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Archive for the ‘Culture and Religion’ Category

Religion Under Assault

Saturday, January 13th, 2018

This is a frightening story of the assault on religion in Canada. Is the USA far behind?

The Heritage Foundation

Religious Liberty is Eroding in Canada. Here’s What Americans Should Learn
The Daily Signal
12/28/17
By Emilie Kao and Zachary Jones

Outside of watching the occasional hockey game or purchase of maple syrup, most Americans pay little attention to Canada.

We may know of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s colorful socks, but little of how unpopular he is among his constituency. We may discuss the single-payer health care system, but are unfamiliar with the government’s disrespect for religious liberty of our neighbors to the north.

Faithful patriots in this country who are concerned by the attacks on free exercise of religion in America should also be concerned by the similar attacks on liberty echoing within Canada, a country with strong protections for religious liberty in its Charter for Rights and Freedom.

In light of the immense trade between our two countries, we must determine if religious intolerance is an intangible export that has escaped our notice.

Americans need an alternative to the mainstream media. But this can’t be done alone. Find out more >>

Last month, Alberta’s Child and Family Services barred a Christian couple from adopting a child because their religious views about sexuality—views shared by orthodox Jews and Muslims—were incompatible with “the official position of the Alberta government.”

The Ministry of Children’s Services stated that the couple’s belief that sexuality should not be experienced or explored until a person is married, would not create a “safe, healthy, loving, and inclusive home.”

And in June, Ontario passed a law that gave state agencies the power to prevent families from adopting or fostering children if the parents would not affirm the child transitioning their “gender identity” from male to female or vice-versa, calling such a denial “child abuse.”

Similarly, the American Civil Liberties Union is suing the state of Michigan over legislation that allows faith-based adoption agencies to only place children into homes with mothers and fathers while under government contract.

And much like Ontario, Illinois is requiring foster parents to affirm the gender identity of any child in their care and aid in any medical procedures the child wishes to undergo.

The Canadian government has unilaterally taken positions on sexuality without the consent of its citizenry, much like the Obama administration’s unilateral decision to reinterpret the definition of “sex” to include sexual orientation and gender identity in Title IX.

But if Americans and Canadians can’t adopt or foster children because they don’t affirm a child undergoing potentially harmful hormone therapies and sex-reassignment surgeries or sexual activity outside of marriage, will the government also begin using this criteria for “good parenting” of biological children?

Will they treat the parenting practices of Orthodox Christians, Jews, and Muslims as suspect if they simply refuse to adopt the latest sexual trends?

Also in Canada, the Supreme Court will soon determine if attorneys who hold orthodox religious beliefs on sexuality are eligible to practice law.

Before Trinity Western University could even open its law school, the accrediting legal societies within Nova Scotia, Ontario, and British Columbia voted not to accredit graduates from the university’s school of law, because the Christian university has Orthodox Christian beliefs about marriage and sexuality.

Trinity Western University is the only Canadian university to have received an A+ grade in quality of education over the past seven years, yet in 2014, the Law Society of Upper Canada labeled the students’ views as “abhorrent” and “not welcome in the public marketplace.”

Without a degree from an accredited law school, students cannot practice law in the province.

Similarly, in 2015, the mayor of Salem, Massachusetts, lambasted Gordon College, a Christian university, for its beliefs about marriage after the university president wrote to President Barack Obama asking for a religious exemption from a forthcoming executive order on hiring practices related to sexual orientation and gender identity.

The mayor decided to prohibit Gordon College and its students from using a local meeting hall they had used for years. Lynn Public Schools then banned Gordon College students who were majoring in education from training as student teachers at local public schools.

The New England Association of Schools and Colleges even held a special meeting to consider revoking Gordon’s accreditation.

In both the United States and Canada, governments and accreditors are threatening the ability of graduates of Christian universities to work in the professions for which they have been trained.

Canadian members of parliament also denied member Rachael Harder the chance to chair the Status of Women Committee led by the Liberal Party solely because of her pro-life views. Despite the chair position being procedural, not political in nature, the Trudeau government refused to allow Harder’s “outrageous” views into any kind of position of authority.

Much like a scene from “Mean Girls,” politicians staged a walkout to protest Harder’s appointment because of her viewpoint on abortion. Ultimately, they gave the position to a member of parliament who did not want it.

