Christian Taliban


Thanks to John Zande for this scary depiction of fundamentalist America

Gary-NorthDon’t let the seemingly harmless grandfatherly appearance of this man fool you. Gary North is not someone you want anywhere near your enemies, let alone your family. North publishes Christian Reconstructionist and homeschooling books, is the founder of the Institute for Christian Economics, is an adjunct scholar with the Ludwig von Mises Institute, is presently writing an education curriculum for Congressman Ron Paul, owns Dominion Educational Ministries Inc. (which operates day care centers), and believes children should be put to death by stoning in public squares for cursing their parents.

“When people [children] curse their parents, it unquestionably is a capital crime. The son or daughter is under the lawful jurisdiction of the family. The integrity of the family must be maintained by the threat of death.          

Gary North is a face of the American Taliban; a leading member of the Christian Reconstructionists; a

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Bad History


Would it surprise anyone to learn that Hurricane Katrina ranks second in a survey by Sony as the most watched moments in TV history. Nestled between #1 – 9/11 terror attach and third place verdict for O.J. Simpson, Katrina made history for all the wrong reasons. Katrina falls to 15th place on the list of the top 20 worst moments in American history, but then it has strong competition from assassinations, massacres, and atomic bombs.

http://shareranks.com/1678,20-Most-Infamous-Moments-in-U.S.-History

Katrina was just another hurricane before the levees broke. What happened next was so astounding, so unbelievable, Hollywood couldn’t have scripted a more fantastic tale. I’ll never forget calling my husband at work when news broke that thousands of survivors were trapped at the Convention Centre.  Katrina played out like a bad disaster movie; on what planet would it not have occurred to anyone that the Convention Centre was packed with desperate people. As FEMA struggled to decide which was their left or right hand, Canadian search and rescue teams were among the first responders. Utterly bizarre. Hours became days, tempers flared, fingers were pointed, and still thousands suffered or perished. Without question the biggest screw up in American history.

Globally the worst moments in history make a little more sense than the Katrina fiasco. According to listverse the top ten come with religious book ends. Number 10 being Catholic sexual abuse, and number 1 the Crusades. In between are two world wars, famines, genocides, 9/11, and the plague. Far from thinking any of these moments actually make sense, black death aside, these moments were the result of conscious decisions or planning.

http://listverse.com/2012/03/02/top-10-worst-moments-in-human-history/

We could ponder and debate bad history for hours, the world has no shortage of horrific moments to crowd top ten lists. In fact anyone who can narrow it down to ten is doing a lot better than I ever could. Instead I’m pondering a slightly different bad history; a history that could have been spared the lists had it been taken seriously.

Notes Nation


Imagine if there was a place on earth where we could wipe the slate clean and start from scratch. A place where elected officials served the people, taxes paid for infrastructure, education, and healthcare.  A nation where all were welcome and equal; free to practice or believe anything they wanted in the privacy of home. A place free from corruption and political influence.

I’ll call this nation Notes.

It would be against the law for businesses or companies to contribute funds towards political campaigns. All individuals running for political office would be given equal amounts of commercial free public air time. Absolutely free of charge; a public service announcement with the stipulation they stuck to their mandate. Negative ad campaigns and smear tactics would be forbidden. There would be no lobby or special interest groups making back room deals or paying for influence.

Taxation would be fair and apply to everyone. No tax exempt or non profit status as we know it; instead these organizations would have an exemption to cover operating costs, after that taxes would be levied. Any major expenditure such as building a new church would require an application and permit to justify the privilege of tax free status.  NPO’s would be audited on a regular basis. Televangelists would be taken off the air; free to preach in places of worship, not to take credit card numbers when the phone lines opened.It would be classified a “hate crime” for any religious organization to speak out against activities or lifestyle outside their faith. Elected officials, teachers, or any person in a position of influence could not use “god” as the basis of their opinion. Citizens would be free to follow any faith they choose, but it would be a private matter, a non profit, behind closed doors matter.

Guns would be illegal, and there would be zero tolerance for sexual assault or crimes against children. School curriculum would not only include cursive writing, all students would be educated on the history and beliefs of world religions. Tolerance and critical thinking would trump bigotry and closed minds.

Before dismissing this ponder as a Miss America contestants “world peace” speech – stop and think a moment. Notes nation is a place where business has no influence over government, religion is taken out of politics, and schools replace a singular “god” with unbiased knowledge. Simple, sensible, and sadly just about as effective a thought as Miss America and world peace.

Shoebox


Every so often I pull the shoebox out of my closet. A more accurate account would be; it falls on me when I’m looking for something else. Not wanting to mess with the universe I always take a moment to ponder it’s contents. More often than not my scrutiny is unavoidable as it has spilled onto the floor. My shoebox isn’t in the best of shape; it’s never occurred to me to find a sturdier, more suitable box. I prefer to tape it up, return the treasure, and slide it back on the shelf.

