Thursday, April 29, 2010

United Church College Begins Muslim Studies Program

Emmanuel College, a member college of the Toronto School of Theology established for the purpose of training clergy for the United Church of Canada, has approved the beginning of a Muslim clergy training program.

Christian Week reports:

"The Christian Church has always existed in a context filled with a wide diversity of religious expressions."

So declares the vision statement explaining why Emmanuel College has begun training leaders for the Muslim faith.

Emmanuel, whose main role has been to train clergy for the United Church of Canada, is one of the schools that make up the Toronto School of Theology at the University of Toronto.

At the end of March, it began offering its first two Islamic courses: 'Islamic Spirituality in a Health Care Setting' and 'The Qur'an in the Canadian Context.' These are continuing education courses, which confer no academic credit. However, students who complete all nine planned continuing education courses will be given a Canadian Certificate in Muslim Studies.

The courses are geared to four groups of people: imams (Muslim clergy) and other leaders in the Muslim community; community workers and Islamic school teachers; people engaged in interfaith dialogue; and people who just want to learn more about Islam.

The courses will help students understand "what it means to be a committed Muslim in the Canadian context," says Emmanuel principal Mark Toulouse. The majority of Muslims in Canada are immigrants—and they struggle with how to relate to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, for instance.

Toronto is the most logical place for such a program because it is "the most Muslim city in North America," Toulouse says. Muslims make up more than two per cent of the Canadian population, but five per cent of the population of Toronto. There are 60 mosques in the city.

Read it all here.

In addition to the non-credit certificate in Canadian Muslim Studies, there will be a two-year Masters degree in Pastoral Studies. In the first year, Christian students will study Bible, Theology, Ethics and Church History while Muslim students study the Qur'an, Islamic history, law and theology. Then, in the second year they would take pastoral studies together.

There are plans for Emmanuel to hire a full-time Muslim professor and to raise funds for the establishment of a chair in Muslim Studies. The story also reports the following contradictory position:

Like Emmanuel's other programs, the Islamic studies programs will stress understanding and professional training. The courses will "embrace university values," Toulouse said, and "no class will set out what you must believe."

He stressed: "We are not out to make Muslims into Christians." He added that this approach is in keeping with the United Church position that "God is at work in Islam just as God is at work in Christianity" and that "Muslims don't need to become Christians to be faithful to God."
The first paragraph claims "value neutrality" and a commitment to "university values." But the second paragraph reveals the operative theology presupposed by the college, namely, that "Muslims don't need to become Christians to be faithful to God." This theological position is the real bedrock faith foundation of the program, which must be believed by those who participate in order for the whole program to work. So it is only correct to claim that "no class will set out what you must believe" in the sense that every class presupposes that you believe the "right" way.

It seems to me that when you give up Scriptural authority and then proceed to making Trinitarian and Christological orthodoxy optional, the Unitarianism that results leads to being unable to distinguish adequately between Christian doctrine and Muslim doctrine. But where is this heading? We may recall the maxim of Richard John Neuhaus that: "Where orthodoxy becomes optional, it eventually will be proscribed."

It is very difficult to see this as anything other than a slow motion capitulation of liberal Protestantism to Islam. Emmanuel College apparently believes that they can make liberals out of Muslims. They had better be right because some of us are thinking that it is more likely that Muslims may end up making Muslims out of liberal Protestants.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Does Sex Ed Belong in School?

The answer to this question depends entirely on what you think sex is all about. If it is just a physiological/psychological mechanism designed to produce pleasure for the participants and babies are just an occasional inconvenience that randomly appear for no particular reason and the appearance of which can be controlled by technology, well then rock on with the sex talk to grade sixers. But what if sex is beautiful, personal, holy and centered on babies, raising children and families? Well, maybe a strictly physiological/psychological approach might be inadequate.

Barbara Kay has a brilliant column today in the National Post called "The Cult of Multisexualism." Here is how it begins:
Sex education in the schools isn’t new. As John Moore pointed out in his Post column yesterday (“Hide your kids. The Liberals are coming”), Ontario’s more graphic additions, hastily rescinded to accommodate Christian and Muslim critics, were mere “tweakings” to a well-entrenched model.

Taken for granted in Moore’s column was the notion that early sex education — tweaked or untweaked — was a good idea to begin with.

Unless countered by vigorous instruction at home, no children in the last several decades have left school believing their sexuality has a higher purpose than giving them bodily pleasure. From adolescence they have been encouraged by sex educators — no, pressured — to maximize sexual pleasure (but with condoms!), and made to feel abnormal if they prefer chastity to sex without love or commitment. What’s so good about that?

John Moore scoffs at the idea that sex ed programs are designed by “activists,” but that’s only because he likes what they’re teaching. If he didn’t, he too would call them activists. Sex educators are pushing an ideology that is to sex what multiculturalism is to race. In fact what sex education in the schools promotes should be called multisexualism.

N. T. Wright and Classical Orthodoxy

Yesterday, I ended my post on the two recent conferences (T4G and Wheaton) by commenting on William Evans' assessment of the weaknesses in N. T. Wright's theology as follows:
While I agree with Evans that Wright is an Evangelical who is trying to be biblical, it is somewhat ironic that an Anglican of all people should, in the end, have his high ecclesiology undercut by, of all things, that old Evangelical habit of biblicism. In the end, Wright may be a temptation for Evangelicals precisely because they recognize a kindred spirit at this very point. And that, it seems to me, is where the historically-oriented confessionalism of the Neo-Reformed becomes absolutely necessary if we are going to be faithful to the biblical Gospel.
In this post I want to unpack the meaning of these rather cryptic remarks a little bit. I've just been listening to Wright's lecture on historical Jesus studies from the Wheaton conference and I hit the pause button because Wright just said something that I find utterly astonishing. Before I tell you what it is, let me quote something else that William Evans wrote about Wright's response to his critics in the panel discussion earlier on the same day as this lecture.

In response to Richard Hays question about how his [i.e. Wright's] view of Jesus relates to the confessional history of the church, Evans describes Wright responding as follows:
He also claimed that he was not trying to find a Jesus behind the Gospel accounts, but rather to do justice to those accounts. In a rather telling comment, Wright then asserted that his account of Jesus is more true to the canonical witness than the confessions of the church!
So it seems that Wright is not only making the astonishing claim that the Protestant Churches from the 16th century on have all misunderstood Paul on justification and that the whole Reformation has just been one large mistake, and this, I might add, at a point in history when even Roman Catholic theologians have recognized the authentic insights into soteriology that were gained by the Reformers. What Protestants have said for 400 years is wrong, says Wright. This is why, by the way, many people have viewed Wright's theology as a bridge into the Roman Catholic Church insofar as it removes the necessity of making everything rise and fall on the doctrine of justification by faith alone.

But it gets worse. As Evans says above, Wright thinks that his account of Jesus is more true to the canonical than the confessions of the Church. And he is not talking here merely about Protestantism. He is talking about the Augustinian-Thomist tradition of the Western Church that is the foundation of both modern Roman Catholicism and Protestantism. But it gets even worse. He is actually talking about the creedal tradition (Apostles', Nicene, Chalcedonian) that comes out of the first five centuries and forms the basis for both the Churches of the East and those of the West.

In other words, Wright is saying that his reading of the Gospels utilizing the historical methods developed in the 18th century and refined through three quests for the historical Jesus has resulted in a new understanding of Jesus that is superior to that of the traditional Church. I just heard him say this in his lecture practically in so many words.

We should not view Wright as a crypto-Catholic at all. If anything, his viewpoint is more antithetical to that of Rome than it is to the Reformers. In actual fact, it would seem that Wright is picking up on one of two tendencies within the history of Protestantism, that is, on the skeptical and critical one as opposed to the genuinely reforming one.

