Friday, December 21, 2007

Declan Micah John...

... this is your very first blog post.

My wife and I have finally welcomed out little son into this world, Declan Micah John. We had originally thought of the name Augustine if it were to be a boy, but after we held and beheld him, we knew it wasn't the right fit. He actually didn't have a name until well into his first day, and it was my wife that came up with the name. The second names were chosen by our parents: Micah because of the Old Testament prophet, and John because it is the confirmation name my father and I share.

Coming out the hospital is a real shock. They tell you this in pre-natal class quite a bit, but it doesn't really sink in until it's 3am, you and your baby haven't slept for ages and you just can't get him to latch properly. Nevertheless, even with all the concern and frustration we've felt as new parents, our son is easily the most wondrous thing I have ever seen. The immediate love we felt for him was, well, completely out of this world. I think we both began to understand the love God has for us, fractionally of course, when little Declan came into our lives.

Merry Christmas!

Adeste Fideles!

Thank You God for the blessing of Declan!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

A short update:

I haven't been able to post for over a month... but for a good reason. My wife and I are mentally, spiritually, emotionally and physically preparing for the arrival of our first baby, and for that reason(s) alone, I just haven't found the time to motivate myself for an extended period of blogging. Ah well, I'm sure it will pick up soon.

Nevertheless, I thought anyone who passes by this blog should know that the ecumencial council that discusses the rehabilitation of the Latin and Orthodox Churches has agreed on the primacy of the papacy. That's pretty big news, since the primacy of the Petrine Office has always been the main source of dispute between the two Churches.

Sadly, there is still so much to do. The Eastern Orthodox Churches themselves are separated from one another, and then there is the whole matter of reincorporating theologically and canonically the entire group of Orthodox Churches. And not to be outdone, there is also the matter of the Orthodox laity accepting the reunion, which will take some time.

But still, it's a wonderful bit of news.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

What's wrong with the Mass...

A 16 year old Catholic from Baltimore addresses people within his own parish who scoff at the Old Rite (h/t to The Cafeteria is Closed):
I am 16 years old, and for the past 11 months I have attended the traditional Latin Mass weekly, while still attending the Novus Ordo Mass during the week. Because of this, I decided to address certain points made by Carroll Sterne in the Sept. 6 edition of The Georgia Bulletin. Mr. Sterne speaks about the type of Mass that someone of a younger generation is drawn to, and I thought that a teenager’s point of view might be helpful.

Mr. Sterne in his letter gives voice to the opinion of many of today’s liturgists when he says that no one from a younger generation would be drawn to the Latin Mass (many take this even further and assume that we would not like a reverent Novus Ordo Mass either). This opinion causes many of those who plan modern liturgies to do veritable back flips in an attempt to draw teenagers and young adults in. Sometimes this works, but it has a side effect: by doing these things, liturgists show that they have absolutely no faith in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass to change the lives of those in my generation.My generation knows about this lack of faith, we are able to see it every time we go to a “teen Mass” and experience priests ad-libbing prayers in an attempt to make them more relevant to us.

This lack of faith backfires; it sends us the message that we also should distrust the power of the liturgy, and it also can turn the Mass into something of a joke.

After experiencing this for months, I attended a Traditional Latin Mass and experienced something that I’d never seen before: Here was a priest who expected my life to be changed without adding anything to the Mass in an attempt to bring this change about. This priest had perfect faith in the power of the liturgy, and it showed. It was beautiful. The traditional Mass did more to change my life then any “relevant” teen Mass ever did.

Ethan Milukas, Peachtree City
I don't think anyone could have said it better or more succinctly. I felt the same way about 'youth' Masses when I was his age: They were cheesy, irreverent, stripped of all sanctity and ultimately entirely useless to us as young people. It was as if those Masses were designed to turn people off. It wasn't until I was 19 that I actually encountered a reverent Novus Ordo Mass, and that was in Victoria, a diocese that was almost completely killed off by Bishop Remi de Roo.

Advertisers say that we cannot estimate just how low the public will go. I think that's correct, but it's not something that we as Catholics should ever be measuring or tailoring our liturgies by. There are ways to celebrate a Novus Ordo Mass with P/W music that do not detract from the ability of the laity to focus on Christ. The problem arises when liturgists, music directors and priests spurn traditionally Catholic forms of worship because they, at first glance, seem out of touch with modern sensibilities. They couldn't be more wrong.

Young Catholics basically have two choices in most parishes these days. Either you stick it out with sub-par liturgies, tepid homilies and lazy celebrations of Christ's Sacrifice, or you just stop going. There isn't a middle ground anymore. And when you stop and consider the pressures placed upon young Catholics by a very anti-Catholic society, you can plainly see with so many young men and women simply choose the latter.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Catholic Bishops: Plan B Abortafacient is OK

Plan B, a known abortafacient (just read the packaging), has been approved by the Conneticut Catholic Conference of Bishops for use in Catholic hospitals. The bishops claim that Plan B has not been decisively proven to be abortion causing in all cases, so therefore it can be used for 'rape victims' in Catholic hospitals. If wondering just why the bishops would do this, join the masses. Plan B is a self-admitted abortion causing agent; it even says so on the box they come in. And if you're wondering if this is a trickle-down effect from some cloudy USCCB pronouncement, it isn't: Plan B was prohibited by the national bishops' group because of its abortafacient effects and because it also falls under the category of contraception.

It's hard to find the patience or charity for bishops like this. Thankfully it's Sundary and I know God will give the grace to forgive and to pray for these men.

Friday, September 28, 2007

What makes little sense....

... is how the political left so warmingly embraced Iran's lunatic president (yes, the man is actually a lunatic - he belongs to a apocalyptic cult which believes the Madhi will return and destroy the non-Muslim and Shia peoples, and leads a regime that regularly rapes, tortures and executes its fellow countrymen). I can understand why some people wanted to hear him speak - listening a cunning madman is apparently a stimulating experience - but I don't understand why a dictator who so ardently opposes so many key leftist beliefs is nevertheless asked to come and speak to a receptive audience at one of the USA's most prestigious universities.

A quick rundown: Ahmandinejad opposes abortion, homosexuality, women's rights, basic freedom of expression and political dissension. Most Americans of any political persuasion will therefore find something to hate about this guy, but why did the outcry thus come from the conservatives? You end up thinking that the only reason the left actually has time for him is because he is anti-West and anti-American, which seems to be the cause-celebre of the political left these days.

It's the first time I've heard this...

Condoms in Africa is an issue everyone has an opinion on, and thankfully there are pretty much only two opinions at that. Either you support the spread of condoms in African to help prevent HIV infection, or you don't; it's all rather simple. What you rarely hear is any grand conspiratorial rant that suggests European condom producers are intentionally infected condoms with HIV. And when you do hear something like that, which you have to admit, even if you are opposed to the 'condom solution', you're more likely to hear it expressed on a message board by a teen-age fundamentalist. But no, the first person to make this claim just happened to be the Archbishop of the Catholic Church in Mozambique. Awesome.

Gerald of The Cafeteria is Closed tells us that Archbishop Francisco Chimoio recently informed the press that he was aware of at least two condom producers who were infecting their product. Chimoio noticeably does not name a manufacturer, but nevertheless stands by his claim. Now although I don't really think a company would stoop to this, it isn't entirely plausible if you approach the claim from a financial perspective: The more African that have AIDS/HIV, the more condoms the UN will purchase to import to Africa, and the more money condom makers earn.

We'll see how this story develops.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Becoming Less Bloggish

I was reading an excellent blog today and I came across the blogger's admission that during his first few years of blogging, his writing style was unforgivably 'bloggish'. By this, I take it, he means awkward, verbose, sarcastic and fragmented, oh, and snarky too. Those five are probably the most common characteristics to be found in the blogosphere, unfortunately much more common than elegant prose, proper diction and common sense.

