Tuesday, January 31, 2006

A Miscellany

A trifle late, but yesterday marked the memorial of King Charles, Martyr whose death was remembered by our Anglican friends. Of course, we can all learn from the wise words of King Charles, so oft forgot these days, which he said upon the scaffold: "A subject and a sovereign are clean different things."

There's word of a big confab of the SSPX on Thursday. Things look interesting. Don't forget that the Traditional Anglican Communion is holding its Synod in Rome this month (though I've heard the timeline is likely to take at least another year before we see unification).

I got ahold of the new First Things, which has much on which I might comment.

Well, I'm hoping to have time to put together a post on ecumenism in the near future. My apologies for the blog being weighted towards links recently.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Quills & Parchment

Matthew of the Holy Whapping has a lovely reflection on the balance between past & present, which I highly recommend.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

St. Thomas Aquinas

For all your St. Thomas Aquinas needs, including the worlds skinniest Saint Thos., I heartily recommend the Shrine of the Holy Whapping.
More Wisdom from Unlikely Sources
"Research suggests walking or cycling for just half an hour a day can have a significant improvement on our state of health. But why don't we do it more? Often... because our towns and cities make it nearly impossible, and because it might help if the built environment was more attractive and appealing to the pedestrian... We are perhaps not far behind our American cousins in the 'supersizing' epidemic."
And who might this wise man be? None other than the pretender to the throne of Great Britain & Her fair Dominions, Charles Philip Arthur George.

Now, as astute readers may have already guessed, I am a trifle sympathetic to the Jacobite cause. Nonetheless, I am prepared to give credit where due, and Charles has been a strong critic of the beauty-bereft utilitarianism of contemporary architecture and urban planning. His point is strongest when we consider the transportation necessary for suburb dwellers to carry on their day-to-day activities. Virtually everything one must pick up, buy or attend to is likely beyond the comfortable reach of walking- and it is thus no wonder that society is becoming increasingly obese, not only in America, but in lands which have thus far avoided the scourge of republicanism.

A quick word about government's role in all of this- while I am by and large a fan of the Austrian School of Economics, I question whether urban planning is not an exception. The public good of aesthetic worth is so often undervalued by developers that a role for the government would seem to be appropriate.

Among our ancient mountains, And from our lovely vales, Oh! Let the prayer re-echo: God bless the Prince of Wales!

Friday, January 27, 2006

A Simple Plan

The plants and the factories are perfectly run
The workers and bosses are living as one
People are equal people are good
People are working as hard as they should be
It's food for my family and clothes for my kids
The class war is over and everyone wins
It's such a simple plan
To take it like a man
But I'm not sure I can
We fought for a decade corruption and greed
It gave me a purpose a reason to breathe
But now that it's over now that we've won
It's back to my bedroom alone with a shot gun
To think of my family no longer compels me
With all things in common they'll manage without me

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Burns Day

It's Robbie Burns Day, a day to celebrate our Scottish heritage and lift a glass of some fine single-malt. Do not forget to recite the poem which makes every true Scotsman's blood rise within him:

Scots Wha Hae

Scots, wha hae wi' Wallace bled,
Scots, wham Bruce has aften led;
Welcome to your gory bed,
Or to victory!

Now's the day, and now's the hour;
See the front o' battle lour;
See approach proud Edward's power--
Chains and slavery!

Wha will be a traitor knave?
Wha can fill a coward's grave!
Wha sae base as be a slave?
Let him turn and flee!

Wha for Scotland's king and law
Freedom's sword will strongly draw,
Freeman stand, or freeman fa',
Let him follow me!

By oppression's woes and pains!
By your sons in servile chains!
We will drain our dearest veins,
But they shall be free!

Lay the proud usurpers low!
Tyrants fall in every foe!
Liberty's in every blow!--
Let us do or die!

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

The Results Are In

One of the memes travelling around in the aftermath of the Tory victory last night is how the Tories lost ground in BC. Particular blame is placed on social conservatives, and analysts point to the failure of Darrell Reid in Richmond, Cindy Silver in North Vancouver and John Weston in my and Dilexit Prior's home riding of West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country as evidence (incidentally, at least one should not qualify as a social conservative in the sense often used).

This analysis could not be more wrong. If one actually looks at the numbers they support, if anything, the opposite conclusion.

First, let's look at the numbers for the province as a whole.

In 2004, the three main parties split the vote in the following manner:
Conservatives: 36.3%
Liberals: 28.6%
NDP: 26.5%
This gave the parties the following seats: 22, 8 and 5 (with one Independent).

In 2006, we see:
Conservatives: 37.3%
Liberals: 27.6%
NDP: 28.6%
So, the Tories went up 1%, the NDP went up 2.1%, and the Liberals declined by 1%. Now, since the vote split is essentially the same you'd ordinarily expect largely the same result, but instead the seats split 17, 9 and 10. The basic answer as to why? Plain bad luck. By contrast, the Liberals had a smaller edge in Atlantic Canada: 40.0% to 34.5% for the Tories and 22.7% for the NDP, despite which, the Liberals won 20 of 32 seats.