The skeptical tendency is found in the early Luther and the Anabaptists and it begins with a strict biblicism that eventually degenerates through the employment of critical methods into a fragmented liberalism that is overwhelmed by the authority of individuals (eg. Bultmann, charismatic faith healers) or classes (eg. black liberationists, feminists). The genuinely reforming one is found in the later Luther and pre-eminently in Calvin and the Reformed tradition and it begins with a shared theological heritage and seeks to correct this heritage at certain points with better exegesis using the same methods of reading the Bible that were used in the pre-Reformation period (supplemented by humanistic methods coming out of the Renaissance) and resisting the historical-critical methods as they developed in the 17-18th centuries.

I see Wright as dangerous to Evangelicals precisely because of the many conservative conclusions he draws on so many topics, such as for example, the bodily resurrection of Jesus. But his deeply modern method of reading Scripture and his apparent disdain for the tradition he is sworn to uphold as a bishop is deeply worrying. You can bet that his pupils and followers will not, in all cases, be as conservative as he is. But that is not to say that Wright is consistently conservative on all matters. To the contrary, he is anything but on a significant number of theological issues. His low regard for the Trinitarian and Christological orthodox tradition is manifested in a number of theological and ethical positions that he adopts. But that is a topic for another post. Maybe tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Stuggle for the Soul of Evangelicalism Visible in Two Recent Conferences

Two weeks ago there were two highly significant conferences held in Wheaton and Louisville that represent two related but significantly different movements that aspire to provide the intellectual center of gravity for contemporary Evangelicalism.

The Wheaton Theology Conference, which featured a conversation with N. T. Wright on Jesus and Paul, usually draws 300 registrants but was capped this year at 1100. The Together for the Gospel Conference, held in Louisville was also sold out and featured speakers like Mark Dever, Ligon Duncan, John Piper and Al Mohler.

T4G is just one of a number of contemporary organizations that are attempting to renew the reformed center of Evangelicalism. When (as it was then called) "Neo-Evangelicalism" got off the ground in the late 1940's, it was an attempt to be Fundamentalist without the separatism, anti-intellectualism, legalism and sectarianism into which the Fundamentalist movement had fallen during its bruising battle with Modernism during the first half of the 20th century.

Neo-Evangelicalism was led intellectually by Westminster Theological Seminary and the newly formed Fuller Evangelical Seminary and was overwhelmingly Reformed in its theology, yet with an emphasis on evangelism Billy Graham style and missions that appealed to non-Reformed Evangelicals. The leaders skillfully brokered a potentially fractious coalition of Reformed, Arminian and Pentecostal groups into something that came to be known as Evangelicalism and which has become the most vibrant religious group in the world in the past half century.

But as the movement grew and matured, the Wesleyan, Anabaptist and Pentecostal and other Arminian theological groups, as well as the Dispensational groups, began to challenge the Reformed theological center. There have always been dissenters from the Reformed orthodoxy looking for alternatives as potential centers for Evangelical theology. See, for example, this article by a professor at the Charismatic Regent University entitled "The Westminster Captivity of the Church."

This is where N. T. Wright comes in. Evangelicals are making something of a rock star out of him, even though he is ambivalent at best to their ecclesiology, their evangelistic and missionary emphasis and their traditional devotion to personal piety and conversionism.

Groups like T4G, the Gospel Coalition, Desiring God, 9 Marks and the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals are attempting to call Evangelicalism back to its historic center and to define the center in Neo-Reformed terms as a way of stemming the seemingly endless diversification of Evangelicalism into whatever anyone wants it to be. I think many will agree that a movement that allows Joel Osteen, Brian McLaren and Robert Schuller to be identified as within its boundaries could use a little stricter definition. But rather than policing the boundaries, as Fundamentalism tried to do, the Neo-Reformed strategy is not to focus on the boundaries, but on the center.

The goal is to define the center in ways that make it continuous with the theology of the 16th century Reformers and the post-Reformation Puritan and Pietist movements, the revivalism of the Wesleys, Whitefield and Edwards and Protestant confessional orthodoxy. To the extent they are successful, then, the essence of the best of Protestantism will be preserved within the contemporary Evangelical movement even as the liberal Protestant denominations die out.

So is N. T. Wright an ally or a rival to the Neo-Reformed movement? That question sparks lively debates today and is a pressing question for Evangelicals to get sorted out. Brett McCracken has an interesting article in Christianity Today in which he describes his experience of attending both conferences: "Wrightians and the Neo-Reformed: All One in Jesus Christ." He also blogs about it here. William B. Evans has a very good report on the Wheaton Conference at Reformation 21 here. His last two paragraphs are worth quoting because they sum up the ambivalence with which Evangelicals hold N. T. Wright.
. . . I suspect that no sentient being could come away from the conference without an appreciation for Wright's rhetorical gifts and power. I had heard Wright speak in other contexts but had never heard him preach until Friday morning, when he preached to the students in the college chapel service. His sermon, in which there was nary a pause or break, consisted of a thirty-five minute guided tour of the book of Ephesians with application. I came away from that service with a sense of just how relentlessly verbal Wright can be, and of how he has been able to churn out some many books of such consistent quality. I also came away sensing that the Wheaton invitation was not a misstep and that Wright is a man of authentic evangelical (small "e") piety even if, in my judgment, he is not "right" on everything--in short, he really does love the Lord and genuinely strives to be biblical.

But there are also, in my opinion, at least three significant dangers lurking in his theology. First, without a deeper appreciation for the role of faith commitments in historical scholarship, Wright's historical endeavors run the risk of lapsing back into the historicism he so abhors. Second, his nearly constant preference for corporate inclusion over against the individual's experience of forensic justification risks a tragic obscuring of essential Reformational insights. Finally, his apparent distaste for the church's confessional tradition is unlikely to serve the church well in the long run and is, in fact, likely to undercut his ecclesiology.
I think these three dangers in Wright's theology go to the heart of the matter. While I agree with Evans that Wright is an Evangelical who is trying to be biblical, it is somewhat ironic that an Anglican of all people should, in the end, have his high ecclesiology undercut by, of all things, that old Evangelical habit of biblicism. In the end, Wright may be a temptation for Evangelicals precisely because they recognize a kindred spirit at this very point. And that, it seems to me, is where the historically-oriented confessionalism of the Neo-Reformed becomes absolutely necessary if we are going to be faithful to the biblical Gospel.

Is the Tide Turning on Abortion?

Straws in the wind or signs of thaw in the hardness of heart that has gripped the hearts of Westerners for the past half century? You be the judge.

In a story on the growing concern on the part of pro-abortion activists about the future of their movement, we read:
The leader of NARAL-Pro Choice America is worried about the number of young people among anti-abortion activists, according to an article in the latest issue of Newsweek. The article, titled "Remember Roe!" describes NARAL President Nancy Keenan's reaction when she arrived in Washington on January 22 of this year, the 37th anniversary of the Supreme Court's Roe v Wade decision. When she got off the train, she was greeted by a swarm of abortion foes, a small part of the crowd organizers estimated at 400,000, who came to the nation's capital for the annual March for Life.

"I just thought, my gosh, they are so young," Keenan is quoted as saying. "There are so many of them and they are so young." More troubling for the abortion defenders is what NARAL calls the "intensity gap" among young Americans. A survey of 700 voters under 30, conducted by the "pro-choice" group and released to Newsweek, shows more than half ( 51 percent) of the young voters who oppose legalization of abortion consider it a "very important" voting issue, while just 26 percent of supporters do.

Young people are turning away from the choice to kill and embracing the sanctity of life. This generation knows it survived only by the good will of its parents while their brothers and sisters were murdered for the convenience of the adults involved. This creates a huge emotional gap between the generations that is not easily overcome. And it lays a foundation for the challenging of the moral legitimacy of the 60's generation on the abortion issue.

Conservative Resources in Canada

The revival of conservative thought in the United that began after World War II and continues to this day has spawned thousands of think tanks, lobby groups and political action committees. An excellent guide to the history of the movement is George H. Nash The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America (30th anniversary ed., 2008) and his newer work Reappraising the Right: The Past and Future of American Conservatism (ISI Books, 2009).