The shoebox contains letters; over 50 years of hopes, dreams, heartache, and best wishes. The better part of my life falls on my head from a dusty old duct taped box. I don’t read them, feel sad, or contemplate any life other than the one I have. If anything I worry about what others might think if something happened to me and they found my shoebox. As my children grow older I worry less and less about misunderstanding or judgement. My husband may not even realize the shoebox exists but would cherish the contents as much as I do – our youth lives in that box.

Mostly I look at the handwriting; the author instantly recognizable by the slant of their pen. Handwriting is comforting; a gift in ways tweets, texts, and emails could never be. My shoe box lives and breathes with every stroke of the pen, every word hand crafted and immortal. My shoebox may be tattered and dusty yet the contents whisper for all eternity.

Canadian schools are dropping cursive writing from the curriculum. Aside from obvious issues like signing your name when opening a bank account, passport, or back of a credit card – shoe boxes will only be half full. Before long no one will even remember what it felt like to open an envelope – memories will live in a “cloud” not a closet. The world just won’t be the same without shoe boxes falling on our heads.

Romeo Who?


I’ve written posts about Canadians I admire; Tommy Douglas, Neil Young, even Stompin Tom Connors. It’s much easier to write about those we admire than someone we consider a hero. Admiration is subjective, open to opinion, unfettered by titles or designation. Once admiration is surpassed by “hero” there is some explaining to do; with hero comes responsibility.

Unfazed, I’ll ponder on – Romeo Dallaire is a Canadian hero. Romeo who?

General Romeo Dallaire headed the United Nations peacekeeping efforts in Rwanda from 1993 – 94. His meagre peacekeeping force of 3000 soldiers where forbidden under terms of the UN peacekeeping mandate to take up arms, or be anything other than a presence. Desperate for help, Dallaire begged the UN to send 2000 more soldiers. Instead the UN cut his force to 500 soldiers following the murder of 10 Belgian peacekeepers assigned to protect the president.In the days that followed Dallaire’s forces witnessed the extermination of 800,000 Rwandan men, women, and children in the most horrific genocide in modern history.

Dallaire wrote of the horror he witnessed in a 2004 book called Shake Hands With the Devil. I’ve tried to read it two or three times; I have to put it down – I find myself weeping uncontrollably, his story too much to take. Despite odds stacked against him, Dallaire managed to save thousands of Rwandans; he will go to his grave despairing over those he couldn’t help.

“I had one person come in to my headquarters during the genocide asking statistics on how many people were killed last week and how many yesterday and how many do you expect to be killed today and how many weeks of this killing you think is going to go on. And my staff officers brought him to me and I said, “Why these statistics?”

He said, “Oh, you know my country is assessing whether it will come in and the government believes that the people, the public opinion, could handle for every soldier killed or injured an equivalent of 85,000 dead Rwandans.”

Think about that response for a moment – collateral damage deemed acceptable at 85,000 Rwandans for every UN soldier.

Romeo Dallaire was a soldier; a man of conscience who followed orders despite the toll it would take on himself and his men.

“The impact of the trauma of Rwanda had physically affected my brain and had put me in a state where there was no capability left of any desire for life, any desire to even consider life. I was even debating whether I should exist as I held on my shoulders, and still today, the belief that as commander of the mission in Rwanda I had failed the Rwandans. I had failed in my duty as the UN mission commander to assist the Rwandans to be able to move to a peaceful application of democracy in a rather short period of time.

Dallaire suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and attempted suicide in 2004. That same year he testified at an international human rights tribunal against Rwandan Colonel Theoneste Bagosora, who was convicted of genocide. Has worked as an advisor to the Canadian government on War Affected Children, and prohibiting small arms distribution. In 2005 he was appointed to the Senate. 2006 saw Concordia University name him a Senior Fellow at the Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies. An advocate for soldiers mental health issues, Dallaire is open and outspoken about PTSS. Dallaire researches and lectures on conflict resolution and child soldiers.

“Are all humans human or some more human than others?” – Romeo Dallaire

Romeo Dallaire is a Canadian hero. A man few have even heard of who personifies decency and strength. Nick Noltes portrayal of Dallaire in the movie Hotel Rwanda barely scratches the surface of Dallaire’s bungled Rwandan nightmare. Dallaire and his 500 UN soldiers couldn’t have prevented the genocide -we’ll never know another outcome if the UN had responded to his pleas, or the world had bothered to notice.Romeo Dallaire is a hero because he never gave up, overcame his demons, and strives to make a difference in this mixed up world.

Festival


I grew up in a smallish farming community that happened to rest between two lakes. For most of the year a sleepy little place; but in summer – the population nearly doubled with vacationing sun seekers and transient farm workers. Summers were crazy – not for the Peach Festival or Square Dance Jamboree – but for my first taste of one giant street festival. I use the term “street festival” loosely as activities were far from sanctioned or organized. All the same, it was a time when many like minded people gathered for one purpose. In reality there were several reasons my town became a summer destination. First we had the “hippies” who hitch-hiked across the country to pitch a tent and pick fruit. Next college students from the coast and neighbouring Alberta looking for a few days of fun. Families on road trips, and last but not least – the Hells Angels.

