Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Mobile Post

This is my first mobile post. I'll keep it short. I saw a daily chart in USA Today. They had a poll that showed 44% of Americans who lost their jobs during the recession thought that their new jobs were better than their previous jobs. Less than 20% thought their new jobs were worse.
Sent wirelessly from my BlackBerry device on the Bell network.
Envoyé sans fil par mon terminal mobile BlackBerry sur le réseau de Bell.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Defending Freedom

I was inspired a moment ago by a post called 'The Key to Freedom' from the Moose and Squirrel. Briefly, the argument is that the key to freedom is having the tools to defend yourself i.e. guns. The post reinforces a well argued point made by George Jonas, that by enabling citizens to arm themselves they can better protect their freedom than by ensuring that guns are owned by only police and criminals. I'll grant that point.

BUT it takes more than guns to make people free. Frontier or vigilante justice can quickly give way to anarchy. So guns alone can't guarantee freedom. Authentic freedom can only exist in a society where people have value. A place where if everyone had a gun they would only use it to defend themselves or the innocent, where that gun would not be used aggressively.

Anyway this post isn't about guns, it's about freedom. A free society depends valuing individuals enough to respect their inherent freedom. True freedom rests on values. As Carl Anderson writes in A Civilization of Love:
Freedom is not an absolute value. It cannot be lived in isolation, that is, unhinged from other values such as equality and human dignity. In a tyrannical society, the masters are just as much in bondage as their slaves. As a nation, we have put slavery behind us. But what is slavery other than the ultimate institutionalization of the idea that another human being can be regarded as an object to be used, rather than always regarded as a person to be loved. If there is to be freedom in any meaningful sense, it must be rooted in something higher, and that is morality.
Earlier in his book he also notes: We are all familiar with the lines from the Declaration of Independence:
"We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness." We frequently forget however, that these lines explicitly say that "all men are created equal" and that "they are endowed by their Creator" with these "unalienable rights." Can our belief in these rights continue to stand without a belief in a God who upholds them or, even more important, whose revelation of love reveals their true meaning?
Quite simply it takes more than guns to defend freedom. Defending freedom requires an understanding that freedom rests on the premise that everyone has value. And the premise that everyone has value by virtue of their humanity comes from our understanding that God created us in His image in order to love and be loved.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Pope Benedict's Address at Westminster

Faith and Reason was again a major theme of Pope Benedict XVI as he addressed Britain's political leaders at Westminister Hall. He eloquently argues that faith is strengthened by reason and the reason and that reason is also strengthened when informed by faith and because of this faith must have a major role in informing public policy discussions:

The central question at issue, then, is this: where is the ethical foundation for political choices to be found? The Catholic tradition maintains that the objective norms governing right action are accessible to reason, prescinding from the content of revelation. According to this understanding, the role of religion in political debate is not so much to supply these norms, as if they could not be known by non-believers – still less to propose concrete political solutions, which would lie altogether outside the competence of religion – but rather to help purify and shed light upon the application of reason to the discovery of objective moral principles. This “corrective” role of religion vis-à-vis reason is not always welcomed, though, partly because distorted forms of religion, such as sectarianism and fundamentalism, can be seen to create serious social problems themselves. And in their turn, these distortions of
religion arise when insufficient attention is given to the purifying and structuring role of reason within religion. It is a two-way process. Without the corrective supplied by religion, though, reason too can fall prey to distortions, as when it is manipulated by ideology, or applied in a partial way that fails to take full account of the dignity of the human person. Such misuse of reason, after all, was what gave rise to the slave trade in the first place and to many other social evils, not least the totalitarian ideologies of the twentieth century. This is why I would suggest that the world of reason and the world of faith – the world of secular rationality and the world of religious belief – need one another and should not be afraid to enter into a profound and ongoing dialogue, for the good of our civilization.

Religion, in other words, is not a problem for legislators to solve, but a vital contributor to the national conversation. In this light, I cannot but voice my concern at the increasing marginalization of religion, particularly of Christianity, that is taking place in some quarters, even in nations which place a great emphasis on tolerance. There are those who would advocate that the voice of religion be silenced, or at least relegated to the purely private sphere. There are those who argue that the public celebration of festivals such as Christmas should be discouraged, in the questionable belief that it might somehow offend those of other religions or none. And there are those who argue – paradoxically with the intention of eliminating discrimination – that Christians in public roles should be required at times to act against their conscience. These are worrying signs of a failure to appreciate not only the rights of believers to freedom of conscience and freedom of religion, but also the legitimate role of religion in the public square. I would invite all of you, therefore, within your respective spheres of influence, to seek ways of promoting and encouraging dialogue between faith and reason at every level of national life.

