Friday, October 29, 2010

He Better Serve His Full Sentence

So only shortly after admitting that he did throw the grenade that killed Sgt Speer, Omar Khadr said he's sorry to the sergeant's widow.
“I am really, really sorry for the pain I have caused you and your family,” said Mr. Khadr, now a hulking 24-year-old who bears little resemblance to the fresh-faced 15-year-old he was the day he admits he threw a grenade that killed Sergeant Christopher Speer, a special forces medic.
He deserved every bit of the condemnation that Tabitha Speers gave him:

“You will forever be a murderer in my eyes. It doesn’t matter what you say,” widow Tabitha Speer said, fighting to keep her composure in a hushed Guantanamo Bay courtroom.

“I’ve heard over and over how he’s the victim, he’s the child,” she said, glaring at Mr. Khadr. “He made a choice. My children had no choice. … [They] didn’t deserve to have their father taken by someone unworthy like you.”

That said. I hope for her sake that she is able to forgive Khadr with time. Letting herself be consumed with anger will do no more damage to him. The truly disturbing part of the story is the strategy of his legal team
His Canadian legal team will likely claim he is entitled to immediate release once he returns to Canada, based on the nine years he will have already spent in U.S. custody and that fact that he was only 15 years old when he committed the crimes.
If he is sucessful Mrs. Speer's healing process will be even more difficult.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

A Little Help

I've entered into a vivid discussion with a self described human hating environmentalist atheist. Our conversation has meandered from the environment to matters theological. My only regrets are (1) that this post is going to fall of the front page of my blog soon so nobody may ever see the discussion, and (2) I can't dedicate as much time to the debate as my opponent. Fortunately, he's volunteered to take on all comers so please join in the debate if you like.

We're starting a second discussion on the sanctity of marriage here. I hope some of you do join in the debate, I'm enjoying trying to get into this guy's head.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A Call to Leadership

Today's rain clouds did have a silver lining. I was able to pick up Faith FM 94.3 on the drive home. They played this new song called Lead Me. Actually it's not that new apparently it's been #1 on the Christian music charts for a few weeks but I just heard it today.

The song is a powerful reminder to men that we have to take a leadership role in our families and leadership means self sacrifice. The song also inspired the band Sanctus Real to post a special prayer on their website, which the announcer read on air today:

Lead Me- a prayer for husbands

Christ Jesus, you have called me to love my wife tenderly and sacrificially, even as you love the church, but too often I know myself to be a selfish man with a distracted heart. Please give me patience, gentleness, and kindness toward my wife, and the wisdom to value her for her gifts and ideas. Teach me to be vulnerable with her, openly sharing my own heart and thoughts, hopes and fears, even as I seek to better understand her.

Remind me to be ever mindful of her interests and needs with each decision I make and to structure my life in such a way that she receives the best of my energy and attention, rather than the leftovers. Give me courage to passionately pursue relationship with her even when I feel wronged or wounded. Let me become for her a man of tenderness, kindness, creativity, and integrity, protecting and cherishing her by vigilantly guarding my own eyes and heart.

Above all, teach me to lead as you led, Jesus, in humility and service. Only by your grace can I be a godly man and a good husband for my wife.

Lead me Lord, I pray.

As a rather remarkable coincidence today's readings at Mass included Ephesians 5:21-33:

Brothers and sisters:

Be subordinate to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives should be subordinate to their husbands as to the Lord.For the husband is head of his wife just as Christ is head of the Church,he himself the savior of the Body. As the Church is subordinate to Christ, so wives should be subordinate to their husbands in everything.

Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the Church and handed himself over for her to sanctify her, cleansing her by the bath of water with the word, that he might present to himself the Church in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.

So also husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one hates his own flesh but rather nourishes and cherishes it, even as Christ does the Church, because we are members of his Body.

For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This is a great mystery, but I speak in reference to Christ and the Church.

In any case, each one of you should love his wife as himself, and the wife should respect her husband.

Maybe God's trying to tell me something.

Monday, October 25, 2010

8 Minutes . . .

Was all it took for Rob Ford to claim victory in Toronto's race for mayor.

Carol Wilding, president and CEO of the Toronto Board of Trade, said Mr. Ford ran a “really strong campaign” focused on an issue hot among Torontonians.

“He was very focused on an issue that is incredibly important to Torontonians,” Ms. Wilding told the National Post, noting that Mr. Ford is pushing for a “cultural shift” in the way City Hall is run. “He tapped into a sentiment that people were feeling and he’s delivering on that.”

