Canada is Free and Freedom is Its Nationality

Sir Wilfrid Laurier

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Event Blogging: "Winning as a Pro-Life Candidate" by Rod Bruinooge

Intro by Rebecca Walberg. Socons and fiscals can be united. We need to stop apologizing for who we are, pro-life can be a winning strategy. Canada has one of the most radical abortion policies in the world. We need to bring pro-family back into the picture, we cannot allow the pro-choice people to define us. To be pro-life is to be pro-women rights. Abortion is dangerous and women can frequently be coerced into it. Women often see no other option to abortion. We believe that women should be given all the information and that both women and children should be given care. We believe in the humanity of the child and in our collective humanity. Abortion is a matter of social justice, minorities and poor women are more likely to have abortions. Often this is a barely disguised form of eugenics.

Rod Bruinooge is of Aboriginal background, he has a young family and is a very staunch supporter of pro-life and family policies. He won in an unlikely riding on a very strong moral stand.

Rod Bruinooge

Social conservative, particularly pro-life views are not a liability but an asset. I am in a very liberal urban riding. Conservatives have only won twice in 100 years.

PowerPoint Presentation

Winning as a Pro-Life Candidate in Urban Canada. There is a mantra in Canada that you don't flaunt your pro-life views. The pro-life label can build a winning coalition because it can cause people to change parties in your favour. It is the most powerful issue in Canada. If you stand on this issue the media will get your message out and other people will respect you.

There are factions within the abortion debate.

Hard Pro-Life – abortion should be illegal in Canada

Pro-Life with Conditions – abortion should not be banned outright but are in favour of increasing information for women like ultrasounds pre abortion, third-trimester banned.

Hard Pro-Choice – Abortion always for any reason.

Soft Pro-Choice – abortion should be legal but there should be some limitations. Essentially the same as pro-life with conditions.

Pro-Choice What is it?

Informed consent – No

Laws against partner coercion – No

Prevention of Female Selection abortions – No

Acknowledge incredible science on unborn – No


Well over 2/3rds of Canadians support some limits.

Fewer than 10% support abortion up until the final moment of pregnancy.

Other Facts

Most Pro-life candidates and Mps are in Conservative party

Social Conservatives are the base of the party.

Polling Data – How the question is asked is everything in this debate.

The abortion advocates abuse all information, because the data is skewed.

2/3 Canadians believe there are existing abortion laws.

Urban Polling Data

Pro- Choice 48%
Pro-Life 30%
Pro-Life with Conditions 22%

Winning Elections

In 2004 Bruinooge ran a quiet PL campaign and lost by 6500 votes.
2006 ran a louder PL campaign and won by 111 votes.
While there were other factors this stance probably helped.
2008 ran a pronounced PL campaign, media predicted 12 point loss due to “strident anti-abortion views” There is a view in the media that these views are completely unacceptable.
Won by 14.8% and 5800 votes. There was no follow up story about pro-life vindicated.

The way to keep this ball rolling is to get involved.

Pro-life messaging is important. Saying that I'm pro-life and women should have access to all information is an incremental message.

Saying that you disagree with the fact that the unborn child has no legal worth in Canada even in the final stages of pregnancy is acceptable.

He founded Aboriginal Life Circle with MY Canada to promote the aboriginal view on life which is overwhelmingly pro-life.

Winning the nation

Support pro life candidates, be involved in politics, pro-lifers are resilient.

Event Blogging: "How Ideas Get Turned Into Law" by Joseph Ben-Ami

It is important to understand how ideas become laws if we want to develop effective strategies. This is one of the reason why we have different organizations instead of one giant one, because they can contribute at different stages of lawmaking.

When it comes to making laws Parliament is almost entirely suprifulous. The Cabinet is really the law making body in our country. The Cabinet can sometimes pass laws without going through the whole Parliament ringmarole. They are prevented from doing this in practice because Parliament holds the money bag and can punish a Cabinet who insults them. It is important to realize this because if we are focusing on lobbying people it is far better to focus on Cabinet Ministers than backbenchers or opposition MPs. It is exceptionally difficult to get a legislation through without Cabinet's support.

The real benefit of a private member's bill is communication. A bill is a piece of legislation. To become law it needs to pass Parliament and the Senate, going through three votes and a committee at each level. It really needs government support to go anywhere. The real question when you are writing a private member's bill is not what will happen if it passes, but what will be the impact of introducing it and having it discussed. Changing the law is our goal, not our stratagy. We need to be more cautious, and more aware of the demoralizing effect constantly losing has on volunteers and members. If we use all of our strength on bills we know won't pass is it the best use of our time? If you ask people to write 2, 3, 4, letters that don't work they may start to ask what the point is.

The key to getting the law changed is not to elect MPs that agree with your goals. The key is to elect a political party which agrees with your goals. We don't have a political party that opposes abortion. We try to elect as many pro-life MPs as possible but what we really need is to elect a pro-life government. During the marriage debate, when the Liberals were pro-gay, some people worked to elect Liberal pro-marriage candidates when it would have been better to work towards getting a pro-marriage government in.

Cabinet controls what happens.

It is also important to remember the beurocracy. They do have influence. We need to take our lobbying of them seriously.

We have a system that can only change incrementally. Whether we like that or not that is the reality.

The 64,000 dollar question is, what about provincial governments? Abortion for example is funded at the provincial level. We can do a great deal on a provincial level rather than spending a lot of time lobbying backbenchers to support private members bills that have no effect. Education is a major issue that can be dealt with locally. Centralised curriculum is a big problem. Our schools are engines of social change today and those who control the curriculum and education are those who shape social norms.

You can get involved in either federal, provincial, and municipal politics. Municipal politics is not as glamourous but it is the most effective and has the most impact on people's day to day life.

It is not good enough to simply have goals. We need a plan. We need to demand exellence of ourselves as individuals and organizations.

Okay I missed a bunch of questions or statements after this as well, sorry again.

Event Blogging: "The Power of the One - How to be a Catalyst for Change" by Tristan Emmanuel

Why we need to be the catalyst for change in our culture.

First Point. We often feel that the problems which plague our culture are so big, that there is nothing we can really do. Our economy is recession. Democracy is fading. Morality is bankrupt. We feel incapable of doing anything about it. However this keeps us from doing anything. Yet we all impact our culture, either passively or deliberately.

