Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Time to drop the Sally Field act - Guest Post

Roger Currie, local radio personality and also a parishioner, does a regular editorial piece called Currie's Corner. With Roger's permission, I am reprinting the April 27, 2010 edition. You can listen to the piece (at least for a few days) here.

Isn’t it about time the province of Saskatchewan stopped behaving like Sally Field at Oscars in 1985? That was the night she picked up her second gold statue for “Places in the Heart” and proclaimed “You like me. Right now, you really like me”.

This province gets a cover in Saturday’s Report on Business in the Globe and Mail, and some people still feel that a party must be thrown. The article, written by Gordon Pitts, proclaimed Saskatchewan has “arrived”, and the rest of the world now recognizes us for the prosperous place that we are. He rattled off a ton of numbers which basically proclaimed that “we’re number one”.

Pardon me if I offer up a news editor’s reaction .. “nothing new in that piece”. Saskatchewan has been the economic leader among provinces for the past two or three years, depending on which indicator you care to look at.

The only thing that WAS new in Gordon’s story was the fact that a Porsche dealership is about to open in Saskatoon for the first time. I find that a bit of a dubious indicator, not unlike the running gag Winnipeg went through about getting an IKEA store. By the way, it WILL be opening in the Manitoba city later this year.

Who knows .. maybe Regina might finally get an Olive Garden. Seriously, I hope we’ll soon be able to finally cast off the mentality that says “Saskatchewan is next year country” and “it’s not our turn yet”.

Of greater importance to me, instead of measuring our prosperity by the number of high end places there are to spend money, I’d rather see a measurement of how we’re doing at taking care of those at the other end of the scale. What percentage of our people regularly use food banks?

Watching that number go down would give me greater joy that watching sales of fancy cars go up.

For 620 CKRM, I’m Roger Currie.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Imagine if the Tea Party was Black - Tim Wise

Imagine that hundreds of black protesters were to descend upon Washington DC and Northern Virginia, just a few miles from the Capitol and White House, armed with AK-47s, assorted handguns, and ammunition. And imagine that some of these
protesters —the black protesters — spoke of the need for political revolution, and possibly even armed conflict in the event that laws they didn’t like were
enforced by the government? Would these protester — these black protesters with guns — be seen as brave defenders of the Second Amendment, or would they be viewed by most whites as a danger to the republic? What if they were Arab-Americans? Because, after all, that’s what happened recently when white gun enthusiasts descended upon the nation’s capital, arms in hand, and verbally announced their readiness to make war on the country’s political leaders if the need arose.

Read the whole piece at Ephphatha Poetry.

I do think that the post is slightly off the mark in one area. While clearly the far right forces driving the Tea Party movement are entirely devoted to defending the privilege of wealthy whites, the mass of Tea Party protesters are the manipulated working class and underclass whites who have only ever had limited access to the white privilege they are unwittingly defending. In that respect, the average Tea Party dufous is more to be pitied than feared. They have been tricked into trying to protect a system which preys on them every bit as much as it preys on non-whites.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Better Bill Shatner than Preston Manning

The Facebook group calling for the appointment of William Shatner as the next Governor General of Canada now has more than 21,000 people liking it. (Not sure why it's structured as like rather than join, but what do I know.)

Really, I'm not sure what I think about the idea of Captain Kirk following the current GG, Michaëlle Jean. I am, however, convinced that T.J. Hooker would be a better choice than washed-up Reform Party washed-up supremo Preston Manning.

Many on the Canadian right have demonstrated a proclivity for interpreting our constitutional conventions purely on the basis of partisan advantage. Thus, when Stephen Harper is Leader of the Opposition, he can (correctly) argue that the defeat of the government in the early days of a minority Parliament allows the possibility that the Governor General should seek to determine if one or more of the opposition parties might be able to form a stable government. But when Stephen Harper is Prime Minister, he can (dishonestly) argue that any attempt to replace a minority government is a "coup."

Would I expect any more integrity from Preston Manning?

Well, given that Presto only opposed the Charlottetown Accord when he realized the potential political payoff, no, not really.

So, given a choice between Denny Crane and Preston Manning to be the Governor General of Canada, I'm quite prepared to go for the Priceline / All-Bran pitchman.

On the condition that Governor General promises never to sing - apart from either O Canada or God Save the Queen . . . and only as part of the crowd . . . and even then, sotto voice.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Former Archbishop of Canterbury starts UK teabag movement - (Updated with Gledhill video)

I've never had much use for George Carey, even when he was Archbishop of Canterbury. On the death of his predecessor, Lord Runcie, I remarked that there were now no living former Archbishops of Canterbury and hoped that the shortfall would soon be remedied. George Carey allowed the 1998 Lambeth Conference to be hijacked by hate. While still in office, he did all in his power to advance the re-ordering of the Anglican Communion according to the alien ecclesiology of the Amero-African right.

