Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Twist and Shout: Oppressive Yoga Edition

I guess everyone is now aware of the Beclowning Heard Round the World, wherein the Pecksniffs of the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa cancelled a free yoga class that had been given for 7 years because of "cultural appropriation". Now that derision has reached world-wide proportions, the SFUO is backpedalling.

Now they're saying that the yoga program might come back; it's just being "reviewed".
Romeo Ahimakin said the program has not been cancelled, but is suspended while a review takes place to meet the “diverse and ever-changing needs of the student body.” In an email exchange today, Ahimakin would not comment on the controversy that has engulfed the student federation in the three days since yoga instructor Jennifer Scharf revealed that her U of O class had been cancelled because of concerns that it was not sufficiently sensitive to yoga’s cultural roots.
They don't want to talk about the "cultural appropriation" accusation now, it's too ridiculous to be credible. Instead, they put the blame for this stupidity on the Centre for Students with Disabilities. They're the ones doing the "review". They're also the ones who sponsored the yoga class for 7 years without problems, but that part is just smoothly ignored. Instead, we get this cloudy attempt at placation, with a Kafkaesque refusal to come right out and lay their cards on the table:
“The SFUO executive, as well as Centre for Students with Disabilities staff believe that it is important to look at the good and positive work that has been done and see how it can always be improved,” he wrote. “That is why we have taken this semester to do this review with a mind to reintroducing new programming in the winter semester.”
"New", how? They won't say. Instead, we have a recitation of the SJW litany, to be recited kneeling:
“We also acknowledge that ableism is not a siloed issue, but one that affects a variety of communities and individuals. In working to dismantle ableism, we also work to challenge all forms of oppression including, but not limited to, heterosexism, cissexism, homophobia, transphobia, biphobia, queerphobia, HIV-phobia, sex negativity, fatphobia, femmephobia, misogyny, transmisogyny, racism, classism, ableism, xenophobia, sexism, and linguistic discrimination.”
Somewhere in that tar pit there's an excuse for grabbing a yoga instructor and flinging her up against a wall, but I don't know enough about such garbage to be able to tell what it is.

There's a truly Canadian moment from this Feast of Fools, though:
Scharf even offered to rebrand the program as a “mindful stretching” class to distance it from any controversy over cultural appropriation, but that idea was rejected because a suitable French translation of the phrase could not be reached.
Only in Canada, you say? Thank God.

Thursday, November 19, 2015


I've been tidying up my blogroll, such as it is, and regretfully have had to delete my link to The Thinking Housewife. I used to very much enjoy her postings, but she appears to have completely flipped out over the past year.

The problem, it seems to me, started with her announcement that she had become a sedevacantist. Now, I have to explain that, being a convert, I don't share the visceral distaste for sedevacantism that many Catholic bloggers exhibit. Mundabor and Steve Skojec, for example, openly warn people that any comment tainted with sede tendencies will be immediately deleted. They're so adamantly opposed to the idea that it isn't even open for discussion.

To me, the idea seems more a sort of consoling fantasy than a deadly threat. I can see why people would fall back on it, in the face of the catastrophic tide of effluent surging out of the Vatican these days. It's a way of preserving the purity of the Church, and warding off the terror that there might be nothing solid there at all. Americans sometimes display this tendency too. I've read many protests that the "real" America is not this corrupt, debt-ridden shambles on its way to collapse that we see before us. No, the real America is still there, among the good people who still remember and value what it used to be. Eventually, though, the strength of this saving fable dwindles, as the ugly reality grow stronger and even actively seeks out and crushes the good that remains.

So I never felt that one must shun sedevacantists because they're traitors, or weaklings, as others seem to think. Orthodox Catholics don't actually explain clearly WHY sedevacantism is such a no-no; I have the feeling that everyone knows the reason so they don't talk about it. People like me, who missed the lesson that day, are left a bit mystified, but I recognize that the reaction is strong and genuine, and I don't argue about it, particularly as sedevacantism is wholly unconvincing to me.

But now I have to implement my own rule banning sedevacantism from this blog. And the reason is not that it's insulting to the Pope or the Holy Ghost. The reason is simply that by my observation, it leads to insanity. I can't explain what's happened over at TTH any other way. I only realized that things were going seriously wrong when she first posted a "just asking" farrago of 9/11 Truther talking points. After that, there was speculation that Sandy Hook never happened, and now she's claiming that Friday's massacre in Paris was also faked. This has also been accompanied by rising invective against Jews, and a monomaniacal tendency to write them into every single bad event that happens anywhere in the world.

