Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Where have I been for the past week?

Okay, I'll be the first to admit that, frankly, my blog-rate stinks. For those of you who drop by regularly (I know you're few, but dedicated), my apologies. I get too caught up in other things sometimes.

For instance, aside from regular life demands (such as putting in the garden last weekend), I've been spending a bit more time cruising through the blogs of those on the left side of the aisle (and thank you for the hospitality, I might add). It's interesting to see those on the left on their own turf, although I might also add that I've enjoyed chewing the cud with those of you who make it to my side of the aisle to hash out ideas.

I have one immediate peeve that comes to mind, one which I've posted in a couple of places on the left already: when left-leaners describe their political spectrum, it seems to go from "hard right" all the way to the most extreme on the other side; what they like to call "moderate". What gives? Isn't it extremely obvious that this is unbalanced and bias-laden? I'll be adding quite a few more blogs and sites to my blog soon (I'd start now, but don't have all the details at work), and (as my brother likes to tease me) "I'm tempted to consider" making my spectrum from "extreme leftist wacko" to "smack dab in the middle".

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Sleeping with the Enemy?

There have been a lot of metaphors thrown around Canadian politics these days - one of the less-examined has been that of the CPC and BQ being 'in bed together'. It is my intent to explore the validity of this particular statement - I got to thinking about it especially after my Uncle used it to speak poorly about these two parties when the topic of Canadian politics came on the weekend.

I am not a political purist (as those of you who know me hopefully realize already). I tend to support whatever politician (and to a lesser extent, whatever party) I think will most effectively further my political vision. I don't happen to consistently fall under the umbrella of any party, although it would be safe to classify me as a CPC supporter currently. If I come across as an apologist for the above parties, it's because I think the above metaphor is being used simplistically and generally, wrongly.

Are BQ MP's legitimate parliamentarians? They were elected properly according to Canada's electoral system. Although there have been cranks arguing otherwise, if there was some good reason to doubt their validity, they could be, and should have been, removed from office. Therefore, a certain segment of Canada's population (in Quebec) were willing to cast their vote for these candidates. If nobody is contesting their validity, why should everybody treat them like they have the plague and not work with them? Is it possible that BQ goals may sometimes be consistent with, say, CPC, goals? Could (at least some of) their goals be consistent with a vision of Canada that will see Quebec as a strong and vital part of Canada? Can Canada's political system, in light of the current scandals, honestly afford not to look at ideas that may help to clean it up and renew it? In fact, conservatives often argue against a large central government precisely because it invites unaccountable corruption and regional bickering.

Many people who see the CPC and BQ working together to bring down the Liberals, see it as a betrayal of Canadian interests. Is it fair to assume that those in Quebec who vote for the BQ share all of its aspirations, including the most relevant one, which is the separation of Quebec from Canada? If the past is any guide, more people are willing to vote for the BQ, and their strong pro-Quebec views, than are willing to vote for outright separation. From this alone, it should be concluded that some, perhaps many, BQ supporters see them as a vehicle to advance Quebec's interests in Canada, without accepting the final goal of separation. They've had several opportunities to vote for separation and haven't done so, even aside from the questions of the legality of such a vote if it did succeed. If the voters themselves don't necessarily see a vote for the BQ as a vote to separate from Canada, why should another party completely avoid them? Wouldn't it make more sense to engage their concerns, and find ways to blend these with a stronger Canada? Isn't Stephen Harper one of the main brains behind the Clarity Act, which I'm told is one of the more effective tools in keeping separatist ambitions honest? Doesn't his record here give him some credibility in dealing with the separatists?

The CPC is in favour of less government, and more local autonomy. This, in itself, is a view that can arguably be shared by the BQ and the CPC, without necessarily leading to a broken Canada. It could be argued that the current path isn't doing a great job, and with the Liberal scandals, actually seems to be making things worse. Conversely, the NDP/Liberal image of a strong (and monstrously large) central government, has done much to feed local (Western, Quebec) alienation and desires for separation, since the central government doesn't seem capable of limiting its role on its own. Could it not be argued that continued large central government intrusions will contribute more to Canada's break-up than any regional movements?

