds).

I am surprised Iggy's office is still flogging that YouTube video in their official response.

Very classy.

Mr. Ignatieff, If you really are interested in defending the sacred, start by contemplating what the Eucharist is, the grace it represents and what it cost the Giver to bring us all to His table.

Then ask yourself, is it wise to ask people who take this seriously to take offense where clearly none was meant?

If this is your strategy to attract Catholic voters, then you really do not understand Catholics at all. Do you now understand why this "scandal" backfired on you, why your YouTube video isn't getting many hits?

As an alternative, why not try forming policies that respect Catholic values?

Not comfortable bringing religion into politics? Funny, you brought it up...
You can see the official response at Steve's site or at Kady O'Malley's blog.

The issue isn't when and how Harper consumed Communion. The continued focus on that is offensive. Those who keep referring back to the video, to what most believing Catholics have been willing to forgive, are making a grave mistake if they think it'll win Catholic voters by harping on this.

Time to doff the clown suits

Great essay by Edward T. Oakes, S.J.:

In 1968, a professor of theology at the University of Regensburg wrote a modestly sized treatise on the Apostles' Creed called Introduction to Christianity. Its impact, however, was anything but modest, for the book so captivated Pope Paul VI that he made its author archbishop of Munich (and later cardinal, one of his last appointments to the college); and just a few years later, the new pope, John Paul II, summoned the same man to Rome to head the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. His name, of course, was Joseph Ratzinger.
Not many books have changed history, but this one certainly did, not just for the author personally but also for the wider Church. For it would be hard to exaggerate the influence of this bookish Bavarian, not just on John Paul II (perhaps the most influential pope in history) but on Catholics worldwide through the cardinal's role as doctrinal overseer and enforcer of magisterial orthodoxy, and now, as the Supreme Pontiff himself. What made the book itself so remarkable was not just its deft use of the Apostles' Creed to explain Christianity to the lay reader or its acute analysis of unbelief and the secular mind. An even greater virtue of the book was the future pope's keen analysis of why the promising spirit of Vatican II failed to bring about a reunited Christianity and a re-Christianized Europe.
According to Ratzinger's analysis, post-Enlightenment Christianity in Europe had been conned into adopting an evangelical strategy too superficial in its approach and too intimidated by Enlightened objections to Christian doctrine. He illustrated the reasoning behind this anemic strategy with a parable, one that Søren Kierkegaard once recounted about a fire that breaks out backstage right before a circus is set to perform. In panic the stage manager sends out one of the performers -- a clown as it happens, and naturally already in costume -- to warn the audience to leave immediately. But the spectators take the clown's desperate pleas as part of his schtick; and the more he gesticulates the more they laugh, until fire engulfs the whole theater. This, said Kierkegaard, is the situation of Christians: The more they gesticulate with their creed, the more laughable they seem to their skeptical neighbors, until the world becomes engulfed in the flames of war and mutual hatred -- a hell on earth as prelude to the hell after death. If only these Christian clowns had first thought to change out of their goofy costume, he implied, the theatergoing world might have been spared.

This is really good

All of this David Layman post on the Spengler First Things blog is well worth reading for its look at the parable of the Good Samaritan:

I was trying to locate some of the 0ld warnings about mixing religion and politics. So I searched for “God not Republican”. I was informed, however, that that “Campaign [is] Unavailable.” The “alert has expired.” Fuggedaboutit. Drop it. The crisis is inoperative.

The Alert has expired!

The Alert has expired!

On further thought, I realized: boy, that’s a relief. Another fearsome enemy of democracy and the American way has been vanquished. The dark clouds of the Bush theocracy that were about to terminally overshadow our freedoms forever have dissipated in the bright light of Obama’s smile.

Alas, just when I thought as a believer that it was safe to let politics be politics and God be God, the claim that God does take political sides reasserts itself: Oliver Reed disingenously asks the question: “Would God back universal health care?” What?

Please read the whole post.

Then consider this. If we are coerced to be neighborly, are we fulfilling the law of love?

There does need to be redistribution of wealth, self-sacrificing love of the neighbor. But the key is that it must be voluntary if it is to be truly charitable.

The problem with statism and utopian Marxist dreams of universal equality is the way they trample on human freedom. Some virulent forms end up being murderous towards those who refuse to cower before the system.

Shameful, shameful, shameful

So, I open up my Citizen and my National Post this morning and there is nothing about the Communion scandal--the real one---the Telegraph Journal apology for the original bogus story and the fact that every major news media treated it as fact and covered it upside down and backwards for days.

Well, maybe tomorrow. Maybe on the weekend we'll see a column or two looking back at this. I am an optimist and have the great fault of thinking more highly of people than they really are.

Charles Adler has these thoughts:

This story was supposed to be a Tory shroud, a garment to bury Harper with. But instead of burying him, they simply confirmed for him and to him and everyone else that is paying attention, that the newspaper had an agenda and maybe those who took it seriously and repeated the lie also have one. Now while the paper ran an apology there was no apology from the CBC or anyone else for treating the story as NEWS, not as a sideshow, not as a carnival, not as a oddity on the Internet, but as NEWS, like it really happened, like it was really truthful. Question to any mainstream media people listening. If you didn't fall in love with the story, but felt it was important to take seriously, why wouldn't you check with the priest, why wouldn't you check with the reporters on the story? It's clear as a bell their story was doctored as well, torqued, perverted, changed. They too were on the receiving end of an apology.

If the CBC and others want to continue to masquerade as agents of truth, as entertainers like me, talk shows hosts and pundits like me...if they want to pretend they are journalists why not practice Journalism 101, check out the facts as the newspaper laid them out. Confirm the story or drop it or say it's in one newspaper, one very liberal friendly newspaper. But if you simply adopt the story as truth because it conforms with your religiously held belief that the Prime Minister is an unknowing, uncaring, unfeeling, insensitive, anti-Catholic scoundrel, well then I suppose you would do what you did. And what you did wasn't honest, ethical, truthful, or useful. And you have not succeeded in portraying the PM as a scoundrel. But you have made yourselves look like Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.

Amen to that.

But hey, the truth will win in the end. The battle is the Lord's and everything that is hidden now will be shouted from the rooftops.

Here's what Douglas Todd had to say in the Vancouver Sun:

The slow-news summer “story” about whether Prime Minister Stephen Harper actually ate or pocketed a Catholic communion wafer had a bad smell even before the editors apologized for it, which they did today.
It had been the kind of religion story, unfortunately, that many cynical journalists are drawn to. Why? Because it makes Catholics and Protestants look like kooks, hung up on elaborate ritualistic niceties – rather than focussing on actually practising love or lending a hand to those who need it.

He also quotes John Stackhouse at length. Stackhouse supplies what I think is the most likely explanation for the Prime Minister's seeming hesitation after receiving the Host.

Oh, and here's the Star's contribution to the story.

Conservatives privately fanned a CTV report that suggested Liberals planted a false – and since retracted – story with a New Brunswick newspaper that the Prime Minister pocketed a communion wafer. The Liberals called the suggestion nonsense, and pointed to a CPAC video of the incident as self-explanatory.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

It just gets curioser and curioser . . .

