Meritha and I like Dr. Jordan Peterson, who is, shall we say, an uneasy member of the faculty of the University of Toronto. We also like American radio host, Dennis Prager, who on Prager University produces five-minute videos by extremely well informed and thoughtful people.
This conversation between the two of them displays the best of Jordan Peterson, and is something I would encourage every intelligent and informed person to take the time to watch. It’s informative, and while it reflects on what Western civilization has lost, and why, it’s inspiring and tells us that there may be a way back.
Having said that, Peterson makes a statement that I profoundly disagree with.
Peterson’s position has always been that he doesn’t know for certain that God exists, but that he lives as though He does. He suggests that if we truly believed that God existed we would live far better lives. Okay, possibly so, although no ordinary human has ever lived perfectly.
But then Peterson states that: “Jesus Christ was the only Christian.” That’s categorically untrue and makes it evident that Peterson still has some work to do on the subject, and I’m sure he will.
But Jesus was not a Christian. Christianity is for sinners, like me. In fact, everyone who has ever truly been a Christian, is a sinner, and more importantly, knows it.
And that’s the whole point. The difference between Christianity and religion, is that religions are about highly uncertain human efforts to find and appease God. Christianity is entirely about God finding and definitively rescuing imperfect people, and then, from an attitude of gratitude and responsibility, those imperfect Christians try to live the way that Jesus called for in the sermon on the Mount and his other homilies.
Peterson’s imperfect understanding of Christianity aside, if you don’t watch anything else this summer, or read any of my blogs, (but please do!), watch this 30 minute video, with your family. It’s excellent!
Every year around now, Time Magazine or Maclean’s Magazine or some other publication will feature a sensational story on the Christian religion. Did Jesus exist? Did Jesus marry? Was the Christian story cooked up by his disciples? That last one is strange; do you know of anyone would make up a story in order to get themselves killed? And of course, there are the usual stories about religion, specifically Christianity, creating many of the world’s major problems.
Here’s the other side of the story.
Last week, we attended a Christmas concert put on by the L’Arche community in Calgary. L’Arche is a worldwide organization that provides community to people with varying kinds of developmental disabilities. It was founded 45 years ago, by Jean Vanier, a conservative Catholic, who said: “We are not called by God to do extraordinary things, but to do ordinary things with extraordinary love.”
Here, in part, is a letter that I wrote to my cousin, who is a director at L’Arche Calgary.
We thoroughly enjoyed the program the other night. It reminded us of those old-fashioned Christmases that we used to participate in when we were kids, and I must also say that the people at L’Arche are always great fun and inspiring to visit with. The idea that they should be sidelined or discarded is appalling on the face of it, but to do so would also be a tremendous loss to society. L’Arche is what Christianity does.
The latest issue of Christianity Today has an article on the Rendille tribe in northern Kenya. Over the past 30 years it has become largely Christian and now has the Bible and other literature translated into their own language. Rendille Pastor David Gargule explained what it means to them. “No child marriages. No female circumcisions. Give every child equal rights. Give a girl equal rights with boys.” That’s what Christianity does.
As you know, in the 1950s and 60s, our aunt Merle was a missionary’s wife, living first in South Africa, and then in what is now Harare, Zimbabwe. While she was in Harare, her father, our grandfather, died. It was 1962 and there was no way for her to return to Saskatchewan for the funeral, or of course, to Skype. It was a very sad time for her.
Two or three times over the years she had told me the story of her houseboy – that’s what they called male house staff back then – who saw that she was sad and treated her even more kindly than usual. One one occasion when he had brought her a cup of tea, she asked him why he treated her with such kindness. He said: “Madam, I love missionaries. I was born the second of twins, and before the missionaries came, the second born twin was always left on the riverbank for the crocodiles to eat. If it wasn’t for the missionaries I wouldn’t be here.” That’s what Christianity does.