The Hells Angels had a private festival. Every year on the August long weekend hundreds of them roared into town. With nervous anticipation we waited for the rumble of Harleys to echo through the valley. One year they dragged picnic tables to the centre of Main Street and set them on fire. This was beyond exciting; we were after all small town dreamers, starved for worldly distraction. At least I was.

Not nearly as exciting yet certainly the “festival” most vacationers attended was “floating down the channel” and the “Main St. water fight”. Both activities required moving between the two lakes, drinking way too much beer, and eating watermelons that had been filled with vodka. The channel was a slow moving waterway connecting the lakes; inner tubes, water mattresses, anything that floated – tossed into the slimy “river” at one end, spitting you out at the other lake a few hours later – sunburned, far drunker than when you started, and itching for a water fight.

The water fight began as soon as visitors snapped out of off their hangovers. From early afternoon until well into the night vehicles cruised Main Street soaking anything that moved. Tactics were considered weeks in advance; beds of pick-up trucks transformed into moving water fortresses. Holding tanks and clever pump devices fuelled by beer, watermelon, and the carefree days of summer. A tap mid point outside  the Dairy Queen turned DQ into the staging area; it was from here word of another “festival” was spread – the “bush party”.

Bush parties served as a destination once the local RCMP had enough of drunken water warriors. A simple premise; the location secret until the day of, then passed by word of mouth. Kegs of beer, amplified music, and bonfires attracted hundreds of fun seekers into the surrounding woods. Smaller festivals took place at the roller rink, or race track, sometimes an impromptu party sprang up at a secluded beach or camp-ground.

I still view each one of these activities as a festival. People gathered from everywhere to blow off steam, take part in a ritual, or simply stumble upon something a little peculiar. A lot has changed since those days; the towns population still doubles in summer, but a city by-law bans water guns within city limits Another by-law sees the Hells Angels met on one side of town by the RCMP and escorted to the other. The channel now taken over by enterprising businessmen renting banana and peddle boats for the ride between the lakes.

Summer always ended; motels and camp-grounds boarded up for the winter, gray hair replaced blonde, we settled in for the winter. In the back of our minds we knew it was only 10 months until festival season would once again turn our little corner of the world into something fantastic.

If I Was The CEO…..


If I was the CEO of a major corporation who knowingly covered up or ignored criminal behaviour by my employees, I would be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Criminal interference, accessory, negligence, to name a few of the possible charges. In the eyes of the law; an excuse of “I’m not responsible” simply doesn’t cut it. At the point a decision is made to turn a blind eye, the line is crossed – it would become a criminal act. Ponder the reaction if it was revealed a major “big oil” CEO systematically covered up sexual abuse by company executives. Public outrage would fuel endless coverage; think of Jerry Sandusky, the Penn State football coach, now serving a 30 – 60 year sentence for sexual abuse.

Unfortunately, as the head of a sovereign nation –  the Pope can’t be sued. International law puts him above criminal charges.

By all appearances this courtesy extends to the rather unique situation of a former Catholic CEO still alive. The international criminal court in The Hague rejected attempts to prosecute former Pope Benedict XVI for systematic cover-ups of sexual abuse amounting to crimes against humanity. They stated the matter fell outside their jurisdiction .

Statistically I doubt we would find the percentage of Catholic priests accused of sexual abuse higher than that of any other profession  giving easy access to children. Sexual predators naturally gravitate towards positions of trust. In America 4% of Catholic priests stand accused of misconduct towards children – that would be nearly 5000 priests, and lets not forget – this translates into thousands more victims, as the abuse took place numerous times over decades. To date the Catholic church has paid out an estimated 3 billion dollars in America alone to settle abuse claims.

Minutes from a 2003 meeting of the financial council for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee sums up the position of the church far better than I could. The minutes of this 2003 meeting were discovered during a 2011 bankruptcy filing by the archdiocese. Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of Milwaukee at the time states the church offered $20,000 to problematic priests as encouragement to leave the priesthood. In addition, payments of up to $30,000 would be paid to victims for emotional distress as a means to quietly settle out of court. Court documents from the 2011 bankruptcy filing show $90,000 was paid out to 9 priests.

Historically the Catholic church has swept the problem under the rug; known sexual predators were transferred to another location, given “therapy”, or simply ignored. No number of hail Marys will ever give victims back their lives.

The Pope is CEO of what is arguably the largest and wealthiest corporation in the world – Just like any other CEO he should be held accountable for his organization. I don’t care who you are – sexual abuse is not OK.

http://ncronline.org/news/accountability/meeting-minutes-dolan%C3%ADs-milwaukee-archdiocese-paid-accused-priests-leave

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/14/world/europe/hague-court-declines-inquiry-into-church-abuse-cover-up.html?ref=romancatholicchurchsexabusecase

http://www.philvaz.com/apologetics/PriestAbuseScandal.htm