Kady O'Malley has this response from the Opposition Leader's Office (OLO) about the Communion controversy that the mainstream media continues to call "Wafergate."

“This is nonsense. We didn’t record the videotape – CPAC did. And as the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. Canadians need only look at the video on You Tube to see what happened.”

In other words, about that Telegraph Journal apology to the Prime Minister and retraction of the accusations that he pocketed the Host? Nothing to see here, folks. Instead, look at the video because it proves our case.

But the video is inconclusive, if you look at it from an objective standpoint. Harper does not consume the Host on camera. But the camera moves away.

And, really, do most Canadians care?

This is really inside baseball for Catholics and evangelicals, two core constituencies that could make or break the Liberals in the next election. For most secularist journalists it's a joke.

But what's missing from the equation is genuine outrage from grassroots Catholics. Frankly, I know a lot of grassroots Catholics. I know a lot of people in the Catholic hierarchy. What the Prime Minister did at the funeral is not a big object of concern for them. There is forgiveness and a willingness to overlook what seems to have been an honest mistake on the part of the Prime Minister and the Moncton archbishop.

But if it proves true that what is sacred has been used as a political football, I dunno, the grassroots feeling on this could change drastically.

Check this Lisa Keenan column out from July 10

This is most interesting. From the July 10 Telegraph Journal by Lisa Keenan (my bolds):

I'm not sure that it will receive as many hits as Abraham Zapruder's film footage of John F. Kennedy being shot, or Susan Boyle's rendition of "I Dreamed a Dream," but video footage of Prime Minister Stephen Harper receiving the Holy Eucharist at Romeo Leblanc's funeral last week managed to send the Internet into a tizzy just as things were winding down from the Michael Jackson funeral. In the future it may be known as "The clip that launched a thousand blog entries!"

I would have missed the "scandal" entirely if I hadn't gone for my morning Tim's and run into a Liberal colleague, who chuckled, "We're going to force for an election over this!"

"What now?" I asked, with a pained expression.

"It seems your leader took communion in your church."

This is an election issue? Well, it may be now but not in the way said Liberal colleague planned.

If the Communion scandal was orchestrated . . .

it will only serve to drive away the Catholics and other religious voters who take their faith seriously. But that's my opinion.

Here's my latest news story on this at the Catholic Register's website.

Interestingly, while Liberal MP John McKay vigorously denies the Liberals had anything to do with planting a story in the Telegraph Journal, a Liberal partisan is still running videos on his blog, having uploaded a new one that was just posted on YouTube 20 hours ago. In other words, some Liberals are continuing repeat the allegation that Harper did not consume the Host.

I do not doubt John McKay was telling me the truth. But is he in the loop? Is Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff? Who is running the show? Is there, as I suspect, division in the Liberal Party over this?

Steve Janke at Angry in the Great White North raises some interesting questions about corruption of the media:

Political parties feed stories to the media all the time. To bloggers too. But journalists, professionals or amateurs, attempt to establish the veracity of the story before running it. It is part of their job, and a political party trying to push a story into the headlines knows that this is the case. Indeed, a story without any credibility would not likely get this far, the pols knowing it would never get past even the most sympathetic journalist. But in this case, as per Bob Fife's report, the political party bypassed the journalists to go to the publisher who then injected the unverified (and as it turns out, false) information into the story filed by two professional journalists. This is corruption in the classic sense -- the data delivered was not the data originally reported. This is not an example of trying to influence the media. This is an example of corrupting the media. The Liberals have to respond to Bob Fife's allegations -- admit that the allegations are true and reveal the details so the corruption can be rooted out, or accuse Bob Fife of being mistaken, and challenge him to provide more substantiating information. Because if the allegation is true, and that corrupting influence remains in the Liberal Party, unrevealed and free to continue his or her efforts or the credibility of the media is at risk.

Could this be the sponsorship scandal of the next election?

Well....if the votes of Catholics count in 2009 or 2010, it very well could be. But interestingly, the Catholics who really care about the Blessed Sacrament, (the ones targeted to be offended against Harper if the campaign was orchestrated), are the ones most likely to be completely and utterly turned off by the cynical manipulation of the central, dearly-loved element of their faith, the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist.

Small "l" liberal Catholics who believe more like Protestants that the Host is merely a symbol and would like a more open Communion table, won't care one way or the other what the Prime Minister did with the Host because to them it's not sacred. These small "l" liberal Catholics did not abandon the Liberals for the Tories. If they left the Liberals it was for the NDP or the Greens, unless they tended to be liberal on social issues and more conservative on the economy and national security---Blue Liberals, in other words.

No, the ones that really will care about this issue have probably already abandoned the Liberals and this will not make them eager to come back....that is if it can be proven that it was orchestrated.

Honduras the new pariah state

Dennis Prager is broadcasting his radio program from Honduras as a show of support. He writes:

The way in which nearly all the world's media portray the legal, Supreme Court-ordered ouster of President Manuel (Mel) Zelaya is one major reason for the universal opprobrium. Because military men took part in the deportation of the sitting president, it has been portrayed as a classic Latin American "military coup," and who can support a military coup?

The lack of context in which this ouster took place has prevented the vast majority of the world's news watchers and readers from understanding what has happened.

I wonder how many people who bother to read the news -- as opposed to only listen to or watch news reports -- know:

-- Zelaya was plotting a long-term, possibly lifetime, takeover of the Honduran government through illegally changing the Honduran Constitution.

-- Zelaya had personally led a mob attack on a military facility to steal phony "referendum" ballots that had been printed by the Venezuelan government.

-- Weeks earlier, in an attempt to intimidate the Honduran attorney general -- as reported by The Wall Street Journal's Mary Anastasia O'Grady, one of the only journalists in the world who regularly reports the whole story about Honduras -- "some 100 agitators, wielding machetes, descended on the attorney general's office. 'We have come to defend this country's second founding,' the group's leader reportedly said. 'If we are denied it, we will resort to national insurrection.'"

-- No member of the military has assumed a position of power as a result of the "military coup."

-- Zelaya's own party, the Liberal Party, supported his removal from office and deportation from Honduras.

-- The Liberal Party still governs Honduras.

Why the Liberals are so desperate to get the Catholic vote back

McGill political scientist Elisabeth Gidengil delivered this paper to the Canadian Political Science Association in May.

Entitled "Anatomy of a Liberal Defeat," she looks at the Liberal dominance in the year 2ooo and its precipitous decline up to the 2008 election.

"The Liberals were able to coast to victory in 2000 with the support of two key groups: visible minorities and Catholics," Gidengil writes on page 3. "By 2008, the Liberals could not longer count on their loyalty. The visible minority vote dropped 14 points between 2000 and 2004."

The NDP was the main beneficiary, she said, but in 2008, the Liberals lost "a massive 19 points."

"In fact, minority voters were almost as likely to vote Conservative in 2008 as they were to vote Liberal."

Then she goes on to say the Catholic vote "tells a similar story."

"Catholic support has dropped a massive 24 points since 2000. In 2006, Catholics were as likely to vote Conservative as Liberal. In 2008, they clearly actually preferred the Conservatives to the Liberals."