Now, let's look at the ridings of Cindy Silver, John Weston and Darrell Reid. All three were running for the first time. In all cases, the numbers reflect the change in vote % over the 2004 candidate's results.

Cindy Silver: +0.4%
John Weston: +0.7%
Darrell Reid: +3.4%

Now, one might say that Silver & Weston didn't advance as far as the rest of the party, and so their performances were (marginally) below standard. But in 2004 the Conservative candidates in both of their ridings were incumbents; in John Weston's case, a very prominent MP. This year, Cindy Silver also had to run against an incumbent. Given all of this, it must be said that all three candidates did well vis-a-vis the rest of the province.

Now let's look at a few notable socially conservative MPs who were re-elected (I choose MPs who were already incumbents in 2004, so as to disallow a difference in incumbency to affect the numbers).

John Cummins, Delta-East Richmond: +2.8%
James Lunney, Nanaimo-Alberni: +2.4%
and, of course, the social conservative of social conservatives,
Stockwell Day, Okanagan-Coquihalla: +0.6

So, we can see that the social conservatives generally outperformed the Conservative Party provincially. Now, let's look at a few social liberals within the Tories.

Betty Hinton, Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo: -1.0%
James Moore (one of only 4 Tories to vote for same-sex marriage): +0.1%

Ouch! A pretty poor show, especially for James Moore, touted in the media as the boy wonder, the maverick, and a sure Cabinet pick.

Now, I believe there was at least one competitive riding where a social conservative ran this time for the Tories and a social liberal ran last time (I'm not entirely sure, so I'm open to correction). That riding is Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca, where Keith Martin ran against John Koury in 2004 and Troy DeSouza this year. Troy DeSouza outpolled Koury by 3.4%.

What are the lessons here? Clearly, social conservatism doesn't appear to hurt Tory candidates. Indeed, insofar as the numbers show, it appears to help. Now, I'll make a much less vigourous claim, only that social conservatives give every indication of being better candidates. I suspect this is not so much the result of the attraction of social conservatism in BC, but rather the correlation between social conservatives and being intelligent, convincing, and principled.

So why did John Weston lose? It wasn't on account of his performance, but rather as a result of a decline in the NDP and Green votes, which went (as we'd expect) to the Liberals. The Tories were victims of unfortunate splits in BC, and none more so than Weston.

Update: Sorry for the late post, by the way- I went out for a movie with my Father. On to further analysis, of a sketchy and uber-partisan variety. While the Tories ended up with perhaps 20 fewer seats than I expected, their breakthrough in Quebec (10 seats) more than makes up for it. Quebec is the uncharted country (well, not quite anymore), and it is in Quebec where further gains may most easily come. It was wonderful to see flacks like Tony Valieri, Reg Alcock, Liza Frulla, Andy Savoy and Pierre Pettigrew get sent back to the private sector. It was still more wonderful to see Alberta get rid of Anne McLellan and complete the sweep. Also on a positive note the Liberal Party has managed to keep their top airhead, Belinda! and added a new, rival Ken-doll-like airhead: Blair! Hedy Fry, who slanders thousands at a time managed to beat out Svend Robinson the renowned jewel thief. In addition, the Liberals held on to two of their top slimeballs: Scott Brison and Keith Martin. All told, those are mightily easy people to look good going up against.

Predictions for Cabinet (only for good guesses):
Prime Minister: Stephen Harper
Deputy Prime Minister & Social Development: Josée Verner
National Defence: Gordon O'Connor
Finance: Monte Solberg
Foreign Affairs: Stockwell Day
Health: Peter MacKay
Fisheries & Oceans: Loyola Hearn
Canadian Heritage: Bev Oda
Public Safety: Tony Clement
Intergovernmental Affairs: Lawrence Cannon
Environment: Rona Ambrose
Industry: Jim Flaherty
Agriculture: Garry Breitkreuz
House Leader: Jay Hill
Sure to get in Somewhere: Jean-Pierre Blackburn, Rob Moore, Scott Reid, Peter Van Loan, Helena Guergis, Diane Finley, Diane Ablonczy, Jason Kenney, Gary Lunn, Stephen Fletcher, Vic Toews, Carol Skelton, Brian Pallister & Jim Prentice. Chuck Strahl will be in if he doesn't opt for the less-stressful life as Speaker.
Fair Warning

I'm sure you're all sick to death of the political posts, but I'm going to have an election analysis post up tonight. Hopefully we can then return to fairer horizons.

Monday, January 23, 2006

The Election & A Little History

Today, Canada elects a new government. Tomorrow, the Church remembers the Blessed Martyrs William Ireland and John Grove, two of the priests executed in the late 17th century as a result of the perjured testimony of Titus Oates.