Often we assist in our own demise unwittingly. Socons engage in worldview pessimism. We obsess with end-times to the exclusion of trying to change things in the present. They think that it will only get worse so why engage? We know that the end is nigh and evil will only speed the end-times so we shouldn't fight against it. We have been living in the “end-times” for almost 2000 years now. This attitude discourages cultural engagement except evangelism. Evangelism is important but to believe that it is the only valid cultural engagement if fallacious. We just leave our country in the clutches of the devil and his forces. This has created untold disadvantages for social conservatives and has helped to create the situation we are in today.

These people have an unbalanced view of their own Scriptures. It undermines the cultural mandate which is also in the Bible. Go into the world and multiply and cultivate as it says in Genesis. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations in Matthew. Go disciple entities, nations as nations, not just individuals, and teach them ethics. Universities, parliaments, all of Canada's institutions are stamped with our Judeo-Christian heritage. We need to be involved in the present not just obsessed about the end.

Another problem is that we tend to evaluate things by intention, not results, because we believe that everything is just going to get worse. If our heart is in the right place we can be unprofessional and ineffective but it doesn't matter. Intentions are good, but in business they are irrelevant, unless you are the Toronto Maple Leafs. How often have we given organizations a passing grade when they fail because they have a good heart? How everything falls out is God's business, we just need to engage.

Second point, we are puritanical in our ideas. We believe in all or nothing. I am not calling people to violate their consciences, but in this fallible world where our ideals will never be fully realized it is important that we not be petulant. The pro-life movement has not been able to get one piece of legislation through. Is this perhaps because our all or nothing attitude too often gets us nothing?

Lastly, if we are going to be effective cultural warriors we need to stop being pacifists, we need to stop giving up without a fight. Too many conservatives especially religious ones are far too meek in the face of cultural aggression. For example, the bishop of San Francisco. Two gays dressed as nuns walked in behaving very inappropriately, and received communion. A city prosecutor in San Fran was willing to press charges because what they did was so offensive but the bishop issued an apology instead. In another case Emmanuel was speaking for Boissoin. During the event, he was surrounded by a bunch of gay militia carrying banners. They shut the meeting down for 30 minutes. They had people at the door making sure no one left. The hotel manager came and actually had to ask if they wanted the hotel to ask them to leave.

This doesn't mean that you become nasty but don’t give up when you meet very hostile and aggressive opponents.

Change begins with ourselves and our perspective of the world. If we think that everything is just going to get worse, if we insist on all or nothing, if we give up at every opposition we will not be effective.

Missed part of the Q and A due to computer problems, sorry.

Q: Shouldn't we be interested in judicial as well as political issues.
A: We sometimes put too much emphasis on politics. The judiciary is also very important.

I am still amazed at the level of civility and order in the transition of government in this country. There is hope in Canada because we have managed to gain what is really a very difficult thing. We have developed in incrementally.

Event Blogging: "Communication Essentials for Social Conservatives" by Joseph Ben-Ami

One thing that socons need to do is to put a smile on our faces and not take ourselves too seriously.
Great communicators are not born. Churchill had a lisp but that improved over time. We can all become, and we must all become, at least good, if not great communicators. We are all ambassadors.

The first rule of communication is that you won't change anyone's mind if you don't talk about issues. How many times are we told that “You can't talk about that”. In politics people say “Don't talk about that before you get elected.”. However you do have to get re-elected. Another one is “Wait until we have a majority before we talk about this”. The problem is that people become accustomed to what they are doing and it is very hard to do an about face after a few years when you do get your majority. It is also not honest, it makes us really have a hidden agenda. Democracy is meaningless without a competition of ideas. We need to have an agenda of our own, not just be “not liberals“. Unless we are branding ourselves we will be branded by our opponents.

Point Number Two : For Conservatives to win, they have to run as conservatives. In 1995 the Mike Harris government won two governments. They won on a strong conservative platform. Then they got re-elected because they did what they said they were going to do. After that the Red Tory centralists ran and lost. This is oversimplifying but it makes the point. On the national and international stage, Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan won massive support as real conservatives. Yes Conservatives sometimes lose, but not as often as they do as centralists.

If you want to be a spokesperson for the issue that you are passionate about you need to study, and learn the art and science of speaking.

Everyone has heard that appearance isn't everything, but in communication it is almost everything. The colour of the backdrop, the clothing you wear, the lighting, those are the things that make a speech memorable. The most important thing is presentation.

The next one is auditory, the quality of the sound, how you say what you say. You use positive words not negative ones. Daycare v. Childcare, always call it daycare if you are against it. Euthanasia v. Right to Die.

These are the three most important things to do if you are going to be speaking.

Know the subject, never get caught out. If you do get asked a question you don't know, say I don't know, don't mumble.

Know your audience. What is the age, wealth, political leaning of your target group?

Know what you want to say and say what you want to say. Only make three or four points. People won't remember more. Rehearse your lines. Don't let the interviewer take control of the interview. Never fill dead air, when there is silence don't just talk to talk.

Always anticipate the opponents' questions.

Preparation, Preparation, Preparation.

Bypassing the mainstream media. Use the internet well. Give out CDs. Get creative, do charity drives.

There is a bias in the mainstream media but they are your friend. They have a very important status in society so you will have to work with them. Be clever and try to get past their biases but don't fight them. You will never win a war with the mainstream media, so don't try. Most journalists do try to overcome their biases. We also have friends in the media. There are people biased in our favour.

Q: Can you run as a conservative in the Conservative party?
A: You live in a free country with a lot of opinions. You do have more freedom outside of the party. I believe that you will see more assertiveness in the future because you can play the game even within the Conservative party. Politics does not reward loyalty it rewards disloyalty. Pushing the envelope can work you should try to find a balance.

Event Blogging: "Reaching the Young" by Faytene Kryskow

Faytene Kryskow with My Canada. An organization targeted at young people between 15 and 35.