At Christmas we usually think of the Salvation Army, but of course they, and World Vision, and Samaritan’s Purse, and L’Arche, and countless other Christian organizations do God’s work, all year round. Recently, the Nobel Peace Prize went to Denis Mukwege, a Congolese doctor, who, inspired by his Christian faith, founded a hospital to help rape victims. Tens of thousands of them. That’s what Christianity does.
There are many more examples of the good things that Christianity does, but I’ll give the last word to Africa hand, Matthew Parris, who a few years ago wrote an article in The Times of London with the headline: “As an atheist, I truly believe Africa needs God.” He was talking about the Christian God.
Terrible things have been done in the name of Christianity, but that’s not Christianity. TrueChristianity changes us, and thereby the world. For the better. Always.
** Feel free to forward this or use the stories as you wish.
I think it was about a year ago that Meritha and I attended a weekend conference put on by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation and their Millennials wing which they call Generation Screwed; as in, the people in power are running up debts and will be leaving us the bill.
The keynote speaker was Jordan Peterson, and if you haven’t heard of him you haven’t been paying close attention to the cultural debate raging between common sense conservatives and the radical left, all across Western Society. And I mean worldwide Western Society because Jordan Peterson is possibly the biggest thing to come out of Canada since The Guess Who.
Peterson has dozens of videos on YouTube where he systematically and ruthlessly shreds all things Marxist. He’s already sold over 1 million copies of his book, 12 Rules for Life since it came out in January. And, his biggest appeal is to Millennials! Don’t tell me the situation is hopeless.
I have two major involvements. One is an online community for common sense conservatives called Let’s Do It Ourselves. Our members include Agnostics and Atheists and Buddhists and Sikhs and Christians and anyone else who thinks government has become too invasive. LDIO™ is non-religious.
My other project is IWUZ; this online blog where I put out my ideas about politics and culture, and occasionally about religion. This is one of those occasions.
My dad was an aircraft mechanic in the Royal Canadian Air Force during World War II. Dad was a reader, and when I was about 12, I discovered among his collection a couple of books by two Americans; Pulitzer prize-winning author, Ernie Pyle, and a book of war cartoons by Bill Mauldin.
These guys were great supporters of military men and women, and in a very human way, their work brought the day to day reality of the war, to life. They were an essential part of the American war effort, and they also had a wide audience among the rest of the English-speaking, Allied military. I found their books fascinating and read both, several times.
But there was another book that was critical to the military effort. As one soldier wrote after receiving a copy: “I enjoy it very much and I read it every night. I never realized you could learn so much from a Bible.”
And indeed, you can. You can learn very practical things like; if you live in a hot country and don’t have refrigeration, you shouldn’t eat shellfish.
You will also learn that several thousand years ago, the ancients already knew, completely counter-intuitively if you think about it, that the universe, and even time itself were not eternal, but had a beginning. Modern science didn’t catch up with that reality until well into the 20th century.
In the Bible you’ll find 10 Commandments that, if they were followed by everyone, would lead to safe, healthy, secure, and happy human society. Of course, not one of us follows those Commandments consistently; the old fashion word is that we sin, and consequently we see sickness and death and unhappiness and insecurity all around us.
Reading through Jewish and Christian scriptures, the Bible, from beginning to end, you will gradually be introduced to the supra-natural First Cause, or Creator of the universe, and you’ll find that Creator, or God, involved with modern humans, every step of the way.
Western civilization is built on that Judeo-Christian foundation.
Christians hold that the most central events of God’s involvement occurred about 2000 years ago, when, in order to identify completely with humans, and, to rescue humans from the consequences of their disregard of his common-sense rules, God himself underwent the human journey of gestation, birth, life, and death.
And then, resurrection. Of course, it all sounds implausible, but then so is the beginning of time, and nature, from NOTHING. If you can accept the Big Bang as it is described by modern science, then a virgin birth or a resurrection are, as miracles go, rather minor events.