Gidengil also notes a "troubling developed for the Liberals" regarding age. "Younger voters were significantly less likely to vote Liberal in 2008 and this cost the party one and a half points."

She has a lot that's interesting to say about a range of issues, from the economy to the environment and how effective the Liberals have been on those issues. Also, she notes the negative effects of the Sponsorship Scandal.

She concludes: "The Liberals can not longer take the support of Catholics or visible minorities for granted."

On page 10, she says: "Catholic and minority voters have been the twin pillars of Liberal dominance, but their support is clearly crumbling."

Now, it has been my opinion that there are two reasons why the Liberals have lost Catholic support. One is the Liberals' ramming the redefinition of marriage through Parliament and the other was partisan messaging that painted traditional marriage supporters as unCanadian and anti-Charter and that attacked Christian voters in general.

But Gidengil says her research does not support the idea that same-sex marriage drove Catholics away from the Liberals. On page 25, she writes:

"The common assumption has been that the same-sex marriage issue cost the Liberals the support of many Catholics," she said. "This is simply not the case, at least in 2004 and 2006. Opposition to same-sex marriage did not have a significant effect on the prpobability that a Catholic vote [sic?] would vote Liberal, but in 2006, views about abortion did. What really mattered, though, in both 2004 and 2006 was the sponsorship scandal. But for the sponsorship scandal, the Catholic vote would have been eight points higher in 2004 and five points higher in 2006. The story is different in 2008. It was not Dion and it was not the green shift. In contrast to 2004 and 2006, Catholics who oppose same-sex marriage were less likely to vote Liberal. And for the first time, Catholics who believe the Bible is the literal word of God were significantly less likely to vote Liberal."

Most interesting. Most interesting.

Okay, where's the front page coverage?

Now that the Telegraph Journal has apologized on its front page for the bogus Communion story, where are the similar mea culpas from mainstream media outlets across the country for running with the story and displaying it prominently.

The Toronto Star, which had the Communion issue front and centre on its website when it hit the news July 8, has nary a mention of it this morning, except on Susan Delacourt's blog.

A couple of unusual things about this newspaper apology. First, it appears on page A1 of the Saint John Telegraph Journal. Second, it goes into some detail about the mechanics behind the story; absolving the reporters of blame and placing the fault at the feet of the editors. Usually, newspapers claim collective blame for any mistakes (a sometimes infuriating policy for reporters.)

I'm very curious about how comments were included in a story without the reporters' knowledge. That too is unusual, and way beyond ethical.

Kudos to Susan for raising it in her blog. Let's see some front page coverage and some investigation into whether mainstream media outlets were conscripted into laying the fake sod.

Here's why I suspected Astroturfing (a political attempt to make something appear like a grassroots movement):

* The timing. The funeral happened on July 3. The story did not break until July 8, five days later, but did not include a rebuttal from the Prime Minister or his staff because they were flying over the Atlantic Ocean July 7 on their way to the G8 meetings in Italy. Why the five day wait? Could it have been for maximum political damage to embarrass the PM in advance of his papal audience and to upstage coverage of his G8 participation?

* The YouTube videos. Some professionally produced YouTube videos demanding an apology simultaneously appeared on the Internet. A couple of these videos were put up under the user name Catholicregister but the Catholic Register, a venerable national Catholic newspaper, had nothing to do with them and asked for them to be taken down. Interestingly, one of the "Catholicregister" videos was in Italian, accusing the PM of desecrating the Host.
The videos were designed to look like they came from grassroots Catholics who were upset.

* The Spambot email. I received an email from a group I'd never heard of or subscribed to calling itself Catholic evangelization with an anonymous person saying they were upset to see the PM put the Host in his pocket. The email had a link to a Catholic apologetics site but at the site there was no sign that whoever owned it had sent the video or took that point of view. Grassroots Catholics don't have Spambots--computers that generate lots of unwanted email such as Viagra ads.

* Grassroots conservative Catholics were not upset with the PM. This was the first tip off to me after seeing the initial YouTube video that something was amiss. Though linked to the video and carried news stories on it, it also included the PM's rebuttal AND distanced itself from the editorial content. was more critical of the Moncton archbishop for offering communion to a known Protestant than at Harper for accepting it.

Social Conservatives United also did not reflect outrage at the PM and subsequently the SoCon blogged on his suspicions the story was planted.

Also, in my talks with members of the Catholic hierarchy, I have not encountered anyone who is upset at either Harper or the archbishop. It is viewed as a mistake and something that should have been overlooked.

* The political stakes. It is widely held that Catholic voters, who had historically been more at home in the Liberal Party, helped Stephen Harper win his first minority government because of their concern over the redefinition of marriage. The Liberal Party and the New Democratic Party have both made public efforts to woo Catholic voters, who may be up for grabs in the next election as the Tory Party is not championing any issue dear to socially conservative hearts. Also, the Conservative Party has made big inroads into ethnic communities that have traditionally voted Liberal. These communities are often socially conservative but economically liberal. Some have argued that if the Conservative Party can lure enough of these ethnic voters away from the Liberal Party, it can win a majority even without increasing its seat count in Quebec.

It is interesting to me that while in Rome, journalists were questioning the political motives of Harper's seeking a papal audience, but utterly uninterested in questioning whether they were being manipulated for political reasons in the timing of the bogus Communion story.

I have to say that if this was in fact orchestrated, whoever did so did a masterful job. Even over the last few days, I have encountered person after person who has asked me "Did the Prime Minister put the Communion Host in his pocket?"

My dental hygienist, my next door neighbor, a friend in Nova Scotia . . . so it is in the Zeitgeist now. These are all people who are reasonably well-informed but not news junkies.

However, interestingly, none of the above were hostile to the PM about this. And Catholics who really care about the Blessed Sacrament are much more disturbed by the news coverage and its sacreligious tone. They are also hurt by many of the comments on various news sites. If links can be shown to any political party as the source of this, what was masterful could backfire into a huge political embarrassment.

Well, CTV's Ottawa Bureau Chief Bob Fife had this to say on last night's newscast (h/t Angry in the Great White North):

Robert Fife's stunning report starts at the 10:15 mark in tonight's CTV News webcast:

Lisa, most of us will remember the story that went all around the world about the prime minister apparently not eating the host when he was at the funeral of former governor general Romeo LeBlanc. That story was first published in the St John Telegraph Journal which is owned by the billionaire Irving family. The prime minister hit the roof. Well, today, a grovelling apology from the paper. They said the story was not true. So what happened? Well, I'm told that the Liberals passed the story to young Jamie Irving who was the publisher of the paper. He passed it to the editor who put it in the paper without checking it out, and today the editor has been fired, and Jamie's father has suspended his son for thirty days, and I'm told the prime minister is pretty thrilled with that.

Well, will there be any examination by various news outlets of how they were conscripted into making this story go around the world?

Liberal MP John McKay, who has been tasked with outreach to religious voters, both Catholic and non-Catholic, just told me Fife's comments strike him as gossip and hearsay.

He said he would like to see more proof.

McKay said he was disturbed by the original stories.

"As I understand the religious sensitivities here they are quite significant," he said.