One of the things that they have been committed to doing in this movement is waking Canada up to the fact that they exist. There are actually young people who are committed to traditional values. The Great Canadian Lie is that such young Canadians do not exist. Most young people are not interested in economics but they do care about social issues. If you study the history of movements they are fuelled by youth power. If the conservative movement is to survive then it needs the power, and ideas, and innovations of youth. In 2006 Facebook came on the scene and, for example, Faytene has 3300 friends that she can invite to an event. Youth just need leadership and practical ways to help.

Second point is that there is a new normal in Canada. Young people are drinking, smoking, using drugs, and having sex less. The majority of young Canadians want the age of consent raise to 16 yrs. 9 out of 10 kids don’t approve of extra-marital affairs. And 43% want one parent to stay at home.

58-9% of young people engaged in some kind of political activism or activity other than voting.

16-25% boycotted or choose a product based on ethical issues. (Numbers vary depending on the age bracket)

Obama had a good touch for understanding the passion of young people which was a reason why he won.

Vast numbers of young people do not vote. This is a huge, untapped voting block. Politicians need to find out what makes young people tick if they want to get into office. They are more involved in activist activities than older people so they are into the issues, but they aren't voting.

Young people are not into economic issues, they are into social issues. The conservatives are boring young people and are not offering them what they want.

They went onto the streets of Ottawa asking young people, if you could say anything to a Member of Parliament and if you found one who was into those issues would you vote for them and work for them.

Some clips were shown of young people concerned about gang violence, aboriginal issue, city planning, euthanasia and assisted suicide, taxes, poverty. All of the young people shown would vote and most would volunteer if a politician would address their concern.

CBC poll on Facebook poll for youth on their wish for Canada. Out of over 3,000 options, the number one wish was for the ending of abortion.

Faytene’s personal flash-point was when Mr. Martin said “We believe that we are representing the views of the next generation” about legalizing gay marriage. However the CBC poll disagrees with this.

What are the socons giving the young people to rally to?

My Canada’s achievements: From 10 young adults they have gotten to a solid membership of 5,000 people and an online membership of 50,000 people. Several hundred have visited parliaments, there have been 400 sit down meetings with parliamentarians. Full time volunteer internships. Regularly published in national media and on talk shows. Volunteering and working in campaigns.

Summary: We exist.
We won't work for pizza we will work for passion.
Socially conservative give more than liberals, so if you want money and help, running as a socon is a good idea.

Where to Find Us:
#1 Rule for this game is don't play games. Give them something solid.
If you are real then MY Canada will mobilize a team for you.
Be on university campuses and find their cause groups.
Youth Groups and young adults.
Facebook is your friend.
If you make your cause known they will find you.
The future is bright and this demographic is serious but not naive.

Q: Is My Canada really non-partisan? Do you believe that Christian values are coming to the forefront?
A: It is non-partisan when it comes to political parties. Yes, Biblical wisdom is social wisdom. Young people are waking up to moral wisdom, that happens to be in line with Biblical wisdom, whatever the inspiration. It is now hip to be holy.

Q: The media has succeeded in convincing older people that young people are liberal but is that only a false veneer?
A: The young people are cause orientated. Secondly there is a movement back to conservative values particularly on drugs and sex. There is a media veneer and bias. There is a new normal in Canada.

Q: Does My Canada support other organizations other than political campaigns
A: Every history maker is focused. They do have issue pages that would link other organizations.

Event Blogging: In Search of Unity: Fiscal Conservatives and Social Conservatives Myths and Facts by Joseph Ben-Ami

Conservatives refers to the conservative movement not the political party. Political parties exist to get elected and stay elected. They have to balance policy and popularity. While these are necessary, they exclude pure conservativism which only independent conservatives can fully embrace. Liberal also refers to the ideology not the party. There is no single definition of conservativism. It is not a set of doctrines but flows from an examination of first principles. No idea has been more damaging than the division between social and fiscal conservatives and the belief that they have different, if not incompatible, beliefs. Conservatives are not like beer, to be tolerated in moderation. People call themselves progressive conservatives to indicated fiscal or limited conservatives, as opposed to social conservatives.

Consider two big issues. Deficits for fiscal conservatives. Marriage for social conservatives. They seem to be completely unrelated. The ideas however find their source in a government which is too big economically and too overreaching as a social activist. Most problems in society comes from government getting too involved and too all encompassing. Is there a possibility that voter apathy can be related to the fact that government is everywhere so it is no longer significant?

Our common goal is to restrain government. While we have different concerns this is our point of intersection. Socons are concerned with the moral conscience of a nation. They may be susceptible to believing that the state should be proactive in this role but thoughtful conservatives believe that the moral conscience of the nation should be church and family. The state should be limited so that it doesn't encroach. We shouldn’t change the government so much as limit it so it doesn't limit us.
Socons should be more interested in fiscal conservativism because a big government is related to having money to spend.

Fiscal conservatives should be interested in socon because the erosion of the natural family is related to issues like demographics which has an impact on social programs. Conservatives should be interested in matters of healthcare and social security. The purely economic consequences of the breakdown of the family is incalculable.

The character of the nation is formed in the family which has an impact on economics because that is where they learn things about hard work and money sense.

We have a symbiotic relationship so we should cooperate instead of snipping at each other.

To summarize, there is much room for diversity within the conservative movement. But within that diversity there is much philosophical unity. Belief in small government, low taxes, personal accountability, liberty. Liberty is not an American copyright. The American revolution was a revolution because they didn't have their rights as Englishmen, which is our common heritage.

Q: I have trouble understanding how social conservatives and fiscal conservatives can agree in areas such as child labour which may be a fiscal benefit but a social problem?
A: The short answer is that it is a very complicated issue. I believe that it hurts our economy to ship jobs overseas to places where they use child labour and human rights violators. Just because something is profitable doesn't mean that it should be done. This is why we should have a synthesis between social and fiscal conservatives so that there is a conscience to fiscal conservativism.
Foreign policy is a more complicated issue but there should be a moral component and socons need to engage, not isolate themselves.

Q: Two big issues for Americans are hate crimes and healthcare. There are alternatives in America and healthcare is a freedom issue. Canadian socons don't address or even believe in private healthcare.
A: There are many good outcomes and many bad outcomes from the Canadian healthcare. The Americans don't understand the implications of government healthcare. There are many pressures coming and it will mean healthcare cost cuts. The inevitable outcome is rationing which can have profound moral implications.

