Monday, February 28, 2011

What are they afraid of?

The No Anglican Covenant Coalition has issued a news release calling on the Church of England and the Anglican Communion Office to stop impeding a full, fair and open debate on the proposed Anglican Covenant. The news release has a point by point record of the steps the people around Archbishop Williams have taken to prevent any meaningful debate and to marginalize dissenters. It concludes with NACC Moderator Lesley Fellows's devastating comment:

“We are not afraid of an open, fair, and honest debate. If the supporters of the Covenant had a stronger case, perhaps they wouldn’t be either.”

In the meantime, some dyspeptic Canadian goes a little bit further in this post at the official NACC blog, Comprehensive Unity.

And why is it that so much of the pro-Covenant case coming out of the establishment reminds me of this:

Dolores Umbridge: I am sorry, dear, but to question my practices is to question the Ministry, and by extension, the Minister himself. I am a tolerant woman, but the one thing I will not stand for is disloyalty.
Minerva McGonagall: Disloyalty?
Dolores Umbridge: Things at Hogwarts are far worse than I feared.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

It isn't the dishonesty - it's the stupidity

So Canadian Minister of State for International Cooperation Roy Orbison . . . er . . . Bev Oda didn't want to approve continued funding for KAIROS, a Canadian ecumenical group that does development work around the world.
Oh well. She's the Minister and I'm not. She gets to decide that. I don't. Such is politics.
Like many people, I think the decision is boneheaded - and appears to be based on nothing but the Harper Conservatives' bizarre belief that anyone who doesn't hate Palestinians is an anti-Semite. (Seriously - the 42 Year Old Vigin Jason Kenney is quite free with accusations of anti-Semitism, and sometimes even directs them against Jews.)
The Conservatives are the government - and thanks to a coalition with Count Ignatieff and the Liberals - they have managed to retain the confidence of the House of Commons for more than five years. As a result, they get to decide which organizations will receive government funding and which ones will not.
If they want to base their decisions on delusional fantasies about anti-Semitism, they get to do that.
But here is the problem. In doing what she had every right to do, Bev Oda lied.
The Sir Humphreys who staff the Canadian International Development Agency were of a mind to continue the CIDA financial support that KAIROS had been receiving for almost 40 years. They prepared a document for the Minister in which they recommended the extension of the grant for another four years.
Now, I've worked in government bureaucracy. It is not at all uncommon for Ministers to decide that they will not take the advice of their officials. It is right and proper, at the end of the day, that the decisions are made by the people who have a Parliamentary mandate to make those decisions and who will be politically accountable for those decisions.
Despite Stephen Harper's bluster and misdirection, no one has disputed Bev Oda's right to suspend the funding - or, more accurately, to reject the proposal to continue funding.
If Bev Oda had the competence God gave a particularly stupid goldfish, she would have sent the documents back to the officials unsigned. She would have informed them that she was not going to approve the funding, and that would have been that. Alternatively, she could have instructed them to prepare another version of the document with an "I do / do not approve" option.
Either way, she had the means to reject the funding application without looking like Roy Orbison's stupider sibling.
Instead, Bev Oda inserted the word "not," in ink, into the wording of the recommendation above the signatures of the senior CIDA officials. She tried to create the false impression that the officials had recommended exactly the opposite of what they had recommended.
In other words, Bev Oda lied.
Not only that, she lied incompetently.
But most of all, she lied unnecessarily.
So for me, it isn't the dishonesty that's shocking. I've known politicians to be dishonest before. Heck, in the great scheme of political dishonesty, this isn't even a big one.
No. For me it's the stupidity.
Lying when you're caught out at something is, if not admirable, at least understandable.
Lying for no reason at all is simply inexcuseable.
In fact, it's just plain dumb.
Bev Oda may not be thrown under the bus immediately - but you can rest assured that her political advancement in the Harper heirarchy is done like dinner. She's an embarrassment - and Harper doesn't like to be embarrassed.
When her political obituary is written within the next year or so, people will blame her demise on the fact that she lied to Parliament and to the people of Canada.
The reality, though, is that she torpedoed her own political career because she is mind-numbingly stupid. The lie is merely a symbol of her incredible incompetence.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Why are the cowards at Sports Illustrated afraid of this ad?

