Tag Archives: Canada

The next PC idea about how to “improve” society: morality pills!

A CBC radio program called The Current, recently lent itself as a megaphone to the provocative idea that a pill is the next best thing to improve the “human animal.”— That’s the label Neil Levy, deputy director of psycho-babble at the Oxford Centre for Neuroethics, in the U.K. applies to you and me. He wants to formulate and administer a “morality pill” to targeted segments of the population.

To bolster his case, Levy cited research that shows drugs prescribed for anxiety, depression or even high blood pressure, “have been found to amplify characteristics such as empathy, self-control and increased trust; even an improvement in attitudes towards people of other races.” Neil Levy’s enthusiastic pill-pushing reminds me of the Jefferson Airplane hippie anthem “The White Rabbit” with its advocacy of the pharmaceutical lifestyle—or some of the stoner rants of Timothy O’Leary about LSD. I found Neil Levy’s advocacy of “morality pills” to be truly mind-blowing.

To the CBC’s credit they did balance Levy’s unbridled enthusiasm for mind-altering drugs with some sober second thoughts provided by Kerry Bowman of the The University of Toronto’s Joint Centre for Bioethics. Bowman commented:

“It’s a very difficult, difficult concept because if you look at what occurs when a person has moral intuition … what they do with the moral intuition and the moral feelings and the space between that and moral action — meaning the decision that is made — that’s a very deep and powerful human experience.”

Bowman thinks there could be some serious push-back if the elite tries to increase its social control over the Canadian public by pushing such “morality pills.” One of the big reasons there might be some push back is that Levy’s idea denies the spiritual and even material importance of free will to humanity. When God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness” (Genesis 1:26), one of the most important features of His divine nature that He gave us was our ability to choose between obedience and disobedience, right and wrong.

When the Apostle Paul thought to accept a runaway slave named Onesimus into his service, he first wrote a letter to Philemon, Onesimus’ master. Paul wanted Philemon to give Onesimus his freedom to further the preaching of the Gospel. Paul said to Philemon:

“But I didn’t want to do anything without your consent, so that your good deed might not be out of obligation, but of your own free will,” (Philemon 1:14 Holman Christian Standard Bible).

To be virtuously moral of necessity requires, first of all, that one is capable of choice—and then through the exercise of free will one chooses to do the right rather than the wrong. There is nothing noble or Godly about someone being drugged into conformity with someone else’s idea of what is politically correct.

Helpless at Fort Mac

ft mac truck burntThe CBC newscasters say that Fort McMurray, Alberta, looks like a war zone, a place that’s been burnt out and destroyed. Three days ago more than 80,000 people, the city’s entire population–were ordered out by the authorities. A RCMP “SWAT” team has been sent in to make sure the diehard laggards comply. The 25,000 residents who had to initially flee north of Fort Mac are now being herded south in tightly controlled convoys run by the police—no turning off the main evacuation route allowed.ft mac car lines

There is irony in this disaster story. While Canada just finished accepting 25,000 Syrian civil war refugees, we now have better than 3x this number of our own internal refugees.

While it is only a minority of houses and structures in Fort Mac that have burned, key parts of the infrastructure like hydro-electricity powerlines have been destroyed. The true cost of this fierce wildfire at Fort Mac will not be known for some time. Insurance companies are ft mac apartmentsbracing for a potential hit of $9 billion in claims—making this fire the most expensive disaster in Canadian history. Economists are saying they’ve revised down by 1 percent the entire Canadian economy’s GDP to just 0.5 percent for this second quarter due to oil production facility shutdowns, lowering production about 1 million barrels of oil per day. These are huge losses. This is a major hit to the nation.

Why did this happen? Lack of moisture always turns the spindly conifers surrounding Fort Mac into overgrown matchsticks waiting to be struck. And when a fire breaks out and the winds roar ft mac treesthe results always have the potential to be disastrous. Why didn’t the Fort Mac planning department insist on creating a 2 kilometre-wide belt of prairie grasslands around the city to protect it by having an effective firebreak?

The writer of the biblical book of Proverbs notes: “Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keeps the law, happy is he (Proverbs 29:18 King James Version).

The “law” in this case can certainly include natural law. Some environments, like the conifer forests surrounding Fort Mac, are meant to burn from time to time. A lack of forethought and action got one of Canada’s most important economic hubs into its current problem.

But there’s more to say about why our leaders lack vision. Let’s look at how another Bible version renders Proverbs 29:18:

Where there is no ·word from God [L vision; prophecy], ·people are uncontrolled [T the people perish],
 but those who ·obey what they have been taught [L guard the law] are ·happy [blessed].

During the last few day of March this year my video production company had a contract to cover a conference put on by an Aboriginal group in the northern B.C. city of Prince George. We noticed how bone dry the north was. even though it was so early in Spring that many lakes were still partially frozen. (BTW: There are currently about 50 fires burning in N.E. British Columbia. My province, unfortunately, doesn’t have any firefighters to spare to help out our neighbours in Alberta, so they say.)

