Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Looking To September and a Rwandan Survival Story

This blog has been silent for nearly a month. Not for shortage of things to say, but for shortage of time to say them! The summer is a busy time for our family, with fewer windows of opportunity for a blogging mom. Stay tuned for renewed activity in September.

In the meanwhile, here is a book review that I wrote some time ago. This year I have found myself drawn to books about the Rwandan genocide and the Holocaust, and this was the first personal account that I read about the events in Rwanda.


I just finished reading Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust by ImmaculĂ©e Ilibagiza (Hay House, 2014) This book was first published in 2006 and became a New York Times best seller; it is now in its' third edition, having sold nearly two million copies in seventeen languages around the world.

Left to Tell sparked an international movement for forgiveness and reconciliation. It is still widely read, has received a number of awards and has been incorporated into school curriculums even at the university level.  This is a remarkable feat, since Ilibagiza is a very faithful Catholic and frequently talks about her love of the rosary and the Virgin Mary, among other things.

Ilibagiza has also since written a number of other books, notably Led by Faith: Rising from the Ashes of the Rwandan Genocide, which is essentially a sequel to Left to Tell, and deals more specifically with her own faith journey through the genocide and afterwards, as she learned to forgive and love those who murdered her family and friends.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

After Obergefell, can Christians withstand the pressure to change their teachings?

That crown of thorns sure looks uncomfortable.
What if the time is coming when we will have to wear it?
Post-Obergefell, the war for the heart and soul of Christianity has begun in earnest. Less than a week after Emperor Anthony Kennedy issued his fiat of 'love conquers the Constitution', the Episcopal Church rushed to rescue their dinner party invitations. They quickly voted themselves into the new era, approving same-sex weddings and replacing the outdated and homophobic words "man and woman" with "couple" in their marriage canons.

Whew, that was close, but Episcopalians now appear to be safe from the presumption of hatred, intolerance and bigotry that will plague the rest of the followers of Christ.

Meanwhile, other Christians are waking up to the reality that they might as well wear T-shirts emblazoned with "Ku Klux Klan", because that is precisely how they are perceived - and how they will be treated - by America's new masters of the universe.

Friday, July 10, 2015

The Problem of Conservative Catholic Motherhood

This month, the Canadian Opus Dei website features an interview with a woman who graduated from Harvard University. Sounds intriguing. But if you are curious about the sparkling career path of this obviously talented conservative Catholic woman, then here are two other pieces of information: she is married and has children.

That is all you need to know, and the rest of the story is predictable: Emily Marcucci has never worked outside the home. She got engaged while still at Harvard and went on to start a family straight away after getting married. She now has eight children. Her Harvard credentials serve mainly to say that "look, even a Harvard grad can choose to stay home"!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

"I felt totally abandoned this weekend as everyone was 'rainbowing' on Facebook"

Facebook is watching. Who will dare to refuse
to "Celebrate Pride"?
Let me share with you a reaction that I received after I published my post about Facebook's rainbow conformity campaign (which has since been republished on LifeSite News) on my personal Facebook page.

The reaction, which came from one of my Facebook friends, strikes me as representative of what many people went through this past weekend. My friend wrote:
"This is exactly how I felt. I felt totally abandoned this weekend as many of my friends and my children started "rainbowing" their photo. It's very creepy and I felt the pressure to conform...I have to admit I'm even afraid to repost this even though I normally would. I have been afraid all weekend to discuss this or put very much on Facebook because I am lost on how to battle this."
Notice that even her children rainbowed their photos. Notice the social isolation that she felt as a result of all these rainbowed profiles. That is propaganda in action. Another way to describe it: a cloaked form of bullying. It aims to isolate us, to make us feel like "nonpersons".

When we feel alone, we feel powerless. We become silent, and the bully wins.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Facebook pressures people to show their colours: Choose or refuse the rainbow flag?

If Lenin had a Facebook account, I bet it would look like this.
Facebook has launched a new "Celebrate Pride" tool which lets users blend their Facebook profile photo with the rainbow flag. The tool came out soon after the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling on same-sex marriage was announced last Friday, and it has become become a massive movement. Within hours of the tool's launch, over a million people had changed their profile photo. It now likely reaches into almost everyone's Friend list, including mine.