Many people have set out to prove that the resurrection was staged, or a conspiracy, or it never happened. But the fact is that it is one of the most widely attested-to events in ancient history. Hundreds of witnesses affirmed Jesus’ crucifixion and death, and then, that they had seen and met with Jesus over the six weeks following. Multiple, hostile, contemporary commentators, agreed that it was supposed to have happened.
And none of the witnesses was ever recorded as having retracted their testimony, even on pain of death. And a lot of them were in fact, put to death. Think about this; people will die for what they believe to be true; but no one, let alone hundreds, have ever been prepared to die for what they know is a lie.
So, simply put, what Christians celebrate at this time of the year is God’s love for every one of us, screwed-up humans. All we have to do, is accept it.
** If you’d like a closer look at this subject, I would recommend two books. One is Mere Christianity by CS Lewis; the author of the Narnia Chronicles. The other is: The Case for Christ, by Lee Strobel. Strobel was a legally trained, star reporter with the Chicago Tribune who set out to prove that his wife’s Christianity was delusional. It backfired.
Recent article in Vice.com. “Meet the woke young people trying to make Christianity cool again.” Apparently, “Cool Christians” totally believe in anthropogenic global warming and climate change orthodoxy, and in human rights and racial equality.
Before reading the story, it had never occurred to me that the point of adopting a worldview, like Christianity, or Islam, or Atheism, was to be cool, but rather, to find, and live in the truth. I still believe that.
But anyway; is it true that human produced CO2 is the major driver of climate change, and the warming trend? Since the current warming began about 1850, which is recognized as the end of the Little Ice Age, – Cold! Advancing glaciers! Frost in July! – it would seem that the current warming is natural Thousands of climate scientists agree. (Don’t bother fact checking at the CBC)
As for climate change itself; if we could bring up the spirits of our ancestors going back for the last hundred thousand years, it would be instructive to ask them if they think climate change is something new. Of course, from history and from the geological record, we know that it’s not. So, while believing in catastrophic, human caused, global warming and climate change may be cool, it simply isn’t true.
Genuine Christian belief has always supported the right of all people, to respect, and security, in the broader community. (Like any organization, the Christian church has a right to set its rules for membership. And as with any group of humans, there are people who don’t follow the rules.)
It seems to me that respect should go both ways. A same-sex couple’s right to live in peace and security does not include them being able to force others to participate their choices. My choice does not override your freedom.
For instance, whether or not to marry is a choice. Gay or straight, your choice to marry depends on someone else agreeing to that choice. And your choice of caterer, or officiator should depend on said individual agreeing to that choice.
I think we’ve gone way overboard in conflating fundamental rights, with an ersatz right to force someone else to acquiesce to, or even participate in our choices. In fact, I’m enough of a small L libertarian to say that if a condominium owner doesn’t want to rent to old white heterosexual couples, that’s their right. And I’d defend it.
I’d even say that if the fire department refused my choice to fulfill my lifelong dream to become a firefighter, (it isn’t) simply because I’m too old, that should be their right. Oh yeah; it always has been their right. Institutionalized Ageism!
Further to marriage; considering that it’s a biological fact that we evolved / were created, to mate heterosexually, I’d still tend to agree with the Supreme Court of Canada which said, about 25 years ago: “Throughout its history, marriage has been fundamentally about children, and is therefore, by nature, heterosexual.”
Of course marriage is no longer fundamentally about children, but rather about adults living out their choices. Let’s at least acknowledge, that after thousands of years, the fundamental definition of marriage has been changed.
Referencing the latest LGBTQ “rights” fad; while your insisting that that a child with a penis might be a girl!!, may be almost too cool to be true; the question is, is it true? There remains some doubt.
Finally, racial equality. My Mennonite (Christian) ancestors moved to Pennsylvania in 1739 and immediately joined a letter writing campaign opposing slavery, directed at the U.S. Congress. I’ve seen one of the letters. They kept it up until 1865, when Lincoln freed the slaves.
In Britain, an evangelical Christian named William Wilberforce spent almost his entire lifetime opposing slavery, and finally succeeding in having it outlawed throughout the British Empire. That was the first time, in human history, that slavery had been expunged from a society.
