Deborah Gyapong: December 2009

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Father Z comments on Ian Hunter's article

Here's an excerpt of Father Z's reading of Ian Hunter's op ed in the Globe on Anglicanorum Coetibus--his emphases and comments in red (a different portion of the op ed than the excerpt from Christian Campbell over at The AngloCatholic). Father Z's bolds and comments in red:

This means, in practice, that a place will be made within Catholic liturgy for Thomas Cranmer’s 1662 Book of Common Prayer – considered by many to rival William Shakespeare’s plays as the apotheosis of the English language. [Meanwhile, we are still using the lame-duck ICEL versions… "O God, you are so big. Help us to be big like you."] Also to be welcomed is the rich treasure of Anglican hymnody. All of this is (to paraphrase Hamlet) “a consummation devoutly to be wished,” and it was greeted as such by many thoughtful Catholics and Anglicans of my acquaintance. [As the incoming Anglicans raise the liturgical level, everyone’s standard will be shifted upwards. As the tide rises, all boats rise.]

The immediate benefits are obvious: [1] First, the Catholic Church will be strengthened by an influx (no one can yet say exactly how many) of committed, orthodox Christians. The priests who arrive with them will be men following Christ’s instruction to leave everything behind – job security, income, pensions and, in some cases, families – to follow Him. [Do I hear an "Amen!"?] These priests may help to alleviate, to some extent at least, what is in danger of becoming a chronic shortage of Catholic vocations.

Until 2006, I was an Anglican. By the time I left, I had grown sick of hearing colleagues whimper about the growing apostasy within Anglicanism but doing nothing about it. Well, now they can do something. Pope Benedict XVI has called their bluff. The destination was always there; now, there is a bridge to cross over. [And the Pope is the "great bridge builder". He unites. He is the Pope of Christian Unity.] No one need jump; no one need swim. It will be fascinating to see who crosses and who stays put; those who stay put should be heard from no more. [Do I hear an "Amen!"?]

Yet I also have reservations.

First, I worry that the liberal element within Catholicism, particularly in North America, will do all it can (which could be considerable) to frustrate this welcome initiative. There are some Catholics who would rather move the church in the direction of Anglicanism, even Anglicanism in its death throes, than to see orthodoxy strengthened. [And they are welcome to leave at any time.]

Second, it is unclear how Rome will reconcile its traditional teaching (e.g. on the invalidity of Anglican orders) with this new initiative. [I think that will be fairly easy to resolve. Will there really be any Anglican clergy who object to being ordained by Catholic bishop?]

Anglicanorum Coetibus--top news story of 2009?

Christian Campbell, moderator of The AngloCatholic blog, comments on Ian Hunter's op ed in the Globe and Mail. Here's an excerpt with his emphases and comments in red:

here is an excellent piece in Canada’s The Globe and Mail today, written by Ian Hunter, professor emeritus in the faculty of law at the University of Western Ontario. Professor Hunter correctly identifies the Holy Father’s invitation to traditionalist Anglicans as the most significant news story of 2009 (from a religious perspective, I would argue, that Anglicanorum Coetibus will ultimately be recognized as one of the biggest developments since the time of the Reformation!). My emphases and comments.

The big news: The Pope welcomes disaffected Anglicans

Will Oct. 20 be remembered as the day when the Berlin Wall of religious separation began to crumble? [Let us remember that the foundation of this wall dividing Rome and Canterbury was first erected by politicians for political motives.]

With year’s end fast approaching, columnists and pundits will hold forth on what was the most significant news story of 2009. The story I nominate is unlikely to bulk large in their consideration, unlikely even to be mentioned, but I suggest that the most important story was Pope Benedict XVI’s overture to disaffected Anglicans.

The story really begins a couple of years earlier, when a group of breakaway Anglicans (most had left the church after 1977 over Anglican ordination of female priests) who call themselves the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC) petitioned Rome en masse through their primate, Archbishop John Hepworth. [Good to see the professor get this right! The Apostolic Constitution is the direct response of the Holy See to the overture of Portsmouth Letter of October 2007, which itself was the culmination of a process of years of dialogue. Recognizing this fact is not a matter of taking credit -- it is a joyous thing that FiF UK and other groups are accommodated under Anglicanorum Coetibus -- but the Roman invitation can only be clearly understood in this context.]

The TAC, whose size is estimated at 300,000 to 500,000 souls worldwide, asked for full communion with Rome without preconditions or demands [The request of the TAC was made in humility and filial obedience.], while expressing the hope that it might be possible to retain traditional Anglican liturgy and hymnody [Actually the hope was to retain as much of our Anglican patrimony as possible. While liturgy and hymnody are very important, there are other aspects of our tradition that are also treasured -- a married priesthood, a synodical/collegial component in our polity, &c. Thankfully the Holy See will allow us to retain virtually everything that is essential to our Anglican identity.]. Their petition was cordially received at the Vatican, but for many months, there was only silence.

Then, on Oct. 20, the response of Pope Benedict XVI was a decisive, magnanimous “Yes.” The subsequently published Apostolic Constitution (Anglicanorum Coetibus) confirmed that TAC members will be permitted to join collectively and will be allowed to retain the liturgies and traditions “that are precious to them and consistent with the Catholic faith.” [And these traditions have been recognized as "precious gifts" and "a treasure to be shared" with the larger Catholic Church.] Small wonder that Archbishop Hepworth called the Pope’s offer “generous at every turn … very pastoral” and “a beautiful document.”

TAC bishops and congregations will consider and vote on the Vatican’s offer in a series of national and regional synods to be held early next year.

This means, in practice, that a place will be made within Catholic liturgy for Thomas Cranmer’s 1662 Book of Common Prayer – considered by many to rival William Shakespeare’s plays as the apotheosis of the English language. Also to be welcomed is the rich treasure of Anglican hymnody. All of this is (to paraphrase Hamlet) “a consummation devoutly to be wished,” and it was greeted as such by many thoughtful Catholics and Anglicans of my acquaintance. [The positive response to Anglicanorum Coetibus on the part of so many traditional Roman Catholics has been a tremendous encouragement to Catholic Anglicans!]

Monday, December 28, 2009

Kathy Shaidle on that Mao ornament on the White House tree

You don't want to mess with the Shaidle. She'll make verbal mincemeat out of you and bake you in a pie, with a joker face cut in the crust. Defending the Mao ornament by invoking Andy Warhol (my ethnic group btw) attracted her ire.

Here's an excerpt:

Fourth — forget Warhol: aren’t the lefties at Media Matters the ones “advertising their ignorance” about who Mao was (i.e. a mass murder millions of times over?)

Apparently not. The irony deficient Eric approvingly quotes a writer for the Los Angeles Times, who patiently explains to us plebes that:

Warhol’s parody transformed the leader of the world’s most populous nation into a vapid superstar — the most famous of the famous. The portrait photo from Mao’s Little Red Book is tarted up with lipstick, eye-shadow and other Marilyn Monroe-style flourishes.

You see, it’s all so po-mo, you idiots don’t get it.

However, I can think of a few other equally iconic illustrations, created specifically to “play with” and “explore” and “parody” received wisdom, in a “shock the bourgeousie” manner. How about the infamous cover of Hustler, created to mock feminist critiques that pornographer Larry Fynt was treating women as “pieces of meat”? The cover in question features a drawing of a woman being fed head first into a meat grinder. Get it?

Is Media Matters implying it would be ok for a White House ornament to feature that Hustler cover?