Unfortunately, I am not aware of any comparable study of Canadian conservatism in the 20th century. If anyone know of one, please leave a comment in the comment section.

Of course, the book that became foundational to the conservative intellectual revival in the US was Russell Kirks's classic, The Conservative Mind from Burke to Eliot (Regnary, 1953, rev. ed. 1985). A good site for finding the best in conservative books is the ISI website, which you can access here.

In Canada, the conservative movement is smaller and poorer, but there are still quite a number of organizations attempting to promote respect for human life, the family as the bedrock of society, traditional marriage as the proper context for human sexuality, fiscal responsibility, limited government and free enterprise.

One such organization is the Institute of Canadian Values and on its website there is the most exhaustive list I know of conservative organizations. You can view it here.

You can find links here to the Institute of Marriage and Family Canada, the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, Campaign Life Coalition, the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition of Canada, the Fraser Institute and many others.

You will also find a handy link to bills before the Canadian Parliament, as well as links to the Provincial and Territorial legislatures.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Coptic Bishop Rips The Episcopal Church

At the meeting of Global South Anglican bishops, theologians and others in Singapore, the recent actions of the Episcopal Church USA have hardened attitudes and stiffened the resolve of the Global South to resist the pansexualist agenda of the American and Canadian Anglican Churches.

In case anyone was wondering what the Eastern Orthodox thought of it, here is a part of a report of what a Coptic bishop observer to the conference had to say:
A Coptic Orthodox Church observer to the Fourth Global South to South Encounter ripped into the Episcopal Church, stunning some 130 archbishops, bishops, clergy and laity, urging them to say "no to ordination of homosexuals, no to gay marriage, no to such immorality, and that it is time to purify the sanctuary of the Lord from this abomination that causes our God to suffer, bleed and be crucified again everyday."

"You are martyrs without the shedding of blood because you are upholding the teaching of the Gospel handed down once and for all to the apostles," Bishop Anba Suriel told the stunned delegates.

"An army of sheep led by a lion is more powerful than an army of lions led by a sheep. I really pray that you lions here, the primates of each of the provinces of the Global South will stand united with one accord against the heresies of The Episcopal Church.

"I want to share with you a saying of Saint Anthony the Great, the father of monasticism. This great Egyptian saint said, "There will come a day when the mad people will look at the normal people and say, 'Look at these mad people because they are not like us.'" I think this prophecy has been fulfilled in our day and age. Abnormality has become the new normality. Certain factions of the Christian Church are becoming desensitized to the truth of the Gospel. I call it the frog in the kettle syndrome.

"If you place a frog in a kettle at room temperature the frog will be comfortable, if you raise the temperature slightly, the frog will quickly adapt. If you continue to raise the temperature very gradually the frog will continue to adapt to its new environment until finally the water is boiling and the frog is fried inside the kettle and loses its life. This is what today's Post Modern society is doing; it is pushing the limit of immorality further and further till it tries to make some lose their spiritual life and die."

The bishop blasted New Hampshire Bishop Gene Robinson. "He was a married man and had two daughters. He divorced his wife and left his daughters to live this unthinkable life of abomination. Is this the holiness and perfection and the image and likeness of God? How then can such a person be ordained to the highest level of authority in a Church, the episcopate? What example does he give to young people, what long term effects will such a decision by The Episcopal Church USA (TEC) have on the North American Episcopalians in generations to come?" . . .
"Today's heresy often becomes tomorrow's orthodoxy. Well, let me say the orthodoxy of God will never allow for these heresies.

"That is why TEC allows a heretic like Bishop Spong to promulgate his poison all over the world and publish books advocating a cocktail of heresies ranging from denying the divinity of Christ to a complete and shocking attack on the inspired Word of God. And yet at the same time they depose an orthodox Episcopal bishop for upholding the true faith of the Scriptures that marriage is between one man and one woman... I cannot even begin to get comprehend that."
Anyone who thinks that this is only about homosexuality is very much mistaken. And anyone who thinks that all the conservatives will either die out or come along with the liberal agenda is dreaming. What we are witnessing is the global re-alignment of Christianity.

The Orthodox Church in America broke off ecumenical relations with the Episcopal Church years ago and now is in dialogue with the Anglican Church in North America, the continuing Anglican witness to Anglican tradition.

Ecumenical relations of the liberal Anglicans with the Roman Catholic Church and Eastern Orthodoxy grow shaky by the day. Pentecostalism and Evangelicalism vastly outnumber liberal Protestants and have better relations with the Roman Catholics. Liberal Protestantism is increasingly looking like a dying rump. Pentecostals are more ecumenical than they are.

Ross Douthat on South Park

Ross Douthat has an excellent commentary on the South Park censorship flap in the New York Times entitled "Not Even in South Park?" Here is the ending.

But there’s still a sense in which the “South Park” case is particularly illuminating. Not because it tells us anything new about the lines that writers and entertainers suddenly aren’t allowed to cross. But because it’s a reminder that Islam is just about the only place where we draw any lines at all.

Across 14 on-air years, there’s no icon “South Park” hasn’t trampled, no vein of shock-comedy (sexual, scatalogical, blasphemous) it hasn’t mined. In a less jaded era, its creators would have been the rightful heirs of Oscar Wilde or Lenny Bruce — taking frequent risks to fillet the culture’s sacred cows.

In ours, though, even Parker’s and Stone’s wildest outrages often just blur into the scenery. In a country where the latest hit movie, “Kick-Ass,” features an 11-year-old girl spitting obscenities and gutting bad guys while dressed in pedophile-bait outfits, there isn’t much room for real transgression. Our culture has few taboos that can’t be violated, and our establishment has largely given up on setting standards in the first place.

Except where Islam is concerned. There, the standards are established under threat of violence, and accepted out of a mix of self-preservation and self-loathing.

This is what decadence looks like: a frantic coarseness that “bravely” trashes its own values and traditions, and then knuckles under swiftly to totalitarianism and brute force.

Happily, today’s would-be totalitarians are probably too marginal to take full advantage. This isn’t Weimar Germany, and Islam’s radical fringe is still a fringe, rather than an existential enemy.

For that, we should be grateful. Because if a violent fringe is capable of inspiring so much cowardice and self-censorship, it suggests that there’s enough rot in our institutions that a stronger foe might be able to bring them crashing down.

Read it all here.

The only thing I don't understand is why Douthat is so sure that Islam is so marginal that it poses no threat. Is it good old American self-confidence? Or is it whistling past the graveyard? Well, did the thugs actually get away with censoring South Park or not? You have your answer there.

Is there a Future for Liberalism?

What a confusing word this is. It has one meaning in theology, another in politics and another in economics. Once one has separated the theological from the political/economic meaning, one would think one is on the way to clarity. Not so.

First, the political meaning has changed between the late 19th century and today so that one must speak of the difference between "classical liberalism" and what Michael Knox Beran terms "social liberalism." Classical liberalism has its roots in Christianity and its teaching that all human beings are equal before God, and specifically in the 17th century, nonconformist, Protestant dissenters who argued that they should be treated equally before the law and permitted the greatest possible liberty consistent with "public tranquility and the safety of the state." (Beren, The Descent of Liberalism, p. 1)

Another strand of liberalism, which has become the dominant meaning of the term today, stems from the 19th century social philosophers, who defined the freedom sought in liberalism in terms of economic equality. Whereas classical liberalism seeks only equality of opportunity and accepts the inevitability of inequality of accomplishment (since people are unequal in talent and character), social liberalism drives forward toward equality of outcome because it refuses to accept that natural inequality of talent and character should be allowed to result in inequality of economic opportunity.