Q: People who are fiscal conservatives may have a different worldview which doesn't want the moral side. Christian worldview can have both but the insertion of a secular worldview introduces the split.
A: Yes there is an issue of worldviews. The fact that we have different worldview doesn't preclude cooperation. We should look past motivations to goals. I think that there is a moral component to deficits and putting burdens on children.

Q: Should there be a role for government in regulating medical issues because autonomy won't automatically bring about good morals.
A: Abortion is a point of unity because fiscal and moral conservatives don't want government funding of abortions which is a good thing. When the government makes the decisions they could make the decision to impose a moral code but they aren't. So at least in the States the government doesn't fund abortion which is better than the Canadian system.

Q: What is your policy approach to try to bring them together.
A: This is one small step towards doing it. That is a question for individuals, particularly.

Event Blogging: Tristan Emmanuel on "Running Right - Lessons from the Hillier Campaign"

Starting around 9:00, Joseph Ben-Ami gives opening remarks before introducing the first speaker Tristan Emmanuel. Emmanuel is President of Freedom Press Inc. A publishing company which specializes in conservative Canadian authors who write from a Canadian perspective. He was also the campaign manager for Randy Hillier, who ran for the Conservative leadership in Ontario.

Emmanuel is speaking about the Hillier campaign and it's mission. He advances two main points 1) Conservatives must advance real ideas and 2) Ideas are useless without real people.

· In the world of political spin there is nothing more damaging than the old perception that liberals are full of new ideas about justice and compassion while conservativism is just plain boring old. He suggests that liberal “new ideas” are like snake oil salesmen who comes into town with new ideas. There are too many “shills” in Canada for liberalism. Even many religious conservatives are shilling for liberal-socialism. The argument that something (like communism) has some kind of validity if it sounds “good on paper” is obviously ridiculous.
The difference between conservatives and liberals is that conservativism is rooted in reality. Hillier ran because he believed that people deserved a clear choice between conservativism and liberalism.. He opposed amalgamation because it wasn't practical. He believed in elective Senators and opposed a government monopoly on liquor. His most courageous stand was against the HRC. Principled dissent is fundamental to democracy, even if that dissent is politically incorrect. Such principled but politically incorrect speech defeated slavery and supported suffrage. Although Hillier wasn't most people's first choice, he was most people's second choice.
Randy was a real person. He was an unpolished, folksy, charismatic person. Honest to a fault. He was not interested in being handled by backroom political advisors He was very authentic and principled. His aim was to bring the PC party back to it's conservative roots, freedom, and democracy. While Hillier may not have won, his involvement was beneficial in influencing Hudak to oppose the OHRC.
The main point of Hillier was that Conservatives have to come back to conservativism.

The Q and A session

Q: Will Hillier have a portfolio in a PC government?
A: Probably

Q: How do we know that Hillier was most people's second choice?
A: Emmanuel was his manager and saw the results. He was a safe second choice for many people because he wouldn't win. The vote was also divided because the socons and libertarians were divided between pro-life and anti-HRC.

Q: Did they have policies on property tax, government raising taxes without people permission?
A: They didn't although they did have policies related to cities.. Ben-Ami adds, they did have a position that property tax regulations go back to the municipalities.

Q: What did they learn?
A: They announced too many policies.

Q: As campaign manager, who would you advise the candidate to speak to and how?
A: Speak to people depending on who they are. Candidates should be learned and yet ideas are not real unless they are communicated in ways that people can understand.

Q: Should the geographical value system be changed because it is not balanced. Some ridings have a larger proportion of voters voting than others?
A: All ridings are weighted equally unless they have less than a hundred votes.

Q: Should they have gone pro-life?
A: Hillier had to be real and if he wasn't pro-life they couldn't pretend that he was. Pro-life is really mostly a federal matter. This is the first time that politicians addressed HRC and that is important even for pro-life people because unless we have freedom of speech they might not be able talk about pro-life. His position on pro-life is libertarian. The state shouldn't say anything but it shouldn't fund it either.

Q: Hillier was a very rural person, did he learn anything about bridging the gap between rural and city people?
A: They did attract urban people with tax cuts and real conservative ideas that are attractive no matter where you live.

Q: What kind of leader is Tim Hudak, is he more of a social conservative?
A: Hudak is not a libertarian. Conservatives believe in limited government. It should be strong in what it does and leave the rest alone. Libertarians believe that people are intrinsically good and should be mostly left alone. This is naive because of the problem of evil. People left alone tend to go to anarchy not cohesion. Emmanuel doesn't know if he is libertarian or conservative. He promised to do something about the HRC however.

Event Blogging: Campaign Essentials for Social Conservatives

Blogging the Canadian Centre for Policy Studies' Campaign Essentials for Social Conservatives, July 27 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel. Not the Mariot Hotel as the concierge at the Crowne tried to tell us, that was the Conservative Party Training. Don't ask us how we know.

This commentary on the convention is just that, a commentary. It is not meant to give the exact words of any speaker but just to give a brief summarization in my words of the substance of the lectures. Although I may give exact quotes sometimes without necessarily giving credit. Just please don't sue me for plagiarism. The speakers moved fast. The disclaimer over, we can get back to business.

Large room, small group, very small group. A book table with books from Tristan Emmanuel's publishing company Freedom Press Inc. They look pretty interesting. Found a wall socket to plug the laptop into. Bonus. While we are waiting I read the pamphlet we got at the door.

From their pamphlet: “The Canadian Centre for Policy Studies is a non-partisan, not-for-profit institution dedicated to the advancement of freedom and prosperity at home and abroad through the development and promotion of sensible public policy that meets the challenges of a complex and modern world... For too long public policy discussion in Canada – at all levels of government – has been little more than a monologue.... The goal of the Canadian Centre for Policy Studies is to replace that monologue with dialogue”

How well they succeed? We shall see, I suppose.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Word and Image

Reflecting on the fact that most Christians don't even know what the word means. How about this for a definition. This and this for an explanation of what that ignorance and hostility to truth translates to. And this to put it to music.


Well I don't agree with most of Xanthippa's personal opinions but it wouldn't surprise me a bit if there was some validity in this analysis of the Canadian public's response to Harper's Communion scandal.