Just because something is hip and ironic, doesn’t make it an acceptable adornment for the White House Christmas tree. In fact, I’d argue that that very fact should rule out such an ornament. Shouldn’t Christmas ornaments in “the people’s house” have something to do with — call me crazy — Christmas, rather than serve as a chance to display its inhabitant’s elitist hipster cred?

Especially in a White House that up until recently employed an admitted admirer of mass murderer Mao?

The phrase “tone deaf” doesn’t begin to describe it.

Finally: isn’t this the same Media Matters that devoted considerable time to denouncing some conservatives’ embrace of that satirical, and uncomplimentary, “Obama Joker” poster?

Stephen Crowder on Detroit

The pro-Hamas demo not as large as feared

Thankfully, the participants in the huge Reviving the Spirit of Islam conference did not flood the streets to join the protest.

She reports on the much smaller demonstration than last year's, plus the larger counter-demonstration. But she reports one chilling moment:

I have to say that with their smallish crowd and their same old tiresome blather--yadda yadda yadda "racist," yadda yadda yadda "apartheid," yadda yadda yadd "justice" (you really need some new material, folks)-- the Eliminationists managed to seem both shrill and pathetic. Still, there was one particularly chilling moment: a pony-tailed "youth" unfurled a Hezbo flag and, seeing the reaction is was eliciting from the other side, smiled an Ahmadinejad-like smirk and gave the flag a great big kiss. (I could see him very clearly because I was standing right across from him, and I'm pretty sure he was looking at me when he kissed it). It was like staring into the face of pure evil--the face of modern day Judenhass.

The Binks on the big Muslim conference in Toronto

In part three of his analysis of the massive Muslim Reviving the Islamic Spirit conference in Toronto over Christmas, the Binks writes:

~ WHILST PERUSING the online RIS-8 Conference material, I was struck by how much of it sounded like old-style triumphalist Marxist boilerplate.

Making a new world.. overcoming social divisions and injustice.. a new vision for youth.. the answer for life’s problems.. reviving the Islamic Jihad spirit.. workers of the world, unite! Islam is the answer, now what was the question?

It’s a theory which, like Marxism, fails in the reality.


Islam is first and foremost an absolutist political ideology, founded on one man’s claim to be the sole and individual prophetic spokesman for his God. It’s no surprise then that in its polished 21st century pitch– particularly to idealistic Canadian Muslim High School and University kids, pre-steeped in the self-loathing Marxism and political correctness of modern academia– that the RIS Conference should use utopian & Marxist notions alongside radicalized Islamist claims that Muslim world supremacy is the only possible cure-all for the ills of humanity. The one-stop fixit. And this in the face of the real misery, backwardness, dictatorships and many other embarrassing sorrows of actual Muslim experience & history.


However, the basic question remains unanswered and unanswerable, whether you’re a Marxist utopian of whatever stripe, or a soft or hard Jihadist: Is This True? That is, how has it really worked in the real world with real people? Has it served to improve or dehumanize people? Does it promote the true, the good, and the beautiful? The dreams of Marx or Muhammed may be intoxicating and popular, but were they proved right, or not?

Otherwise, we are made mere slaves to a wrong-headed theory, and become human pretzels to be bent and twisted into the proper shape by our absolute masters, no matter the cost or consequence.

Why not ask the young protesters dying on the streets of Tehran right now how that whole ‘Islamo-paradise-on-earth’ thing is working out for them. ~

Archbishop Hepworth's Christmas message

I'm happy to be one of Archbishop John Hepworth's "lot". Someone in our flock likened him to our Moses, who is leading us all to the promised land, the Holy Catholic Church. I love this message because it speaks to some things that I have been struggling with on this journey. There has been a part of me that has chafed a bit at the unfairness of the extremely high bar the Catholic Church expects of us converts, but the apparently extremely low bar demanded of those who are already members of the family. It has at times scandalized me. It's as if we're required to be saints before we can even come to the table. Okay, so be it. If the bar is high, then I will rely on the power of the Holy Spirit to do the work in me. How wonderful to receive a similar exhortation from our primate.

Here's his Christmas message, posted today at The AngloCatholic.

The Octave of Christmas is a time of richness and of confrontation. Richness because of the great liturgical and popular tradition that takes us day by day into events and places that deepen our faith in the Christ Child.

The feasts of Stephen, John, Holy Innocents, and the saintly martyr Archbishop Becket, all follow one another in a tumble of carols and remembrance. But these are also days of martyrdom and mass murder.

The Child was laid in a manger, wrapped in swaddling clothes. These were the clothes in which the Jewish dead would be buried. They were kept in the stable so as not to be within the realm of the living. “His death cast a shadow over His birth, because his death was the reason for His birth.”

The martyrs of His octave, the first of the martyrs, Deacon Stephen, the Anglican Archbishop Becket, the host of the Innocents, the children who died for the comfort of a King, the Apostle whose failed martyrdom led to the Apocalyptic exile on Patmos, these are the ones who accompany our Christmas thoughts, and remind us of the cost of following the Child of Bethlehem.

These are appropriate thoughts in this year’s Octave when the bishops of our Communion receive their formal response to their petition for communion with the Bishop of Rome and those in communion with him in East and West. To be a splinter is not a virtue, it is an irritant destined to fester. A branch unconnected to the vine withers and corrupts.

Catholic communion is not an idea, nor the acceptance of a set of beliefs. It is standing together at the Altar of God, affirming one faith and receiving together the one Body and Blood of the Christ who is God and brother.

Our bishops have realised from the start of our separation from the Anglican Communion that it was a separation of pilgrimage. Pilgrimage must have a goal. Our goal was the healing of catholic disunity, that Anglicans had sought and then abandoned.

There is great integrity in being a pilgrim. If the destination be holy, God sustains on the journey. We will not be rushed or stampeded. Nor will we falter. So in our waiting as the vision of our destination becomes clearer in the mists of our wandering, let us take clear sight of the martyrs who are our Octave companions. Their echoes are all around us, in the destruction of innocent life, in the failure of episcopal teaching, in the denial of the Christ Child’s godliness, in the transformation of love into hate, even within the company of those who bear His Name. The dying Stephen prayed for Saul, and the Church was given Paul, and the world was transformed. These are important days for us, and days that demand that most difficult of prayers. “That we be transformed, so that the Church may transform the world.”


Saturday, December 26, 2009

The radicalization of Muslim young people

It's heartbreaking to hear about the father of the Nigerian man who tried to blow up a Delta airlines jet yesterday as it landed in Detroit. Gateway Pundit reports:

Alhaji Umaru Mutallab, former chairman off Nigeria’s First Bank, was said to be worried about his son’s increasingly ‘extreme’ religious views, a Nigerian newspaper reported. (New York Daily News)

All Africa reported, via Free Republic:

The young man, who yesterday night attempted to ignite an explosive device aboard a Delta Airlines flight from Amsterdam to Detroit, Michigan in the United States has been identified as Abdul Farouk Umar Abdulmutallab, the 23-year-old son of Alhaji Umaru Mutallab, former First Bank chairman. Mutallab, a former minister and prominent banker recently retired from the bank’s board.

The older Mutallab, as at the time of filing this report, had just left his Katsina hometown for Abuja to speak with security agencies, family sources say. According to the family members, Mutallab has been uncomfortable with the boy’s extreme religious views and had six months ago reported his activities to United States’ Embassy, Abuja and Nigerian security agencies.

The older Mutallab was said to be devastated on hearing the news of Abdul Farouk’s attempted bombing arrest. A source close to him said he was surprised that after his reports to the US authorities, the young man was allowed to travel to the United States.