For the time being, it appears as though the CPC and BQ share the singular goal of bringing down the Liberal minority government. This is the right, and duty I'd argue, of the opposition parties. Indeed, until the NDP found they could get monetary promises from the Liberals, they were united with the CPC and BQ in seeking the end of Liberal rule. Or should the CPC automatically oppose bringing the government down, simply because the BQ favour it? If the Liberals fall from power (long overdue), we can reasonably assume that all three opposition parties will gain at their expense. While possible, a CPC majority doesn't seem likely at this point. Instead, we would probably have a CPC minority, which would be dependent on some opposition support for each particular initiative. This situation would almost certainly lead to less centralization, as both the CPC and BQ have a stake in less federal power.

I don't think the CPC and BQ is opportunistic, in the sense of personal party gain for power's sake. As the duly-elected representatives of 50% of the country, they have the duty to hold the government to account, and if necessary, to defeat that government to force a new election (where, once again, WE get to decide Parliament's make-up). If we're not in favour of voting/paying for elections, I should expect to see at least as much concern over the 4 opportunistically-called elections of the Liberals since they came to power in 1993. Paying for the right to vote is one of the necessary costs of living in a democracy. If it's what it takes to get good government, or at least better government, then that's one tax dollar I don't mind paying.

A Wealth of Catholic Information

Now that I've turned you off with the title of this post, allow me to encourage you to dig deeply into the following web site. It has been a most useful collection of interesting, relevant essays connecting Catholic ideals and ideas to the real world.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Cyrano is today's Kaiser King

If you're from Saskatchewan, chances are that you've heard of the card game Kaiser. I've got a membership for a Saskatoon-based on-line version of the game - quite good, with the added feel of members based close to home. Anyway, just a small self-plug about how well I (and my partner, Dr Groove) played tonight, taking the tournament in a rather decisive manner.

The info/download site for the game is here.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Regina Blogging

It being the long weekend and all, we went home to visit my parents and assorted relatives this weekend. The rain and wind kept us inside yesterday (except for my brother-in-law, who was playing golf in the valley for a friend's stag party when the storm started). One curiosity that came up, an uncle who I quite get along with, stated that all politicians are the same and the CPC are 'in bed with' the Bloq. I'm afraid this was his justification to not get too worked up over the continuing Liberal scandals in far-away Ottawa. We didn't have time to fully discuss it, so I thought I'd dedicate a post to it (not this one) and see if I can reasonably argue against that perception, because my gut reaction is that it's not a very good argument.

Back to the weekend - today is sunny and warm - in fact I'm ready for an afternoon nap. There is a possibility that I'll be helping the previously-mentioned brother-in-law design/build a shed, which would interrupt the much-desired nap. On the other hand, we came here to spend time with these folks, and I do quite enjoy building things of my own creation (especially when I don't have to pay for materials). A short nap now may be the best I can hope for.

Last night, 3 of my sisters and I joined the stag as it wound down (my sisters know some of the guys). It was cruder than I'm used to, but otherwise fun.


Thursday, May 19, 2005

I was wrong

Yes, I've been spending the last few hours dealing with the fact that today's vote didn't go as I'd hoped. To my (slightest) defence, I don't recall hearing anything more about the tape(s) of Grewal in conversation with Government members trying to bribe him (or whatever leftist spin you wish to put on it instead). It must have been a fool's hope to expect that apparent direct evidence of political corruption would arrest the path of the bullet mentioned yesterday. Now, if you can excuse me, I need to go nurse some wounds.

A Dodged Bullet

I am positively giddy tonight (that's why I'm posting so late at night).

