The Canadian Red Ensign

The Canadian Red Ensign

Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Crime And No Punishment


I recently returned to Winnipeg after visiting my father on his farm where the radio is constantly tuned to 880 CKLQ the country and western station out of Brandon.   On the morning of the day I drove back they played a familiar classic by Merle Haggard, “Mama Tried”.   The song is semi-autobiographical, written in reflection on the time the to-be country star served in San Quentin for an attempted robbery in Bakersfield.   I say semi-autobiographical for while Haggard did indeed reach the age of majority in prison the sentence he was serving was nowhere near as severe as the lyrics suggest:


And I turned twenty-one in prison doin' life without parole
No one could steer me right but Mama tried, Mama tried
Mama tried to raise me better, but her pleading, I denied
That leaves only me to blame 'cause Mama tried


When I listened to these familiar words again this time it occurred to me to wonder what on earth someone would actually have to do to be sentenced to life in prison without parole while still a minor.  Even in 1957 when Haggard was convicted it would have had to have been a lot more than what he did.   California was not as crime-friendly then as it is today but they would not have locked a minor up and thrown away the key for an unsuccessful break and entry in which no one was hurt, not even with all of his priors.  His actual sentence was fifteen years of which he served three.   Today, it is highly unlikely that anyone in any jurisdiction outside of Texas would receive such a sentence for a similar crime.


All across North America today, both in the United States and in my country, the Dominion of Canada, major cities have seen a massive rise in violent crime especially in, but by no means limited to, their downtown, core, neighbourhoods.   More than one factor has contributed to this urban crime crisis, of course.  One of the disturbing aspects about the crisis is that “unprovoked random attacks” by strangers, i.e., when someone you don’t know from Adam comes up to you and assaults you for no discernable reason, which were previously very rare, have spiked and account for a huge percentage of the crime wave.   Two explanations for this jump to mind.   The first is the vast increase in mental illness over the last three years induced by idiotic governments forcing people into social isolation for long periods of time in a failed and absurd attempt to protect them from a respiratory disease that in most cases had only mild symptoms and from which the vast majority fully recovered.   The second is the increase in drug abuse, particularly of paranoia-inducing substances like crystal meth, which is partly due to the same thing that caused the uptick in mental illness, but which is also the result of stupid politicians having prioritized in their drug policy the making drug use safe for users over the safety of others who might be harmed by drug-induced violence.


These factors, while they help account for random stranger attacks, do not in themselves explain the larger urban crime crisis.   Another factor that significantly contributes to the overall rise in urban crime is the soft-on-crime attitude promoted by the sort of people who like to think that being forward-minded, progressive, and liberal amounts to being enlightened and that they are therefore more enlightened than others.  This attitude has in recent years been translated into various sorts of bad policies that are often described as “catch and release” or “revolving door”.   These include sentences that are too short or too soft, parole being too easily obtained and too early, and, more recently, pretrial release being too easily obtained even with multiple prior convictions.   This latter, due no doubt to its relative novelty, is the most discussed at the moment.   In several American jurisdictions liberals have demanded and sometimes obtained the elimination of cash bail either entirely, as in Illinois as of New Year’s Day this year, or for all but the most heinous of crimes, as in New York four years ago.   In Canada, criminal law falls under the jurisdiction of the Dominion government, even though in practice its day to day administration is carried out by the provinces, and so provincial premiers and legislatures cannot enact such policies within their own provinces the way American state governments can.   Not that any of the current provincial premiers would want to do so.  In January of this year all provincial and territory premiers signed a letter unanimously calling on the Dominion government to enact bail reform of the opposite sort to that of the just mentioned Illinois and New York examples, the toughening of bail laws to make it much harder for a repeat offender or one likely to repeat, to be released back into the public.  Unfortunately, the Canadian politicians most in sync with American liberals in their thinking on this matter happen to be the ones in power at the Dominion level.  


In 2018, while they still had a majority government, the Liberals introduced Bill C-75 which passed Parliament the following year.   Bill C-75 contained a number of amendments to the Criminal Code and related legislation such as the Youth Criminal Justice Act.   While I consider most, if not all, of these amendments to be bad, they fall into three categories.   The first is those which are bad for reasons that are not germane to what we are discussing here, such as the lowering of the age of consent for anal sex.   The second consists of amendments that limit the traditional rights of Canadians when accused of crimes.   Examples include the near-elimination of preliminary inquiries (intended to speed cases through the court system this has the opposite effect and so infringes on the right to a speedy trial), the abolition of peremptory challenge in juror selection (this infringes as it was intended to do on the defense’s right to exclude those prejudiced against the accused from the jury system), and allowing police to testify via affidavit (this infringes on the right of the accused to confront and cross-examine his accuser).   What needs to be said about these amendments is that while they do not err in the direction of being soft-on-crime in the sense we have been discussing (1) they are not legitimate steps in the opposite direction either.   There are a lot of people who confuse the rights of the accused with soft-on-crime but they are very different.   The rights of the accused are there to protect the innocent from the abuse of the criminal justice system.   They may, at times, result in a guilty person getting off, but they are based on the traditional conviction that for justice to fail in this manner is to be preferred over it failing by punishing the innocent, a conviction that is right and Scriptural (see Genesis 18).   Soft-on-crime policies do not protect the innocent from wrongful accusation but are rather about lighter sentences for criminals that disregard the safety of the public.   The third category consists of amendments of the soft-on-crime type.   Examples of this include the hybridization of offences and the related reduction of sentences and, most relevantly, the amendments to the bail provisions of the Criminal Code.  The stated purpose of the bail amendments was to make the earliest possible release the default outcome of an arraignment rather than detention, with fewer conditions and less requirements of cash, bond, or other surety.   In other words it was very similar in intent to Cuomo’s experiment in bail elimination in New York around the same time.