The history of liberalism in the West is the story of how social liberalism gradually overcame classical liberalism and displaced it. This has resulted in the rise of the conservative movement in the US since 1945 in which traditional conservatives (Old Tories), anti-communists and libertarians (classical liberals) found that they had more in common with each other than any of them had with the social liberalism that they found increasingly indistinguishable from socialism.

While it is true that social liberals look to the Bismarkian social welfare state and to milder, English forms of Fabian socialism, rather than to pure Marxist philosophy, the differences, viewed from a classical liberal or conservative viewpoint, are mainly ones of degree not ones of substance. As much as social liberals hate to be accused of the crimes of Stalin and as much as they rightly insist that they do not intend to replicate Stalinist totalitarianism, nevertheless the cogent response is "Yes, but that is just what a crypto-Stalinist or a deceived fellow-traveler or a useful idiot would say in your situation." In other words, the crucial issue is whether or not, in fact, the loss of individual freedom contemplated in social liberalism is a step toward totalitarian socialism; it is not whether or not the intentions of individual social liberals are honorable.

One of the reasons social liberals resist the classical liberal and conservative critique is that they cannot believe in a kind of freedom that does not involve economic equality. I propose to ask why this is so and to suggest an answer.

I suggest that we cannot understand the evolution of the meaning of the word "liberal" from the 19th century to today unless we consider what has been going on in Western religion as well as politics and economics during that period. What was going on religiously was the decline of the hold of Christianity on the minds of the intellectual elite of society (from the late 19th to the mid 20th century with the Great War being the central fact in this narrative) and on the minds of the middles classes from the 1960s on (with the sexual revolution being the central fact in this narrative).

Why is the loss of Christian faith in the West important? Because the ideas of the 19th century social philosophers about equality increasingly filled the gap left by the evaporation of Christian faith and did so in two main ways.

First, the decline in belief in the afterlife meant that whatever justice you believed in had to be achieved in this life or not at all. This meant a drastic revision of the importance of social equality. After all, if what really matters is whether we are saved on the Day of Judgment and experience eternal life with God, then we can be somewhat caviler with respect to the inequalities of this life that arise out of unequal talent and character. You can be saved from any station in life and you can be lost from any station. So economic inequality can never be a question of ultimate significance.

Secondly, when Christianity has a hold on the collective mind of a people it produces incentives for the civilizing morality that makes a free society possible. When basic honesty and truthfulness can be taken as widespread, if not universal, it is feasible to have small government, fewer laws and regulations and ways of restraining anti-social behavior other than coercion. When the family functions, the government does not need to take over its functions. But as Christianity declines and secularism takes hold, government coercion becomes more and more necessary to ensure social cohesion and law and order.

Social liberalism rushes in to fill the void left by the decline of Christianity. The philosophy of Marx becomes the basis for the critique of classical liberalism and thus classical liberalism is derided as oppressive and unjust because it does not provide economic equality, which of course it never tried to do or ever thought was crucial. The rise of the bureaucratic, administered State is seen as messianic deliverance to social liberals and paves the way for their increasing acceptance of state socialism. Having accepted the Marxist critique of classical liberalism, their goal is to implement the nanny state without embracing totalitarianism. The result is the "soft totalitarianism" spoken of by de Tocqueville, which is defended at the last hour as being not quite as bad as hard totalitarianism.

My conclusion then, which is as surprising to me as it will surely be to many of you, is that Liberalism without Christianity equals totalitarianism, whether the soft kind associated with the social democratic welfare state or the hard kind associated with the socialist state. The choice is either Greece or Cuba and the best possible defense of say the Obama agenda is to argue that he intends to turn the US into Greece, not Cuba, which seems to me to be very small comfort.

Classical liberalism is deeply rooted in the West. To view it as arising de novo from 17th century English Dissent is a thesis that raises more questions than it answers. In actuality, the belief in the equality of all people and their equality before the law could as easily be said to originate from the king/prophet distinction as illustrated dramatically in the story of Nathan confronting King David. It can also be seen as rooted in the Magna Carta and the Medieval doctrine of the Two Swords, where power is divided, the power of government limited and the supremacy of law over rulers is affirmed.

But the emphasis on liberty in classical liberalism cannot work apart from a Christian context in which it is limited and kept from metastasizing into a cancer. Freedom must be understood as a limited political and economic goal, but not as the first principle of philosophy. Freedom must be understood as a means to a greater good, (the service of God), rather than as an end in itself. Freedom becomes a demonic mockery of its true self if it is permitted to function apart from a teleological ethics that rests on a Christian theological anthropology in which the telos for man is clearly articulated as the basis of social relationships.

The struggle between social liberalism and conservatism that is heating up in the US today is a struggle between a Marxist and a Christian philosophy of history, anthropology, ethics and metaphysics. It is a struggle for the soul of Western civilization. Europe is on her knees with socialism triumphant and the culture of death pervasive. If the US falls, then the great experiment called Western civilization will be over. God will still be God and He will raise up a people to witness to Him elsewhere. But for us who are the lesser sons of greater sires the loss is devastating and the responsibility great.

If the West is to end, it will end in the soft totalitarianism of liberal fascism. It is either that or a revival of Christian faith.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Anti-Catholicism in Britain is Getting Out of Hand

The anti-Christian and specifically anti-Catholic prejudice that permeates UK society these days reached a new low the other day in Britain with the release of a memo written by a Foreign Office bureaucrat in charge of the Papal visit to Britain in September. The Times Online reports (and remember the Times' well-documented anti-Catholic prejudice and be sure to inflate whatever they say by at least 10%):

Advisers to the Pope are starting to regret that he accepted an invitation to visit Britain this September after official papers emerged that suggested he should be asked to open an abortion clinic, bless a gay marriage and launch a Benedict-branded condom range.

The document also suggested that the National Anthem be changed, from God Save the Queen to God Save the World.

As the Foreign and Commonwealth Office was forced into a rapid damage-limitation exercise with an official apology for an "unacceptable" document, sources told The Times that the entire visit could now be in jeopardy.

The document was drawn up by the Foreign Office as part of a briefing pack and sent to officials across Whitehall.

It also suggested that Benedict XVI could demonstrate a hard line on child abuse by "sacking dodgy bishops" and launching a helpline for abused children.

The Government’s papal visit team document also recommended that he sing a song with the Queen for charity and apologise for the Spanish Armada.

A Foreign Office spokesman said that the paper was flagged as unacceptable as soon as it was seen and Francis Campbell, the British Ambassador to the Holy See, has met Vatican officials to apologise.

Some senior Catholics in Britain attempted to downplay its significance but The Times has learnt that the document has caused enormous anger in Rome. It is regarded as just the latest, but by far the most serious, in a series of anti-Catholic episodes emanating from the UK that threaten to cast a cloud over the Pope's four-day visit to England and Scotland.

Coming on top of comments about him over paedophile priests and threats by militant secularists such as Richard Dawkins that the pontiff could face arrest, in spite of enjoying diplomatic immunity as head of state, it is leading some Vatican advisers to question why he is coming to a country where the public mood even at the centre of government seems so hostile.

The document could also do lasting damage to decades of hard work building strong relations between the British Government and the Holy See, as well as to the reputation of the Foreign Office, an institution once known for employing the highest calibre of staff.

I especially liked that last line about the Foreign Office once known for employing "the highest calibre of staff." Good on the Times for that little zinger. Goodness knows it was a deserved rebuke.

But overall the reaction of the government has been mild to inadequate. Why has the offender not been named? Why has he not been fired? Apparently he has be moved to other responsibilities. After weeks of unrelenting attacks on the Catholic Church for moving pedophile priests from parish to parish rather than firing them, does the British government have no sense of irony whatsoever? So he's moved to another department where he can act on his perverted and evil impulses again? Apparently they think this kind of evil bigotry can be "cured."

Damian Thompson says: "See, we told you anti-Catholicism was real and rampant!" in his blog Holy Smoke. See the original story in The Daily Telegraphy here.