From what I understand, many of the Muslims who sought a better life in France are bewildered and frightened even by their French-born offspring who have adopted the worst of western nihilistic gangsta "culture" combined with the worst excesses of Islamism. In other words, these young men who like to set cars on fire, are not likely to pray five times a day or adopt the other strictures of Islam, but they have taken on aspects of the anti-western jihad, and are especially fired up by misogyny. We must never forget that the people the most likely to be victimized by extremist jihadis are other Muslims who do not share their virulent brand of politicized Islam.

Another sign of the growing confidence of political Islam is a massive conference taking place in Toronto--a three day event that has drawn 17,000 Muslims and attracted some speakers that some, including the great web elf Binky, find troubling. The Binks writes:

Whilst the rest of us were taking a few days off for ChrismaKwanukkafestivus, there was a little conflab of 17000+ politically active Muslims in Toronto, starting on December 25th, of all days [ RIS - Reviving The Islamic Spirit 8th Convention (Dec. 25-27, 2009) ] .. Google had:

Muslims meet in Toronto to balance faith, community

Toronto Star - Debra Black – ‎2 hours ago‎
Close to 17000 Muslims came to Metro Toronto’s Convention Centre today, Christmas Day, to learn about their religion and being a Muslim in today’s world.
Thousands attend Toronto Muslim convention National Post (Blogs) (blog)

Awww.. all those tasty recipes; a little holy book study and encouraging speakers; lotsa vendors, all part of the rich tapestry of diversity that is multi-culti Toronto, right? You betcha!

Binks explains in his post why some of the speakers are problematic.

Scaramouche is not amused:

Funny, but to this kaffir's ears that doesn't sound like Muslims aim to be merely be one strand in our glorious multiculti tapestry. Sounds to me like, given their druthers, they want one colour--green--to predominate.

But, hey, maybe that's just me being sensitive. Maybe the roster of renowned Islamists who spoke to the crowd--including former folk "Cat"/noted Hamas enthusiast Yusuf Islam and slippery Salafist Tarik Ramadan--urged the faithful to "build bridges," and eschew the supremacism that's written into Islamic doctrine, and stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the many, many infidel groups in the broader society.

And maybe the moon is made of gorgonzola, Obama's middle name is really "Chaim" and there is such a thing as anthropogenic climate change.

Binks mentions what I'm sure is a freaky coinkydink--the fact that tomorrow there is going to be a pro-Hamas "protest" march to Toronto's Israeli consulate. I wonder how many of the conference attendees--remember there are 17,000 of them--will turn out for it. (I do so enjoy those "peaceful" protests, the ones where the "peaceniks" shout out such "pacific" greetings as "Hamas, Hamas, Jews to the gas!" and "Jewish child you're gonna f**king die!" Well, after all, how is one to "save" humanity's ship from sinking whilst a wicked Jewish entity yet squats like a wee iceberg in the bosom of Dar al Islam?)

Hmmmm. I wonder whether any "official Christian" groups or Members of Parliament will participate in this pro-Hamas march.

By the way, Scaramouche is not making up the quotes, but recalling verbatim what was captured on video at a demonstration earlier this year by pro-Hamas militants.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Attempted terror attack aboard plane

Did you hear about firecrackers aboard a U.S. plane?

Well, it's as bad as you may have feared.

Now even the mainstream media is reporting it as an attempted terror attack.

Gateway Pundit is on it:

A Nigerian terrorist was arrested today after trying to explode a powdery substance taped to his leg on a flight from Amsterdam to Detroit.
The man who suffered second-degree burns told federal investigators that he was directed by al Qaeda.
ABC reported:

Federal officials and police are interviewing a Nigerian man, who allegedly tried to “explode” a powdery substance aboard a Northwest flight from Amsterdam to Detroit, injuring himself and two other passengers, law enforcement officials said.

The man said he was directed by al Qaeda to explode a small device in flight, over U.S. soil, ABC News has learned. Authorities have no corroboration of that information, and the credibility of the suspect’s statements are being questioned, officials said.

Robert Spencer at Jihadwatch has posted several entries, including this:

December 25, 2009

This is potentially significant, due to the highly plausible double meaning of the "ceremony" as an act of jihad, as well as for jihadists' common habit of referring to an upcoming attack as a "wedding." At the very least, it would behoove authorities to ask for more details before granting a visa, and restrict the interval for which it is valid.

"Man Attempts to Set Off Explosives on Detroit-Bound Airplane," by Richard Esposito and Scott Mayerowitz for ABC News, December 25:

[...] The suspect was identified as Abdul Farouk Abdulmutallab, 23, who according to federal documents is an engineering student at University College of London.
He was flying from Nigeria to the United States for a religious ceremony, according to his entry visa, which was issued June 16, 2008 and was good until June 12, 2010.

Sorrowful Christmas for Christians in Iraq

Robert Spencer writes:

Christians in the Iraqi city have opted not to celebrate Christmas this year, since Ashura, a major Shi’ite day of mourning, falls on the same day. So out of “respect” for the local Shi’ites, Chaldean Catholic Bishop Imad Al Banna asked all Christians in Basra not to engage in any public celebration of Christmas, and not even to entertain guests or show any joy in the day.

Would Shi’ites curtail one of their celebrations to show similar “respect” to the Christians? Would they mute their joy on Eid al-Fitr if it began on Good Friday? And what would happen to these Christians if they failed to show this “respect”?

Meanwhile, Christians are still streaming out of Iraq in such large numbers that the ancient Christian community is on the verge of extinction. Islamic jihadists last week attacked churches and Christian schools in Mosul, with forty people killed in bomb attacks and random Christians targeted for violence on the streets. This is after jihadist violence late last year killed forty and drove 12,000 Christians from the area. “It is terrible,” one Mosul Christian told the Times of London: : “Most of the Christians are staying at home, or when they go out they watch their backs.” A member of another religious minority, the Yazidis, who lives in a Christian village remarked: “You cannot live in Mosul. Every day you find Christians being killed. Very few are still going to church. The women have to wear hijabs.

Depressing prognosis from "Spengler" aka David P. Goldman at First Things

He's one of the few Jewish voices speaking up for Pope Pius XII. He writes:

Additional facts will not change what we know: Pius XII did his best to save Jews within the modest reach of the resources of the Church during the Nazi occupation of Italy. If he had excommunicated Hitler or instructed priests to refuse communion to soldiers or civilians engaged in genocide, he probably would have been martyred; the Nazis would have established a puppet pope and a puppet German Church. Pius did not speak out publicly against the mass murder of Polish priests, either, and for the same reasons.

Would the situation of the Jews improved materially had Pius XII chosen martyrdom? I doubt it; the Church already had lost the battle for Europe’s soul. The First World War, in which French priests blessed cannons to kill German Catholics and vice versa, killed Catholic universality, which had been waning since the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648. An open condemnation of Hitler would have assisted the Allied war effort by eroding German morale, I suppose.

The Church made the same blunder as the European Orthodox rabbinate during the 1930s: it failed to foresee the magnitude of Nazi evil. Secular Zionists such as Vladimir Jabotinsky toured Europe during the pre-war years warning that Jews faced extermination, and the majority of Orthodox rabbis denounced Zionism and preached quietism. Some of Berlin’s Orthodox rabbis wrote a letter to Hitler upon his seizure of power in 1933 hailing him as a prospective ally against Bolshevism–exactly what many in the Catholic Church believed. The whole story can be found in a 2003 book by Marc B. Shapiro.

Catholics who contend that pro-abortion politicians should be refused communion might consider whether the same ban should have applied to German soldiers or Ukrainian camp guards engaged in mass murder of Jews. But the sad fact is that the Church had very little power to influence events in Europe.