In the United States, senators, including Sens. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.; Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.; and Al Franken, D-Minn., and leftist organizations like the American Bar Association have smeared judicial nominees like Judges Amy Barrett and Steve Grasz and public officials like Kelvin Cochran and Russell Vought as “unqualified” and “hateful,” simply because of their Christian beliefs.

Their ability to serve as judges, work in government, or lead a fire department is being questioned solely because of their religious views.

In both the United States and Canada, the ability to work in government and pursue your dreams is becoming increasingly dependent on one’s beliefs about sexuality, biology, and the beginning of human life.

These developments should concern all those who believe in the right to not only hold religious beliefs in private, but to exercise them in public.

Canada was founded on the idea of religious pluralism, allowing Catholics living in Quebec to freely practice their faith. The United States was founded as a refuge for religious dissenters, as the Puritans fled persecution from the Church of England.

It is this commitment to religious liberty for all that has led America to defend religious minorities around the world, including Jews, Muslims, Baha’is, Buddhists, and Zoroastrians.

The U.S. and Canada were the only two countries that had ambassadors for international religious freedom. But Trudeau opted to dissolve Canada’s office of ambassador of religious freedom.

If America and Canada, who are traditionally the foremost defenders of religious freedom around the world, are now forsaking that value, what will happen to the Rohingya Muslims in Burma, the Christians and Yazidis facing genocide by ISIS, and the Jews who are facing renewed anti-Semitism in Europe, all of whom the U.S. has fervently advocated for?

Right now, Canadians and Americans of faith have the opportunity to form strategic alliances, especially as they relate to marriage, family, and the free exercise of religion. But the growing threats to religious liberty and freedom of conscience make it especially urgent that these partnerships develop quickly.

Many of the world’s most dire and violent religious conflicts are rooted in lack of respect for religious freedom and religious diversity. There is no time to waste.

The Conquest of Britain and the English Language

Friday, September 29th, 2017

Once more, my friend Dan Garshman, tells me that on September 23 in 1066 A.D., William the Conqueror of Normandy arrived on British soil . He defeated the British in the Battle of Hastings, and on Christmas Day he was crowned King of England in Westminster Abby. What nobody knew at the time was how much this would affect the English language. The British back then were speaking a combination of Saxon and Old Norse. The Normans spoke French. Over time, the languages blended, and as a result English became a language incredibly rich in synonyms. Because the French speakers were aristocrats, the French words often became the fancy words for things. The Normans gave us “mansion”; the Saxons gave us “house.” The Normans gave us “beef”; the Saxons gave us, “cow.”

The English language has gone on accepting additions to its vocabulary ever since, and it now contains more than a million words, making it one of the most diverse languages on Earth. Writers have been arguing for hundreds of years about whether this is a good thing.

The critic Cyril Connolly wrote, “The English language is like a broad river … being polluted by a string of refuse-barges tipping out their muck.” But Walt Whitman said, “The English language is the accretion and growth of every dialect, race, and range of time, and is both the free and compacted composition of all.” And the poet Derek Walcott said, “The English language is nobody’s special property. It is the property of the imagination: it is the property of the language itself.”

Confucius

Thursday, September 28th, 2017

Confucius

And finally, today, September 28, is the birthday of the teacher, philosopher, and political theorist popularly known as Confucius, born near what is now Qufu, in Shandong Province, China, in 551 BCE.

Not a lot is known about Confucius’s childhood. He was probably a member of an aristocratic family that had lost its wealth, because he was born in poverty. His father died when Confucius was three years old, and his mother took charge of his education. The boy had a real thirst for knowledge, and asked many questions wherever he went. He took some minor government jobs when he was a teenager, but also made an effort to seek out knowledgeable masters to instruct him in the six arts: ritual, music, archery, chariot driving, calligraphy, and arithmetic. He began to turn his thoughts to practical questions of morality and ethics.

As a young man, he traveled widely throughout China, meeting with leaders of the various provinces and trying to impress upon them the importance of self-discipline and virtue. He didn’t approve of what he saw as the moral decline of China after years of political unrest. He also believed that there was a connection between the personal and the universal, and that poor political decisions could lead to natural disasters like floods. At one point in his travels, he was imprisoned for five days due to a case of mistaken identity. He didn’t let it ruffle his feathers, though, and reportedly sat calmly playing his lute while the muddle was sorted out.