It’s a classic case of media who have absolutely no appreciation of religious sensitivities, blundering about in an area about which they know nothing, inflamingg sectarian issues, he said.

McKay said he sympathized with the Prime Minister on this story.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Globe on Communion-a-quiddick

James Irving, the scion of the Irving family who chose journalism over the traditional strongholds of oil refineries and pulp mills has left his position as publisher of the New Brunswick Telegraph Journal.

This came as the newspaper offered an apology to Stephen Harper and two of its reporters for factual errors inserted into a story that accused the Prime Minister of pocketing a communion wafer at a funeral mass earlier this month for former governor-general Roméo LeBlanc.

The apology, published on the front page of Tuesday's paper and on its website, said the wafer story was “inaccurate and should not have been published.”

“We pride ourselves in maintaining high standards of journalism and ethical reporting, and regret this was not followed in this case,” the apology stated.

A spokeswoman for the paper offered no further information on Mr. Irving's action yesterday. She said that editor Shawna Richer is also no longer in her position.

Video footage of the July 3 funeral service shows Mr. Harper receiving the communion wafer, but the camera cuts away before the Prime Minister puts it in his mouth.

Debate ensued about whether Mr. Harper committed a sacrilegious faux-pas by walking away with the body of Christ.

Mr. Harper insisted he consumed the wafer.

Remember that story about Harper and Communion?

The Telegraph Journal retracts and apologizes:

On Wednesday, July 8, 2009, the Telegraph-Journal published a story about the funeral mass celebrating the life of former Governor-General Romeo LeBlanc that was inaccurate and should not have been published. We pride ourselves in maintaining high standards of journalism and ethical reporting, and regret this was not followed in this case.

The story stated that a senior Roman Catholic priest in New Brunswick had demanded that the Prime Minister's Office explain what happened to the communion wafer which was handed to Prime Minister Harper during the celebration of communion at the funeral mass. The story also said that during the communion celebration, the Prime Minister "slipped the thin wafer that Catholics call 'the host' into his jacket pocket".

There was no credible support for these statements of fact at the time this article was published, nor is the Telegraph-Journal aware of any credible support for these statements now. Our reporters Rob Linke and Adam Huras, who wrote the story reporting on the funeral, did not include these statements in the version of the story that they wrote. In the editing process, these statements were added without the knowledge of the reporters and without any credible support for them.

The Telegraph-Journal sincerely apologizes to the Prime Minister for the harm that this inaccurate story has caused. We also apologize to reporters Rob Linke and Adam Huras and to our readers for our failure to meet our own standards of responsible journalism and accuracy in reporting.

Wow. H/t Small Dead Animals.

Stephen Taylor has more:

I’ve learned from a source close to one of the journalists that at least one of them may have gone so far as to seek advice and consider a lawsuit against the newspaper if the paper did not retract the story and absolve (no pun intended) the journalists of fabricating a significant portion the article.

Printing such a false hit piece can get a journalist frozen out of any future access to the PMO under the current administration. It’s a rare sight to see journalists defend their integrity against their senior management in the newsroom, however, in this case it may have been a matter of professional self-preservation.

What motivation was there behind torquing over three quarters of the story? Did somebody in Ottawa (or Toronto) pick up the phone and push a more interesting story to the editors instead?

Well, I smelled Astroturfing from as far away as Rome when this story first broke, especially after videos started appearing on YouTube, some under user name of Catholicregister, even though the Catholic Register, a venerable national Catholic newspaper, had nothing to do with uploading them.

This is even worse than I thought.

The Calgary Herald reports:

TORONTO— A controversy over whether Prime Minister Stephen Harper pocketed a communion wafer has resulted in fallout at one of New Brunswick's most prominent newspapers.

The Telegraph-Journal, which published the strange allegations three weeks ago, issued a front-page apology to Harper on Tuesday and the company confirmed that the paper's chief editor and publisher have both been removed from their duties.

The apology came on the same day that a dozen professors from some of the province's universities released a statement saying they were boycotting the newspaper over an earlier decision to fire a student intern over errors that appeared in a story.

Harper — who initially slammed the communion wafer story as a "low point" in journalism — on Tuesday accepted the newspaper's apology, spokesman Andrew MacDougall said. The prime minister had not been seeking any legal remedy for the inaccuracies in the story, he noted.

Harper's office has always maintained he consumed the wafer during a Catholic funeral mass for former governor general Romeo LeBlanc in Memramcook, N.B. But a short amateur video of the funeral mass that began circulating on the Internet was inconclusive, which in part fanned the controversy.

Catholic doctrine holds that once consecrated the wafer, or host as it is sometimes called, becomes the actual body of Christ and pocketing it would have been considered sacrilege. But the priest who presided over the ceremony later told Canwest News Service that Harper did, in fact, consume the wafer.

The incident erupted as a brief media sideshow after the story was picked up by news outlets across the country while the prime minister was at the G8 summit in Italy.

In its apology, which acknowledged there was "no credible support" for the statements accusing Harper of pocketing the host, the newspaper clears the story's reporters of any fault and attributes the errors to the editing process.

Meeting the Pope

My personal account of meeting the Holy Father is up at the Catholic Register site:

The big day arrived. A white minibus picked up the small contingent of journalists that included a television crew, some photographers, a Radio Canada reporter, a couple of print journalists and some PMO staff. The bus took us to St. Peter’s Square, which had already begun to fill with tourists. The weather in Rome was perfect: warm, dry, sunny with a pleasant breeze.

We passed through a checkpoint of Swiss Guards beside St. Peter’s Basilica, through narrow passages and archways into the Cortille San Damaso, a courtyard inside the Apostolic Palace. As we waited, a group of Swiss Guards, wearing the multi-coloured striped uniform designed by Michelangelo marched into the courtyard, while another Swiss Guard raised the yellow and white papal flag from a second-storey window. A red-patterned carpet was being set in place for the PM.

We did not witness the Harper’s arrival. Instead, we were escorted through the rooms and hallways the Harper delegation would soon pass through. We passed an honour guard of Swiss Guards standing at attention, then through the magnificent frescoed hallway of 13 arches painted by Raphael.
Pictures from the day are here.

The Gates controversy continues

This is not good for Obama.

The Shakedown Song

In honor of Ezra Levant, Lindy Vopnfjord sings the Shakedown song.

Spread the word. Let's see if we can get 100,000 views.

And don't forget Mark Steyn's Ezra Levant fundraiser at the Steyn Store starting at midnight tonight.

Or you can donate to Ezra's legal fund via his website. Ezra writes:

To battle stations!

P.S. Thanks very much to everyone who has chipped in to my legal defence fund. Seriously, that's the only thing I'm worried about here, running out of money for lawyers. I've got plenty of fight in me -- I'm the most stubborn person I know. If you can help shore up my legal defence fund, I promise to fight until I'm done. Not until they're done, but until I'm done. Jennifer Lynch knows what I mean.

Please click on the PayPal button below. If you’d prefer to send in a cheque by snail mail, please make cheques payable to my lawyer:

“Christopher Ashby in Trust”

Attn: Ezra Levant defence fund

Suite 1013, 8 King Street East

Toronto, Ontario, M5C 1B5

Thank you very much. With your help, I promise to fight this battle all the way to the end.