I think this is an example of what Doctor Johnson meant when he told Boswell, "Never accustom your mind to mingle virtue and vice." It seems that in admitting one conspiracy theory, regarding the "true identity" of the Pope, she has opened the doors of her mind to every other conspiracy theory, no matter how wild. Maybe vanity has taken hold, by flattering the conspiracist that she can see through the web of deceit that fools everyone else, and she's become so intoxicated by her insight that she now can see nothing at all except her funhouse mirror of debunkery. She and those who support her are like the Dwarfs in C.S. Lewis's The Last Battle:
"You see," said Aslan. "they will not let us help them. They have chosen cunning instead of belief. Their prison is only in their own minds, yet they are in that prison; and so afraid of being taken in that they cannot be taken out."


From Hilary White:
I am acquainted with Michael Coren's wife, since the family attended my parish in Toronto, and the general consensus is that she is a saint for putting up with him.

Synod on the Family (remember that?)

One disaster crowds out another these days. But only a few weeks ago we were rolling our eyes over the buffoonish Synod on the Family. The TV cameras are off, but in true termite fashion, the task of stealthy undermining goes on.

Here's the opening of the propaganda offensive in our own diocese:
The Synod and My Family

The Synod on the Family has had a mixed reception. Some are excited by the chance to increase dialogue with contemporary culture. Others are concerned by the tone and possible misunderstandings that can arise from such dialogue.

Everyone, however, is asking: “Where are we going? How are we to live the family in today’s Church?”

Dominican University College (DUC) wants to raise these questions head on—so that you can move forward on solid footing. Over three days, we will be hosting a conference where we can learn about the latest outcomes of the Synod. Most importantly, we are going to give you the opportunity to join the discussion and voice your desires about the future of family life in the Church.

As men and women, young and old, we can gain clarity about current developments in family life and bear witness to the beautiful truths of the family in contemporary times as we reflect and discuss together.
And what a fine rogues' gallery we have coming!
Keynote Speakers:

Thursday, Nov. 19th, Vespers 6:30 pm, Talk 7:30 pm

Fr. Peter & Presbytera Olenka Galadza, Sheptytsky Institute of Easter Christian Studies at Saint Paul University

Friday, Nov. 20th, Prayer 7:15 pm, Talk 7:30 pm

Fr. Tom Rosica & Sebastian Gomes, Salt and Light Television

Saturday, Nov. 21st

Mass, 11:45 am, Archbishop Terrence Prendergast s.j., Archbishop of Ottawa

3:30 pm, Talk, Archbishop Paul-André Durocher, Archbishop of Gatineau
Prendergast might be OK; he hasn't done anything stupid since beoming Archbishop of Ottawa in 2007. But Durocher's onboard with all the usual Francis crap. (His appointment was another piece of Benedict Brilliance.) Rosica was notorious for his biased reportingand pro-homosexuality propaganda during the Synod. And Galadza I don't know anything about, but dragging in an eastern Orthodox speaker makes me suspect he'll be proselytizing on behalf of divorce and remarriage.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Leaf Thief

Wednesday's garbage day here, and last night when I went for a walk around the neighbourhood I noticed a lot of leaf bags out for collection. I had only 7 bags of shredded leaves in the shed from raking our yard - not nearly enough to mulch the potatoes we want to grow next year. So when I got home I got out the car and... drove around STEALING bags of dead leaves. I made 3 trips, and got 22 bags. If I'd still had the van, I could have done it in 2 trips, but the Fit has a lot of cargo room for such a small car, and I was able to get 5 and even 6 big bags inside.

Dean was shocked when I told him what I'd done, but it turned out he thought I'd gone around and RAKED the neighbours' yards to get these leaves. No, no, I said, I don't have time to do that sort of work! I just sneaked around after dark and stole the leaves they'd already raked!

Now it's going to rain tonight and tomorrow, so I spent the entire afternoon shredding the leaves and stuffing the bags into the shed. I rejected one bag because it had a lot of sticks and cedar trimmings in it - I'll put it out in the trash next week - but the rest were all fine, mostly maple leaves. Anway, now I can relax over next year's garden, even if I had to become the Leaf Thief to do it!

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Right on cue

Pope Shitty the First blubbers and wets himself in public:
Pope Francis condemned Friday night’s Paris massacre, calling the attacks a part of a disorganized World War III. “I am close to the people of France, to the families of the victims, and I am praying for all of them,” the pontiff said Saturday, according to the Vatican Radio. “I am moved and I am saddened. I do not understand — these things are hard to understand.”
Actually, it looked pretty well-organized to me, which is more than I can say for his reaction. But it must have been long past the befuddled old fool's bedtime when he made those remarks. By this morning, he'd slept it off and had figured out a way to drag his pet project into the foreground:
The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said the Paris attacks would not deter the church from going ahead with events for the Jubilee Year of Mercy, which begins on Dec. 8.

“If we permit ourselves to be frightened, they have already reached their first objective,” he said.

Of course, he added, “we must be prudent and not irresponsible, taking all reasonable precautions, he said.

He added:

I’d say that the Jubilee of Mercy is all the more necessary. A message of mercy, that is the love of God that has as a consequence reciprocal love and reconciliation. Even today, when Pope Francis speaks of a piecemeal third world war, the message of mercy is necessary to make us able to reconcile and build bridges. This is not the time to renounce having the Jubilee or to be afraid. We need it more than ever. We must live it wisely, but also with courage, and with spiritual enthusiasm, looking ahead with hope, despite the attacks of hate. Pope Francis guides us and invites us to have faith in the Spirit of the Lord that accompanies us.
Countdown for Shea at Little Green Footballs to start bleating about "Mehhhhrrrrrcccyyy!" starts now.

The Kinder Egg Kaper

I came across this interesting little short film, entitled "Crooked Candy".

It's about a man who moved from Bulgaria to America, only to find that his favourite treat, Kinder Eggs, are banned by law. When he was a child, Kinder Eggs were rare treats, because the supply to the Iron Curtain country was so limited. Now he's in the land of freedom, but he finds that bossy nanny-state regulation makes them unavailable here, too.

His solution: CRIME! He smuggles Kinder Eggs into the U.S. at every opportunity, for his own enjoyment, of course, not to sell on the black market.

Mark Steyn has written many times about the bossy-boots U.S. Customs officers who confiscate his children's Kinder Eggs when they drive over the Quebec border. I used to be a strict law and order type myself, but this sort of heavy-handed "for the children" smothering has turned me into an anarchic supporter of chocolate egg smuggling, too. Fight the man!

So when is the new government tabling the "Death to Islam" bill?

Over a hundred dead in Paris. And yet we haven't yet heard that a thousand Muslims have been publicly slaughtered and left in the streets. That's what it will take to exterminate this worldwide plague.

Note where the conversation is taking place.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Get a room!

Robyn Urback in the National Post wrote a good piece on our new PM and his "look deep into my eyes" shtick.
Nearly everyone who has been on a double date understands the discomfort of sitting opposite another couple who, for some reason, insists on holding hands, or stroking arms, or sneaking kisses during a meal. It’s a scene that is utterly perplexing to socially awkward, stoical types such as myself, who can’t fathom why two people would want to stroke each other’s hair in front of an audience. In my mind I’m imploring the couple to just keep their hands to themselves, but all I can do outwardly is smile like an idiot and chew my salad while I try not to stare at the rainfall of dandruff that has now settled upon the table.
This was how our leader and his wife wanted to be photographed at public ceremonies on Remembrance Day:

Urback thinks it's just Justin being Justin. I think it's also a symptom of the decay of democracy. We no longer decide matters (or choose leaders) based on reasoning; we're reprimitivizing and lunging from point to point driven by emotion. Instead of the natural reaction of "Ewww, can't these people save it until they're home?" the popular reaction is more like "Ug-ug-ug... leader virile... corn grow high this year!"

Of course, we've already been treated to 7 years of The Greatest Love Story Ever!!!!© which will soon be coming to the silver screen:
Actors Parker Sawyers and Tika Sumpter have been cast as Barack and Michelle Obama in a forthcoming romance about the couple’s first date.

Southside With You is about the Obamas’ first outing in 1989 when Obama and lawyer Michelle Robinson visited the Art Institute of Chicago and watched a screening of Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing. The pair also apparently kissed outside an ice cream parlour.
It's bad enough that we have to put up with this tasteless exhibition, but being Canada, we're stuck with the provincial touring company while the Americans get the splashy professional show!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Remembrance Day

Remembrance Day, 2015. I was saying to Dean the other day, that this must be the only holiday on the calendar that hasn't been commercialized. No more than via the sale of poppies, such as that one above, which is a tradition in itself and doesn't really count.

No, Remembrance Day is still pristine. When I was a kid, all the stores were closed for Remembrance Day, (which made it one of the most boring holidays of the year, to my immature mind) and even now, stores have to stay closed until the afternoon.

No sales, no discounts, let alone cards, parties, presents and the rest of the frippery that now goes even with harmless little homegrown festivities like Valentine's Day. Just as well, I suppose. It's hard to imagine anything more tasteless than a Remembrance Day party - "Go in costume, dressed as Kaiser Wilhelm! Ten great mustard recipes for your Remembrance Day dinner! Serve the same menu as that of the last night of the Lusitania!" (This last isn't that far-fetched; I've read of people painstakingly reconstructing the Titanic's dinners.)

In the U.S., I think its status is matched by Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. No cards, decorations, parties associated with it, nor big sales, though it hasn't been around that long as a holiday, so I'd want to revisit the question in another 15 or 20 years. By then, things might have changed. I recall when the holiday first started, someone was joking about how long it would be before it came to the same end as President's Day or Columbus day. "I have a dream... about the fantastic savings at Menards!"

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Great Holocaust documentary

Holocaust Education week just ended, but it's never too late to watch a great documentary, and this is a fine one.