So with this in mind, I've decided to try and write more serious and thoughtful posts. The benefits I think are twofold: People who stumbled across my blog won't be offended by a particular callous or ridiculous remark, and my own writing style will eventually improve.

Now on that last point, the improvement of my writing, I'll have to work a lot harder. I was weaned on the style of writing that is pushed upon Political Science students at Canadian universities, and not being blessed with any inante gifts of composition myself, the result is the current standard of Augustine's Poodle. To improve then, I will begin making more sensible and sometimes longer posts on more sensible subjects (rather than Catholics wearing funny clothes). I will also return to emulating the writing style of my favourite non-fiction authors, so no more Robert Ludlum spy novels for the time being.

Check back for updates.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Catholic Frumpiness

Kathy Shaidle at the soon to be renamed RelapsedCatholic Blog has taken the time to make several posts on the issue of Catholic fashion. Or maybe I should call it the issue of the Catholic lack of fashion. By this she, and I too, mean the general absence of any taste in clothing found in so many of the young men and women populating the 'Catholic revival'. Arm-pit level dress pants for boys, curtain skirts and mock head scarfs for girls - at age 20. You know what I'm talking about.

So I've decided to put together a few points - randomly right now, but maybe one day in order. Let's begin:

1) Fashion is OK. I am not by any means a stylish person, nor am I outrageously good looking nor blessed with an adonis-physique (quite the opposite). But I at least know that in our day and age, one needs to keep up at least minimally with the winds of fashion to be taken seriously by peers in our society. Jesus didn't wear animals skins, John the Baptist did, and people thought John was a pretty crazy guy and most people didn't listen to him, which was okay with John. Jesus from what we understand liked a good wine and party, spent a lot time in the market place, and He is God for goodness' sake. If Jesus kept up with fashion, you should too.

2) Dressing your children like they are headed to an audition for the re-union of Little House on the Prairie is not fair and possibly child abuse. It doesn't matter that they might be home-schooled or wear a uniform to school, they can still look good in public. The flood pants that were cute at age four are downright embarassing and repulsive at age 17. Parents please remember this.

3) Engage the culture with your beliefs, not with your clothes. This speaks for its self. People should not know how Catholic you are by your garb unless you are a monk, nun or priest.

That should do it for now.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Finding God in Movies

Two good friends of mine, my wife and I went and saw the 'new' movie Superbad last weekend. It is a raunchy affair: There is menstrual mockery, cartoon male genitalia, teenage drunkenness (something I know nothing about) and goofy cops. If I were not a product of the pseudo-Catholic school system of Ontario, I'm sure I would have been revolted by the film, if it weren't so close to how so many young teenage men act these days.

Amidst the raunch, writers Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg still however manage to get a moral message across - which is remarkable in comparison to other films of the same genre, like American Pie, whose only moral commandment was to have none. The fat oaf Seth learns that girls are not simply the material sum of their sexual parts, and the skinny dork Evan keeps a drunken girl, whom he secretly loves, from doing something she'll regret with him. Sure, it's the best way to sell decent morality, but it works.

-------------

And to the few you may still visit this blog, I'm terribly sorry for not posting anything of meaning lately. I've been very busy with moving, my new job, God, and my lovely, 6 months pregnant wife. Until I am able to post more frequently here, please visit Catholic Explorers, which is a better blog anyway.

God Bless!

Oh, and here's an ultrasound our new gift from God:

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Remember that?

If there's one thing I know, Jesus love never failed me.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

This isn't news...

... but that doesn't mean it isn't worth blogging about.

According to CNN, Barack Obama mistakenly referred to the political leader of Canada as 'president', instead of prime minister. Obama's opponents, Democrat and Republican alike, have taken time out of their busy schedules to roast the Illinois' Senator's gaffe, however trivia it may be. The Obama supporters on the other hand, have been quick to point out that this is just an honest mistake, and one that really isn't important or even indicative of the character or intelligence of the man.

As a Canadian, I can say with complete honesty that I don't really care what some American presidential hopeful whose lack of political experience makes Michael Ignatieff look like Wilfred Laurier, and whose main appeal his is novel skin pigmentation, yea I don't really care what he knows about Canada. But if I were American, I would. And if I were from Illinois, I'd be pissed.
Why? Several reasons. Illinois trades extensively with Canada. It's economy is synced with our own. Some 3,000 jobs in Illinois are dependent upon trade with Canada, and Chicago's tourism industry is largely propped up by Canadian visitors. Since Obama is a senator from Illinois, you'd think he would know something about Canada. At least that Canada has a prime minister, which is different in definition and praxis than a president. And Obama is a Harvard graduate, not some Stanford post grad, which is supposed to mean something. Or maybe look at it this way: If Obama referred to the Queen of the UK as King, or the Pope as Dalai Lama, people would be questioning his abilities (like we've been doing with Bush for the last 7 years).

Maybe this gaffe isn't indicative of anything, and Obama will go on to becoming the Great Golden-Brown Hope the Democrats have been waiting for since Jesse Jackson decided there were too many Jews in New York City back in the 80's. Still maybe it is something, especially since Americans have had enough of bumbling buffoons running their country.


Thursday, August 09, 2007

What do you think? Brick over the head?

A new pro-life/anti-abortion campaign is starting in Canada. It will feature graphic images of aborted children on billboards and on the sides of trucks. I have argued against this type of activism in this space before, because I think that (a) people are repulsed more by the images than by what caused the depicted scene and (b) it alienates women and men who have sought and procured abortions. I think the television adverts for the pregnancy crisis centres that the Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons fund in BC are much more effective, as they appeal to a person's sense of remorse and regret, lingering pain from an abortion, and offer a means to reconciliation and proper counselling. I even think the movie 'Knocked Up', which was rude and raunchy, did more for the pro-life cause than any projectile plastic baby or graphic image has done in the last 30 years.

You can find more info on this campaign at Life Site News.

Contra Smut

With all the Catholic and Christian blogs out there, you'd think there would be more discussion of pornography. We talk about abortion, capital punishment and war all the time, but porn? Not so much.

Considering how widespread pornography is, especially on the Internet (I recall reading that 2 of every 3 websites contained sexually explicit images) it's clearly time for a change. Engaging the culture as Catholics and other Christians should means engaging every part of that culture, including pornography. Think about it, it alone comprises several facets of the culture of death, including but not limited to abortion, contraception, sexual abuse, rape, violence, drug abuse, alcohol abuse, sexually transmitted disease, divorce, avarice, lust and so forth. Pornography is also one of the leading causes for divorce, according to several studies conducted in the USA and Canada.

So let's get started. There's the Serenellians, who are named after an Italian man who raped and killed a young girl after following impulses he felt after watching pornography, after which he repented and returned to the Church. There's this article by a former porn 'actress', who describes in painful detail her experiences in the sex industry. And here's an article written by a Kansas Bishop on the dangers of pornography. These three are good starting point.

One thing I know most people are not aware of is the drug and alcohol abuse that so many women involved in the sex industry fall into. Especially as people become more and more desensitized to pornography, they become less aware of the consequences of pornography and prostitution (which is what porn really is), particularly upon the women involved. Sure, there are the few women who voluntarily work in the sex industry out of desire and do not become involved with substance abuse, but they are in the minority. Most of the women in porn are there because of poverty, familial estrangement and prior sexual abuse. And once they're in, it becomes harder and harder to come out.

And yet in our enlightened/benighted culture, we're becoming gradually less and less resistant to the spread of pornography. Many people my age do not see it as an evil, but just another thing Europeans do better than us (seriously). And can you blame them? What's left of the feminist movement is more preoccupied with careerism and restrictions on birth control than an entire industry founded upon physical and psychological rape. Community leadership has balked under 'freedom of speech' and 'artistic expression' arguments for the last 20 years. Church leadership has failed catastrophically, on sexual ethics as a whole, and nonetheless the evils of pornography.