Ms. Wilding is clearly right that there's been a cultural shift in Toronto and I'm going to say that's a good thing. Although it's mind numbingly simplistic the 'Stop the Gravy Train' message is a lot more appealing than the shrill voices of his opposition.

As someone who doesn't live in the city of Toronto, the very best news tonight is that soon I won't have to hear anymore coverage of Toronto's election campaign on my commute.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Brutal Attack on BC Bishop

The Vancouver Sun Reports:

Bishop David Monroe, 69, was admitted to Kamloops Royal Inland hospital with severe trauma to the face and head, and body injuries, including several cuts after emergency officials found him lying on the floor bleeding and unconscious.

He was taken out of intensive care Sunday and moved to a recovery unit where he continues to be monitored closely, said Msgr. Jerry Desmond, vicar general of the Kamloops Roman Catholic Diocese.

“He recognizes people and can say his name but that is about it,” said Desmond. “It’s that serious.”

Fortunately it seems they have found the attacker:

Police were able to get a modest description of the suspected attacker after linking the attack to another incident at the Royal Inland Hospital, just two blocks away from the church.

At about 8:30 p.m., a man was reported to have broken a hospital window and fled after his family admitted him because of concern over his well-being.

“He may have had some delusions about religion,” said [Sgt. Scott] Wilson [of the Kamloops RCMP].

The Church's grace and forgiveness was on display when Monseigneur Desmond said:
“It’s quite a tragedy. We pray for the recovery of the bishop and the mental state of the (suspect).”
I do pray that the Bishop makes a full recovery and that the suspect comes to his senses, realizes the gravity of what he has done, and repents of his sin.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Are the Liberals more conservative than the Conservatives?

Probably not.

Yesterday the Liberals announced a plan to eliminate the deficit faster than the Conservatives.

The announcement got me thinking. . .
  • Maybe the Conservatives' drift to the left is finally going to bite them.
  • Is Ignatieff actually a brilliant strategist who helped force the Conservatives to the left and now stands ready to capture the fiscally responsible title?
The answer is likely no on both counts. Rather than cutting spending, the Liberal plan involves raising tax revenue by cancelling planned corporate tax cuts designed to stimulate the economy. Brian Lee Crowley, of the Macdonald-Laurier Institute, an Ottawa think-tank, noted:
It’s an economic fact of life, that lowering corporate taxes creates jobs, and freezing those taxes, as the Liberals propose, would keep those jobs from being created.
More ridiculous their so called plan to eliminate the deficit is based on gaining $6 billion by cancelling the planned tax cuts, when the budget office estimates the cost of the tax cuts is only $4.5 billion. That's a huge problem if this is the cornerstone of their deficit reduction strategy.

The Conservatives can be assured, Canadians will see through the Liberal smoke and mirrors and continue to place their trust in the Conservatives for sound economic planning.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Say it ain't so.

Canada's Redneck Games are no more. The Wellington Advertiser reported this weekend:

After five years and numerous top 100 festival awards, the Minto Redneck Games will no longer be there to “Get It Done.”

Last week, council made the decision to cancel the games, following a loss of roughly $8,500 on the event’s Saturday night concert.

Although Economic Development Committee manager Belinda Wick-Graham was welcomed to the table, it was with a heavy heart she presented her report on the status of the games and the results of the meeting held with the Redneck Games committee.

“My report basically sums everything up,” Wick-Graham said. “I have mixed feelings about this.” She explained there were multiple meetings with the core committee, made up of 14 different community groups involved with the event, to try to come up with a decision.

There was not a solid consensus and if a few additional people had been at the meeting, Wick-Graham said it may have swayed the vote in a different direction. . .

The recommendation made to council was to discontinue the event.

“If at some time in the future, if there is an urge to regenerate it, that can happen.”

With regret, council approved the recommendation of the Redneck committee that the event be discontinued.

It's sad news no doubt. I never attended the games, but I always got a kick out of the pictures that would make it into the local paper. It looked like serious fun.

The brutal truth is despite the fact that I always though the event looked fun and Harriston is less than an hour away, I never went. The event was cancelled because there wasn't enough attendance or volunteer leadership. This is a reminder that if we want community events, we really should lend our support.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Is Religion a Force for Good?

75% of Economist readers think not. During a 10 day debate, polling was consistent with a daily maximum of 27% of respondents agreeing with the statement, "This house believes that religion is a force for good."