What connexion do these two events have? The very beginnings of the Liberal Party were responsible for Titus Oates' testimony. Oates, a Anglican minister who had been twice removed from positions for buggery, had spent some time with Jesuits in France, and on his return to England found an opportune manner to increase his fortunes. The so-called "Popish Plot" was triggered by Oates' allegations that dozens of people, many Catholic, some not, were conspiring to assassinate Charles II and install in his place James, the Duke of York, the heir presumptive, and a Catholic. The leader of the Whigs, Lord Ashley Cooper, Earl of Shaftesbury had built up the party around a group called the "Green Ribbon Club", many of whom would later be implicated in the genuine Rye House Plot, which sought to assassinate both Charles II and James. This marked the beginning of the party system in England, with the Whigs later becoming the Liberals and the Tories, defenders of the Crown, becoming Conservatives. It appears that Shaftesbury sought to use the Popish Plot to exclude the James from becoming King, but also if circumstances allowed, to permit Shaftesbury to reinstitute a Republic under his and Lord Buckingham's leadership. During his testimony, Oates daily met with the Green Ribbon Club while Shaftesbury sought to suborn other witnesses to buoy up the accusations of Oates', and supported the perjorors financially. And so the Liberal party was born of Murder and Treason.

So remember William Ireland and John Grove, this election day, and honour their memories.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Paul Elie & Pope Benedict XVI

I read Paul Elie's article on the election and prospective tenure of Pope Benedict over the weekend. While interesting in places, I thought some of the analysis of the run-up to the conclave ill-founded. Unfortunately, where it really falls to pieces is in his conclusions about the role of the papacy. He predicts an "essentially negative papacy" (though not meaning bad, but rather restrictive; a papacy of the removal of burdens on the church), which seems to me a not outrageous view, though it would seem to me that if Benedict is more focused on the Church ad intra than John Paul this does not correspond to a restictive papacy. Indeed, in his meeting with Bishop Fellay, and the restart of ecumenical discussions with the Orthodox would seem to indicate a possibly activist papacy on the subject of ecumenism. More egregiously, he buys into the thoroughly and utterly debunked notion that Pius XII was cavalier about the fate of Jews during the Second World War. But then Elie bizarrely attributes the flowering of American Catholic culture to Pius XII's "relative indifference to American society." I fail to see any plausible connexion between the successes of Flannery O'Connor and Dorothy Day and the interest or lack thereof taken by the Pope in America. For a far better understanding of Pope Benedict and the doings of the Vatican, read John Allen and Sandro Magister, two brilliant and fair-minded vaticanisti. For books, I understand (though have not read) that John Allen's and George Weigel's are the best works out there to give an understanding of Pope Benedict and what we may expect from his papacy.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Feast of Ss. Fabian & Sebastian

These two saints from the early centuries of the church were both martyrs. St. Fabian was a layman who was acclaimed Pope when, arriving at the deliberations, a dove alit upon him which was judged a sign of God's choice. After a number of years of peace, the persecutions began again, and St. Fabian proved the provenance of his election by his Martyrdom.

St. Sebastian was a soldier who rose to become captain of the Praetorian Guards. When his Christian faith was discovered he faced martyrdom. First, he was shot with arrows, but according to his legend he did not die, and was nursed back to health by Irene, the widow of another martyr. He then confronted the Emperor Diocletian, reproaching him for his persecution of the church and was then beaten to death.

Be mindful of our weakness, almighty God, and because we are oppressed by the burden of our deeds, grant that the glorious intercession of Thy blessed Martyrs Fabian and Sebastian may protect us. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God, Forever and ever. Amen

Infirmitatem nostram respice, omnipotens Deus: et, quia pondus propriae actionis gravat, beatorum Martyrum tuorum Fabiani et Sebastiani intercessio gloriosa nos protegat. Per Dominum nostrum Iesum Christum, Qui vivit et regnat Tecum in unitate Spiritus
Sancti, Deus, Per omnia saecula saeculorum. Amen
Electing our Leaders

Canada elects its new Parliament on Monday, and, inspired by Dilexit Prior's worthy post on the subject, I thought I'd offer my own reflections. According to my roommate (who is of no little authority): "Democracy is what happens between elections." That may be a little too cynical even for me. Whenever we reflect and consider the issues, we can make our democratic system a little stronger.

For the Christian citizen, it is important never to forget one fact: our nation permits the homicide of over 100,000 unborn children each year through surgical abortion and countless others through the morning-after pill and abortifacients. We live in the midst of a silent and invisible holocaust.

Building up a pro-life majority in Parliament should be a high priority- so much so that if you have a pro-life candidate to vote for, and who stands a chance of winning, do so irrespective of party.

Many Canadians do not have such a candidate for whom to vote. So when things are less than clear, what considerations ought one to weigh in making one's choice?

Firstly, pay attention to your local candidates. You may not have a wonderful choice, but you may be able to avoid a greater evil.