It tells a story I'd never heard of before: the great violin virtuoso, Bronislaw Huberman, realized that the Nazis were bent on eradicating Jews and Jewish culture from Germany, so he refused to play in the country after 1933. But he did something more: he personally set about collecting the very best Jewish musicians from Germany and eastern Europe, many of whom had been dismissed and denied employment under the Nazi race laws. He assembled enough players to create a symphony orchestra, then obtained visas for them and their families to emigrate to Palestine. Altogether, he saved nearly a thousand lives, and the musicians he rescued formed what was to become the Israel Philharmonic.

From the director's website:
In the early 1930s Hitler began forcing Jewish musicians out of orchestras across central Europe; never before had so many experienced players been jobless simultaneously. The Nazis unwittingly presented a unique opportunity and with the short window of time still available, Huberman dedicated himself to fulfilling a dream.

The struggle to create the Palestine Symphony is a densely layered story with a range of key characters that could hardly be more diverse. Among them: a high Nazi official, Goebbels; renowned conductors, Furtwangler and Toscanini; a future head of state, Chaim Weizmann; and the families of victimized Jewish musicians who made up the ranks of orchestras across central Europe. Even the most famous Jew in the world played a role; a man who, among other pursuits, was an amateur violinist who liked to read music with Huberman - Albert Einstein.

Huberman knew that his orchestra would serve a broader purpose as well - a top flight orchestra of Jewish immigrants would be a powerful tool to fight the savage anti-Semitism spreading out from Germany, and it would build the prestige of Jews. Huberman foresaw that by arranging for these families to emigrate, hundreds of Jews would be saved whose fate would otherwise have been the gas chamber. In all Huberman saved close to a thousand people.

These are the paths our story tracks: the timeless tale of a brilliant young man coming of age and the suspenseful chronicle of how his efforts impacted cultural history. Perhaps most important, the film challenges us to look inward and ask the hard questions: how would I have reacted and what would I have done in the face of those momentous events in that terrible troubled time?

Canonizations, past and present

I came across this comparison between how canonizations were carried out in the past and the changes that have taken place over recent decades.

However, I think it needs a third column:

Canonization Post-2013
The Pope receives an email from the Holy Spirit and the new saints are installed in the next Birthday Honours List.

We call this the posthumous "jobs for the boys" method.

Thanks to Unam Sanctam Catholicam

As American as strip-searches

Mark Steyn's just posted an essay about the ever-increasing tyranny of life in the United States. This time it's about the royal right-to-push-around exercised by the Once and Future Queen, Hillary "Sag-Hag" Clinton.
On Monday, the former Secretary of State, who currently holds no public office, filed her entry as a presidential candidate in the New Hampshire primary. This is a formal requirement which these days candidates turn into a promotional event. However, in the four decades he has served as New Hampshire's Secretary of State, Bill Gardner has never been treated as contemptuously as he was yesterday by Mrs Clinton. Her Secret Service detail required that Secretary Gardner submit to a humiliating pat down for the privilege of entering his own office to participate in Hillary's crappy photo op.

Steyn goes on to lambaste the Secret Service:
As for the Secret Service agents willing to do this, they too are beneath contempt. This is a stupid and wasteful agency that can't secure the White House grounds or keep its hands off Cartagena hookers, and used its money-no-object to budget to fly a bazillion agents into South Africa for Nelson Mandela's funeral to stand the President three feet away from a violent schizophrenic with a necklacing conviction. Even so, what sort of depraved husk of a human being do you have to be not to understand that what they did to Mr Gardner is not only inappropriate - they're guests of his - but ultimately profoundly corrupting of the integrity of the republic.

But I think he misses the deeper problem: I don't think Americans DO see this as an abomination. On the contrary, except for a few conservatives who still can remember the traditional virtues of freedom and independence, most are perversely proud of these sorts of excesses, if they notice them at all. Unless people are personally inconvenienced by some blimped-up security cavalcade shutting down rush hour traffic as it lounges its way toward the airport, nobody really cares.

The hooker scandals elicit a sort of roguish "Boys will be boys" chuckle, with an assumption that such tough men, in such tough jobs are entitled to their carnal pleasures. And Americans almost seem to relish the sight of their bosses' flunkies kicking sand in the faces of weaker men. As America becomes softer and soggier everywhere else in the world, its citizens retreat into a sort of illusion of toughness, where this sort of theater substitutes for real strength.

I've visited enough blogs and forums to know what to expect if someone edges a little too close to the crime of lèse majesté. Merely pointing out that back in the day, when America was a real country that counted, someone like Obama or Hillary Clinton would have ended up like Huey Long, is enough to call forth immediate chiding and gleeful predictions of "a visit from the Secret Service". Everyone thinks it's the greatest thing in the world, and is eager to assure any minders from the regime who might be reading of their eagerness to help round up the badthinker and turn him over for appropriate treatment.

