Friday, April 12, 2013

Gosnell Tragedy Finally Getting Attention (Sort of)

Kermit the Killer Gosnell routinely killed live, viable, fully delivered babies at his Philadelphia abortion clinic. He now stands accused of 1st degree murder relating to seven of those infants. The story was completely ignored by the mainstream media. A picture of the completely empty media chairs in the courtroom is an indictment of every news agency that seeks to bury an inconvenient story.

Finally in the wake of an excellent article by Kathleen Powers in USA today and a concentrated twitter campaign that has #Gosnell as the most tweeted term of the day, it's starting to get a little attention. There were 225 articles on a Google search this evening, it included articles the National Post, the Washington Post, LA times, CBS News, and Fox, but  it was nowhere on the home page of Google News. You still have to look for it. Still the campaign is having some impact, Pro-choice journalist Megan Mc Ardle wrote an honest article, "Why I didn't write about Gosnell and Why I Should Have" and Real Clear Politics listed 3 stories in its afternoon report.

This is a brutal disgusting story, that must be told. It's a tragedy, but I'm optimistic that in the coming days people will learn about the horrors that unrestricted abortion access has on women and children. I'm hopeful that it will start discussions about how we can protect women and children and highlight how unreliable many of our news sources have become.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

We're All Bullies

Thousands of teachers and students across the country donned pink t-shirts to take a stand against bullying today. No one likes a bully. Too bad we're all bullies.

A couple of years ago I volunteered to help with a self esteem workshop for young children. We led a small group of kids through a morning session and there was a 10 year old boy at my table who was very outspoken about how he was bullied at school. Naturally, I was sympathetic to the young guy and he hung out with me through various activities the whole morning. Part way through a new boy from his class joined our group. The first boy said, "You can't sit here fatso." I politely said that the new boy was welcome to join us and we moved on. Soon we had an activity sorting candy, again the first boy says, "this won't work. Fatty is going to eat them all!" Finally I pointed out to the first boy that he was being the bully, but he just couldn't comprehend that he could be a bully too.

I thought of this a few months back when some radio announcers convinced a nurse caring for Kate Middleton that they were part of the Royal Family she shared way to much information and the prank went viral. The nurse committed suicide shortly after the prank presumably because of her shame at the incident. The radio jockies lost their jobs and had to go into hiding because of all the threats that they received after the incident. Nobody looked good in this situation the radio hosts and hundreds like them make a living tormenting and ridiculing vulnerable and trusting people and they are enabled by their audiences. After the news of the nurses death, the pile on of criticism and the threats the djs received were their own form of bullying.

In fact the pink shirted crusaders are likely shaming non conforming students that are uncomfortable wearing pink - they are inadvertinely bullying the students in the name of anti-bullying. It's typical, some of the worst bullies are those who seek conformity in the name of diversity, in fact the National Review Online has an excellent interview about a new book, Bullies: How the Left’s Culture of Fear and Intimidation Silences America.

Let's stop bullying for good. Maybe the first step is to have the courage to wear blue next pink day.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Pope Francis Emotion and Evangelism

I was absolutely exhuberant when I first learnt that we had a Pope. It was a different feeling than when Pope Benedict was chosen. I had grieved John Paul the Great, but Benedict's resignation took that part of the process away. This time the circumstances were sad but not heart breaking. This time I could focus on the joy of God reinforcing that He is taking care of His Church.

We have a rare opportunity to evangelize with Pope Francis. First its the simple fact that everyone outlet has been talking about him. Second his humilty and focus on the poor will stand in sharp contrast to our materialist culture and our selfish desires. Finally the way he is already being attacked by enemies of Christianity will help draw all Christians together.

On Thursday night we ordered a Pizza, as we were waiting my best friend struck up a conversation with a guy playing with his smart phone. The conversation went something like this:
Best Friend Forever: "We Have a Pope!"
Smart Phone Guy: "I've Heard a Rumour"
Random 50 year old guy: "He'll have a hard time fill John Paul's shoes"
SPG "Yeah"
R50 "He took us forward. The last pope took us back. Did you know he said that not recycling is a venial sin?"
BFF "Yeah but you only need to confess the mortal ones"
R50 "Still John Paul was the greatest pope ever. People think Reagan won the Cold War but it was really John Paul"
SPG "I'll agree that he was the greatest pope of the modern era, but I've been doing some reading a lot of the popes have done some pretty amazing things . . ."
Pizza Kid "Can I help you?"
Me "I'm here to pick up a gluten free, non dairy pizza with anchovies"
PK "Here, that'll be $12"
BFF "We have a Pope!"
PK "Huh?"
As we left R50 and Smart Phone guy were still in a deep conversation. Maybe we'll see them at Mass today . . .