The result is not unexpected given the typically hostile view the magazine holds toward religion. But, the result is scary none the less as the magazine has a massive circulation and is read by leaders of industry, government, and academia as well as wannabe thinkers like me. I don't usually comment on online articles but I couldn't resist this time. Here's what I had to say:

Dear Sir,

It seems that the working assumption on both sides of the motion is that God does not exist and that religion's primary benefits are fostering a sense of community and the enjoyment of ritual. When weighed against the clear evils that have been done in the name of religion such as Islamist terrorism, the widespread conclusion that it is not on balance a force for good is understandable.

I suggest that if both sides started with the assumption that we are created beings longing to be in touch with our creator, this debate would have been entirely different. That said, without getting into the debate about the truth of religion it is still a force for good on both an individual and societal level.

On an individual level religion provides meaning and answers the basic question of why we are here and what is our purpose. There is no satisfactory answer provided by atheists.

Religion empowers people through prayer. When there is little or nothing you can do individually to change a situation, prayer offers something positive that can be done.

As a society, religion defines virtue. Secularists and unbelievers can claim to be moral (and very often are), but that morality must be measured against an objective standard and without religion no such standards would exist.

The point was made well that religion builds community. I can speak personally to that, attending world Youth Day in Toronto in 2002 was a chance to see 1 million people gather to participate in the mass led by Pope John Paul the Great. Looking around and seeing the faith, energy, and enthusiasm from people from countless cultures and every corner of the planet was a truly transformative event in my life.

The criticisms leveled against religion seem to assume that it is an irrational opinion to hold. However Pope Benedict has made explaining the mutual dependence of faith on reason and vice versa a cornerstone of his papacy.

I applaud the Economist for attempting to debate this important topic, however, next time I’d encourage inviting people with more theological depth and breadth
to participate.

I don't suspect my comments will have any influence, after all the Economist's debate has ended. The results are a warning especially to Christians who feel like their views are being deliberately excluded from public policy. People of faith must make the their views known eloquently and fight for the right to continue to do so. There's a large segment of the population that would prefer we be silenced.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

American Muslim Workers Sue for Prayer Breaks

I saw this story on a news website specific to the meat trade. It's a free site, but because you need to register, I've included the full article for those who don't want the latest meat trade information in their email twice daily.

Basically a group of Muslim workers is suing a meat packing plant for not letting them take prayer breaks at a specific time of day during Ramadan in 2008. The suit is being sponsored by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a federal agency.

I've gotta say I feel for the company on this one. They appear to have done everything they could to accomodate the workers, even attempting to change their break times.

JBS discriminated against Muslim workers, Feds say

By Tom Johnston on

Federal officials said JBS USA’s Grand Island, Neb., beef plant must provide Muslim workers prayer time and not retaliate against those who request it.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on Monday filed a lawsuit on behalf of 86 Somali Muslims who were fired after walking off the job during Ramadan of 2008.

“[JBS] has engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination by (1) unlawfully denying reasonable religious accommodation to its Somali Muslim employees; and (2) unlawfully terminating its Somali Muslim employees because of their religion, national origin, and in retaliation for their requests for religious accommodation, and their complaints of denied religious accommodation,” the complaint states.

The suit seeks backpay and other compensation for the workers.

A similar suit was filed in Colorado aimed at JBS USA's Greeley, Colo., beef plant, an EEOC spokesoman told Meatingplace.

JBS did not respond to requests by Meatingplace for comment.

The company fired the workers in the fall of 2008 for repeatedly walking off the line while bartering for prayer accommodations during Ramadan, a month-long holiday during which worshipers fast from sunrise to sunset.

At one point JBS resolved to move up second-shift dinner break up to 7:45 p.m. from 8 p.m. so Muslim workers could observe the holiday. However, management changed its position after nearly 400 non-Muslim workers walked off the job, protesting that the company's decision unfairly catered to their peers.

The EEOC spokeswoman said the break-time requests the Muslim workers made were within timeframes permissible in their bargaining agreements.

It's fair to say comments on the article were pretty solidly in favour of the company.

Mirage Politics Fascinating

Don Martin describes a fascinating background to the announced closure of the Camp Mirage military base. The way he describes it, this is a trade dispute that has spiralled out of control. Hopefully there's a way to turn rescue the situation before the base is closed:

In a remarkable tit-for-tat exchange, Canada’s refusal to allow more UAE-based airline flights into Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary turned into the UAE’s petulant blockade and military eviction. Some say the UAE went so far as to lobby its Arab neighbours to vote against Canada’s security council seat.