Jesus himself, by very pointedly and purposefully telling his disciples and the Jewish leaders of the day the story of the Good Samaritan, was setting the standard for interracial/intercultural attitudes. To the Jewish elites of that day the very term, Good Samaritan, was an oxymoron. They regarded Samaritans the same way that ISIS, and the extremists of the left and right, and those lonely nutters in the KKK, currently regard Jews.
Black Lives Matter? What about Asian, and Southeast Asian, and Native American lives? Dare I even ask: “What about old white Canadian lives?”
Anyway, when Christians think and act as racists, they’ve gone rogue. The rule hasn’t changed. But then, Christianity is all about the fact that we’ve ALL gone rogue in one way or another. In the movie “Unforgiven”, Billy the Kidd tells Clint Eastwood’s character that he’d shot one of the bad guys, but that: “He had it coming.” Eastwood’s character growls: “We all have it coming.”
And so we do. Christmas, Good Friday, and Easter are the answer to that grave truth.
Tomorrow is Remembrance Day when we remember all those young people that lost their lives defending freedom. So let’s remember.
And then let’s continue to remember next week, and next month, and in the years to come; that freedom isn’t free. Nor is it guaranteed.
There’s been a lot of talk lately about the need for a moderate conservatism. I agree.
Progressivist Conservatives often tell us that they are fiscally conservative but socially progressive, in other words, they are models of moderation.
What it really seems to mean in practice is that you must timidly support every social initiative of the Progressivist Left, no matter how intrusive, anti-human rights, anti-family, anti-science, or, outright perverted.
The fact is that on most social issues, our society has completely abandoned moderation.
Because let me ask you:
Is it immoderate to oppose government initiatives that completely ignore the UN’s Declaration of Human Rights, which explicitly states that it’s not the government, but parents, who have a “prior” or first right, to decide on the education of their children?
Was it immoderate for Theresa Ng to reveal that Alberta’s taxpayer financed Gay Straight Alliance, or GSA website provided links to over 20 sexually explicit websites?
That GSA website is approved for children ages 5 to 18, but Kris Wells the guy in charge, didn’t think Theresa’s concern was moderate. He called her hysterical and sensationalist. On what dystopian planet would you draw that conclusion?
Is it immoderate to affirm the scientific and biological, and obvious reality of two genders?
Is it immoderate to oppose government initiatives, that seek to normalize gender dysphoria in children, against the findings of science, and, simple common sense? Those initiatives constitute government sanctioned child abuse.
Is it immoderate for a politician to give a pass to Gay Pride Parades (LINK WARNING: severe stupidity on display) – those Flasher Festivals where addled parents flaunt their Progressivist bona fides by taking their kids to gawk at naked men? In saner times, it would be considered child abuse.
Is it immoderate to point out the irrefutable scientific fact, that a human being’s life journey begins at conception, and that at no point is a fetus a part of a woman’s body. It is in her womb for protection and nourishment, but it has its own DNA, its own blood type, distinct heartbeat, and even personality!
Is it immoderate to insist that we need to have an honest conversation about abortion, and to enact a law to give the fetus protection after a certain stage of its development? Could we at least outlaw aborting baby girls, just because they’re girls?
The fact is, that it’s the current governments of Alberta and Ontario and Canada that are immoderate.
Most of the mainstream media is giddily proud of their immoderate social views.
Much of Hollywood is immoderate to the borders of insanity.
It’s past time for real moderates – that would be those of us who don’t ignore biology and science, and who have a high regard for observed reality – to make our voices heard, and call out the im-moderation of the Progressivist Left.
One source of negative feedback was Randall. Full disclosure; Randall is my cousin and our worldviews are different, so we spar from the perspectives of Socialism and Atheism, versus Conservatism and Christianity. I hope someday that we can engage in the conversation face-to-face, over a very long lunch.
What I’ve done here is copied Randall’s comments, and then responded to them. Unavoidably, this blog is much longer than usual.