Secondly, know which issues are relevant. Education and Health Care are primarily provincial responsibilities, and while many words are spilled and the parties posture enormously, the actual impact of the differences between the parties will be minimal. I'd also suggest that Same-Sex Marriage isn't nearly as large an issue as often thought- even if a victory were achieved in Parliament, it likely wouldn't make it through the courts; even if it were to survive a Charter challenge, Same-sex marriage would likely be put in place as soon as another the Tories lost control of Parliament.

In my view, the biggest issue between the parties in this election is Child Care. The NDP and the Liberals want to put in place a child-care scheme which provides benefits for dual-income households but not for families which have already sacrificed to raise their children themselves. It provides benefits to parents who place their children in institutional day care, but not for families for whom extended family or other informal arrangements are utilized. It provides benefits for parents who have regular 9 to 5 jobs, but not for people who work shifts and would be unable to find institutional day care to accomodate their hours. The Conservative proposal, on the other hand is equitable, providing benefits to families regardless of whether they fit into the dual-income, yuppie mold the Liberal & NDP plans are designed for. Whoever puts their plan into place will quite possibly set the federal policy for the foreseeable future.

There are many other considerations, but I would make two final points. Firstly, the Liberal Party is responsible for the current resurgence of separatism in Quebec, and their view of federalism is inimical both to good government and to the justifiable prerogatives of Quebecers. Secondly, it is manifestly not the case that all parties are equal in their propensity towards corruption. Even if it were the case, there is still good reason to punish such parties when they are caught, for without punishment, what deterrant can there be to such conduct?

In short, I would recommend voting for the pro-life candidate; then the Conservative; then the NDP; and leave the Liberals to spend years in the wilderness.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

A Little Housekeeping

I've added a few new bloggers to my blogroll & removed a few who I found I haven't been paying attention to. New to my blogroll are two chaps from Victoria Harrison, who has just newly started blogging, and Matthew Davidson who I just discovered was a blogger. Also new is Bernard Brandt, whose poem I borrowed a few days ago. For anyone who I know personally, if you've an active blog, I'm more than pleased to link to you.

I've also put a link up to a very exciting publishing project, the Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture. Though the idea germinated among protestants, the project has taken on a admirably thorough ecumenical character. I'll wrap up this post with a quotation from the General Editor, Thomas Oden:
Almost everyone I talk with about the project responds positively, wondering why this was not done fifty years ago or more. I do think this is a ripe time among the several different audiences--Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Protestant evangelical--and for different reasons.

Among Roman Catholics there has been since Vatican II a fixation on the documents of Vatican II, so much so that they have tended to forget their patristic grounding. If you go back to Roman Catholic scholarship of fifty and one hundred years ago, you will see constant reference to patristic writers. Now, I'm very pleased with much that Vatican II did, but I think that they have tended during this period of opening the windows to the modern world--aggiornamento--to lose something of their exegetical roots.

The Orthodox have always been committed to patristic exegesis, but they have generally focused on Eastern exegesis. They've had such riches in the Eastern tradition that they have not felt a need to go into Western tradition. I think there is a growing awareness of the Western tradition on the part of the Orthodox, and they are ready to look further into the history of exegesis.

Evangelicals have entered into the world of historical-critical scholarship in a fairly healthy way, but it has left them hungry, with a sense of something essential missing. I think there is a growing awareness among them that the work of the Holy Spirit in the period between Augustine and Luther, and even before Augustine, in the Eastern tradition, is largely a closed memory.
Russia & National Destiny

I thought I would finally attempt to flesh out a topic I said I'd cover before Christmas: the role of various nations in history and in the workings of divine Providence.

Let me begin with Russia. Holy Mother Russia has ever been at the outskirts of Europe both in a geographically and culturally. As a nation, it has a strong and deep sense of identity, which puts it in a decided minority among western nations. Similarly, it has a deep religious heritage, which appears to be reinvigorated after almost a century of oppression.

But most of all, I wonder if Russia, having suffered more greatly than any other nation this past century, has some purpose to come, that perhaps as the rest of the western nations descend into an abyss of demographic decline, liberal decadence and a continuing denial of its civilizational crisis, Russia will be able to restore a balanced view of Western Civilization, shorn of the liberal platitudes and self-indulgent weakness that has brought it to the brink of extinction.

There are a few indications of a resurgence of traditional faith in Russia. A BBC report of Russian Easter in 2003 reflects the view that Orthodoxy is becoming increasingly relevant and practiced in Russia.

Additionally, a few months ago, news was made of millions of conversions from Islam to Orthodoxy. Consider how different a phenomenon this is compared to the crisis facing Western Europe of how to deal with growing unassimilated Islamic populations.