The keynote speaker at this conference made a remark about how public schools in Canada used to strengthen the moral character of their students by starting the day with a reading from one of the Psalms of the Bible to give the young people both vision and humility. On the other hand, the speaker remarked, the teachers also had a leather strap to discipline students who stepped beyond the boundaries of acceptable behaviour. Sadly, the speaker noted, since our Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms came into effect in 1982 Canadian young people have been deprived by our politically correct politicians of both this vision and discipline.

ft mac trudeauEveryone is agreed that the fierce wildfires of Fort McMurray will only be contained and then extinguished with rain. Who is it that causes drought or provides rain? You can find this answer in the Bible. Check out in the Old Covenant scriptures 1 Kings chapters 17 & 18. We don’t have to be helpless in the face of wildfires. Instead of egotistically turning our backs on the Bible’s God, maybe we should return to Him in humble prayer and ask for both forgiveness for our increasing sinfulness and, rain! Yet somehow, I don’t think our leaders in Canada could publicly humble themselves before the Bible’s God and actually do this. So I guessft mac fire at night we’re going continue to burn for a while.

Flashing Signs of Danger!

warning signs generalAnyone traveling on the roads needs to be constantly alert to signs of danger. For the last few months the morning commute to work in Victoria, B.C. has been an increasing hassle due to the on-going construction on one of the main traffic arteries leading into the downtown core. A bicyclist who usually took this route to commute to work downtown observed on one particular morning a few weeks ago that all traffic was being squeezed into just one lane by a small group of flaggers who had placed numerous warning signs, barriers, and orange plastic cones to block off the inside fast lane. But, while most people feel obliged to take notice of the warning signs and make the appropriate inconvenient travel correction, a commuting cyclist, a 30s-something woman, decided to ignore the warning signs.

She deftly zig-zagged through the cones and barriers on her bike and proceeded down the warning allegatorvacated inside traffic lane that had been closed off. Not seeing any overt evidence of construction machines at work, the biker picked up speed, zooming past the bumper-to-bumper line of cars slowly inching along. The safety flaggers’ franticly waved their arms and shouted to the cyclist to get back in line. “Stupid control freaks,” she may have smugly thought. As the cyclist pedalled along, perhaps she was planning to crow a bit in the office today about how her commuting style was not only “greener-than-thou” but also faster—until, suddenly, like a speeding pool ball dropping into a pocket, both woman and bike disappeared in the blink of an eye into the yawning maw of a steep, deep, rectangular hole whose opening, however, was only about the size of a house’s front door. In this case ignoring all the warning signs meant instantaneous death.

warning challengesRight now there are serious warning signs flashing on the world scene.

  1. America’s President and his Secretary of State have agreed to a “framework” protocol that will allow Shi’ite Muslim Iran, the world’s foremost state sponsor of terrorism, to retain its nuclear infrastructure allowing it to develop nuclear weapons—at a more convenient point down the road. Right now, Iran wants economic sanctions relief so it can more effectively support its allies in Syria and Iraq in their civil wars. In an unmistakable sign of his displeasure with the American President over this decision, Saudi Arabia’s new leader, King Salman, refused to personally attend the recent six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) hosted by Obama at Camp David. This was a very public snub.
  2. In another big snub to America’s superpower status, Washington’s closest European allies, despite American pressure and unprecedented public complaints by Washington, have rushed to sign up as founding members in China’s Asian Infrastructure Investment Development Bank (AIIB). The implications of China’s rising power and America’s declining power are clear. According to former U.S. Treasury Secretary Larry Summer,

     “I can think of no event since Bretton Woods comparable to the combination of China’s effort to establish a major new institution and the failure of the US to persuade dozens of its traditional allies, starting with Britain, to stay out of it.” http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/economics/11519001/How-China-grew-desperate-to-conceal-its-power-from-the-world.html

  3. The IMF’s just released World Economic Outlook describes a prostrate planet drowning in debt. There has been a persistent reduction in the global growth rate since the Great Recession of 2008-09 with no relief in sight. This is unprecedented and very much a wild card in the game of high stakes poker, that is the global financial system.

    “Total public and private debt levels have reached a record 275 per cent of GDP in rich countries, and 175 per cent in emerging markets. Both are up 30 points since the Lehman crisis.” http://business.financialpost.com/news/economy/welcome-to-the-new-mediocre-of-global-growth#__federated=1

  4. The developed world’s poster child for a country drowning in debt is Greece. For months warning bad thinkingnow, Greece has continued to stagger along like a zombie, even after some fresh flesh of debt relief from the IMF or the European Central Bank. Even Mario Draghi, the ECB’s president, is warning of unexpected, unanticipated consequences if Greece finally defaults on its debt.
  5. Meanwhile, barbaric Islamic State terrorists continue to behead Christians. Yet the Western world still doesn’t take all that seriously the IS spokesmen’s repeated declarations of a worldwide religious war against Christians, Jews, non-conforming Muslim sects and anyone else who isn’t their clone. http://www.jpost.com/Christian-News/After-second-incident-of-ISIS-murdering-Christians-in-Libya-foreign-minister-appalled-398665.