Randall. One system with different schools to fit parent’s interests is a bit contradictory. It would be interesting to see how that would work in rural areas, never mind urban areas!
Dave. How is it contradictory? It’s simply a pooling of school funding through equal taxation levels, and then having equal funding follow each student to the school of their and their parent’s choice.
It’s exactly the same idea as having a publicly funded healthcare system, but with the customer choosing which doctor, hospital or clinic to patronize. What’s unique to both in the Canadian context, is that the student or patient is actually regarded as a customer, rather than an expense; a customer for which the provider must compete with other providers, which forces a focus on excellence in the service provided.
Randall. The worldview that matters is pretty basic: communication, facts, skills and nurturing self actualization with the ability to think independently and objectively. Personal interests, especially religious, must be a private matter.
Dave. Randall, you reveal your bias, and unfortunately, a tint of totalitarianism. Of course we have a Prime Minister who is an open admirer of totalitarians, so maybe that’s the direction we’re heading. And please explain: “nurturing self actualization”??
But it seems to me that you’re basically saying that the worldview that matters, is your worldview. On the other hand, I am not saying that the worldview that must prevail is my worldview. I’m simply calling for freedom of speech, of assembly, freedom of, or from religion, etc., for both you, and me.
I’m saying that if parents wish to send their children to a school that teaches essential subjects from the perspective of their worldview, then that’s their inalienable right. Those rights are not conferred by the government; in fact, it is a government’s essential responsibility to protect those rights.
That is affirmed by The United Nations Declaration of Human Rights; Article 26: subsection 3, as well as numerous other International, Canadian, and Alberta declarations and laws. So, what Alberta’s NDP government is trying to do is fundamentally contrary to Alberta, Canadian, and International Law. And, also by the way, also contrary to common sense and decency.
Or, do you actually believe that preteens should have access, through a Department of Education approved website, to instructional videos on oral sex, to pick one of the least offensive examples?
And do you believe that parents should be excluded from knowing when their kids are experiencing gender confusion, or which government approved organizations their children have joined? Again, that’s contrary to the law, and contrary to simple common sense.
Because, how about school marks? If the teacher knows that a student’s parents are really strict about their kids doing well in school, what happens if one of their kids gets an F? The child might be terrified of facing his or her parents, so should they be “outed” to their parents for their bad mark, or should their parents be kept in the dark?
It’s a scientific fact that the many children go through gender dysphoria during grade school years, and even into junior high, but in the vast majority of cases, with their parents love and involvement, they grow out of it. Of course, there are a very small percentage of parents that are abusive, but the law already makes provision for dealing with that.
The Alberta government’s position seems to be that a child’s gender confusion should be affirmed, and even encouraged by the school, but concealed from the parents. Can you defend this?
Randall. Perhaps if churches and ministers paid taxes the government would be able to afford to do a better job.
Dave. I agree that churches and pastors should be held to a very strict standard when it comes to their tax exemptions. But it is a fact that many churches perform invaluable community service in helping people through financial difficulties, addictions, marriage problems, and even in dying. And in most cases, they do a far better job than government funded services, and at no cost to the taxpayer.
Randall. Atheists, at this point, do not need to organize. We live in a democracy (as flawed as it is) and paying our taxes we pay for all the programs government provides (and the subsidies as well…).
Dave. At this point?? Considering the record of the numerous officially Atheistic regimes in the 20th century, that sounds ominous.
Anyway, here’s where our differing worldviews come into stark relief. Socialist/Leftists/ Progressivists (SLP) believe in the all-knowing, all-providing, all-powerful state. Conservatives don’t.
Because conservatives like me have spent the last 60 years observing the SLP worldview being practiced; in National Socialist (Nazi) Germany, in the Soviet Union, in Communist China, currently in increasingly dystopian Venezuela, and on and on.
I personally lived under the disastrous economic policies of socialism in Saskatchewan, although I hasten to add that it was infinitely more benign than the socialist regimes I’ve mentioned. More on that below.
