Thursday, June 28, 2007

Right Signals on the Day of Action

Julian Fantino is saying the right things in advance of the day of action:

If there is any lawlessness, police are prepared to take a "measured response," he added.

Fantino also responded to statements made by Mohawk protester Shawn Brant, a hard-liner who suggested to The Canadian Press that he and others will be carrying weapons to defend themselves.

"The only lawful authorized force that should carry firearms and use firearms is not Mr. Brant or his followers, it's the law enforcement officers," he said.

"Mr. Brant had better realize that because no matter what he thinks, at the end of the day, there will be consequences and they will be severe. And hopefully they will be those that will deter others like him from this kind of anarchy."

That's right. Natives can protest like anyone else, but this country has laws and they must be enforced.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

A Faint Glimmer of Hope for the Anglican Church

Last Sunday's decision by Canadian Anglican Bishop's not to bless gay marriage has narrowly averted a crisis that would have led to the Canadian Church's expulsion from the Anglican Communion, a mass exodus of members and the closure of countless parishes. It is clearly a victory for reason and the church as a whole. It was also a surprise victory given the church's relentless march to irrelevance.

It's a rare moment for Anglicans faithful to scripture such as Anglican Essentials to claim any victory in the battles for theological purity. Instead they focused on the short comings of the synod with these two quotes from the Edmonton Sun:

Cheryl Chang, a spokeswoman for Anglican Essentials, a group lobbying against same sex blessings, said she believes confused and frustrated parishioners will start finding other churches immediately.

"People (will) leave to go to the Catholic Church, the Baptist church, the Pentecostal church. That's going to happen starting next Sunday, or next Monday even," Chang said.

"These are decisions that are very confusing for the church, and ultimately, very divisive."


"To do what they've done is to step apart from the worldwide Anglican communion," said The Rev. Canon Charlie Masters, the head of Anglican Essentials.

"This is a very sad day for Anglicans."

Come on guys. What would you have said if the Church had decided to bless same-sex unions? It very nearly did. Instead, you won the key vote. You worked hard for this victory claim it.

What Canon Masters and Mrs Chang are focusing on is a decision by the Synod that blessing same-sex unions “not in conflict with the core doctrine” of the church. OK, it's a set back, but it doesn't have any bearing on the actual practices of the church. Advocates for same sex blessings such as Bishop Michael Ingham will have a hard time continuing to go against the expressed wishes of the Synod.

My bigger concern is with the incoming Primate (head) of the Anglican Church in Canada:
“There is disappointment – a lot of pain. Some people will be saying ‘How long, O Lord, how long?’” said Bishop Fred Hiltz of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, who is the incoming primate or national archbishop. When asked how he might maintain discipline among clergy and bishops who want to move forward, he said, “My sense is that, as painful as these realities are, we do have a responsibility to respect the decisions of General Synod. It’s not the last time this will come up.”
Sir - there should be no more waiting, the Synod has spoken. This is the problem with the Anglican Church, the idea that doctrine and church teaching can change every few years and that liberals in the church believe they can use the same strategy as Quebec separatists, keep on voting until you get the result you want.

For those scriptural christians patient enough to stay in the Anglican Church I say fight the good fight. You still have a long uphill battle, but you won a victory on Sunday, enjoy it.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Support Lebanon

There was good news out of Lebanon today:

The Lebanese army has destroyed all Fatah Islam positions,” [Defence Minister Elias Murr] declared on the private Lebanese Broadcasting Television. “The army is combing the area. This terrorist organization has been uprooted.”

He said “the military operation is over. The Lebanese army has crushed those terrorists.” A few hours before he spoke, sporadic battles could be heard in the camp.

“What is happening now is some cleanup that the army's heroes are carrying out, and dismantling some mines,” he said.

Mr. Murr said the camp would remain “a theatre of operations and under siege until they (remaining fighters) surrender.”

As we learned last summer Islamic Terrorist groups pose a serious threat to the stability of Lebanon and the surrounding area. This six week battle has tested the government's resolve, but it has also made the country and indirectly the rest of the world safer.

I haven't read very much about aid to Lebanon, but I hope that it's flowing freely. Lebanon is a truly remarkable democracy in a crazy region. We need to put as much effort into supporting it as Iran and Syria put into destabilizing it.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Pope Benedict Greets President Bush

Pope Benedict welcomed President Bush to the Vatican on Saturday. By most accounts it seems that the Pope was very effective at bringing his concerns forward about the plight of Christians in Iraq. The president clearly recognized the problem as reported by the Age:

US President George W Bush today sought to reassure Pope Benedict XVI over the plight of war-torn Iraq's minority Christians, while later an otherwise peaceful protest against the US leader's visit turned violent.

The Pope "did express deep concern about the Christians inside Iraq", Bush told a news conference in Rome less than a week after a Chaldean priest and three deacons were murdered.