    According to General Alexander, the former chief of the National Security Agency (NSA–Edward Snowden’s nemesis), the West is losing the worldwide fight against jihadist terrorism. He said that the U.S. and its allies had failed to check the advance of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant or its expanding network of franchises across the Middle East. The West is increasingly at risk of a strategic defeat in the region. “It is getting worse. Twenty-five countries are now unstable, just look at Yemen,” he said. http://business.financialpost.com/news/energy/hackers-could-cripple-the-west-with-a-hi-tech-blitz-on-energy-sector-infrastructure-u-s-general-says?__lsa=2d0c-cb5e#__federated=1 accessed 4/27/15

  1. As a direct consequence of the current widespread instability, there is a virtual flood of
    desperate people from Syria and throughout North and Sub-Sahara Africa, all desperately trying to get into Europe in search of a better life. In 2014 a total of 170,000 entered Italy alone. Recently, the number of unwanted immigrants has swelled to 11,000 in just one week.

    “We’re swamped,” Sandro Gozi, the Italian minister for European affairs, told French daily Le Monde. “There’s not even enough space in Sicily’s cemeteries to bury the dead.” Where are the Italians going to put them? Who wants them? There’s just not enough work. http://www.cnn.com/2015/04/20/africa/italy-migrant-boat-capsizes/index.html

  2. On the other end of Africa, in South Africa, one of the more prosperous African nations, there is an ongoing wave of what is called “xenophobic attacks” against the 10 percent of the population who are migrants from neighbouring African states, like Zimbabwe, and  Asia who seeking a better life for themselves. But poor South Africans see them as unwanted competition for the scarce jobs available in a country where the unemployment rate is 24 percent. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-32377743
  3. And finally, the Pew Research Center confirmed that over the past seven years, from 2007 to 2014, the number of Americans who identify themselves as Christian has dramatically fallen nearly 8 percentage points from 78% to just 71% of the population. Fifty-six million Americans don’t observe or practice any religion. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-32710444 accessed May 14, 2015.

What do all these signs mean? As a society, collectively we are like the eco-warrior bicyclist in Victoria, ignoring all the warning signs as we make good time pedalling rapidly toward our doom. There’s no doubt that these are serious, even dangerous times. So what should you and I do? Jesus said this to his disciples:

“Keep alert at all times. And pray that you might be strong enough to escape these coming warning run like hellhorrors and stand before the Son of Man.” Luke 21:36 (New Living Translation)

Pray to God? That’s the last thing this secular society wants to do. The Canadian Supreme Court recently decided to prohibit municipal officials from praying to the Bible’s God for help before starting on the public’s business.

Many people in the Western world have indeed turned their backs on the wisdom and knowledge that is offered to humanity by God. They have reinterpreted freedom of religion in the 21st Century to now mean freedom FROM religion. After all, they think that in a prosperous, secure society with good health care and abundant food and lots of entertainment, who needs to really seek the Bible’s God?

But, the warning signs are flashing out that there’s danger up ahead. Our future personal safety and security depends upon paying attention to those spiritual flaggers trying to get our attention and get back in line according to the Creator’s established House Rules for Humanity that are spelled out in the Scriptures. As a civilization we are ignoring the warnings to our peril.

A Duty to Kill upon Demand? An End to the Freedom of Conscience?

Back in early February 2015, the Canadian Supreme Court decriminalized physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia. The court insisted that to do otherwise would mean that citizens would have a duty to live. This current Supreme Court reversed its previous 1993 decision on this same subject, and instead launched a “right-to-die” revolution in Canada’s legal policy that involves: 1) abandoning the idea that every human life is always a good to be protected, 2) while substituting the concept suicide and euthanasia can be accepted as a social good and as a personal autonomy right, and 3) removing the law’s obligation to protect the weak and vulnerable.

http://news.nationalpost.com/2015/02/05/father-raymond-j-de-souza-our-euthanasia-point-of-no-return/

Immediately after this court ruling there was speculation that to enforce this new social policy the professional Canadian organizations regulating doctors and surgeons would hold that all health-care providers would henceforth have an obligatory “duty to care.” What a perverse euphemism! In plain-speak this means doctors would have a duty to kill upon demand (abortion, euthanasia, or professionally arrange for someone else to do it—called a referral).

The original Hippocratic oath, which was formerly taken by new doctors when they started suicide friendly caregivespracticing medicine during a more enlightened age, went something like this:

 “With regard to healing the sick, I will devise and order for them the best diet, according to my judgment and means; and I will take care that they suffer no hurt or damage.

Nor shall any man’s entreaty prevail upon me to administer poison to anyone; neither will I counsel any man to do so. Moreover, I will give no sort of medicine to any pregnant woman, with a view to destroy the child.

Further, I will comport myself and use my knowledge in a godly manner.”

Now, however, the Ontario and Saskatchewan colleges of doctor and surgeons are drafting policies to force physicians to kill on demand or to refer to be killed when so requested by a patient. Doctors who refuse to provide or refer abortion and euthanasia services are to be punished and perhaps barred from practicing medicine in those provinces.

http://www.cbc.ca/radio/thecurrent/the-current-for-march-25-2015-1.3008505/doctors-fight-for-their-right-to-refuse-care-over-religious-beliefs-1.3008524

What happened to an individual’s freedom of conscience? Well, I guess it only applies to those who want to kill themselves or their babies not to the doctors whom they want to force to do their dirty work. And some like to think that this is a “progressive” social policy?

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) states that “everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.

But, if you want to find out who REALLY has the authority to determine what is right or wrong in such issues, then please listen to my posted video blog on this subject by clicking on this link:

http://cogwebcast.com/sermons/video-archives/life-death-assisted-suicide-decides/

 

The Greatest Issue of our Time?

inequality2Is the world’s growing inequality  the new de facto slavery of our time?

Target, the American mega-chain retailer, failed in its expansion plans in Canada and recently announced that they are closing all of its 133 Canadian stores and laying off about 17,600 employees. But Target’s Canadian liquidation is not the news I want to write about, rather it’s something more shocking than a mere business flop.

It seems the fallen CEO of Target’s Canadian subsidiary will get a total severance and benefits exit package from the home office worth about the same as the total amount being offered to all 17,600 of the chain’s Canadians employees. Now that’s a golden parachute!

http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/target-s-package-for-ex-ceo-matches-package-for-all-17-600-canadian-workers-1.2927893?cmp=rss

But Target’s policy of massive compensation disparity between executive class and worker class isn’t just a Canadian phenomenon. Target’s former American CEO, Gregg Steinhafel, who stepped down after the massive credit card privacy breach of May 2014, received as his golden handshake a retirement plan valued at more than $47 million, or about 1,044 times what the average retiring Target employee usually receives.inequality4

This just illustrates with a few Developed World examples the global predicament that the British NGO Oxfam starkly described in a recently released paper detailing the world’s rapidly increasing state of inequality. The highlight of the Oxfam report was what could only be called a “statistical obscenity”: the world’s 80 wealthiest persons–many of whom are big shareholders in the finance, pharmaceutical, and health industries– now have more money and assets than the bottom half of the entire world’s population–some 3.5 billion people!

It should be obvious to all that this world’s economic system is not designed to benefit your average Joe and Jane. And it’s not just the working poor living in developing nations who are inequality1steadily losing their meager share of the world’s riches. It’s also happening to the middle and working classes in the developed world as well. The present global economic system is unfair and rigged  to benefit an extremely small elite of mega-oligarchs.

The problem is clear. Can the situation be remedied in a fair, equitable, and peaceful way? Or is the only solution a 21st Century repeat of the war cry of the violent French or Russian revolutions. “Off with their heads!”

Recently, I read various  proposals to increase taxes on the wealthy, such as income and inheritance taxes. There is talk about increasing the minimum wage to what’s called a “living” wage. Or, increasing subsidized educational opportunities such as was proposed by the U.S. president recently in his State of the Union address: two years free tuition at community colleges throughout the U.S.A.

But all of the above suggestions are just nibbling around the edges of the inequality issue. Even if all the above measures were passed by the politicians and enacted into law–which is doubtful considering the oversized effect concentrated wealth can have on donation-seeking politicos… inequality3when money talks you know who listens–the effect of such proposed “reforms” would only be temporary and mostly ineffective at resolving the growing inequality.

All such reform attempts would be mere “shows” put on by the politicians to try and convince the public that they are really trying to do something to address a system that at its core is rigged and unfair. And such “reforms” will eventually fail because the super rich know how to hide their wealth, how to influence the appropriate people, and how to manipulate the financial and economic systems in order to protect the status quo that benefits them.

Of course, the problem of the wealthy defrauding the poor by means of a corrupt world order is nothing new. The Bible specifically addresses the issue:

[But] look! [Here are] the wages that you have withheld by fraud from the laborers who have reaped your fields, crying out [for vengeance]; and the cries of the harvesters have come to the ears of the Lord of hosts,” James 5:4 Amplified Bible

An older commentary on this verse in the Bible observed that great inequality among men and women has most often been accomplished throughout history by some form of slavery.

“The very essence of slavery is, that the slave shall produce by his labor so much more than he receives for his own maintenance as to support the master and his family in indolence. The slave is to do the work which the master would otherwise be obliged to do; the advantage of the system is supposed to be that the master is not under a necessity of laboring at all. The amount which the slave receives is not presumed to be what is a fair equivalent for what he does,” Barnes Notes of the Bible for James 5:4.

