Sunday, August 30, 2009

Prayer request

My dear heart has been away for a few days to visit her Baba (grandmother). Baba Mary, 98 years old earlier this month, is not doing well. Cancer on her lip has led to a broader decline.

Dear heart is coming back home tonight. One cannot put life on hold waiting for the end. But we are presuming a mournful journey at some point in the next week or so.

"Behold, I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye at the last trumpet. The trumpet shall sound and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

"For this corruptible must put on incorruption and this mortal must put on immortality. Then shall the saying be fulfilled:

"Death, where is thy victory? O Grave, where is thy sting?"

And here is a video which has no particular connection to Baba and her life apart from the fact that the artist is Ukrainian.

Христос воскрес!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

I am zeromeanszero

The blog's url identifies it as zeromeanszero, but the actual title on the first page is the wordier "Please, Step Aside Mr. Mayor, Please. You're an embarrassment to the entire city." Posts are attributed to Jane and John Smith. The url refers to Ottawa Mayor Larry O'Brien's much vaunted campaign promise on taxes and fees - although it seems that "zero" actually means the highest increases in the city's history.

The oldest post at the blog suggests the reason for it's existence:

Just when you thought at least one of the city's daily newspapers was holding firm and unwavering in its commitment to reporting facts as it pertains to Ottawa's Mayor along comes a story in Frank Magazine suggesting that Ottawa Citizen reporter Gary Dimmock has been told by his superiors that he is being pulled from any and all future stories involving Larry O'Brien. Aparently, so the story goes the Citizen was recently delivered a cease and desist - rather chilling isn't it? For those of you who are already up-to-date you'll know that Mr. Dimmock has just been nominated for the National Newspaper Award.

In the age of corporate media, it has become all too common for the political interests of owners to trump the public interest. Not that the corporate media were ever unbiased. The slanted coverage of the Saskatchewan doctors strike in 1962 makes Faux News coverage of US health reform seem positively balanced. (Indeed, the Sifton news monopoly in Saskatchewan - both major dailies, the largest private radio stations and all the private TV stations - was so biased in their coverage that even the Toronto media wrote tut-tutting editorials about it.)

But in 1962, outside of Saskatchewan at least, there still tended to be a variety of news sources. Media ownership concentration has served to narrow the range of media voices. In the US, we saw how anyone questioning the political, moral, legal or even military propriety of George W. Bush's Iraqi adventure was completely marginalized in the early days of the Cheney Doctrine. More recently, we have seen the same corporate media lend legitmacy to tinfoil hat conspiracy theories ranging from Barack Obama's birthplace to the way we Canadians are putting our grandparents on iceflows.

The blogosphere has provided an opportunity for citizen-journalists to challenge the corporate media monopoly, just as pamphleteers of an earlier aged challenged their own establishments. And like the pamphleteers, many bloggers choose to be anonymous or semi-anonymous.

Anonymity, of course, can be a problem. Some bloggers use anonymity as a permission to be scandalous, slanderous and dishonest. Others use anonymity to speak truths which would otherwise be costly.

Of late, there have been attempts to silence bloggers by threatening to "out" them, to strip them of their anonymity. Alberta's Tiny Perfect Blogger didn't just shut down the blog, but actually deleted all the content after a commenter threatened to reveal his (her?) identity. The Jurist blogged an TPB's choice to cease blogging, while also explaing his own choice, initially, to blog anonymously and more recently semi-anonymously.

Now, following a successful case in the US, political interests in Ottawa are attempting to use the courts to force Google to strip away the anonymity of Jane and John Smith. Clearly the goal is to silence a potent and widely read critic of the current mayoral administration in Ottawa.

I concede that there may well be particular cases where the public interest is served by stripping a particular blogger of anonymity. If a blogger declared an intention to assassinate a public figure, for example, or to engage in a terrorist act.

But being mean to public figures isn't a criminal act. At least not yet.

