Monday, February 27, 2006

Ashes on - or off?

Ash Wednesday is this week, and I have a question: Ashes on or off? That is, after leaving the Mass, should one wipe the ashes off the forehead or leave them on until they wear off naturally? I ask, because I am definitely in the “wipe them off” school, but would welcome the opinion and instruction of others.

For me, leaving them on would lead to the sin of pride: “Hey everyone, look at me – I have ashes on my forehead! Aren’t I pious? I am so much better than you because I go to church and fast and stuff.” As they say, it’s hard to look up and see God if you’re always looking down on others. I am reminded of how much Christ loathed the Pharisees and Sadducees and their outward, hypocritical signs of piety. Matthew 16 speaks, for example, to fasting like this:

And when you fast, be not as the hypocrites, sad. For they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Amen I say to you, they have received their reward. But thou, when thou fastest anoint thy head, and wash thy face; That thou appear not to men to fast, but to thy Father who is in secret: and thy Father who seeth in secret, will repay thee.

Others, though, see the wearing of ashes as a public affirmation of faith, symbolic of the spirit of contrition. So I'll turn it over to others: What say you?

Roll up the rim to lose - Boycott Tim Hortons!

It's that time of year again - Canada's unofficial winter sport is now underway. Now US-owned, Tim Hortons has launched their Roll up the rim to win contest, to the hysterical joy of senior executives who apparently get their jollies watching poor working stiffs soiling their hands unravelling stiff coffee cup lips to see what they haven't won.

Sigh. I remember when this contest was launched. Just about every cup won something - a free coffee, a donut or cookie - something. It wasn't so much a contest as it was an exercise in customer appreciation: "Hey, thanks for drinking our coffee and not the other guy's; have a free donut."

Not so anymore. In the last four years - despite multiple daily purchases - I have won nothing. Nada. Zip.

So, I have decided to do something about it. I will not purchase a Tim Hortons product again until the end of their rip-off contest. I will, instead, purchase a rather good cup of coffee here.

So there. Tim Hortons can bite me.

UPDATE: Welcome to Kate's readers from SDA; grab a (non-Timmy) cup o'joe and stick around!

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Star hack cites Martin Luther King in defence of Islamofascism

I’ve got to hand it to Haroon Siddiqui, the Toronto Star’s Editor Emeritus and official apologist for Islamic poor behaviour. Needless to say, Siddiqui has of late been spinning like a top in an all out effort to stem the growing tide towards criticism of fundamentalist Islam. His missive on today’s OpEd pages, however, reached a new low in Islamofascist apologetics: it turns out that all of the recent violence committed in the name of Islam is really – wait for it – the fault of Western, Christian civilization:

…why should the West take Muslims seriously when they routinely commit great crimes…? The answer is that the Muslim world is in a deep crisis.
But Muslims alone cannot fix the mess, because it is not entirely of their making.

Just keep reading and that “not entirely” quickly morphs into one big anti-western finger pointing exercise:

Nearly 400 million Muslims live under authoritarian and corrupt regimes, many of them U.S. proxies…. Islam being their last zone of comfort, many Muslims react strongly, sometimes irrationally and violently…. They react in ways the angry dispossessed do, riots being the voice of the voiceless, as Martin Luther King said.

Did everyone catch that? Siddiqui just compared the rampaging mobs of Muslims to segregated blacks! I guess the King reference is to…Bin laden?

But the crowds rampage on, harming their own interests. The aid-giving European Union office in the West Bank is closed. Danish aid workers in Chechnya are withdrawn. Worse, some of the protesters themselves are killed, 48 so far.

Ahhh…how Siddiqui really feels! The murder of Christian school girls and the beheading of hostages are nothing; the real victims are Islamic protesters who gave their lives in the pursuit of anti-Christian violence.

As tragic as all this is, it pales in comparison to the million innocent Muslims killed, and millions more maimed, in the name of fighting terrorism or finding non-existent weapons of mass destruction or other excuses.

The closing rhetorical flourish – just in case anyone forgot that Christians must bear the responsibility for Islamic violence. The closing non-sequiturs were just Star policy, no doubt.

It’s not that I expected a lot of credibility from the Star’s editorial pages, but I think we can count this as the moment this blowhard’s credibility officially bit the dust.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Pop Policy and a Happy Harper Government

I know it sounds like playing to the lowest common denominator, but sometimes “street level” or “joe six-pack” policies win huge approval ratings for governments. In the spirit of bolstering the Harper government’s popularity, I am pleased to list two possible policy items for consideration:

A full pint law: Already popular in Britain, such a law requires bars to pour their beer to the exact amount advertised. Buy a pint (16 oz) of beer – get a pint of beer.