I suspect Paul Martin and quite a few other government ministers won't be quite so happy. While I wish the man and his henchmen no personal harm - I can't adequately describe the elation I feel that Mr. Gerwal's audiotape is bringing to me. There is finally undeniable proof that the Liberals have been operating illegally, in a way that even the most die-hard supporters will not be able to flippantly explain away. I fully expect them to lose the budget vote tomorrow, and for us to enter an election forthwith. Don't get me wrong, the Liberals are not the almighty satan (although perhaps he is using them as a temporary 'incarnation'); and the Conservatives certainly may occupy that position some day. I have felt for a long time now (years, it seems) as though Canada is in democratic free-fall - the events in Ottawa of late have only accelerated that feeling, until the audiotape; to me, it's like a branch that we have to enable us to climb out of the abyss we have known for so long now.

If we were not able to cling to something, ANYTHING, to restore some credibility to our public institutions, then I believe the bullet that is currently being dodged would have found its way into our thick craniums, with unpredictable results.

As someone else recently said, certainly the Saints are praying for us now.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Belinda Stronach à la Cyrano

I've been following the comments in Andrew Coyne's thread about Belinda Stronach's floor-crossing debacle yesterday. If your constitution is weak (as Canada's is now, arguably), I thought I'd save you all the unsavory comments made about her - frankly, I think much of it is unclassy and gives non-conservatives an excuse not to listen to the arguments. We don't need to be giving people excuses not to consider thoughtful arguments, because that will leave them feeling justified in their prejudices.

So, I am compiling the classier comments regarding Belinda S.'s floor-crossing spectacle yesterday. I take Cyrano de Bergerac as my inspiration, who, though fictional, would never stoop to a base remark, when there are so many refined ways of saying, essentially, the same thing. Enjoy:

I can think of no better than Paul Wells', to begin with, "she's absolutely a match for most of the rest of [the Liberal] Cabinet in talent and intellect".

"Belinda's move will increase the integrity of both the Liberals and the Conservatives"

When Mr. Harper was informed that Belinda's move was due to her view that he didn't understand the complexity of Canada, he responded, "I've never noticed complexity to be one of her strengths." Ouch.

Anne Kingston, writing in the Post, "However you phrase it, it's obvious Belinda Stronach has found her spiritual home, at least for now."

Surely, a little meditation will produce more of that caliber. Drop any of your own, or that you've seen (with a source, if possible), in the comments - after a quick review, I'll add the crème de la crème.

New Class of Constitutional Scholars

It seems like everybody on the right side of the blogosphere became a constitutional scholar over the weekend, myself included. Michael Bliss's (the real thing) article in the National Post warned of the unprecedented situation Paul Martin has dragged Canada into, ignoring centuries of historical conventions while he ignored 4 clear non-confidence votes last week (okay, at the least, the 3 adjournments are indisputably non-confidence - the first one MIGHT be debatable). In Westminster Parliamentary tradition, Paul Martin was REQUIRED to demonstrate that his government has the confidence of the House of Representatives on Wednesday of last week. The fact that our Governor-General hasn't called him on this calls into question her impartiality. The outrageous situation we are in now could have been fully avoided if Paul Martin had fulfilled his mandated role last week. Instead, he continues to play loose and fast with the democratic traditions that have been part of all Westminster traditions for longer than any of us can remember. The situation has gone from bad to worse, as his plea to wait until this coming Thursday for the budget vote, which initially just looked like a delayed non-confidence vote, is now in question whether he will even lose that vote, given the defection of Belinda Stronach from the Conservatives to the Liberals. So if the Liberals survive the budget vote, does that mean that the non-confidence votes of last week don't count at all? This is where Paul Martin has taken us, all in his quest to hold onto power. And people call Stephen Harper scary?

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

You're Driving me Mad (muahahahahahaha)

I'll understand perfectly if you just skip over this post, because everybody has their own road peeves (things that other drivers do that drive them crazy). This is my cathartic experience for driving in Calgary.

First off, I should mention that I like driving in Calgary - for a big (by Cdn standards) city, traffic flows well, road rage is very low, roads are well-planned, scenic, etc. If anything, people out here are a little too polite and cautious.

