The Book!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Of Romeo Saganash and Absurdity

Front page of the missionary-produced Kamloops Wawa newspaper.

NDP MP Romeo Saganash is currently irate that the House of Commons could not provide simultaneous translation when he chose to speak to the House in Cree. Not, of course, as he ably demonstrated to eager reporters later, that he is incapable of expressing himself in English or French.

“Hearing this ruling from the Speaker,” he told the House, “was the most terrible thing I have heard in this chamber in the six years that I have been sitting in this place.” 
“This is frustrating, not to say insulting, because my language has been spoken for 7,000 years.”

Let us be clear on what Saganish is asking for here. But first, let us be clear that Cree as he understands it has not been spoken for 7,000 years. Were this relevant. Even English, with a fixed written form, is unrecognizable to modern speakers from as recently as 1,000 years ago. Have a go at this passage:

An. M.LXVI. On þyssum geare man halgode þet mynster æt Westmynstre on Cyldamæsse dæg 7 se cyng Eadward forðferde on Twelfts mæsse æfen 7 hine mann bebyrgede on Twelftan mæssedæg innan þære niwa halgodre circean on Westmyntre 7 Harold eorl feng to Englalandes cynerice swa swa se cyng hit him geuðe 7 eac men hine þærto gecuron 7 wæs gebletsod to cynge on Twelftan mæssedæg 7 þa ylcan geare þe he cyng wæs he for ut mid sciphere togeanes Willelme ... 7 þa hwile com Willelm eorl upp æt Hestingan on Sce Michaeles mæssedæg 7 Harold com norðan 7 him wið gefeaht ear þan þe his here com eall 7 þær he feoll 7 his twægen gebroðra Gyrð 7 Leofwine and Willelm þis land geeode 7 com to Westmynstre 7 Ealdred arceb hine to cynge gehalgode 7 menn guldon him gyld 7 gislas sealdon 7 syððan heora land bohtan

How did that work out for you?

Having a written form prevents languages from changing. If entirely oral, they are untethered.

Cree had no written form until one was created by missionaries in the 9th century—1840s, if I recall correctly. Like any dialect, it would have been, up to that point, as fluid as mercury running through your fingers. It probably changed dramatically generation to generation, and would have been a different language three or four hundred years ago, incomprehensible to Saganish. But of course, we can really have little or no idea what it was like: no written records.

So that “7,000 years” is nonsense.

But that is not the real problem with Saganish’s demand. There is more than one aboriginal language in Canada. Although just about all Canadian Indians can speak English or French, most cannot speak Cree. Surely Saganish does not want simultaneous translation only for Cree. Why would Cree deserve some special privilege?

There are 54 Indian dialects in Canada today, plus 20 Inuit dialects. We are not speaking of minor variations: they are often linguistically unrelated, as different as Turkish and Chinese. That’s 76 official languages in the House of Commons, all requiring a simultaneous translator to be on duty at all times the House is sitting; the translators would almost crowd out the sitting members.

The Lord's Prayer in Micmac, using the ideograms invented by Father LeClerq

This would still not quite be simultaneous translation. Everything would still have to be translated at least twice: first from X into English (or French), then from English into Y. Otherwise, the number of translators grows exponentially: it is 72 to the second power. If my math is right—a big if—that comes to 5,776 nice cushy government jobs for some lucky aboriginal speakers.

To benefit how many? Dividing the number of languages by the number of aboriginals, Indian languages in Canada have on average fewer than 4,000 speakers.

That’s not “native speakers,” mind you. That includes all those able to speak them. And virtually all Canadian Indians, and certainly any sitting in the Commons, probably also know English or French.

So there is, in sum, no actual benefit to anyone from this massive expense.

But then, it could not properly end there. How would that be fair to speakers of other languages? Are they all second-class citizens? How many of the languages or dialects spoken on Earth don’t have at least a few hundred speakers in Canada?

We would also need simultaneous translation for Maltese, Sinhalese, Punjabi, and Visayan.

Saganash cites the United Nations, and says, if the UN can do it, Canada can too. But in fact, they don’t do it. The UN recognizes only six official languages. That is nothing to what Saganash is demanding.

Are there really no more pressing needs for Canadian taxpayers’ money?

Are there really no more pressing needs among Canadian First Nations?

If so, they must be doing remarkably well.





Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Aboriginals and Immigrants



Canadian Governor-General David Johnston

So now I hear our Governor-General, no less, is in trouble for speaking an obvious truth, and one meant to bring Canadians together: that we are all, including the “indigenous” people, immigrants.

I hear that some commentators have since been demanding his resignation.

Even though he is obviously right. Our best science tells us nobody is indigenous to Canada. Some of us simply came before others. What on Earth can be valid grounds for objecting?

In a Tweeted apology, Johnston said “I want to clarify a miscommunication. Our Indigenous peoples are not immigrants. They are the original peoples of this land.”

This makes no sense. The dictionary definition of immigrant does not exclude the “original” inhabitants of a place. Merriam-Webster: “a person who comes to a country to take up permanent residence.”

So what can possibly be the problem?

But even if the term did exclude the original inhabitants of a place, it is quite unlikely that any Indian groups qualify as anything but immigrants on these grounds. Just about everyone supplanted somebody else, even, for the most part, during historical times—which is to say, since the first Europeans have been here.

Let’s put that another way, to make it clear: some European groups, notably the French, the English, the Scandinavians, and the Irish, are more genuinely aboriginal to Canada than most “First Nations.”

Some of us, it seems, have become confused by a euphemism. What we really mean, here and elsewhere around the world, when we refer to a specific group as “aboriginal” or “indigenous,” is “primitive.” That is, “aboriginals” are people whose culture has not advanced over time in material or organizational terms, and is well behind those around them technologically.

In about the Sixties, people decided this term sounded pejorative and unpleasantly “judgmental,” as we said then, and so they substituted the nicer-sounding “aboriginal.” The latter term was never literally true, and nobody thought it was.

It still isn’t.