Once upon a time, kings of England could send a man to the Tower with nothing but a signature. Now America's monarch can send a scapegoat to jail with a lie, and people just shrug and figure that's how things are in "the greatest country on earth".

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Air plants

I've got a new interest: air plants, AKA Tillandsia .

Tillandsia are interesting little plants that don't require soil to grow. They get their nutrients from the air (they like it humid) and they can be mounted on pieces of wood, shells, stones, you name it. You mist them ever few days, and give them an occasional dunking in water to keep them hydrated, but they don't like sitting in water or on a wet surface - that will cause them to rot. You'll see them sometimes in little glass globes, lying on a bed or pebbles.

I was looking for a project for the autistic kids in Thomas's day program, and saw this post on Pinterest, on making air plant hangings. They looked really cute and easy, and then I spotted Tillandsia for sale at Rona Hardware for just $2.29 apiece, so I bought a bunch.

Unfortunately, we ran out of time to make the hangers, so I decided to try to use the plants myself. Dean has always liked to collect driftwood from the Rideau River; mostly hardwood (often gnawed by beavers!) which burns really well in the fireplace over the winter. But he also picks up any interesting shaped pieces and keeps them on the porch. Since Tillandsia can be mounted on wood, I decided to try to combine our interests, and put some of the plants on the wood.

Most of them are just wedged into crevices, but I wound some unobtrusive thin wire around the base of others and attached them to the back of the wood pieces. I think they turned out quite well, and I have several more I'm going to make in the future.

Here are some pictures; I put a ballpoint pen in front, to give a sense of scale. As you can see, they're small, but they have this dainty oriental feel about them, which I find quite attractive.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Braxton's Lear : Saint Bawlbaby, Pray For Us

I had intended to retire Braxton's Lear, but the trials and tribulations of Canada's own Michael Coren obliged me to resurrect it, at least for now.

Non-Canadians may not know Coren, but he is a well-known opinion writer here in the Great White North, until recently writing for the Sun newspapers, and hosting a program on the now-defunct Sun News Network. He wrote mostly on religious and moral issues, from the point of view of a conservative Catholic. I read him regularly for several years in the Ottawa Sun, and while I was not a great fan, I always considered him a reliably conservative voice, both in matters of faith and politics. I never got around to reading any of his books, but I always figured that eventually I would.

I began to feel something odd was going on with him as soon as Pope Jar-Jar was elected in 2013. I'd had an instantly dire sense of foreboding about this nobody from South America, a place of notoriously sloppy and half-assed thinking, as witness the Liberation Theology fad which easily sunk its poisonous roots into the soil. But a day or two after the election, there was Coren giddily cheering for Bergoglio, and calling him "a brilliant theologian and an orthodox but forward-thinking man, with a touch of saintliness but a will of steel." Yeah, right, I thought. He's so brilliant, nobody has ever heard of him before.

I went looking for books by this "brilliant theologian", and found the same sort of collected sermons and jottings that were the literary legacy of that equally brilliant theologian, the Madwoman of Second Avenue, Mrs. Schori. Obviously Coren knew nothing at all about Bergoglio, and was just spinning his own fantasies and passing them off as real.

From that day, his articles became increasingly bizarre, and it soon became evident that matters of sex, particularly homosexuality, were occupying an unusually large place in his mind. A year later, he published an essay on his "changing view" of homosexuality, entitled "I Was Wrong". (Same title as Jim Bakker's apologia, I couldn't help noticing.)

The obsession with homosexual stuff continued to pop up with grating frequency, so I began skipping Coren's columns, but sometime after the New Year, it struck me that I hadn't seen him published in the Sun for awhile.

Then on May 1 came the bombshell: Dean showed me a big article in the National Post announcing that Coren had converted to Anglicanism! I certainly wasn't expecting that, but a lot of pieces certainly fell into place afterwards. If you want a church that cossets homosexuals, the Anglican Church certainly is the right one to go to.

Unfortunately, this wasn't the end of the story, and since the beginning of May Coren has been tireless in his "woe-is-me" complaints about those beastly, awful, nasty, ugly conservative Catholics who just insist upon making a big deal of the fact that he treats changing his religion like changing a soiled T-shirt.

His self-pitying blubbering is on full display on his Facebook page, but now he's proudly parading it for everyone to see in Sunday's Toronto Star.
It’s been an interesting two weeks. I was fired from three regular columns in Catholic magazines, had a dozen speeches cancelled and was then subjected to a repugnant storm of tweets, Facebook comments, emails, newspaper articles and radio broadcasts where it was alleged that I am unfaithful to my wife, am willing to do anything for money, am a liar and a fraud, a “secret Jew,” that my eldest daughter is gay and I am going directly to hell. As I say, an interesting two weeks.