"I am not a registered non-profit organization. Donations are not tax deductible for federal income tax purposes."

Cardinal Ouellet third on Newsweek's list

Newsweek asks who could replace Pope Benedict XVI and number three on their list is:

Cardinal Marc Ouellet
Archbishop of Quebec, Canada

Noted for his cheerful, open, and apparently humble persona as well as his uncompromising orthodoxy, Ouellet, 64, is often regarded as the cardinal to watch for the future. A lone voice surrounded by Canada's often aggressive secularism, he has nonetheless remained one of the most staunch public defenders of the Catholic faith. A native French speaker and the author of many books, he is also a proficient linguist, at home outside the corridors of the Vatican and the intrigues of Italy.

He was on a list of papabile the last time around, too.

The healthcare debate

Healthcare is one of those debates that I'd rather avoid. It was the topic of conversation when I was in California and I would do my best not to participate as it feels too much like work and I was on vacation.

I also think that there is a lot of hype and hyperbole on both sides. Living in Canada, I'd say our single payer system is not as bad as some claim, or as good as others claim. There are trade-offs, no matter what you do. And I also think it is unfair to describe the American system as profit-driven or market-driven. It's a hybrid that has been already grossly distorted by huge government interventions. It needs reform, but maybe those reforms need to be more in a free market, competition direction and not a statist, one-size fits all approach.

That said, a government-run health care system is not free health care. We pay dearly for it through our taxes. I think if people saw the health care bill separated out of what they pay in taxes, the expensive private insurance options in the United States might look like a bargain.

And our taxes in Canada make a huge difference in our respective standards of living.

I confess, I like the feel of the government safety net below me. But I also like the fact that we have a private tier of health care in the United States of America so that when Canadian officials tell me I can't see a specialist for 6 weeks for what my family doctor suspects is a malignant cancer, I can go south and see one within a few days. I'm also glad to be living in Ottawa where it is possible to get world class medical care, it being the nation's capital and all.

But I am challenged as well by arguments that Mark Steyn and other conservatives raise:

What’s so moral about relieving the citizen of responsibility for his own health care? If free citizens of the wealthiest societies in human history are not prepared to make provision for their own health, what other core responsibilities of functioning adulthood are they likely to forego?

The fact is that some people won't take responsibility and some people, even with our Canadian system and even when they do take steps to take care of themselves, cannot bear the catastrophic costs of major illness, a bad car accident or disability even with insurance and the safety net.

Once upon a time, the solution was charity. Catholic and Salvation Army and Jewish hospitals were built, communities rallied to support (and still do) those who were struck by catastrophe.

Then what faith and love and a desire to further the common good built, was handed over lock stock and barrel to government funding and increasingly government control. When there was still a basic Judeo-Christian ethos to society it looked like a good idea: instead of leaving one's healthcare to the vagueries of local decision-making where some might fall through the cracks, why not professionalize the whole thing for the sake of equality and efficiency?
No one thought though about how professionalizing anything would drive the costs up.

But now that our society is moving into postmodern and relativist conceptions of morality and the human person and of human dignity, look at what is creeping in. Obamacare has elderly people in the United States fearing that it will be euthanasia by the back door, and the fact that the new bill will have mandatory counselling on end of life options is sending chills down peoples' spines and not in a good way. Abortion is already paid for and defended as a necessary health service in Canada and conscientious objections are being trampled on. This, too, is coming to the United States.

It's sad to me that government is the knee-jerk default solution for everything. People rarely think of civil society solutions to anything anymore. That's the problem with government, it shrivels civil society and individual responsibility. Why couldn't dioceses or religious organizations, for example, take out group medical insurance in the United States so that they can ensure that people with previous medical conditions or no jobs can get insured? Why does it have to be government? But then if people think government is going to do everything, they put chump change in the collection plate. That's what's happened in places like Quebec and Sweden.

WHen I was a kid the polio epidemic was going on. One of mothers in my neighborhood was in an iron lung. My cousin got polio. But Dr. Dow would make house calls, carrying his little black bag. Somehow people got by. They contributed to the Jimmy Fund so kids with cancer could get treatment. A milkman in my neighborhood earned enough to afford a mortgage on a duplex big enough to house his six children. Now in that Boston suburb, those same houses are out of reach except for well-paid dual income professionals.

Most of us had moms who stayed home, so one income earner was enough. But then we had second hand furniture, we made do, my mother economized. We had one bathroom.

I remember talking to someone from the Fraser Institute years ago, asking him why it was possible for a working class family with one income to afford a house that would be impossible for them to afford now unless they inherited it.

Values, he said. A difference in values. He also pointed out that the more government programs there are, the more people who actually produce things have to pay in taxes to support all those government employees who aren't producing anything. Interesting.

Holy Smoke on the TAC's talks with the Holy See

More rumors about the Traditional Anglican Communion:

The model for the move to Rome could be the proposed reception of the Traditional Anglican Communion into the Catholic Church. But Broadhurst has very firmly denied that Forward in Faith is throwing in its lot with the TAC, a rebel Anglican group that has already submitted to the Magisterium.

Now, if there’s one thing I know about Bishop Broadhurst is that he’s a wily old fox. He blows hot and cold on the subject of Rome, perhaps because he was baptised a Roman Catholic. I’m sure he wouldn’t dream of joining the TAC in any shape or form - but he’ll be jolly interested in the details of any deal it does with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Obama and the healing of racial guilt---without change

Victor Davis Hanson on what Obama's presidency meant to a lot of liberal whites.

The media and the liberal elite ignored these telltale signs, and instead were eager to accept the implicit pact that the soothing racial healer Barack Obama offered them. It was an unspoken understanding that might be paraphrased as something along the following lines: “Vote for me and I will offer you instant exemption from all prior racial guilt — and yet allow you to live your rather secluded lives as usual.”

In other words, the endowed professor, the corporate attorney, the green CEO, the endowment officer, and the high-school teacher could all continue to live in safe and separate neighborhoods, ensure their children went to mostly white and Asian schools (whether elite public or private), and through taxes for entitlements and abstract support for affirmative action still feel they were doing a great deal for race relations. As they saw it, they elected one comfortable and hip Barack Obama as their president — without living among, going to school with, or working alongside the Other.

John Allen Jr. on the split he sees in the American Catholic Church

I see this divide in the Canadian Catholic Church as well. John L. Allen Jr. writes:

This is the first papal social encyclical to so thoroughly blend economic justice with the defense of human life from conception to natural death.

"These indications of Caritas in Veritate don't have value merely as exhortations," Crepaldi said. "They invite a new way of thinking, and a new praxis, that takes account of the systematic interconnections between the anthropological themes linked to life and human dignity, and the economic, social and cultural themes linked to development."

Benedict XVI's handling of his predecessor, Pope Paul VI, reinforced the point.

Impressions of Paul VI have long been "exhibit A" for the phenomenon of cafeteria Catholicism. Conservatives tend to hail Pope Paul's birth control encyclical, Humanae Vitae, as an act of courage in the teeth of tremendous pressure, but regard his other social teaching -- especially the 1967 encyclical Populorum Progressio -- as an embarrassing concession to the radical political currents of the late 1960s. For liberals, it's precisely the opposite. Populorum Progressio stands as a high-water mark of progressive papal thought, but Humanae Vitae looms as a critical failure of nerve by the "Hamlet pope."