Monday, June 19, 2017

It Was 50 Years Ago Today







In honour of the album’s 50th anniversary (I grow old; I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers belled) Rolling Stone or somebody recently did a modern “update” to the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper album cover. If they were to do it again today, whom would they add?

Their choices seem dull and predictable. J.K. Rowling. Rosa Parks. Boring and pious and politically correct. The original point, I think, for the Beatles, was to be quirky.

Here is the original list:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_images_on_the_cover_of_Sgt._Pepper%27s_Lonely_Hearts_Club_Band

But it makes a fun parlour game. Or Facebook game.

Rules: 50 figures. They must be your own most important personal influences. Ideally, you also want faces that are distinctive when seen small on an album cover. They must be fairly recently alive: say, recent enough that there are existing photographs.

Here are mine.

Leonard Cohen
William Kurelek
Lucy Maud Montgomery
Stephen Leacock
Ian Tyson
Buffy Ste. Marie
Thomas D’Arcy McGee
Joni Mitchell
Pierre Trudeau
Stephen Harper
Richard Halliburton
Salvador Dali
Anton Gaudi
Andy Warhol
Buster Keaton
Stanley Kubrick
Alfred Hitchcock
Walt Disney
George Orwell
W.B. Yeats
Samuel Beckett
T.S. Eliot
Lewis Carroll
Fyodor Dostoyevsky
J.D. Salinger
Stan Lee
Pope John Paul II
Pope Benedict XVI
Pope John XXIII
Pope Paul VI
Saint John Bosco
Saint Bernadette Soubouris
Lauren Bacall
Grace Kelly
Sharon Robinson
Raymond Collishaw
Billy Bishop
Billy Barker
Red Kelly
Eddie Shack
Maurice Richard
Jean Beliveau
Jacques Plante
Johnny Bower
Ezra Levant
Mark Steyn
Kate McMillan
Kathy Shaidle
The Thing
Iron Man


Saturday, June 17, 2017

Miriam Umm Eisa Mosque



Mary's new mosque.

You want good news? Here’s good news. As of last Wednesday, The Sheikh Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi, capital of the UAE has been renamed Mary, the Mother of Jesus Mosque.

This is no small gesture on the part of the government of the UAE. The Sheikh Zayed mosque was formerly named for the UAE’s founder. Almost like renaming the Washington Monument.

Interior.

And this was done by the UAE government in the name of harmony among the world’s faiths. It is a reminder of what Christians and Muslims share.

Maria Kannon, Tacloban

Mary also unites Christians and Buddhists. In the Philippines, there are several memorial gardens to Maria Kannon or "Madonna of Japan," donated by Japanese Buddhists. The premise is that Filipinos and Japanese are united by their love of Mary, here and often elsewhere identified with the most important Buddhist Bodhisattva, Kannon (Japanese), Kuan Yin (Chinese), Kwanseum (Korean) or Avlokitesvara (Sanskrit). As a matter of fact, I think there is a strong historical argument that they really are one and the same person.

Ave, Maria!

Shrine of Maria Kannon, Corregidor.



Thursday, June 15, 2017

Monkeying with Darwin





My left-wing friend Xerxes is always giving me ideas. His latest column is a celebration of “evolution,” as opposed to “creationism.”

It is fascinating because, although he thinks he is a Darwinist, it is clear that he is not.

He begins by saying evolution is not a theory, but a “reality.”

This depends what you mean by “evolution.” And it is a fundamentally unscientific thing to say.

If you mean the simple proposition that things, including species of plants and animals, can change over time, this indeed comes pretty close to being a self-evident truth. It is almost as obvious as saying “things change,” which few anywhere would disagree with. Parmenides, I suppose, and maybe nobody else ever.

This is not, however, a “scientific truth.” There aren’t any. Strictly speaking, science can prove nothing, and never claims to. What science does is disprove faulty hypotheses. It disproves things.

But simply because a hypothesis has not yet been disproven can never establish it as a truth. Black swans may come to roost.

To suppose otherwise is the most fundamentally anti-scientific thinking. Science is all about testing everything, repeatedly, and taking nothing on authority.

Xerxes mentions gravity as an example of a proven scientific truth. Bad call. Ironically, Newton’s Law of Gravity has been more or less systematically refuted by Einstein. As to gravity itself, the physical experience, of course people were fully aware of this and how it worked, in practical terms, before Newton. This is not science. You did not suppose, dear reader, that Newton was first to discover that apples fell, did you?

Just so, Darwin did not invent evolution in the sense of realizing that things change over time. Including dogs or horses. Everyone always thought this. Augustine assumed that species changed into other species. Aquinas assumed this. Aristotle assumed this. Ever read Ovid?

Granted, some modern Protestants deny it—but this is a very recent thing. It is a reaction to Darwin, not a traditional idea.

Darwin’s theory, the “Theory of Evolution,” was about how these changes happened; about the mechanism behind the observed experience. Darwin’s theory is that evolution occurred by natural selection of random mutations in a general struggle for survival.

This is the science. And it is and will always be at least as vulnerable to refutation as Newtonian physics. Indeed, it is all rather dubious.

Xerxes points out that “not one scientific discovery has disproven evolution.”

There is a more fundamental question: what experiment would, given a specific result, disprove it? What hypothetical evidence conclusively would?

If there is none, it is not, in fact, science. As Karl Popper pointed out, the essence of science is “falsifiability.” If you cannot conduct an experiment to test the hypothesis, you are not doing science.

This is a common charge against Darwin’s theory: that as phrased, no plausible experiment can be done, and no evidence advanced, that would disprove it. If this is so, it must either be self-evident—and it clearly is not—or it is an article of faith. And an article of faith in a sense that even, say, Christianity is not. For Christianity could indeed be falsified, theoretically, if the corpse of Jesus were ever found.

Darwin, acknowledging the issue, proposed “If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down. But I can find out no such case.”

In response, Behe and others have cited many examples of what they call “irreducible complexity,” complex biological structures that seem indeed impossible to develop by stages, given that each intersecting stage must by itself have some survival value. But “impossibility” here is an impossibly high bar. It is almost no test at all. Who is to say it is impossible for unicorns to appear in yonder birdbath within the next five minutes?

Darwinism has always seemed to defy common sense and probability. Observe the humble giraffe: does it seem likely that he came into existence, just as he is, by a series of random chemical reactions? Does it seem likely, as the famous example goes, that a thousand monkeys, at a thousand typewriters, would sooner or later type out the complete works of Shakespeare?

“Of course,” answer the Darwinists, “given enough time.”

But are a hundred thousand years really enough? We are causing Occam some vertigo here.

Richard Dawkins, who has pretty obviously elevated Darwinism to his religion, has more recently been challenged on this point: what evidence, if ever found, would disprove Darwin? He responded with something from J. B. S. Haldane: “fossil rabbits in the Precambrian.” That is, a fossil appearing in an impossibly wrong place in the rock strata.

Problem: such fossils have indeed been found, and not infrequently.

And they have never been accepted as disproving evolution.

There are, after all, always alternative possibilities―like some disturbance to the sedimentary layers in later years. Or deliberate fraud. Or the simple possibility that, “it appears that rabbit evolution was not as we thought it was.” Without touching the overall thesis.

If it is not impossible, by this bar, Darwin must be right.

This would, moreover, not even address Darwin’s actual theory, but rather the more basic contention that species change over time. Which is not Darwin’s theory, and is not generally in dispute.

So the argument begs our attention: is Darwin science?

The creationists object especially to the Darwinian claim of “randomness.” (“Natural selection of random mutations.”) How can something ever be demonstrated to be “random”? What, in scientific terms, does it even mean? Isn’t the whole point of science to discover how things happen, to discover “laws” or “rules” nature follows? Isn’t saying it is “random” just an admission of failure? Wouldn't "I don't know" be more honest and accurate?

But then, if it is not random, but follows some kind of design―this becomes strong prima facie evidence, if not itself flat proof, of creation—of intelligent design. Can you have a design without a designer? Can a design be random? Isn’t this a contradiction in terms?

Darwinism then, as Dawkins proposes it, is such a crazy idea that almost nobody really believes it.

And, clearly, Xerxes does not.

He says, in his praise of evolution here, that “evolution never goes backwards.” This presupposes that evolution has a direction, a goal, a plan: that it is teleological. Which his to say, that it is a design. For if Darwin is right, there is no such thing as forwards or backwards.

He says “evolution always moves from the simple to the complex.” This indeed seems by observation to be so, and it is indeed a remarkable fact. Because by itself it disproves Darwin. If Darwin were right, it would not be so. Mutations persist because they have survival value. There is no survival value in being complex over being simple. Ergo, given Darwinism, organisms should evolve equally often in either direction: sometimes becoming simpler, sometimes becoming more complex.

Yet, in general, as Xerxes rightly notes, they do not.

Xerxes also says “evolution never puts all its eggs in one basket. It never relies on a single solution.” He says that evolution never makes a mistake. He says that “evolution always moves toward healing.”

However you slice it, he is here personifying “evolution” and thinking of it as a designer. He is imputing a plan and an intent. He is even imputing omniscience to it, and a moral purpose. Darwin disallows this. It is theism, the awareness of a personal God, yet for some reason insisting on calling God “evolution” instead of “God.” Others have resorted to the term “nature,” “the environment,” “Mother Earth,” or “Gaia.”

In other words, literally in other words, Xerxes is a creationist, and rejects the theory of evolution. He just does not know it.

Just like just about everybody else.

What is gained by substituting the word “evolution” for the word “God”?

I think the payoff for those who do is the tacit implication that Nature, or Evolution, or whatever else you call him, her, or it, is pagan. Which implies that, unlike the Judeo-Christian God, she or he or it has no interest in sexual morality. You can just “do what nature intends,” as some might say.

This means we are justified in indulging the pleasure principle. Lots of easy sex without guilt. A big plus to a lot of people.

Unfortunately, this comes with a downside. The same denial of moral order justifies and justified the social Darwinism of the Nazis. It can just as easily rationalize murder or rape as fornication, or anything else you like. Survival of the fittest, after all, eh?

Not a primrose path down which I want to tread.

To be fair, and to be clear, there is ultimately no necessary contradiction between Darwinism and monotheism. It all depends on what you mean by the word “random.” The Catholic Church, and some scientists, if not Dawkins, understand “random” here to simply mean that the “random mutations” do not appear specifically to meet some evolutionary need; that they are instead later selected for this. It does not necessarily mean that they are random in any wider sense. They might still be pre-programmed in some way.

If so, however, Darwinism is no longer of any use to those who want to dispense with Christian morality.



Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Of Lust, Pride, and Other Deadly Sins



The subtle dignity of a Gay Pride parade.

A piece by Graham Thompson in the National Post and in the Edmonton Journal (and Calgary Herald) condemns some Wildrose Party members as “intolerant,” “homophobic,” and “bigoted”--Thompson’s words—for objecting to a party functionary marching in Edmonton’s “Gay Pride” parade. To be more precise, the Wildrose Legislative and Outreach Assistant, Cody Johnston, had sent out a post on Facebook asking party members to support him in a “Pride Run” for the “Institute for Sexual Minority Studies.”

Members objected that this gave the public impression that the Wildrose Party supports such things. I do not know if they used intemperate language. If so, no examples seem to have been publicly offered. The worst Johnston has offered to the public as examples are “What kind of crap is this that you’re mailing out in the name of the Wildrose party?” and “Do not give the viewers the impression that this is Wildrose approved.”

Party leader Brian Jean has since spoken out: “There is no place for hate and that kind of speech within our party. There just isn’t.”

Hate speech?

Problem. This demonstrates that the average person cannot tell the difference between tolerance and active support. If you are not prepared to openly support a position, you are now intolerant.

As the Catholic Register put it recently:

Most people today equate tolerance with approval. Therefore, when many demand or ask for “tolerance” what they really demand is approval.

Bad news for Canadian Christians still reticent about converting to Islam.

Amsterdam does itself proud.

Or anyone concerned about freedom of thought in Canada.