For example, Calgary has got to be the nicest city in the world in which to merge - if there are two or even three lanes that narrow to fewer lanes, it's understood that we'll just take turns letting people in, every second vehicle. Where it grates on me is where a sign will announce "construction, 1 km ahead; right lane ends" - most of us (a little sheep-like, admittedly), merge right away out of the right lane - however, a few drive in the right lane right up to the merging pylons, and, kind drivers they are, Calgarians will let them in, every second car; no matter that they just jumped the 4 km line that I'm diligently waiting in. Ok, this one has an easy solution - I just need to stay in the right lane myself, right?

Calgarians also like to slow down for school zones and playground zones, which is great - except when it's 7 in the morning, 90 minutes before they come into effect (my first 'issue' I encountered this morning). I'm not sure what those drivers are thinking as I'm inches behind their bumper, encouraging them to go faster than 30 km/hr. They see me there, and think, "I'll teach that yahoo a lesson, I'll slow down to 20 km/hr". Teach me indeed. I know somebody who actually passes them as though on the highway when they drive thusly (which infuriates them, I hear)(and wouldn't recommend).

People who ride their bikes on the road are another grain of sand in my shoe. Sure, it's great you're being healthy, getting exercise, not polluting, yada yada yada. Just please get out of my way if you're going to bike 25 km/hr! Eventually, everybody behind the biker slows down and passes said biker by skootching over to the other lane (effectively making a 2 lane road into a 1 laner). There should be a law against this.

Last thing that's got my shorts in a bind are the intersection cameras, mostly for red light runners. I admit, I've been caught once by such a beastly invention - although it's not (just) because of this fact that I loathe them. They change how I think about driving, and not for the better. When I'm approaching an intersection that has one of these cameras, I start to think differently. I don't think, "How should I be driving right now?"; I switch to, "Whatever it takes, I won't get photo'd by the camera," which, surprisingly, makes for less pleasant experiences for all in the immediate environment. For example, if there is the slightest chance of being in the intersection during even a yellow light, the people behind me had better have good brakes, because I'm not taking that chance. I think these intersection cameras lack the judgement of an actual officer who would have to decide if what I did was the safest course of action - and automatically handing out a ticket based on a picture is not the best way to promote the safest driving.

Monday, May 16, 2005

SSM and "Traditional" Marriage

First of all, I loathe the term "traditional marriage", because it automatically calls into question the time-honoured definition of what "marriage" has always meant. People are welcome to debate why marriage should or shouldn't be expanded to include same sex couples, but don't start the debate by conceding the most relevant term of the debate. Anyway, I recently posted something similar to the below, and in case anyone happens over this way and wishes to discuss it further, please feel so inclined. Cheers!

Somebody correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe Natural Law played a large role in the development of our laws related to moral issues. Natural law is in harmony with Catholic moral teaching, but it isn't necessarily religious in and of itself. Natural has been a sufficient basis for many of our laws in the past, and may continue to do so, with or without further religious arguments.

When it comes to marriage, all societies throughout history, no matter their religious views, have exalted and protected what is now being called 'traditional marriage', simply because the environment that children are produced in should be a protected one, for the sake of the children, and ultimately for the sake of societal stability. Our divorce-friendly culture has undermined marriage incredibly for several decades now - I doubt there would be the slightest desire to even consider SSM if marriage in general was healthy in society - I think this, in itself, says something about what SSM really represents. Fundamentally, SSM is a continuation of the separation between having children and being in a committed relationship. Society has no special interest in giving special status to relationships that don't (have the capacity to) produce children. With a fertile heterosexual marriage, there is always the possibility of procreation. Infertility in a marriage isn't as big an impediment as some make it sound because it's not always permanent, and couples often take steps to overcome infertility.

What about SS couples with children? The second reason to specially support hetero marriage is because of the opposite sex influence/role modelling that children receive from having one of each parent. Despite what trendy types say, there are inherent differences between the sexes, and they tend to be complementary. As a father of several children, I have seen my children grow, and despite any conscious effort on my part or my wife's, they react differently to each of us. These differences are part of the balance that each child deserves.