What we really need is young adults especially taking a stand on pornography, since we're the ones who have grown up in a society permeated by it. We haven't bought into this artless naivete about smut like older generations because we didn't have a chance to be naive about it (by age 12, most boys have seen sexually explicit images). We need to pressure our ecclesial and political leaders into addressing, at the very least, the issue and its effects upon society. So look up your local mayor, bishop, or MP, and let them know.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Bless your children

What a week it has been. Work, husbanding, and finding a new place.

My friend Charles has a wonderful post on parenthood over at the Catholic Explorers blog. He mentions, among other heartwarming things, that he has begun to bless his son every morning, something he plans to do forever. That has me thinking about the similarity between our understanding of God the Father, and of human fatherhood. It's an amazing thing, to think that Our Father will bless us every day without our request, giving us graces that we will probably never ever be fully aware of until the end of our earthly lives. It's another amazing thing to think that as mothers and fathers, we can help new generations to realize and experience God's enduring love by such simple actions as blessing our children everyday in the morning.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Cardinal Zen Ze-kiun Interview

The First Things weblog (from some reason I don't like calling it just a blog, weird) has another excellent offering for us Catholic freeloaders today in the form of a lengthy interview with Hong Kong's Cardinal Zen Ze-kiun. From reading it, you get the feeling that Zen is a very humble, careful, caring and smart person. It's a fascinating insight into the trials and triumphs, however few there may be at the moment, of the Catholic Church in China.

I can't help but wonder if the Church in China is experiencing what our Church in Canada, or the Church in the UK or the USA, will suffer through in the coming years, if as expected, unrestricted Catholicism becomes public-enemy number one to our governments. Certainly we have seen this happen in Boston and in the entire UK, where the local and national governments there have tried to force Catholic adoption providers to send children into homosexual relationships. In response, I'm sure you know, the providers chose not to continue their services, and, in Boston, have all closed down. Some call it the hard line approach, but you can't begin to compromise Catholic teaching just to make a few political points.

Which is something Zen says the Church in China didn't always do well, the hard line stuff. It cooperated frequently with the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, a government controlled body, in order to carry out its mission, even at the expense of its mission. This resulted in the two Churches, the Patriotic and the Underground, both of which, confusingly, have valid sacraments. The Patriotic Church receives its funding from the government, is controlled by the CCPA, and basically is the bureaucracy which administers the Church, officially, in China. It recently caused much uproar by allowing the illicit ordination of a bishop at the behest of the Communist government. If we look at things comparatively, we can see just what could happen in the West if the Church didn't take a hard line approach and maintain its autonomy.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Richard Neuhaus on the NAB

On today's First Things blog, Fr. Neuhaus takes the New American Bible to task, again, for yet another ludicrous translation of a passage that is not only completely different in some ways to earlier translations of the passage, but ultimately misleading as well. Neuhaus writes:

The New American Bible (NAB), an unfortunate translation episcopally imposed upon Catholics for readings at Mass, has prompted earlier comment in First Things (see here and here). The problem keeps coming back, not least in pastoral counseling. Take the woman who had had it with her husband’s lying to her. I mentioned to her Our Lord’s admonition to forgive “seventy times seven” (Matt. 18:22). That’s the way it reads in every widely used English translation, including the Douay-Rheims, an earlier English translation used by Catholics. Jesus obviously intended hyperbole, indicating that forgiveness is open-ended. Keep on forgiving as you are forgiven by God, for God’s forgiving is beyond measure or counting.

But this woman had been reading her NAB, according to which Jesus said we should forgive not “seventy times seven,” but “seventy times.” She had been keeping count, and her husband was well over his quota. Then there is Matt. 5:32 and 19:9, where in both passages Jesus says: “But I say to you that every one who divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchastity, makes her an adulteress.” In other widely used English translations, it is “unfaithfulness” or “marital unfaithfulness.” The Douay-Rheims says “excepting in the case of fornication.”

In both passages, the NAB puts it this way: “But I say to you, whoever divorces his wife (unless the marriage is unlawful) causes her to commit adultery.” Meaning a previous marriage had not been annulled by the diocesan marriage tribunal? Whatever.

Now to be perfectly fair, in the three passages mentioned there are ancient authorities that lend some support for the NAB translation. For instance, some ancient texts of Matthew 19 read “he who marries a divorced woman commits adultery,” which is closer to the NAB version. But in the tradition of translation, scholars have overwhelmingly decided that the manuscripts referring to unchastity or unfaithfulness are to be preferred.

Neuhaus has said time and time again, that legalistic literal accuracy should not be the driving force behind any translation of the Bible. Unfortunately, no one at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, which owns the NAB and the right to enforce its use in every liturgy from Astoria to Atlanta, ever wants to listen to him. Which is a shame; American Catholics have thus been forced to read a drab, deconstructionist and awkward translation at every Mass. Neuhaus continues:

The NAB is a banal, linguistically inept, and misleading translation. Why did the bishops force it upon the Catholic people, demanding that it and it alone be used in the readings of the Mass? Various answers are given: Because it was produced by the guild of Catholic biblical scholars and, while it may not be very good, at least it is ours. Because the bishops hold the copyright, and charges for using the NAB in Mass guides and elsewhere is a cash cow for the financially strapped bishops conference. Because the bishops really don’t care whether Catholics use a worthy and reliable translation of the Bible.
So in the end, it's probably about the money. That's how it seems to me at least, in no small part to Neuhaus's constant polemicising, but also because no one at the USCCB has ever really explained the bishop's tendencies to become remarkably fascist when it comes to biblical translations. This understanding is given further credence, I think, by the fact that national bishop's conferences are not a mandated ecclessial bureaucracy and receive no monetary support from the Vatican. These conferences, most of which started up after Vatican 2, are therefore reliant on copyrights, fundraising and properties, and are having a hard time proving their relevancy to the laity (and probably Rome as well).

And does anyone else think it's ironic that the USCCB fought tooth and nail against the motu proprio, in lieu of Neuhaus's comments on the NAB? As far as I know, the NAB has not been translated back into Latin, which would mean that a different Bible would have to be used at Old Rite liturgies. That could mean lower demand for new NAB translations (which come out every other year for some reason) and higher demand for say, the Douay-Rheims. I'm sure the USCCB, in it's precarious financial state (all though not so precarious that it prevented the bishops from meeting at a five-star Las Vegas hotel for their last meeting) wanted nothing to do with a papal directive that could ultimately cost them their monopoly on Catholic Bibles in the US.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Demographic Divide?

The Cafeteria is Closed blog has an interesting link to a recent Time Magazine article in which a 'young, progressive Catholic' publicly discusses his desire for a universal, reverent, Latin 'Old Rite' liturgy, as opposed to the experimental forms of the vernacular Novus Ordo Rite. It has me wondering, is this an area in which young Catholics are in agreement, progressive or orthodox? In my conversations with other young Catholics, I have yet to encounter any opposition to the 'Old Rite', only curiosity, and hopefulness - hopefulness that one day the liturgy will be at least consistent between local parishes, if not around the whole world, and even with the Church of History.

On the other hand, I tend to encounter more concern from older Catholics, ages forty and up, particularly those who are either currently employed by the Church in some capacity or who simply were 'young Catholics' during the 1960s and 1970s. These concerns are now well published, in the wake of the Motu Proprio of course, and seem to revolve around the idea that different liturgies will factionalize the Church. And although I don't necessarily agree with that concern, it is valid: These are the folks who lived through previous liturgical changes, and they remember quite well that it wasn't a harmonious time for the Church by any stretch of the imagination.

All the same, I think those fears will ultimately be assuaged by the eagerness of young Catholics to recreate the Catholic identity through a more reverent liturgy, 'Old Rite' or Novus Ordo. And I think the Pope hopes for such an outcome as well. If there's one thing that most young Catholics can agree on, it's that the Haugen-Haas ice-cream liturgy has to go. Dominus Vobiscum!