Both homosexual sex and pride, both promoted by such parades, are sins—not only to Christians, but to just about anybody, of any religion. So, leaving aside homosexuality, is lust. Some people currently may be of the opinion that there is nothing sinful about either lust, homosexual sex or pride, that traditional morality is in error here, but they have no business demanding that everyone else think the same. They are free to make those arguments, so long as they do so in their own name. And so long as they respect the absolute right of others to disagree.

This has nothing to do with whether homosexuals should be discriminated against by the state because of their preference for homosexual sex. A moral person would have no difficulty in accepting that this is a private matter, and the state has no business in the bedrooms of the nation. But that is not the issue here. The very point of the “pride” parade is to refuse to keep such things private, and to demand public endorsement.

For a party leader, public official, or party functionary to march in such a parade really ought to be offensive to most Canadians, including “homosexual” Canadians. If our instincts are now the opposite, so much the worse for our cities of the plain.




Tuesday, June 13, 2017

To Hell with the Rich



Brueghel, Sermon on the Plain

Are the rich all going to hell?

I resist the suggestion. Not because I am rich myself; I am certainly not. Because it seems obviously unjust. Surely it depends on how you got the money, whether honestly, by providing a real service to people, or dishonestly.

Okay, there is that bit about the needle’s eye:

“I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”

When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?”

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:23-26).

This seems to mean pretty plainly that the rich are going to find it harder to get into heaven. But not impossible. They will need God’s grace. But then—so do we all.

I can also see the principle, elsewhere expressed, that where your treasure is, there your heart is also. The rich may be less inclined to spend their time with God. Material things are a distraction to what matters. And so, fair enough, more blessed to be without material things in great abundance.

But then there is Luke, in the Sermon on the Plain:

Looking at his disciples, he said:
“Blessed are you who are poor,
for yours is the kingdom of God.
21 Blessed are you who hunger now,
for you will be satisfied.
Blessed are you who weep now,
for you will laugh.
22 Blessed are you when people hate you,
when they exclude you and insult you
and reject your name as evil,
because of the Son of Man.
23 “Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their ancestors treated the prophets.
24 “But woe to you who are rich,
for you have already received your comfort.
25 Woe to you who are well fed now,
for you will go hungry.
Woe to you who laugh now,
for you will mourn and weep.
26 Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you,
for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets.

Matthew sounds more reasonable: he says “blessed are the poor in spirit.” So I suppose you can have lots of stuff, so long as you are not unduly attached to it.

But it is not licit to pick and choose. The plain words are there. Blessed are the poor; woe to the rich.

It seems the materially successful, the respected, those who in general have a happy life, go to hell. They get no reward in heaven.

Anyone who has significantly more stuff than his neighbour goes to hell.

Well.

That seems too harsh to me. And if it seems to harsh for a hypocrite like me, surely it is too harsh for a loving, infinitely merciful God.

Yet God is also infinitely just. Accordingly, for those who suffer more than the rest of us in this life, there must logically be compensation in the next.

So it seems to follow: suffering in this life leads to a higher status in heaven. Jesus does not say, here, that only the poor and the sad will get to heaven: he says that great will be their reward IN heaven. The rich then may be there too, but will have a lower rank somehow. If the rich and the respected do not go to hell, they will, on balance, be sorry they were not poor and reviled when they see the celestial alternative.

And this is, in the end, not unjust. Being rich is, in the end, a conscious moral choice. They are not unfairly being discriminated against.

Just as Jesus says to the rich young man, they could, at any time, have shared their wealth with those who needed it more. Even if it was justly theirs. Even if you justly have more than your neighbour, reflect that we are all brothers. In a good family, a properly functioning one, love compels us to share all we have with our children, our brothers, our sisters. Nobody hoards significantly more than their share.

And the same is true of reputation; of having “everyone speak well of you.” It is, in fact, improbable to be a good, moral person and have everyone speak well of you: as Confucius said, if a man has no enemies, before appointing him to high office, it is necessary to make enquiries. The way to preserve a consistently good reputation, ultimately, is the way chosen by the Vicar of Bray.

A moral person is going to upset some—the immoral. Moreover, they could, and would, at any time, have sacrificed their high reputation in the eyes of the world by standing up in defense of someone else, or some other group, being unjustly harmed.

Hence, I suppose, this blog.



Sunday, June 11, 2017

Oedipal Dreams





Okay guys, there ought, in theory, to be triggers here, but it's for science.

Freud believed that all mental illness came from an unresolved Oedipal complex: that is, from a desire to kill your parent of the same sex, and mate with your parent of the opposite sex.

He claimed to find this in the dreams of his neurotic patients. But he also said we know this is so because our own dreams tell us so.

In other words, he based his faith in the Oedipus Complex on the contention that all of us commonly dream of killing one parent and having sex with the other.

So do we? Let's prove or disprove Freud.



Have you ever dreamt of killing a parent?

YES
NO
Poll Maker


Have you ever dreamt of having sex with a parent?

YES
NO
survey tools

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Tao Te Ching





The lay that can be laid is not the eternal lay.
The thing that can't be said--
That is all I have to say.
-- Stephen K. Roney



Bernie Sanders and M 103






Bernie Sanders’ recent hostile interrogation of Russell Vought for his religious views shows why the recent Motion 103 in the Canadian parliament was a dangerous precedent.

It is clear that the average person, even a well-educated person like Sanders, does not understand the difference between discriminating against someone because of their religion, and disagreeing with their religious views. To Sanders, Vought is unfit for public office because he believes Muslims “stand condemned” for not accepting Jesus Christ—presumably meaning that they will go to Hell.

This is, to be absolutely clear, not my view, nor the view of the Catholic church. But one has a perfect right to hold such a view.

Passing a motion condemning “Islamophobia” encourages this confusion.

It is wrong to discriminate against Muslims. It is right to discriminate against Islam—if you find it false. Indeed, it is one’s moral duty.

We must, therefore, be very careful to always distinguish the two.

Accepting the view of Bernie Sanders, and of M-103, ends freedom of speech, ends freedom of thought, and ends freedom of religion.