John Paul II was fond of saying that the Church must breathe with both lungs, meaning the East and the West. On a cultural level, the Cold War rescued the East from the clutches of atheistic communism. It may now be the age in which the East will have to rescue the West from liberalism.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

The Future, In Brief
The human race, to which so many of my readers bleong, has been playing at children's games from the beginning, and will probably do it till the end, which is a nuisance for the few people who grow up. And one of the games to which it is most attached is called, 'Keep to-morrow dark,' and which is also named (by the rustics in Shropshire, I have no doubt) 'Cheat the Prophet.' The players listen very carefully and respectfully to all that the clever men have to say about what is to happen in the next generation. The players then wait until all the clever men are dead, and bury them nicely. They then go and do something else. That is all. For a race of simple tastes, however, it is great fun.
-G.K. Chesterton, The Napoleon of Notting Hill.
Allow me for once (and I promise, just this once) to be heedless of Chesterton's warnings, and speculate about what the world will bring in my lifetime. I'll try to look briefly at demographic, technological, and social change.

Firstly, demographics. The world is on the verge of a massive demographic shift. Virtually all industrialized countries, and many developing countries will become much older in the next generation. Much of the West will start shrinking. Russia and Japan have already begun. America will not shrink, but faces potentially a more devastating problem. Much of America's spending consists of entitlements for retirees; as society ages the burden increases while the working population declines as a proportion of the population. Lawrence Kotlikoff has shown that America will go into a major economic crisis in 10 to 15 years a thesis explicated in his book, The Coming Generational Storm. This will inevitably result in a decline in America's ability to project power internationally, as described in an article Kotlikoff wrote with Niall Ferguson in The National Interest, intitled Going Critical (pdf link). The foremost difficulty entitlement spending poses is that as it becomes more of a problem, the political ability to mend the problem declines: more and more voters are beneficiaries. The current value of US unfunded liabilities is on the order of 70 trillion dollars. The world can look forward to a major recession when this is realized by the markets.

At the same time, other major international players will be facing increasing demographic pressure: China will experience massive aging as a result of their one child policy, significantly easing the risk of a pan-asian Chinese imperium. Russia, like the rest of Europe faces a massive population decline- unlike the rest of Europe, however, Russia also has a relatively low age expectancy which may ironically result in a more vigourous society. Nowhere, however will the demographic decline of the West be more thoroughly evident than in Europe, which Mark Steyn consigns to either insignificance or Islamic conversion. The lack of civilizational confidence of Europe, explored by George Weigel in great detail in The Cube and the Cathedral is also true of Canada, New Zealand and probably Australia.

Despite the American decline, she will still be the most powerful nation for as long as can be seen. Europe will disappear into further insignificance. India, which has a comparably reasonable demographic situation, is sure to increase in influence. China, will likely arrive at a plateau of power, where its increasing economic might will be balanced by its increasing demographic deficit. Africa, continuing to suffer (and possibly recover from) AIDS, will remain without significance internationally. It is similarly hard to see how South America, geographically isolated and bereft of adjacent rivals will develop greater international importance. Islamic nations will gain demographically, we can be sure. We can thus expect an increasingly multi-polar world, with the Islamic world, China, India, the United States and Russia being the key players.

Why Russia? Russia, though it will go through the greatest numerical decline of any nation, has a number of interesting things going for it. Firstly, she controls a significant portion of the world's oil reserves. Secondly, while she will go through numerical decline, because of a low life expectancy and limited exposure to entitlement spending, the effect on national strength will be limited. Thirdly, Russia is not as greatly exposed to radical Islamic populations within its borders. Most importantly, however, Russia has never lacked for national confidence- and in a century where much of the West will sink still deeper into its self-absorbed stupor, Russia may very well continue to be willing to assert herself on the world stage.

Within America, the demographic effect will continue to favour conservative and religious America, as explicated by Stanley Kurtz. This might very well not translate into an economic renewal of American society, however. The Republicans in America have been singularly unable to translate political gains into smaller government, and there is little to suggest that this will prove different in the future. As Christopher DeMuth observes, America may fall into the exact same civilizational weakness as the rest of western society. However, America will likely prove the model for the rest of the world, particularly the Western world as it demonstrates an increasing social polarization. In America, this will likely be primarily expressed within the religious dimension. In Europe, the polarization will likely be between those willing to take dramatic steps to counteract Islamic influence and those who will attempt to seek accomodation and a multicultural arrangement. Christianity will be a greater part of world politics particularly on account of Sub-Saharan Africa and an increasingly religious United States.

Well, that's a very sketchy vision of the future, and perhaps I'll revise it later. But for now, let me know what you think.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Dies Irae
Continuing our poetical theme, an offering from Anthony Esolen:
Day of wrath, O day of mourning!

Earth to ashes now returning!

Gather, by the millions, burning!

Cleansed at last by cataclysm

Butchered rhyme and battered rhythm,

Neopagan narcissism!

On that day, Lord, when thou comest,

And our dreadful hymnals thumbest,

Smite the ugliest and dumbest.

Smite them, Lord, yet of thy pity

Take their songsters to thy city:

Even Haugen, Haas, and Schutte.