You know, like, those people.

How does that song go again... "You say that you're tolerant and open minded, well here's your chance to prove it to me, Tolerate this."

If I may quote the article itself, "The Church of England unveils a two-in-one wedding and baptism liturgy today as it seeks to make peace with families “living in sin”." Just what we need, encourage unwed parenthood in a nation where 32% of births are already outside marriage. What's wrong with having two ceremonies rather than writing a new liturgy? It's a shameless publicity stunt.

Do they not even get that suggesting that some people are excluded from the Bible is highly offensive to Christians of ALL stripes? Via Blazing Cat Fur - "Nope no riots yet"

Ontario Human Rights Commission accused of ignoring human rights issues to engage in activism and nonsensical meddling.

German homeschool girl put into a mental institute because she had "school phobia". Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's and unto God the things that are God's.

Some new words for your dictionary. I have to admit that I also have my binkings embossed in gold and framed on the wall. Maybe someday, somewhere, someone will refer to my posts as binking. Then I can die happily.

Objective proof that using societal pressure to squash offensive hate speech works. Just like the free speechers said it would.

Application accepted for World Youth Alliance Online Training Program. Very pleased. Now I have over 340 pages of stuff to read in about six weeks.

Ultimate disconnect with reality.

My Auntie's paintings. I like this one but I really wish she would post the one with pears in canning jars. Hint, hint.

Wintery Knight illustrates my inner alter ego.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Friday Media Roundup: Homeschool Comedy Week

The funniest thing about this movie is that the audience laughs every single time they use the "socialized" line. Even the skit group laughs. Over and over again.

Socialization Blues at the Homeschool Alumni National Reunion

Just to prove that we can laugh at ourselves. And because some things are more true than we'd like to admit.

A Homeschool Family

Okay I am so not admitting to anyone how many of these are actually true.

I Will Survive - For all those moments when Mom's feel like they won't

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

In Order to Celebrate the Ten Commandments the ROM Invites...

"Director’s Signature Series: The Three New Commandments

Listen to lecture podcasts as authors Christopher Hitchens, A.J. Jacobs and Camille Paglia discuss and debate as they analyze the Ten Commandments and share their ideas for a moral code for our own time.

Past - June 2, 2009
Christopher Hitchens
Author of the New York Times bestselling book God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything.
Listen to the lecture now!

Past - June 9, 2009
A.J. Jacobs
Author of the New York Times bestselling book The Year of Living Biblically: One Man’s Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible.
Listen to the lecture now!

Past - June 16, 2009
Camille Paglia
Author of the acclaimed bestsellers Sexual Personae, Sex, Art, and American Culture and Vamps and Tramps.
Audio Podcast Coming Soon" Just so that you can see I really copy and pasted this and didn't make it up.

Right-To-Die Poster Child Wants to Live

“Everyone’s entitled to change their mind.” 14 year old Hannah Jones said after deciding to accept a heart transplant that she had initially refused last year.

Hannah had been in and out of hospitals since being diagnosed with leukemia at the age of four and later cardiomyopathy (a serious heart condition). Eventually the doctors told her that she needed a heart transplant. Hannah, tired of being in hospital and worried about dying in hospital while undergoing the procedure, refused the offer.

“I’ve been in hospital too much and I’ve associated hospital with bad memories, so that’s why I didn’t want the transplant. There is a chance that I may be OK, and there is a chance that I may not be as well as I could be, but I’m taking that chance.”

The case generated wide publicity, with Hannah becoming a right-to-die poster child. Newspapers hailed her decision to die at home as courageous and supported her cause. There was initially some question of government intervention in the case, but this was dropped when Hannah convinced a child protection officer that she was making an informed decision regarding her health.

Now, illustrating vividly that both circumstances and minds can change even in the most serious cases, Hannah has decided that she is now strong enough to undergo the transplant and is willing to face the risks attached.

“The right side of my heart isn’t beating at all, and after lots of tests I realised there were more benefits to having a new heart to staying like I was. If I had a new heart, I’d be on less tablets than I am at the moment. I take 27 but afterwards it would only be about 12.”

The case raises many serious issues, among them what role children should play in making life and death medical decisions about their own care. It also raises issues about assisted suicide, demonstrating that even the most determined and informed decisions to end care or actively seek death may change over time.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Jousting With the Wintery Knight

Point one: Facts might be neutral, but only until humans get their hands on them.

All scientists, creationist or evolutionist, have the same evidence; the difference is the presuppositions that are used to interpret that evidence. All reasoning is based on presuppositions.

As a teacher, I found that whenever I taught the students what I thought were the ‘facts’ for creation, then their other teacher would just re-interpret the facts. The students would then come back to me saying, ‘Well sir, you need to try again.’
However, when I learned to teach my students how we interpret facts, and how interpretations are based on our presuppositions, then when the other teacher tried to reinterpret the facts, the students would challenge the teacher’s basic assumptions. Then it wasn’t the students who came back to me, but the other teacher! - Ken Ham

There is no such thing as uninterpreted reality. I understand this to mean that when it comes to any particular fact we are not allowed to assign just any meaning we will. It’s not as if the unbeliever gets to say what he wants and we get to say what we want about “facts” and the one with the most facts wins — when it comes to ultimate issues. If we point to the empty tomb, the irrationalist says, “Weird things happen.” He autonomously assigns a false meaning to the empty tomb. The irrationalist’s refusal to submit to the divine interpretation of the tomb is no reason, however, for denying the existence of facts - R. Scott Clark

The reality that facts must be interpreted and those interpretations are not neutral is a reality that we all see in our everyday life. If Mom looks at dirt on the floor and says "Boy did it" and Boy looks at the floor and says "Dog did it" they are both dealing with the same fact, the state of the floor, but they interpret it differently. Now there is a truth behind the fact that is not relative. If Boy did it, boy did it. The fact that he doesn't think he did it is irrelevant to the world. However because of boy's bias he may not accept Mom's interpretation and he may come up with his own reasons why her interpretation is incorrect.