I was startled at first when I logged into Facebook and saw that a few of my friends had giant rainbows painted across their faces in their profile pics. My first surprise was that some of these people were conservatives, whom I had believed supported the conjugal definition of marriage. I guess I learned something about my friends this weekend.

But Facebook's new tool also got me thinking. What else is this, but a massive conformity campaign? I look at my list of friends and breathe a sigh of relief. Only a few have done it, no big deal. But I click and look at some of their friends. There are people out there with friend lists where rainbows cover almost every face. If that was my friend list, how would I feel?

The pressure to conform is real. Back in New York, I worked in a large law firm where the majority of the lawyers were liberal. What if I were still a lawyer there, and what if I were friends with my colleagues on Facebook (as many are)? How would I feel if I were the only one who did not have a rainbow over my profile shot?

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Pennsylvania newspaper officially closes door to opinions against same-sex marriage as racist

The latest from the Patriot-News in Pennsylvania:
As a result of Friday's ruling, PennLive/The Patriot-News will very strictly limit op-Eds and letters to the editor in opposition to same-sex marriage.

These unions are now the law of the land. And we will not publish such letters and op-Eds any more than we would publish those that are racist, sexist or anti-Semitic.
We will, however, for a limited time, accept letters and op-Eds on the high court's decision and its legal merits.
The march of progress is often slow, but it is always steady.
On Friday, the United States took another step toward the ideal of equality envisioned by its founders. And we are all more free as a result.
Note the highly ironic last sentence. They will no longer publish our columns, but we are all more free, apparently. 

The Court is Emperor, and the End of Religious Liberty: Reactions to Obergefell

"Today’s decree says that my Ruler, and the Ruler of 320 million Americans coast-to-coast, is a majority of the nine lawyers on the Supreme Court. The opinion in these cases is the furthest extension in fact— and the furthest extension one can even imagine—of the Court’s claimed power to create “liberties” that the Constitution and its Amendments neglect to mention. This practice of constitutional revision by an unelected committee of nine, always accompanied (as it is today) by extravagant praise of liberty, robs the People of the most important liberty they asserted in the Declaration of Independence and won in the Revolution of 1776: the freedom to govern themselves.
     ...what really astounds is the hubris reflected in today’s judicial Putsch. The five Justices who compose today’s majority are entirely comfortable concluding that every State violated the Constitution for all of the 135 years between the Fourteenth Amendment’s ratification and Massachusetts’ permitting of same-sex marriages in 2003.20 They have discovered in the Fourteenth Amendment a “fundamental right” overlooked by every person alive at the time of ratification, and almost everyone else in the time since.

Friday, June 26, 2015

You Are Officially Declared a Racist Under the U.S. Constitution

Except it isn't just love. It also comes with a lot of hate,
towards anyone who doesn't celebrate this cause.
Today's Supreme Court decision changes everything.

Obergefell represents the complete failure of American democracy and the illegitimate usurpation of law-making power by five unelected judges. But that isn't news, really - the Supreme Court has had that problem for a long time.

The news is all about the irrevocable decision that has been taken, to create a constitutional right to same-sex marriage.

It is a destructive and serious historical error, but history has indeed been made today. The Supreme Court has enshrined the views of one side of the marriage debate within the Constitution, thus making them virtually unassailable. Try taking back a constitutional right.

But the Supreme Court did something even more far-reaching: it created a new form of "racism". The majority decision leans heavily on the view that same-sex marriage is just like interracial marriage. The corollary conclusion, of course, is that anyone who opposes same-sex marriage is essentially no better than a racist who is motivated by mere animus. 

Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Courage to be on the "Wrong Side of History"

Any time now, the Supreme Court of the United States will likely announce a constitutional right to same-sex marriage. This, even though majorities of Americans, everywhere across the nation, voted against it.

The liberal advocates will seem to have won at last, just as they always planned - through the courts, bypassing the will of the people.