Spare them on the stern condition

That they feel a true contrition

For the Worship III edition.

Doom them not to loss and ruin

While the darker storm is brewing!

They knew not what they were doing.

On that day when Palestrina

Dare not touch a celestina,

What will Sister Ballerina?

With thine eyes that pierce like lances

Still her silly heathen dances

And her flirting with Saint Francis.

Purge us of the prim and prissy,

Ditties fit for Meg or Missy,

Not for Francis, but a sissy.

Cantors who thought nothing grander

Than a sheaf of propaganda

Writ like office memoranda,

Raise them to thy room to bide in

Where their hearts and ears may widen

To the strains of Bach and Haydn.

Let their hearts within them falter,

Hearing, as they near thine altar,

Seraphs sing the Scottish Psalter.

Seize those devils set to pen a

Hymnal neutered of its men -- ah,

Fling ’em back to black Gehenna!

Fling them one and all to mangle

Their pronominals, and wrangle

Lest a participle dangle!

Who held manhood in derision,

Preaching double circumcision,

Suffer now their own revision.

Though the songs of Hell are naughty,

None by Handel or Scarlatti,

At the least they’ll have castrati.

Pitch, O Lord, the bald and raucous

Slogans of a leftist caucus

Down to Sheol, or Secaucus!

Save their singers, though: restore ’em

To a silent sweet decorum,

Saecula per saeculorum.

Various are the throngs of heaven:

Some were lump, and some were leaven,

Some as lame as six and seven.

When the demons hear thy curses,

And this world’s dense fog disperses,

Heal the hobbled -- not their verses.

Hush me, too, Lord, when I grumble:
In thy mercy make me humble,

Lest On Turkey's Wings I tumble.

Though Haugen sing “Hosea” evermore,

Save me I pray -- but keep me near the door. Amen.

Versus Populum

They have lied in the chapel and schoolhall.
They have practiced a terrible fraud.
For the priests have not turned to the people:
They instead turned their backs on their God.

We were told that the past was mistaken;
That to hold with Tradition was odd;
That the East was the source of all shadow,
And the West held the Son and our God.

But the Dayspring on High was not mocked by this;
He allowed them to flirt with this baud,
And revealed that the things done in secret
Were true sins against Man and his God.

And so those in the Nave and the Choirloft
Still await the day when we may laud
The return of the prodigal Fathers,
Who will turn with us back to our God.

--Bernard Brandt (via Pontifications)
Michael Ingham

Michael Ingham, for those who don't know, is the Anglican Archbishop of New Westminster, which covers all of Vancouver. He is not only a heretic and a dishonest idiot, as so ably (and famously, in certain quarters) demonstrated by Michael Davenport here (pdf here) but he doesn't appear to believe in religious freedom. Some might consider this an odd position for someone who would have been a feather in the hat of any heresy-hunter of centuries past. But let nothing stand in the way of imposing the Brave New World of the sacrament of sodomy on orthodox Christianity!

I dredged up an article that appeared in the Vancouver Sun after the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that same-sex marriage was constitutional. Michael Ingham's reaction: pity they didn't lower the boom on religious freedom:

However, the Anglican bishop of Greater Vancouver saw a ‘mixed blessing’ in Thursday’s decision regarding homosexual rights, a wedge issue that increasingly separatese Canada’s 20 million nominal Christians.

Ingham, who has been at the centre of an international storm since his Anglican diocese agreed to bless same-sex unions in 2002, said the ruling leaves him pleased for gays and lesbians in Canada. But Ingham also worried an ‘unintended message’ in Thursday’s court judgement will foster the continued ‘ghettoization’ of religious organizations in Canada’s pluralistic society.

Since the ruling affirms the right of Canadian religious groups to refuse to perform same-sex marriages, Ingham said it will allow conservative religious organizations to continue to ‘discriminate’ against gays and lesbians.

“I’ve always been distressed by arguments for religious people to be able to continue to discriminate against gay and lesbian people. I don’t believe in that kind of God. It’s as if one is saying: ‘If you’re a non-believer, you can’t discriminate. But if you’re a believer, you can. So if you want to discriminate against gays and lesbian people, join a religious organization.”


Ingham agreed with the strict legal reasoning in the Supreme Court ruling protecting religious freedom. But he wondered, since neither the courts, society nor religious leaders would allow discrimination against Semitic people, why do they support discrimination against gays and lesbians regarding marriage?

That's right- he says he agrees with the legal reasoning, but considers it a pity. But then he goes on to suggest that the court did get it wrong!

Sunday, January 15, 2006

A Brief Update:

Studying, making pseudo-Reuben sandwiches, preparing a post tentatively entitled "The Future, In Brief".

Saturday, January 14, 2006

More on Notwithstanding

Following up on my earlier post, from the Calgary Sun, a quote by Peter Russell:

Constitutional law expert Peter H. Russell, a professor emeritus at the University of Toronto, told The Canadian Press the notwithstanding clause is "a brilliant part of our constitutional law"... and "it would be foolish to throw it out."