Saturday, July 21, 2007

Support Free Dominion

Free Dominion, a socially conservative blog, has been served notice that the ironically named Human Rights Commission is considering charging it with a violation of the Human Rights Act after a woman, Marie-Line Gentes, took issue with comments posted on that blog by a visitor. The complainant, who is not a Muslim, took issue with these remarks made by someone named Bill Whatcott:

04/24/06 "I can't figure out why the homosexuals I ran into are on the side of the Muslims. After all, Muslims who practice Sharia law tend to advocate beheading homosexuals."

03/09/06 "I defy Islamic censorship and speak about what I believe is the truth
about violent Islamism and its threat to religious liberty in Canada."


And:

"How many of us pay nothing but lip service to the Muslim threat here in Canada?"
"Probably everyone want to jail a Muslim."
"I have to ask why we are importing them here?"
"Islamic fundamentalism and its threat to Canada's religious and civil liberties."

You don't have to personally support Bill's comments, or even read Free Dominion, to realise that something's amiss here. First, Bill should be able to tell anyone anywhere what his beliefs are; that's called freedom of speech and is of the utmost importance to the health of democracy. Second, an unelected, unaccountable, shadowy bureaucracy like the Human Rights Commission (HRC) should not be able to 'sue' Canadians based upon a person's sensitivity level. The HRC is supposed to deal with discrimination and authentic hate speech, not moderate public discussion, although opponents of the HRC have always claimed that's exactly what it was made for. Left or right, progressive or conservative, you have to admit that when something like this happens, all of our rights suffer.

Support Free Dominion, publish these quotes on your own blog. Cherish freedom of speech.

ps - To those who complain that this approach is heavy handed, of course it is. About as heavy handed than filing a complaint with the HRC about something you read on the internet.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Motus, Catholics and a Waning Summer

Phew. Time has just breezed by me again. I guess this time I do have an excuse for not posting in over two weeks: I started a new job (a crappy one, but an honest one) and my wife is pregnant (cop-out).

A lot has happened in the last two weeks, especially if you are a Catholic. The long expected motu proprio was released, finally, to applause from some and revulsion from many, especially the media and the media-friendly. And just after the motu proprio, the Vatican released a document which basically reaffirmed the 2,000 year old Catholic dogma that there is no 'Church' outside the one, true Church found by Christ Himself.

So where to begin? I admit that I haven't written my Bishop to demand a Tridentine Mass just yet. I understand that it will take some time for my local priests to learn it and even more time for my Catholic peers to be comfortable with the celebration of a Mass so foreign to our current liturgical norms. But once I know there is a priest who can celebrate a Tridentine Mass I will demand/attend. Why? I'm no fan of Latin particularly, although as a self-styled pragmatist I do support the return of widespread use of the universal Catholic language. I think my interest in that Mass has to do with one of my experiences at WYD 2005. I met a young priest who was a member of the Society of St. Paul, which is an order that is permitted to only celebrate Mass in the Tridentine Rite. This priest told me that there was no better liturgy in which to contemplate the sacrifice and the gift which Christ gives at every Mass. It's been two years now, and I'm getting ancy.

Of course the press, and some unremarkable Bishops, had a field day creating a public litany of complaints after the release of the motu proprio. Most felt it was a 'conservative' reform of the reforms of Vatican 2, which, to anyone with a brain, it isn't, because the Paul VI Mass has nothing to do with directly with Vatican 2, and everything to do with the need introduce the vernacular and congregational participation into the liturgy, a need which was first articulated by the famous liturgist Romano Guardini in the early 1920s, some 40 years or so before the Council.

And if you think it stopped there, you we're wrong. As I mentioned before, the Vatican followed up the motu proprio with a statement on the nature of the Catholic Church and other Christian churches. The true faith, according to us Catholics, resides in the Catholic Church. Other Christian churches thus are not Churches in the same sense as the Catholic Church, but 'ecclesial bodies' in which the Holy Spirit resides and graces are found, but which lack the full efficacy of the Catholic Church. So basically, the Vatican decided to drop this oft-forgotten facet of Catholicism just after it had already dropped the motu proprio bombshell. While it made for a busy two weeks for journalists, bishops, and commentators with an axe to grind with orthodox Catholicism, it also got everything out of the way at once.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Just what were they raising awareness about?

For those of us questioning the logic behind holding several environmentally wasteful concerts just to 'raise awareness', we know have an answer.

Someone certainly raised awareness.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Live Earth is now dead

It's over. Some 74,500 tons of green-house gases were emitted/created/produced to put on the show, but hey, at least a few million Westerners (give or take a few million, probably take) got to rock out, feel good about feeling good about doing nothing, and help raise awareness.

Now tell me, if I were to burn down a grocery store to raise awareness about over consumption or destructive farming techniques, what would the reaction be? I earnestly hope people would deem me a madman without any second thought, seeing as I created a big mess just to protest a big mess. And what if the big mess I was protesting wasn't even proven to be a big mess at all? What then?

If those who attended any of the Live Earth concerts set any standard, no one would care. They'd just be happy that I invited a few modern day pop stars to help make the mess. Private jet? No problem - she's raising awareness, don't cha know. In our age of enlightenment, raising awareness is practically a cause for secular sainthood. It doesn't matter that a person's lifestyle contradicts their message, just as long as they make sure they insert a few catch-phrases to their songs and smile to the media, they're totally above criticism.

Perhaps the best quote of all, which sums up the entire problem of Live Earth and the slacktivism of global warming came from a British punter named Jayme Fine, "People leaving their lights on at home when nobody's there is going to eat up electricity. If we all just remember to shut those off, it's OK for us to have an event like this."

Idiot.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Live Earthypocrisy

If ever there was a stupid idea, it the idea of using rock concerts to promote environmentalism. I've been to several concerts and festivals and they all do one thing the same and very well: Create mass amounts of garbage. Not only that, the performers themselves are usually amongst the worst consumers of energy and resources and often lead the most shallow, callow, and hollow materialistic lives visible to the public eye. The last festival I went to, Sasquatch (held annually in the Gorge Amphitheatre in Washington state) tried to be 'green' by simply blasting 'green' slogans on electronic billboards from time to time. There were no recycle bins, no biodegradable utensils (even WYD 2005 had those), yet there were several young Al Gore enthusiasts handing out free copies of 'An Inconvenient Truth' - each with its own double plastic wrapping.

I guess on the other hand that if your real goal is simply to boost your own popularity and sense of importance, perhaps to bolster a sagging political portfolio, organizing such an event is good thing to do.

All the same, the Live Earth concerts aren't even selling that well in Europe, which many thought would be the safest and most profitable venues. The city of Hamburg is now handing out tickets for free to visitors, and several of the original 'Live {insert cause here}' promoters like Bob Geldof have already distanced themselves from the concerts.


Sunday, July 01, 2007

Happy Dominion/Canada Day +1

I had a great weekend. My wife and I celebrated our 6-month anniversary at a wonderful lodge just 20 minutes out of Victoria. Today had breakfast with my parents, went to Mass, then watched two U-20 World Cup games. All in all, a great and glorious day given to us by God.

ps - Nigerians really know how to watch soccer. And to all the drunken Canadians, beer does not darken the skin and gift you rythym.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Your Friendly Neighbourhood Christian-Muslim Womenpriest of the Episcopal Church

I caught this story the other day. A Episcopalian womenpriest, who incidentally is without parish at the moment, also says she is a Muslim. That much I'm sure of - the real question is whether or not she is actually a Christian. At glance, I'd probably through up the ol'negatory response and be done with it, but - but - this is an ordained women in the Episcopal Church. Even the Episcopalians must have standards, right?

Trinity? Eucharist? Resurrection? Heck, is the crucifixion even considered part of the Episcopalian canon these days or is that optional too?