Imagine that! A writer who billed himself as a conservative Catholic and on that basis obtained employment with Catholic and conservative publications to write articles from a Catholic and conservative perspective reveals that he's nothing of the kind, and those hidebound grouches have the nerve to tell him they're no longer interested in publishing his opinion in their pages! And they don't want to hear his speeches either! Why on earth wouldn't Catholics want to listen to the author of "Why Catholics Are Right Nasty, Dirty, Judgmental, Homophobic Bigots"
The reason for all this probably seems disarmingly banal and for many people absurdly irrelevant. At the beginning of May it was made public that a year ago I left the Roman Catholic Church and began to worship as an Anglican. More specifically, from being a public and media champion of social conservatism I gradually came to embrace the cause of same-sex marriage, more liberal politics and a rejection of the conservative Christianity that had characterized my opinions and persona for more than a decade.

Oh, yes, totally banal and absurdly irrelevant. No different from an NDP MP quietly beginning to attend Tory caucus meetings, and failing to turn up for votes in the House of Commons. Really, who could possibly see anything to complain about there? Even though Coren himself states that this change of allegiance occurred a year ago, i.e., when he was writing in his "I Was Wrong" apology,
Thing is, I have evolved my position on this issue not in spite of but precisely because of my Catholicism. My belief in God, Christ, the Eucharist, and Christian moral teaching are stronger than ever. Goodness, I am even trying to forgive those “Christians” who are trying to have my speeches cancelled and have devoted pages on their websites and blogs to my apparent disgrace.
In other words, he was using his "Catholic" bona fides to add more weight to the hammer with which he was nailing up his 95 Theses. And some people have the nerve to be total soreheads about it! What people in particular, he's not slow to tell us:
But social media being what it is I was “outed” by some far-right bloggers
Hey, don't look at me! I never heard a word of this until I read it in that notoriously far-right rag the National Post, where Coren amiably assisted in outing himself to an obliging reporter.

More to the point, though, is Coren's sense of grievance at this exposure. What, was he intending to keep it a secret? Why? If indeed it's such a disarmingly banal and absurdly irrelevant matter, then why didn't he tell the world? He suggests that it's no more serious than an Ottawa Senators fan transferring his allegiance to the Montreal Canadiens once his home team has been knocked out of the Stanley Cup playoffs, and yet he was in effect leading a double life for a full year until May of 2015.
The change was to a large extent triggered by the gay issue. I couldn’t accept that homosexual relationships were, as the Roman Catholic Church insists on proclaiming, disordered and sinful. Once a single brick in the wall was removed the entire structure began to fall.
Of course, this is only half the story. The natural question to follow is "What made you change your mind?" and here he engages in some decidedly shifty evasions. He never does offer a real explanation of how he came to this decision. Last year, he said
In the past six months I have been parachuted into clouds of new realization and empathy regarding gay issues, largely and ironically because of the angry and hateful responses of some people to my defence of persecuted gay men and women in Africa and Russia

He also refers to "evolving" and in the Star he claims to have "gradually" changed his opinion, but with no precise explanation of what the process was, and what evidence prevailed upon him to turn against his former, very strenuously argued position. This is what led to the clouds of speculation he now complains of. In the absence of any real explanation, people speculate that he himself or some family member is homosexual (something that's turned out to be correct in other cases) and instead of telling the truth, he carries on a coy game of "I've Got A Secret" gleefully responding, "Wrong! Guess again!" His strategy seems to be to ignore any requests for an explanation, and then pretend that there's just nothing to discuss.

But on a serious note, why? Why would the religious and political change of what is at best a mid-level Canadian journalist and broadcaster cause such visceral anger and aggression in so many people?
But the shifty evasiveness and bitter resentment would look too bald if not set off by a leafy green background of bewildered innocence. So here Coren strikes a new attitude, of startled bewilderment at the wave of criticism he's encountered.
Over the years I have been attacked by various people in various camps, but I have never witnessed such an organized, personal and unkind campaign
And now that you've joined the homo lobby, you never will again, because you're safe from criticism by the totalitarian left which is bankrupting and beggaring nonconformist Christians who refuse to bend the knee to the current fascist pieties.
What has developed within the church, however, is a syndrome where people who are frightened of and angry with the world, who reject change and progress and look to a fantasy and apocryphal past age based on drunken nostalgia and personal insecurity, see a home in the conservative corridors of the house that is Roman Catholic. The Church of Nasty is thriving inside Catholicism, made all the more aggressive by a Pope who terrifies and disappoints them because he has broken through the intransigency of his two predecessors. I actually don’t believe he is quite as liberal as some people claim but the perception, at least, is that he is a reformer and to those who see change as heresy that is a terrifying prospect.

Gee, for a guy who claims to be baffled and in the dark about other people's motivations, he certainly has a lot of explanations handy. Maybe he should try taking them seriously when they tell him that they think he's an accomplished liar and probably something of a con artist.

Monday, September 01, 2014

Look who's back!