In his 30s, he returned home and started a school that was open to rich and poor alike. Teaching was a way of life to him, not just a career. His teaching philosophy was revolutionary: rather than simply training apprentices in particular skills, education could and should be used for the welfare and improvement of society. He felt obligated to bring back an emphasis on humility, compassion, and tradition, to encourage people to exercise self-discipline, and to always act on the principle of “ren,” or “loving others.” “What you do not wish for yourself,” he wrote, “do not do to others.” He hoped that his students would carry these principles with them into positions with the government, and thereby form a generation of leaders who would set a virtuous example for the people of China. He also began to write, including two books of poetry — the Book of Odes and the Book of Documents. None of his books contained his philosophy, however; what we know about Confucianism today is what was passed down to his many students.

Confucius died in 479 BCE, but his stature continued to grow after his death. By the second century BCE, Confucianism formed the basis for China’s state ideology, and he is considered one of the most influential minds in Chinese history. His birthday is an official holiday in Taiwan, where it is celebrated as Teachers’ Day. His writings were first translated into English by James Legge in 1867, and a more readable translation was published by Oxford University in 1907.

Confucius wrote: “There are three things which the wise man holds in reverence: the Will of Heaven, those in authority, and the words of the sages. The fool knows not the Will of Heaven and holds it not in reverence: he is disrespectful to those in authority; he ridicules the words of the sages.”

And: “He who does not understand the Will of God can never be a man of the higher type. He who does not understand the inner law of self-control can never stand firm. He who does not understand the force of words can never know his fellow-men.”

“When two people
understand each other
in their innermost hearts
their words are sweet,
like the fragrance
of orchids”
––– Confucius

Euripides

Thursday, September 28th, 2017

And now from ridiculous to sublime –––– acknowlegment of the birthday of a most important literary master.

Euripides

September 23 is the day Greece celebrates the birthday of the Athenian tragic poet, Euripides  (480 BC), best known for his plays Medea, The Bacchae, and Iphigenia at Aulis .

The story goes that he was born on the same day as the battle of Salamis in 480 BC, but this detail was probably invented after his death to align him with the Athenian identity. Along with Aeschylus and Sophocles, Euripides is one of the few Greek playwrights who had a lot of his work survive through the ages.
He paid special attention to the downtrodden in society, particularly women and slaves, at a time when other playwrights focused on more powerful, triumphant characters.

Euripides was one of the first writers to portray mythical heroes like regular people; even when they were arguing with gods, their struggles were human struggles and they had the same emotional conflicts as everyone else. His dialogue was less structured and closer to regular speech. This decision to make dialogue less like poetry was the first in a long line of innovations that made theater more realistic.

His work can be hard to pin down, and critics make a lot of contradicting claims about him. The literary critic Bernard Knox wrote: “He has been described as ‘the poet of the Greek enlightenment’ and also as ‘Euripides the irrationalist.’ He has been seen as a profound explorer of human psychology and also a rhetorical poet who subordinated consistency of character to verbal effect; as a misogynist and a feminist; as a realist who brought tragic action down to the level of everyday life, and as a romantic poet who chose unusual myths and exotic settings. He has been recognized as the precursor of New Comedy and also what Aristotle called him: ‘the most tragic of poets.’ […] And not one of these descriptions is entirely false.”

Euripides was exiled from Greece toward the end of his life because of his association with Socrates, who was executed for refusing to recognize the Greek gods. He defined his art form this way: “Tragedy isn’t getting something or failing to get it, it’s losing something you already have.”

Bigotry and Hate on the Left

Sunday, August 27th, 2017

This is a terrific essay on the depths of bigotry and hate as practiced by the far left. The piece was sent to me by my good friend, Dr. Stephen Dubel, no friend of the far left.

THE AMERICAN THINKER
August 24, 2017

If There Aren’t Two Sides, Why Is There Division?
By Jeffrey T. Brown

George Clooney and his wife just donated a large sum of money to the Southern Poverty Law Center, a liberal hate group active in smearing non-adherents to Marxist theology. He said, “There are no two sides to bigotry and hate.” Paul Ryan has been equally generous with his wisdom on how there is somehow only one side to issues of bigotry and hatred, though there are clearly two or more cultural factions expressing diametrically opposed views on myriad social and cultural issues.

If there are not two sides to a phenomenon, then there is only one side. If there’s only one side, then everyone must be on the same side, since there isn’t another option. Working on such deep philosophical levels, we can then discern that those who rallied in Boston to protest against “free speech,” for example, actually speak for all of us when they demand that those who express resistance to anarchy and repression and hatred on the left, and who are then attacked violently for defending cherished American freedoms, should stop speaking at all or assume the risk of injury and death through anarchistic mob violence. Remember that no one speaking in favor of “free speech” in Boston was a Nazi, or a KKK member, or a member of any other traditional Democrat-associated group. They were “counter-protested” for defending the fundamental American right to speak freely without injury from other citizens.