There is no question that this ruling will be a serious low point for conservatives in America. There could hardly be a bigger morale-buster.

This ruling will also mark the start of a new era in America. It is no secret what will come next. We have other countries for that - such as Canada, as I have written about before.

All the rational arguments for marriage as defined between a man and a woman will fall away into the abyss. Not because they were wrong, but because no one will be listening anymore. Why consider the arguments, when an irreversible decision has already been made? It will seem to be time to conform, not to revisit the decision.

From now on, same-sex marriage will appear to be on the "right side of history". Even many conservatives will jump ship, since the alternative will be political and professional suicide.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Lessons from behind the Iron Curtain: How to oppose gender ideology

Remembering the Berlin Wall.
The topic of social psychology rarely comes up in conservative discussions about the upsurge of gender ideology and same-sex marriage. That is a big mistake, because mass propaganda is the elephant in the cultural living room.

It is both evident and known that those promoting the normalization of gender ideology have crafted a popularization strategy with the aid of psychologists, pollsters, marketing experts and other professionals whose business is to influence the human mind in ways other than logic and reason.

Conservatives have not responded with a campaign in kind. Nor have we put up any defences. In fact, we prefer to ignore the whole subject entirely. Do we believe that we are above being influenced by a campaign directed at our subconscious instincts?

Whatever the reasons, if we ignore the psychological aspects of this culture war, we are doing so to our peril. Our own brains are being hijacked to play against us, without our realizing it. Conservatives are caving in left and right, and our reasoned arguments have made no headway against the approaching juggernaut.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Laudato Si, lulling the left into a winning prolife strategy

With Laudato Si, there is no longer any doubt. Catholics are the official enemies of Alberta's oil sands and the use of fossil fuels everywhere. Environmentalism is now a Catholic thing. As progressive Vatican journalist John Allen Jr. puts it:
Laudato Si seems destined to go down as a major turning point, the moment when environmentalism claimed pride of place on a par with the dignity of human life and economic justice as a cornerstone of Catholic social teaching. It also immediately makes the Catholic Church arguably the leading moral voice in the press to combat global warming and the consequences of climate change.
The Church has been globally warming to climate change

Many Catholics may feel like they were just whacked in the head with a bio-degradable frisbee thrown by Pope Francis out of nowhere, but Allen's fascinating article argues that Laudato Si the pinnacle of a "growing eco-streak" in the Church.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Bigots and Haters? Using Conformity to Normalize Same-Sex Marriage

Social pressure to conform.
Have human beings become too clever for their own brains? Our understanding of human psychology has advanced to the point where we can create marketing and propaganda schemes that effectively manipulate people's opinions and behaviour. But most people have not yet gained the ability to withstand this kind of psychological pressure.

In fact, most people are completely unaware of the problem. They do not recognize the pressure that is affecting their unconscious instincts and making them alter their conscious choices and opinions. Our knowledge of ourselves can now place us in chains, and we may not yet be clever enough to unchain ourselves. We may have become smart enough to outsmart ourselves.

Here's an example. The movement for the normalization of same-sex marriage owes a good portion of its success to an intentional exploitation of human psychology. As a recent article on LifeSiteNews describes, for several years the gay rights movement was getting nowhere fast. But things changed six years ago:
...[A]after the their 2009 “gay marriage” referendum defeat in Maine, the homosexual movement decided to craft an entirely new approach toward elections. 
They brought together groups of political strategists, psychologists, pollsters, organizing experts, and various “think tank” types. They meticulously studied the data and their election experiences and designed a new set of strategies and tactics to win against their “right wing” adversaries...They created a sophisticated propaganda campaign. 
Expertise in human psychology - effectively "mind manipulation" through advertising, marketing, and other psychologically-based strategies - has made a crucial difference to the same-sex marriage campaign. Since that shift in strategy, there has been a rapid advance in the same-sex marriage cause, both in Ireland (where same-sex marriage has been legalized by popular referendum) and in the United States.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Culture Witness is on Facebook!

Since the readership of this blog has been going up steadily, this seems like a good time to introduce a Culture Witness Facebook page, newly minted as of tonight.