Randall. There is only so much cash to go around. Even wealthy Alberta cannot afford to have special interest schools for every nuance of personal opinion. One public school system for all. Special interests are a private matter. No public money should go to any private school, ever. One “free” private system!!!
Dave. As I proved in my blog, patrons of alternate schools in Alberta currently subsidize the public (Secularist) system to the tune of 30% of their education tax dollars. In provinces like Ontario, it’s 100%. On top of that, alternate schools raise their own capital funding! The Secularist public system benefits by millions from the existence of alternate schools. I know you weren’t a math teacher, but……
Anyway, why are you so against allowing parents to teach their children, within a universally funded education system, an alternate perspective to yours?
Randall. And in your tirade using emotionally charged words like “Nazi” about repeated lies becoming accepted, you forgot to mention Donald Trump. You should be more current…
Dave. Randall, this is my favourite. I knew some people would be offended by my use of the word Nazi. Do you remember Bush-Hitler?
And Harper-Nazi? And just last week, an SLP activist tweeted that Alberta parents that expressed opposition to the NDP’s gender fluidity promoting agenda, were: “Cultural Marxists.”
Now if you assume that most Albertans are quite brainless, you could also reasonably assume that that would be an effective slur. But most Albertans are not brainless, and the poor lady simply revealed herself to be short of an argument.
As you know, I’m no big fan of Donald Trump. But Donald Trump’s lies tend to towards hyperbole, and in some cases are proven to be correct – think of Sweden’s real problem with radical Islamists; whereas the Left’s lies are often a transparent use of Nazi style, “repeat the lie” propaganda, in order to have the lie become fact, and to intimidate those with alternate perspectives.
Anyway, as unappetizing as Trump may be to many, he was hired to drain the swamp, and it’s a reasonable assumption that swamp drainers are not necessarily genteel gentlemen.
One more point about the Nazis. For decades, the left has characterized Nazism / Fascism as being right wing. That is pure, and so far successful, propaganda. Because in fact, the National Socialist party – commonly referred to under Hitler as the Nazis – was socialist in that Hitler saw both individuals and industry as having a prior responsibility to the objectives of the state.
And in that view he was aligned with Joseph Stalin, Chairman Mao, Fidel Castro, and more recently, the Hugo Chavez revolution in Venezuela, which has managed to destroy that country in two decades. Its citizens are fleeing to Columbia by the hundreds.
So I’d suggest to conservative readers that we always refer to Nazism as a left wing phenomenon.
21st century SLPs are anti-free speech – routinely shutting down speakers, particularly at universities. They’re anti-freedom of assembly, witness some of Canada’s law societies’ outrageous attempt to prevent a law school being established at Trinity Western University; they’re anti-freedom of religion, and so on.
And they don’t want to discuss it! It’s been my observation that the only people that want no argument are the people that have no argument.
The faces of the Western left used to be those of Tommy Douglas, Alan Blakely, Roy Romanow, Hubert Humphrey, and Golda Meier; reasonable and honorable people all.
SLP faces are now those of Naomi Klein, Rachel Maddow, Jeremy Corbin, the radical management and faculty of far too many universities, and of course, the hopelessly myopic Bernie Sanders, who, having honeymooned in the Soviet Union, still came back a proud socialist. How was that even possible?
Unfortunately, the SLPs current face includes that of Rachel Notley, a woman who I had always believed to be simply a decent person with whom I disagreed. Considering her regime’s actions and attitude, I’m re-considering.
Western civilization is in a very dangerous period for the very simple reason, that those in control of many governments, most bureaucracies, and the media and entertainment industries, are focused on its destruction; in part because Western civilization is anchored by a Judaeo – Christian worldview, which they hate.
Decades ago, English journalist Malcolm Muggeridge presciently wrote the following:“So the final conclusion would surely be that whereas other civilizations have been brought down by attacks of barbarians from without, ours had the unique distinction of training its own destroyers at its own educational institutions, and then providing them with facilities for propagating their destructive ideology far and wide, all at the public expense.