One last, less positive point - SS relationships are generally less stable than hetero (although the immorality of some heterosexuals have occasionally competed with them). If children become part of the equation, they are more likely to grow up in an unstable situation - a large part of the argument against gay adoption, as well. Male same sex relationships are particularly known for promiscuity (I think most any gay man would admit as much), many times moreso than the 'average' promiscuous heterosexual person. Even within many 'committed' gay male relationships, there is an understanding that there will be partners on the side. Children don't deserve this kind of environment, whether it's heterosexual or homosexual in nature.

As a small aside, I disagree with the CPC position on SS unions. I think our country, to have any real sense of what marriage is supposed to be, should roll back the clock on some of the laws that have eroded marriage these past years. Easy divorce (at least when children are involved) should go the way of the dinosaur; as well as the tendency to give hetero 'civil unions' many of the same privileges as marriages (if they don't want to commit, why treat them as though they have committed?).

I'm testing to see if these borrowed links for "Natural Law" work in here:


It looks like they should work fine.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Subsidiarity - Some thoughts (okay, and a rant or two)

On several occasions recently, the concept of "subsidiarity" has come up. It's one of those things that I find extremely enlightening, in the sense that much of the political mess that I see in current (Canadian, especially) society can be attributed to politicians slapping this word in the face, then going back to what they were already doing - our slow 'enslavement' becomes understandable through understanding the term.

I could (and may later) find a good on-line definition for the term, but I'll do it from memory for now (Update: here's a definition from Wikipedia). Essentially, it means allowing/encouraging/strenghtening those levels of society closest to the needs/problems in society to actually deal with those needs and problems. For example, expecting the family to teach sex ed, simply because there is no other institution that can adequately respond to imparting knowledge/values/etc. organically as the child is ready to receive it.

Of course, that wasn't the topic that brought up the term. No, it came up as people have been wrestling/debating why the heck the federal Liberal Party is doing everything in its power to promise money to everybody else in Canada to solve every perceived need and problem. Why should one far-removed institution attempt to be this central to the daily lives of every bloody person in this country? Whatever happened to dealing with things locally (including the collecting of funds to do so locally, instead of asking for/expecting money from somebody in Ottawa)?

Canada has long neglected subsidiarity - witness federal campaigns waged on 'funding for health care', when health care is under provincial jurisdiction. Much of the squabbling in our country from region to region would disappear almost overnight if we didn't expect the federal government to collect taxes for everything and then return them to us to pay for everything. If, instead, provincial issues were taxed and completely dealt with provincially, provincial governments would be under the gun to become more efficient, instead of our premiers running off to Ottawa to beg for more alms from our federal benefactors. It seems like a certainty to me that Canadians would talk less harshly about each other if we weren't constantly given these reasons to resent each other.

I've been thinking of Canadians (in light of Paul Martin's "I'll spend as much of your money as it takes to buy your votes and stay in power tour") as pigs at a trough. If you've ever seen it (and many of you have more than I), you'll know that they fight each other to get their share. How would it be if they were allowed to find their own little area to wander in and feed, instead of being at the mercy of the slop-provider who put them in the pen in the first place. As far as I can tell, we are slowly being smothered of our freedom.

Friday, May 13, 2005


As a long-time HHGTTG fan, I must confess I'm scared to go see the new movie. My shaky knees are somewhat assuaged (mixed metaphors, I know) by the LOTR movies, which didn't destroy my impression of the books tooo badly. However, HHGTTG has been horrendously done before (sorry to say, by the brits themselves) - brits just don't get the realism thing. If I watch a movie, I actually want the emotional satisfaction of feeling like it's true, even if my head knows darn well that it's not. The other thing is that in the movie trailer I noticed Marvin looks nothing like I envisioned him from the books. I will go see it eventually, when I work up the courage.

While I'm waiting, here's a little something Vogon-esque to think about:

O freddled gruntbuggly,
thy nacturations are to me,
As plurdled gabbleblotchits,
on a lurgid bee.
Groop, I implore thee,
[m]y foonting turlingdromes,
And hooptiously drangle me
with crinkly bindlewurdles
or I will rend thee [in the] gobblewarts,
[with my blurglecruncheon]
See if I don't!

(done from memory, I confess)
[corrected after checking the book]

32,000 and counting

Okay, this has nothing to do with how much money the Liberals have been promising since Paul Martin's sob story on national tv about how we should 'wait for Gomery' (the actual number, using the conservative 9 billion figure, is about $5000 per second).

This is a happy post!!!

Our family is 32,000 days old today, and we celebrated by heading out to the park for a weiner roast and some soccer. We also threw in a wade across the creek - which my youngest son was ready to do in his skivvies, until I told him to pull his shorts back up.

See you again at the next one.

Thank you for the integrity, Mr. Broadbent

I am very grateful to the federal NDP (particularly Ed Broadbent - and Alexa McDonough, apparently) for their open offer to 'pair' with seriously ill Conservative MPs when it comes to the budget confidence vote next week, and simply abstain from the vote if the MP they are paired with cannot also vote due to illness. Stephen Harper accepted the offer as a decent and honourable gesture of Mr. Broadbent, considering the situation.

Personally, I think Mr. Broadbent is probably very happy to have an honourable way to absent himself from a sickening Liberal/NDP coalition vote. Sickening, largely because the NDP lost a lot of their moral 'high ground' in joining with the Liberals in the first place. Tactically, the NDP may be able to make major inroads into Liberal support on the left side of that party - although they have probably lost much of that opportunity by propping up the Liberals as much as they have. In any case, thank you, Mr. Broadbent, for doing the decent and honourable thing.

Earlier this week, after the first vote of four (so far) that can reasonably be interpreted as a non-confidence vote, Paul Martin offered an explicit confidence budget vote next Thursday, a full 9 days after losing the confidence of Parliament. Parliamentary convention requires that an explicit confidence motion on the Government's behalf be held within 2 to 3 days of losing a non-confidence motion. Stephen Harper's initial reaction was angry as he spoke against allowing Paul Martin to use the Queen's visit as a legitimizing back-drop, and even suggesting the Liberals were hoping a seriously ill Conservative MP wouldn't be able to make the vote. Who wouldn't be angry with games like that being played? Mr. Broadbent's action helps diffuse that legitimate anger, and ensure that a confidence vote will be held on a committed date.

A very sad part of the whole story is that the Liberals immediately accused the Conservatives of unfair accusations. The story is sad because they are now essentially saying it's too bad if certain MP's can't make it for a vote, no matter what the cause (in fact, it really appears as though the NDP are acting separately from the Liberals on the whole 'pairing' thing - again, good for them). Apparently there have been Liberal organizers in BC calling around to find out when the Conservative MP is having surgery and other treatment. The point being - the Conservatives were right to suspect the Liberals of playing dirty with these seriously ill MPs. I truly appreciate the integrity of the NDP in maintaining the fair balance that this Parliament properly has - I can't help but hope that their entire caucus will cross the floor to vote with the other opposition parties on next Thursday's non-confidence vote. This action alone could make this whole event the least partisan act of our Parliament in a long time.

I think Canada would have a much more interesting and necessary debate on all manner of issues if the two dominant Canadian parties were the CPC and the NDP. If the Liberals disappeared completely, I think we probably wouldn't miss them all that much.

Anyhoo, I intended this as a thanks for bringing (back?) some integrity to Canadian politics, Mr. Broadbent.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Dodge The Non-Confidence Bill

I tried to post a redone picture on here (my own computer handiwork, for better or for worse). Unfortunately, I'm too much of a newbie to this and gave up trying for my own blog. However, I sent a copy of it to Kate at SDA, hoping that she'll do it for me (and she actually has a readership and blog-reputation, unlike yours truly).

PICTURE UPDATE: Ed over at Robot Guy very kindly posted the photo (with his suitable touch-ups). For that, he gets added to my blog roll. ;-) He even showed me how to put the picture on my own blog - what a nice guy. Thanks, Ed.

LOGIC UPDATE: Of course I realize that it's not actually a 'bill' that's being voted on in this whole non-confidence thingy - give a guy some artistic license, ok? (And perhaps those red spots look more like paint-ball splats than welts - I'm not especially artistic either, I guess; nor proficient in using French picture editing programs).

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Further to the Mormon thing.

Now, I was going to let my lost Mormon post quietly disappear, until a friend sent an e-mail inspired by it. She wrote of an experience involving people she knew at a small Protestant denominational church. She visited her friends at their Church, and was treated to an anti-Catholic/anti-Pope John Paul II sermon that seemed clearly directed at her presence there that day (her friends had mentioned to the pastor that a Catholic would be attending with them). I greatly appreciate her reaction as she compares the scene to a car accident - you just have to stop and stare at what's going on because it's so incredible. Later, when discussing it with her friend, she related how she had never (since converting to Catholicism) heard a Catholic priest trash-talk another denomination's religious leader (despite some apparently deserving it, as this episode reveals). Although I would like to hear stronger words of truth from Catholic priests in Sunday homilies, I deeply appreciate the effort by Catholic leaders not to foment hate and misunderstanding towards our separated brethren.

I shall also mention that when I was flirting with leaving the Catholic Church some 15 years ago, the anti-Catholicism (pretty mild, compared to my friend's experiences) of those seeking to 'evangelize' me is one of the things that kept me from doing it. The other thing was the anarchy that results when you have 20,000 different groups interpreting the Bible in their own ways. The Baptist Church I spent some time at changed the words of Scripture spoken during their communion service because it didn't suit their theological interpretation. I have too much respect for truth to be willing to sell my soul for the most convenient interpretation.

Anyway, I am far too full of myself here - there are many great saints who have lived holiness and witness heroically. Look to their lives and see if the truth of Catholicism is not God's own truth.

Mormon Redux

I wrote briefly last week about my experiences meeting with Mormons over the past 3 years - and have since lost that post. Not that it needs to be repeated in detail here, but generally it was a positive experience to listen to their faith first-hand, to dialogue with someone else who is very committed to his faith, and to think more deeply on the Catholic truths I hold so dear.

I won't attempt to give the kind of detail that a couple dozen meetings gave us the opportunity to explore, but I will pick a few points worth mentioning. Bear in mind that my comments are reflective primarily of those particular missionaries who visited with me.

Mormonism is agnostic towards history.
The history that has taken place since the LDS church began is not what I'm questioning (at least not right now). What I mean is that whenever questions were asked as to whether or not the history in the Book of Mormon ever took place, it was strongly affirmed by the missionaries, despite being unable to provide any evidence whatsoever. When I mentioned that non-Mormon archaeology (and even some Mormon archaeology) provides absolutely no support for Mormon claims, something like, "We don't put our faith in archaeology" was stated. That's fine, because neither do I - but I would be rather distraught to find that nothing in the Bible at all had any outside verification. Which leads to ....

Mormonism is doubtful towards reason.
The ultimate truth claim for the Mormon towards the Book of Mormon (BOM) is to read it and see if it produces a 'burning in the bosom'. If this is all we have to determine the veracity of Scripture - I'm sorry, but God help us. How many passages in the Bible don't produce this burning sensation? Furthermore, how many non-Scriptural works have the power to move us deeply? Not to belittle great and inspiring literature, but it's not on the same plane (or even the same type of writing) as Sacred Scripture. I don't doubt that a Protestant understanding of Scripture has permeated and influenced how Mormons treat Scripture. To know, first of all, what Scripture is, we must have an outside authority to speak on its behalf. As a Catholic, this one is a slam-dunk. If I were non-Catholic, I would be twisting myself into knots to try and explain how it is that the Catholic Church's authority can be trusted to have decided the canon of Scripture, but then cannot be trusted on any other significant matter.

Mormonism is absolute in its conjecture.
Mormons make several absolute truth claims based on flimsy evidence. To be fair, they often acknowledged (at least in their words) that if these claims fail, then the LDS church is false. I think they are trying to model themselves on St. Paul, where he speaks of Christians as to be pitied more than any other if the resurrection is false. Back to the claims. Joseph Smith's experiences that led to the "Restoration" are utterly unnecessary if there was not first an utter and complete "Apostasy". Mormons will trot out several passages speaking of a falling away in the Church as evidence that Jesus predicted this Apostasy. What they don't do, however, is look at any of the passages where Christ promises to be with His Church always; where Jesus promises that the gates of hell will not prevail against His Church; etc. They are willing to argue that Jesus' promises regarding the Church weren't good enough to keep it together - but that somehow a man who lives 1800 years later will be able to do a better job of it than Jesus Himself.
Mormons are willing to speculate that 'sealed' marriages will last for eternity, despite Jesus' clear words that marriage will not exist in Heaven.
The Book of Mormon is accepted as utterly true (down to the word), despite numerous revisions over its 170 year history. To restate a point, the history in the BOM is accepted as true, despite no outside evidence, nor any connection to any known group of people. It's a fictional story that cannot be verified in any way.

Anyway, I don't intend to turn this completely into an apologetics blog (especially if nobody else decides to pursue it in that direction).

Until I'm moved to string this out further, I remain,


Sunday, May 08, 2005

Julian Simon - The Ultimate Resource

My admiration for Julian Simon is tremendous. His was a life (he passed away several years ago) that affirmed my faith in secular science, and that truth will become evident to a person who truly seeks it. I don't have any of his books at home, from whence I blog, and so cannot very accurately describe his biography right now. His book, the Ultimate Resource, is a powerful testimony to the power of human ingenuity in solving issues related to natural resources. For him, as well as a dedicated group of secular disciples, the human person is the ultimate resource - such has it always been, and such will it always be. Which, incidentally, is why modern society's obsession with "overpopulation" is misplaced and counterproductive (to put it mildly). If we can't see the problem, how can it possibly be solved?

If you're able to handle a comprehensive refutation of all the conventional "wisdom" about the more people is bad argument, then get yourselves a copy of The State of Humanity. These two books are a solid introduction to the thoughts of a man who let the science change his mind, and went on to influence many because of his "scientophany". An interesting anecdotal story: Paul Ehrlich, noted population alarmist, made a very public bet with Julian Simon in the 1980's, based on their radically different views of humans and natural resources, to be held over the duration of a decade. When the due date finally arrived, Simon beat Ehrlich's pants off, and Ehrlich quietly paid for his failed prediction. Sadly, many still consider Ehrlich more reputable and correct than Simon, who clearly knew what he was talking about. See for yourselves.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

The transmission is being delivered ....

Tomorrow is the day that I'll take our van in to get the transmission checked and fixed. Those of you who've been through this experience know the angst that comes from spending thousands to get a vehicle repaired. There's really not much else to say about it except that there have been many moments of self-doubt all along the way. Is there something I could have done differently? Did I really destroy it when I drove it for 3 weeks with too little fluid? Why is God picking on me, just when I thought we had some money to spare? (I mean, for something other than vehicle repairs)

Anyway, tomorrow is the day. I hope yours goes much better than mine.

Update: Well, Obelix (such is our van named) is in the shop, although not the shop I expected it to be in. In the midst of perusing the Calgary yellow pages, I came upon an ad that truly put me at ease - I knew I could trust these people with my much-needed repair. Of course, it's in the shop until Friday - I'll give the establishment in question a free infomercial if they end up being as good as I think they will be (and they won't be able to handle all the traffic coming their way from this blog).

TRANSMISSION DELIVERED UPDATE: Okay, Obelix once again graces our driveway, in a much happier form than earlier this week. He appears to be in fine operating form. I will rate our service with AAAstro Transmission in Calgary a 9 out of 10. Their yellow page ad sold me for our current transmission repair. If you've even needed this kind of work done, and have felt all of the stress associated with that, you should get a copy of the Calgary yellow pages and read their ad, just to see if that makes you feel better (the ad should help you even if you decide to shop elsewhere). The only down side (aside from having to spend money on a repair such as this in the first place), was at the last minute I found out the warranty is only 6 months, and not the 12 months I had expected. I should ask more clearly about warranty ahead of time, if the need arises again. Cheers.