"I assured him we were working hard to make sure that people lived up to the constitution" calling for religious tolerance and honouring "people from different walks of life", Bush said.

The murders last Sunday in northern Iraq were followed three days later by the kidnapping of another priest and five of his parishioners belonging to the Chaldean Catholic church, an autonomous Eastern rite church with upwards of 700,000 followers.

Bush said of his first audience with the Pontiff who was chosen in April 2005: "I was talking to a very smart, loving man. I was in awe, and it was a moving experience for me."

Seeing the Pope and President together is a very powerful image. And I can't help but be more optimistic about the situation for Iraqi Christians. The meeting also makes it clear that the Pope is very effective at making his concerns known:

Bush was spared the more public rebuke he received three years ago when Pope John Paul II, after receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Bush, began a condemnation of the "deplorable" abuses of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison.

True to his personality and style of governance, Benedict did not use Bush's presence to make public remarks of substance, and instead chose to deliver his message in private. Bush emerged from the Vatican palace seemingly more subdued.

The only drawback of the meeting is the President's failure to observe protocol calling the Pope "sir" rather than "your Holiness." The White House may still have an opportunity to correct the misstep by referring to the Pope with his proper title on when they post a news brief.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Coren and Gifford-Jones Debate Life

There was a revealing debate in the Toronto Sun Thursday aboout the fate of cojoined twins Tatiana and Krista Hogan-Simms. Michael Coren and Dr Kathy Gifford-Jones both answer the question "Do they deserve to be born?" Gifford-Jones says No, arguing the pro-choice?/euthanasia?/eugenics?/death? position that they should never have been born using a basic quality of life argument:

Reports claim that Felicia Hogan-Simms [the mother] was advised by doctors that her pregnancy could be terminated, but she refused. I assume that she considers life of any kind sacred, and abortion never an option.

What a tragic life awaits the twins. For as long as they live they will be unable to care for themselves or lead a normal active life. It's hard to comprehend a parent who would want such a tragic pregnancy to continue. Nature in this case has created a catastrophe. Why compound the mistake by subjecting these twins to this fate?


Hogan-Simms also believes "the girls were born for a purpose to teach people about tolerance; that it's OK to be different." But the point is, how much different? Unless there's a cataclysmic change in human nature, she has destined her girls to be stared at as a freak of nature as long as they live.

They will never walk, joined at the head in such an abnormal position. Physically they are destined for ill health, lying on their backs forever. They will become obese and develop the myriad of diseases that accompany this problem. Their lives will be a living hell.


Is there anyone among us who would want to be born this way or willing to trade places with these conjoined twins? Hogan-Simms should not have been allowed to make the ultimate decision. I have in the past always cast a jaundiced eye on committee decisions, but I like to believe in this instance an ethics committee would have seen the logic of terminating this pregnancy.

In summary, Ms. Gifford doesn't believe their lives meet her standards ('their lives will be a living hell'), so they should have been done away with either inutero or shortly after they were born. But her article includes two serious warnings about what can happen when you use a quality of life yardstick.

She says their life is not worth living in part because, "They will become obese and develop the myriad of diseases that accompany this problem." I wonder if my life still qualifies as livable after the few extra pounds I put on over the winter! Quality of life is a very subjective yardstick that can be used to eliminate almost anyone deemed undesirable.

Gifford also said the mother should not have been allowed to make the decision about wether or not to abort her child. I'm going to hope that most 'pro-choice' people will disagree with her position advocating forced abortions. Still her position reveals a lot about the upcoming euthanasia debate, the right to die will quickly become an obligation to die for those deemed unworthy.

Coren argues that the children had a fundamental right to be born because human life is inherently valuable:

And this surely is the point. Objective quality. If we are subjective and make our own value judgments we might as well wipe out all sorts of people. Or we could simply grow up, develop our compassion and intelligence and realize that existence is a sufficient contribution in itself.

There is an absolute that we have to tackle. Life is either sacred or it is not. If it is, preserve it at all costs. If it is not, we might as well destroy it at will. It is terribly expensive to keep the sick alive and wholly impractical to prolong the life of an ill person who will die anyway.

No civilized person or society, however, considers expense and practicality to be more important than goodness and humanity. If it did, it would immediately wipe out, for example, drug addicts, the homeless and people with AIDS.

Tatiana and Krista will be loved and, important this, will love back. They will smile, laugh, cry, be sad and happy, sometimes frightened, sometimes excited. Just be. Which is quite enough. And God forgive anyone who awards themselves the right to decide who may be and who may not.

So that's the debate in a nutshell. One group of people believes life is valued based on society's subjective standards, the other group believes life is valuable because it is sacred and that every human life matters simply by virtue of its existence. Both sides will use the language of compassion, but only the pro-life arguments avoids the danger of letting society make an arbitrary choice about which lives have value and which don't.