Yesterday I saw the first Monarch Butterflies of the year!  Two yesterday, and one today.

This one was a bit shy, but I got a few pictures.  It's better than last year, when we got NO Monarchs at all.  The year before there were one or two, but I think it's been about 4 years since we had that great summer with a whole flock of them.

They're coming to the Joe Pye Weed, which is one of their favourite flowers.  I have the regular plant and also a half-size one; they like both.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

In Canada, a cat can look at a king

Mark Steyn has written quite a bit about the Imperial Presidency, and especially the Pretorian Guard-style security that's growing like a crust of armour plating over the current occupant.

 His last essay on the subject was on August 14. Two days later, we had a little bit of security theatre here in Ottawa: it was reported that someone had broken into the home of Justin Trudeau, leader of the Liberal Party, while he was away on a trip, and his wife and children were asleep in the house. Nothing was taken, but a note was left behind on a pile of knives, advising the family to lock their doors in the future.

Today we got the rest of the story. It turns out the intruder was a drunken 19-year old, who was trying to find the house of a friend who lived nearby. He didn't know whose house he was in, but when he realized he'd made a mistake, he decided to write a note of apology to the householders before leaving!

The Trudeaus left the decision of whether or not any further action should be taken up to the police, and they decided that no charges would be laid against the young man.

Although there's a certain amount of the tiresome Trudeaumania hype about this story, I thought to myself that it reflects nicely on the rather homely small-town quality of political life in Canada.

Can you imagine if the same thing had happened in Washington, DC? I'm not sure who would be the equivalent of Justin Trudeau, but maybe Hilary Clinton would do; she's sort of a "leader in waiting".

First of all, the mere idea that some boozy teenager could featherstitch his way to the back door and just walk in in the middle of the night is absurd. Of course there would be security present, who would stop him long before he got inside, very possibly killing him in the process.

And if by some miracle the drunk DID get in and then depart unmolested, the discovery of the security breach would result in armoured cars on the streets several blocks around Clinton's home, intimidating every resident or passerby.

Finally, if the culprit did as this guy did, and turned himself in after recognizing himself on video taken at the time, I'm not too sure the police wouldn't just shoot him in the interview room, to make up for not doing it at the time of the break-in. At any rate, he would swiftly find himself in the hands of the FBI and the Secret Service, and there would be no nonsense about "no further charges" or penalty other than writing a letter of apology. No, it would all be grim-faced men with guns and scowling judges, and he'd be looking at spending the next 10 years of his life in jail.

Because that's the message: "OF COURSE trespassing on the King's land is worth 10 years of your life! It's worth more, in fact; it's worth killing you for, and don't you forget it. Ever." A woman who got lost near the White House and panicked was executed in front of her baby, and the Great and the Good in Congress gave her killers a standing ovation. No action is too extreme to "send a message" about who counts and who doesn't.

So I'm glad in Canada a harmless numbskull can get loaded, blunder into a politician's house and not end up paying for it with his life.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Drying Lavender

I've got 2 lavender plants out front, and until now have never picked any of the flowers. But this year I decided to harvest some and dry the flowers because I saw an interesting recipe for Lavender Jelly.

The instructions for drying lavender are pretty simple: tie the flower stems into bunches, then hang in a warm, dry, airy, dark place. Unfortunately, finding that combination of characteristics in our house isn't that simple.

The kitchen is warm and airy and, away from the sink, dry, but it isn't dark. And the inside of a cupboard is dark, but not airy. The cellar is dark, but in the summer it's damp, cool and with little air circulation. So I came up with a compromise.

I hung the lavender bunches on a hook hanging from a shelf at the far side of the kitchen, away from the sun. To make it dark, I covered the hook with a large colander. Now it's dark, AND the air can circulate through the flowers!

I already tried it with one batch, and it worked fine:

That's 1/4 cup of flowers, about the same amount that the bunch I'm hanging now will produce. It takes about 2-3 weeks to thoroughly dry the flowers. When I have my full 1/2 cup, I'll try the recipe.

Sunday, May 04, 2014

Setting records wherever he goes

First openly homosexually partnered homosexual bishop in the Episcopal Church! First homosexually married bishop in the Episcopal Church! And now...

First homosexually divorced bishop in the Episcopal Church!

Yes, folks, it's himself, multiple winner of the Golden Hairshirt Award - Gene Robinson!!!

Recently, my partner and husband of 25-plus years and I decided to get divorced. While the details of our situation will remain appropriately private, I am seeking to be as open and honest in the midst of this decision as I have been in other dramatic moments of my life—coming out in 1986, falling in love, and accepting the challenge of becoming Christendom’s first openly gay priest to be elected a Bishop in the historic succession of bishops stretching back to the apostles.