There are no angels in the air over this dispute.

Transport Canada has been needlessly protectionist in refusing sister carriers Emirates and Etihad Airlines more than their thrice-weekly landing rights in Toronto; this from a Conservative government that has campaigned worldwide to eliminate barriers to trade and commerce.

But the UAE is not playing fair in evicting Canada from Camp Mirage on 30 days notice, and then denying Defence Minister Peter MacKay and his top general permission to land there over the weekend. . .

To sacrifice so much trade in one of the world’s fastest growing economies and a military partnership with the most Western-friendly Gulf state to help a domestic airline seems an expensive airfare subsidy.

Provided Air Canada is granted equal air access to Dubai and Abu Dhabi, Transport Canada should open up our skies and let consumers make the choice of which seats to fill. That is supposedly the Conservative mantra.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Thanksgiving and the Book of Common Prayer

Flipping through an old Anglican Book of Common Prayer, I came across some excellent prayers. It was a welcome reminder of how dependant we are on God's provision every year and that just a few poor production years on our farms could send our world into chaos. All the more reason to remember to ask God for his continued blessings and to give proper thanks. Here are two prayers worth reciting, I think they're especially fitting if you experienced the same perfect weather we had in Southwestern Ontario this Canadian Thanksgiving weekend:
ALMIGHTY God, who hast blessed the earth that it should be fruitful and bring forth abundantly whatsoever is needful for the life of man: Prosper, we beseech thee, the work of our farmers, and grant such seasonable weather that all may gather in the fruits of the earth, and proclaim thy great goodness with thanksgiving; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

ALMIGHTY God, Father of all mercies, We thine unworthy servants do give thee most humble and hearty thanks For all thy goodness and loving-kindness To us and to all men; We bless thee for our creation, preservation, and all the blessings of this life; But above all for thine inestimable love In the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ; For the means of grace, And for the hope of glory. And we beseech thee, give us that due sense of all thy mercies, That our hearts may be unfeignedly thankful, And that we show forth thy praise, Not only with our lips, but in our lives; By giving up ourselves to thy service, And by walking before thee in holiness and righteousness all our days; Through Jesus Christ our Lord, To whom, with thee and the Holy Ghost, be all honour and glory, world without end. Amen.

Yes Lord, please accept our humble and hearty thanks!

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Great Song and Incredible Hand Dancing

I was planning to write about competitive currency devaluation, but that issue isn't going away anytime soon. Instead I'm just going to point out this incredibly fun song, that I'll probably listen to several times this weekend:

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Boys in Blue, You Have my Attention

I'm a bandwagon Leafs fan at best. I believe the team only deserves our attention if they are at a level that starts to approach decent. The last several years that simply hasn't been the case. I got a little excited as I drove by the Molson Brewery on the way home from a meeting and saw a massive Toronto Maple Leaf's flag waving. A close win by over the Montreal Canadians is a great way to start the season. National Post sports writer Michael Traikos is optimistic:

this is a different team than last year. . .

In fact, 13 of the players in last night’s lineup were not part of last season’s home opener loss to Montreal.

The Leafs now have a legitimate No. 1 line. They have a goaltender who can bail out his defenceman and stop the puck. And for the first time in two years, they have a captain.

If they start winning consistently, I'll start paying attention.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Keep Enforcing the Law

I somehow missed the news that an Ontario Court ruled that laws against prostitution are unconstitutional. Fortunately our government and at least some police are taking the right course of action. The Federal government is appealing the ruling and asking that the decision be put on hold pending appeals and Vancouver Police made headlines by shutting down a brothel today:

Vancouver police spokesman Const. Lindsey Houghton said at a news briefing the
force won't stop prosecuting such offences.

"We're aware that there are some court challenges to some prostitution offences in other provinces but that has absolutely no effect on how we're doing business right now," he said.

"Until the Parliament of Canada strikes those offences from the Criminal Code, we will continue to enforce them."

Hat's off to the the Vancouver Police. I hope that police in the rest of the country take the same position. I also hope that the government's appeals are successful and that our current laws remain in force despite this radical ruling.

At a time when the travesty of human trafficking is becoming ever more apparent, now is not the time to allow our laws to be changed. Otherwise there will be even more incentive to continue enticing people from poor countries to come to Canada only to be forced into the sex trade.