Ever since being replaced as Primate of All England by the backbone deficient Rowan Williams, Carey has taken every opportunity to undermine his successor and stir the pot. I don't recall Robert Runcie ever behaving such an ass, nor Michael Ramsey. Geoffrey Fisher was apparently addicicted to inappropriate public attacks on his successor, so perhaps it's only the evangelical ex-Cantuars who feel the need to behave like prats.

In any event, the most recent bilge emerging from Lord Carey of Clifton should be sufficient proof that the man hasn't got the sense God gave a squirrel, nor the integrity God gave a stoat.

Sane people will have trouble believing what he said. In fact, he makes the average American teabagger sound the very exemplar of moderation and common sense.

According to George. Christians are being persecuted in the United Kingdom.

No, he seriously said that.


In a state where Christian churches are the official religion in the two largest of the four subsidiary countries; in a state where the head of state must, by law, be a member of one of those churches; in a state where 26 goombahs with silly hats are automatically accorded standing in a national legislative body on account of their seniority in their religious denomination; in a state where retiring bishops and retiring senior clergy from other Christian denominations are routinely appointed to the same legislative body; in a state where the national broadcaster is required by law to cover religious affairs; in a state where the national government makes significant financial contributions to the upkeep of several historic places of worship still used for that purpose; in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Christians are "persecuted."

Too rich, really. This is beyond satire.

Perhaps George would like to go to certain parts off the world where Christians are actually persecuted. Last week, dozens of Christians, including small children, were murdered in Jos, Nigeria. Not so long ago, Christian places of worship in Pakistan have been attacked. Likewise Christian neighbourhoods in Cairo have been attacked.

Then, perhaps George could just shut his festering gob and stop talking nonsense.

George, you are an embarrassment to the Church.

I can't figure out how to embed the video, but here is Times of London religion correspondent Ruth Gledhill saying much the same thing, albeit without quite so much contempt for George's foolishness.

Andrew Brown in The Guardian.

Stephen Bates in The Guardian.

Here's Ruth's video:

Monday, April 12, 2010

Scandals - and how to make them worse

The gospels don't describe very many occasions where Jesus directly interacted with children. There is the episode, recounted in all the gospels, where Jesus tells the Twelve to let the children come to him. But perhaps the more startling is the episode in the synoptic gospels where Jesus warns of dire consequences for those who cause the little ones to stumble.

‘If any of you put a stumbling-block
before one of these little ones who believe in me,
it would be better for you
if a great millstone were fastened around your neck
and you were drowned in the depth of the sea.'
That's pretty serious.
In recent weeks (and on occasion over the last several years), one is moved to wonder what folk in the Vatican think about that passage.
Or if they think about it at all.
I have no interest in claiming that my church or any other is without sin in this regard. The residential schools issue is a blot on all the major churches that existed at the time. The best thing to be said for Anglicans in that regard is that our then-Primate, Michael Peers, was the first to offer an apology for the abuse experienced by far too many children in those schools - and did so in the face of significant criticism from the Anglican right.
But for our Roman Catholic brothers and sisters, the scandal isn't even any longer the thousands of cases of sexual abuse of children from around the globe. As scandalous as that is, I don't think most reasonable people blame entire institutions for the actions of individuals. And, despite the overheated rhetoric in some quarters, there is no particular evidence to support that Roman Catholic priests are more likely to be sexual abusers or paedophiles than any other professional / vocational demographic.
While each act of sexual abuse - which is always an abuse of power - is undeniably scandalous, it isn't the acts of sexual abuse themselves that are fuelling the rage that many reasonable feel towards the Roman heirarchy. It is the perception that the institution has protected abusers, covered up abuse, placed additional children at risk and left victims to bear the brunt of an institution's failings.
The evidence does seem to suggest that, at least some of the time, the Roman heirarchy has been guilty of precisely that. Some evidence does seem to suggest that Benedict XVI may be implicated in some of those cases; one from when he was Archbishop of Munich and others while he was head of the Holy Office. The evidence isn't quite as clear as some critics would suggest, but it does seem to call for a response.
To no small degree, public anger has been exacerbated by Rome's own stupidity and incompetence in dealing with the issue. The institutional stonewall, from a public relations perspective, is stupid enough. To start whinging that any criticism of the Pope or the Curia is rooted in anti-catholicc bigotry is utterly idiotic. To compare these criticisms to mid-20th-century anti-semitism is simply evil. (The Pope still has the authority to silence troblesome preachers. Benedict would be well-advised to silence Raniero Cantalamessa, an embarrassment to the entire Franciscan tradition. Someone so manifestly ignorant of the gospel should not be preaching it.)
David Clohessy, who speaks for an organization of those who have survived priestly abuse, pretty much nailed the odiousness of Cantalamessa's vile spew.

