Archive for October 2009

Canada’s disgrace-no climate justice

October 27, 2009


“As for Canada, its record on reducing emissions is recognized internationally to have disgraced the country’s good name. It broke all its promises at Kyoto. Domestic emissions continue to rise. What is known about the Harper government’s intentions has the world believing that, once again, Canada will talk a much better game than it delivers. wrote Jeff Simpson in the Globe today.

Who can disagree?

Some young people can no longer take this disgusting inaction and disrupted parliament  with a raucous demonstration in the public gallery during Question Period on October 27.They numbered about 120.

“Green jobs now!” “Tar sands, shut it down!”

“What we want is climate justice,” said Joe Cressy of the Polaris Institute, standing under the Peace Tower. “We want to see a fair, ambitious and binding treaty for Copenhagen. That’s what we’re here for.”

Mmmm.Young people on fire for the single most important issue which bedevils the human community today. Young people who are anything but apathetic about life and our future.Young people believing in direct democvracy.


I’ll bet few of them go to church either.

What is this saying to organized religion and youth ministries?

What is it saying to the Catholic church whose clerical leadership seems so disconnected from this precious world?

The reign of God is all about this world flourishing.These kids like the prophets of old are about a ministry of intervention. The church could sure learn something here.

How long O Lord?

October 26, 2009


Breathless? Incredulous?

Original sin in spades. Chutzpah or simply, capitalism.the following two statements  show us a bloated empire, a failed state with a somnolent citizenry.

Recession you said? Depression maybe. Check this out:

The US Military spends $1.9 million every minute

The Center for Defense Information notes that the 2008 official budget for military spending was drastically understated and that the real figure was over 900 billion dollars when all war expenses were included. Rounded off, what that means is that this nation, which cannot decide whether basic health care is a human right, is spending on kill-power:

77 billion dollars a month

19 billion dollars a week

Over 2 ½ billion dollars a day

Over 100 million dollars an hour

Almost 2 million dollars a minute

And over 31 thousand dollars a second.

Then look at the bonuses paid to the thieves at Goldman Sachs  in line for $20 billion this year an average o $630,000 each, rivaling their record bonus haul in 2007.

How long, O Lord, how long—will people put up with this?

Come on a my House

October 21, 2009


VATICAN CITY – The Vatican announced Tuesday it was making it easier for Anglicans to convert to Roman Catholicism – a surprise move designed to entice traditionalists opposed to women priests, openly gay clergy and the blessing of same-sex unions.

“Come on a My House” sang Rosie Clooney in 1954.Rosie offered “peaches, pears and a pomegrante too.” Holy mother Church has offered a landing pad to grumpy Anglicans who never got over women crossing the threshold to the altar. And those blasted gays-another story.

This move will along with Latin masses will positively thrill the 42% of Canadians who are Catholics. Not.

80% of us favour female ordination and now we are inviting the regressives into to further polarize us.Nice move, Rome.

Another downer wil be for the celibates who against their wills gave up families for priesthood. 20 years ago when the first crop of the disaffected reactionaries came over, a group of priests went to Toronto’s Cardinal Carter and said, “Thanks a lot.I gave up marriage and kids and now you bring these guys over—with their families. Makes us feel real good.” Carter never thought of that angle.

Well, it should plug a few parish holes but will not stop the bleeding and facing the inevitable: women as baptized have every right to become priests. And will. And we will look back at this as a sad chapter in the history of the church.

Israel as idolatry: Michael Lerner

October 18, 2009


In a sardonic but true comment Rabbi Michael Lerner opened his recent article on “Israel as idolatry “with these words:

Go into any synagogue in the US or Israel and you can tell people that you don’t believe in God, don’t observe the commands of Torah, don’t observe the Sabbath, or even that you plan to be eating a pig sandwich on Yom Kippur and the majority of people will shrug their shoulders, and welcome you in. But dare to say that you think that Israel is violating human rights or, worse, that it really is just a political entity like all other political entities and does not have any particular claim on your loyalties, and you will be treated as though you had just spoken the greatest of Jewish heresies.

Lamentabile dictu as we used to say in Latin…extremeley sad to speak like this.

Yet this truism, this Jewish fundamentalism has its analogues in the other Abrahamic faiths as well. We need not single out synagogues where in my city the signs proliferate outside: Time to stand for Israel.” Note not to stand for Torah and authentic Jewish universal values, the great gift of the ages to humanity but time to stand for Israel.

This would not be so bad if it meant to really stand for Israel: love her—unreservedly, even in he brokenness, even in this moment of her radical defensiveness and blindness. Even to turn the great Jewish gift of the prophets on the ugly state that Israel has become, a virtual pariah among nations, one which stands alone in vote after vote in the United Nations propped up by the United States.

If outside a Catholic church we saw signs “time to stand up for “The Vatican”or “the Curia”, we might say,”yes, but…” our first commitment is to the reign, the malkuth Yawweh, that Jesus proclaimed, the kingdom of peace and justice. Is the institution carrying it? Can we challenge it to model these values?

Lerner as a rabbi is duty bound to preach Torah…and that means prophecy.