Ruth Gledhill, who just last week was gleefully piling on the Pope with the latest unfounded, baseless, slanderous, titillating rumors like a National Inquirer scandal monger is, to her credit, at lease ashamed and chastened. She writes:

Read Holy Smoke's eruption here. 'NOW do you finally understand what sort of snide, cheap and ignorant prejudice has flourished under this Government and its civil servants – wall-to-wall secularists for whom the Roman Catholic Church is at best an antiquated irrelevance and at worst a sick joke?' writes Damian Thompson. He addresses this question to the bishops of this country, though, who actually understand all too well.

It is a question that should instead be addressed to all of society, including perhaps even your own writer here. I would still argue the case against there being widespread discrimination against Christians in general in Britain but when it comes specifically to prejudice against Catholics, do Lord Carey and others who have been banging this drum have a point?

Yes, this shows they do.

What this document illustrates is that repulsive sense of entitlement we sometimes see in the over-educated young and privileged, combined with a taken-for-granted anti-Catholic prejudice that does still persist in our nation, more than a century and a half after the restoration of the hierarchy.

How could an Oxbridge graduate, presumably the cream of his crop of young graduates, a person actually in charge from the governance side of the Papal visit, have overseen this foolishness? How could his superiors at the FCO have let a person of such lamentable ignorance be put in charge of the visit in the first place?

Obviously he was taught absolutely nothing about what really matters on his passage through the elite track of our education system. I would love to see him attempt to write something similar about how we should receive the next Muslim head of state who comes here.

But of course he wouldn't dare insult Muslims. He is a coward and an immature young thug who deserves public shaming. But the anti-Catholicism of the British upper classes will protect him and ensure that nothing actually changes. Meanwhile, the cowardly appeasement of all things Muslim continues without shame.

Just one last thought: for those Protestants who wonder why I get so wound up about attacks on the Roman Catholic Church. Think of Anti-Catholicism as "The Thing That Comes Just Before Anti-Christianity."

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Anglican Church of Canada Goes Capitalist

From the "You Can't Make This Stuff Up" file, the Globe and Mail reports that the left-wing Anglican Church of Canada is going capitalist. [My comments]

The Anglican Church of Canada is inviting corporate sponsorship of its national convention this year, selling space for brand logos on delegate documents, advertising signs in its meeting spaces and a private lunch for executives with the church’s senior archbishop. [I wonder what company president would like to be lectured on eco-sins or the evils of globalization by the church's "senior archbishop?"]

It’s the first time in its 117-year history that the Canadian church made its governing synod available for a mess of pottage - to use the language of the Bible’s Old Testament allusion to Esau selling his birthright for a lentil stew. For that matter, no other Canadian church is known to have sold advertising at its formal gatherings and access to its leaders. The synod will be held June 3-11 at St. Mary’s University in Halifax. . . .

By most indices the Anglican Church is struggling – declining faster than any other Christian denomination in Canada, according to a recent report from its Diocese of British Columbia, closing decades-old parishes for want of money and “moved to the far margins of public life.” [A hint to businesses: Don't take any "turn around advice" from this group. By turn around they mean drive backward blindfolded.]

Sponsors will be grouped into three categories: visionary (for a $30,000 price-tag), supporter ($7,500) and friend ($2,500). [Imagine the line-ups.]

Mr. Carrière said that, ideally, the church is looking for commercial sponsorships from firms with which it does business, such as insurance companies. In general, he said, good-taste criteria would govern what sponsorships are accepted. Casino advertisements, for example, would be ruled out. . . . [They have their principles, you know . . .]

The synod agenda is described as “timely, relevant and important and includes debates, resolutions and presentations on major global issues such as poverty, human sexuality, the rights of indigenous peoples and the care of the environment.” [Transaltion: You won't have to listen to any of that boring stuff about God, Jesus and the Bible.]

One visionary-level sponsorship will be available, giving the purchaser a private lunch with the church’s national primate, Archbishop Fred Hiltz, and it will include the right to put company logo flags on every delegate dining table, logo displays and commercials on the webcast screen, a one-page company information spread in the synod directory distributed to all 500 delegates, a showcase booth, prominent advertisements at the convention site and a “passport” to the synod (meals included) for two company executives. [Imagine being the poor company executive who draws "synod duty"!]

The three supporter-level sponsors will get a half-page advertisement in the synod directory, signage throughout the convention space, web-cast commercials and a “passport” for one executive. The unspecified number of friend-level sponsors will get their company name printed in Acts of Faith, the church’s gift guide.

The idea was conceived by the church’s national headquarters staff. [Naturally!]

“We hope that inviting the support of corporate sponsors for general synod will have a positive impact on the church’s ability to ensure the sustainability of this gathering for years to come,” Archbishop Hiltz said in a statement. [Something better "ensure the sustainability of this gathering" because empty pews means empty collection plates.] “It also presents a new avenue for Canadian Anglicans, particularly those who own their own businesses, to support this event.”

The founder of this denomination, St. Karl Marx, must be spinning in his grave. Wouldn't it be more consistent just to die rather than be saved by capitalists?

Friday, April 23, 2010

Are Liberals in on the Muslim Take-over?

Well, you have to wonder. From Hot Air:
"As InstaGlenn says, this is actually the perfect ironic conclusion to the media’s post-Tax Day binge of hyperventilating about tea party extremism. Cranks holding up “Impeach the Kenyan!” signs at a right-wing rally are grist for a thousand NYT op-eds about Oklahoma City, but have jihadis intimidate the parent company of one of the most highly regarded comedies on television into blacking out its shows and it’s essentially a curio for the TV beat."
Is this a particularly weird period of history or what?

Muslims Do Not Have the Right to Impose Their Religion on the World by Violence

Let me say right off the bat that I do not watch South Park, nor do I like it.

But I believe in freedom of speech for people with whom I disagree or whose brand of humor I dislike. Juvenile and stupid humor is a minor offense. Muslims trying to impose their religion on the rest of us by violence is a problem of an infinitely higher order of seriousness.

The Vancouver Sun reports:

The latest episode of the satirical cartoon TV show South Park has been censored after a radical U.S. Muslim group threatened the show's creators for their depiction of the Prophet Mohammed.

A spokesman for the Comedy Central channel said the network had added a series of audio bleeps to the episode broadcast late Wednesday, which effectively removed all references to Mohammed.

Comedy Central would not confirm that the changes were linked to statements made by the New York-based Revolution Muslim group earlier this week.

The extremist group said South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker risked the same fate as slain Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh, who was murdered by a Muslim extremist in Amsterdam in 2004.

Revolution Muslim posted the address of Stone and Parker's Los Angeles production offices, but denied they were encouraging violence.

The creators of South Park have, once again, sparked anger from Muslims after the show once again depicted the Prophet Muhammad. Depictions of the prophet and Allah are forbidden in Islam.

The website, which CNN says spreads radical Muslim propaganda, slammed the show's creators after they depicted the Prophet in a bear costume on South Park's 200th episode.

Read the rest here.

Now, the National Post reports that the Muslim website that has threatened the creators of South Park has been hacked:

A radical Islamic website has warned the creators of South Park they face violent retribution for depicting the Prophet Muhammad disguised in a bear costume on the U.S. cartoon.

Abu Talhah al Amrikee wrote on revolutionmuslim.comthat the decision by Trey Parker and Matt Stone to caricature the Prophet was "stupid." He wrote that they would "probably wind up like Theo van Gogh," the Dutch filmmaker who was murdered in 2004 after making a documentary on violence against Muslim women.

"It's not a threat, but it really is a likely outcome," wrote Mr. Amrikee. "They're going to be basically on a list in the back of the minds of a large number of Muslims. It's just the reality."

Over still photographs of Mr. Parker, Mr. Stone, Mr. van Gogh and others, the website ran audio of a sermon by the radical U.S.-born preacher Anwar al-Awlaki.