The Pope is correct and I truly hope that Western world leaders take his advice to heart and stop the deliberate marginalization of faith in our society.

I should also note that my primary source for analysis of the Pope's visit to England is Archbishop Cranmer's blog. At time's he is a harsh critic of the Catholic Church, but he is always reasoned and succinct in his analysis.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Safety First

So called 'equality' crusaders set off alarm bells Thursday as they tried to spin a court decision that ruled that Canadian Blood Services has the right to refuse to accept blood from homosexual men. How inconvenient that on the same day another study confirmed that homosexual men have the highest risk by far of contracting HIV:

Transmission of the AIDS virus seems to be "out of control" among gay men in France despite an overall fall in the number of new HIV cases in the country, according to a study published on Thursday.

Scientists from the French National Institute for Public Health Surveillance found that nearly half of the 7,000 people newly infected with HIV in the country in 2008 were gay men, and the incidence among homosexual men is 200 times higher than in the heterosexual population.

The health data is similar in Canada as the National Post's Mark Gurney notes:
Over half of the new cases [of HIV/AIDS] reported in Canada each year are a result of sexual acts between male partners. That’s triple the rate from intravenous drug use. HIV/AIDS is not, as it was originally claimed by many, a gay disease, but it remains a disease that hits the gay community with disproportionate lethality.
That activists are seeking to put their bizarre agenda ahead of the health of Canadians is unconscionable. Canadian Blood Services CEO, Dr. Graham Sher, and the judge who made the ruling were absolutely correct in their analysis. Sher said:

"Firstly, blood donation is not a right. There is no law or obligation that requires Canadians to be blood donors and Canadian Blood Services is under no obligation to receive a donation. Blood donation is a gift; it's not a right."

Secondly, Sher said, the court decided that his agency's policy to not accept blood donations from men who have sex with men does not distinguish on the basis of sexual orientation, but rather, is based on health and safety issues -- in particular, the much higher prevalence of HIV and other diseases in the men-who-have-sex-with-men population.

Thank goodness for some sanity. No amount of screening can make erase the fact that accepting blood from practicing homosexual men is exceptionally risky. The health of Canadians must always be put ahead of the ludicrous demands of these homosexual activists.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

How Crazy was the Crazy EnviroWacko?

EnviroWacko James Lee was shot dead earlier this week after a foiled attempt to takeover the Discovery Channel and force them to broadcast his anti-human manifesto. Safely dead, he's being widely condemned as a crazed extremist. But seriously just how crazy was he? Or rather how far are his views really outside of mainstream environmentalist thinking? My two favourite quotes from his rant are:
Saving the Planet means saving what's left of the non-human wildlife by decreasing the human population. That means stopping the human race from breeding any more disgusting human babies!

Humans are the most destructive, filthy, pollutive creatures around and are wrecking what's left of the planet with their false morals and breeding culture.

Honestly if he didn't decide to invade a major TV studio, his thoughts would be totally unexceptional. I'm reminded of an almost readable blog that I stumbled on the other day. The blogger describes his writing as follows:

The blog of a bipolar misanthrope. The fact that I like many individuals and even love a few doesn’t stop me from hating our species as a whole. This is what I mean by bipolar, rather than that I actually am bipolar in a clinical sense.

Our species has truly earned its place in history. We are the cause of the sixth great
extinction on this planet. Like the comet that killed off the non-avian dinosaurs, we are a catastrophe. Quite literally, our evolution has been a catastrophic event on this beautiful insignificant planet we call home.

The Misanthrope is almost eloquent, and I think he demonstrates that it's not necessarily unreasonable to hate humans. Rather, it's a logical conclusion if you assume that (1) the biodiversity of the planet is the most important value on Earth and that (2) humans are just another species.

Was James Lee crazy? He did want to eliminate people to save the planet, but then again we will often have controlled hunts or animal culls when a species is taking over in it's environment. So if he really bought into the ridiculous notion that the value of our species is equivalent with all others maybe he wasn't that crazy at all.

How do we stop the next James Lee from trying to take down a TV station? Maybe all we need is a different worldview, one that says humans are in fact special and that every human life is valuable because it was made in the image of a loving creator.