Friday, June 09, 2017

Cohen on Abortion


Here is a live version of "Diamonds in the Mine" from 1979 that makes it painfully, brutally clear that the song is a heartfelt protest against abortion.





Someone is Stealing Land






I am grateful to have received second-hand an invitation from the Thousand Islands National Parks to attend National Aboriginal Day and learn more about Canada’s Mohawk culture on “a traditional territory of the Haudenosaunee [i.e., Iroquois, of which the Mohawk were a part] people.”

This is a bit odd, because, in fact, the Mohawk lived nowhere near here. They were in upstate New York, towards Lake Champlain. In latter years, with a few Christian refugee settlements around missions in Quebec. The truth is that no Indians actually lived anywhere near the Thousand Islands within recorded history. But the land on which the park sits was purchased, in 1783, from the Mississauga, a branch of the Ojibway, to provide homesteads for UE Loyalists fleeing from the newly-independent United States. Some of these UE Loyalists were Mohawks, and some of the purchased land was given them in 1793 to form the Tyendinaga Reserve, which now happens to be the nearest Indian settlement.

It is still not very close—about 100 kilometers away. You might as well bring in some Highland Scots from Glengarry.

Any Mohawks would have come here as tourists. They are not aboriginal. It is false to portray this as their traditional lands, and it amounts to teaching the young a fake history.



UK Election Results



My recent election prediction record remains unblemished: wrong again.

I predicted Tory majority.

We have a Tory minority.

I suspect this may be on the whole a good outcome.

Theresa May deserved a solid rebuke, for the cynical election call, for the awful platform and the awful campaign, refusing to debate. And she bore some responsibility as past Home Secretary for the recent terror attacks. Nor did she have any good ideas for stopping them, other than the troubling idea of pulling some civil rights.

On the other hand, Jeremy Corbyn, although a fun figure to vote for to pole the establishment in the eye, really did not look like someone you might want in charge of things.

With these results, May stands rebuked, and will probably have to resign. She should be forced to by her caucus. Yet there is really no risk of Labour coming to power. The Tories have fallen eight seats shy of a majority. The DUP, a natural fit, holds ten. At the same time, the LDP and Sinn Fein have both said there is no way they would form a coalition with Labour.

So the Tories form the next government, but probably soon under someone other than May. The obvious alternative being Boris Johnson, who would be a lot of fun to watch, and might attract a Trump-like, Corbyn-like, stick it in their eye vote. While still actually being a plausible PM.

The most striking result--and nobody seems to be talking about it--is the collapse of the Scottish Nationalist vote. Alex Salmond, former leader, actually lost his seat. And this might be fortunate for Brexit negotiations. It suggests there is no constituency for Scottish independence in the face of Brexit, which frees British negotiators' hands. The SNP actually lost, in the main, to the Conservatives, the Brexit party, suggesting the rebuke was on exactly this issue.



Thursday, June 08, 2017

Religious Illiteracy



Notorious bully Moses descends from Mount Sinai with a list of suggestions regarding possibly inappropriate conduct.

We need solid religious education in the schools. It is child abuse not to provide it.

Sure, children may, when they get older, choose to reject it all. That is their choice. But they need to have it.

Understanding the meaning of life, why you are here and what it is you are supposed to accomplish, is a fairly important matter. One might call it, if one has one’s head screwed on right, the most important matter conceivable.

And without knowing what religion teaches, we are in no position even to decide whether we accept it or not; we are simply removing that option from the table for our young.

So how then can we not teach it? How are the kids otherwise supposed to know? By telepathy? By instinct?

And then we wonder why so many seem to get lost in our teenage years. Or later.

Any casual conversation today, or a glance at the daily paper, brings confirmation that most people, even those supposedly well-educated, have simply no idea what Christianity, or any other religion, for that matter, teaches.

A recent article in the Catholic Register makes the case. What most people think is Christianity is simply nonsense. The slightest acquaintance with theology or the catechism would make this known.

The Register begins with a very important, and common, one: the claim that Christians have no business pointing out sin, because we are required by Jesus to forgive.

No. We are required to forgive if the sinner repents and asks for forgiveness. “Go thou,” Jesus said to the prostitute, “and sin no more.” If we simply ignore the sin, we are accomplices in it. 

Jesus and the woman caught in adultery.

Not a difficult concept. But most non-religious cannot seem to grasp it. Or do not want to.

Another biggie is the notion that tolerance means you accept and embrace a thing. Criticism, then, is intolerance. No, that is not what tolerance means, and the difference is the difference between a free and a totalitarian society. Given this false definition, either you end up prohibiting anything you do not like, or being unable to object to anything—no freedom of thought or speech.

Another biggie is the strange idea that religious “faith” is simply belief in the existence of God.

Just in case you, gentle reader, believe I or the Catholic Register are making all this up, I submit in evidence an editorial which has recently appeared on the CBC web site, written by a well-known journalist.

This man is so ignorant about religion he does not even suspect he is ignorant, but thinks he is an authority. That is how far we have come.

“Religion,” he writes, “is by definition not fact-based. It is a pure belief system.”

Amazing that he did not even bother to look in the dictionary. His knowledge of the matter is so sure he has no need of facts.

No, religion is not “a pure belief system”; any more than is, say, science. A religion is an assertion of truth, of the value of things, and most of all, of how one ought to lead one’s life: “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” Its relation to facts is this: religion is truth. Facts are truths that are objectively demonstrable. (Oxford: “A thing that is known or proved to be true.”)

Accordingly, a true religion must be in full accord with any known facts. If it is not, it is disproven.

Although all facts are true, not all truths are facts. I suspect Macdonald has never been taught, and does not know, the difference; for the error seems an uncommonly common one. The proposition that one plus one must always equal two cannot, strictly, be proven. That is, you cannot test it on every possible example of ones. It is not a “fact”; its truth is a priori. Never mind more arcane bits of truth like “murder is wrong.” Or “all men have inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” These are not things that can be proven. I know I am hungry now, too. This I cannot prove. So what?