According to CNN, the sermon, recorded some time ago, talks about assassinating those who have "defamed" the Prophet Muhammad -- citing one religious authority as saying "Harming Allah and his messenger is a reason to encourage Muslims to kill whoever does that."

Here is an interview from CNN in which Anderson Cooper speaks with Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who is living under armed guard after having made a movie criticizing Islam with Theo van Gogh, who was murdered by a fanatical Muslim in the Netherlands.

This woman is right. If Muslims want to come and live in the West, they have to accept our way of life including the constitutional right to free speech even when it is offensive. If they can't accept it, then they just will never fit in. If they incite violence against people for exercising their right to free speech, then they must be dealt with by the law. We have one law for everyone in Western countries: that if fundamental to our civilization. No one is allowed to impose their own religion on everyone else by violence.

Appeasement won't work with extremists. It can only lead to the downfall of our culture and the triumph of Islamofascism. Nothing less than our religious and civic freedom is at stake.

The self-censorship and bowing to threats of violence must stop. Ali is right; it will only stop when there are too many targets. Currently, the few who speak out can be isolated and targeted as a way of intimidating the rest. But if everyone speaks up then who their intimidation tactics will fail.

A people which is afraid to die for freedom always loses it.

That is More Like It

When the sex ed controversy broke earlier this week, it was reported that the government was claiming that the Roman Catholic Church had signed off on the new curriculum. When I read that, my heart sank and I thought "Well, that it the end of that. Nothing can stop it."

But you should not believe everything you read. Turns out that the spin doctors (whether government or media ones) were seriously misrepresenting the Catholic position. The National Post story this morning clears up a lot of confusion and goes some way toward explaining why McGuinty realized he had misjudged the opposition to the new curriculum.

The story "Sex-ed backlash inhibits McGuinty" explains:

That action in turn revealed a massive gulf between the province's publicly funded secular and Catholic school systems, a gulf Mr. McGuinty himself seemed to ignore.

He insisted the new curriculum applied to "all students in publicly funded schools, including Catholic schools."

His education minister, Leona Dombrowsky, also said the Catholic Church supported the new curriculum.

But Catholic officials made it clear they were not prepared to implement any of the more controversial elements, including talk of homosexuality and masturbation in Grades 3 and 6 respectively.

"We would never move new concepts way, way down in the grades as the ministry document suggests," said Sister Joan Cronin, executive director of the Institute for Catholic Education (ICE), on Thursday moments before the McGuinty announcement.

"Talking about homosexuality and masturbation to primary children is hardly age appropriate," Sister Joan said.

"Certainly it's not in the Catholic community. I'm not judging for other people.

"The Church disapproves of masturbation on any level," she said.

Homosexual acts are viewed as "disordered," according to Catholic teaching.

Sister Joan's Church-sanctioned organization was tasked with developing a Catholic version of the new curriculum.

She said it would have been "totally" different from the secular version, which was developed to reflect a new reality -- that adolescents are sexually active at an increasingly younger age and, at the same time, are able to access a range of digital information previously unavailable.

Read it all here.

Now that is more like what I would expect from the Roman Catholic Church. And it certainly explains why McGuinty backed down: he was facing the wrath of Roman Catholics, Evangelicals, and Muslims simultaneously - and he had not consulted enough with parents.

Does Sex Ed Belong in School?

The climb down by Premier McGuinty yesterday on sex education is a welcome move for which he is to be commended. He is right that not enough consultation with parents took place and that alone is sufficient reason to halt the implementation of the curriculum.

Charles McVety scored a hit when he claimed that the curriculum had been influenced by "special interest groups." No doubt much of the anger on display today from the cultural Marxist, sexual revolutionaries this morning arises from the fact that their cover was blown. More consultation with parents can only hurt their cause.

But this is an important moment in Ontario. We need to realize that social conservatives, the Roman Catholic bishops, the Muslim community, Evangelicals and parents have a rare opportunity to re-frame the debate and create a conversation about what is best for children and society as a whole.

The question I want to raise is: "What, if anything, should be taught to schoolchildren under the rubric of sex education?" I don't want to presuppose that sex education ought to be allowed in schools at all; that all depends on what we mean by sex education. But I suspect that many people would be comfortable with some of the things that are usually counted as part of sex education being taught in schools, though they worry that the schools will go far beyond what they see as appropriate. And certainly, for most people, what is inappropriate for younger children may be fine for older children. Then too, there is a major distinction between the "facts of life," that is, what is part of biology class, versus the morality of sexual relationships, marriage, contraception, abortion and new reproductive technologies. Science is one thing; ethics is another.

The view that everybody should enjoy anything that is pleasurable and is done with consent of both partners at any age is the ethical/religious position of many secularists and atheistic materialists in the social sciences and educational theory. But this view is firmly rejected by all the major world religions and by the vast majority of parents. So it should not be imposed on children in publicly-funded schools. And by "imposed" I mean that it must not form the background worldview out of which the curriculum is written.

So what should the schools do about sex education? Let me suggest three goals of sex education that I think the vast majority of parents could agree on.

1. The first goal of sex education should be to treat human sexuality as good, mysterious and powerful, rather than as trivial and banal. Or bodies are treated as sex toys and sex is seen as routine in much of our culture and this is degrading to all of us. Schools should deliberately set out to counter the influence of movies, advertising and music insofar as they portray a degraded view of human sexuality. Schools should raise the bar on sex and treat it as something beautiful and human, rather than as something to be experimented with and used as a tool to get other things you want.

2. The second goal of sex education should be to raise the average age of first sexual experience for young people. Ideally, sexual activity should begin with marriage and be limited to one's husband or wife. But given that we are a long way from this ideal, the school's sex education curriculum should try to give students reasons to delay becoming sexually active for as long as possible. The curriculum should not simply take the path of least resistance and capitulate to the idea that we should just give up and distribute condoms since there is no hope of getting today's young people to practice any amount of self-restraint. This fatalistic attitude should be resisted.

3. The third goal of sex education should be to empower girls by informing them that they do not "owe" boys access to their bodies and that they have the right to say "No." They need to know that the teacher, the school nurse, the principal and society in general stands behind them in affirming their value and worth as persons who do not have to "prove" their "love" by becoming sexually active at an early age. Role-playing in which girls learn good answers to boys who try to pressure them into having sex and essays on the health benefits of waiting to have sex and having fewer sex partners.

What assumptions inform these goals?

1. Humans are more than animals and sex is primarily about procreation and love, not primarily about pleasurable physical sensations.

2. Christians and Jews believe that permanent, monogamous, heterosexual marriage is the ideal for human sexual relationships. Cohabitation, divorce and remarriage and homosexuality are all deviations from the ideal. But in a pluralistic society, this assumption need not be held by all. For the purpose of the public school curriculum design, all that is necessary is that we assume together that promiscuity is a public health hazzard because it leads to sexually transmitted diseases (some of which are incurable) and infertility. So the assumption we can hold is common is that the fewer sexual partners each person has, the better.

3. Men want sex more than women and sex is riskier and more of a commitment for a woman, who is the one to carry the child in her body for 9 months and is more firmly attached to the child after birth. So the role of society should be to empower women so that they can resist becoming sexually active prematurely. Many contemporary societal influences are on the side of men glorifying promiscuity, promoting casual sex and telling women that they should be just like men. Schools should counter these negative influences by helping girls grow into strong, confident women who do not need to trade sex for approval because they know that they are worth waiting for and any man who won't wait is a jerk best left in the dust.

Elevate the dignity of men and women as sexual beings, emphasize waiting so that sex can be experienced as part of a permanent relationship and empowering women. These are goals all of us should be able to rally around. If these goals form the basis of the sex education curriculum, very few parents will feel undermined or threatened. And most importantly, young people will be helped to grow up happy and healthy.