Of course, not everyone who has become wealthy has practiced some form of slavery by not paying his workers fair wages. But if one does achieve financial success through some appropriate creativity and hard work or even just by chance, the Scriptures would still encourage such a person to be generous with others and to practice philanthropy. In other words, loving one’s neighbour as one’s own self. As the writer of Proverbs puts it:

Give freely and become more wealthy; be stingy and lose everything. The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed,” Proverbs 11:24-25 New Living Translation.

A lot more can and will be said about how to remedy this world’s growing inequity and injustice. But for the moment a simple exhortation to practice brotherly love is a good first step and it would only do good and certainly no evil. The people in the boardrooms should take this Judeo-Christian principle very, very seriously while there still is time to change their fate.

 

The West’s Legacy in Afghanistan: a Corrupt Narco State

The West’s Legacy in Afghanistan: a Corrupt Narco State As 2014 and the Afghanistan War ends, the longest overseas military intervention in U.S. history, winds down, we should reflect on what has been accomplished at what cost. Over $1 TRILLION has been spent fighting this war, including more than $100 BILLION spent on so-called Afghani “re-construction” projects— an amount, when adjusted for inflation, that is greater than all the money spent on the Marshall Plan that successfully re-built Western Europe’s economy following WWII—according to Joe Sopko, the U.S. government’s special inspector-general for Afghanistan. The cost in blood through 2014 to the Western military coalition has been 3,485 killed in action. So, after all this expenditure in blood and treasure what are the results? What kind of legacy will the U.S. and its western allies like Canada leave for the future? According to Matthieu Atkins, a Kabul-based Canadian journalist, the Western allies are leaving behind a corrupt, violent Narco state.*  Afghanistan now produces almost the entire world’s supply of opium, the raw material drug traffickers refine into the illegal, highly addictive heroin sold on our streets! In essence, an intervention that was designed to thwart the deadly impact of Islamic fundamentalism—which killed some 2,977 people in the USA during the 9/11 attacks of 2001—has left in its wake another tragedy. The U.S. and its allies have merely shifted the threat to another source. How so? Just consider that the annual body count from heroin overdoses in the USA alone is more than 4,000 people! Year in, year out more people are dying from the botched U.S. intervention in Afghanistan than died just once from the 9/11 al-Qaeda terrorists. How ironic! Instead of making the world a more peaceful, safe, and better place, our Western leaders have made it worse and even greatly compounded the problem by leaving Afghanistan as a corrupt Narco state, that is now complicit in the enslavement and destruction of the lives of millions through their drug trafficking. As the prophets wrote so long ago: For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind (Hosea 8:7 KJV). Childish leaders oppress my people,
and creditors or usurers, rule over them.
 O my people, your leaders mislead you;
 they send you down the wrong road. (Isaiah 3:12 NLT). Links: http://www.cbc.ca/thecurrent/episode/2014/12/22/narco-state-matthieu-aikins/ and http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/14be0e0c-8255-11e4-ace7-00144feabdc0.html *CBC Radio One interview and a feature story in Rolling Stone Magazine Links: http://www.cbc.ca/thecurrent/episode/2014/12/22/narco-state-matthieu-aikins/ and http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/14be0e0c-8255-11e4-ace7-00144feabdc0.html

Are prayers for personal help still answered in the 21st Century?

Does God still answer prayers in the 21st Century? Well, there’s one family in Victoria, British Columbia in Canada that thinks so. But obviously, a lot of people these days don’t think so.

In fact the majority of people in the Western world these days suspect that if God isn’t dead like so many lefty intellectuals stridently proclaim, then He must not be too interested in the average person’s day-to-day problems. We know that most of our human leaders don’t really care to listen to us or to help us out in our problems. But is it right to impugn God with having the same crappy, disinterested attitude of the human “gods” who run our nations?

Anywise, consider some quotes from this front page news story that was run in the April 18, 2014 Times-Colonist:

“After a Victoria mother’s wedding ring was stolen from her home Sunday night as she, her husband and two young children slept, she prayed for the hopeless soul responsible—and that police would find the ring.”

“I’m a Christian,” said Sarah Primus, 29. “We have prayed from the beginning for the man—he’s obviously in a very desperate state—and for [Jesus] to lead police to where my ring was.”

“Primus said her joy comes from within—and not from material things—so when she discovered that her house had been robbed she never got angry but instead prayed.”

In a few days police informed Primus of the good news that her wedding band had been sold at a pawn shop but that they had recovered it. She was elated. But then the police gave her the bad news that the ring’s diamond had been removed. Sarah Primus admitted that she was momentarily discouraged and sad.

“Then I said, ‘Jesus, you helped them find my ring and you can help them find my diamond diamondtoo,’” Primus later recounted laughing. “That’s [the potential reality of] divine intervention.”

Well, it turned out that a little bit of good, old-fashioned police work turned up a prime suspect who just happened to be living across the street. After obtaining a search warrant, the police visited the suspect, Peter McKay, and discovered the missing diamond on his person.