One must be a champion simpleton to believe that the only people who hate are those the simpleton vehemently hates. Or perhaps it is merely an herculean act of dishonesty that motivates a seemingly cogent person to say something so monumentally dishonest and stupid.

Politically speaking, if we boil this down to a uniquely American perspective, we observe that there are two clearly recognizable sides. On the one hand, there are those Americans who recognize the necessity of the Constitution and Bill of Rights as a shield against the tyranny and oppression of a mob of frenzied zealots bent on power and destruction. Those Americans – we’ll call them “grown-ups” – understand what the Founders knew. Sooner or later, the capacity for human vice, and the ease with which it is manipulated, will exceed the capacity for reason and wisdom in a significant percentage of the population, and there will be demands for revenge and retribution by those whose weakness has been rubbed raw.

On the other hand, there are those Americans – we’ll call them “angry toddlers” – who are emotional puppets, whose alarming mental weakness predisposes them to manipulation and misdirection dressed up as virtue. They decline mental exercises that require objectivity, reason, and actual morality, because these do not bring the desired result, which is their presumed moral primacy over those their handlers seek to dominate and control, not to mention the wealth and property of those targets. These people are not the most dangerous among us, but they run a close second because of their utter inability to process basic information and come up with a correct answer. The most dangerous are those who manipulate such people to steal what they want while pretending to be making things better.

At the heart of our social conflict, we are engaged in a total war for the soul of America, and despite the malice of people like Clooney and Ryan, there certainly are two sides. As Americans, we on one side of the struggle see the anarchists and Marxists for who they really are. They, on the other hand, see the liberals and progressives for who they are and recruit them for their gullibility and stupidity to fight us. No political philosophy has brought more hatred, death, and destruction to the world than communism, and no political movement has ever been misrepresented so fully to its “useful idiots.” It is an ideology motivated by every human vice, yet the “anarcho-communists” who constitute the Antifa movement have somehow led Democrats to believe that Antifa’s cause is their cause, and it must be fought by frenzied mental patients throwing bottles of urine, clubbing bystanders, tearing down statues, killing police, and attacking elderly women holding American flags.

So liberal Democrats happily and proudly rally against “free speech” for the sake of their righteousness. They are committed to eradicating the Bill of Rights for its protection of those they hate, those against whom they are deeply bigoted, those whose declared right to refuse to be owned by tyrants is the single biggest obstacle to their victory. They have decided for themselves that violence, but only their violence, is acceptable, because their motives are so “moral.” Their “morality” encourages violence to achieve peace, which is akin to encouraging rape to achieve virginity. Such is the intellectual depth of the tools being manipulated by a communist movement to destroy capitalism and, with it, their own individual freedom.

To win this fight, those on the Left, regardless of party affiliation, recognize the need to falsely moralize about exercising resistance to totalitarianism, embodied by not only believing in, but practicing protected inalienable rights. That is the objective when saying something so patently absurd as “There are no two sides to hate and bigotry.” It is to discourage and dishearten those who have not surrendered to liberal/progressive/Marxist/communist theology, those who have not offered themselves up to the wisdom of the state to come, which will be controlled by those wearing black clothing, hoods, and masks. It calls self-preservation against our own overthrow “hatred” and “bigotry” and treats these as morally unacceptable principles. To those on the left, those who would unseat our president and hasten our plunge from a constitutional republic to a mobocracy, there is only one side in this struggle that is valid: theirs.

Remember what the left means when it says there are not two sides to hate and bigotry. Leftists are actually saying it is hate and bigotry to resist them. It is hate and bigotry to wish freedom for yourself and your children, to demand to keep what you earn, to live your life peacefully, and to reject totalitarianism. It is hate and bigotry to live in white skin and not believe that it should determine one’s future any more than dark skin should, to refuse to be owned by those whose every word and deed is itself motivated by hatred and bigotry against us. To them, refusal to accept the place in society they have reserved for us is the epitome of hate and bigotry.

We must accept and understand that we cannot win this argument and escape the impending punishment of the left’s overwhelming hatred and bigotry by surrendering. If the leftists prevail, they will exact their revenge upon us for our refusal to buckle and submit. We must do all we can now to remain free, while they lie the hardest to conquer us.


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