“If there is one fact we really can prove, from the history that we really do know, it is that despotism can be a development, often a late development and very often indeed the end of societies that have been highly democratic. A despotism may almost be defined as a tired democracy. As fatigue falls on a community, the citizens are less inclined for that eternal vigilance which has truly been called the price of liberty; and they prefer to arm only one single sentinel to watch the city while they sleep.” ― G.K. Chesterton, The Everlasting Man
Okay, I generally try to keep political content to a minimum, but I'm feeling a bit ornery tonight and want to blow off some steam, so here goes...
Earlier this month, Justin Trudeau gave the commencement speech at NYU. This came as a surprise to many Canadians, since a lot of us do our best to avoid listening to our Prime Minister's sanctimonious platitudes and verbal inanities; it's difficult to imagine anyone deliberately soliciting them. What was truly surprising, however, was the content of his speech- especially the part where he urged graduates to be open to other points of view, to not exist in an intellectual bubble, and to not engage in identity politics. What made this so astonishing was the breathtaking hypocrisy of these remarks, considering that Trudeau has built his political career on identity politics- and nepotism- and could be a stand in for John Travolta in The Boy In The Plastic Bubble.
Now, it's true that I'm an instinctive conservative- fiscally and socially- and have never in my adult life considered voting Liberal either in provincial or federal elections. This is not to be taken as a ringing endorsement of the Conservative party, which is frequently wishy-washy, sheepish, and apologetic about conservative policies. For heaven's sake, stop apologizing and make intelligent, moral arguments for conservatism. It's also true that from the minute Justin Trudeau pranced onto the political stage, I've considered him to be an immature, incompetent, out of touch, socialism-loving narcissist. When he was elected, I figured that we were in for years of fiscal irresponsibility and debt, as well as cringing embarrassment every time he got in front of a camera and made an exhibition of himself. I have not been proven wrong.
I also figured that we were in for a tiresome period of him pushing the most "progressive" social policies possible on every front. If there's one thing that our dear leader enjoys more than dressing up, it's theatrically emoting over "oppressed" groups and of course, environmental issues. As expected, he has missed no opportunity to leap in front of a mic to weep for and apologize to any group which has, at any time in history, been offended by something Canada did, or didn't do, or whatever. He also reflexively starts babbling about the evils of fossil fuels and the need for a carbon tax seemingly every time a camera points in his direction. As I said, no surprise there.
What I failed to anticipate, however, was the fanatical zeal with which "Sunny Ways" Trudeau and his acolytes would push some of their agendas. In some cases, neither the obvious disapproval of the Canadian public nor the fact that they are violating Canadian charter rights has given them a moment's pause. A prime example of this is the issue of abortion.
Abortion is a sacred cow- perhaps I should say, golden calf- for the Liberals. They don't think that there should be any limits on it at all. While this has been the party position for a long time, before Trudeau became leader allowances were made for personal beliefs and convictions. Justin Trudeau did away with this: he decreed that no one who was pro life would be allowed to run for, or hold a position in, the Liberal party. Essentially, this indicates a belief that Canadians who do not support abortion should be denied political representation, and should not be allowed to hold public office.
Last year Conservative MP Rachael Harder was nominated to chair the House of Commons Status of Women Committee. Liberal and- of course- NDP members walked out in protest, saying that Harder could not represent women because she is pro life. She did not, I hardly need add, end up serving in that position. The only possible take away from this is that the Liberals believe that pro life women are not true women, should not be allowed in positions of leadership, and again, should be allowed no representation in government.
Trudeau and his coterie, however, were just getting warmed up. This year, his government announced changes to the student summer job grant program. Every year, small businesses and non-profit groups can apply for a federal grant to hire student workers for the summer. A lot of soup kitchens, summer camps, etc. avail themselves of this program, which allows them to hire local students, gain some much-needed summer staff, and provide the young men and women with a chance to experience helping and serving others. In December, however, the Liberal government announced that anyone applying for a grant for the upcoming summer would have to check off a new box on the application, one that states that the applicant agrees with the Liberal government's position on a bunch of issues, one of these being abortion. Obviously, no true Christian- or Jewish, or Muslim- group was going to do this. A huge outcry was raised and not, I am glad to say, just from pro lifers. A lot of people on the other side of the issue have spoken out about this, concerned over the obvious violation of Canadians' right to freedom of religion. I haven't actually seen one article in any newspaper supporting the Liberals on this issue. The push back seems to have startled the Liberals, but they shrugged it off; Labour Minister Patty Hajdu sallied forth to tell those uppity Christians that they didn't have to actually agree with abortion- just sign the paper saying they did. Only someone who has no concept of what actual convictions and beliefs are would make such a manifestly arrogant and ignorant suggestion. Naturally, most declined to betray their values for a mess of pottage, and have lost grants which they previously qualified for. I personally know of two churches which run charitable programs who were denied grants because of this. Also, a non-denominational summer camp for which one of my sisters is a board member lost their student grant which was used to hire staff. This camp takes in a lot of foster kids as campers, but perhaps the Liberals think that these kids should've just been aborted anyway. Christian churches in the area are raising funds to support these various groups, so their work will continue despite the government's best efforts.