And that is the astonishing fact of the matter. The largest institution in Europe, with the widest nominal loyalty among Europeans, collapsed like a house of cards in the face of fascism. The Church never has recovered in Europe. Weekly mass attendance among self-identified European Catholics ranges between 10% and 20%, but the numbers are deceptively large, for they reflect the residual loyalty of a rapidly-aging population. The younger generation is barely half the size of the last one, and the proportion of young people attending mass is tiny. Project this trend forward and European churches will be empty within a generation, resembling the Church of England today.

Christmas under Communism

Most interesting article at American Thinker about what it was like in Communist countries at Christmas. Here's an excerpt:

Christianity can survive long periods of oppression, but in the meantime, individual lives can be terribly harmed. In Eastern Europe, hundreds of millions of human beings suffered though a grinding half-century of Communist rule. Lacking the wisdom and inspiration of traditional faith, generations passed through life like hollow men passing from Communist youth leagues to Communist workers' associations to communist pensioner schemes.

Yet one of the inescapable paradoxes of Communism is the fact that the godless state, which professes the virtue of materialism, can then so completely fail to provide even the material necessities that most in the West take for granted. Although there were rubber chickens and wooden pop guns in the market, there was a general absence of everything else. By the time Christmas rolled around, there was little variety of food, and milk had disappeared from the stores. Fresh fruit, including oranges and bananas, vanished entirely, as did all fresh vegetables, except for an aging stock of potatoes, carrots, and turnips. Other than some suspiciously outdated and moldy-looking sausages, meat was in short supply. What there was, along with the potatoes, carrots, turnips, and sausages, was the bland production of the state canneries: jams, jellies, canned vegetables and fruits, potted meat and chicken, and an adequate quantity of bread to be washed down with ample supplies of locally produced plum brandy, beer, and wine.

It might seem that the state had at least provided an adequate caloric intake, but every day I saw people of all ages, from young women with infants cradled in one arm to old men in ragged suits, fumbling through garbage bins for bread crusts and bones.

Christmas was also accompanied by the unrelieved cold. The Communist state had guaranteed heating and electricity for all, just as it had guaranteed universal free medical care, but blackouts were frequent and long, and water shortages predictable: two days off, one day on. Every night, the heat was turned off at nine o'clock. I slept in a cold room under a mountain of blankets, sometimes lying awake as my breath rose like smoke in the moonlight. Then I got very sick, but I refused to be taken to the hospital for fear of being made sicker.

Each morning, a shabbily dressed population reemerged on the streets, crouching against the cold, beaten down by hardship, hunger, untreated disease, and the extinction of all human dreams. Walking the streets of a Communist city in late December, with the unshoveled snow packed down into a treacherous sheet of ice, shivering because no matter where one went, inside or out, one would still be cold -- this was the reality of a Communist Christmas.

But it was not just the bleak physical conditions that ground people down and caused them to die in their forties and fifties. For generations under Communist rule, life passed with nothing more wondrous or resplendent than the material facts of work, consumption, and reproduction. During the Communist era, most people in Eastern Europe grew up as confirmed atheists, smug in the certainty that nothing really mattered except getting along in life and securing as much of society's meager production of goods and services as possible. From this there was no reprieve except cheap alcohol and foul, locally produced cigarettes.

Why are Christians leaving Bethlehem?

Here's an interesting story from the New York Post:

The pilgrims will be there as midnight Mass at the Church of the Nativity is again broadcast live around the world this Christmas Eve -- but the town of Bethlehem is fast losing its last few year-round Christian residents.

Christians are fleeing the town of Christ's birth, and the much-reported hardship that Israel inflicts on residents of the West Bank town has little to do with it. It's the same reality across the Arab world: rising Islamism pushes non-Muslims away.

Islamists frown on real-estate ownership by non-Muslims -- Christian, Jew or anything else. And though the secular Palestinian Authority still controls the West Bank, the clout of groups like Hamas is growing: Even in Bethlehem, where followers of history's most famous baby once thrived, Christians are ceding the land.

Arab Christians lighting candles at the Church of the Nativity.
Arab Christians lighting candles at the Church of the Nativity.

Yes, ever since the PA took control of the West Bank in the early '90s, its leaders have taken care to show the world an idealized picture of Muslim-Christian solidarity. But it's a facade -- a way to score anti-Israeli political points.

That tradition continues: Monday, the Palestinian news agency Maan reported on Palestinian Christians "trapped" in Gaza as Israel refuses to let them travel to Bethlehem to celebrate Christmas with their brethren.

In fact, the Israelis decline to let people travel from Hamas-controlled Gaza for the simple reason that Hamas is still sponsoring suicide-bomb and other attacks on its civilians. (It also threatens the secularists of Fatah, the ruling party in the West Bank.) Gaza residents can't go to Egypt, either (Cairo's even building a wall to keep them out), because Hamas and its parent, the Muslim Brotherhood, threaten the regime.

It's a tragedy that Christians are leaving the Holy Land. If you want to help support Christians living in Gaza or the West Bank, the Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA) Canada is an excellent charity to consider.


May we have many more years of Pope Benedict XVI

Thank God he was not injured last night.

Damian Thompson writes:

The assault on Pope Benedict XVI is very disturbing to watch on video. It makes the stomach lurch. For an 82-year-old man to have to preside over a service watched by millions is daunting enough – and, remember, Joseph Ratzinger is not a natural showman, unlike his predecessor. He does not find these things easy. Imagine the horror of being suddenly knocked to the ground at such a nerve-wracking moment. That he was unharmed is a small miracle. If the Pope had broken his hip, which could so easily have happened, then his health might have been seriously damaged: many old people are never quite the same again after a fall. As it was, he carried on bravely, as if nothing had happened.

The Catholic Church really needs Benedict XVI: his health (which seems fine, thank God) is a matter of concern, and not just because his visit to Britain depends on it. This Holy Father is an adventurous and radical leader. In 2007, he issued a historic apostolic letter, Summorum Pontificum, that brought closer together the older and newer forms of the Roman Rite; it will take years for it to “bed in” properly, though the transformation has begun. Who now regards the celebration of the Tridentine Rite as something dangerously exotic, as was the case a few years ago? Yes, certain bishops continue to disregard the Pope’s wishes, but the Vatican knows who they are, thanks in part to the internet.

Then there is the Apostolic Constitution for ex-Anglicans. This is a personal initiative of Pope Benedict; the Ordinariates will take shape next year, but because the Pope has brushed aside the Church’s lazy liberal consensus – as he did with Summorum Pontificum – the scheme requires constant pressure from the Holy See to make sure it is implemented properly. Get it right, and there will be a mighty crossing of the Tiber.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

From the Salt and Light TV blog . . .

These wonderful words from the El Salvador Archbishop Oscar Romero, written a few years before he was assassinated in 1980:

Would that my voice might reach the imprisoned like a ray of light, of Christmas hope – and might it say also to you, the sick, the elderly in the home for the aged, the hospital patients, you that live in shacks and shantytowns, you coffee harvesters trying to garner your only wage for the whole year, you that are tortured: God’s eternal purpose has thought of all of you. He loves you, and, like Mary, incarnates that thought in his womb.

No one can celebrate a genuine Christmas without being truly poor. The self-sufficient, the proud, those who, because they have everything, look down on others, those who have no need even of God – for them there will be no Christmas. Only the poor, the hungry, those who need someone to come on their behalf, will have that someone. That someone is God, Emmanuel, God-with-us. Without poverty of spirit there can be no abundance of God.

Great editorial in today's National Post

This made my heart sing. What a beautiful editorial.