So, following on a few other examples (such as here and here) I want to declare to you all that

I am Zero Means Zero!

And just in case anyone doesn't see the point:

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Worth a read

Back to matters principally ecclesiastical, here are three articles worth reading.

The first two pertain to the ongoing Anglican wars, and both from sensible conservatives.

Fr. Tony Clavier blogs about the assorted time warps he experiences. His most telling line, to my mind:

By natural inclination and not virtue I am not inclined to shun those with whom I disagree, for I actually like people, all sorts and conditions of people and my experience informs my unwillingness to join “starter-churches”.

I think that is because he really is Anglican to the depths of his soul.

Fr. Dan Martins blogs about the impasse we currently experience. He concludes by reflecting on the way inwhich the current issue will inevitably be superceded.

For what it’s worth, I am persuaded that, generations from now, neither “side” in the present conflict over sexuality will be proven “right.” Rather, I suspect that both sides will have been shown to be wrong. What our descendants will recognize as “right” will probably be something we are not now imagining. If we are who we say we are as the Church of Jesus Christ, and if the Gospel is what we believe it to be, we will persevere in humble generosity in anticipation of that day.

The third article considers the state of the Church (generically, not merely Anglicanism) in light of business and institutional analytical theories. His most telling comment:

Over the centuries, religion has become institutionalized, and in the process encrusted with elaborate hierarchies, top-heavy bureaucracies, highly specialized roles and reflexive routines. (Kinda like your company, but only more so). Religion won’t regain its relevance until church leaders chip off these calcified layers, rediscover their sense of mission, and set themselves free to reinvent “church” for a new age.

I find things in each article with which I agree and with which I disagree. But all three are worth reading.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Canada and the health reform debate

Even Canadian conservatives are getting tired of how reactionary wingnuts in the US are lying about our health care system here in Canada.

If any of my American readers are interested, here are a couple of videos that respond to the Republican lies.

American interview with a leader from Canadian Doctors for Medicare - including the late Tommy Douglas and a reference to the well known actor Keifer Sutherland.

A video produced for Canadian Doctors for Medicare - including former Saskatchewan Premier Roy Romanow.

A Canadian CONSERVATIVE Senator points out that Mitch McConnell's attacks on Canadian Medicare are not based in facts.

As one of our party leaders said during the last Canadian election, "don't let them tell you it can't be done."

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Random thoughts

Today is an interesting day. In Saskatoon two friends were married. In Kindersley, another was laid to rest. I attended the latter as part of a very long day. Perhaps the length of the day is connected to my general dyspepsia.

In no particular order:

  • I am tired about some Americans lying about our health care system here in Canada.

  • If Louisiana Senator David Vitter doesn't like Canadian health care, he is welcome to stay the heck out of Canada. He is NOT welcome to undermine our health care system.

  • The lunatic fringe in the US apparently like the character Jack Bauer on the Fox series 24. I wish Kiefer Sutherland would shake the crap out of his far right fans by standing up to defend the legacy of his grandfather, the late Saskatchewan Premier and father of Medicare Tommy Douglas.

  • I'm also tired of one particular nutbar at Ruth Gledhill's blog lying about Canada generally - and about our Prime Minister in particular. I happen to think our Prime Minister is a yutz, but to suggest that Stephen Harper is conspiring with a Blocquiste backbencher to institute widespread and non-voluntary euthanasia in Canada is simply beyond the pale. Geoffrey Smith is a liar and a lunatic.

  • While I'm at it, I'm also tired of right wing extremists pretending they speak on behalf of God.

Sunday, August 16, 2009


My party was having its federal convention this past weekend. Inevitably, that meant there were endless rants in various fora about how my party really shouldn't try to win elections because it's more noble to be marginalized but ideologically pure. I was intending to write a post about the inherent evil of deliberate fecklessness. But that got to be far to tedious and tendentious.