You'll notice by now that the link I posted doesn't actually bring you to a AP or Reuter's article, those I'm sure you could find on your own, but to another piece of wry commentary from Mark Steyn, who must have now become the most annoying Christian journalist to the rest of the world. Steyn simply mentions in passing that Lina Joy, a Malaysian woman who converted from Islam to Christianity, has not been allowed to have 'Muslim' removed from her identity card. Why? Because Malaysia has sharia law, and you can't convert from Islam under sharia. Steyn also points out that just over half the population is Muslim, which Christians, Hindus and Buddhists making up the remainder, and yet the country is ruled by Islamic law. That alone is worth thinking about, particularly if you live here, here, here, or here.

Mikey Moore & The Making of Idiocracy

When I was a lad, 13 or 14 or something, I liked Michael Moore. He had a show on tv that exposed our societal hypocracises, untruths, excesses and misdirections in a time when no one was really asking (The Clinton/Chretien era) and no one really cared. After about ten episodes, the show was cancelled and Michael Moore was never heard of again. That is, until a national catastrophe occurred that proved too tempting to hijack.

Mikey was back, and his Bowling for Columbine singlehandedly resurrected the fictional documentary. It was years since This is Spinal Tap, and so everyone had pretty much forgotten that just because it looks like a fact, smells like a fact, and is delivered like a fact, it doesn't mean that it is a fact. North Americans and Europeans loved Moore's irreverent usurpal of the American gun industry - especially when he compared it to Canada, which has no guns, no violence, and no crime. A few years later, Moore was back with Fahrenheit 9/11, which attacked the fact that the West had been attacked by violent Islamists and hinted at widespread conspiracies which were plunging the world into chaos and war. When critics pointed out the many fallacies, strawmen, and sometimes plain lies of Moore's films, he and his followers simply ignored them: When you're in the fiction business, you're the realist, everyone and everything else is just imaginary.

It's 2007 and Moore is back with Sicko, another fictional documentary that this time goes after private medical insurance in the United States. The point of it is that nationalized medical insurance, paid for by taxes, is good, and private medical insurance, paid for by clients, is bad. Once again, Canada is held up on a pedastel, while the American healthcare system is chopped to peices.

So what does this have to do with the making of an idiocracy? Well it's not like film is the most cerebral of mediums, so obviously you can't fault Moore there. Where you fault Moore is with how and why he sells his ideas. Rather than a pro vs. con comparison of each argument, Moore simply dismisses any opposition without actually building an argument to do so. It's like John Stewart, only some Daily Show viewers are able to distinguish between real life and tv, whereas many Moore fans have simply decided not to. What happens is that millions of impressionable youths (and holdout communists, socialists, leftists, condo-owning hippies) walk out of movie theatres thinking they've engaged an serious issue, or at least have a good understanding of it, while all that's really changed is just an unquantifiable drop in common sense and greasy popcorn fingers. Moore says it's wrong, ergo it is wrong. Tautology for the unphilosophized.

To wrap up this rant I'd like to just point out a couple problems that I can immediately see with Sicko just from what I know of the premise of the film. For starters, the American medical system, even with it's lack of public medical insurance, is still the envy of the world. People do not fly from Cheyenne, Wyoming to Vancouver, British Columbia for treatment - they fly to Cheyenne from Vancouver. Nationalized health insurance is prone to widespread abuse by patients, which clogs the system and prevents many honest patients from receiving the treatment they require (and paid for), which has a substantial affect on, say, the survivability rates for breast cancer. Last I looked, the curative rate for breast cancer in the USA was around 75%, as compared to 50% and 40% for Canada and Britain. Are these trivial facts, too peripheral for Moore to include? It seems so.

Friday, June 15, 2007

A little time for meditation

On my way to an interview yesterday morning, I passed by our fine city's beautiful Anglican Cathedral. So back the Anglican cathedral. It perhaps uses the least amount of billboard advertising (unlike the Catholic, Methodist and Baptist churches) because, I think, it is just not doing that well. This thought was vindicated yesterday when, as I walked by the church, I saw a little sandwich board advertisement which read:

Open 9am - 5pm Service Sunday 10am Come inside for quiet meditation

Quiet meditation? Is it not me but when a cathedral parish simply offers up room for 'quiet meditation' something is very wrong with that church. Is prayer too fundamentalist or traditional a term? The sign simply smacked of metaphysical emptiness and desperation on the part of church leaders. Not that the term 'meditation' is particularly bad, but I'm sure you'll agree that is much more fitting of New Age paganism or even facile North American Buddhism than Anglican Christianity.

What I think is particularly sad is how this pithy little sandwich sign represents the theological and institutional crisis of the Anglican Church. It is widely expected now that the church will become increasingly factionalised in the coming months, with Archbishop Rowan Williams decision not invite several 'conservative' prelates while inviting all but one of the 'liberal' prelates to the upcoming Lambeth Conference only exacerbating a terrible situation. Already North American parishes under the Episcopal banner are contemplating schism, and indeed some have even split and joined under the leadership of Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria. Some Anglican priests have even, and quite publicly, attempted to reunify their entire parishes with the Catholic Church. And here in quiet Victoria, amidst all the confusion, chaos and division, our local Anglicans are prepared to offer you not a place for prayer per se, but for quiet meditation.
Ironic, isn't it, since prayer is the only thing that's going to save the Anglican Church.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Latin Revivalism a la Benedict 16

Some of my friends at Catholic Explorers have been discussing the impending motu proprio which is expected to permit the use of the Tridentine Rite without permission of a bishop. As it stands now, if you want to have the Mass said according to the Old Rite, you need the permission of your local bishop. It's expected that the motu proprio will change all that.

I don't know about you, but I would love a bit more Latin in the liturgy. My favourite hymns and prayers are in Latin, and I've always felt that it lends a much more eternal and sacramental feeling to the Mass, at least for a regular Joe-60 Ouncer like myself. Speaking a language that is not your mother tongue is always a special experience, bewildering and difficult at times yes, but always worth it. Imagine how it would be to speak the mother tongue of your faith! (leaving aside Hebrew/Aramaic and Greek of course)

So back to my friends. One thinks that the use of the Old Rite will lead toward proper liturgical evolution, a process that was upset after Vatican II. The other is more skeptical, feeling that a direct indult requiring the use of Latin in the Novus Ordo Mass would be more effective and rule out the possibility of creating a Tridentine and New Order factional divide within the Church. Those are both compelling arguments and I think both are right. The thing is, I'm pretty sure we're supposed to be using some Latin in the Novus Ordo Mass already, which makes me skeptical of how effective any direct indult would be.

I personally think Ol'Ben is up to something a little more indirect, which would make sense if he were truly wishing to revitalize the process of liturgical evolution, and heck, we all know it's more his style to do things subtly than with a bang. Visit Catholic Explorers for more on this discussion.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

No Posting For Another Two Weeks...

... because I just don't have the time I once had!

But I have one announcement to make to the blogosphere: My wife is pregnant! It is still early on, so we are very anxious about the health of our baby and try not to get too excited about it. Nevertheless, I thank God everyday for even the possibility that I might be a father before the end of 2007.

But about the blog. I should be back in the second week of June with some regular blogging. I've dropped the ball a bit and it'll take some time to get back into the swing of things.

God Bless & Peace of Christ be with you always,

Colm

Thursday, May 10, 2007

I found this article particularly interesting in light of my recent posts on the pro-life movement.

Calgary Bishop Cites Graphic Images for Withdrawal of Support for Prominent Pro-life Group

By Hilary White

CALGARY, May 9, 2007 (LifeSiteNews.com) – In 2005 when the Canadian Centre for Bioethical Reform (CCBR) was preparing to move to Calgary, the group that had met with remarkable successes across the country did not expect to lose the support of the Catholic bishop who is arguably the most outspoken on life and family issues.