Honestly I really don't know how the ruling can hold. Even the so called feminists that support the ruling seem to be contradicting themselves:
"While we agree with the decriminalization of women in prostitution, we feel that it's only a half-measure," said Trisha Baptie of the Vancouver-based advocacy group, Exploited Voices now Educating. "There's still a further step that needs to be taken to air on the side of women's equality and see prostitution for what it is, which is violence against women."
If prostitution really is violence against the prostitute, and I believe it is, then there is only one logical response. Keep our laws in force.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Brand New ProLife Hero

Ruth Lobo is an eloquent and brave young woman who was arrested along with four other university students at Carelton University. They've been charged with trespassing after refusing to take down pro-life signs that they were holding. It's been clear for many years that conservatively minded students at Canadian Universities are subject to ridicule and unfair treatment. This is a brand new low.

My bet is that Carelton picked a fight with the wrong girl. In this video Ruth is eloquent and confident even as she is being arrested. The university should drop the charges immediately. Miss Lobo should launch a civil suit against the university for violating her rights as a student.

Stay Strong Ruth!

h/t Christian Conservative

Eddie Long Coverage Reveals Double Standard

Televangelist Eddie Long is vowing to fight allegations that he used his wealth and position of power to coerce young men into sexual relationships. Long is 57 years old, married, and head of a 26,000 member Baptist mega-church in Georgia.

So far, that seems to be the theme of the coverage. A focus on his flash and charisma more than the pain that his victims that have (allegedly) suffered. One article even used the tragedy to rave about his fashion sense and chiseled abs:

I'm just a fashion editor. And while we may not be the first to spot a good liar, we sure can spot good style. And no one, but no one, makes a stronger style statement than Bishop Eddie Long. The leader of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, an Atlanta-area mega-church with over 25,000 members, has a penchant for bad toupee's and good clothes. Really, really good clothes. He's also - allegedly - got a penchant for young men. At least that's what his accusers, all four of them (and counting) are saying. . .

If his wardrobe in the pulpit is predictable, his sartorial choices outside of it aren't. In the few photos of a more casual Long that litter the Internet, it is very apparent that he is an exercise buff. A news clip of him in a tracksuit hint that he might have a workout wardrobe as collated -- and curated -- as his preaching one.

That hint was proven true when suggestive, self-portraits of a remarkably buff Bishop surfaced. They showed Long, primping and preening in flimsy muscle shirts that hugged every ripple in the fifty-seven year-old's startlingly chiseled physique.

What this man is accused of doing is a disgrace and a tragedy. Unfortunately, the event has generated a sea of spin and gossip mongering.

I suppose that's all we can expect since prominent evangelical pastors crash and burn regularly. Ron Hart notes sarcastically, "By now we know how the redemptive process works for a televangelist accused of sexual relations with young males." So the story needs a new angle weather its race or fashion sense.

A few things about the story strike me:

First there just doesn't seem to be the same kind of anger directed toward this guy as toward the Catholic Church when allegations of abuse surface.

Second, in most accounts, including the article above, he is referred to as "Bishop Eddie Long," despite the fact that Baptists do not have a hierarchy. Strictly speaking a 'Baptist Bishop' is a misnomer. Including the title of Bishop in the story seems to be just another way to somehow transfer the tarnish of this man's sin onto the Catholic Church by association.

Most importantly, the fact that he is married apparently did nothing to stop his aggression or sexual appetite. This is very reminiscent of the charges brought against prominent evangelical Ted Haggard. Haggard was also married and sought homosexual relationships.

Whenever news of a scandal happens in the Catholic Church it is used as an argument against the vows of chastity that men and women consecrated to holy orders take. But stories like this make it clear that allowing priests to marry would not end abuse. Something else must be done. Fortunately, especially since the scandals in 2002, the Church has placed an emphasis on screening unfit candidates before they enter the priesthood, on proper formation of the men in seminary and on supporting priest's spiritual needs in order to prevent tragedies like this.

Friday, October 01, 2010

The Social Network

Here's an excellent quote from the Colbert Report last night. Stephen was interviewing the director (I think) of the new film, "The Social Network." The director had a quote that I'm sure will catch on, "Socializing on the internet is to socializing as reality TV is to reality."


Sent wirelessly from my BlackBerry device on the Bell network.
Envoyé sans fil par mon terminal mobile BlackBerry sur le réseau de Bell.