And so on: all the most important things, actually, are truths but not facts. But they certainly are not arbitrary and random “beliefs,” or God help us all.

Macdonald goes on to express his generous open-mindedness:

“I am all for a person's right to believe in whatever he or she desires, to embrace foundational myths of aliens, or miracles, or extreme positions of love or hatred, as long as it remains in a place of worship, with the door closed.”

Basic problem here: Macdonald clearly presupposes that people simply choose what to believe: they believe what they “desire” to believe. This is true only if there is no truth. And that cannot be true, because the statement is self-contradictory. The statement “there is no truth” itself claims to be a truth.

A basic knowledge of theology, or philosophy, is lacking here. And so a basic inability to think coherently. Isn’t this s skill in which we should all be trained?

Leave aside the puerile suggestion that belief in the spiritual is comparable to a belief in aliens. (I wonder if Macdonald has a position on how many aliens can dance on the head of a pin? For this is just such a categorization error.) Even leave behind his misunderstanding that religion is simply a set of random “beliefs.” Even if all this were not involved, this view would still not be acceptable in any free society. One is not obliged to keep one’s opinions on anything, let alone truth, behind closed doors. We believe, even if randomly [sic], in freedom of thought and freedom of speech.

This also ossifies the error that religion is simply a set of beliefs. It is also, and is primarily, a way of life. Buddhism, for example, claims to do perfectly well entirely without beliefs.

Accordingly, it is not possible to practice any religion only behind closed doors, at a certain set time of the week, for an hour or so.

Moreover, religions people do not go to their places of worship to believe something, loudly or quietly. They go there to worship; meaning to practice a prescribed ritual.

“Religion,” Macdonald complains, “most often involves a deep commitment to telling other people how to live their lives. .... They push for laws that amount to moral dictation.”

Yes, they do. However, contrary to common assertion, and presumably to Macdonald’s own belief, this has nothing to do with “forcing their religion on others.” This is an issue of basic morality. If, for example, you see someone murdering someone else, you have a moral obligation to tell him to stop, and even physically prevent him, if you can. It is not noble or moral not to force your idea of morality on someone else, if morality means anything to you at all.

And morality is just as binding on an atheist as on a Christian. Does Macdonald really believe that, so long as he calls himself an atheist, he can freely and guiltlessly commit murder?

There are moral requirements, and ritual requirements. Ritual requirements are part of a religion. Moral requirements are binding on everyone.

If you are a Jew, you are required not to eat pork. This is not a moral issue; it is a religious observance, a part of your covenant with God. If a Jew demands that nobody be allowed to eat pork, he is indeed imposing his religion on others. If, however, he demands that nobody be allowed to commit murder, or enslave his neighbour, he is not imposing his religion. He is standing up for objective morality, binding on everyone.

This distinction is clearly understood in both Christianity and Judaism. It is basic and vital. As a Catholic, I am obliged to abstain from meat on Fridays. As a human, I am obliged to always tell the truth.

As Macdonald testifies, it is indeed the religious primarily who stand up for objective morality. This is strong evidence—factual evidence, if you like—that religious people are simply more moral than the rest of us. Yet Macdonald represents this as a criticism.

Macdonald might honestly disagree over the morality of abortion, or homosexual sex. Fine. Then he must argue his case. Not just condemn anyone who cares deeply about morality. Not just assert a personal belief without argument or evidence. Where would that leave us, if everyone did so?

Unfortunately, that seems to be exactly where we are heading. And the tunnel at the end of the light is already in sight.






Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Last Minute UK Election Prediction



Breaking: UK election results, 1837. Lord Melbourne triumphs!

Theresa May majority.

It seems to me ISIS has come in heavily on her side. The two recent terrorist attacks ought to stay the hand of many who might have voted for Corbyn. The polls do not yet show this, but there is often a bit of a delay as it sinks in.

All that said, here is my recent record as a political prognosticator:

I picked Bernier to win the Canadian Conservative leadership.

I picked Clinton to beat Trump.

I thought there was not way Trump would take the Republican nomination in the first place.

I picked Sanders to win the Democratic nomination.

I picked Stephen Harper to win the last Canadian federal election.

So I guess you can put your money down on Corbyn now.


The Truth That Dare Not Speak Its Name



It was pretty routine to the Greeks. Pederastic "courtship."

The problem with "pedophilia" in the Catholic priesthood, such as it is, has nothing to do with celibacy.

What nobody dares say is that it has a lot to do with homosexuality.

It is mostly a matter of gay priests "grooming" younger sexual partners.

It is quite natural for homosexuals, despite all the denials, to latch on like a limpet to young teenage boys. Since their sexuality has not yet been fully fixed and confirmed by experience, they are more lilekly to be open to homoesxual acts. Moreover, in case of any resistance, they are weaker. And less credible to the authorities.

It must, after all, be difficult for homosexuals to find sexual partners. Ninety-eight percent of those they are attracted to, and might approach, are going to be repelled by the idea, and may even react violently. Not good for your ego, at best.

Younger boys are the perfect solution.

Oscar Wilde with young Lord Alfred Douglas.

It also seems quite likely, given this dynamic, that nobody is born homosexual. They are turned homosexual by older homosexuals if they are gotten to at this early, impressionable age.

Early sexual experiences are likely to leave a deep impression.

Sadly, this means that a lot of gays have probably become priests out of no religious feeling, but as a useful way to meet and gain the confidence of such young men.

As many become teachers, or coaches.

Exit question: have you ever noticed that homosexual men are generally unusually good looking? Conversely, that unusually good looking men are more likely to be homosexual?

It makes sense: an older homosexual is going to approach the pretty boys first. The girls who come later get the leftovers.



Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Sign the Petition, Eh?



Bill 89 from the Liberal government of Ontario is alarming on several grounds.

First, it is a direct assault on freedom of thought.

Second, it is an assault on the family, the essential cell of civil society.

Third, it is in direct violation of the Catholic principle of subsidiarity.

Fourth, it is an assault on freedom of conscience that affects believers in any major religion.

Fifth, it is an assault on the well-being of children.

Sixth, it does harm to orphans in particular, preventing their adoption.

Seventh, by doing that, it encourages the killing of more children through abortion, by reducing the opportunities for adoption.

Eighth, it prevents some families from exercising the natural right to have children.

Ninth, it does harm to those who experience what is now called "gender dysphoria," that is, confusion about whether they are male or female. It prevents them from getting proper treatment, whether or not such treatment is medically or morally justified. Some may end up permanently physically mutilated. Statistically, we know that a high proportion will end up dead from suicide.

Granted, the new bill may not end up doing all of that, depending on how it is interpreted and administered by civil servants and the courts.

But it leaves that up to their discretion, at best.

And so awards them and the government dictatorial powers.

Sign the petition.

https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/petition-calls-for-repeal-of-totalitarian-bill-allowing-children-to-be-take



The Nazis Were Often New Age

Mary Pictures

Monday, June 05, 2017

Go Nuts



Martyrdom of St. Dymphna

The town of Gheel (also Geel), in Belgium, has one great distinction. As the local saying goes, “half the inhabitants are mad, and the rest are half-mad.”

For uncounted centuries, Gheel has taken in the “mentally ill.” They are boarded with local families, and by and large allowed to live a normal life. They get better, sometimes, and sometimes they don’t—but still lead a better life than they would in an asylum.

They come because Gheel is home to the shrine of Saint Dymphna, the traditional patron saint of those with mental problems. Her martyred corpse is preserved in the local church.

St, Dymphna Church, Geel.

We hear of Dymphna first in the 13th century. But by then her local cult was said to be well-established. There had already been, the chronicler asserts, a history of miraculous healings of the mad (Wikipedia). She was believed to have actually lived in the seventh century, in Ireland.


Devotional image of St. Dymphna

I have written of Saint Dymphna before. Here is her story, in brief:

In the seventh century, in what is now County Tyrone, Ireland, a small kingdom named Oriel was ruled by a king named Damon. Himself a pagan, Damon had a beautiful Christian wife, and together they had an equally beautiful Christian daughter, the princess Dymphna. 
When she was only fourteen, Dymphna’s mother died. King Damon decided that he would take his daughter as his new wife; because she reminded him so much of her mother. Dymphna, horrified, fled with her confessor Father Gerebernus, two servants, and the court jester. They ended up in the town of Gheel, near Antwerp in Belgium. There, having taken with them a fair bit of the king’s treasury, Dymphna and Gerebernus set up a local hospice and developed a reputation for their devoutnesss and charity.
Unfortunately, however, their generosity left a trail of distinctive Irish gold coins that Dymphna’s father was eventually able to follow. He showed up one day with his military retinue, again demanded marriage, and was again refused. So he beheaded his daughter on the spot, as well as the venerable Gerebernus. She was fifteen years old.

So—how did this experience qualify Dymphna as the patron saint of the mentally ill? She was not, after all, mentally ill herself, so far as we can tell. What does any of this have to do with mental illness?

But then, how would we know? In this Year of Our Lord 2017, our brilliant scientists still do not know—they really have no idea—what causes what we call “mental illness.”

This is probably because they are brilliant scientists.

Science, by its nature, knows nothing of the soul. It is always looking in the opposite direction, at the physical world.

Their latest idea is that all mental illness is essentially PTSD: post-traumatic stress disorder. This is fashionable, and has grabbed their attention, because we are seeing a lot of PTSD in the US since the start of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. And the obvious fact has occurred to the doctors that the symptoms of PTSD are all the same as those of depression. Moreover, the standard anti-depressants usually work on PTSD.

If it looks like a duck, and it quacks like a duck…

Duck

So depression, at least, if not mental illness in general, is now held to be a consequence of a traumatic childhood. A childhood about as frightening as a war.

The Wikipedia entry for “Depression” now gives, under “Causes”:

“Adversity in childhood, such as bereavement, neglect, mental abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse, and unequal parental treatment of siblings can contribute to depression in adulthood. Childhood physical or sexual abuse in particular significantly correlates with the likelihood of experiencing depression over the life course.”

A recent Catholic article on overcoming depression begins with:

“This might be due to Adversity in childhood, such as bereavement, neglect, mental abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse, and unequal parental treatment of siblings.”
For what it is worth—and it seems to me to obviously be worth a great deal—the Dymphna legend strongly suggests we are finally on to something.

It is about time we turned to the Humanities, and to religion, for an understanding of the soul, the psyche. They have known about it all along. It is their area of expertise. Casting out demons ‘R us.

I imagine that, in the very early days of the Dymphna cult, people struggling with what we now call “mental illness” learned her story, and immediately saw in it their own experience. It is the archetypal story of the abused child.

No, she apparently never suffered herself from mental illness. That is what suggests her power to heal. She is often portrayed with a little demon on a chain. Demon—Damon. She beat the rap, although at the cost of her life.

However, if we are to take the Dymphna story as archetypal, we have not quite scored a bullseye yet.

Dymphna’s story involves a bereavement; the death of her mother. But, although it clearly alludes to sexual abuse, and child abuse, nowhere in the story does Dymphna actually suffer it. She flees the kingdom to escape it, and accepts first exile and then death to avoid it. “Saint Dymphna is known,” an entry on the saint suggests, “as the Lily of Éire, due to her spotless virtue.” In other words, the idea that she never actually was sexually molested by her father is an essential part of the legend. She was not subject to prolonged mental or physical abuse: she was killed outright. In her infancy, she most probably would have appeared to the world as a little princess, obviously beloved by Dad, fawned upon.

Dutch image of Dymphna

This strongly suggests that the issue is not the abuse, per se, but the attitude of the parent, and the psychic rather than the physical trauma that involves.

Odd that—the soul being primarily concerned with spiritual things. Who could have expected it?

Speaking symbolically, King Damon, her father, wanted to devour Dymphna—like Saturn devoured his children. He wanted to own her, completely. He wanted her to exist only as an extension of himself. He allowed her no independent existence, even if she left his presence. If she did not exist only to give him pleasure or personal staisfaction, she had no right to exist.

This motif is doubled in the idea that Dymphna was the incarnate image of her mother, and was intended to be her continuation. Not only was her father attempting to fully assimilate her identity to himself, but to fully assimilate her identity to the person of her mother. No matter what she tried, what she did, where she went, Dymphna was simply not allowed to exist. She would be killed the one way, or killed the other. She was being devoured by both parents.

Goya paints it as he sees it.

The story is also an analysis of counterfeit love. Under the guise of affection, Dymphna was destroyed. This must be especially sinister to a child: the enemy posing as parent, the ultimate protector. He or she cannot be expected to understand. Nor is the world beyond the family likely to understand what is going on: from the outside, it all no doubt looked like a loving family, until the final act. Babies, they say, live on love. But her father’s love was the love of a gourmand for a rare steak: the slaughtered cow does not really get the warm fuzzies.

Barbaric and inhuman as it sounds, this is an obvious risk in any family. A parent who is selfish enough is even naturally going to think this way. He or she made the child, after all, did they not? So it belongs to him or her. And the great thing about it, from his or her perspective, is that, in the family context, he or she has absolute rein, like a king, to exploit the child toy as he or she pleases. 



If only one parent is depraved in this way, the child has a chance. But if both parents are this depraved, or if the one dies, God help little him or her.

If the child survives physically, lifelong struggles with mental illness of one sort or another are most likely to ensue: a kind of living martyrdom to the parent or parents.

And the sins of the father are visited upon the sons, unto the third or fourth generation.



Sunday, June 04, 2017

Nigger Nigger Nigger Nigger Nigger Nigger Nigger Nigger Nigger Nigger Nigger Nigger Nigger Nigger







Bill Maher is in trouble for referring to himself on air in unscripted conversation as a “house nigger.” This is being represented as in the same league as Kathy Griffin’s recent ISIS beheading shoot.

Publications and web pages referring to the incident almost all fail to actually print the word “nigger,” replacing in with, variously, “the n-word,” “n--,” or “expletive.” Huffington Post headlines “Bill Maher Jokes He’s A ‘House N****r’ On ‘Real Time’”

Twitter erupted:

“There are no explanations that make this acceptable.”
“HBO must fire him this is not acceptable.”
“Bill Maher must be fired immediately for his racism ...”
“Maher] has got to go. There are no explanations that make this acceptable. And why did the audience think it was okay to laugh? And Ben Sasse doesn't even flinch. What is happening in the world?"

"Please @HBO Do Not Air Another Episode Of Real Time With Bill Maher."

HBO responded swiftly: “Bill Maher's comment last night was completely inexcusable and tasteless. We are removing his deeply offensive comment from any subsequent airings of the show."

This is insane. This is deeply offensive to the sane. We have lost all moral judgment. This, perhaps, is the most frightening aspect of modern North American society: we no longer grasp or care about the distinction between right and wrong.

“Nigger” is not an expletive. It is not even, in any way, offensive. It simply means—sit down, brace yourself, and have the smelling salts ready--“black.” Accordingly, it is no more disturbing that calling someone “white.” Better not to think of someone in terms of their skin colour, but that is all.

There is something especially pernicious about reinterpreting a simple neutral description of a group of people as a pejorative. In order to do so, you must accept and promote the concept that there is something morally wrong or worthy of criticism about simply belonging to that group. About being black, or African American, or coloured, or negro, or whatever the preferred euphemism happens to be this week.

In other words, nothing could be more racist and anti-black than objecting to the word “nigger.” It is like being offended if you are Canadian, and are called Canadian. Makes sense only if you believe deeply that there is something obviously and indisputably wrong with being Canadian, of which all right-thinking people must be aware.

By contrast, “cracker,” a term commonly used to refer to white Americans in the South, really is offensive. It originally meant men “descended from convicts that were transported from Great Britain to Virginia.” A bit of an aspersion cast on your ancestors, surely. Merriam-Webster defines it as meaning “a bragging liar.” Not very flattering.

Neither is “redneck,” implying someone who labours outside, and so is presumably uneducated, if not lacking in natural intelligence.

Or “white trash.”

How would “black garbage” sound?

All commonly used, without a twinge of conscience nor a peep of protest.

This comparison suggests, not a special problem of discrimination against gentlemen of the well-tanned persuasion, if you will, but a special position of social privilege. Combined perhaps with a deeply rooted self-hate.

Worse, Maher manifestly could not have been insulting anyone, even if the word were indeed itself pejorative. He called HIMSELF a “house nigger.” Why should this upset anyone other than him? Perhaps he should give himself a stern talking to?

Actually, in a minimally sane world, a white man calling himself “nigger” would be seen as an expression of solidarity.

Even worse, blacks themselves happily and commonly refer to themselves and other blacks as “niggers.”

It amounts to awarding special privileges on the basis of race: to blacks. Yet one more example of the growing inequity of “black privilege.”

I have no special reason to want to keep Maher on the air: it think most of his expressed opinions are pernicious. If the left wants to destroy themselves, who am I to argue?

Except for one thing.

There really is a difference between right and wrong.




Friday, June 02, 2017

Scheer's Chances



Old Al.

The pundits have decided that Andrew Scheer has little chance of success as Conservative leader. Only two majority governments in Canadian history, they point out, have ever been defeated after only one term: Alexander Mackenzie and R.B. Bennett.

Scheer will likely lose his first election, and be replaced.

RB

That is true, as far as it goes; but is rather little data to go on. If we include provincial elections, we quickly find further examples. Bob Rae, Ontario, 1990. Lost in 1995 to a PC majority under Mike Harris. Dave Barrett, BC, 1972. Lost in 1975 to a Socred majority under Bill Bennett. That’s off the top of my head. The same pattern was followed by a number of United Farmers governments across Canada. Sterling Lyon managed to blow a majority in one term in Manitoba, 1977-81.

Bob.

The typical scenario goes like this: brash young leader comes to power unexpectedly, spends like a drunk monkey, gets thrown out next election.

Trudeau might fit the mold.