CCBR has been immensely successful as a pioneer in Canada of the use of large graphic images of aborted children juxtaposed with other forms of historical genocide. The displays, called the Genocide Awareness Project (GAP), erected at university campuses and similar settings are accompanied by trained volunteers who discuss the issues with passers by. The group now plans to bring the GAP to the next level with trucks rolling the images down the highways during commuter rush hours.

But in February this year, over a year after the group’s arrival in Calgary, Bishop Fred Henry released a letter to all his parishes, school boards and Knights of Columbus chapters saying he was “withdrawing all support” from the group, objecting to their use of graphic images of abortion, the central aspect of CCBR’s work.

Stephanie Gray, executive director of CCBR, spoke with LifeSiteNews.com saying they are disappointed with the bishop’s position.

When the group first met with Bishop Henry, Gray said he praised their work in general but “expressed reservations on graphic images.” She said, “He didn’t embrace us but he didn’t forbid Catholics to get involved.”

The Bishop, she said, was “uneasy” and thought the approach did “some harm” but “recognized the morality of the strategy.” Gray and CCBR took this statement as indicating that there is nothing morally objectionable about the GAP approach and began contacting local parishes and schools.

Henry’s position has apparently hardened, however. In his February 14th letter, while he praised the group’s “strong, clear and articulate presentations on behalf of life,” the bishop wrote that the GAP violated the moral principle that “the end...does not justify the means.”

He wrote, “In no way may these pictures be construed as healing, nor can the project be described as ‘tough love’ and I am not in favour of this kind of pedagogy. It is not good news and in my opinion does more harm than good to the pro-life cause.”

Gray said that although the bishop’s letter has not yet cost the group any financial supporters, it has hurt them. “So far, all the emails we have received have been in favour of us and expressing deep disappointment in Bishop Henry,” she said. However, Gray said that the group has lost speaking opportunities in one school and at one parish.

Perhaps worse, shortly after the letter was released, the diocesan post-abortion healing ministry, Project Rachel, refused to meet with Gray’s colleague, Jose Ruba and Gray was removed from the Diocesan Life Education Committee. Both groups and the parish cited the bishop’s letter.

Gray said, “Those are only the things we know about. We don’t know how many more people there are in parishes who might have been interested in us, who are now being put off.”

The success of GAP can be measured by the dramatic increases in calls and visits by pregnant women, often students, to local crisis pregnancy centres in areas where the displays have appeared. But the fact that the photos have arguably saved lives, does not stop them from regularly coming under attack, frequently most vociferously from fellow pro-life activists.

She told LifeSiteNews.com that although Bishop Henry denied CCBR the opportunity of answering his objections before the letter was distributed, the group’s website has been adjusted to answer them.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Preaching: Let's get happy

Diogenes posts at CWNews that a new group, the College of Preachers, has published a new guide. This new guide discusses ways Catholic priests can improve their homilies. Great, you'd think, crummy homilies are a problem, and priests clearly need some sort of encouragement, advice to make themselves more adept at the oldest and second most visible part of their vocation. So enter the College's guide to preaching.

The guide sets out to help priests 'double-check' facts on areas which are out of their technical expertise. Again, great, right? Well no. The guide is designed so that say, Fr. Doe wants to preach about the mortal sin of mixing your recycables, he knows where to look to make sure he doesn't confuse the hard plastics with the corrugated cardboard. Yea, not what's really needed.

The problem most priests seem to have with preaching is actually coming out and saying something worthwhile. There's simply too much therapy and not enough instruction. As much as we like a chuckle, 4 jokes does not a good sermon make. Nor does reminding us that all we need is love and that we're all pretty good deep inside - that's what our saccharine hymns are apparently for.


Unfortunately it's just too easy to offer up a few heartwarming and mindnumbing comments, or make an empassioned pseudo-political speech against the most recognizable media-inflated issue de jour. But that's not effective preaching, and no matter accurate your facts are, the congregation still suffers.

I've noticed many younger priests to be much better preachers than older priests. I don't know why that is; maybe there's an a problem of priests burning out, especially after what the Church and Western culture has been through the past 40 years. But what these new priests seem to understand and the older ones don't, is that simply preaching the Gospel and Catholic tradition is and will always be the best choice. Not that reminding Catholics of God's demand that we, for example, be stewards of the Earth in the context of climate change isn't all that bad, rather, it's that people are inured to that sort of thing. We get that stuff from our friends, the media and family outside of Church and we don't need it every Sunday too.

edit: If you really want a guide to preaching, start by reviewing this.

Monday, May 07, 2007

The 'A-word'

The United States has the 'n-word'. Canada has the 'a-word'. In a very surprising National Post article, columnist Anne Marie Owens discusses why, when and how the public abortion debate in Canada never got started. At Catholic Explorers, contributor Mary Anne picks up on the article and the lack of debate. It's an excellent post (actually two) which should be read by every leathernecked pro-lifer.

While I don't necessarily agree that Canadians are afraid of the abortion issue because of its divisivness, I think there is some truth to it. Many Canadians simply do not like to talk about serious things. I don't know why that it is, but its the current status quo. Actually, the current status quo is that when and if a particularly pernicious and troubling issue like abortion is raised, you will either be yelled at by a lunatic abortionist or a radical right-to-lifer.

So in the wake of this, my wife, my mother and I were discussing how we should begin to revitalize some elements of the pro-life movement. I for one think a very good place to start would be to remove any 'abortion is murder' placard, quote or whatever from our arsenal. Why? Because the discussion is no longer about whether or not it is human life or if it is not human life. Science has emphatically proven on several occassions since abortion was legalized in Canada that human life begins at conception. As much as it pains me to say it, people who procure abortions are usually well aware that it is akin to murder. For the pregnant woman, it is usually a utilitarian decision; for the pro-choice movements, it is a rights-based decision. When was the last time you even hear a pro-abortionist say 'Well, we don't really know when it becomes life anyway, so best to err on the side of the mother'? And moreover, if a woman has an abortion, is she going to react positively to a placard which reads 'Abortion: 1 Dead, 1 Wound'?

The same goes for the graphic images. Showing people images of destroyed babies, for whatever reason, puts people in shell-shock mode and they simply turn their minds off. It's not even that difficult to realize - soldiers, doctors, anyone who views extremely graphic pictures of dead humans simply depersonalizes the image and pushes it to the fartherest corner of their mind. What the pro-life movement seems to be discovering is that it is the images and videos of children in the womb at various stages that are the most effective. The very successful crisis pregnancy certains do not 'win over' pregnant women by showing them images of tiny, dismembered and bloodied people.

Now this is not to say that the murder rhetoric and the use of graphic images should never be employed. Rather, I think that there are certain occassions when such plain terms and shocking pictures must be used. We shouldn't forget about the horrors of abortion or shy away from informing others about them, but we should use the utmost discretion to ensure that our message is received properly. How much more attractive is it when people are for something instead of against it?


(A little guy at 17 weeks)

Another Beckwith reflection...

Dr. Francis Beckwith's conversion has reminded me of something else. Before I returned to my faith, I hit a wall. I suppose many people do. For me it occurred when I realized that if I was going to be truly sincere, my pride would have to suffer and I would have to admit that on a certain many things, my own opinions and postulations were completely wrong. I had to admit that I had been wrong, and that I had been totally complicit in my wrong doing. Sorry if this sounds simplistic, but it's just how it was. You see the Truth, and then you see what's holding you back from the Truth.


When I reflect upon those days when I was denying Christ, almost compulsively, I like to remember how St. Thomas was so stubborn that he wouldn't accept that Christ had risen unless he, well, check out the picture above (there's never an occassion that doesn't warrant a Caravaggio). It wasn't Christ keeping Thomas from seeing, it was Thomas. It was Thomas' attachment to, perhaps, a form of rationalism, despite all he had seen over the previous three years. Just as it is with us, when we are no longer in communion with Christ and with His Church, it's always down to ourselves, what we choose to think and choose to do.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Another one bites the dust...