In Caritas in Veritate, Benedict not only defends both encyclicals, but argues that one can't be understood without the other. He hails Populorum Progressio as "the Rerum Novarum of the present age," and says that reading it in tandem with Humanae Vitae underscores "the strong links between life ethics and social ethics."

Of course, the idea that defending unborn life and defending the poor go together is not terribly revolutionary at the level of principle. It's been repeated so often in official Catholic literature that there are probably T-shirts someplace emblazoned with that mantra.

Statements of principle, however, often fail to account for the gap between what we say and what we do. In that sense, Caritas in Veritate amounts to a direct challenge to the sociology of American Catholicism.

Both at the grass roots and among the chattering classes, the American church is often described as split between its pro-lifers and its peace-and-justice contingent. More accurately, it's divided between those who see Catholic teaching as a useful tool to support their partisan preferences, whatever they may be, and those for whom the faith comes first and secular politics second.

Put differently, the real "losers" from Caritas in Veritate are Catholics who operate as chaplains to political parties, cheerleaders for political candidates, and spin doctors for either the Bush or Obama administrations, cherry-picking among church teachings to support those positions. Needless to say, the American Catholic landscape is dotted with prominent examples of all the above.

I love this Orthodox blog

I was baptized Russian Orthodox. But the people on my father's side of the family were originally Ukrainian Catholics, living in the Austro-Hungarian Empire in what is now Slovakia. Among the names for their ethnic group: Trans-Carpathian Slovaks, Russyns, Ruthenians. My mother's father was Russian, but born in Kiev, and looked like he had some Tartar blood in him--high cheekbones, almond shaped eyes. Her mother was Estonian and Finnish?, born in Tallnin. Her English father's family lived for generations in Archangel, above the Artic Circle. He owned a hemp factory that manufactured rope for the shipping industry. My grandmother spoke perfect English with a thick Russian accent.

When my father's people arrived in New Jersey in the early years of the last Century, the Roman Catholic bishops did not recognize them as Catholics because of their married priests and Byzantine liturgy. So they sought protection under the Russian Orthodox bishop and soon their children were singing in the Russian Church choir.

My father kept up the tradition of choral singing that was in his family's genes and used to sing in the best Episcopal Church choirs in the Boston area. He called himself a mercenary Episcopalian because he got paid to sing in choirs that attracted some of the top soloists in the city.

My mother was more of a Unitarian if anything, because during World War II, the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee brought her and her sister, then a year later her parents, to the United States. They were stateless persons, refugees from Paris and in danger of Hitler's death camps.

So during my childhood, sometimes we went to Russian Orthodox church, but I knew no Russian and none of the liturgy made sense. I do recall loving the Russian choral music though.

Sometimes I went with my dad to Episcopal church, but it always meant a long wait alone while he had his Sunday a.m. rehearsals prior to the service.

Sometimes I was sent to the Episcopal church in my neighborhood. When I was older, I was sent to Congregational Church.

I went to Unitarian Church and joined the Unitarian youth group when I was in high school.

I abandoned the Christian religion when I was in college, but returned to it, though in a rather Gnostic, heretical way, when I was in my early twenties.

Seeker-friendly Kanata Baptist Church was just what I needed when I began to have a teachable spirit. But once I had embraced the basics of the faith, I felt drawn to a more liturgical and sacramental tradition. Thus I found my Anglican Catholic Church.

Meanwhile, I got a job writing for Roman Catholic newspapers and that has exposed me to Catholicism in all its beauty and radiance, as well as the very interesting earthly aspect of the institution.

My little Anglican Catholic Church has asked to come into communion with the Holy See, with we hope, our Anglican liturgy via the Book of Common Prayer, our King James Bible and our married priests left intact.

But our Anglican Catholic Church is also open to communion with Orthodox churches.

I told someone recently that I saw myself as a blood corpuscle in the Body of Christ because I have moved around from place to place so much within the Body and I have an appreciation for each place that I've been and what it has given me. And I have a passion for unity and for people who are say part of the arm not to be so critical of the leg because it is not an arm, or the eye people upset because the ear people don't act like eyes.

I also have a passion for the unity of the Body of Christ.

So anyway, in searching the blogosphere, somehow I happened on this blog from the Orthodox side. It looks like a good spot to bookmark. (My bolds below)

On the one hand, these efforts can hardly be faulted from an Orthodox point of view. The more people explore the “tradition,” the more likely they are to confront the faith – which was, after all, “once and for all ‘traditioned’ to the saints,” for that is the meaning of Jude 1:3. But on the other hand, there is a danger in confusing the outward trappings of “tradition” with “Tradition” itself. For what was once and for all delivered to the saints, was not so much questions of liturgy and incense (although all of these ritual and liturgical elements of Orthodoxy do carry with them the content of Tradition – they are not electives), rather the faith that was once and for all delivered to the saints was and is indeed the content of the faith - the living union between the true and living God and man. That faith truly reveals to us and makes accessible to us the true and living God, and it also reveals to us and makes accessible what it is to be a truly living human being. The content of the Christian faith, the living Tradition, is the truth of both God and man, and the truth of our salvation through union with God in Christ.

The content of the Tradition is not a set of ideas – but a reality - God with us.

And this is the problem that always accompanies attempts to reach that reality through reform. It is not our reformation that is the problem in the first place. We cannot reform ourselves into union with Christ. We can submit ourselves to union with Christ and not much else. We can cooperate with union with Christ.

Invariably, the great stumbling block faced by various attempts to “recreate” or “rediscover” the “early Church,” is that the “early Church,” is not an historical reality. It is a present reality – not simply as the “early Church” (this is not a Biblical phrase anyway). The present reality is the same as the “early Church”: it is the Body of Christ, the Pillar and Ground of Truth, the true and living Way. It never ceased nor was overcome by the gates of Hell. It has lived and thrived in enough places to have picked up many languages, many customs, but always the same faith.

This always comes as a stumbling block, I believe, because the existence of the Orthodox Church stands as a stark witness to the True and Living God - not the idea of a God – but God. In my own conversion, I was utterly shocked by this fact. I had read about Orthodoxy for years. I agreed with it for years. I would have even readily agreed for years to everything the Orthodox Church said of itself, and yet I remained outside. When, at last, my family and I were actually received into the Church, I was staggered by the reality of God. I know that sounds strange (since I had been an ordained Anglican priest for 18 years prior to that) but such was the case. There was no longer any question about discussing God, or refining the tradition, or even debating how all of it was to be applied. I was now in the thick of things and God was reigning down in canon, text, Bishop, sacrament, penance, sight, sound, rubrics (which I could not begin to fathom at first) – everything!

Thus, I surprised friends constantly in my first year or so of Orthodoxy when they asked me what was the most important thing about my conversion. My constant reply (to this day) was: the existence of God.