Russell said Martin's plan might not even be legal and throwing a hastily conceived policy platform into the debate on an issue so fundamental to Canadians is "a strong argument for saying Paul Martin is not really equipped to govern," said Russell. "And I'm not a Conservative."

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Used Bookstores

Below in the comments, Dilexit Prior asks what good second-hand bookstores exist around Vancouver.

Let me start, however, on the Island. The one I mentioned in my prior post, the Haunted Bookstore in Sidney is almost certainly the best in the province. It has extremely good selection, and a selection of a high caliber, and very reasonable prices. I always find something well worth buying. By far and away, it is the best bookstore among the ones I will mention. Victoria used to have a number of bookstores of similar caliber- Renaissance Books, Poor Richards, Wells- all have closed over the past few years. Grafton Books in Oak Bay and Sorenson Books on Cook street remain places worth visiting if you find yourself in Victoria.

In Vancouver, MacLeod's Books on Pender downtown is extremely large, and has a good selection. It tends to run to the expensive side of things, and I rarely find notable books there. Criterion Books, opposite MacLeods is similarly expensive, but worth visiting, if only to check out some of their nice Chestertons. Lawrence Books, on W. 41st at Dunbar, is my favourite in Vancouver. More reasonable than MacLeod's, Lawrence has a similarly broad selection, and fits the musty, close-set bookstore image to perfection.

I'll finish my recommendations there, with the caveat that I haven't visited many of the bookstores in the suburbs- if you know of good bookstores out there, let me know.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Paul Martin & The Constitution

I had Charter this morning with Professor Elliot (he of the most excellent mustache), and we discussed Paul Martin's Constitutional plan. So, in the second English debate, Paul Martin pledged to introduce a constitutional amendment to remove the ability of Parliament, but not the provincial legislatures to invoke the notwithstanding clause, section 33 of the Constitution Act, 1982. Martin claims he is able to do this under section 44, which allows the Federal government to amend the Constitution unilaterally with respect "to the executive government of Canada or the Senate and House of Commons." However, that section is subject to subsection 42(b) of the Charter which invokes the general amending formula (7 provinces with 1/2 of the population) for changes affecting "the powers of the Senate and the method of selecting Senators."

The upshot of all of which is that since the Senate would be stripped of the power to utilize the notwithstanding clause, the general amending formula operates. Martin, who has been busy claiming such enormous fidelity to the Constitution not only wants to amend the Constitution, but apparently wants to do so unconstitutionally.

What happens if Martin gets his druthers? Well, not only could a majority of the House & Senate reinstate the notwithstanding clause unilaterally, but could probably strengthen the notwithstanding clause so as to allow the federal government to ignore all the enumerated rights, and with permanency. The last time the Liberals fiddled with the Constitution, they created a cascade of resentment that almost tore the country apart. They now seem to be on the verge of tearing apart the Constitution itself.

Bravo, Mr. Martin.

n.b. The legal opinions expressed herein are mine; Professor Elliot started the discussion, and strongly suggested that s.42(b) would be operative rather than s.44, but I wouldn't attribute the other views expressed to him.

Update: Professor Elliot wrote a few days ago (and I hadn't got around to posting it) summarizing his thoughts:
I have doubts as to whether s. 44 would be applicable in this context quite apart from s. 42(1)(b), because I think there's a good argument to be made that the references to the Senate and House of Commons in s. 44 relate to what might be called housekeepings matters (see eg, ss. 33 - 36 of the CA 1867), and also because the override provision refers to Parliament as an institution and not (as s. 44 does) to its component parts.
Even if s. 44 could be said to be applicable here in a prima facie sense, I think there's a solid argument to be made that s. 42(1)(b) would take precedence over it because of the latter's reference to the "powers of the Senate."
Thanks Professor!

He's a Book Fiend!

I've picked up a fair number of new books over the last week- by which I mean, of course, used books. At a new Catholic bookstore in Coquitlam, I picked up Ralph Martin's overview of Catholic eschatology, "Is Jesus Coming Soon?", a old Image paperback biography of St. Jean de Brebeuf, written by Fr. Francis X. Talbot, S.J., and "Praying in the Presence of Our Lord", compiled by Fr. Benedict Groeschel.

Then, on the way to Victoria, I stopped at the Haunted Bookstore in Sidney and bought two Gerald Durrell first editions: "Encounters with Animals" and "The Whispering Land", both published by Rupert Hart-Davis. I also acquired a lovely early Penguin paperback copy of Waugh's "Vile Bodies", a novel by Umberto Eco, a Collected Works of William Shakespeare, Dobree's "Restoration Tragedy", a lovely little edition of The Little Flowers of St. Francis, and a nice CCCB edition of Marialis Cultus, Pope Paul VI's Apostolic Exhortation on devotion to Mary.