If you are on Facebook and interested in getting updates, not just about new posts on this site but also about related articles and events, then please click "Like" in the right sidebar!

Friday, May 29, 2015

Canada: the Canary in the Coal Mine

Almost looks free - but this canary is in a cage.
I have an article up at Crisis Magazine, discussing the Canadian situation regarding the progression of same-sex marriage and gender identity politics, and how religious freedom is being extinguished in this country.

The Canadian situation is a warning to our southern neighbour in particular. It is also a warning to all other countries that are contemplating the legalization of same-sex marriage.

There are many prescient people in the United States who are very aware of what is coming next, if same-sex marriage becomes legalized. Most notable perhaps is Prof. Robert George, who discussed the coming persecution of Christians in his speech at the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast last year (I posted about this speech here).

Another such modern prophet is Dr. James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, who wrote an incredible letter to his radio listeners earlier this month, saying:
I do not recall a time when the institutions of marriage and the family have faced such peril, or when the forces arrayed against them were more formidable or determined. Barring a miracle, the family that has existed since antiquity will likely crumble, presaging the fall of Western civilization itself.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Sheryl Sandberg's Lean In, part 2

Visit the book's website.
I was saddened to hear of the recent sudden death of Sheryl Sandberg's husband Dave Goldberg, 47. Now that I've read Sandberg's book, I feel like I almost know her, and I mourn for her loss.

One of the truest sayings in history has got to be "We make plans, God laughs." Sandberg spent a lot of her book focusing on how important the support of husbands is in enabling women to forge ahead with their careers, and her husband was a prime example of that healthy support. She talked quite a bit about how Goldberg helped her out by taking on a hefty chunk of family duties.

Now, she will have to rechart her path as a widowed mother of two young children. She has enough resources to buy all the help that she needs, but she will still need more than that. She will probably find that she has to be personally more involved in her children's lives, because there will now be no one else to share the role of parent.

As such, in some ways Lean In is already becoming outdated in light of these tragic events in Sandberg's life. Perhaps another book will one day contain more mature reflections based on the difficult years that are to come.

In the meantime, here is the second (and final) part of my book review of Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg (Knopf, 2013). The first part of my book review is here.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

So long Michael Coren, newest member of the thought police

So Michael Coren has become Anglican. Not surprising at this point, considering his about-face in 2014 on the issue of homosexual relationships, but still a sad and disappointing twist in the life story of a man whose words and books inspired many Catholics in Canada and elsewhere.

In particular, one revelation rather stunned me: that he has been quietly attending the Anglican church for about a year.

What this really means to me is that Michael Coren knowingly misled his Catholic audience. He continued functioning publicly as a Catholic apologist, writing articles for Catholic publications and circulating on the Catholic speaking circuit, without disclosing this very pertinent bit of information that would surely have given many of his Catholic promoters serious pause. Did Coren see no conflict between his public role as an outspoken Catholic and his Sunday attendance at another church?

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Critique transgenderism? Not allowed in Ontario

A great article in The Public Discourse: "The Absurdity of Transgenderism: A Stern but Necessary Critique" by Carlos D. Flores. This article makes many good points. Among these:
A petition is floating around the internet to ban so-called “transgender conversion therapy,” a procedure that involves, presumably, an attempt by a professional to help a person who is experiencing a gender identity disorder (also known as gender dysphoria). If the progress of the homosexual movement is a guide to what will come next, we can expect that laws will soon be passed criminalizing individuals’ receiving therapy to help them do away with transgender identities or desires—even for those who want to relieve themselves of such identities and desires.
Wouldn'tcha know it, this is exactly where we are in Ontario. A bill is being passed at this very moment making this very therapy illegal. I really don't know what Catholic organizations such as Courage will do with that one, since they are basically being squeezed out of their own teachings.

In fact, many things are becoming illegal in Ontario, including freedom of speech. Reading this article, I was struck by the fact that this very piece would likely face some kind of human rights legal challenge today in Ontario. It would take a lot of courage - and perhaps some foolishness - to publish it here in Canada.