This, somehow, is the content that sets the Tradition apart from all discussions of appropriating tradition, etc. You do not appropriate something whose content is God. You are Baptized into it. You are Chrismated into it. You are absolved for ever having lived apart from it. You are fed it on a spoon. You are splashed with it. But you cannot appropriate it. To paraphrase: Your life’s to small to appropriate God.

Wow. Most interesting.

Father Stephen on the "fascination of wickedness"

It occurs to me that in the course of our daily lives we often concentrate on judging ourselves. We struggle not to sin (and with little success) with far greater energy than we struggle to do good (which we would find easier). Simple acts of kindness, generosity, forgiveness, patience, mercy and the like have a transforming power for both those who do such things and for those who receive such acts. In my own life, two of the kindest acts I have ever received were from Christians whom I considered to be “adversaries” (the attitude of my heart brought ‘coals of fire’ on my head). We cannot know whom God may appoint to show us mercy – but we should be ever at the ready to be used in such a way.

The state of our heart before God is perhaps the most important element in our spiritual life. For ‘God resists the proud,’ but ‘gives more grace to the humble.’ We cannot live well in this world without speaking the truth. Neither can we live except in love. I think the best path to take towards this maturity is to direct our efforts ever more towards the simple acts of mercy which God has prepared for us.

A duty to die . . .

From my article on euthanasia, now up at the Catholic Register site:

Boulva said a national conversation is needed to combat the confusion.

“Euthanasia can never be considered as care,” she said. “It is killing.”

Promoters of euthanasia and assisted suicide use “verbal engineering” through words like “dying with dignity” but they mean deliberate killing, Boulva said.

The experience of countries and American states that have legalized forms of euthanasia show how promised safeguards become eroded.

“The so-called right to choose death when you want it becomes the right of other people to choose for you when you are unable,” she said. “The autonomy and control demanded by a few become abuse of the vulnerable many.

“The so-called ‘right to die’ often becomes a ‘duty to die,’ ” she said.

Shelby Steele on the real problem underlying race relations

Shelby Steele has a most intelligent column about how affirmative action fails to address the problem of underdevelopment (my bolds).

Disparate impact and racial preferences represent the law and policymaking of a guilty America, an America lacking the moral authority to live by the rigors of the Constitution's "equal protection" -- a guarantee that sees victims as individuals and requires hard evidence to prove discrimination. They are "white guilt" legalisms created after the '60s as fast tracks to moral authority. They apologize for presumed white wrongdoing and offer recompense to minorities before any actual discrimination has been documented. Yet these legalisms are much with us now. And it will no doubt take the courts a generation or more to disentangle all this apology from the law.

But fortunately race relations in America are not much driven by the courts. We argue over affirmative action and disparate impact because we don't know how to talk about our most profound racial problem: the lack of developmental parity between blacks and whites. Today a certain contradiction runs through black American life. As many of us still suffer from deprivations caused by historical racism, we also live in a society where racism is simply no longer a significant barrier to black advancement -- a society so sensitized that even the implication of racism, as in the Henry Louis Gates case, triggers a national discussion.

We blacks know oppression well, but today it is our inexperience with freedom that holds us back almost as relentlessly as oppression once did. Out of this inexperience, for example, we miss the fact that racial preferences and disparate impact can only help us -- even if they were effective -- with a problem we no longer have. The problem that black firefighters had in New Haven was not discrimination; it was the fact that not a single black did well enough on the exam to gain promotion.

Today's "black" problem is underdevelopment, not discrimination. Success in modernity will demand profound cultural changes -- changes in child-rearing, a restoration of marriage and family, a focus on academic rigor, a greater appreciation of entrepreneurialism and an embrace of individual development as the best road to group development.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

FrontPageMag symposium on "the closing of the American psyche"

In a most interesting discussion, Theodore Dalrymple echoes Pascal here (see my bolds):

I think that the thinning of the way in which we account for the psyche (not just in America but elsewhere) is paralleled by the thinning of the psyche itself.

First let me say something about the thinning of the psyche, or the character, or the personality. We seem to live in highly individualistic societies, but societies without much individuality. (Individualism and individuality are very different.) No doubt there are many reasons for this. One of the things that strikes me about people nowadays is how little they like to be alone, at least alone without any stimulation from electronic apparatus. We cannot be in a bar, an airport, a store, a railway station, and in some cases a bus or train without having stimuli poured into us as if we were too fragile for our own thoughts and had to be entertained 100 per cent of the time. A high proportion of homes have televisions or computers constantly illuminated, often several at once. Young people now cannot bear silence; it makes them nervous, confronting them with their own thoughts. But a capacity to bear silence, and even a desire for it, are necessary for concentration, contemplation, reflection and probably for creativity.

Social pressures to conform to demotic tastes are, paradoxically in an age of mass bohemianisation, very strong, much stronger than, say, 50 years ago, which is thought to have been an age of conformity. In the name of diversity and the freedom of the individual, uniformity develops.

Just when I was thinking there was nothing to link to

This happens.

As Kathy Shaidle writes:

Aren't you squirming in your seat right now? Has this news not just made your entire life worth living again?? Don't lie.
Well, maybe not worth living again, but it sure makes it a whole lot more entertaining.

But, good entertainment costs money, so how about sending a donation Ezra's way to help defray the costs involved in defending his side of these most engaging spectacles.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

This would never happen in my church

The lady officiating that is. I should talk to Bishop Carl about whether the dancing up the aisle would be allowed though. I love this video. It makes me very happy for some reason. Bruce Maiman writes:

However, if ever you wanted to make an entrance, this would be the way to do it, courtesy of Kevin Heinz & Jillian Peterson and company:
Kind of ironic they picked a Chris Brown song ("Forever"), but good for them, and good for the church that was okay with them doing that. Make a joyful noise, as they say. The fact that they could get a dozen or so of their closest friends to dance like this in front of a crowd with cameras rolling, and that the guests in the pews had a great time, too, speaks volumes. They are clearly loved, as individuals and as a couple, and maybe this marriage has a better chance than most.
Although you just know some wife in the crowd elbowed her husband saying "Why didn't we do something like that when we got married?"
I do recall that once our now retired Bishop Robert Mercer processed into our little cathedral to the drumming of Sudanese drummers. Bishop Robert was once an Anglican Bishop in Zimbabwe and I imagine there is a lot of dancing in the aisles of the Anglican churches there.

Go read the rest of the post for lots of other interesting videos on weddings.

H/t Kathy Shaidle

This is pretty funny

Via Ruth Gledhill's blog:

You say 'I do', they say 'I won't'

Perhaps one reason we should all support the Church of England's decision to publish a joint hatch'n'match liturgy, reported in The Times today as the splash and inside, is the new potential it creates for YouTube hits.

How Mark Steyn handles an altercation with police

Never underestimate the power of the pen:

Last year I had a minor interaction with a Vermont state trooper, and, 60 seconds into the conversation, he called me a "liar." I considered my options:

Option a): I could get hot under the collar, yell at him, get tasered into submission and possibly shot while "resisting arrest";

Option b): I could politely tell the trooper I object to his characterization, and then write a letter to the commander of his barracks the following morning suggesting that such language is not appropriate to routine encounters with members of the public and betrays a profoundly defective understanding of the relationship between law enforcement officials and the citizenry in civilized societies.