Many great Jews of course have repeatedly warned against the loss of faith in Torah. Many years ago Alexander Schindler the then leader of American Reform Jewry put it powerfully ”We do ourselves irreparable harm when we make Israel our surrogate synagogue.”

David Suzuki slams PM Harper

October 16, 2009


Canadian environmentalist and eco-prophet David Suzuki received the honorary Nobel prize, from  Right Livelihood on October 13.The awards (2 others also received them) will be presented in stockholm on December 4.

The Vancouver native and host of the award winning science show the Nature of Things  said he’s proud to receive an “Alternative Nobel” prize but also “humiliated that Canada has become an international pariah when it comes to climate change.”

Aren’t most Canadians appalled at the Harper government here?

“It’s, at the same time, very, very embarrassing that my country has been going backwards in terms of addressing the issue of climate change,” Suzuki said.

He said Prime Minister Stephen Harper has failed to acknowledge that climate change is a serious issue, and that Canada must act.

“That is so humiliating to me as a Canadian, because I have always been very proud of Canada as a country that took international obligations seriously.I think Canadians have always seen ourselves as responsible international citizens but we have become so reviled among the international community. It’s really humiliating.”

The very same day Lawrence Martin of the Globe made similar comments:”But if you’re partial to that kind of thing, don’t look now. With the Conservatives’ preference for a more confrontational approach, we’ve gone the other way. That long-time multilateralist image is fading fast. “

Amen to that too.

How anybody could vote for Haroper on this egregious failure on the most pressing issue of our times is beyond me.

The bottom liner simply does not get that all economies depend on and are embedded in the Greater Economy—the natural resources granted to us to hand on to the next generation. And Canada is one of the greatest destroyers of this endowment.


Suzuki said that  he has asked repeatedly to meet with Harper, and has been turned down each time. Yet Canada, with its northern climate and thousands of miles of coastline, is more vulnerable than most industrial countries to the effect of global warming.

Imagine refusing to meet with David Suzuki but having time to play his dopey piano in Ottawa.

Obama and Nobel

October 12, 2009

No Obama did not deserve the Nobel Prize,an award that long ago lost meaning when Henry Kissinger won it.

The odd time they get it right as when Desmond Tutu copped it.

Generally the award is “political”, in this case the” not Bush” won it. Obama won for putting the US back onto a multipolar world and cooling A the “dispensible nation” nonsense.

People like Michael Moore got it right when he asked him to now earn the prize..

On the other hand how do you turn an ugly empire around. JFK tried and the CIA had him murdered. America is so caught up in empire like institutions—like the 600 or so bases she has around the world sucking money from needed resoursces at home and abroad, The citizenry is still caught up in its exceptionalism. Read Ronald Wright’s What is America. Two terms of Obama would simply be a start at dismantling the US war economy with its terrible peddling of death all over the world. The world’s largest arms seller is hardly about peace. So far we have but one year of a presidency with nutbar Republicans baying at his heels. Cut him some slack.

But Michael Moore is right:

We are weary, weary of war. The trillions that will have gone to these two wars have helped to bankrupt us as a nation — financially and morally. To think of all the good we could have done with all that money! Two months of the War in Iraq would pay for all the wells that need to be dug in the Third World for drinking water! Obama is moving too slow for most of us — but he needs to know we are with him and we stand beside him as he attempts to turn eight years of sheer madness around. Who could do that in nine months? Superman?

Instead of waiting to see what the president is going to do, we all need to be pro-active and push the agenda that we want to see enacted. What keeps us from forming the same local groups we put together to get out the vote last November? C’mon! We’re the majority now — the majority by a significant margin! We call the shots — and we need to tell this wimpy Congress to get busy and do what we say — or else.

Cash for Toronto

October 10, 2009


Same old useless, worn out thinking

You live your life in the court of kings

Bow to the ruler and kiss the ring

But we don’t even understand a thing you say

It could happen to you…

Sometime when you least expect it

It could happen to you…

It could happen to you

Done by the ones that you never suspected

It could happen to you

So sang Jim Cuddy of Blue Rodeo at the nomination of singer-songwriter-writer Andrew Cash. Some good lines about too many hack politicos, rented by politicians—this one a hymn to Rudy Giuiani. The nomination was uncontested and Cash will be the NDP federal candidate in the Dovercourt riding for the next election.  Not your usual Canadian poiitical meeting for sure.

Cash would have been the last guy you’d think would run for parliament. Like most musicians he admitted that they usually run from partisan political events—usually for economic reasons. Don’t offend the record-buying public.But like many (Stephen Page the latest to unabashedly support the NDP) Cash could no longer take a do nothing parliament loaded with time servers buttressing up a visionless government content with the status quo.

Like many Torontonians Andrew Cash can not abide an invisible Toronto Liberal contingent which refuses to defend the city and in particular the vibrant arts community, one which generates annually $70 billion dollars in revenue and jobs, 40 billion more than the auto sector.

Cash for a decade covered stories for NOW magazine and discovered that whenever he wrote about people’s struggles, the NDP was always there.His party choice he said was a no brainer.