It is a curious form of religious freedom when only certain types of Christians - those of the extreme right - are allowed to buy advertising in the public square.

Sports Illustrated has refused to run this ad. They claim that it was on advice of the legal department that the ad was "too jarring." In fact, it's because Sports Illustrated (most famous for its annual soft porn edition) is published by cowards who are afraid of the so-called Christian right.

Similarly, in 2004, CBS refused to run this ad during the Super Bowl from the United Church of Christ because the ad did not conform to the agenda of the Christian right. Other religious ads - including an anti-choice ad by an NFL player and financed by right wing Christian groups - have been allowed. But because this ad about Jesus radical welcome to even the outcasts and sinners was banned by CBS.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Save Hockey: Fire Bettman, Fire Campbell, Fire Cherry, End Fighting

Bloody enough!

It wasn't a hockey game. It was a disgrace.

A total of 346 penalty minutes (all but four minutes for violence). Ten game misconducts.

The New York Islanders weren't interested in playing hockey at all. This was about violence, intimidation and retaliation.

So why is it that professional football rarely sees fights?

It's because both the CFL and the NFL are run by people who . . . aren't brainless morons. (As bad as CFL officiating usually is, at least thuggish behaviour will get it's comeuppance.)

In professional football, fighting is expensive. In addition to penalty yards assessed, a player who starts a fight is almost certain to be expelled from the game and significantly fined.

In hockey, idiots like Don Cherry celebrate the brawlers, incompetents like Campbell tolerate the brawers, and fools like Bettman . . . well, hasn't Bettman already demonstrated that he doesn't have the talent to run a roadside lemonade stand?

I've long since stopped watching the pathetic joke that these useless jackasses pretend is a professional sports league. I'll happily watch international hockey - y'know, games where actual hockey and actually athletic skill still matter.

But the NHL? Why bother?

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Small victories

Despite the odds, the quixotic little band that decided to stand up against the proposed Anglican Covenant had two small victories in the past couple of days.

Admittedly, the setbacks still hold the higher tally, with three provinces having approved the Covenant (Mexico, Myanmar and West Indies).

And then there was the background document produced by the Church of England - a purely one sided puff piece that would have put Pravda or Izhvestia to shame. I'm advised that background material on controversial issues has always included a balance of material and a reasonable presentation of the case for each side. However, Dr. Williams believes that such institutional integrity and fairness no longer has a place in Anglicanism.

Nonetheless, two little victories this week.

First, in the Diocese of Oxford (CofE). Details are a bit sketchy, and I can find nothing on the diocesan website. Yet I am advised that, while the Bishop of Oxford asked the diocesan synod to pass the Covenant, the synod chose instead to refer it for further discussion to the deanery synods.

More substantively, perhaps, was the discussion in the Diocese of East Carolina (TEC), which passed a fairly comprehensive resolution which not only did not approve the Covenant, but expressly and specifically rejected it in its present form. Indeed, the final clause of the resolution refers to:

. . . our desire that any future Covenant presented to the Episcopal Church represent more truly, with greater clarity and full recognition of voices of laity and clergy, our Anglican tradition and Christian faith.

But it's the whereas clauses that make me smile most of all, with their incisive deconstruction of the power grab inbuilt in this curializing Covenant.


Whereas we believe the Anglican Communion Covenant raises the four "Instruments of Unity" to the status of governing bodies with unprecedented power

Whereas the Anglican Communion Covenant provides no right of appeal to the judgement of the newly empowered Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion


. . . creating a Church of full members, second class members and former members

. . . the Anglican Communion Covenant asks that we submit our processes of discernment to the will of an ill-defined body without checks and balances

All in all, a pretty good summary of why this proposed Anglican Covenant is an incredibly bad idea that deserves to be tossed on the trash heap of history.
I'm just waiting for the Bishop of St. Asaph to go all Godwin on them.