I chose the latter course, and received a letter back offering partial satisfaction and explaining that the trooper would be receiving "supervisory performance-related issue-counseling," which, with any luck, is even more ghastly than it sounds and hopefully is still ongoing.

Professor Gates chose option a), which is just plain stupid. For one thing, these days they have dash-cams and two-way radios and a GPS gizmo in the sharp end of the billy club, so an awful lot of this stuff winds up being preserved on tape, and, if you're the one a-hootin' an' a-hollerin', it's not going to help.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Lucky for Sgt. Crowley he doesn't live in Ontario

Because truth is no defense and intent or motive don't matter, you can be judged for even unconscious acts under the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal.

A human rights tribunal verdict of racial profiling against a Toronto constable sets "an impossibly high standard" that will be challenged in court, Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair said yesterday.

"We're not denying the existence of bias or the possibility of racial profiling," Blair said in an interview with the Star.

He said the tribunal's decision last month that Ron Phipps, who is black, was a victim of racial profiling by Const. Michael Shaw, who is white, means "you can have the best of intentions and be totally without bias but none of that matters if someone wants to believe you are biased."

The Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario ruled that by stopping Phipps while he was delivering mail on a Bridle Path street in 2005, checking with a homeowner he spoke to, trailing him and verifying his identity with a white letter carrier, Shaw was guilty of racial profiling. There was no overt racism, the tribunal said, but Shaw's actions showed he acted "whether consciously or unconsciously" because Phipps was a black man in an affluent neighbourhood.

Marriage Commissioner loses

What does this court decision say about conscience rights and religious freedom in Canada?

Alas, to me it says that human rights commissions are merely a symptom of a much greater problem as Canada shifts from its Judeo-Christian foundations into postmodern relativism and secularism---which says there is no truth except everything is relative unless you happen to have religious beliefs that say there is truth and morality and therefore you will not be allowed to practise it. Unless, of course, you come from an identified victim group religion that can be as absolutist and as threatening to secular values as it pleases as long as it is not Judeo-Christian and identified with Western Civilization in any way.

So if you in any way have a public sector pay cheque, then you must check your conscience and your religious beliefs at the door in order to serve and accommodate the choices and preferences of whomever you serve. If you are a doctor, pretty soon (if euthanasia is legalized) if someone says I want you to kill grandma by lethal injection, then you may face losing your license to practice medicine, as doctors in some provinces might soon if they don't make abortion referrals.

There is something gravely wrong with this picture. Why couldn't there be reasonable accommodation of this marriage commissioner's views when there were other commissioners ready and willing to perform the service for the same-sex couple in question?

No, we no longer have religious freedom in this country. We have a new religion--a secular, atheistic form of religion---that is state sponsored, with its own inquisition and its own version of the rack.

It's ironic, because the gay rights activists who have led the charge in pushing Christian expression into the closet, with all the levers of state coercion to do so, may find that the Christians they once condemned as hateful are the only ones who will stand up for them and with them in the persecutions they are now facing in once tolerant cities like Amsterdam.

It's good to know that there are many gay and lesbian folks out there who are not part of the coercive mindset of some in the vanguard of their movement. We can agree to disagree and remain civil and respectful of each other as human beings, no? We can even be friends in our care for the common good even if we don't see eye to eye on some particulars.

Yikes! And this guy is Obama's science advisor?

Michelle Malkin writes:

After investigative bloggers and this column reprinted extensive excerpts from Ecoscience, which mused openly about putting sterilants in the water supply to make women infertile and engineering society by taking away babies from undesirables and subjecting them to government-mandated abortions, the White House issued a statement from Holdren last week denying he embraced those proposals. The Ehrlichs challenged critics to read their and Holdren’s more recent research and works.

Well, I did indeed read one of Holdren’s recent works that reveals his clingy reverence for, and allegiance to, the gurus of population control authoritarianism. He’s just gotten smarter about cloaking it behind global warming hysteria. In 2007, he addressed the American Association for the Advancement of Science conference. Holdren served as AAAS president; the organization posted his full slide presentation on its website.

In the opening slide, Holdren admitted that his “preoccupation” with apocalyptic matters such as “the rates at which people breed” was a lifelong obsession spurred by scientist Harrison Brown’s work. Holdren heaped praise on Brown’s half-century-old book, “The Challenge to Man’s Future,” then proceeded to paint doom-and-gloom scenarios requiring drastic government interventions to control climate change.

Who is Holdren’s intellectual mentor, Harrison Brown? He was a “distinguished member” of the International Eugenics Society whom Holdren later worked with on a book about – you guessed it – world population and fertility. Brown advocated the same population control-freak measures Holdren put forth in Ecoscience. In “The Challenge to Man’s Future,” Brown envisioned a regime in which the “number of abortions and artificial inseminations permitted in a given year would be determined completely by the difference between the number of deaths and the number of births in the year previous.”

Brown exhorted readers to accept that “we must reconcile ourselves to the fact that artifical means must be applied to limit birth rates.” If we don’t, Brown warned, we faced a planet “with a writhing mass of human beings.” He likened the global population to a “pulsating mass of maggots.”

Peggy Noonan on why Obama's health plan is in trouble

She writes (my bolds):

The final bill, with all its complexities, will probably be huge, a thousand pages or so. Americans don’t fear the devil’s in the details, they fear hell is. Do they want the same people running health care who gave us the Department of Motor Vehicles, the post office and the invasion of Iraq?

Let me throw forward three other things that I suspect lessen , or will lessen, support for full health-care reform, two of them not quantifiable.

The first has to do with the doctors throughout the country who give patients a break, who quietly underbill someone they know is in trouble, or don’t charge for their services. Also the emergency rooms that provide excellent service for the uninsured in medical crisis. People don’t talk about this much because they’re afraid if they do they’ll lose it, that some government genius will come along and make it illegal for a doctor not to charge or a hospital to fudge around, with mercy, in its billing. People are afraid of losing the parts of the system that sometimes work—the unquantifiable parts, the human parts.

Second, and this is big, some of the bills being worked on in Congress will allow for or mandate taxpayer funding of abortion. Speaking only and narrowly in political terms, this is so ignorant as to be astounding. A good portion of the support for national health care comes from a sort of European Christian Democrat spirit of community, of “We are all in this together.” This spirit potentially unites Democrats, leftists, some Republicans and GOP populists, the politically unaffiliated and those of whatever view with low incomes. But putting abortion in the mix takes the Christian out of Christian Democrat. It breaks and jangles the coalition, telling those who believe abortion is evil that they not only have to accept its legality but now have to pay for it in a brand new plan, for which they’ll be more highly taxed. This is taking a knife to your own supporters.

Alas, the Christian supporters of Canadian healthcare are now stuck with paying the tab for 100,000 abortions a year in Canada, even in private abortion clinics. Yet private clinics for other ills are fought against tooth and nail.

Mark Steyn is right. Once you have a socialized health care system, it is virtually impossible to do anything but minor tinkering and even that is hazardous to one's political health.

We in Canada have always had the reassurance that we could always go to the United States to pay for superior care if we find the wait times too long to see a needed specialist, to get the MRI, or the cancer surgery.