God is on the side of man. That was the good news first promised long ago to Abraham, when he was told that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars of the sky and the sand on the seashore. All the nations of the Earth would find blessing in his descendents, the Jewish people. The Gentiles would come to know God through their witness. God first fashioned for Himself a nation and a chosen people, and then He fashioned for Himself a son -- a man like us in all things but sin.

The Christian claim is bold. Just as the Jewish people were chosen not only for themselves but as a blessing for all nations, so too does Jesus Christ come to offer the gift of salvation to all peoples. Indeed, the claim goes further still. The entirety of the natural world looks for that same gift of salvation in Jesus Christ.

The whole of creation -- the entire physical order to which man belongs -- is "groaning in travail," as Saint Paul wrote to the Romans. We are wise to note this groaning. The world of nature groans still, red in tooth and claw. It is a brutal world where yes, even the polar bears devour their young. Natural disasters are, well, natural, as the hurricanes and earthquakes do their efficient and lethal work. To this, man makes his own contribution, his creativity bringing out the fruit of creation, his cupidity degrading that very same creation.

To all this the disciple at Christmas recalls Saint Paul again, this time writing to the Colossians, on the cosmic dimension of Christ: "He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation; for in him all things were created, in heaven and on Earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or authorities -- all things were created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together."

Please read the whole editorial. It is awesome.

And consider taking out a subscription.

Brian Lilley investigates the controversy surrounding KAIROS

and applies some good, old-fashioned journalism to get beyond the spin. He writes:

Kairos denies they are anti-Semitic or engaged in calling for a boycott of Israel and Kenney denies he called the group anti-Semitic, both claims are the sort that are true and false at the same time depending on how you slice it. Kenney’s statement on Kairos came at a point in his speech where he was describing what the government is doing to combat anti-Semitism. He listed the government’s decision to cut off the Canadian Arab Federation and the Canadian Islamic Congress as two anti-Semitic groups immediately before that single sentence on Kairos. So no, Kenney did not explicitly call Kairos anti-Semitic but the flow of the speech definitely leads you to that conclusion.

So, are the charges correct? Rosie DiManno of The Toronto Star lays out her argument that Kairos fits the charge in her Monday column. DiManno points to much of the same material I so easily found on the Kairos website, a claim that they do not support a boycott but then a 29 page paper on ways churches can divest themselves of shares in Israeli companies, companies that make money selling supplies that might support Israeli settlements and of course ways to engage in targeted boycotts of Israeli products.

Blogger Ezra Levant notes that Kairos, after having some light shone on the views of its partners and supporters is scrubbing its website clean of links to groups or material that is fully anti-Semitic or anti-Israel.

Over the years, Kairos has made the right noises about supporting the State of Israel’s right to exist and defend itself while also supporting all the fashionable causes of the left that are at the fore of the new anti-Semitism. I think the group remains shy of taking the full step into anti-Israeli crackpottery, I also think that Kenney overplayed his hand a touch while trying to play to the crowd in Jerusalem.

Here's KAIROS explanation of its Middle East policy. Here's an excerpt. I am putting in bold the parts that might cause red flags among Jews and I'm putting in yellow the criticisms of Israel and in green the criticisms of its neighbors:

The Convention spells out what an occupying power may and may not do on land that it occupies. Israel is in violation of the Convention in many ways. It has constructed permanent homes there for its people; its ever-expanding network of by-pass roads fragment these already small territories and limit the movement of the Palestinian people; it restricts the people's access to the water of the area; it has confiscated lands, destroyed Palestinian roads, uprooted untold numbers of orchard trees, demolished homes, transferred local people, and imposed many restrictions on normal activities. If Israel were to abide by this Convention, it would not end the occupation but life for the Palestinian people would be much better. Other signatories to the Convention, including Canada, have an obligation under Article #1 to ensure that it is upheld. Palestinians have the right to resist the occupation through non-violent means.

4. Both Palestinians and Israelis must be held to a common human rights standard which includes the protection of civilians. All attacks on civilians, whether in pursuit of political ends or as a part of military operations, or for any other reason, are unacceptable and must be deplored.[Actually this is a moral equivalency argument that criticizes both sides].

Attacks on civilians include suicide bombings, targeted assassinations and military attacks in populated areas which are known beforehand to likely result in civilian deaths.

5. Lasting peace in the region requires recognition of the human rights of the Palestinian refugees. These are outlined in United Nations General Assembly Resolution 194 and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. These include their right of return, their representation in negotiating and building peace, their right to citizenship and a permanent home, and some form of compensation for the loss of homes and property.

Given that Palestinian refugees now number in the millions, their return to Israel might seem an impossibility. Nevertheless, their right to return must be honoured, though its implementation could include alternatives for those refugees who would find them acceptable and fair.

Though a cursory read of this policy will seem even-handed and geared towards a two-state solution, a closer examination comes across as weighted against Irsael.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

A signed copy of The Defilers for Christmas

If you would like a signed copy of The Defilers in time for Christmas, please hit the PayPal button below. For $20, I will send you a signed copy of the novel. PayPal allows you to include shipping information in your email.

Thanks! And thanks to those who have requested the novel via Haloscan.

Read what people are saying about The Defilers here. An excerpt here.
If you'd like to buy a copy, you can go here or find it on Amazon here. Canadians can find it at here.
IMPORTANT TO NEW READERS: The site was designed to look its best and works well if you use Firefox. If you must use Explorer, and the links don't work, try navigating away from the site, then coming back.
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Lo, He comes with clouds descending . . .

Lo! he comes, with clouds descending,
once for our salvation slain;
thousand thousand saints attending
swell the triumph of his train:
Alleluia! alleluia! alleluia!
Christ the Lord returns to reign.

Every eye shall now behold him,
robed in dreadful majesty;
those who set at nought and sold him,
pierced, and nailed him to the tree,
deeply wailing, deeply wailing, deeply wailing,
shall the true Messiah see.

Those dear tokens of his passion
still his dazzling body bears,
cause of endless exultation
to his ransomed worshipers;
with what rapture, with what rapture, with what rapture
gaze we on those glorious scars!

Now redemption, long expected,
see in solemn pomp appear;
all his saints, by man rejected,
now shall meet him in the air:
Alleluia! alleluia! alleluia!
See the day of God appear!

Yea, amen! let all adore thee,
high on thine eternal throne;
Savior, take the power and glory;
claim the kingdom for thine own:
Alleluia! alleluia! alleluia!
Thou shalt reign, and thou alone.

Yuval Levin's Obamacare update

He writes at The Corner:

The CBO assessment of the bill tells the appalling story. We are going to raise taxes by half a trillion dollars over the next ten years, increase spending by more than a trillion dollars, cut Medicare by $470 billion but use that money to fund a new entitlement rather than to fix Medicare itself, bend the health care cost curve up rather than down, insert layers of bureaucracy between doctors and patients, and compel and subsidize universal participation in a failed system of health insurance rather than reform or improve it. Indeed, this bill will make it exceedingly difficult to fix our health insurance financing system in the future, since it sucks dry the potential means of such reform but leaves the fundamental cost problem essentially untouched (and in some respects worsened.) After all the back and forth, pulling and tugging, it is hard to see what is left in this bill that any member of Congress, liberal or conservative, would want to support.