McKay was placed in custody and charged with breaking and entering, possession of stolen property, and possession of drugs for the purpose of trafficking. As it turned out for the drug dealer stealing a neighbour’s ring was a bad, bad mistake.

Does an omnipotent, eternal God, the Creator of the Universe, still make house calls on planet Earth to those who have faith? And will He help them with even small requests that seem insignificant in the cosmic scheme of things? The oligarchic, liberal elites who run the United States and much of the Western world would laugh at such an “old-fashioned, simplistic” idea.

But, it’s obvious Sarah Primus and her husband had their their faith reconfirmed in Jesus—the Bible’s God who plays a key role in serving humanity’s best interests in both New and Old Covenants. How about you? Do you believe that the Bible’s God would hear your prayers?

John 9:31 (ESV) We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does his will, God listens to him.

Psalm 145:19 (ESV) The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. 19 He fulfills the desire of those who fear him;
he also hears their cry and saves them. 20 The Lord preserves all who love him,
but all the wicked he will destroy.

The Rob Ford “Reality Show” Tumultuously Continues!

rob ford and councilI’ve got to admit it that Rob Ford knows how to stay at the top of the news. Even Americans living in the state of Mississippi—who would be hard pressed to name even the Prime Minister of Canada—can readily tell you who is the current mayor of Toronto.  And when it comes to the BBC’s world report, in their editorial judgment the political theatre swirling about Rob Ford is the ONLY news currently worth reporting from otherwise boring Canada. Ford seems to be in a class all by himself in the Great White North.

Christie Blatchford, a columnist for the National Post newspaper noted in her recent opinion piece (“Rob Ford’s downfall leaves sobering questions about Toronto police probe,” Nov, 14, 2013) that after five months of a high level, high intensity, heavy manpower investigation into the “Ford-mess,” the Toronto police still haven’t come up with enough evidence to lay charges against the controversial mayor.

Nevertheless, Ford has been “tried” in the court of public opinion as well as that of the Toronto city council and been found guilty of being “not worthy”—not worthy of defending, not worthy of being give the benefit of the doubt, and not worthy of a second chance.ford resign

It is fortunate for Rob Ford that the Toronto city council don’t have a guillotine set up out in city hall’s basement otherwise he’d certain lose his head—though, metaphorically speaking, he may have lost it already. Anywise, the honourable Toronto councilors are going to have to settle with stripping Rob Ford of as much of his power as legally possible and publicly humiliating him whenever the occasion so presents. Maybe they could bring back the stocks and pillory just for Rob Ford?

Some also argue that there needs to be a new law passed to allow the city council to depose any future mayor like Rob Ford. But others say why bother. They see the Rob Ford “Reality Show” as a single season flop, a unique “Ford-mess” unlikely to ever be seen again.

But the fact of the matter is, Mayor Rob Ford’s addiction problem—the drug use, the alcohol abuse—is far from uncommon either in Canada, or the rest of the world. Canada’s Temperance Foundation has been advertising in our local paper for the last week or so that at least 80 percent of the prisoners locked up in Canada’s federal “corrections” system are there because of substance abuse.

Marshall Smith, community relations manager for the Cedars of Cobble Hill Society, a non-profit addiction recovery group here on Vancouver Island, noted that about “4.9 million Canadians are in either short-term or long-term recovery from addictions” (Times-Colonists, “Ford’s battle is all too familiar,” Nov. 14, 2013.

The medical field views addiction as a medical problem like cancer. But that’s not the way most people viscerally react to someone who is discovered with an addiction. Most people when confronted by a person with an addiction, according to Marshall Smith, react with a combination of embarrassment, denial, and alienation.

Why? Well, people who are addicted DO things that hurt many other people including those closest to them as well as themselves. Lying, stealing, abusive language, driving while intoxicated, sexual immorality: all such behaviours are commonplace for those caught up in addiction’s vice-grip. Of course such bad behaviours are indeed unacceptable and unambiguously wrong. But they’re just symptoms of the deeper unseen problem, which is a sickness of the soul. It is this sickness of the soul that drives the addiction.

Your average secular treatment program focuses mostly on the physical, trying to mute the physical cravings of addicting drugs. Oh yes, they’ll also throw in some counseling and a strong dose of positive thinking in an effort to inoculate a raised sense of self-esteem and some self-discipline. There’s nothing wrong with that. But the best addiction treatments programs—mostly in longer-term therapeutic communities—understand that they must somehow address the spiritual component of the addiction sickness as well. Only then can the addicted find real peace and the strength to start a new life.  And the best way to start a new life is by including a strong focus on the spiritual needs in addition to the material needs. As the Scriptures state:

Those who live following their ·sinful selves think only about things that their sinful selves [their carnal human nature] want. But those who live following the Spirit are thinking about the things the Spirit wants them to do. If people’s ·thinking is controlled by the ·sinful self [human lusts], ·there is [the result is] death. But if their ·thinking is controlled by [or outlook/mind is set on] the Spirit, ·there is [the result is] life and peace. Roman 8:5-6 Expand Bible, edits mine.

ford humiliatedRob Ford is saying now that he is seeking medical help. But if he really wants to deal with the sickness of his soul, the sickness that is infecting the very core of his being, then he must seek spiritual help in order to discover the peace that passes all understanding. This peace can only come through the God of the Bible.

