No-win situation with juvenile media’s double standards

Christians made to look like the bad guy in Russell Peters’ controversy

When CTV announced that its Russell Peters Christmas special would feature a Nativity skit with Pamela Anderson portraying the Virgin Mary, various entertainment media pundits made predictable witticisms about enraged Christians protesting to the point of giving each other heart attacks. The cheap shots, of course, bear no resemblance to reality. Most Christians only protest the most vile material, and even then tend to reserve judgment until they’ve verified that it’s actually as bad as advertised. By and large, Christians have low expectations of entertainment media and, rather than complain, simply change the channel.

A common faith... and perhaps craziness in common

My fellow Catholic Register columnist Peter Stockland and I may just be crazy. After writing thousands of columns between us, we certainly know that some readers think so! But this craziness is somewhat different. We have decided to start a magazine.

It’s called Convivium (www.cardus.ca/convivium), and a special preview issue was launched in October. We start bimonthly publishing next February. Convivium literally means life together, though the word is often translated to mean banquet or festive meal; hence the “convivial” person is one who would enliven such an occasion. Our subject is just that — our common life together as Canadians. Specifically, we claim to be about faith in our common life.

Author mines the deepest truth of our faith

The world has few writers with the fervour to publicly trash the  covers of their own books. The world has even fewer writers like Heather King.

For that reason alone, King’s newly released Shirt of Flame: A Year With Saint Thérèse of Lisieux is the one book I’ve read this year that I would suggest as a guidebook for the pilgrimage of ordinary life.

Religious liberty under fire, even in the land of the free

BALTIMORE - Last week the bishops of the United States gathered in their premier diocese and protested the erosion of the founding liberties of the American republic. In their annual plenary meeting the bishops designated threats to religious liberty as a key pastoral concern. The American bishops are right to be alarmed, but not only them. Religious liberty is under threat all over the world.

The most grievous attacks are lethal, with Christians being killed for their faith in Egypt, Iraq and India, just to mention the sites of massacres in the last year. Then there is the routine and brutal persecution of Christians in communist states, like China, or Islamist ones, like Saudi Arabia. Indeed, the vast majority of acts of religious persecution around the world are against Christians.

Penn State can take lessons from the Church

The tragic child sex abuse scandal at Penn State opens many wounds for Catholics.

During the first seven-10 days after the story broke, almost every media report compared the scandal to abuse that has rocked the Catholic Church over past decades. The comparisons have not totally abated, either.

“Like the Roman Catholic Church, Penn State is an arrogant institution hiding behind its mystique,” declared the National Post on Nov. 14.

Hate to say we told you so, but... euthanasia is ‘killing care’

So our long slide down the slope of civilized savagery proceeds.

Agence France Press reports the first public case of a Dutch patient euthanized even though she had never formally requested death or followed the required legal protocols.

The woman, identified only as being 64 years old and from the south of Holland, was reportedly killed illegally in a hospital last March. The medical board that approves each act of euthanasia in Holland knew she had never formally asked to have her life ended. It also found she was far too cognitively diminished by Alzheimer’s to make a rational choice in her fate.

Family life epitomized by Family Circus

The death of Bil Keane, cartoonist and evangelist of culture, was a reminder that even the former can be an instrument of the latter.

Keane, who died on Nov. 8 at the age of 89, drew the Family Circus cartoon for more than 50 years. It launched in 1960 — during a leap year on Feb. 29 — and is still being published. The one-panel comic was in the form of a circle, and Keane had originally called it the Family Circle. A popular magazine of the same name objected and so Keane changed it to Family Circus, the protest from the eponymous periodical proving serendipitous, for the antics of Daddy, Mommy, Billy, Dolly, Jeffy and PJ were often circus-like.

Estevez, Sheen find The Way, but it’s a Camino without God

Many of the World Youth Day pilgrims in Spain this summer warmed up, so to speak, by walking the Camino de Santiago — the 800-km medieval pilgrim route from the French Pyrenees to the Cathedral of St. James (Santiago) in Compostela, Spain. In recent years, the Camino (the Way) has become enormously popular, with many walking all or part of it for reasons both religious and secular.

In my own family, my younger sister did it some years ago, and my mother and father walked some 100 km of it a few years back. Last month, my uncle and aunt made the pilgrim way. It seems everyone and his brother is making the pilgrimage — though not literally, as my family would be hard pressed to persuade this aggressively sedentary brother to take the Santiago stroll.

Life is so much better with good neighbours

Recently, our next-door-neighbour died.

Technically, he was no longer our next-door-neighbour because he had sold his house and moved into an apartment about a month earlier. But I will always remember him as our neighbour.

John Macaulay was 83 and a wonderful man who built his own business that supplied science kits to schools before retiring some time ago. His funeral was packed with people from so many different parts of his eclectic life. His two sons and grandson spoke well, along with a friend of some 70 years, who told a story about his last conversation with his friend. John called him just days before his death to alert him to a “great sale on underwear” at Sears.

"Win a baby" contest exploits life, family

When an Ottawa radio station hosted a “win a baby” contest last month, pledging to pay for fertility treatments for whoever wrote the best pitch about why they deserved the treatments, station officials claimed they wanted a catchy promotion that would shine a light on the cost of in-vitro fertilization (IVF), which OHIP does not cover. In the end, five couples won $35,000 each for a series of treatments. Hundreds of entries were received, with tens of thousands reportedly voting online for their preferred candidate.

It is true that Quebec covers IVF treatments while Ontario does not, but the reality is there are a great many things that OHIP does not cover. Most of them (prescription drugs, dental care, a lot of eye care and eye glasses, to name just a few) are used by a great many more people than use IVF. This is not to comment about what public health insurance should or should not cover, only to point out that there are many exclusions under OHIP that can cause hardship. The likelier reason for the contest is the opportunity for headline-grabbing publicity, particularly through those catchy ads with a cute baby and the disclaimer “may not be exactly as shown.”

The Vatican and Occupy Wall Street

Pope Benedict may or may not bless the Occupy Wall Street movement. But an Eastern European former Marxist atheist intellectual has told protesters that they should really preoccupy themselves with the Holy Spirit.

Leading up to November’s G20 economic meeting in France, and as the Occupy Wall Street movement entered its second month, media whoop-whoop made it sound like Benedict’s arrival at the barricades was imminent.

The story turned out to be a torque job so clumsy it would make an apprentice mechanic at Dollar Bill’s Easy Autos blush.