Point Two: Every person will have beliefs which they consider non-negotiable. These may be beliefs in logic, morality, materialism, Christianity, history, or many other categories. Ultimately these beliefs are not infinite regressions of causes. There must be an ultimate foundation which is self-verifying. This may be belief in God, our senses, logic, or something else but it must depend on itself otherwise it is not the ultimate foundation of our belief. (i.e. If someone says that they believe in God because of logic then logic is their ultimate standard. However logic is not self-verifying so they need to believe in God to have a reason to trust logic. In the end either God or logic will be their ultimate standard of proof.) These non-negotiables can also include materialism and atheism. This helps to explain why committed scientists can be bombarded with scientific facts for intelligent design and yet reject it out of hand.

"An alternative way of understanding what it is for a belief to be rational is in terms of what Plantinga calls a person’s “noetic structure.” A noetic structure is a person’s system of beliefs. Some beliefs will be based on other beliefs and so be higher up in the structure. But at the foundation of the structure will be a collection of basic beliefs which are not inferred from other beliefs but are taken immediately to be true in various circumstances in which a person exists. A person is rational insofar as he exhibits no flaw in his noetic structure. An example of a flawed system of beliefs would be one in which a person believed A on the basis of B and believed B on the basis of A, thus exhibiting circularity in his belief structure. Or a person might take a belief to be basic even though that belief is not properly basic for him (say, belief in the Great Pumpkin on no grounds at all); or he might deny a belief which really ought to be basic for him (Plantinga thinks belief in God should be properly basic for most people). A person who has a flawed noetic structure is irrational with regard to the flawed belief. A person who holds a belief without any sort of flaw with regard to it is rational in holding that belief.

Now it’s important to notice how extremely modest it is to say that a belief is rational or reasonable for someone to hold. In order for a belief to be rational for someone, that belief needn’t even be true, much less proven to be true, not to speak of known with certainty to be true. The person just needs to be within his epistemic rights or to exhibit no flaw in his noetic structure in holding to that belief. But the belief could turn out to be false. Isaac Newton, for example, was clearly within his rights in holding to the truth of the physics he founded, even though 300 years later it was discovered by physicists that Newtonian physics would have to be abandoned when it came to dealing with objects traveling at velocities near the speed of light. No one would say that Newton was irrational even though he turned out to be mistaken." William Lane Craig

Point Three: These basic or foundational beliefs are the grid through which facts are interpreted. They are therefore highly immune to attack from brute facts.

"Ultimately, the problem with man is not the absence of evidence, it is the suppression of it."- Ravi Zacharias

Point Four: This is not a purely intellectual issue. Otherwise one would expect all or almost all educated people to be on one side of the issue.

There is intellectual material available for both sides on the issue, and anyone who thinks that he has either avowed it or disavowed it purely for intellectual reasons betrays a prejudice and a lack of understanding of the subject. There have been giants in their thinking capacities who have been sceptics, there have been giants who have been believers - Ravi Zacharias, Why I am Not an Atheist

"A man rejects God neither because of intellectual demands nor because of the scarcity of evidence. A man rejects God because of a moral resistance that refuses to admit his need for God." - Ravi Zacharias

Point Five: The easiest way to destroy this "noetic structure" is to exploit weaknesses or tensions within that structure. This process can, and usually would, involve facts but primarily to illustrate pre-existing flaws and contradictions in their thinking and beliefs. Thus Newton was not irrational to believe in his physics but he would have been irrational to continue believing in his physics if new evidence was brought forward. This is not because of the evidence itself but because one of his noetic beliefs was that evidence procured in such and such a manner was rationally compelling.

There are three tests for truth according to Ravi Zacharias. Logical consistency, empirical adequacy (they must correspond with reality), and experiential relevance.

Point Six: In order to defeat someone's noetic structure we must consider the nature of that structure. Some people find scientific evidence most compelling and for them it is the most poignant means of argument. Some people find philosophical arguments best. Some prefer arguments from morality, experience, logic, or other considerations. To hammer someone with scientific arguments when their foundations are not based on science is a waste of both time and energy.

Point Seven: Not all facts and compelling evidences are scientific. To most people the sorrow they feel at the death of a child or the anger they experience when they are betrayed is more compelling and more real than abstract arguments about the movements of atoms. Therefore using Christianity to interpret the human condition and give answers for the questions that they are really asking as well as giving a rationality for their pre-existing beliefs (or showing that there is a contradiction within their pre-existing beliefs) can be a legitimate form of argument. This is not meant to give undue legitimacy to the automatic trueness of any given person's "felt needs" because such arguments can be used as easily to show how a person's "felt needs" are inconsistent. This does not depend on whether or not someone likes something. We are showing them that in order to believe A they must rationally believe B. We are saying that in order for them to feel outrage at C they must affirm D. It is a logic more than a fact based approach.

Point Eight: About Miracles

In the Bible, I see Jesus constantly providing physical evidence for this claims by employing miracles. We can do something similar to Jesus today, by leveraging past miracles, such as the fine-tuning of the gravitational force, in our public debates. We don’t need to invent new ways of evangelizing based on intuitions and experiences. - Wintery Knight

Jesus did not just rely on miracles. They verified his authority but it was his words that changed the world. The Christian worldview and it's reality. The answers it holds for guilt, sin, death, good, beauty, government, reason, logic, emotion, love, hate, are as profound proofs as evidences from creation.

Point Nine: Our defence of Christianity is not just that it is right about this fact or that fact. We defend it as a system. A system that encompasses the mind, heart, and soul and answers the deepest questions of each.