Thus did Western Man decide to abolish himself, creating his own boredom out of his own affluence, his own vulnerability out of his own strength, his own impotence out of his own erotomania, himself blowing the trumpet that brought the walls of his own city tumbling down, and having convinced himself that he was too numerous, labored with pill and scalpel and syringe to make himself fewer.
Until at last, having educated himself into imbecility, and polluted and drugged himself into stupefaction, he keeled over–a weary, battered old brontosaurus–and became extinct.”
Randall, I don’t believe we’ve yet keeled over, but we’re on our knees.
One of the unforeseen results of the Obama years was an increase in racial tensions in the United States. Rather than being the Great Uniter, President Obama poked at the fires of racial disharmony whenever he got the opportunity, even when the pretext turned out to be false.
As a result, organizations like Black Lives Matter have garnered wide attention for their rallies, and sadly, for their calls to kill police officers. They take offense to the suggestion that “all lives matter.”
Even though the Apostle Paul in his letter to the slave owner, Philemon, had graciously asked Philemon to welcome back his runaway slave, Onesimus, as a brother, slavery remained legal in virtually every society in the world, until the collective consciences of British Christians were stirred and slavery was finally outlawed in the British Empire in 1807. It is now outlawed, in theory, in every country.
But still, for some inexplicable reason, more “whiteness” still seems to be a desired trait in most cultures. I was in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania in about 1991, and one evening I invited Agrey and Anna Mponguliana to join me at my hotel for dinner. I had met Agrey a couple of trips earlier, and we’d kind of hit it off.
In the course of the evening’s conversation we discovered that, like Meritha and I, they’d been married in 1967. So the conversation turned to courtship and marriage in our culture, and theirs. Anna told me that Agrey had paid 10 cows for her; then added, that if she’d had a lighter skin, he might have had to pay up to 20 cows.
I was a bit dumbfounded, and suggested that the honorific we humans have bestowed upon ourselves; Homo Sapiens, or wise man, is hardly appropriate given that we whites will lay on the beach risking skin cancer in order to become darker, while Africans and Southeast Asians, and Chinese will do everything possible to become lighter, all to no practical purpose.
And it’s not just about cosmetics. Whether it’s people of another colour, creed, culture, tribe, or community; when one group finds itself in a position to dominate another group, its innate tendency is to do so.
Prejudice is not a white disease, it’s a human disease. We all need to agree with British author and raconteur, G. K. Chesterton who was once asked by The Times of London to answer the question: “What’s wrong with the world today?”
Chesterton responded: “Dear Sir, I am. Yours, G. K. Chesterton.”
One evening last weekend Meritha and I stopped in at Begim for a bite to eat. Begim is an Uzbek restaurant in Forest Lawn, a Calgary suburb loaded with ethnic eateries.
Begim is run by a Muslim family, the Madjanovs; Dad Kamil, Mom Mastura, brother Nodir and sister Nigura. The parents were dentists in Uzbekistan, and the family members all carry on working in the medical profession here in Canada. But, they also run the restaurant, working , like many entrepreneurs, a horrendous number of hours each week.
During the visit we enjoyed some of their beautifully presented food, and then had a chat with Mom, Mastura. To celebrate the season, the restaurant had garlands and lights artistically placed around the room, so I complemented her on their “Muslim Christmas decorations.”
She chuckled and said that they had always celebrated Christmas in some way, even back home in Uzbekistan. Then she held her hands close together, palms facing each other, and said: “We don’t see people this way; and spreading her arms wide she said: “we see them this way.”
“How Canadian,” I thought to myself, and, “what a perfect illustration of the Christmas story”. Jesus himself said that God loved the world so much that he sent Jesus, and that whoever simply believes in him, will not perish, but will live forever. Genuine Christian faith is one with arms spread wide.