So, among all this wonderful new stuff, you might ask, what might he be reading? Well, I'm actually getting started on a copy of Vanity Fair, loaned to me by a friend. Thackeray is thus far endearing himself to me.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Preston Manning

I'm feeling a trifle under pressure here, since Dilexit Prior claimed that there was "intelligent blogging" going on over here. But rest assured, all intelligence is on hold until I have enough time to compose my thoughts.

Instead, I'll tell you what I've been up to. Aside from being in my last term, and getting into the class I wanted, I headed over to Victoria for Universities' Model Parliament, which sits in the Legislature itself. A wonderful institution, UMP melds serious political debate with a great deal of humour, a strong tutorial in parliamentary procedure (which is far more fun than it sounds), and a not a great deal of sleep. I was fortunate to be able to visit a friend one of the evenings, which led to musings over liturgy and U2 into the wee hours of the morning.

Every year UMP invites a notable Canadian to serve as Governor General. This year, the Tories on the board managed to procure the finest GG in the history of UMP- Preston Manning. Mr. Manning preformed his ceremonial office in an admirable manner, but was moreover extremely willing to chat with all of us, charming not only Tories, but Liberals and NDPers without exception. He even popped by two of the evening parties, joining us for appetizers and beer. With Saturday evening came the Governor General's banquet, which concludes with a speech from the Governor General.

Mr. Manning managed to turn advice to aspiring politicians into something a NDP friend termed "very inspiring". He first commended us on UMP, and reminisced about his Model Parliament days with Joe Clark and Ray Speaker in Edmonton in the sixties. Apparently Joe Clark made all the arrangements and coalitions necessary to defeat the government one year, but as the final night came on, the government got wind of the plan. So as Joe Clark was about to introduce a motion of non-confidence, a Liberal threw the power in the building, plunging the House into darkness, and bringing the Parliament to an abrupt end. According to Mr. Manning, the last thing he remembered of that Parliament was hearing Joe Clark scrambling across desks to try to get to the light switch.

Preston Manning then went on to give three pieces of advice to we Model Parliamentarians- firstly, that we ought to draw up a list of skills and knowledge we would need to perform at the highest level of political engagement, and a scheme of how to acquire them in the years ahead. He particularly emphasized communication skills, noting with some displeasure that the communicability of a policy position has become more important than its social or economic wisdom or its administrative feasibility.

Secondly, Mr. Manning advised us to challenge the orthodoxies not only of our opponents, but also of our own parties, suggesting that we advance reform within our own parties as well as the broader society. He particularly suggested Tories should look at the provision of services more, NDPers might improve their policies on economic growth, and Liberals might give a trifle more concern to ethical standards in government.

Thirdly, Preston urged us to adopt Democratic Reform as our own, encouraging us to examine the many ideas and champion the few which we feel would do the most good. A true believer in democracy, Mr. Manning recounted a night early in his Parliamentary career when he had left documents he needed for a breakfast meeting in his desk in the House. Gaining admittance to that Chamber at about midnight, with the lights dimmed, the Chamber silent and empty, Mr. Manning sat down in his seat for a few minutes, contemplating the majesty of that House, and imagining it as "the Temple of Democracy" it might be.

Preston answered questions in a remarkably honest and straightforward manner, including a partisan question, and spoke with many privately. The next day, at the prorogation of the House, he led the House in a minute of silence to contemplate the potential of democracy and the Parliament in which we sat.

I realize I do but little justice to the speech Mr. Manning gave, and his other conduct over the weekend. It was wonderful, and a priviledge to be a part of.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Odds & Sods

Christmas was marvelous, as always, though I had a cold, and then I went to Rise Up!, Catholic Christian Outreach's annual conference. We heard George Weigel, Monsignor Gregory Smith and many others. Thanks to Dilexit Prior for taking the notes that I in most cases neglected to take, and in some cases lost. The conference was enormously encouraging and enlivening. Next year is in Quebec City, and while I will likely be unable to attend, it's sure to be still more wonderful.

Walking past Chapters today, I was lured in by the 30% off hardcovers sale, and while I didn't expect to find anything worthwhile, I nevertheless stumbled across a book that, while I had heard excellent things about it a few months ago, I had completely forgotten about. It was Philip Marchand's Ghost Empire, a retelling of La Salle's epic explorations in the Mississippi Valley as Marchand travels the same route. I am given to understand that it contains wonderful reflections on Catholicism and North America, and so am eager to read it. Regrettably, I haven't the faintest clue when that may be possible.

Well, off to Coquitlam. Wheee!

Monday, January 02, 2006

Quotable Quotes

My Roomate: "The area beneath my bed is a designated storage space, and it's full."

Myself: "The great thing about being Canadian is being able to root for whoever's playing against the Americans."

And, to prove my point, I'm watching the Czech-America quarterfinal in the world juniors, being played in Vancouver. What's being chanted by the crowd? "Let's Go Czechs!"