The Holy Spirit is at it again; another returns home. Welcome, Frances Beckwith, your family, and everyone esle who entered into full communion with the Universal Church of Christ.

This conversion has some up in arms, just check the Right Reason combox, and others are using it as a chance to exercise and hone the virtue of charity. I like that. When I've had to deal with friends and family falling away from the Church, I've learned through prayer that it's the best time to bless them and pray for them, and pray for yourself.

I've often wondered if their is a difference between the way Catholics and Protestants cope with a family member or friend converting. I can't say for sure, but I think Catholics are more inclined to pray and hope rather than anathemize, judge and become confused. I have many friends who have left the faith, and it is a troubling thing, but it does not ever make me call in question the efficacy of the sacraments or Christ's promise to Peter. Yet in reading many of the Protestant responses to Dr. Beckwith, I can't help but notice not more than a little bit of worry and bitterness - worry that Beckwith did the right thing, and bitterness for making them doubt their own beliefs.

To the Sarko go the spoils...

Nicholas Sarkozy has won the French election. Segolene Royal conceded defeat (I love how the loser concedes defeat; it's one of the few classy moments left for a politician) shortly after polls closed and it became apparent that she had not overcome the 10 point deficit she faced coming into Sunday. Make no mistake, the press will have a field day making Sarkozy out to be a frevent right-winger, and dress up Royal's socialism to no end. Even though Royal is a die-hard socialist, and socialism is the reason why the French economy, once the envy of the West, is now one of the weakest, no one in the media would dare point out the obvious failings of someone so close to their own ideology. C'est la vie - salut, Sarko!

I don't know if Sarkozy will be able to implement many of the reforms he promised during the election, but he has been given a clear mandate by the French public to do so. This is a France much different from the France of even 10 years ago. You could consider the rejection of the EU Constitution and the election of a conservative (fiscally definitely, socially somewhat) a very clear statement that France has had enough of socialist experiments and the nanny state.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Tar and feather, Segolene Royal, tar and feather

Segolene Royal has a problem: She's more than 10 points behind Nicholas Sarkozy. With only a
few days remaining until the final day of voting, Royal faces the monumental task of overcoming this deficit, somehow convincing the French that a return to Socialism is just what the country needs.

The French know this, and so too does Royal, so she's decided to get nasty. Royal is now warning that Sarkozy's election with lead to violence. She's right. But it won't be the poor or ethnic who will be turning over cars and burning garbages cans, it'll be the socialists, pissed off that they've lost another election.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

What is Quebec?

Shane Doan versus Quebec. It didn't always be like this. There was a time when Quebec culture was vibrant and secure and distinct. It wasn't until the Quiet Revolution (you know, when Quebeckers stopped having kids, going to Church and speaking French) that Quebec as a culture began to crack.

And here we are today: An unremarkable hockey player has Quebec at odds with the rest of Canada. You really have to wonder when and where it's going to end for Quebec. The reaction has all the hallmarks of that spoiled kid in highschool who just couldn't take a joke. And that's what this is really like - a dispaly of highschool hypersenstivity and immaturity on a national scale.

So what's happened? How do turn a healthy society into a pale, artificial shadow of what it once was?

Thursday, April 26, 2007

More on Catholics and the American Supreme Court

The extra-smart Robert Miller weighs in at First Things on the growing trend to point out that 5 of the assenting judges in the Gonzales v. Carthart decision are practicing Catholics. Miller takes issue mainly with what he sees as the trend beneath the trend, the trend that is to entirely dismiss the opinions and decisions of others, rather than engaging them, on the mere basis that they do not agree with your own opinions and decisions.

There's a lot of that going on these days, and Miller is right on point when he calls this trend out as the real culprit, rather than anti-Catholicism, which by the way is a growing phenomenon in the West once again. Up here in the wild and wintery climes of Canada, we socially conservative and Christian folk are used to such dismissals-sans-debate. The perfect example of course is the non-debate which 'occurred' during the same-sex summer of 2005. Perfectly ordinary Canadians like myself were simply told that a debate had occurred and the issue was settled and closed. Where, who, how and when were not acceptible questions - the debate had happened and the issue was closed. Nothing to see here, folks.

And so it is with the PBA ban in the US. Pro-choice commentators have spent little energy actually discussing the procedure, probably because they spent all than enery in 2003 during Congressional discussion on the ban. Back then it was shown to the entire nation that no scientific or moral evidence exists which necessitates the availability of PBA. So perhaps that defeat is in the mind of pro-choicers when they voice their disgust to the Carthart decision, and hence the lack of discussion.

But anyway, I still think it's an interesting phenomenon. The pro-choice comments, with precious few exceptions, have instead run along these lines: The ban is wrong because it goes against the unlimited abortion license and anyone who disagrees with that is wrong. Why? Because abortion is sacrosanct and modern woman requires its availability. Paint me unconvinced.


Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Official NDP Policy: Anti-Counter-Insurgency

Dawn Black, the NDP Defense Critic, tells Charles Adler and Canada that the official party position is anti-counter-insurgency. Why? Because in the wisdom of the NDP, the military should not be involved in active combat. Why? Because active combat means big guns and big guns do not win 'hearts and minds'. They may win battles and wars, but they do not make the NDP feel happy. And the NDP's happiness is what is really important right now.

Does anyone ever find it troubling that the NDP is openly subverting the Canadian effort in Afghanistan for mere political gain?

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Female Deacons

My friend Charles has an excellent post over at the Catholic Explorers blog on the recent article by Phyllis Zagano on the possibility of a female diaconate. Check it out.

Charles asks, drawing upon the Zagano's arguments, whether or not there are duties which a deacon performs that could be done by a woman. I think there are, but they all seem to be the ones that any lay person could perform regardless of sex. And then there's the issue of the Sacrament of Holy Orders, of which the permanent diaconate is a part, which requires a male recipient to be licit and valid. Obviously the Catholic Church does not redefine sacraments, and even though the Second Vatican Council did allow for the return of the ancient practice of the permanent diaconate (as opposed to the transitional diaconate), this minor alteration was simply a renewal of a practice which simply fell by the way side in the early middle ages.

All in all, I think the argument Zagano tries to advance is juvenile, optimistic, dishonest and purely academic. There will never be female deacons in the fashion Zagano wants - especially since she seems to view the diaconate as a halfway house to priesthood. So what could a girl like Zagano do in this crazy Church of ours?

Friday, April 20, 2007

What Would Jesus Do?

I remember being at some sort of the Catholic youth day around when I was 9 or so when I first was asked the question. If I recall correctly, a friend and I had just been caught teasing another boy by one of the adult chaperones. Rather than remonstrating us for our transgressions and cutting us off from the lemonade (which is a harsh and brutal punishment considering the hummidity of mid-summer Ontario), this overly pleasant woman simply asked us, What Would Jesus Do?

What Would Jesus Do? pretty much summarizes my catechesis from ages 9 to 18. Stole some pencils at school? What Would Jesus Do? Confessed that you had lied to your parents about doing your chores? What Would Jesus Do? Initially I took the question seriously. I did know that Jesus would not have intentially roofed little Chris Mackay's tennis ball during lunch time recess. But by the time I was 10, the effect had worn off. I had realised that I could easily rationalize What Would Jesus Do? into whatever sort of justification I needed at the time. Sure, I would think, Jesus wouldn't have roofed the tennis ball, but Jesus knew I was just having fun with my friends, which is OK. And besides, Jesus forgives, right?