On the second point Ashley McGuire wrote an excellent post about how Pope Francis will likely smash the over simplified left/right labels proving that you can uphold Catholic Moral teaching AND love the the poor and marginalized:
Pope Francis, meet a generation of young Catholics longing for you. Longing for someone to show us in the most tangible of ways that the Catholic Church defends the most vulnerable among us, be they in their mother’s womb or hungry in the streets.

Meet a generation of Protestants looking to see Catholics assure them that our faith is first and foremost about Jesus Christ.
She's right that this witness will speak volumes to the largely unchurched culture that we live in.
The silliness of the mainstream media - working to dig up dirt on day 1 of Francis' papacy -will also help unify all Christians. Even before the cardinals made their decsision. The evangelical magazine Christianity Today noted:
Whether we Protestants like to admit it or not, though, there is a single person in Rome who can influence Christians of every stripe to work more heartily in the cause of Christ, sometimes together (even with Catholics) and sometimes faithfully in their own theological tradition. That's why even non-Catholics are praying fervently for the new pope. Given the monumental challenges of the 21st century, it is more important than ever that Protestants and Catholics figure out how to work together.
The humility of Pope Francis should provide just such an opportunity.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Let's Treasure Time at the End of Life

On January 15 the Quebec Government released a report outlining a strategy to circumvent the laws against euthanasia in Canada's criminal code. The move is a sad statement on our society. Watching our loved ones weaken and age is a painful part of life, but we must realize that even as our bodies and minds deteriorate (1) we still have a purpose and (2) we can be happy even with limited abilities.

I thought of this at my grandfather's funeral last Thursday. My Opa passed away 4 years after suffering a stroke that made him require constant nursing care. After his passing a number of people including my family members said, "it's better now, he should have died 4 years ago." I disagree I believe he was a great comfort to my Oma and that he experienced much happiness. Below is a Eulogy that I delivered before the Mass:
I never really got to experience Opa in the prime of his life, but some early memories stand out. When I was young, I remember sleeping overnight at Oma and Opa’s and was awakened in the morning to Opa shouting for everyone to get up for chores. Even Aunt Beatrix and Uncle George jumped at the sound of his voice!

Fridays seemed to be our day to visit Oma and Opa. I know this because there was always fish for dinner. Oma and Opa’s faith was shown at mealtimes, we didn’t just bless the food, we prayed an Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory be, sometimes there might even have been a litany of the saints!
As an adult, I was touched that Oma and Opa travelled from Strathroy to Toronto to attend the Easter Vigil Mass when I was received into the Catholic Church, and that they visited us in Fergus shortly after our wedding.

Mostly, Opa was silent, but his silence spoke volumes when backed up by his hard work and service to his family. I thank God for all of the gifts he gave us through Opa, especially for the past four years where I got to know Opa personally.

I have no doubt that Opa was frustrated by the effects of his stroke, and that being separated from Oma hurt him deeply, but I believe he was happy. In that first year, we had opportunities to walk with him, we were there as support but he carried a lot of his own weight. Opa’s determination and character shone through.

In one visit, my wife Carolynne sat with Opa at the piano and I was impressed how he willingly played the keys and participated in the music.

I know he appreciated all his visitors and the staff at the nursing home in part because he was excited to let us know that Nancy Verberg had started working with him. Nearly every time we visited him he would smile and say something, usually about the weather or the crops. At Oma and Opa’s 60th wedding anniversary last spring, again I saw Opa perk up when new people came in to greet them, and every time Oma opened a card he would lean over to look at it. He was very happy that day.

Last summer I brought Oma to visit Opa, he was lying in bed and we mostly just sat there for the first 20 minutes, but then they had a lengthy and intimate conversation. They stared tenderly at each other. It was a wonderful opportunity to see how much they loved each other, and an honour just to be there. At the end of the visit Opa asked if Oma was going to be late for cards, still concerned about her happiness before his own.

The last time we saw Opa was in November. He seemed to enjoy looking at pictures and held on tight to my hand as we left. He sure had a good grip.

I was recently introduced to the prayer “May the all powerful Lord grant us a restful night and a peaceful death.” I’m sure during the time that Opa had to be alone in his thoughts, God spoke to him and gave him that peace. Rest in Peace Opa.