I'd be interested in your reaction to these ideas and your own ideas as to what the goals of sex education should be. Please leave a comment.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Ontario Government Rethinks Sexualizing Children Under the Guise of Sex Ed

Well, well, well. This is surprising but welcome news. Premier Dalton McGuinty has done an about face and decided to sit down like Pooh Bear and have a think about whether it is a good idea or not to indoctrinate grade 6 children in the joys of anal intercourse.

From the Globe and Mail:
The Ontario government is shelving a controversial new sex education curriculum that it had planned to roll out next fall.

Premier Dalton McGuinty moved swiftly on Thursday to nip in the bud a mounting problem for his government, one that was pitting it against Christians, Muslims.

“It’s become pretty obvious to us we should give this a serious rethink,” Mr. McGuinty said.

The new curriculum will be shelved, he said, and the existing one that has been in place since 1998 will be used in Ontario public schools this fall.

The new curriculum, outlined in 208 pages that were quietly posted on the Ministry of Education’s website in January, would for the first time have taught Grade 3 pupils about such topics as sexual identity and orientation, and introduce terms like “anal intercourse” and “vaginal lubrication” to children in Grades 6 and 7. The new curriculum was set to begin in Grade 1 with lessons about the proper names of body parts.

The changes were part of a regular review of Ontario’s physical education and health curriculum, which hasn’t been updated since 1998. They went nearly unnoticed until a Christian group, led by evangelist Charles McVety, threatened to pull its children from school.

I am not sure what caused this about face, but personally I tend to think the above cartoon in yesterday's National Post might have had something to do about it. (In all seriousness, kudos to Charles McVety and his group the Institute for Canadian Values, who were first responders on this.)

Happy Lenin's Birthday to all My Leftie Friends!

No need to be uncivil just because we are enemies and all that sort of rot. I just want to take advantage of this religious holiday for all the Little Green Men and Women out there who are not from Mars. I realize it is known as "Earth Day" in many circles so as not to alarm the bourgeois, so I'll promise I'll keep the secret.

Stephen Hayward at The Weekly Standard has a nice piece on the decline of Earth Day called "Earth Day Blues."

Environmentalists are used to wallowing in misery--in fact, it makes them happy--but the 40th anniversary of Earth Day this week should offer up an extra helping of woe, for the movement has lost its mojo. Opinion surveys show not only that public belief in and concern for global warming is plummeting, but that environmentalism in general is falling out of favor. They have no one to blame but themselves.

The first Earth Day in 1970 was a sensation, amounting to a coming out party for a major new social and political force, and for the next decade the environmental movement became arguably the most rapidly successful social movement in U.S. history, with a string of landmark national statutes passed in quick succession with large bipartisan majorities, such as the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act, and culminating in the Superfund toxic cleanup act in 1980. But the field has been stagnant ever since, with environmental issues becoming highly polarized on ideological lines resulting in a complete stalemate on new legislative policy initiatives (though environmentalists are still thriving in the courtroom and in the bureaucracy).

In 1990, according to an ABC News/Gallup survey series, 75 percent of Americans said they considered themselves to be environmentalists, with only 24 percent saying they did not. The numbers have been slowly reversing over the last decade. As of 2008 (the most recent year the question was asked), only 41 percent of Americans identified themselves as environmentalists, with 58 percent now saying they do not. And Gallup’s annual environmental survey also finds the public now favors economic growth over environmental protection by a 53 – 38 margin. For most of the last 25 years, even during previous recessions, the public favored the environment over the economy by as much as a two-to-one margin. In 1991, the beginning of a recession, the margin was 71 – 20 in favor of environmental protection over the economy. Surveys also show surging support for nuclear power and expanded oil and gas production in the U.S. No wonder the 40th anniversary of Earth Day is passing quietly this year."

Environmentalism is what happens to former Puritans who no longer believe in God but still believe that they deserve to be punished for their sins. So maybe it would be nicer of me to wish you all: "Miserable Earth Day (aka Lenin's Birthday)!"

No More Hiding Your Libertinism Behind Multiculturalism

Now there is a headline I've been waiting to see for quite some time. In the Globe and Mail yesterday we read:

I'm so tired of while, middle-class, liberals hiding behind the banner of "multiculturalism" in order to justify their institutionalization of the sexual revolution over the wishes of parents.

The fact is that it is the social conservatives who have many cultures on their side. Most Muslims and members of other religions are conservative in sexual morality: it is not some sort of weird pre-occupation of Evangelical Christians. The "liberals" are Western imperialists who seek to impose the relativism of the postmodern West on everybody else.

Let us be honest: it is not a question of "open-minded, multiculturalists" against "narrow, racist, Christian fundamentalists." It is not a religious thing at all. And it is not about being open or closed minded. It is a clash of political ideology versus a traditional way of life that most of us actually like and want to preserve. It is the traditional morality common to all world religions versus the cultural Marxism of the Frankfurt School that is still on its "long march through the institutions" as it attempts to subvert the middle class and Western society itself.

It is time that traditionalists of all religious banded together to defend our children against the predations of utopian revolutionaries who are out to destroy our way of life. I am willing to make common cause with Canadian Muslims and Orthodox Jews and conservative Roman Catholics and sensible agnostics against them any day of the week.

The Anti-Scientific Gender-Neutral Delusion

ProWomanProLife has a quote from Margaret Wente in the Globe and Mail today:
I do have one objection to the way sex ed is taught in schools. It is so scrupulously gender-neutral that it ignores the fundamental differences between teenage boys and girls. Boys want sex, all the time. Girls want relationships. It’s hardwired into their biology. The more that girls absorb this cruel fact of life, the better off they’ll be. Teenage girls need to learn that having sex as freely as guys do is not necessarily empowering. In fact, it’s a lot more empowering if they don’t.
There is a lot of common sense in this quote and you could unpack it into a whole series of arguments against the whole sexual revolution.

The key? Gender-neutral. It sounds so egalitarian, so fair, so empowering . . . so utterly stupid. Get rid of the "Gender-Neutral Delusion" and a lot of social problems could be at least addressed.

It is not "social conservatives" or "the Judeo-Christian moral tradition" that the Gender-Neutral crowd really has a problem with. Those are just scapegoats and boogy men. The real enemy of the Gender-Neutral Culture Warriors is Science. They are banging their head on a rock trying to get everybody to pretend that men and women are the same.

Why Do the Schools Have to Join in the Sexualization of Children?

Finally today we have a sensible editorial on the introduction of a revised sex ed curriculum into Ontario government-controlled schools for next year. The editorial is entitled "Sex Ed Requires Prudence and Parents" and is in the National Post. Here is an excerpt:
Ontario is poised to inaugurate a new and explicit sex education curriculum in September. According to a detailed outline posted on the Ministry of Education's website in January, children in Grade 3 will for the first time learn about "invisible differences" between people, including those of gender identity and sexual orientation, while Grade 6 and 7 students will receive information about "vaginal lubrication" and "anal intercourse."

Reaction to the initiative from a "family-focused" coalition upholding traditional Judeo-Christian sexual morality was predictably, and fiercely, combative. "[Y]ou're talking about a very personal and sensitive area and dealing with kids so young I believe that it will end up infringing on their thought processes and their desires and ability to make correct choices," said Reverend Ekron Malcolm, director of the Institute for Canadian Values.

Unpacked, Reverend Malcolm's allusions to "thought processes" and "ability to make correct choices" reflect social conservatives' fears that a too-early introduction to sexuality of all kinds, particularly to the phenomenon of homosexuality, may negatively impact a child's normal sexual development.

That the most active resistance to the program comes from the Christian right should not distract thoughtful secularists from the fact that the program is objectionable on purely rational grounds that have nothing to do with homophobia.

Read it all here. The editorial makes some good points.