Now, I’m well aware that Christian denominations, and many Christian individuals, have tragically misrepresented and abused the title “Christian”, for a variety of nefarious purposes. But that no more negates the true message of the Christian faith than does a dystopian North Korea which absurdly calls itself, “The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea”, negate the true meaning of democracy. And on balance, the innumerable individual and organized good works done by Christians over the centuries vastly outweigh the hypocrisies.
But back to Begim. (Photo by John Gilchrist) Over 6 or 8 visits, it’s become one of our favourite restaurants, run by a warm family, with excellent food and great prices. For tea, two different salads, and a wonderful rice and lamb dish topped with a perfectly roasted, whole bulb of garlic, we were presented with a bill for under $25.
And we took nearly half the food home for lunch the next day. Merry Christmas to us!
Indiana passed a law last week, and since then, Indiana has been reviled, mocked, and boycotted. And what is the uproar about? According to Stanford law Professor Bernadette Meyer, the law appeared to be aimed at allowing companies to discriminate against same-sex couples or gay people. She said: “I am disturbed when that articulation of rights, as in the Indiana law, winds up trumping other people’s interests in equality.” Apparently Ms. Meyer believes that the interests of special interest groups trump the rights of ordinary people.
As soon as the Indiana law was passed, and in order to show how open and tolerant they are, individuals, major corporations like Apple and Walmart, and even the governors of other states, widely and wildly condemned Indiana’s law, in spite of the fact that many other states including their own have similar laws. They said they feared that bigots would use the law to discriminate against gays and lesbians.
(By the way, in most cases, discrimination is a good thing. I’ve landed in my 70s through no choice of my own, yet if I now decided to fulfill a lifelong dream of becoming, say, an airline pilot, how far along in the process do you think I’d get? They’d take one look at my birth year, 1943, and politely show me the door. And perhaps, justifiably suggest I see a psychiatrist.)
Anyway, in order to get a juicy story, a TV news reporter went into a small pizza shop owned by Christian family in a very small Indiana town. She asked the owner’s daughter a hypothetical question about their response if a same-sex couple asked them to provide pizza at their wedding. The daughter of the owner said that, because of their religious faith, they would probably decline.
A vicious Twitter campaign was launched against the pizza shop, and the next day they closed down. But the campaign backfired massively. A woman who believes in freedom of religion started a counter campaign to raise funds for the owners of the pizza shop. In two days $842,000 was raised, about eight times the pizza joint’s annual sales. They now intend to remodel and reopen. Remember that story the next time you shake your head sadly and say: “But what can we do?”
Since 1963, I have been speaking out on behalf of the rights of gay people to live their lives without interference or oppression from the rest of society. But we’ve gone way too far. The radical gay lobby now insists that their choices override everyone else’s rights, including the right to peacefully practice your religion.
In the history of marriage, has there ever been an unfettered right to marry? There has not. The right to same sex marriage is assumed by its supporters and now conferred by the government. In that, a same sex marriage is different than any heterosexual marriage in history.
Only in the case of war, or civil emergency, has anyone ever had a right to force someone to participate in something that goes against their conscience. It has been done, but only by governments we generally regard as totalitarian. Are we prepared to accept this in Western Society?
Let us concede that most gays have no choice about their sexual orientation. But without question, gay or straight, we all have multiple choices regarding lifestyle, association, and whom to marry. And whether you’re a gay couple, or straight, it’s you who makes the choice about whom you’d like to perform your ceremony, or cater to your wedding. If your choice declines, make another choice.
Because it takes a boatload of chutzpah to insist that your choice to have your same-sex wedding catered to by whomever you choose overrides the rights of another individual to practice their religion as their conscience dictates, and that the government is obligated to back your choice.
We need to push back against this nonsense, and the fact that tens of thousands got together and did, and bailed out the pizza shop, goes to prove that when we work together we can successfully push back.
Remember that, because in the next few weeks I will be asking you to join the Let’s Do It Ourselves online community so we can do just that; push back, inexpensively, pro-actively, and effectively.