So, instead, watch this video. Hat tip to the Mad Priest.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Would I make my children sign a contract?

My daughter has written a sometimes moving, sometimes disturbing, consistently well written and ultimately insightful post over at her blog. She concludes with the sensible observation about my son:

. . . he is still my brother, who despite having bad judgment is still family and will love me and my son as family no matter what.

". . . no matter what."

And that, if I may say, leads me to one of the reasons I find Rowan's Anglican Covenant so profoundly disturbing.

I have said before that, if Anglicans can meet together, no Covenant is necessary - and if Anglicans cannot meet, no Covenant will suffice to heal the breach. The Anglican Communion, no mere federation of the likeminded (indeed, rarely likeminded about anything) is rather like a family. If socialist Aunt Martha and neoconservative Uncle George can sit at the same table, you don't need to write a family contract - and if they can't, no contract will get them both to come for Christmas.

My daughter loves her brother because they are family. My son will love his nephew because they are family. I can't imagine demanding that my daughter and my son sign a contract that they will love me and I them. We are not held together by contracts and laws. We are held together by (if I might borrow from the Anglican Communion's rhetoric) "bonds of affection.

This radical demand that we hold the Anglican family together by law instead of by grace is abhorent - as abhorent as demanding our parents or our children or our siblings sign a contract to love us.

(And before anyone brings up the marriage covenant, I note that there is a difference. My children and my parents and my siblings are family by nature - as the Anglican Communion became a family through natural process. A wedding - or for that matter, an adoption - creates a family by deliberate choice, analagous to the intercommunion between the Anglican Church of Canada and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada or among the Porvoo partners. These relationships are created through a deliberative process.)

Anyway, that all said, I'm signing up for Lionel Deimel's good idea.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Straining on a gnat

There I was, on Saturday, doing my usual daily websurf, when I found my previous post was the lead link at Thinking Anglicans. Heck, there I was, ahead even of Lionel Deimel's excellent essay and the Mad Priest's provocative ecclesio-political analysis. It's all a bit startling.

Unfortunately, I think that Thinking Anglicans missed one of the most excellent blog essays I've read in some time. Tim Chesterton, one of the most thoughtful bloggers from the conservative side of "the issue," has posted a remarkable reflection on why the Anglican Communion, having survived disputes over biblical interpretation, baptismal and eucharistic theology, liturgical practice, pastoral and canonical responses to the breakup of marriages, the ordination of women and most everything else now threatens to collapse over an issue that Jesus (remember him?) never mentioned - not once. In particular, he contrasts our intractability on this issue with both usury (the lending of money at interest) and war.

His answer is not very complimentary at all.

I have a nasty suspicion about the reasons why the Communion is not going to take a stand on these two issues of war and usury. I suspect that the reason has a lot to do with the fact that taking this stand would have an enormous cost for huge numbers of us. Many Anglicans are in fact investment bankers, or stockbrokers, and many, many more take advantage of the modern capitalist system (which is based on usury through and through) to get loans to buy houses and cars and to start businesses and so on. Dissenting from this all-pervasive system would have enormous economic and social consequences for us. And in a similar way, we all depend (or at least, we think we do) on our armies to keep us safe from international rogue states and terrorists and so on. Making a decision to follow Jesus in loving our enemies and refusing to strike back against them would inevitably have deadly consequences: after all, it led Jesus to the Cross, and he assured us it would do the same for us ('take up your cross and follow me').

Sadly, for the vast majority of Anglicans the issue of homosexuality does not carry that personal price-tag. Most of us are straight; we aren't the ones who would be bearing the cross if the church as a whole agreed that same-sex unions are not a legitimate part of a life of following Jesus. Gays and lesbians are an easy target, because there aren't many of them (tho' more, perhaps, than some Christians would like to think).

Jesus (remember him?) refers to those who strain on a gnat yet swallow a camel. His assessment of them isn't very complimentary either.