First, I am glad to see that the argument that physical information based sex education delays the start of sexual activity is challenged in this article because it is false. Abstinence based sex ed in higher grades does increase the age of first intercourse, which is a key statistic schools should be focused on because it reduces the spread of STD's, reduces the out of wedlock pregnancy rate, and prevents depression and suicide. (See the work of Edward C. Green of Harvard on the success of sex ed programs in Uganda: the so-called ABC method - Rethinking AIDS Prevention: Learning from Successes in Developing Countries (Praeger, 2003). Nothing should be more central to a school's sex ed approach than trying to get the age of first intercourse up by 2 or 3 years. I can't see how sexualizing young children and desensitizing them to sexual acts of all kinds does that.

The argument made for talking about body parts and sex acts is that the children will hear about such things on the playground and the need is for "accurate" information. But this is just to bring playground vulgarity inside the classroom. The classroom should be an oasis where such vulgarity, which assaults children relentlessly in media etc., is not permitted. The classroom should be devoted to learning, which is its purpose, not to prurience. One wonders, can our society not stop being fixated on sex just for a few minutes every day?

Our society is sexualizing children constantly and relentlessly and it is a widespread social problem, especially in books, movies, music and advertising. Pre-pubescent children should be allowed to enjoy childhood without people talking about sex to them or reading about sex in books or seeing it on TV. It is something they cannot understand and will only become more confused about the more they think about it. If society cannot arrange things so that children are shielded, then we have to question whether adults are not simply being selfish and lazy.

The editorial also makes the point that one does not have to be Christian or even religious in order to believe that forcing pre-pubescent children to think about sex is unhealthy and unnatural. While it is true that Judeo-Christian sexual morality shaped Western civilization, it is also true that some form of traditional sexual morality centered on marriage and child-rearing has shaped every high civilization in history.

So one cannot say that the practice of traditional sexual morality in education should change just because most people are no longer practicing Christians. It is a pillar of civilization itself; it should only change therefore if we as a society decide we no longer wish to be civilized. As the article says, the fact that it is mainly Christians who are objecting does not mean that there are not good, scientific reasons based on child development for opposing the sexualizing of pre-pubescent children.

Finally, the editorial is right to identify the genesis of this approach in a certain ideology.
. . . we see the program as a political vehicle for special interest groups obsessed with "social justice," who perceive entrenchment of their libertine agenda in public school curricula as the quickest and most efficient route to detaching children from morality-based sexual values.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Why the Democrats Will Lose in 2010 and 2012

Peter Ferrara has a set of bold predictions in his article in the American Spectator entitled "Take the Painkiller and Go Home." He predicts that the Republicans will win control of the House and probably the Senate in 2010 and that Obama will not even be on the ballot in 2012. I can't say I disagree with him; I first made the same predictions in January 2010. (By the way, speaking of my predictions, today was the day Obama started talking about the VAT. It won't be the last time you hear him talk about it.)

Here is Ferrara's opening:

The defining moment for the Presidency of Barack Obama came early, in June, 2009. It was one of many health reform extravaganzas to come, this one televised by ABC from the East Room of the White House, a town hall among health care experts and consumers.

Citizen Jane Sturm took the mike to ask how the brave, new world of Obamacare would treat people like her 105-year-old mother. At age 99 her mother's heart specialist confided that without a pacemaker he couldn't keep her alive, but at her advanced age he couldn't justify the operation. Jane sought out another specialist, and when he saw her mother was still very much alive and enjoying life, he agreed to do the operation.

Over five years later, her mother was still living happily with her family as a result of the highly advanced medical technology she received. So Jane, still displaying her own spirited fight for her mother's life, very articulately asked the President if under his vision for health care there would be any consideration given for a certain spirit, or joy of living, or quality of life, in providing medical care for those of advanced age. Or would there just be a cut-off at a certain age.

The President replied that we as a culture and a society have to learn to make better decisions about end of life care. And when the wise, central planning Washington bureaucrats discover the evidence shows the care is not going to improve health, they can let your doctor know, and let your mom know, maybe this is not going to help, maybe you're better off not having the surgery and taking the painkiller and going home.

Jane just told him that without the surgery her mother would be dead, and he responds with a hypothetical that maybe she would be better off taking the painkiller and going home. And President Obama's mind is so hypothetical and so theoretical that he is certain that far off Washington bureaucrats would know from the evidence when she should take the painkiller and go home, and could let her yahoo doctor know.

Moreover, from Jane's perspective, this was not an issue of end of life care. She just told him that after the surgery more than 5 years ago her mother was still very much alive and spirited. But those of us who have been paying attention have learned that President Obama is so certain that he has all the answers that he never really hears what anyone else is saying.

The message from the President to America's sickest and most vulnerable should be the theme for Election 2010, and the message the American people will now send to Washington's ruling Democrats: Take the Painkiller and Go Home.

Read it all here.

Why the Contraceptive Mentality is Bad for Women and Children

Here is an excellent article from First Things by an economist, Timothy Reichert, on why contraception is harmful to women and children, to marriage as an institution and therefore to society as a whole. It is an innovative and fascinating argument. Here is the introduction to Bitter Pill:
Economists and other social scientists have written extensively about the impact that contraception has had on modern sexual relationships. Almost without exception, the academic establishment makes the claim that contraceptive technology is a social good. By contrast, the Catholic Church (and until recent decades the Christian establishment generally) asserts that the practice of contraception is, in fact, directly contrary to the health of individual families and to society as a whole.

The difference between these two perspectives on an issue that is central to human sexuality—and therefore human existence—is striking. But meaningful debate between the two camps has been almost nonexistent. Certainly, part of the reason for this has been an unwillingness on the part of secular social scientists to engage in honest dialogue. But an equally large part of the blame for the nonengagement should be laid at the feet of Catholics. With a few notable exceptions, the Catholic perspective has not been taken seriously by Catholics themselves. Nor, in the cases when it has, has it been articulated using the language of social science, which is the language of the mainstream. As a result, the difference in viewpoint on an issue that is central to the human person is treated by our culture as a case of faith and reason talking past each other.

With this essay, using the language and tools of modern social science, I will articulate the position that contraception is socially damaging. I will also demonstrate that contraception is in fact a sexist practice. Using straightforward microeconomic reasoning, I will unpack the behaviors engendered by artificial contraception. I will show that the contraceptive revolution has resulted in a massive redistribution of wealth and power from women and children to men.

In doing so, I will reveal that despite the ethical inferiority of artificial contraception, the practice of contraception will, unfortunately, predominate as the social “equilibrium” unless legal restrictions or social mores “tax” men and “subsidize” women and children. More technically, artificial contraception sets up what economists call a “prisoner’s-dilemma” game, in which each woman is induced to make decisions rationally that ultimately make her, and all women, worse off. This result is particularly striking and has broad implications for how we think about the sexual revolution and its aftermath.
Read it all here.

The article is too complex to summarize, so I hope you will read it for yourself. It is a different angle on a growing consensus of opinion that the birth control pill has been a disaster for humanity in general and women in particular. The unblinking support for it displayed by secular feminism is proof that feminism is anti-women except those women who want to become just like men.

Evangelical Paganism at Yale

Barbara Kay, in an article in the National Post entitled "Every Week is Sex Week" writes about the current "Sex Week" going on at Yale University.

The University of Calgary Needs to Stop Intimidating Students or Lose Its Public Funding

Here is the text of an email I just sent to the interim president of the University of Calgary:

I implore you not to disgrace yourself as a university by continuing your vain attempts to censor the pro-life students who are attempting to conduct a reasoned debate about the most serious moral issue of our time. If harsh truths cannot be debated passionately on a university campus then where can this debate occur?

The University of Calgary deserves to lose all public funding if all members of the public are not allowed to debate moral issues on campus freely and without interference from the administration. Attempts at intimidation and censorship are illiberal and contradictory to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and must not be tolerated at a publicly-funded university.

The eyes of all Canadians are on you. Do not act in such a way as to make martyrs of these students while creating a reputation for Stalinist repression for yourselves.

Dr. Craig Carter

I urge you to sent your own email to