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 or

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


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.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Iran to Britain: Take, oh, take me as I am

Why is it that at the relatively young age of 25 I notice that history is already repeating itself? Why does everything seem so gosh-darn similar these days?

I'm thinking specifically about the 'resolved' dispute over the captured British sailors. All credible sources claim that the sailors remained within Iraqi waters during the now infamous operation. The sailors themselves confirm as much, even stating that it was apparent that the Iranians who arrived and began to act aggressively, were clearly following a preconceived plan. And then we have the confirmation that dispite the blatant violations of the Geneva Conventions on the treatment of prisoners of war, ie the televising of the prisoners and the forced public interviews, the Iranians even went so far as to commit pyschological torture, ie telling each individual prisoner that they were the 'last one' and that the others were already executed.

And with this evidence, what is the response of Britain, the UN, and the Western media?

*crickets chirping*

I hate to violate Godwin's Law (the one that states that any internet argument is made forfeit by referencing the Nazis), but doesn't all this seem very, in fact, eeriely similar to the Daladier-Chamberlain policy of appeasement? (oh, maybe I haven't violated Godwin's yet after all, technically) In those days, the West was as war weary and hesitant as we are now, just with more reasonable excuses like ecomonic collapse, crop failures and World War I. The leaders, not wanting to waste any political capital on another unpopular and unwanted conflict, sought the persue 'soft war' via the ivory corridors of international diplomacy. It's good to remember that international diplomacy in the 1930's was about as bogus as it is now: The League of Nations, the precursor to the UN, was just as impotent, corrupt, and ineffectual as its modern day embodiment. Nevertheless, in the face of outright persecution and authentically 'illegal' wars (who makes wars legal by the way?) , the leaders of the West of the 1930s opted to do exactly what the leaders of the West of the 2000s chose. Nothing.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Richard Neuhaus on Pope Benedict on Iraq

Fr. Neuhaus expands upon Pope Benedict's mention of the Iraq War during his Easter Sunday address. You can read it here - but I want to comment on a corollary effect of the Pope's statement. Neuhaus points out: "... it is galling when Catholics and others who are usually blithely indifferent to church teaching seize upon a papal opinion with which they agree and, suddenly becoming hyper-infallibilists, elevate it to dogmatic status." Galling, indeed.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Terry Jones, You Ain't Funny Anymore

Eric Idle and John Cleese plod on. Terry Gilliam and Michael Palin amuse themselves in filmography. Terry Jones provides commentary on the parts of reality that he doesn't like.

On Saturday, Terry Jones provided another gem in the Distinguished Field of Guardian Journalism, making light of the illegal capture and detainment of British sailors by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. Here's a snippet:

I share the outrage expressed in the British press over the treatment of our naval personnel accused by Iran of illegally entering their waters. It is a disgrace. We would never dream of treating captives like this - allowing them to smoke cigarettes, for example, even though it has been proven that smoking kills. And as for compelling poor servicewoman Faye Turney to wear a black headscarf, and then allowing the picture to be posted around the world - have the Iranians no concept of civilised behaviour? For God's sake, what's wrong with putting a bag over her head? That's what we do with the Muslims we capture: we put bags over their heads, so it's hard to breathe. Then it's perfectly acceptable to take photographs of them and circulate them to the press because the captives can't be recognised and humiliated in the way these unfortunate British service people are.

It is also unacceptable that these British captives should be made to talk on television and say things that they may regret later. If the Iranians put duct tape over their mouths, like we do to our captives, they wouldn't be able to talk at all. Of course they'd probably find it even harder to breathe - especially with a bag over their head - but at least they wouldn't be humiliated.
Would you like a mint, Mr. Creosote?

For every reason, Jones is simply wrong, wrong, wrong (especially in his application of sarcasm - the lowest form of humour, right mum?) . One would think that a man who spent the best years of his career specializing in theatre, that he'd be able to spot a staged scene when he saw one. Apparently not.