    "This, therefore, is, in conclusion, my reason for accepting the religion and not merely the scattered and secular truths out of the religion.  I do it because the thing has not merely told this truth or that truth, but has revealed itself as a truth-telling thing. All other philosophies say the things that plainly seem to be true; only this philosophy has again and again said the thing that does not seem to be true, but is true.  Alone of all creeds it is convincing where it is not attractive; it turns out to be right, like my father in the garden.  Theosophists for instance will preach an obviously attractive idea like re-incarnation; but if we wait for its logical results, they are spiritual superciliousness and the cruelty of caste.  For if a man is a beggar by his own pre-natal sins, people will tend to despise the beggar.  But Christianity preaches an obviously unattractive idea, such as original sin; but when we wait for its results, they are pathos and brotherhood, and a thunder of laughter and pity; for only with original sin we can at once pity the beggar and distrust the king.  Men of science offer us health, an obvious benefit; it is only afterwards that we discover that by health, they mean bodily slavery and spiritual tedium. Orthodoxy makes us jump by the sudden brink of hell; it is only afterwards that we realise that jumping was an athletic exercise highly beneficial to our health.  It is only afterwards that we realise that this danger is the root of all drama and romance. The strongest argument for the divine grace is simply its ungraciousness. The unpopular parts of Christianity turn out when examined to be the very props of the people.  The outer ring of Christianity is a rigid guard of ethical abnegations and professional priests; but inside that inhuman guard you will find the old human life dancing like children, and drinking wine like men; for Christianity is the only frame for pagan freedom.  But in the modern philosophy the case is opposite; it is its outer ring that is obviously artistic and emancipated; its despair is within." - G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Bits of Stuff

90% of people are annoyed by other people's cellphone habits but only 38% admit to being annoying. Anyone else know how to spell the words i-n d-e-n-i-a-l.
This is one of those examples of the necessity of self-control. If people used their cell phones responsibly and respectably we wouldn't have to talk about banning cell phones while driving or posting no cell phones signs. However because people abuse their cells everyone suffers a decrease of freedom. We will either govern ourselves or we will be governed by others. I know which one I'd rather choose.

Why does everyone assume that young people like stuff that is dumb as bricks? They are in college or highschool, this is the time of their life when they are supposed to be learning and exploring truth. Then they go into the church and get hit with "7 Steps to a Better You" and either blaring music on too small sound systems or "I Come to the Garden Alone, when the dew is still on the roses" (You have to hear it to believe it, especially when sung by a bunch of old ladies). Is anyone surprised when they latch on to something with a history of intelligence?
P.S. Are they still using the "Calvinists won't be evangelistic" chestnut? Still? Still?
P.P.S. The original article putting The New Calvinism as #3 on 10 Ideas Changing the World Right Now.

I should be mad at Credenda Agenda. I should be sending off furious letters by daily post demanding that they reinstitute Canadian delivery forthwith. I could bring a human rights complaint for the agony that I am suffering as a result of this terrible deprivation based on nationality. Sure they have the back issues on their website but they are always way behind, the latest one was issued in February. Let me spell this out for the guys over in Moscow in case they don't get it. I-already-read-that-one. It is now July and I am suffering withdrawal. True they seem to have added a few extra back issues that never made it onto the site before so I am okay for the next week or two but then what? A lifetime of Credenda deprivation stares me in the face and they don't care! What was so hard about raising the Canadian subscription rates to cover their costs, eh? eh? I would bring a human rights lawsuit except for the fact that if our HRC friends read their magazine they would reinstitute the death penalty and send in some bounty hunters to kidnap them and bring them to Canada to stand trail for infecting the minds of the youth. (If hemlock grows in Canada they can purchase it locally and that will double as a stimulus package) And yet, who can get angry with Credenda, really. It would be like getting mad at a bunch of koala bears (no I don't know why I choose the metaphor, it just seemed to fit). Anyway just to show how Christian and forgiving I am I will link to them. Maybe affirmative psychology will work better than ranting. And maybe, just maybe, if we are all asks nice enough and we beggs the nice Credendies to give us back our precioussss they will resume their Canadian delivery or at least keep the site up to date. We dream.
P.S. The Credendies are also responsible for the name of this blog. They wrote an article about the Marprelate Tracts and I thought that a Puritan protesting the Star Chamber and religious censorship was a good inspiration for a Reformed anti-HRC blog.
P.P.S. Okay, whose idea was it to put the new issues up using PDF only? Do you have any idea how tough that is on dial-up? I wanted to link to the article about mail-order brides but I can't find it because loading an issue in search of it would take 2 hours according to my computer.
P.P.P.S. Oh yeah, the links. Try here, here, and here, for random samples of their Cave of Adullam column (you know the creepy thing? I think this stuff is all true.) And some from Cretan Times, this one is particularly good (While I'm complaining, where did the Cretan Times go lately?) Just to round it off, The Ethics of Practical Joking (If any of my readers ever visit my house, don't you dare)

Just because I am not Australian and therefore I can.  "Tune Into The Truth"

I could get fined $11,000 a day for this link if I lived down under. At least it reminds us that life could always get worse, we could have Australian laws.
Inexplicably, a forklift/vehicle? (It's not even in English) company in Holland is also banned, were they hiding drugs in tires?
And the big question is, would this post cost me $11,000 or $22,000 a day?

Ecology and Economics trump Christian evangelism. Individual salvation is a heretical myth. Yawn, what else do you expect from the ACLU and the Freedom from Religion Foundation. Oh wait, I got my sources wrong, how about the Presiding (female) Bishop of the Episcopal Church? On second thoughts, yawn again.

So what would saying "Christianity is true, all other religions are false if they don't believe what we believe, and their miracles are either delusions or demonic." rate according to this law?

Fundamentalist Christians and atheists on the same side. Who's left to fight against? Oh, I forgot, the HRCs.

Volition - A film by Tim and Matthew Morgan. Free no less.

How dare those grubby little peasants be "organized and educated". Don't they know that they are supposed to submit unquestioningly to the guidance of their masters, the wise and caring directors of society?

I'm not a student so I can't take the survey but it sounds a very good idea. Ranking schools based on their attitude towards religion would certainly be helpful to many prospective students.

A decent enough article but the real reason I linked to it was that I loved the book picture that goes with it. In the interests of full disclosure I don't know if the book is worth reading or not, but the title is.

How utterly and profoundly tasteless. To mock such a gallant and creative campaign to save those beautiful living darts of silver by calling his sea kitten Spicy Tuna Roll. He should have had the common decency to call it something more sweet and furry. Like Miss Molly's Gourmet Tuna Steak Feline Food.
P.S. I would humbly suggest that Warren Kinsella might have some expert knowledge about the intersection of kitties and fish. Say, on barbecues.