The Conservatives forced a vote on this issue, but are a minority in the House, and all of the NDPs- abortion cheerleaders to the end- voted with the government. Only two Liberal MPs had the moral courage to break ranks and vote in favour of Canadian rights and freedoms, and they were swiftly punished by Trudeau, who removed them from their posts. Sunny ways! To add insult to injury, it has recently come to light that one of the groups which did qualify for a grant is a radical environmental group which is paying students to attend protests of the Trans Mountain pipeline, where some police officers have been assaulted. Remember kids: it's no to soup kitchens and summer camps and yes to violent protests. So this is where we are in Canada in 2018: if you oppose abortion, or even just believe that there should be limits to it, you are a second class citizen in the eyes of the government. They will do their best to keep you from having political representation, and will block your access to government programs which, as a tax payer, you are nonetheless forced to pay into. In Soviet Russia, people who were openly Christian were not allowed to hold public office. It seems it is the position of Justin Trudeau's "Liberal" party that pro lifers should be treated in the same fashion. No, of course I'm not saying that Canada is anywhere as bad as the USSR, but democratic nations don't crumble in a day and Trudeau has set a dangerous precedent with his abortion purity test. Those abortion radicals who are celebrating this crackdown on pro lifers would do well to remember that times change, tables turn, and the Liberals won't be in power forever.
Our choir concert went really well on Sunday night, and we received two standing ovations- one after the crowd-pleasing Africa and one at the end. A good time was had by all, and the acoustics were, as always, great under the domed ceiling. The view was beautiful as well- a perfect setting for the mass by Haydn; this is the largest stained glass window in the church where our choir has its concerts:
This is a quote from Abbot Suger, early architectural patron, about his appreciation of stained glass windows in churches:
"Thus, when – out of my delight in the beauty of the house of God – the loveliness of the many-colored gems has called me away from eternal cares, and worthy meditation has induced me to reflect, transferring that which is material to that which is immaterial, on the diversity of the sacred virtues: then it seems to me that I see myself dwelling, as it were, in some strange region of the universe which neither exists entirely in the slime of the earth nor entirely in the purity of heaven; and that, by the grace of God, I can be transported from this inferior realm to that higher world in an anagogical manner." - Abbot Suger (1081-1151)
"For a few nights there was a sneer or a laugh when he knelt down, but this passed off soon, and one by one all the other boys but three or four followed the lead. I fear that this was in some measure owing to the fact that Tom could probably have thrashed any boy in the room except the prepostor; at any rate, every boy knew that he would try upon very slight provocation, and didn't choose to run the risk of a hard fight because Tom Brown had taken a fancy to say his prayers." - Thomas Hughes, Tom Brown's Schooldays
One feature of growing up in a large family is that it makes you much less likely to be impressed and/ or intimidated by sass from other kids, because you've dealt with it all your life from your brothers and sisters. One of my nieces- the sixth of nine kids- demonstrated this recently. After church last Sunday morning, her Sunday school teacher related to my sister and brother-in-law a discussion which had occurred in class. Having taught a lesson on the stoning of Stephen, she asked the class if any of them had been picked on or made fun of for being a Christian or going to church. My seven-year-old niece said that she had, so the teacher asked her how she responded and my niece said that she told the boy in question to "Shut up." Her teacher inquired if the boy left her alone after that: "No, but it was O.K. because then I punched him." Later, my brother-in-law (who's a pastor), torn between amusement and the need to impart a lesson, explained to his skeptical daughter that there are better ways to deal with scoffers while my sister (fourth of nine kids) tittered in the background and quoted Psalm 144:1. My brother-in-law told her she wasn't helping and to move on to the New Testament.
The nephews took advantage of a break in the rain on Sunday afternoon to do some more puddle jumping in my parents' field. They had to be wrapped in towels for their trip home as they were caked with mud and soaked through, but they were also tired and happy. Huzzah for spring!
Spring when the world is mud-luscious.... Spring when the world is puddle-wonderful -e.e. cummings
Of course, it isn't all fun and games: the rain and melting snow have caused serious flooding in some areas. My sister and her family live in Fredericton, New Brunswick, and a lot of that area is under water right now. Fortunately my sister's house is on a hill and some distance from the flooded parts of the city. Others are not so fortunate; here are some pictures from around Fredericton: