Sunday, August 21, 2011

Letter to Justice Minister Rob Nicholson concerning Minimum Sentencing

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Honourable Robert Douglas Nicholson
Justice Minister - Federal
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0A6

RE: Minimum Sentencing – Recent Controversies

Dear Mr. Robert Nicholson:

Although I have no doubt that your government will not be reversing itself on the matter of mandatory sentences; and thus so it should be; in the long-term battle for the hearts and minds of the public on the issue; I think that the arguments that have been proffered could be improved upon.

There is no doubt that if the legislation was weakened to include a ‘safety valve’, the sophists of the law could, over time, drive that wedge to the point of returning judicial practice back to its current state. I have no doubt that this argument has already been considered.

Garnering from popular press and sentiment, public concern about sentencing seems to centre on judicial softness on crime. However, just as strong an argument; stronger in my mind; revolves around judicial inconsistency and the effect that such wide disparity of sentencing has on the national psyche on the administration of justice.

In late 1981, I was employed at St. Hubert’s Restaurant. One of the buzzes at the restaurant was over a former employee, a waiter; who had been accused of raping two and three year old boys (if memory serves me correctly) and drowning one in the Ottawa River. The person in question received a sentence of only 2 years; which from what I understand was partially due to the relative dearth of evidence. The irony was that the father of the 2 boys was incarcerated at the time; serving a sentence of 3 years for armed robbery. I believe that upon learning about the happenstance to his boys, he committed suicide. The anecdote obviously got my attention as to the rational and legal perversity that seemed to be coming over the court and the administration of justice in general. I am aware that there is a conflation between two issues here: disparity of sentencing for the same crime and the rational incongruity in sentencing between different types of crimes. However, close observation of judicial affairs since that time has only confirmed this disdain about the courts in general.

The problem with this relativist approach to sentencing is that the disparity of sentencing is as likely to be consequence of the prejudices of the jurists as it is the circumstances of the case. I think the evidence is abundant and apparent that I need not to cite examples. So apparent and abundant is it, I have read about some American jurisdictions which have created an extra judicial body to adjust sentencing after sentencing because of the irrational incongruities between similar cases. The issue reached the concern of jurists in Australia that one cited a warning made from over a half century ago.

As long ago as 1953 Professor Norval Morris warned that there were gross and unjust variations in sentences imposed on criminals, and that unless the judiciary developed a comprehensive theory of sentencing, sentencing discretion would be removed from the courts’ hands.1

About half-dozen years ago, I was involved in youth court situation in which the lawyer of the perpetrator made extra emphasis on both parents showing up at all court appearances. Apparently, the presence of parents made a difference in the result of the case. Though skeptical that it should matter, I have read of other reports that make the same assertion. Though I understanding the practicable reasoning (parental investment equates to lower recidivism rates); I cannot help think that this practice lends to the general attitude, especially amongst those not so fortunate with attentive parents; of inequality of treatment and thus perception of injustice from the supposed founts of national justice. I even gave casual thought of starting up a sideline “rent-a-parent” business for those yobs whose parents were negligent. For, is it the child’s fault; that his parents are what they are; in receiving a harsher penalty?

The lawyers and judges may clamour for exceptions in order rectify specific situations and administer justice in the particular. However, because the wide inexplicable latitude in discretion leads to a general contempt of the judiciary and the law; a perception that the courts are a crap shoot; something that those attentive to the comings and goings of the courts are prone to feel; the administering of justice in the general outweighs the administering of justice in the particular.
Thank you for giving ear to my concerns.


1. Honourable Justice Dean Mildren RFD, Discretion in Sentencing, Judicial Conference of Australia, April 2001,

Friday, May 27, 2011

Homilies to Revival

One of the common homiletic banalities bantered about in this age of imploding North American Evangelicalism involves the wistful sighs for revival. Like the Jew of the High Middle Ages, a millennium after the Temple was destroyed, who proclaims “Next year in Jerusalem”; it is obligatory platitude in Christian discourse, which lacks conviction of expectation. These sentiments, begotten of either youthful exuberance, of melancholy recognition that the savour has fled the salt and of despairing foreboding of the future, yearn for a Christian version of the “vanished gardens of Cordoba”.

These homilies grate my soul.

They grate not merely because they pine for an airbrushed nostalgic past; which though by far superior to the uncultured and unintelligible vulgarity, the narcissistic callousness and destitute soullessness of the current age; were not devoid of their own set of travesties and just as now, fell far short of the glory of God. Nor only do these sentiments irk because they are the of utterances of the disciples of ‘feel-goodism’; flitting from spiritual hotspot to spiritual hotspot like tornado chasers, in order to bask in the glow and heat of fire generated by another; and who often mistake the ersatz replica of fire for the genuine. Such desire the sensation of; but not the essence of true revival.

It is that those who mouth these platitudes for revival are akin to the professors which James describes, who say “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled”, but cannot be bothered to contribute to the amelioration of the brother or sister who is naked and destitute of daily food. According to the promises of God scribbled in His Word, the power to effect such revival is largely contained within the reach of the regenerated. If it has failed to materialize, it is largely attributable to the failings of faith, knowledge, passion, wisdom, ethics and ethos and will in those whose heritage it is, to abound in such things.

Ahh! One can anticipate the hackles of your soul declaiming that this fellow is preaching a heretical human-centered methodism which denigrates the Sovereign Will of God and denies the necessary initiation and sustenance by the Spirit of God. Not a whit! Movements in history must have their genesis in the heart of God. And no matter how knowledgeable, clear and exemplary, a Christian witness is; if the recipient isn’t being enlightened and the objections generating from his natural heart are not overcome through the hidden machinations of God; that witness will be of no effect.

However, who is to say that a call to become the salt again through which revival is possible, does not generate from the hidden Sovereign Will of God. We must separate the Sovereign Will of God from responsibility of the Christian to the prescribed Will of God. We may be duly informed by Calvinist doctrine; but we cannot operate at the level of the Sovereign Will without our noodles being baked by the complexity and conundrums it poses. If having to face God at the level of His Sovereignty, man should become completely destroyed.

If there is methodology to revival being promoted, it is one that Scriptures itself outlines. It exists apart from the quick-fix, relatively easy, assembly-line, modern managerial and ultimately ineffectual techniques of modern Evangelical evangelism.

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)

given to us [are] exceeding great and precious promises: that by these you might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that you shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 4-8)

For, by the promises of God, God has contracted with His children that in measure that we pursue and attain certain attributes, we shall be fruitful; and which “streams of living water will flow from within”. However, escaping the corruption of our environment, acting and being enervated by faith in Christ, seeking to be virtuous and holy, becoming knowledgeable in the fullest measure of that meaning, maintaining self-control over our passions, having patience, attaining inner righteousness, being kind and imbued with love; these are a far more difficult list of methodological procedures to ‘perform’ than altar call rituals, fourty-day programs and the like.

Such requires initially, a most resolute will. However, without God, we know not how to attain, have not the power to attain nor are able to sustain this most resolute will. “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” And in that one’s fruitfulness is largely determined by the measure of attainment in the least of these qualities; all must be inculcated. A tree grown in idyllic climatic conditions but hampered by lack of nutrition in the soil will suffer accordingly. A computer system’s performance is bottlenecked by its most laggardly component. A bond is only as good as its weakest link.

However, such qualities are these, are necessary in order to become a revival center; to no longer bask in the glow and heat of the fires of others; but to be the source of such fire. And in as much as a composite of Christians cultivate the same; from there would revival of the kind cooed in mantra and song, be achieved.

As a bit player in a church choir, I was required to sing from Brooke Fraser’s ‘Hosanna’. However, the verse proclaiming “I see a near revival; Stirring as we pray and seek” was irking to sing. For such sentiments, I cannot see. For as long as the Evangelical Church is hampered by accumulated corruptions of doctrine or even of ignorance of doctrine; fails to apply such doctrine in the daily interplay of their lives; dabbles in the frilly and frivolous “mint, dill and cumin” aspects of the faith instead of tackling the hardier heart of the Gospel and Full Counsel of God; lacks knowledge and wisdom; remains irrelevant in giving understanding to the concerns of the wider world; is satisfied to retreat to its own separatist subculture; loosens its moral integrity; responds in uncivil, disrespectful, moralistic tones to those without and even those within in with whom it disagrees; responds timidly in confronting false teachers and miscreants among its ranks; lacks faith in the (sometimes counterintuitive) particulars of the Scriptures in matters beyond theology and morality; etc.; and remains satisfied in this current condition; there ought not to be any revival coming from that quarter.

Thus, unless one is willing to do all that which necessary to enable revival to occur, then shut up about it!

Faith: Neither Innate Nor Decision - Part 1

Most peculiar notions of faith prevail in religious circles in our current age. At one time, these ideas would have been largely seen as confined to the more Charismatic (including Pentecostal) wings of Christendom; although in hindsight, corrupted understandings of faith take residence in many “traditions” of Christianity, including the Evangelical. From a historical perspective, one could blame the spirit of Kirkegaardianism and Albert Finney for modern introduction of these notions; although their existence has always existed as part and parcel of human nature. Nor are these conceptions restricted to the religious but permeate secular society; particularly of the bottom 80% of the elite / commoner divide.

A recent Holy Post posting in the National Post (“Faith is innate – not a decision”) by a self-proclaimed agnostic Lucy Leiderman ( exemplifies this sentiment; endemic and pandemic to the times. The writer claims that though reared “in an atheist household”; she “feel[s] need to have faith” while others “just do not feel faith in their heart”. For, Lucy deems faith to be some specialized faculty or gnosis; which the atheist are innately deprived. As she notes later in her article, an atheist “did not understand it [faith] because he had no innate capacity to feel it [faith].”

This conception of faith permeates the thinking of the postmodern ‘theologian’ Donald Miller, who in his book “Blue Like Jazz”, which has weaseled its way into mainstream Evangelical Churches, equates faith to penguin “radar” or instinct.

I believe in God, and as I said before it feels so much more like something is causing me to believe than that I am stirring up belief. In fact, I would even say that when I started in faith I didn’t want to believe; my intellect wanted to disbelieve, but my soul, that deeper instinct, could no more stop believing in God than Tony could, on a dime, stop being in love with his wife. There are things you choose to believe, and the beliefs that choose you.”

Pentecostal and Charismatic circles are infamous for associating faith with the psychological appropriation of it; of ‘inculcating’ the pouring of the Spirit which is oft equated with that “presence of God” feeling and an ecstatic spiritual high or fix.  These practices lend themselves to well-documented pastoral problems; as when this specialized instinct disappears in the ‘dark night of the soul’ or when those psychological faculties grow cold and senseless.

The secularist realm has taken notice of this cultural phenomenon; best summed by the news comedian Steve Colbert in his coining of the word truthiness to denote the ascertaining of the truth “from the gut” intuition regardless of evidence, reason, intellectual inspection or facts. It manifested itself in an article concerning cohabitation in U.S. Today. While the preponderance of sociological studies showed erotic relations governed by the spirit of cohabitation to be detrimental to the survivability and success of such arrangements, the plurality of society will reject such findings because the gut feelings of most say otherwise. It is truth by survey. Something is true because I or sufficient numbers of persons believe it to be so.

Even Christians of yore struggled with the nature of spiritual faith. Biographies of Puritans, Calvinists or would-be Christians, having a more hyper-Calvinist conception of the Sovereignty of God; would often fall into doubt over their salvation or even fail to  come to Christ; because they saw the futility of faith unless they were one of the Called. They would await some special psychological prompting or spiritual anointing before actually living by faith.

And I speak not from some lofty theological perch. For, in my deep and enduring spiritual imprisonment, I seemed to have fallen for every possible misconception of the nature of faith that could ever be held.

The common thread throughout this odd notion of faith is that it requires a specialized faculty, pietism or gnosis. When speaking of pietism, it is not with academic precision or from historical definition; but rather as a generic description of a spirituality that is introspective and inward-looking, lacking external anchor. Historically, such spirituality would involve seeking personal holiness including inspection of the motives and motions of heart and mind. The fellow travelers, both virtuous and vile, in John Bunyan’s “Pilgrim’s Progress” were those elements that Bunyan found in his psyche along his faith journey which he either had to repudiate or inculcate. However, in modern times, this pietism has transformed increasingly into being blindly guided by the motions of the heart and mind without inspection of the validity of those innate promptings. Some of this error is derived from bad theology; the belief that one’s native nature is replaced by the new nature upon conversion; rather than that the new nature is being added unto the old. In the former understanding, one presumes that whatever emanates out of one’s heart is by default, good. In the latter, the process of sanctification involves electing to being guided increasingly by that new nature over the old.

And when speaking of gnosis, it refers not to the historical heresy by the fuller term Gnosticism which had a full theology associated with that term. Rather, similar in spirit to Gnosticism, gnosis is meant here as being guided by an esoteric, intuitive appropriation of spiritual truths; without reference to Scriptures or validating such intuitions against Scriptural consistency. It is not to deny the scripturally affirmed contention that God speaks in inner promptings. However, especially for those who have undergone the gamut of spiritual warfare, the question arises ‘How does one know that the prompting one experiences, comes from God?’ And the Scriptural reply is to “believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God” (1 John 4:1) and to “Test everything. Hold on to the good.” (1 Thessalonians 5:21) But in testing those spirits; whether manifested in those without or within; against what should be the measure?

Assertions that faith constitutes a specialized faculty; a sixth sense; that the atheists are innately denied; lacks Scriptural substantiation and rational coherence.  From Scriptural perspective, it makes mockery of its commands.  Injunctions to “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5) are cruel jokes if some are constitutionally denied the capacity to give their trust at all.  Indeed, in that “trust in the Lord” and “lean on your own understanding” are utilized in the same sentence as if interchangeable actions of mind and will; there appears no differentiating psychological quantum leap required in order to trust in the Divine.  There is nothing in the Biblical definition of “faith [as] confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1) that connotes some special gift; from the standpoint of a psychological faculty. 

Furthermore, I would suggest that all people have faith; even the most obdurate of atheists. Contrary to atheist self-proclamations of sole use of reason and denigration of people of faith; the atheist lives their own lives on the basis of inordinate amounts of faith. One could not satisfactorily ruminate through all evidence and reason before utilizing all the modern devices at one’s disposal or even in application of the basis laws of physics. Few investigate the veracity of published scientific studies, before accepting the findings; verifying the conceptual definitions, the validity of the methodology, the impartiality in the selection of test subjects or objects for study, and the reasonableness of the interpretation of the data outcomes. Much is accepted on the basis of faith in the intellectual integrity and acumen of the researchers and the scientific methodologies that are put in place to ensure accuracy of conclusions. (It is largely misplaced faith.) Otherwise, mankind would be in a perpetual state of studying and verifying; and not living. Faith is absolute necessary in order to operate in the world. 

The atheist’s very atheism often finds its foundation on a faith; that of a materialist axiom. When many atheists discount the existence of God, they cite lack of evidence. However, their definition of evidence often requires a selective and preclusive class of proof; only the material; only that which can be sensed and/or measured. There are even eliminative materialists that would classify consciousness and subjective experience (qualia), history and the conceptual as mere delusions.

Materialism is an axiom of philosophy. And an axiom is but a secular equivalent of an Article of Faith. This axiom, this presupposition is supposedly self-evident truth. However, is this tenet of materialism so self-evident? Can it not be disabused? The actual existence of Christ is often denied for lack of material evidence. (To be fair, some even doubt the existence of Socrates.) By such criteria, the existence of our ancestry through whom we descend must be discounted because we lack actual material record of them; or that such material evidence cannot be crosschecked against their identity. Some deny the reality of subjective experience as delusion, though deliberate types of thought processes can produce physiological responses in other parts of the body? If gravity’s existence can only be inferred by its consequences to other objects, why should the subjective experience be denied its reality when it too produces physiological consequence? And so on… Thus, materialist presumptions cannot be maintained as mere fact. Thus, atheism built on this axiomatic foundation is but a faith.

Even the scientific method requires faith in an axiom. The discovery of a physical process or law is determined by the observation of a relatively small number of iterations of a process over a limited geographical and temporal range. The presumption that this process is universal throughout the cosmos and immutable throughout time is premised on the axiom of uniformitarianism. However, uniformitarianism cannot be proven true; for in order to prove it, mankind must have the omniscient capacity to demonstrate that any law is applicable universally and immutable through testing in all possible situations throughout the cosmos. Uniformitarianism might be an entirely reasonable assumption; an intelligent faith, so to speak. Nevertheless, it requires a faith. Thus, the only difference between the secular and the religious lies in the objects of their faith.

So what is faith? In seeing that there exists no difference between the religious and common conceptions of it; is it not to believe an assertion, promise, injunction and/or advice to the extent that one conducts one’s behaviour and life on the basis of its truth, virtue and benefit? One drives a car ultimately on faith. One turns the steering wheel clockwise and counterclockwise, in the (almost unconscious) belief that the design and workmanship will ensure the vehicle will turn right and left. Similar, Christian belief requires conducting one’s life in accordance to the assertions, promises, edicts and principles of God and His Christ.

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” (Matthew 7:24-27)

It presupposes that the assertions are true, the promises will be fulfilled and the edicts and principles are virtuous by virtue that they are beneficial; whether immediately and directly to the person(s) involved or in an obscure fashion to the Kingdom of God and the beneficiaries of that Kingdom.  One cannot honestly claim to believe in Christ if one fails to live in such accordance; anymore than a Communist state can be declared faithful to its namesake if wide scale private enterprise is practiced.

The definition of faith which requires a special instinct, pietistic sensation or gnosis; the one that prevails in this current age; requires the mediator of subjectivism in order to believe and to act on that belief. This understanding is most famously popularized from Søren Kierkegaard; the 19th Century religious Danish philosopher, whose meandering of thought posited that a fact or assertion is true only if an individual can subjectively appropriate it; through the senses, reason, feelings or some ‘special faculty or gnosis’. This definition of truth invariably leads to relativism and ultimately and logically, philosophical nihilism (‘there is no genuine truth’). Thus one does not believe a truth assertion and act upon it, such as the precepts of the Word of God, unless one can ‘feel’ its merit; however ‘feel’ is defined. That could mean apprehend it rationally, sense the weight of its truth, feel ecstatically glad over it, a correspondence of this "truth’ with one’s instincts or motions of one’s heart, or with voices that one hears etc.

By placing the subjective as mediator; as priest; as final authority and arbiter of reality; it actually places the subjective as one’s god and pillar. It is on one’s rational capabilities, instincts and feelings, pietistic motions of the heart or gnosis upon which one truly believes and relies.

Placing reliance on the subjective capacity to appropriate the objective truth rather than leaning directly on objective truth without the mediator of the subjective, is ultimately unsafe. The difference is a subtle distinction, which involves introspection of our subjective states of mind.

When truth is subjective; when our subjective faculties become the arbiter of truth (whether as discoverer or fabricator or it); we are on the stepping stones of misplaced pride; misplaced because we are ignorant of the fickleness and fragility of our subjective faculties. Whereas, when we acknowledge an objective truth as “out there”; we acknowledge our legitimate humble relationship to objective reality and our shortcomings in ascertaining its totality. We acknowledge that how we think and feel about objective reality doesn’t alter its existence and veracity.

‘Subjective truth’ may evoke a conviction that one is the fountain of all truth or that there exists no truth because of inability to subjectively find it. This conviction produces a different psychological response to one who separates objective truth from his capacity to apprehend it. An arrogant certainty results, even in the one who pontificates a lack of objective truth (philosophical skepticism). And in that skeptic type, that person will do whatsoever he or she darn pleases in that arrogance; having inured themselves to any truth claims. If one believes that the rise and fall of civilization is predicated on the relative merits of ideas, attitudes and conduct over others, a prevalence of this certainty of untruth in a given society forebodes civilization’s destruction, (and prior to that, efforts to prevent that dissolution by authoritarian and totalitarian means). This matter extends well beyond the realm of spirituality.

One may be weaned from this dependence of the subjective faculties onto firmer external foundations. However, there exists abundant instances in Christianity when, in the battle for allegiance between God and His Word and a particular subjective faculty, the individual elected the latter and lost his faith; often without full consciousness of the psychological dynamics. The most famous case (amongst Evangelical circles) that comes to mind is in the person of Charles Templeton. A contemporary of Billy Graham; and purportedly his intellectual superior; his perceived superior gifts made his prospects in the pantheon of American preachers burnish brighter than Graham. However, because his reason and sensibilities could neither fathom nor square basic existential conundrums with his image of how God should be; he fell from the faith.

Perhaps speculative (as one cannot truly get inside the heart and mind of another); the best explanation, based on the nature of his reported struggle; may be found in that Templeton had never truly believed Christ. Rather, reason was Templeton’s true god; in whom he had ultimate trust. So long as the aspects of the Gospel that he had hitherto encountered corresponded with his reason, faith and reason appeared to walk hand in hand; his ‘faith’ appearing intact. However, when faith and reason diverged with irreconcilable differences; Templeton’s greater allegiance to the latter inevitably led him to sue for divorce from the former. When a subjective faculty acts as final arbiter, it becomes the ultimate god and guide.

This is not a call for blindly believing and obeying the God of Scriptures without substantiating the veracity of its claims in those aspects where such can be measured. The Bible actually screams out that a would-be seeker impartially test its propositions against objective reality; whether externally and/or psychologically. “Taste and see that the LORD is good” (Psalm 34:8). However, in placing reason as final arbiter, one is forever subject to falsification claims when an argument presents itself for which one’s rational faculties may simply lack a ready answer; rather than there not being an ultimate answer. (I would suggest a similar same flaw in asserting that scientific hypothesis is necessarily disproven by falsification.) Divine assertions are often counterintuitive; almost as if God enjoyed playing mind games with humanity. However, if God exists and were He as omniscient as both definition of God entails and that Scriptures proclaim; if “[His] ways are higher than your ways and [His] thoughts higher than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:9); then it should stand to reason that He would entertain ideas, ethics and an ethos innately and radically different to our own. This does not furnish proof God’s existence. However, many fall for the subjectivist fallacy that just because a representation of God’s attribute fails to correspond to our preconceived biases, God cannot exist.

Besides, mankind is awfully bound to the conventional wisdoms and sensitivities of his culture and age; a fact well concealed in an age which believes “history is bunk” and subscribes to the Western and modernist hubris of the prevailing progressivist mythology that our mores are superior to all others; in this or any age. Those cultural sensitivities by which we judge the merits of a representation of God may be more an indictment of our failures of imagination and reason. For instance, we live in an age with a wimpy appreciation of the need for justice; of such concern for the welfare of perpetrators; that the threat to the survival of the community is neglected.

Unlike Charles Templeton’s rational objections to the faith, we don’t exactly dwell in an age of reason. There exists ironic lack of critical thinking even in those adherents exalting the principles of the Enlightenment and self-proclaiming themselves as children of Reason; when in fact, in the exaltation of and appeal to credentialism and expertise; they have merely switched their allegiance to a different set of priesthoods. Nevertheless, the dangerous principles inherent when subjective faculties form the determinant of our faith remains true; whether that is the gut instinct of “truthiness”, emotions and affections or of gnosis.

There are heard rumblings from the more Charismatic wing of Christendom, of increasing perversities of thought and practice; of the existentialist faith of the Prosperity Gospel which believes that good worldly entitlements shall be received from the Great Kazoo merely through believing they will; of the hubris of false prophets who claim to being more privy to the hidden purposes of God including the specific time of the Last Coming, than Christ Himself; or of services whose leaders conjure excitations more of a sensual nature than a spiritual; or manifestations of the “Spirit” who direct humans to act with the dignity of writhing snakes, dogs and hyenas.  When gnosis prevails over and unchecked against the external anchor of the Word of God; insurrection, moral travesties, tyranny and annihilation can ensue to those who are guided or follow those who are guided by their intuitions, visions and voices.

How common in song lyrics is variations of the theme “it feels so right it can't be wrong”. Yet in matters of love and eros; the pandemic dissolution of intimate relationships, especially when including those beyond official count, puts lie to the validity of that attitude. Finally culminating in the Financial Panic of 2008, the last twenty-five years of financial history has been a compressed age of crisis, mania and panic; with two housing boom/busts and 3 market crashes in North America and a sprinkling of other potential crisis. The fickleness of psyche governs investment decisions; decimating the intellectual respectability of such economic nostrums such as the Efficient-market hypothesis. Historical recollection is so short nowadays, that it is now journalism that repeats itself.

And in the fallenness, frailty and fallibility of the human psyche, reliance on the subjective is dangerous; not only in a spiritual sense but throughout all realms of human endeavour. And the key aspect highlighted here in man’s fallenness, is the frailty and fragility of the human psyche. How does one maintain one’s integrity in one of those psychiatric wards of the Soviet Gulag or their equivalents around the world; where prisoners, injected with pharmaceuticals, are foisted into surreal and alternative subjective universes? Under the regime of dementia or Alzheimer’s, psychological distress and psychosis or spiritual warfare; all which put pressure on or produce detrimental effects on the subjective faculties; how does one keep acting in honourable and virtuous ways or even from the standpoint of spirituality, in believing?

In lieu of such fragility of the subjective, it would seem that our wills must fasten themselves to an objective external anchor; an objective truth which remains true regardless of whether one feels or apprehends it. For one who seeks God and His Christ, the only logical candidate is to appeal to His Word directly; bypassing the mediators of subjectivity to the greatest extent possible; especially those deemed most unreliable like instinctual “radar”. For just as national political constitutions were written to circumscribe the capricious rule of monarchs and governors and place “immovable” objective standards upon their conduct; Scriptures acts as an objective standard to circumscribe the caprice of subjectivity. In that Scriptures themselves must be subject to the subjectivity of interpretation in order to ascertain semantic meaning, total human escape from the subjective faculties is an elusive dream. Interpretation must scale over the human propensity to dishonest disingenuity to sidestep Scriptural assertions which challenge self-interest and self-image; the sinful attitudes and conscious/subconscious biases which skew and slant plain renderings of passages; competing non-Christian dogmas and idols that preclude the adoption of Scriptural doctrines; let alone innocent errors in understanding, made in good faith.

That one needs to believe the Gospel and receive the Counselor who guides us into all truth becomes evident when those without faith go astray in interpretation; giving worldly meaning to spiritual truths, taking literally that which was meant as allegory, allegorizing that which was meant to be taken literally, counting as inconsistency and contradiction that which was meant as paradox and generally failing to appreciate the subtle and complex brilliance of the mind of God, etc.

Returning to the general gist of this article, the world and inevitably Christianity; in its interplay with the larger society; an interplay which invariably infects the kosher purity of Christianity and threatens always to corrupt and destroy; has been long subject to the ravages to the soul that Subjectivism inflicts. The consequence of lawlessness of society and loss of political cohesion remains one facet of this silent killer. However, relevant to the subject at hand; it is the threat that a subjectivist conception of faith has to Christian salvation that concerns.  The spiritual neophyte, like a suckling child or newlywed bride, might have need for the constant cuddly comfort of the ‘presence of God’ and the Divine hug. The human need to feel vibrant and escape from the ennui of the mundaneness of life ever lurks in the subterranean regions of the soul. And certainly, a pendular return to the cold formalistic religion of the theologians against which the Pietists first overreacted; is not being recommended. However, the fullness of Christ; an untruncated Christianity; requires a faith that is both intellectually true and experientially real; that involves the legs of both mind and heart. The faith of the Subjectivist has foundations built on the fickleness of shifting sands. The subjective faculties represent a competing god and priest to God and His Christ. And in the trials of life, if a person does not finally rest their faith on right and solid foundations, they may very well lose their soul.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Faith: Neither Innate Nor Decision

Lucy Leiderman’s article on faith (Faith is innate – not a decision - National Post - Holy Post - March 11, 2011) proposes a very odd notion of its substance; although hardly one unknown in modern religious circles.  For, Lucy deems it to be some specialized faculty or gnosis; which the atheist are innately deprived

However, I would suggest that all people have faith; even the most obdurate of atheists.  The atheist’s atheism often finds its foundation on a faith; that of a materialist axiom.  Faith is absolute necessary in order to operate in the world.  One cannot possibly ruminate through all evidence and reason before the use of modern devices or even in applying the basis laws of physics.  Otherwise, mankind would be in perpetual state of studying; and not living.

If many atheists discount the existence of God, their reasons cite lack of evidence.  However, their definition of evidence often requires a selective class of proof; only the material.  Only that which can be sensed or measured can be deemed objectively real.  There are eliminative materialists that would even classify consciousness and subjective experience (qualia), history and the conceptual as mere delusions.  However, materialism is an axiom of philosophy.  And an axiom is but a secular equivalent of an Article of Faith.  This axiom, this presupposition is supposedly self-evident truth.  One in which one should be able to disabuse.  (Do our ancestors not exist because we have no material record of them?  Or that material evidence cannot be crosschecked against their identity?)  Thus, atheism’s foundation is oft built on faith.  The only difference between the secular and the religious is the object of their faith.  

Lucy’s definition of faith can be blamed on the spirit of Kirkegaardianism; the 19th Century religious philosopher, whose meandering of thought posited that a fact or assertion is true only if an individual can subjectively appropriate it; through the senses, reason, feelings or some ‘special faculty or gnosis’.  This definition of truth invariably leads to relativism and ultimately and logically philosophical nihilism (‘there is no genuine truth’).  In religious circles; especially among the more charismatic; it lends itself to well-documented pastoral problems; as when this specialized instinct disappears in the ‘dark night of the soul’ or when faith’s journey is cold and senseless.

So what is faith?  In this, I see no difference between religious and common conceptions of it.  Is it not to believe an assertion, promise, injunction and/or advice to the extent that one conducts one’s life on the basis of its truth, virtue and benefit?  One drives a car ultimately on faith.  One turns the steering wheel clockwise and counterclockwise, in the (almost unconscious) belief that the design and workmanship will ensure the vehicle will turn right and left.  And one cannot honestly believe in Christ, for example, if one does not live in accordance with His statements, promises, the virtue of His commands and principles; anymore than a Communist state can be declared faithful to its namesake if wide scale private enterprise is practiced.  In this way, faith in a person or principle is not a one-time decision; but rather a pattern of decision making on the basis of that person or principle.   

Lucy’s definition (“I simply believe in faith”) corresponds to an existentialist form of faith.  As opposed to a classic existentialist premise that one makes their own reality or purpose, existentialist faith is one that makes things occur through believing they will.  The Prosperity Gospel comes to mind.  Those who fail to receive are condemned for not having believed hard enough. 

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Eco-terrorism fantasy film: No Pressure

I came across through a National Post column piece, the following 'humourous' video put on by some insignificant Green organization 10:10UK

Eco-terrorism fantasy film: No Pressure

Apparently, the management of this outfit did not initially find the video to be deleterious to their cause. However, they quickly reversed themselves and provided the following apology...

From their website...

Statement from 10:10 UK director
4 Oct 10

As you may have heard, last week, 10:10 made a mistake by releasing a short film about cutting carbon which was supposed to be humorous but in the event upset a lot of people. We quickly realized that we had made a serious mistake and took it down from our website within hours.

We also issued a statement apologizing but there has subsequently been quite a lot of negative comment, particularly on blogs, and understandable concern from others working hard to build support for action on climate change.

We are also sorry to our corporate sponsors, delivery partners and board members, who have been implicated in this situation despite having no involvement in the film’s production or release

I am very sorry for our mistake and want to reassure you that we will do everything in our power to ensure it does not happen again.

10:10 is a young and creative team but we will learn lessons from this. We are going to investigate what happened, review our processes and procedures, and share the results with our partners. Responsibility for this process is being taken by the 10:10 board of directors.

This media coverage for this film was not the kind of publicity we wanted for the cause of saving the climate, nor for 10:10, and we certainly didn’t mean to do anything to distract from all the efforts of those in other organizations who are working so hard to secure effective action on climate change.

If you have been in touch with us personally about the film, we will be replying to individual emails over the next few days. I’m sorry not to have emailed you about this more quickly - although I have followed developments closely, I’ve been working from home with a four-week-old baby. I thank you for your patience and your support for the 10:10 campaign.

Eugenie Harvey
Director 10:10 UK

I couldn't resist sending a note to them.
October 6th, 2010

Dear Mr. Eugenie Harvey (Director 10:10 UK):

I must thank your organization for my bemusement of the day. You have certainly done for environmentalism what Terry Jones contributed to Islamophobia. For your wet dream of a video "Eco-terrorism fantasy film No Pressure" has outdone itself; exceeding the depiction of every caricature that your movement's adversaries have ever invented about its adherents.

I am not a environmentalist skeptic; having given concern to ecology well before it became a publicly acceptable and prima donna cause. However, my experience with its missionaries and their infidelity to truthfulness, proneness to the use of the emotional manipulation of catastrophic and their ayatollan zeal, has resulted in the conclusion that environmentalists are too dangerous for the environment. For, if indeed, mankind does sleepwalk into ecological disaster, a large part of the blame must be laid at those Green advocates who cried wolf too often or engaged too fervently in the Platonic/Straussian noble lie; thereby discrediting their cause and their concern.

I am not particularly horrified by the video. So you need not respond to this email. You folks have surely put your organization on the map of the information world. For, I do hope that this video goes viral. For, in this era where prudence has buried itself in the bowels of the earth, I stand in awe of the wondrous lack of political astuteness that the release of this film represents. Indeed, I would nominate it for the "How to Win Friends and Influence People" award for 2010.

Sincerely yours,

John Hutchinson


You might wish to outsource your vetting process.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Concerning the Dearth of Rhetoric in Canadian Political Discourse

I do not mind the metaphor in political discourse. It certainly outshines the embarrassing spectacle of pompous politicians swelling their chests in testeronic displays of moral outrage. But alas, in this country, there is such dearth of wit; that we should even qualify Mr. Ignatieff's 'sulfuric' reference as beyond schoolyard literacy.

Oh, how I yearn for the rhetoric of the likes of Churchill who could mutate a commonly known aphorism to reduce his political opponent to 'a sheep in sheep's clothing.' Even the neighbours to the south have their operators of pith. Regardless of one's perspective on the illegal immigration issue in Arizona, one has to adore the conscription of Dora the Explorer for the liberal cause.

I do not know why Canadian politicians are so devoid of repartee. Do our universities and law schools abort keenness of mind upon its first exhibition in the intellectual womb? Is the apt use of the witticism so dangerous in this age of political timidity? Are our citizenry so opaque, that those who would dare to violate the image of gravity and dullness suffer severe ostracism?

A man without wit is a man without wits. And we ought not to elect politicians without wits. For, how can the witless protect our interests from the wits of our adversaries? Therefore, let us give a cheer for the judicious use of wit.

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Conservative Case Against Bill 94

A whiff of the Japanese internment camps exhumes from Quebec’s Bill 94, an act declaring that a woman may not buy, sell or earn from the government, if she wears a particular piece of overalls. This is not to say in this admittedly, inflammatory allusion that we should be expecting the opening of a Gitmo on Ellesmere Island any time soon. However, as concern over a Fifth column animated the overreaction against Japanese citizens, I suggest that a similar angst is kindling an evident overkill of response over a symbol; alien and disconcerting yes; even impractical; nevertheless only a symbol.

I seek to lay out a conservative argument against proceeding with any similar bill in English Canada and demonstrate that such legislation would violate conservative principle. The argument may be pedestrian, perhaps didactic. But, I am trying to build a careful and solid case. I will even venture into subjects considered taboo. But straitjacket of thought prevents the uncovering of roots of problems and full consideration of the panoply of options.

One needs not only to judge the merits of a law, but the spirit that moves behind it. To consider, an event like Bill 94 on it own merits without reference of events prior or the temper of the times, is pedantic.

It appears evident, in the incident that instigated Bill 94; that the state-sponsored language school, the Saint-Laurent CEGEP attempted to more than reasonably accommodate the young Muslim lady, Ms. Naema Ahmed who was cloaked in a niqab. Indeed, it would appear that the lady in question was being obnoxious in insisting that the world be reordered to satisfy her picayune requests. Religious freedom certainly ends at the point where others are coerced to alter behaviour from that which is not otherwise offensive.

But in Bill 94, we have a cluster bomb dropped to put out a nit. Estimates of those wearing the niqab rarely exceed a few dozen. Some suggest that without the legislation, that number will rise. It is just as possible that in the perverse psychology of human nature, the act of banning will provoke greater use. How many of us who thrilled in the illegality of use of alcohol while underage, found upon reaching that age of ‘maturity’, the thrill dissipated? Bill 94 is in spirit, if not in fact, a bill of attainder; an act designated to punish an identifiable individual or group. However, in this case, the person(s) are identified not by name but by a form of behaviour that is unique to them. Although claiming to be against the use of all ‘masks’, the spirit of the bill is geared specifically to Muslims, because according to its framer, it alone represents a symbol of female oppression.

The arguments that justify this ban are lame pretexts and sophistries that cannot hold up against scrutiny. It is clamoured that such Muslim body bags signify a subjugation and victimization of women to their husbands for which the community must free them. But do people, like Ms. Naema Ahmed, not strike you as more assertive zealot rather than submissive victim? At the same time, the niqab is viewed as a “sign of anti-western hostility”. This very well may be. But one cannot argue, with a straight face, victimhood and aggressive Islamofascism in the same breath. It is psychologically incongruent. It suggests women who cower to their husbands while seeking to domineer the greater society.

It is claimed that the niqab “makes people feel uneasy”. But how unlike is this rationale from that which was presented before the Human Rights Commissions? Would the conservative elements, spearheading the opposition to the affront to free speech, care to delineate how provoking uneasiness is inapplicable in one situation, but valid in another?

A Macleans’ columnist protests that such coveralls are a form of degradation and an act of self-segregation. Circumcision too is found degrading and an act that sets an individual and group apart. Decades ago, when the earring was predominantly a fashion statement of the gay, it made people uneasy and signified acts of degradation. One cannot deny that the body piercings of punk rockers or the gloomy attire of Goths make people uneasy, are construed as degrading and are acts of independence, defiance and proclamations of distinctiveness.

Either, the community continues in the evil of selective application of law and principle; or personal conduct shall be defined by those with the narrowest scope of norm.

There is a social price of estrangement to be paid, for deviating from the norms of one’s community. The man, who refuses to join his buddies at a strip bar for reasons of religious scruples or to honour his wide, will certainly find estrangement. (He may even find his livelihood at risk for not being a ‘joiner’.) I am sure the niqab fashionistas are willing to bear this alienation from society. But to suggest that state services, for which these women also pay their dues in taxes, should be denied because they, their clothing and jewelry or conduct fall outside the narrowing scope of a movable dominant culture is tyrannical. Forced integration is just as evil and oppressive as forced segregation.

It is argued that the wearing of the niqab cannot be found in Islam’s holy books. But neither can the ban on card playing or the use of electricity referenced in the Bible. In state sanctions against sexual assault, not every particular manner of assault, that the imagination of mankind can conjure needs to be codified aforehand in order to indict a perpetrator. In similar vein, we must afford the right of the religious, the latitude to interpret the extensions of the precepts found in their holy books.

In the case of Islam, a good case could be made that the wearing of the niqab proceeds from verses enjoining both males and females to “lower their gaze and guard their modesty”. Anyone visiting a mosque in an Arab land has experienced the request to cover their forearms and other exposed flesh before entering. One may claim hypocrisy on the part of Arab men on this regard. But it cannot be argued that the ethic and ethos is not contained in their holy books or historic tradition.

I am not naïve enough to believe that inequality between the sexes may not contribute to the donning of niqabs and burkas. What of it? Do the precepts of our heritage not include the right to be different; even to be wrong; so long as no demonstrable and significant material harm is done to themselves or others? Besides, is it possible to enforce gender equality? Can one “free women of this burden” if the women in question have hearts and minds that return to that burden, the moment that external interference is eased.

That mentality that enforces scrupulous gender equality at the point of a legislative gun, differs little from the spirit behind the Inquisition and the auto de fé. If Muslim woman are battered, given unequal shares in divorce settlements or are victims of any injustice of substance, then yes, let wrong be righted. But to attack a frock as a presumed symbol that offends our sensitivities is the preoccupation of the small minds of a small people.

The Pluralist Spirit

But let us get beyond the pedantic particulars of this legislation. What truly is the spirit enervating such legislation?

This nation has been severely divided on the issue of multiculturalism from its inception. There has been a significant amount of ignorance and/or disingenuity over the consequences of multiculturalism. A culture cannot be circumscribed to mere costume, dance and food. It involves a body of thought, ethics and ethos that profoundly enervates those people. That subculture may engraft itself into the ideas, both general and political,
of the culture of the host nation,. The reverse is just as true. And it is pollyannish to believe that the best part of all cultures will prevail. Recall the skit of a verbal exchange between the actress Sarah Bernhardt and George Bernard Shaw. Sarah suggested “Mr Shaw, you and I should make love, for with my looks and your brains we would have wonderful children” to which Shaw retorted “Aha! But what if the child were born with my looks and your brain?”

The vision the pluralists imagine, has existed on earth before. Prior to the Edict of Milan in 313 A.D. when an theological viewpoint began to become a hegemony, the Roman Empire operated under pluralism. The Roman state was quite willing to give each local culture, autonomy to govern itself while it slowly soaked the wealth into its coffers. To some extent, long subjugation under Roman rule homogenized the people. However, local customs were allowed to be maintained under local councils. Roman governors and itinerant magistrates were often called upon to settle judicial matters in accordance to the principles and customs of the locals. This loaded these officials with the need to acquaint themselves with multiple cultural understandings.

Like our current environment, there was a prevailing philosophic skepticism about what is true and good. All pagan religions were considered equally valid. By that, it was perceived that community spirit could be retained across the various nationals and subcultures. Thus, scope of governance was minimalist. Mostly, only that which directly threatened the physical and economic security and welfare of the state was legislated against. However, it was found that a unifying principle was required to promote allegiance of all individuals and subcultures to one another and to the political state. That came in the form of Emperor worship. The challenge then, to this pluralism emanated from Judeo-Christian quarters. A fundamental tenet of the Jewish and Christian ethos rejected idolatry, the worship of any other god than Jehovah; or even acknowledgment of any other god’s validity. Furthermore, the belief in absolutes socially alienated the adherents of these religions from their peers; implying a superiority of ideology and practice and a denigration of their peers. Thus, the intractable conflict. Because Roman prejudices esteemed those religious practices with a pedigree of age, the Jewish religion was given a special dispensation from Emperor worship. Christianity was not so lucky.

Does not this sound familiar? Is not Canadian policy toward its indigenous populations veering towards the granting of considerable local autonomy? Is not a pluralist definition of tolerance being inveighed upon our society? Whereas, Western tolerance had, in past, acknowledged truth but permitted the right of others to be wrong; the philosophic outlook of the pluralist subscribes to the view that all is equally true and all equally valid; it tolerates all but those who fail to subscribe to that view. And consistent with their core philosophical principles, is not this pluralist ideal undergirding the promotion of
local religious councils including sharia law courts.

This mindset is the predominant worldview that emanates from the large international cosmopolitan centers of almost every nation in the world. It is not American. Indeed, it is as much anti-American as it is with every local culture of almost every nation. It can be found in almost every bureaucracy of every continent’s nations and even in its leaders. It is not a conspiracy; merely an ideological consensus.

I take several issues with pluralism; a primary one being the underlying philosophic basis of philosophic doubt and cultural relativism and the inconsequence of truth and reality. For the law of gravity applies equally, whether under Chinese, Indian, Nigerian, Peruvian or North American skies. So does bondage and the unraveling of individuals and nations that amass too much debt. This may gall the relativists and the Politically Correct, but there reasons why civilizations rise and fall in relation to their neighbours. And those reasons are largely determinable.

If a consistent ideology and ethical code doesn’t direct public affairs, force will. It may make take on the guise of public opinion; even world public opinion (though money and connections may be more accurate instruments). But anyone who has the fortitude to stomach the proceedings at the U.N. can attest, collective opinion is no protection against error or evil. Let the whole world believe that house prices should be $10,000,000 in today’s terms and mandate this by law. But if only the rarest of buyers could purchase a house at such price, there will either be a collapse of the market or collapse in the market. This is not capitalism; merely the law of objective reality. Let different cultures believe what they will. If it doesn’t measure up against human and natural realities, reality will bite.

As has happened in ancient past and is now occurring, pluralism slowly results in ghettoization, societal defragmentation and disintegration. There are no core axioms to a pull society together. (I suppose, as many have, one could counter-argue that assertion with human rights. However, human rights are more of a wish list than a moral code founded on rational truth. And it ought soon become evident that the regimen and codification of human rights radically attacks pluralism.) In pluralistic societies with various and radically different cultures, there are few shared empathies that bring one community to the assistance of another. Nations of varied cultures tend to lack cohesive national wills (whether for good or evil). European ineptitude and weakness demonstrates this reality in its dealings with 1990s Serbia. The European body politic with greater population and GDP than the U.S., does not have the uniting reverence in its founding ideas that much of the U.S. still has. Such political entities have tended towards relying on strong leader models for unity.

Finally, belief in pluralism with its underlying relativism, has the consequence of a lack of any strong of belief. By this, pluralists may wish to prevent any group to disturb the social peace. However, it tends to give opportunity for those of with strong conviction to conquer and oppress because all other individuals/groups have insufficient conviction to be willing to die, fight or counter a would-be tyrant.

In this, the worldview of Islam thus significantly challenges the assumptions of multiculturalism and pluralism.

The Nativist Spirit

Against this vision, do conservatives and nationalists of all nations tend to rail and push back. The spirit behind those who wish to clamp down on the niqab are those who are resisting this pluralistic internationalism. They want to keep what they perceive to be their perceived distinct, homogeneous national culture.

If one reads American political history since WW2, one hears of President after President complaining about Foggy Bottom and the Foreign Service; even circumventing these bureaucracies. The opposition to this mentality was expressed in the 2004 election where Bush’s campaign jumped all over Kerry’s desire to gather a consensus of support from its allies; claiming that the latter wished to have its foreign policy defined in Paris. It is diametrically opposed to American Exceptionalism. It is more Democratic, as Republicans have a tendency to worship their American form of Christian God and revere the Constitution, heritage and civic religion.

One sees evidence of its nature in the failures of certain counties of the EU to ratify the constitution. If one surveys the electoral results, the more rural a voter was, the dramatically more opposed he was inclined to be. When I travelled through the capitals of Europe many decades ago, I sensed an increasing sameness in shape and attitude from cosmopolitan city to cosmopolitan city. It is in the country that the people retain some semblance of national culture.

The angst about the change; the ‘pollution’; of one’s native culture, particular political culture, by immigrants has been given short shrift by the left-leaning; dismissed and denounced as mere narrow bigotry.

Though aware of the pejorative by which the term has been utilized, when I speak of “nativist”, I deem it just as valid a social and political outlook as that of the pluralist. It speaks to a social unity that can only be acquired and retained by a shared and consistent set of general ideologies, values and laws. It speaks to a belief that certain values and policies are superior with better outcomes than others; else the society would not have chosen them. At their best, the nativist has no problem visiting the lands of other nationals; perhaps even admiring and adopting that which seem superior to his own. But such a one finds it grating to be under rules, so alien and external to the workings of one’s own heart which immigrants are deemed to pursue.

There exist many potential benefits to social regimen of nativism. Those, who live within it, almost innately know what to expect of oneself and of each other. It is easier to navigate through life. The most metrosexual and pluralist-minded of my son’s friends found himself asked to leave a Filipino wedding after committing an ultimate social faux pas, that of publicly kissing his girlfriend before an old flame of hers. Who knew?

Being less expensive to navigate, a homogeneous national culture is more competitive. I hate making economic arguments. Those who do tend to be enervated by economic arguments tend to see life in this one-dimension and as one wag put it, “know the price of everything, the value of none.” Nevertheless, the argument does have value.

Where the pluralist sees extreme freedom, the nativist sees moral and rational chaos. Where the nativist sees psychic security, the pluralist sees stifling boredom.

There are several problems with those who wish to reassert (a perhaps somewhat modified) traditions of yore, upon this day. Even if all the immigrants and their descendents of the last fifty years vanished, could one declare that there exist the ruminants of a social consensus? Between capitalists, social conservatives, republican conservatives, classic (British) statist conservatives, neocons, social libertarians, economic libertarians, socialists, classic liberals, statist liberals, environmentalists and who knows how many permutations of they exist, all the fringe movements and alas Quebec nationalists; where is the consensus?

Secondly, there is a tendency for homogeneity to become hegemony.

The Anglo-American traditions, (being transmitted to us rather than fought for and thus were/are not very zealously guarded); of minimalist and limited government to extend the scope of individual liberty to the fullest practical possible; of checks and balances in government to minimalize the odds of tyranny; are those customs that are being clamoured for by the conservatives. The violation of almost every one of the principles of this political ethos underlie the conservative rancour against the Human Rights Commissions and the statist-saturated tenured personnel and rabid mobs that dominate the university scene.

Anglo common law acknowledges the necessity of state action and realms in which the state predominately operate. However, different institutions were deemed essentially beyond the concern of the state except in extreme violations of abuse of power by those community institutions. The Reformation doctrine of Liberty of Conscience was extended and secularized to grant liberty of speech, of religion (and non-religion) and other civil liberties. The coercive governance of the minutiae of human conduct and thought, the domain of moral and intellectual imperialists, has been generally abhorred.

The Challenge of Islam

Into this fray, enters the challenge of Islamic belief which is profoundly incompatible with pluralism (multiculturalism). Islamic belief, Islam commands the establishment of a theocratic state; with unchanging precepts not subject to the whims of popular sovereignty; to be attained by perpetual jihad (violence if necessary but not necessarily violence). Once in control, the fate of pagans and agnostics/atheists are limited between conversion and death. The fate of Jews and Christians depend on which part of the Qur’an suits the temper of the times. Unlike the Japanese, the founding constitutional documents of a Muslim enjoin him to be a Fifth Column. The more orthodox, the more inclined one is to be contemptuous of liberty and other aspects of the Western heritage as they press on their jihad to convert the West to Islam by degrees. It is not necessarily through the terrorist bomb. They may merely contrive politically to slowly forge a new commonwealth as their numbers grow.

These are not virulent assertions. A rendering of their religion’s source code and the practice of the doctrines within by the immediate followers, who coerced the many new subjects of their new found acquisitions, attest to the veracity of these claims.

However, Muslims are no different than other people. They are not some large hegemony. The extent to which they subscribe in thought and action to all articles of the Qur’an varies between persons. I doubt that more than 10% of the actions committed by those who claim to be Christians are consistent with the Scriptures which they have never read. And not all socialists retain Marx’s orthodoxy of abolishing marriage and private family. Nevertheless, these foundational precepts in Islam will be a constant source of influence, watering their culture. So basic seem these tenets; that to deny them seems to deny Islam. Thus, a red flag must go up; vigilance mandated. However, until a reality exists that Moslem numbers and zeal make imaginable a power grab, I suspect, that most adherents are sufficiently satisfied to merely extract as much local community autonomy as possible from their host countries in the name of pluralism; to be a state within a state.

It is evident that neither Europe, nor North America, bothered to investigate Islamic thought, history and culture and the logical outcomes of permitting their immigration and promoting multiculturalism. They allowed Muslims to check in without checking their ideological baggage. In retrospect, they could have required would-be Muslim immigrants, to denounce those aspects of Islam that truly are incompatible with Western values or threaten its survival; indeed, to ask foreigners to lose their souls in order to reach our shores. (It would, no doubt, have damaged this country’s reputation and does seem unenforceable.) However, our official policy of multiculturalism never required such renunciation.

Therefore, after these Muslim immigrants have built their lives amongst us all these years on the understanding of multiculturalism’s principles; to capriciously change the rules is simply unjust. I am not suggesting that Canada is damned forever with the current policy. But if the nation does make changes, existing Muslim populations should be exempt from their application.

To enact an equivalent of Bill 94 in English Canada would be inconsistent with its historical Anglo-American political heritage. It may be comprehensible in Quebec. Though Catholicism no longer plays significant roles within the province, the Catholic conception of state and society continues on in its secular form; a perception of societal strength dependent on ideological unity; an arrangement prone toward oppression of minorities. If it hasn’t happened to any large degree in Quebec, it results from the countervailing influence of English Canada and the U.S.

However, English Canada has a cultural heritage of limited government; of a limited scope within which government can interfere. The long complaint of the Right has been that the Left has slowly betrayed that value as the state impresses itself upon every minutiae of human endeavour. To enforce a dress code, a symbol rather than substance, extends beyond the watershed between what is illegal and what is merely immoral or different. Punitive measures to reform non-substantial behaviour is a return to an uglier form of conservatism; one that replaces the statism and social engineering of the Left with one of the Right; one that codifies and regulates all minutiae of everyday life and ideological right-thinking. Furthermore, the incongruence by which conservatives attack attacks on their liberty while promoting attacks on the liberties of others betrays their principles and undermines their moral authority. The conservative ethos tends to lose the battle for the minds of a people, less to its intellectual and moral inferiority, than to the hypocrisy of its adherents.

One cannot see Bill 94 in isolation. If today, Muslim practices are forbidden in government offices, why not tomorrow on all property, including roads and sidewalks as is occurring in Belgium? Or to follow France in banning all religious symbols in state education systems. Or barring all public servants from wearing religious symbols as being pushed by one hundred Quebec intellectuals in a recently signed petition and echoed by an PQ push for a "charter of secularism." Or in barring the building of new minarets in Switzerland because of “architectural values”. (Are there no McDonalds Restaurants in Switzerland?) If Muslim today, why not Jew and Christian tomorrow; those of conservative values the day after?

Watching Europe these last few years over their Muslim problem, one denotes the beginnings of a long persecution in the style of the Late Roman Empire, after the Edict of Nantes until 429 A.D. I suspect that when Constantine began to curtail Jewish privileges, he never imagined a long but quickening process of the denigration of the Jewish personhood, existence and livelihood that lived well into the Modern Era.

I am not opposed to specific restrictions and regulations in the use of the niqab that respond to objective and practical ends. However, to make carte-blanche ban on a petty symbol with rationales that are emotive and subjective is bad and dangerous policy.

It betrays a virulence that has crossed over from the Atlantic onto our shores, with its first real manifestation, in the land of Duplessis. At worst, let it remain there.