Fr. Hunwicke on the need for inherited rituals around sex and drink

He really has a point. He writes:

I thought about that departed age when I heard a news bulletin about a new government initiative. Apparently there is so much violence against girls - of thirteen years or even as young as eleven - including a great deal of sexual violence from boyfriends - that the government is going to take action. What sort of action? Somehow reinforcing patterns of parental control? Ensuring that parents know how their young are dressed and where they're going and what they're doing and who they're with and what time they come home? A long and up-hill struggle to reintroduce patterns of courtship and of gradualism in the development of relationships? Seminars for the young on Modesty? Not on your life. I'm not making this up: children aged five and upwards are to be taught in school about the wrongness of violence against females. (Mind you, this news item was slightly undermined by the next one: about a murderer who had escaped from prison where she was serving Life for beating up and then stabbing her boyfriend to death [why, you ask, did I not write "murderess? Because that would have subverted my paraprosdokian].)

Sex and drink need ritual. They need inherited and formalised restraints. For, as Euripides taught the Athenians in their theatre, Aphrodite and Dionysus are dangerous gods. If you fail to treat them with respect, they will take you to the cleaners. What is wrong with our society is not that the schools fail adequately to drive home the imperatives of political correctness; it is that members of the cultural elite have in the last generations prided themselves on destroying the restraints and deriding the rituals; and now the gods have descended upon them and, my goodness, with what a vengeace. And they don't like it. And the only remedy they seem to be capable of discerning is the ancient mantra: "Doctor says keep on taking the pills". But what the Modern Girl needs is not more skill in contraception and better access to abortifacients, but careful lessons on how to entertain a boy to Tea.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Octave of All Souls by Robert Eady

I don't have a lot of time to do reviews for the Catholic papers. I usually have such a deluge of material that I must cover that I seem to never get around to writing them. But I felt Robert Eady's The Octave of All Soul's deserved a special mention. I'm glad to see the Western Catholic Reporter has published my review. An excerpt:

One might not think much would happen in the life of a shy, aging spinster,
but Eady, with great tenderness and insight, shows how monumental under the
surface even seemingly circumscribed lives can be.

It is a story of unrequited love, of despair and grace, of an uneducated woman's finding a mentor in her former high school English teacher, now retired, who forms a book club that exposes her to literature.

There is a profound mystery at the core of this book that opens up the meaning of the communion of the saints in eternity. Eady is able to show this in a way that resonates to the bone.

The novel reminds me of Marilynne Robinson's Pulitzer Prize-winning Gilead in its
structure and craftsmanship. Like Eady's book, Gilead is a first-person account
via letters from an elderly pastor, who knows he is dying, to his six-year-old

The Octave of All Souls can be purchased from the publisher at PO Box
315, Combermere, ON K0J 1L0 ($29.95 Cdn. which includes mailing.) Email queries
can be sent to

Friday, December 18, 2009

Horrid "Nativity" scenes

It's enough to make the compiler of this post want to cancel Christmas. H/t The Corner.

Thursday, December 17, 2009


Minister. O Lord, open thou our lips;

People. And our mouth shall show forth thy praise.

Minister. O God, make speed to save us;

People. O Lord, make haste to help us.

GLORY be to the Father, and to the Son, and the the Holy Ghost;
People. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
Minister. Praise ye the Lord;
People. The Lord's Name be praised.

Then shall follow THE PSALMS.

Psalm 89


THOU spakest sometime in a vision unto thy saints, and saidst, / 'I have laid help upon one that is mighty; I have exalted one chosen out of the people.

20 I have found David my servant: / with my holy oil have I anointed him.

21 My hand shall hold him fast, / and my arm shall strengthen him.

22 The enemy shall not be able to do him violence: / the son of wickedness shall not hurt him.

23 I will beat down his foes before his face, / and smite them that hate him.

24 My faithfulness also and my mercy shall be with him: / and in my Name shall his horn be exalted.

25 I will set his hand also on the sea, / and his right hand on the rivers.

26 He shall call me, "Thou art my Father, / my God, and the rock of my salvation."

27 And I will make him my first-born, / the highest of the kings of the earth.

28 My mercy will I keep for him for evermore; / and my covenant shall stand fast with him.

29 His seed also will I make to endure for ever, / and his throne as the days of heaven.

30 But if his children forsake my law, / and walk not in my judgements;

31 If they break my statutes, and keep not my commandments, / I will visit their offences with the rod, and their sin with scourges.

32 Nevertheless, my loving-kindness will I not utterly take from him, / nor suffer my faithfulness to fail.

33 My covenant will I not break, / nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips.

34 Once for all I have sworn by my holiness; / I will not lie unto David;

35 His seed shall endure for ever, / and his throne is like as the sun before me.

36 It shall stand fast for evermore as the moon, / and as the faithful witness in the sky.'

37 BUT thou hast abhorred and forsaken thine anointed, / and art displeased at him.

38 Thou hast broken the covenant with thy servant, / and cast his crown to the ground.

39 Thou hast overthrown all his fences, / and broken down his strongholds.

40 All they that go by spoil him, / and he is become a reproach to his neighbours.

41 Thou hast set up the right hand of his adversaries, / and made all his enemies to rejoice.

42 Thou hast turned back the edge of his sword, / and givest him not victory in the battle.

43 Thou hast put out his glory, / and cast his throne down to the ground.

44 The days of his youth hast thou shortened, / and covered him with dishonour.

45 How long, O LORD? wilt thou hide thyself for ever? / how long shall thy wrath burn like fire?

46 O remember how short my time is; / wherefore hast thou made all men for nought?

47 What man is he that shall live on, and not see death? / and shall he deliver his soul from the power of the grave?

48 Where are thy former loving-kindnesses, O Lord, / which thou swarest unto David in thy faithfulness?

49 Remember, Lord, the reproach that thy servants have, / and how I do bear in my bosom the insults of the peoples;

50 Wherewith thine enemies have reproached, O LORD, / wherewith they have reproached the footsteps of thine anointed.

51 PRAISED be the LORD for evermore. / Amen and Amen.

Then the FIRST LESSON as appointed.

Isaiah 44 (King James Version)


Isaiah 47

1Come down, and sit in the dust, O virgin daughter of Babylon, sit on the ground: there is no throne, O daughter of the Chaldeans: for thou shalt no more be called tender and delicate.

2Take the millstones, and grind meal: uncover thy locks, make bare the leg, uncover the thigh, pass over the rivers.

3Thy nakedness shall be uncovered, yea, thy shame shall be seen: I will take vengeance, and I will not meet thee as a man.

4As for our redeemer, the LORD of hosts is his name, the Holy One of Israel.

5Sit thou silent, and get thee into darkness, O daughter of the Chaldeans: for thou shalt no more be called, The lady of kingdoms.

6I was wroth with my people, I have polluted mine inheritance, and given them into thine hand: thou didst shew them no mercy; upon the ancient hast thou very heavily laid thy yoke.

7And thou saidst, I shall be a lady for ever: so that thou didst not lay these things to thy heart, neither didst remember the latter end of it.

8Therefore hear now this, thou that art given to pleasures, that dwellest carelessly, that sayest in thine heart, I am, and none else beside me; I shall not sit as a widow, neither shall I know the loss of children:

9But these two things shall come to thee in a moment in one day, the loss of children, and widowhood: they shall come upon thee in their perfection for the multitude of thy sorceries, and for the great abundance of thine enchantments.

10For thou hast trusted in thy wickedness: thou hast said, None seeth me. Thy wisdom and thy knowledge, it hath perverted thee; and thou hast said in thine heart, I am, and none else beside me.

11Therefore shall evil come upon thee; thou shalt not know from whence it riseth: and mischief shall fall upon thee; thou shalt not be able to put it off: and desolation shall come upon thee suddenly, which thou shalt not know.