What disqualifies a person from leadership? And, can they be restored?

toronto signNow that they’ve taken their lumps—what is the best medicine that could be prescribed for Rob Ford, Mike Duffy, Pamela Wallin, and Patrick Brazeau?

What disqualifies a person from leadership? Can a fallen leader be restored?

It would seem this is the hot topic in Canada these days. The front pages of our two national newspapers, the National Post and the Globe & Mail, were completely taken up by a massive photo of Toronto’s mayor Rob Ford and stories about the mayor’s acknowledgement that he smoked crack cocaine while in a drunken stupor.

Of course, Rob Ford’s confession makes it obvious by his own acknowledgement that he told the public, his own family, and his closest political allies a pack of lies for a long time.

And then there is the case of the three Canadian Senators, Mike Duffy, Pamela Wallin, and Patrick duffy cartoonBrazeau, who were all suspended from the Canadian Senate for submitting falsified expense claims. As a direct consequence they have been tossed into seeming political oblivion. Their security passes, government credit cards, Blackberry phones were all immediately cut off and their personal office staff fired. The dishonesty of the three motivated the Senate to act swiftly in order to salvage something of that institution’s tattered reputation.

What disgrace! They are examples of leadership that failed the test. Sure, they disappointed many Canadians, although it must be said that there are many more people who cynically believe all politicians are corrupt, anywise, so what can you expect! Many today do take it for granted that our political wallin cartoonleaders are all crooks and liars. And, consequently, in a perverse sort of way we’re not too offended when we get what we expect. In fact I’ve heard that the popularity approval rating of Mayor Ford in the polls has risen since his dramatic confessions this week.

We all know that our leaders are subject to human frailties. But, really, is it beneficial to the wellbeing of our communities and our nation as a whole to set the bar of what we expect from our leaders so low? Do we really want our leaders “living down” to cynical expectations and so become self-fulfilling prophecies? I don’t think so.

In former times Canadians widely believed and would acknowledge that the Judeo-Christian scriptures set their expectations concerning their own personal behaviour as well as for those in leadership positions. That’s why the city of Toronto was formerly known as “Toronto the good” in years now long past. The bar of the public’s expectations concerning personal conduct was then set much higher.

rob ford foreheadIt is true that according to the teachings of the Bible, God DOES expect A LOT from both the leaders AND the led—from all those who pay Him lip service. Didn’t Rob Ford invoke God’s blessing on the people he’s supposed to be serving during one of his tumultuous press conferences this week?

Nevertheless, despite the blatant hypocrisy common to our secular 21st Century, many still expect senators playing cardsour leaders to carry out their service both faithfully and with dignity. Having the leader of Canada’s largest city confess before millions that he smoked crack while in a drunken stupor, while in the company of a bunch of druggies, is just plain embarrassing. We want our leaders whether in politics, sports, or business to at least put on a public veneer of a good example for our children even if we mostly do think they are all corrupt.

So, what’s the bottom line for our leaders with proven feet of clay? After falling so low, could and should Rob Ford, Mike Duffy, Pamela Wallin, and Patrick Brazeau still be forgiven and restored to positions of leadership? Could they once again regain our full confidence? It all depends.

King David of ancient Israel, who was himself no stranger to some stupendous moral lapses during the course of his leadership, came to understand this issue thoroughly. He learned what good leadership requires. His dying words are still relevant. David put his epitaph this way:

The Lord’s Spirit spoke through me,
and his word was on my tongue. The God of Israel spoke;
the Rock of Israel said to me: “Whoever rules ·fairly [justly; righteously] over people,
who rules ·with respect for God, is like the morning light at ·dawn,
like a morning without clouds.
He is like sunshine after a rain
that makes the grass ·of the earth sparkle and gleam”….

But all ·evil [worthless; godless] people [both leaders and the led] will be thrown away like thorns that cannot be held in a hand. No one can touch them
 except with a tool of iron or wood.  They will be ·thrown in [consumed by] the fire and burned where they lie (2 Samuel 23:2-4, 6-7 Expanded Version).

Such consequences are indeed far worse than mere public embarrassment and humiliation. Remember, vengeance ONLY belongs to God—something the Toronto city council and the Conservative Party of Canada would do well to remember.

So can such fallen leaders be restored? While public apologies are a good start, more is needed. A real leader like King Dave, for example, is one who learns from his or her mistakes, genuinely repents from the heart of what is morally and ethically wrong and then initiates thorough change in their personal behaviour—and so turns from black to white, death to life, political oblivion to productive leadership, spiritually speaking.  That’s how King David responded to one of the most famous moral lapses of all time when he failed to fulfill his leadership duties before God, his family and the whole nation. You can read about his “news conference,” tears and confessions in Psalm 51.