It's wasn't long after that I completely lost whatever relationship I had with Christ as a child. The hardwork my parents had done teaching me the faith was undermined as my religious education became more and more the domain of well-meaning but woefully mistaken elementary school teachers. If Catholicism boiled down to What Would Jesus Do?, well then Catholicism as I perceived it became What Would Colm Do? and What Would Jean Chretien Do? It's not as if I actually knew all that much about Jesus in the first place. I had read some of the Gospels, but I had never studied them. I knew some of the Commandments, but it was never an educational requisite to have to learn them by memory. What Would Jesus Do? became incredibly detrimental to my development into a Catholic adult because I didn't know what Jesus would have done in anycase. The assumption is that children know that Jesus is an all around good guy who didn't do anything wrong, which is true at a very base level. Yet the assumption forgets that the definition of wrong is subjective to every single person. Without a properly formed conscience or at least the strength of a vigorous catechetical program, What Would Jesus Do? becomes one of the most destructive philosophies to hand down to children.

Those Damn Catholic Judges on the Supreme Court

It's starting.

5 of the Supreme Court Justices who voted to uphold the ban on partial-birth abortion happened to all be Catholic. Yes - Andrew Kennedy, Catholic (who authored the majority opinion); John Roberts, Catholic; Antonin Scalia, Catholic; Clarence Thomas, Catholic; Sam Alito, Catholic. You know what that means?

-----------

It will be interesting to see how the American public reacts to the decision of Obama, Clinton and Edwards to attack the ban on partial-birth abortion, rather than at the very least attempt to empathize with the 2/3's of Americans who, if polls are worth anything, support the ban. This has forced these guys to go on the attack/defensive for their Culture of Death beliefs much earlier than their strategizers had probably expected.

Partial-birth abortion is not illegal in Canada. There is no ban on any abortion no matter the health of the baby or the stage of the pregnancy. But I daresay that a 'success' of sorts like this for the pro-life movement in the US emboldens the pro-life movement in Canada. It's just that while Americans are discussing the implications of the Carthart decision, Canadians aren't discussing the pro-abortion campaign being waged in Nova Scotia. That's a big problem. I think most Canadians are against abortion, it's just that so few of them understand the situation in Canada. They seem to think that we have similar restrictions and rights in Canada and we don't.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Latin, Motu Proprios, and the Spectre of the Vicious Traditionalists

I admit it; I'm not a big fan of the way the Novus Ordo Mass is celebrated in most parishes I've visited. The high decibel folky whole wheat hymns, the experimentation, the dissonance of kneelers, standers, and kneelers & standers, it all gets to me a bit. But no matter how awful I make the situation out to be, it's still the Mass and Christ is still present. Even though the sense of sanctity is often difficult to find, it is still Mass. So those times when I'm fed up with what I think is shoddy rubrics or whatever else I can nitpick out of the liturgy, I simply remind myself where I am and what I am witnessing, and thank God for it.

I admit this too: I am eagerly awaiting the Motu Proprio and, hopefully, a more traditional method of celebrating Mass in the Novus Ordo. And I admit that I am partially mystified by the Pope's apparent dallying on the release of the Motu Proprio. I've read Spirit of the Liturgy and assume I know how Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger felt about the state of the liturgy, so why is it taking so long?

I think it has to do with charity - specifically a lack thereof. In my blogosphere travels and in my conversations with Catholics of all persuasions, I've noticed that people who I consider 'serious about their faith' sometimes err on on the side of hyper-criticality. Nothing is acceptable to them other than what they consider the pure, unadulterated use of Latin, Liturgy, etc, etc. Priests who are otherwise good and orthodox men, are singled out for abuse and ridicule because of the inclusion of the classical guitar, bongo, flute, or trumpet instead of, or even along with, the pipe organ. Priests who administer the sacraments with reverence are criticized, by the very Catholics who actively receive these sacraments, because their pronunciation of 'agnus' wasn't correct. I understand that many Catholics simply want the liturgy to be conducted properly, it's just that often many Catholics, like me, go too far.

Diversification Trumps Excellence

The University of Victoria, my alma mater, published this job posting in the Globe & Mail:

National Chair in Aboriginal Economic Development

Faculty of Business and Faculty of Law
University of Victoria, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

The Faculties of Business and Law at the University of Victoria are seeking a highly qualified and dynamic individual to hold the newly created, endowed, tenure-track, National Chair in Aboriginal Economic Development for a term of five or more years. The joint appointment will normally be at the Associate or Full Professor level and will commence at a mutually agreeable date.

The Chair will serve as a catalyst for Aboriginal economic development in accordance with Aboriginal aspirations and practical goals by generating applied research, consolidating knowledge and best practices and promoting innovation, facilitating and brokering partnerships, and delivering relevant educational programming. A detailed description of the Chair and its activities may be found at http://www.business.uvic.ca/ or http://www.law.uvic.ca/.

The successful candidate will hold a graduate degree in Business and/or Law (or their equivalent) and will have a deep understanding of Aboriginal cultural values and broad experience dealing with issues relating to Aboriginal economic development, an exceptional record of research, and a demonstrated ability to work with Aboriginal communities. Capacity to speak an Aboriginal language would be an asset.

Applications, including a covering letter, resume, and names of (and contact information for) at least three references should be submitted no later than May8,2007. Please forward applications by mail (or by email followed by ordinary mail) to:

Rosemary Garton
Faculty of Law
University of Victoria
P O Box2400, STN CSC
Victoria, BC V8W 3H7

Email: rgarton@uvic.ca.

The University of Victoria is an equity employer and encourages applications from women, persons with disabilities, visible minorities, Aboriginal peoples, people of all sexual orientations and genders, and others who may contribute to the further diversification of the University.

All qualified candidates are encouraged to apply; in accordance with Canadian Immigration requirements, Canadians and permanent residents will be given priority.
Tell me again why the university seems more interested in diversification, and not even of the academic sort, than attracting properly qualified candidates? This might have something to do with elements within the university who are still smarting from the 'failed' presidency which blighted the school's reputation during the 1990s.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Poodle to World: J'excuse!

As a Canadian, I'd like to tell you that I'm sorry about the same-sex marriage thing. It's a real shame that it was made law and is now probably being used in your own country against your own laws. That's another side effect of transnationalism - in Spain, Progenitor A and Progenitor B can now repeal the law you and your parents and your grand parents developed because we lazy Canadians didn't do enough to stop what is now becoming a supranational leviathan.

Perhaps you're lucky and you live in a country with a more impartial and fair democratic system. Perhaps you live in a country with an accountable judiciary system and the fiat of an obscure provincial court is not enough to dramatically alter the legal landscape. Or perhaps you live in a place like Canada. If that's the case, put your hat on, tighten your belt and make a sandwich.

Here's some thoughts, however worthless you may find them:

- Don't get caught out by the 'debate is over' assertion. There wasn't a 'debate' to begin with in Canada, and yet our honourable political leaders kept telling us that there was. If someone uses this tactic against you, you'll know for certain that your position is probably the right one, so keep hammering away.

- Remember what exactly we're dealing with here. It's not about marriage, but about abolishing it all together. Love has nothing to do with same-sex marriage, and that's not to say that love does not exist in same-sex relationships. This is political and social battle which is inherently anti-religious, if not specifically anti-Christian. Canada is already witness to public persecutions (and prosecutions) of Bishops, marriage officials, priest, business people and teachers who have dared act in accordance with their conscience and exercised their right to freely express themselves as private citizens.

- When someone attacks you for being 'old fashioned', 'traditionalist' or, of course bigoted, prejudiced and in favour of discrimination, you can have some fun and help your own cause by pointing out a few things. Sure, marriage is old fashioned - it's an established fact that its been around since the dawn of humanity, so no arguments there. But it's also old fashioned in the same way cooking with fire and sleeping under a roof are; we do it because it works. It's a matter of discrimination when I chose to cook my chicken fingers, since I am making a discriminatory decision against eating uncooked meat. It's also the same for sleeping under a roof - I admit that I do harbour a deepseated prejudice against death by exposure, and I adjust my behaviour accordingly. Since all scientific statistical stuff says that heterosexual marriage is best for society, well, it goes without saying.