12Stand now with thine enchantments, and with the multitude of thy sorceries, wherein thou hast laboured from thy youth; if so be thou shalt be able to profit, if so be thou mayest prevail.

13Thou art wearied in the multitude of thy counsels. Let now the astrologers, the stargazers, the monthly prognosticators, stand up, and save thee from these things that shall come upon thee.

14Behold, they shall be as stubble; the fire shall burn them; they shall not deliver themselves from the power of the flame: there shall not be a coal to warm at, nor fire to sit before it.

15Thus shall they be unto thee with whom thou hast laboured, even thy merchants, from thy youth: they shall wander every one to his quarter; none shall save thee.

O Adonai

O Adonai [Lord] and Leader of the house of Israel, who appearedst in the bush to Moses in a flame of fire, and gavest him the Law in Sinai: Come and redeem us with an outstretched arm.

MAGNIFICAT. St. Luke 1:46

MY soul doth magnify the Lord, / and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.

For he hath regarded / the lowliness of his handmaiden.

For behold, from henceforth / all generations shall call me blessed.

For he that is mighty hath magnified me; / and holy is his Name.

And his mercy is on them that fear him / throughout all generations.

He hath showed strength with his arm; / he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.

He hath put down the mighty from their seat, / and hath exalted the humble and the meek.

He hath filled the hungry with good things; / and the rich he hath sent empty away.

He remembering his mercy / hath holpen his servant Israel;

As he promised to our forefathers, / Abraham and his seed for ever.

GLORY be to the Father, and to the Son, / and to the Holy Ghost;

As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, / world without end. Amen.

O Adonai

O Adonai and Leader of the house of Israel, who appearedst in the bush to Moses in a flame of fire, and gavest him the Law in Sinai: Cone and redeem us wiht an outstretched arm.


Revelation 21

1And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.

2And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

3And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.

4And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.

5And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.

6And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.

7He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.

8But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

9And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb's wife.

10And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God,

11Having the glory of God: and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal;

12And had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel:

13On the east three gates; on the north three gates; on the south three gates; and on the west three gates.

14And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

And after that shall be sung or said Nunc Dimittis (or the Son of Simeon).
NUNC DIMITTIS. St. Luke 2:29.

LORD, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, / according to thy word.
For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, / which thou has prepared before the face of all people;
To be a light to lighten the Gentiles, / and to be the glory of thy people Israel.
GLORY be to the Father, and to the Son, / and to the Holy Ghost;
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, / world without end. Amen.
Or else Deus Misereatur, Psalm 67, page 409.

Then shall be said or sung the Confession of the Faith, called the Apostles' Creed.

I BELIEVE in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth:
And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord, Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, Born of the Virgin Mary, Suffered under Pontius Pilate, Was crucified, dead, and buried: He descended into hell; The third day he rose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, And sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Ghost; The holy Catholic Church; The Communion of Saints; The Forgiveness of sins; The Resurrection of the body, And the Life everlasting. Amen.

And after the Creed these prayers following, all devoutly kneeling, the Minister first pronouncing:

The Lord be with you;
People. And with thy spirit.
Minister. Let us pray.
Lord, have mercy upon us.
Christ, have mercy upon us.
Lord, have mercy upon us.

OUR Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy Name, Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; And forgive us our trespasses, As we forgive them that trespass against us; And lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from evil. Amen.

Then the Priest standing up shall say:
O Lord, show thy mercy upon us;
People. And grant us thy salvation.
Priest. O Lord, save the Queen;
People. And mercifully hear us when we call upon thee.
Priest. Endue thy Ministers with righteousness;
People. And make thy chosen people joyful.
Priest. O Lord, save thy people;
People. And bless thine inheritance.
Priest. Give peace in our time, O Lord;
People. And evermore mightily defend us.
Priest. O God, make clean our hearts within us;
People. And take not thy Holy Spirit from us.

Then shall follow THE COLLECT OF THE DAY, together with any other Collects appointed to be said, and these two prayers in order.

O GOD, who didst bestow upon thy Saints such marvellous virtue, that they were able to stand fast, and have the victory against the world, the flesh, and the devil: Grant that we, who now commemorate thy Martyr St. Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch, Martyr in Rome (c. 115), may ever rejoice in their fellowship, and also be enabled by thy grace to fight the good fight of faith and lay hold upon eternal life; through our Lord Jesus Christ, who with thee and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

ALMIGHTY God, the giver of all good gifts, who of thy divine providence hast appointed divers Orders in thy Church: Give thy grace, we humbly beseech thee, to all those who are to be called to any office and administration in the same; and so replenish them with the truth of thy doctrine, and endue them with innocency of life, that they may faithfully serve before thee, to the glory of thy great Name, and to the benefit of thy holy Church; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

ALMIGHTY God, give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness, and put upon us the armour of light, now in the time of this mortal life, in which thy Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious Majesty, to judge both the quick and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, now and ever. Amen.

The Second Collect, for Peace.

O GOD, from whom all holy desires, all good counsels, and all just works do proceed: Give unto thy servants that peace which the world cannot give; that our hearts may be set to obey thy commandments, and also that by thee we being defended from the fear of our enemies may pass our time in rest and quietness; through the merits of Jesus Christ our Saviour. Amen.
The Third Collect, for Aid against all Perils.

LIGHTEN our darkness, we beseech thee, O Lord; and by thy great mercy defend us from all perils and dangers of this night; for the love of thy only Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.
Here may follow an Anthem or a Hymn.

A Prayer of Saint Chrysostom.
ALMIGHTY God, who hast given us grace at this time with one accord to make our common supplications unto thee; and dost promise that when two or three are gathered together in thy Name thou wilt grant their requests: Fulfil now, O Lord, the desires and petitions of thy servants, as may be most expedient for them; granting us in this world knowledge of thy truth, and in the world to come life everlasting. Amen.

2 Corinthians 13:14.
THE grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Ghost, be with us all evermore. Amen.

Postmodernism invades the hard sciences

A bishop has been sending me some interesting links. Here's a Dec. 3 opinion piece from Daniel Henninger of the Wall Street Journal about how so-called Climategate aka the events at East Anglia illustrate the invasion of postmodernism into the hard sciences.

What is happening at East Anglia is an epochal event. As the hard sciences—physics, biology, chemistry, electrical engineering—came to dominate intellectual life in the last century, some academics in the humanities devised the theory of postmodernism, which liberated them from their colleagues in the sciences. Postmodernism, a self-consciously "unprovable" theory, replaced formal structures with subjectivity. With the revelations of East Anglia, this slippery and variable intellectual world has crossed into the hard sciences.

This has harsh implications for the credibility of science generally. Hard science, alongside medicine, was one of the few things left accorded automatic stature and respect by most untrained lay persons. But the average person reading accounts of the East Anglia emails will conclude that hard science has become just another faction, as politicized and "messy" as, say, gender studies. The New England Journal of Medicine has turned into a weird weekly amalgam of straight medical-research and propaganda for the Obama redesign of U.S. medicine.

The East Anglians' mistreatment of scientists who challenged global warming's claims—plotting to shut them up and shut down their ability to publish—evokes the attempt to silence Galileo. The exchanges between Penn State's Michael Mann and East Anglia CRU director Phil Jones sound like Father Firenzuola, the Commissary-General of the Inquisition.

People who lived under the totalitarian Soviet yoke get it

Unfortunately so many others in the west don't, including President Obama.

Former Czech President Vaclav Havel does, however:

FP: After President Obama's decision to postpone his meeting with the Dalai Lama, you said something to the effect that these small gestures seem harmless, but over time can have a powerful, cumulative effect. For the hardhearted realists, can you explain that effect?