So this gentle thoughtful man, along with the support of his best friend NDP member (Timmins-James Bay) Charlie Angus, and musician friends Jim Cuddy, Gord Downie of the Hip, Andy Maize and Josh Finlayson of the Skydiggers, threw his hat in the ring.

Cash for Toronto—sure. More musicians, less lawyers in Ottawa.

“Enough is enough.” Agreed-now do something

October 7, 2009


Atlantic bishops mounted their pulpits on Sunday October 4 and responded to the Bishop Lahey affair in various ways. Archbishop Anthony Mancini who took over Lahey’s Antigonish  diocese after the latter’s resignation, thundered from the pulpit: “Enough is enough.How much more can all of us take?” This is a good question but it’s one that Mancini and his brother bishops can actually do something about.  Collectively they have been unambiguous failures as leaders of a postmodern Catholic church.

Raymond Lahey always got high marks for being  a good pastor one who furthered the lay voice in the church. But like most of his confreres, he has not realized that absolutely new wineskins are needed in today’s church. Knowing many of these fine men I say without fear of contradiction that presently they seem to have missed a  fundamental truth of modern ecclesiology, the teaching on the sensus fidelium, that the Spirit is given to the entire church and not an ordained rump of clerical celibates. They are so fixated on the idea that they are “the teachers” that they have forgotten that they must first be the listeners and learners.They are operating out of a command model, a hierarchical structure which owes more to long gone monarchies than a discipleship of equals.

“Enough is enough”, Bishop Mancini stated. Agreed.

Would you please start listening to the baptized and equal members of your church?

Michael Moore homers again

October 3, 2009


Film goers will be surprised at the Catholic element in Michael Moore’s just released film CAPITALISM: A LOVE STORY. This will not come as a surprise to those of us who have followed Moore for 20 years since Roger and Me. Moore has always identified himself with the most progressive elements of the Catholic church. For simplicity’s sake he usually boils it down to what the nuns taught him in elementary school in hardscarbble Flint, Michigan: Justice and God’s preferntial option for the poor. What Christian can argue with this? What Catholic? Yet few have had the Moore’s courage  in challenging the deep evil of the economic system he eviscerates in this engaging film.

As to the Catholic element he interviews four priests, one who married him and one who married his sister, both Vatican ll types, grizzled veterans who have no time for the turbocapitalism which respects neither people nor the earth. The present system is simply evil to them, hijacked by a corporate class consumed by greed and absolutely no repect for the common good. The closest analogue for Canadians would be the seven lean years of the Mike Harris nightmare which Ontarians endured before we awoke from our ethical slumber.

The great Detroit bishop Tom Gumbleton appears.” Jesus would not be part of this system” he says. The New Testament evangelists  back this up in recording the basic orientation of Jesus. One of seven lines in Matthew, Mark and Luke  are a warning against wealth and untrammeled greed.

A Polish-American bishop of the Evangelical Catholic Church, James Wilkowski appears (knew he could not be an RC) saying mass in solidarity with the workers of Chicago’s  Republic Windows & Doors factory who  staged a six-day sit-in that culminated in a layoff package of $1.35 million from Bank of America. The company had simply walked away from their financial obligations before the workers staged the nonviolent sit in.

As a kid in Flint, Moore attended Catholic schools and as a boy wanted to become a priest. He was inspired by the passion of priests and nuns for social justice; he saw the Berrigan brothers as heroic figures. They appear in a short clip. For Moore, Americans have been brainwashed to believe that capitalism is “compatible with God’s law,” Cue to Bush, Pat Robertson Swaggart and others who riipped the gospel in shreds in their blinkered defence of the free enterprise system and the warmaking of the Christian president, GW Bush. Moore runs black and white footage of hypnotists using twirling spirals to mesmerise their patients.

“I must have missed that part of the Bible when Jesus embraced capitalism,” says the filmmaker, followed by a sequence using scenes from Franco Zeffirelli’s “Jesus of Nazareth” in which the Son of God’s lines are dubbed with him giving investment advice. Moore can never resist gags like this. But then like any teacher he morphs into harsh facts:  before Reaganomics, the wealthiest Americans were taxed at 90 percent, people had four weeks’ vacation and their pensions were untouchable.You could raise a family on one salary. Cue to the simple-minded Reagan, a Republican whose deficit equalled all the other prewsidents combined and whose deregulation policies created the savings and Loans sacndal under Bush One. The B movie king then says “Well I can change that in a hurry,”  and slaps a woman in the face.An apt symbol for all the poor whom he slapped in the face in his abysmal two terms.

This mockumentary is typical Moore. It will of course enrage the right-wing bloggers and many reviewers who have said next to nothing about the horrible abuses of capitalism, in particular the shocking abandonment of 47 million Americans without health care in the wealthiest country in the world. It will surely piss off the hordes of journalists and reviewers who said nothing as the US capitalist system played Russian roulette with global economics.

Michael Moore has consistently been on the mark here and that is why for years I have been calling  him the “most effective Catholic in America.”

Nobody else even close.