A beefed-up do not call list: close the loopholes and introduce a law that would financially penalize not just telemarketers and call centres (who are often offshore) but their clients whose services are being hawked to you. Ouch!

By the way, the best way to beat auto-dialers is to download this short mp3 file and add these tones to the start of your answering machine’s outgoing message. The incoming call’s computer recognizes these tones as an indication that the number is no longer in service, and deletes it from their lists. We dropped from 15 calls an evening to just three or four. You’re welcome.

Any other suggestions for popular initiatives?

Monday, February 20, 2006

Reason to leave the United Church #637

The anti-conservative and now anti-Christian United Church of Canada has truly outdone itself this time. As you may have seen in this morning’s Globe and Mail editorial (subscription required), my former Church has officially indicted all those who publish the Mohammed cartoons as racists and Islamophobes. After having gone to their website to check out the original source material, I can tell you they actually went a lot further than the Globe chose to reveal. Herewith, for your edification with snarky commentary is the press release issued by the General Council of the United Church of Canada - plus a shocking discovery from their archives:

Toronto: The United Church of Canada has sent a letter to the Islamic Council of Imams expressing the denomination's "deepest regret that the name of Muhammad has been so tragically misused in the depictions of cartoons first published in Europe, but now also in Canada." […]

A search of the United Church’s website for similar press releases condemning suicide bombings of mosques by Islamic terrorists, the slaughter of Jews by Hamas, Iran’s desire to wipe Israel off the map, the murder of Christian school girls in Pakistan (and so on) yielded no results. Obviously, the publication of cartoons is a far more serious matter worthy of condemnation by the Church’s General Council.

The text of the letter is as follows:

Dear Imam Patel and Imam Slimi;

Greetings in the name of Jesus, whom both Christians and Muslims honour.
On behalf of The United Church of Canada we wish to express to you and through the Council of Imams, to the Islamic communities of Canada, our deepest regret that the name of Muhammad has been so tragically misused in the depictions of cartoons first published in Europe, but now also in Canada.

In order to dispel any doubt, let me be clear that the United Church in its quest for apostasy and heresy is on record as stating that “Christian history is full of examples of…outright misrepresentation of Muhammad’s life. …We believe that it is important that Christians strive to speak truthfully and respectfully about Muhammad. We also believe it is a possible, though major, step forward…for Christians to acknowledge Mohammed as a prophet of God.” (p. 32, That We May Know Each Other, published by the United Church of Canada’s 38th Council in May 2005). Just so everyone is on the same page here: The United Church of Canada worships Mohammed as a prophet, and they are not entitled to any credibility as representatives of the Christian faith (which is, of course, why I left them). Pass the burkas.

We believe that the intention of publishing the cartoons has little to do with freedom of expression and much to do with incitement to racial and religious hatred. As you have noted in your recent press release, the cartoons suggest that Islam itself teaches, condones and encourages violence, bombings and the mistreatment of women. Furthermore, the implication is that all Muslims believe so as well. This we know to be untrue.

Wow! The United Church obviously has some kind of inside-track here on Islam: I mean, all those Imans issuing fatwas and the bombers and those silly Islamic nations calling for genocide against Jews and Infidels – what do they know about Islam? The United Church of Canada knows better folks – Islam is a religion of peace!

The answer to your question of "why publish such cartoons?" we believe is simply racial hatred. In other forms it has been called Islamophobia.

Well, as you all know, I also do not favour publishing the cartoons for reasons I will not repeat here. It occurs to me, however, that those who do publish them may be motivated by things other than racism and hatred. Maybe they’re just trying to make a point about freedoms, or trying to sell newspapers. My own theory is that they’re afraid of losing their Christian heritage and institutions to an Islamic tide (Europe anyone?). Fear is a very powerful motivator. The United Church knows best though: those who publish the cartoons are nothing more than a bunch of racists, so there’s no need for anyone to listen to their concerns.

These attitudes should have no place in Canada. Because we all share responsibility for the society in which we live, we wish to offer our sincere apologies that such attitudes can persevere in a country that we believe can and should be a model for the world of racial and ethnic respect.

Isn’t that nice: the United Church of Canada has seen fit to issue an apology on your behalf. Here’s an idea – let them know how you feel about that.

May God's peace be with you.

May his mercy be with you.