Havel: We know this from our modern history. When [French Prime Minister Edouard] Daladier returned from the [1938] Munich conference, the whole nation was applauding him for saving the peace. He made a miniscule compromise in the interest of peace. But it was the beginning of a chain of evil that subsequently brought about many millions of deaths. We can't just say, "This is just a small compromise that can be overlooked. First we will go to China and then perhaps talk with the Dalai Lama." . . .

FP: You make it sound so easy. But how, as president, do you decide when these small compromises are worth it and when they might lead to something more dangerous?

Havel: Politics . . . means, every day making some compromises, and to choose between one evil and another evil, and to decide which is bigger and which is smaller. But sometimes, some of these compromises could be very dangerous because it could be the beginning of the road of making a lot of other compromises, which are results of the first one, and there are very dangerous compromises. And it's necessary, I think, to have the feeling which compromise is possible to do and which, could be, maybe, after ten years, could be somehow very dangerous.

I will illustrate this with my own experience. Two days after I was elected president, I invited the Dalai Lama to visit. I was the first head of the state who invited him in this way, directly. And everybody was saying that it was a terribly dangerous act and issued their disapproving statements and expressions. But it was a ritual matter. Later, the Chinese deputy prime minister and the foreign minister came for a visit and brought me a pile of books about the Dalai Lama and some governmental documents about what good care they have taken of Tibet, and so on. They were propagandist, fabricated books, but he felt the need to explain something to me.

I had a press conference with this minister of foreign affairs. And he said, "It was wonderful, meeting, because we were speaking openly. Mr. Havel gave me his opinion, and I explained the opinion of our government. I gave him this book, and he thanked me for it."

This was unbelievable! Why did they feel the need to explain their point of view to the leader of such a small nation? Because they respect it when someone is standing his ground, when someone is not afraid of them. When someone soils his pants prematurely, then they do not respect you more for it.

My Cornwall Inquiry story gets picked up in Baltimore

I always like it when my byline appears in the United States and elsewhere around the globe. This is from a Baltimore paper.

OTTAWA – Bishop Paul-Andre Durocher of Alexandria-Cornwall, Ontario, apologized for the clergy sexual abuse in his diocese and urged remaining survivors to come forward.

His public statement came as the Cornwall Inquiry, which looked into the response of public institutions to decades of sexual abuse allegations that first became public in 1992, was released at a Dec. 15 news conference.

Led by Normand Glaude, an Ontario court justice, the four-year inquiry offers more than 200 recommendations for public agencies and the church on dealing with abuse cases.

“We know that there were some appalling occasions a few decades ago when people in authority, including priests, sexually abused young people,” Bishop Durocher told reporters. “I have had the occasion a number of times to listen first hand to the painful stories of survivors of sexual abuse and have been shaken by their testimony.

“I repeat what I have said on previous occasions: I am truly and deeply sorry for the pain that has been visited upon some of our young people and their families,” the bishop continued. “On behalf of the Catholic diocese that I lead, I want to apologize to you for the suffering and indignity caused by those in a position of trust and authority who have robbed you of your innocence. That should never have happened. Period.”

Bishop Durocher also invited sexual abuse survivors to continue meeting with him in order “to engage in any steps that will lead to healing and reconciliation.”

The bishop welcomed Glaude’s recommendations for ongoing healing and reconciliation in the community that could cost the province another $9 million.

And here's a story that appeared in the The Boston Pilot about the Apostolic Constitution for Anglicans.

OTTAWA (CNS) -- The primate of the Traditional Anglican Communion said he hopes churches take action to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church before Easter.

Archbishop John Hepworth said he reacted "with overwhelming joy" to the apostolic constitution published Nov. 9 establishing the structure for Anglicans to be in full communion with the Catholic Church.

The archbishop described the constitution as "generous at every turn" in its description of the Anglican heritage, its dogmatic provisions and its pastoral language.

"We've been asked to show the rich heritage to the whole church, not just to ourselves," he said in an interview from Australia.

The Traditional Anglican Communion includes Anglican churches that have left the much larger Anglican Communion over the ordination of women and sexually active homosexuals as priests. The Traditional Anglican Communion is among the largest group of Anglicans likely to embrace the Vatican's action to welcome them into full communion with the church.

Standing ovation for Hugo Chavez

This is chilling news from Copenhagen. This story from an Australian paper starts off with the response to Australian climate change minister Penny Wong:

But before she rose to speak the conference proceedings were interrupted by people with whistles and sirens chanting “stop green capitalism” – a sign of the anger in the developing world that the Danish host government is trying to wrest the process from the professional negotiators, who have failed to make any progress, and hand it to politicians, who might have some chance of achieving something before we all leave on Saturday.

Speaker after speaker from the developing world railed against this idea, with the Sudanese vice president Nafie Ali Nafie speaking on behalf of the developing world and declaring that they stood ready to agree to a new commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol. That would be the agreement where developing countries aren’t obliged to do anything. The other proposed agreement that would require big developing country emitters to bind themselves to their own type of emission reductions they are a lot less keen on.

Then President Chavez brought the house down.

When he said the process in Copenhagen was “not democratic, it is not inclusive, but isn’t that the reality of our world, the world is really and imperial dictatorship…down with imperial dictatorships” he got a rousing round of applause.

When he said there was a “silent and terrible ghost in the room” and that ghost was called capitalism, the applause was deafening.

But then he wound up to his grand conclusion – 20 minutes after his 5 minute speaking time was supposed to have ended and after quoting everyone from Karl Marx to Jesus Christ - “our revolution seeks to help all people…socialism, the other ghost that is probably wandering around this room, that’s the way to save the planet, capitalism is the road to hell....let’s fight against capitalism and make it obey us.” He won a standing ovation.

Roger Scruton on liberals and conservatives

This is one of the best essays I have seen outlining the differences...from The American Spectator.

An excerpt:

By contrast, as conservatives also know, the compassion displayed by the liberal is precisely that -- compassion displayed, though not necessarily felt. The liberal knows in his heart that his "compassionating zeal," as Rousseau described it, is a privilege for which he must thank the social order that sustains him. He knows that his emotion toward the victim class is (these days at least) more or less cost-free, that the few sacrifices he might have to make by way of proving his sincerity are nothing compared to the warm glow of approval by which he will be surrounded by declaring his sympathies. His compassion is a profoundly motivated state of mind, not the painful result of a conscience that will not be silenced, but the costless ticket to popular acclaim.

Why am I repeating those elementary truths, you ask? The answer is simple. The USA has descended from its special position as the principled guardian of Western civilization and joined the club of sentimentalists who have until now depended on American power. In the administration of President Obama we see the very same totalitarian sentimentality that has been at work in Europe, and which has replaced civil society with the state, the family with the adoption agency, work with welfare, and patriotic duty with universal "rights." The lesson of postwar Europe is that it is easy to flaunt compassion, but harder to bear the cost of it. Far preferable to the hard life in which disciplined teaching, costly charity, and responsible attachment are the ruling principles is the life of sentimental display, in which others are encouraged to admire you for virtues you do not possess. This life of phony compassion is a life of transferred costs. Liberals who wax lyrical on the sufferings of the poor do not, on the whole, give their time and money to helping those less fortunate than themselves. On the contrary, they campaign for the state to assume the burden. The inevitable result of their sentimental approach to suffering is the expansion of the state and the increase in its power both to tax us and to control our lives.

So, tell me, why are so many Christians now sentimental liberals who want the state to do everything not only for the poor but for our children (universal daycare) and our old age? Is it because the state breeds dependency and we Christians are addicted to its embrace too?