"It's heartbreaking to see yet another
smart, high-ranking Vatican official
making such callous remarks
that insult both abuse victims and Jewish people.
It's morally wrong to equate actual physical violence and hatred
against a large group of innocent people
with mere public scrutiny of a small group of complicit officials."
As a PR professional, I'd give Benedict the same advice I'd give any client caught in scandal.
1. Stop digging yourself deeper.
2. Come clean.
3. Admit your mistakes.
4. Apologize. To victims. Directly.
5. Commit yourself to addressing the problems - not only the abuse, but the institutional mishandling of both abusers and abused.
6. Follow through on that commitment.
Or, if I can sum it all up in one point:
1. Do the right thing, finally.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Sarah Palin declares the teachings of Jesus "unacceptable."

The relevant piece begins at 0:54 to 1:02. Yet another example of how those who pretend to be Christians so manifestly hate the words of Jesus.

"If anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also."
Matthew 5:39

The rest of the piece is simply further rejectionist spew.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Quo in capite Pu ac Porcellus venatum produent et paene vusillum captant

Porcellus in domo magnifica media in fago habitabat, fagus media in silva erat et Porcellus media in domo vivebat. Apud domum tabula quaedan fracta erat, ita inscripta: 'Transitus Ve'. Cum Christophorus Robinus Porcellum rogavit, quid hoc significaret, iste dixit, id nomen avi esse et per longum tempus in familia fuisse. Negavit Christophorus Robinus aliquem 'Transitus Ve' vocare posse, sed Porcellus in sententia perseveravit, quia scilicet avus suus ita vocabatur et erat 'Transitus Vehi' breviter complexus, quod erat 'Transitus Vehilius' breviter complexus. Avo duo nomina fuerant ne uno amisso innominatus eveniret - Transitus post patrem et Vehilius post Transitum.

'Etiam mihi,' dixit neglectim Christophorus Robinus, 'duo sunt nomina.'

'Ecce tibi, quod demonstrandum erat,' dixit Porcellus.

et cetera

Sunday, April 4, 2010


Having made, by his incarnation, an acting of stunning solidarity with our humanity; having lived a human life; having accepted to die in the most painful manner possible; Jesus, Emmanuel, God With Us experiences the depth of human despair. The stunning cry of the God forsaken God.
And having lived and died as one of us, he has risen from the grave, destroying the power of death forever.

Or, as Facebook would have it:

Jesus is online again. Alleluia!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Poisson d'avril

In case any of my Canadian readers haven't yet figued it out, the previous post was an April Fools prank - poisson d'avril.

Within minutes of posting the link on Facebook late last night, I had a response from a leading trade union figure in BC who had swallowed the poisson hook, line and sinker. In the morning, I had a panicked phone call from the NDP candidate referred to by name - who realized the date just as I was answering the phone. The spouse of the deputy leader of the party in another province spent the morning getting increasingly angry - until the poisson dropped. The news (though not the link) were forwarded to a federal NDP discussion list where incredulity reigned.

I didn't hear back from Lorne Calvert. Pat Atkinson thought it was great fun, and wondered what her father would say. (I imagine that it couldn't be printed on a priest's blog.)

Pundits' Guide, Canada's pre-eminent political data aggregator site, sent the story to Twitter, where it subsequently went viral. (I'm not sure if PG was fooled or was helping the fun to grow.)

I've received an email indicating that the Sun Media chain contacted Count Ignatieff's office seeking confirmation of the story.

Not a bad April Fools Day fishing for a Simple Massing Priest from Regina.

Lorne Calvert to run for Ignatieff Liberals

Just heard some appalling news directly from one of the people involved.

Federal Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff will be flying into Regina this morning to announce the appointment of former Saskatchewan NDP Premier Lorne Calvert as the Liberal Party candidate in the Palliser constituency. Calvert is originally from Moose Jaw, and had represented the city in the Saskatchewan Legislature in the days prior to becoming Premier. If successful, Calvert would be the third former NDP premier on Ignatieff's front bench, alongside former Ontario Premier Bob Rae and former BC Premier Ujjal Dossanjh.

This is a major blow to nominated NDP candidate Noah Evanchuk. The NDP had been targetted Palliser as one of their best chances in Saskatchewan, where the party of Tommy Douglas has been shut out for three straight elections.

From Regina, Ignatieff will proceed to Saskatoon to announce the appointment of former provincial NDP Minister Pat Atkinson as the Liberal candidate in Saskatoon - Rosetown - Biggar. Atkinson, who is still an NDP front bencher in the Saskatchewan Legislature has always been seen as a party stalwart, consistently hostile to overtures from the federal Liberals.

On this blog, there is little love for the Liberal Party in general, and even less for turncoats and quislings. Many will know that this blogger was very close to one of these individuals. The sense of betrayal is palpable. The Simple Massing Priest comes to this day with a wounded heart.