Perhaps it would be encouraging—or maybe just plain shocking—to realize that even if Rob Ford, Mike Duffy, Pamela Wallin, and Patrick Brazeau had committed both murder and adultery in the course of their duties, they could be forgiven by no less than God Himself and restored to their positions of leadership—if, and only if they would humbly, totally, and sincerely acknowledge their faults, repent of them all, and then completely change their corrupt behaviour. After all, we all have had feet of clay at one time or another during the course of our years. The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is life.

Biblical repentance  means not just saying you’re sorry, but effecting a complete transformation of one’s attitudes and behaviour in those areas in which one committed a sin: i.e. smoking crack cocaine, abusing alcohol, lying, cheating on one’s expenses, threatening others, etc, etc.

Much has changed in the last 3,000 years since the days of King David. But it would appear that human nature is not one of them! Consequently, godly repentance is still the best medicine for the moral and ethical sicknesses that will periodically afflict our souls and the souls of our leaders.

 

There Be Monsters Amongst Us! A Mother’s Day Message

It would seem that some people will do just about anything to satisfy their sexual lusts. The latest horrific installment of this dark human weakness occurred in Cleveland, Ohio. Yes, the infamous case of Ariel Castro is just the latest manifestation of this fact of life, that there be indeed monsters amongst us! Having kidnapped and held captive three young women—Gina Dejesus, Amanda Berry, and Michelle Knight—Castro used them as his sex slaves for almost a decade.

As if rape, threats, chains and ropes are not enough of a nightmare, according to Michelle Knight, when her pregnancies became noticeable, Castro would starve and the beat her, hitting her womb to induce an abortion.

But it would appear that Castro was not a total monster. I suppose even Frankenstein’s monster had his softer moments. After all, Castro wanted a baby girl born to Amanda Berry to live. Michelle Knight recounted that Castro threatened to kill her if she did not successfully play the midwife to Amanda Berry as she gave birth in a plastic kiddie pool.  This child was named Jocelyn and she too escaped with her Mom from Ariel Castro’s house. The little girl now 6 years old has known nothing but the society of her captor-father and his sex slaves. I doubt that without God’s healing the psychological scares inflicted on these women will never fully be healed short of that peace that can only be bestowed by God’s Holy Spirit.

I pray that God our Father and Christ Jesus our Savior will be kind to you and will bless you with peace! Titus 1:4

The families in this poor Cleveland neighbourhood are stunned. Castro was a well-known integral part of that tight-knit Puerto Rican immigrant community. Ariel Castro is even remembered as having helping out during the search for one of his kidnapping victims and even went so far as to comfort the mother of Gina Dejesus at another occasion. Quite the act. The family of Ariel Castro, including his children and his two brothers Onil and Pedro, are also revolted at his kidnappings and rape and have publicly denounced him asserting, “We don’t have monster in our blood.” But as concerns the human race is that wholly true?

The two brothers of the Cleveland man accused of holding three women captive for about a decade say they have no sympathy for him. One called him a “monster” who he hopes “rots in jail.” http://news.nationalpost.com/2013/05/13/i-dont-care-if-they-even-feed-him/

Ohio prosecutor Tim McGinty said he plans to seek aggravated murder charges that could carry the death penalty:Tim McGinty

I fully intend to seek charges for each and every act of sexual violence, rape, each day of kidnapping, every felonious assault, all his attempted murders, and each act of aggravated murder he committed by terminating pregnancies that the offender perpetuated against the hostages during this decade-long ordeal.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-22475771

The public has been rightly horrified by this extraordinary Cleveland monster, Ariel Castro. But don’t we tolerate our own mundane, nameless monsters who lead seemingly “normal lives” yet commit offenses equally worthy of “aggravated murder charges for terminating pregnancies.” Aren’t we, as a society, being hypocritical?

These mundane monsters, on an annual basis, terminate the pregnancies of about 100,000 unborn children in Canada and about 1,000,000 per year in the United States, albeit at the request of their own mothers! But are these “bio-waste” children any less children for being unwanted by their mothers? Just because such hard-hearted people don’t care about the innocents in utero, does that give them the right to torture and kill at will for their own convenience? Did you know that babies in utero feel pain?

This lack of a moral conscience, this ethical black hole when it comes to empathy was also the mindset of Ariel Castro, the “Cleveland Monster.” He didn’t want to be burdened by any unwanted children that came from satisfying his lust with Gina Dejesus, Amanda Berry, and Michelle Knight.

In Canada there is no law regulating abortion. A child in the womb can be legally killed up to the day he or she is actually born. Shouldn’t we as a society re-consider giving anyone the right to kill an innocent for the sake of her own personal convenience? I hope you wished your Mum a Happy Mother’s Day, yesterday! She kept you despite the inconvenience you inevitably caused her.