I notice that neither his marriage nor his divorce to his female wife (the one he had several children with) made that hit parade, but he's a busy man. Those merely normal events don't typically result in headlines or your photo in the paper.

as I tell couples in pre-marital counseling, “Marriage is forever, and your relationship will endure—whether positively or negatively—even if the marriage formally ends.”

So marriage is forever... even when it ends. Oh, silly me... "formally ends." Which means what, exactly? That divorced people still have to live as though they're married, because the divorce isn't a "real" end of a marriage? Well, no, I don't think he means that. I'm pretty sure that once the divorce is final he's going to consider himself no longer married, or else what would be the point of doing it? That the marriage will still exist in the Next World, and when he gets there he'll find he's got multiple spouses stacked up? That seems a little primitive for an Episcopalian, though C.S. Lewis might have agreed. He actually thought that merely having sex with someone set up an eternal relationship between 2 people, which would have to be endured or enjoyed forever after death. I've never detected any such suggestion from Robinson, however.

Maybe after death we live in multiple dimensions, where every failed marriage exists as a success, completely separate from all the other marriages we may have contracted, and we can happily live in all these marriages simultaneously. If Robinson needs an occupation now that he's retired, perhaps he should try writing science fiction; that might be the basis of a darn good fantasy tale.

My newest, most favorite piece of bumper-sticker wisdom which I will hold onto in this in-between time is this: “In the end, all will be well. If all is not well, it is not yet the end.”

Actually, my current favourite is from 'King Lear': The worst is not, so long as we can say, "This is the worst."

(So who gets custody of the bulletproof jacket?)

(Thanks to Threadless for the great T-shirt design, which may be obtained at their website)

Monday, January 27, 2014

"I went to a funeral and all I got was this lousy Body and Blood of Christ!"

That seems to be the sentiment among Ottawa Catholics, as the Archdiocese implements new rules restricting eulogies at Catholic funerals.
The archdiocese of Ottawa will make it official next month — no more eulogies at funeral masses. A spokeswoman said the news was true, but no official comments would be made until February. A short explanation of the decision appears in the fall-winter Catholic Ottawa newsletter, written by Father Geoffrey Kerslake. He argued eulogies or words of remembrance are not an official part of Catholic funeral rites.
The reaction has been overwhelmingly negative, not to mention emotional.
Brad Lindahl contacted the Sun when he heard of the upcoming announcement. “I went to my grandfather’s funeral and there was no eulogy,” he said. “It was just basically a mass. It upsets me a bit. It’s supposed to be a celebration of life, but it just left me with an empty feeling.”

"It's supposed to be a celebration of life"? Where did that come from? It's a mass where a particular sacrament is given; it's not "supposed to be" anything other than what it is. But this is what nearly 50 years of woozy sentiment has bought the Catholic Church: a rock-hard certainty on the part of Catholics that they go to church for emotional goodies.

What isn't "a celebration of life" in the Catholic Church nowadays? Baptism, communion, wedding, RV-blessing: "Hurrah for us! We're alive!" Pope Jar-Jar has even forbidden us to be sad here in the Church of Happy-Happy-Joy-Joy!!! So I suppose it's no surprise that people are now convinced that a funeral is supposed to be some sort of performance with audience participation.

Oddly enough, people don't insist upon getting up and speaking at weddings or christenings. They know that the reception or dinner is the right place for all those reminiscences and speeches. But funerals have to allow audience participation.

The Citizen had a complete opinion piece on the subject today, and it nicely summed up the "pro-eulogy" argument.

It started off with a hagiography of the writer's late mother, just to shame anyone who might disagree with her position. If a person with these exemplary bona fides wants something, how can a mere archbishop contradict her?

Then, on to the business of the funeral eulogy itself:
My speech was not long. I didn’t cry. It was an incredibly therapeutic experience for me and my siblings, and a rare opportunity to pay real tribute to a woman of great faith who grew up in poverty and overcame it, doing much to make the world a better place.
Well, if we wait until a person's funeral to "pay real tribute" to him or her, I guess it will by its nature be "a rare opportunity". But in fact, there's no reason why appreciating a person has to be a rare occasion, and I'm sure it wasn't. I'm sure all this lady's children appreciated her very much and told her so throughout her life. What was rare was the chance to do it publicly in a church, and that's what the writer is determined to hang onto. Because it's "therapeutic". The other stuff that's supposed to be going on at a funeral, the solemn reflections on the person's journey to live with God in eternity, the things that ONLY the Church can provide, don't even appear on the radar.

The final ironic comment comes at the end:
Like many in this city who were baptized and married in the Catholic Church, I stopped attending Mass regularly years ago. I have many wonderful friends who are truly people of God — they’re the main reason I had not entirely ruled out going back to the Church. Now I have.

So although the Church did things "her way" for decades, it wasn't enough to get her to go to mass. Now that they're changing back to the way things used to be, it will have...no effect whatever on her. She's going to keep doing what she's always been doing, only now she feels that she has an excuse.