Fetuses found to have memories. Now that is so cute. Mama can talk to her baby before it is born and have reason to hope that it might remember her voice when it is born. Can I say cute again. How about the word alive.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Amazing Grace

A Collection of Amazing Grace Renditions

Leann Rimes, Female Vocalist

Il Divo, Male Quartet with Bagpipes

The Von Trapp Children, Accapella Quartet
These are the grandchildren of the Baron and Maria Von Trapp, they only sing the first verse of Amazing Grace before doing "Down to the River"

Group of Children Singing in a Train Station

Josh Wilson Acoustic Guitar

The Cactus Cuties

Amazing Grace/My Chains are Gone Pro-Life

Chris Tomlin

Soweto Gospel Choir

Yolanda Adams

(Slight liberty used with regard to exact lyrics)

The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards Pipe and Drums

Amazing Grace goes....Western?!?

Performed at St. Peter's Presbyterian Church by the Sea in Palos Verdes.

What modern heretical idiot decided that they had the right to change "saved a wretch like me" to "saved a soul like me"? That has so got to be indicitive of the sad state of modern Christianity.

Amazing Grace Western Mass. Style to the tune Fiducia

Unique Version of Amazing Grace in... Spanish?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

HRCs or Ts? Divorce? Pesky Questions?

That Pesky Misinformation: May I point out that using the term Human Rights Commission to refer to both the Commission and the Tribunal is a commonly used verbal shortcut. We refer to the government, not to "an authoritative body comprised of judicial, legislative, and administrative branches", and we know very well that judges have different functions from MPs. The HRC people are trying to make a big deal about the distinction but the truth is that no one else cares. We have issues with the whole pack of them and telling us that we should use different names for different sections is a completely irrelevant aside to the free speech crowd. We object to the Tribunal antics almost as much as we object to the Commission ones. Besides, unless I am mistaken in some provinces there is no distinction between the two. Just to confuse everyone some more.

In other news, Ezra responds. Btw, I have a question if anyone wants to take a shot at answering. Lynch says that the media were excluded to protect the privacy and safety of commission witnesses but that was okay because a transcript was made and the respondent was present and not bared from talking to the media. What I would like to know is if the transcript was going to be given to the public? Because that would seem to defeat the purpose of excluding the media unless names were blanked out of the transcript. If the transcript was not public then we would have only the respondent's word for what happened. Hardly reliable evidence. So either there was no need to exclude the media or this would have happened under a media blackout. Besides, free speechers are hardly mafia members. Were the witnesses afraid of drive-by shootings or nasty press? Would this have occurred in a real court? I doubt it.

The wages of sin is death saith the Good Book. It is true that if McNair had not been involved in sin he would not be dead. It is equally true and extremely significant that the media would never minimize the murder of a woman because she was in adultery with an unstable boyfriend. I have to diverge from some of the anti-misandry group on a few points here. I don't believe in pure sameness, at least on a social level. A man who doesn't support his family is in a very questionable moral position. A woman who chooses to stay at home and depend on her husband for support is generally in a morally safe if not superior position. Men should be extra careful to treat women with respect and care as the weaker vessel even if she doesn't deserve it. On the flip side a woman should respect and obey her husband as the head of the house even if he doesn't deserve it. Society has remembered that it is a terrible thing when a man falls short of his duty. What they have forgotten is that it is also a terrible thing when women fall short of theirs. All that said, when it comes to things like murder, all men are equal before the law whether they be male or female. We should also place the same stigma on women who are involved in adultery as men who are involved in adultery. Maybe McNair was not in a morally pure position, but he didn't deserve to be murdered in that fashion. After all, is the press being hypocritical Or do they really support the death penalty for adultery?

I am a homeschooler. I know I graduated a few years ago but I am, and always will, be a homeschooler. Most people are quite accepting of homeschooling now and are more likely to respond with "Oh I knew someone..." or "I've heard homeschoolers do very well..." However for the occasional questioner (is that legal, where do you get your curriculum?), here is The Bitter Homeschooler's Wish List. By the way, just a little protocol education from an unsocialized homeschooler. Don't ever, ever, ask a homeschooled child or graduate how homeschoolers can be socialized. Please realize what you are saying about us if you are talking to us and can't tell if we were socialized. Thankfully most people get that but if anyone was wondering...

Related to the last one. If you meet a big family (say over 5 kids) do not ask them if they know what causes that. They don't like it. It is very embarrassing. You are asking very intimate questions and if you are a complete stranger they met in the cereal isle of the grocery store they don't want to discuss the quality of our sex ed with you. Someday, someone is going to do what my Mom has always wanted to do and say "No, could you please tell me how it happens?" Or as this site suggests "Yes, don't you?" Growing up in a big family is cool. Yes you do get questions. I think that we have personally gotten most of the questions at the above site (Just to clarify I haven't read all the answers given so don't blame me for anything you don't like). Yes you get looks. With a vivid imagination and a considerable amount of chutzpah you can always pretend to be a movie star and give a celebrity wave to more obvious starers. Not being gifted, or cursed, with quite that amount of chutzpah I usually try the ignore routine, which works. I'll bet the other method would be more fun though.

The curse of autonomy and liberalism is that no one really understands the full ramifications of something until they have been through it. Yes you can know in your mind that divorce is hard but you may not realize what that means until you live it. That is why traditions and social mores are so vitally important. Maybe we can't rationally explain to a 15 year old why they should save sex for marriage in a way that they would fully believe and appreciate. Maybe we can't persuade a couple going through a hard time that divorce is worse than trying to stick it out. Maybe we can't make someone going through pain and depression understand that life is better than suicide. Maybe we can't. That is why we have traditions, customs, and laws. So people in tough and very emotional situations where they are not thinking clearly don't have to reinvent the wheel. So that their default position is the one most likely to bring them happiness in the long run even if they don't understand why at the time. We have made everything about choice, but we have forgotten to tell people that some choices should not be made.

I understand what stare decisis means when it says that lower courts can't overturn higher courts. That has got to be valid otherwise we would have no stability in our legal system. However when people say that courts of the same level (in other words the Supreme Court about the Supreme Court) can't (or shouldn't) overturn precedent you have to suspect that there is a bias going on. The Supreme Court can, and has, overturned it's own judgments. If it didn't there would be no significant change in law since the founding of America. Roe is only settled law until the Supreme Court declares murdering children in the womb unconstitutional. Then we will have a new precedent.