It was similar in effect too and one consequence of that was the aforementioned unanimous letter by the premiers demanding that the Dominion government walk this back and make bail harder for repeat violent offenders.   In May, David Lametti, who lamentably holds the portfolio of Minister of Justice and Attorney General in His Majesty’s government – lamentably because he has shown in numerous ways, the most recent being his favourable attitude towards criminalizing disagreement with the obviously distorted and easily debunked false official narrative about the Indian Residential Schools, that he ought not to be put in charge of the penalty box at a hockey game, much less the Ministry of Justice -  responded to the premiers’ demands with Bill C-48 which proposed further amendments to the bail system.   Unfortunately, but sadly not unpredictably, the “reform” that stands out the most is itself an egregious error of the sort contained in the second category of bad amendments in Bill C-75.   This is the proposed reverse onus for repeat violent offenders.   In other words, someone previously convicted of a violent offence, arrested a second time, would have to prove that he should be granted bail, rather than the Crown having to prove that it should be denied him.   This is something that all the Justice and Public Safety Ministers – Dominion, provincial, territorial – called for when they met in Ottawa in March.   Admittedly, this is a lesser offense against the principle of the presumption of innocence than reversing the burden of proof when it comes to guilt in an actual trial would be, but it still offends against the principle, opening the door for worse such offences.   Indeed, an examination of Bill C-48 demonstrates that most of the proposed amendments are merely different variations on the idea of reverse onus.   With all the possible ways out there of toughening up our policies towards crime without violating even in minor ways the ancient and sacred principles like the presumption of innocence that protect us all from abuse of the criminal justice system, this was the best the provincial governments could recommend and the federal government could come up with?


What is behind this push to implement policies that turn dangerous criminals back out into the streets as quickly as possible and to meet complaints about how this undermines public safety not by walking back said policies but by eroding the rights of the accused and the principles that underlie them?


We might say that it is an inversion in the priority of sympathies in which some people sympathize more with those who commit crime than with those who are its victims.    This inversion manifests itself in a number of different ways.   One of these is the liberal’s refusal to acknowledge the legitimacy and right of defending one’s self, one’s loved ones, and one’s property from criminals.    Look at the current uproar over country and western singer Jason Aldean’s song “Try That in a Small Town” and the accompanying video.  The song’s lyrics talk about violent urban crime such as sidewalk assaults, carjacking, liquor store robbery, etc. and challenges the thugs who do these sort of things to “try that in a small town”.   Sniveling idiots like Sheryl Crow have accused Aldean of “promoting violence” in the song and worse idiots have accused him of promoting “lynching” on the flimsy grounds that one had apparently taken place a century ago on the popular filming location where he shot the video.   To normal people, the person who sucker punches someone on the sidewalk, the carjacker, and the liquor store robber are guilty of criminal violence, and someone fighting back in defense of himself and his community is using legitimate force.  The distinction is lost on liberals – and people who whatever their politics have had their minds and souls destroyed by being brainwashed with human resources and public relations “education” – who use the word violence to describe people who exercise their God-given right of self-defense to repel criminal assaults with force but avoid using this word for the criminal assaults themselves.  While this inversion would not be a wrong answer to the question, it is a description of the problem rather than an explanation for it.


We could say that it is a result, intended or otherwise, of sixty to seventy years of liberal and progressive crusading against discrimination.   The population of prison inmates looks very different from the general population.   This may be true of economic status.   The imprisoned are far more likely to come from poverty than from wealth.   Note, however, that the poorer outnumber the richer in the general population in any society.   It is certainly true of race.   In the United States the black percentage of the prison population is far higher than the black percentage of the general population.   In Canada this same disparity exists between the representation of North American Indians in the prison population and the general population.   By contrast, in both countries, the percentage of Asians in gaol is far lower than in the general population.   It is also true of sex.   Indeed, here the greatest disparity is to be found.   In Canada, women represent on average about five percent of the incarcerated.   In the United States it is higher, about eight to ten percent.   In both countries, however, men are vastly overrepresented in the prison population if the basis of the comparison is their representation in the general population.   Even though the disparity with regards to sex is much, much, greater than the disparity with regards to race, and greater still than the disparity with regards to economic status, it is never alluded to by those who demand the criminal justice system be reformed in a softer-on-crime way because it is unfair.   Neither do they reference Asian underrepresentation.   This is because both of these facts go against their narrative in which society and its structures are biased against women rather than against men and in favour of whites against all other races.   Indeed, when it comes to the huge disparity with regards to sex, this not only goes against the narrative it rebuts it entirely.   The reason men comprise ninety percent or higher of the prison population is because men commit ninety percent or higher of the crimes that land one in gaol.    There is not really much of a dispute about this.   Discrimination in the system, therefore, is not the cause of male overrepresentation in the prison population which is not really overrepresentation when the basis of comparison is what it should be, the percentage of males in the general population who commit crime.   This suggests that something similar could be argued for the overrepresentation of blacks in the American prison population and of Indians in the Canadian prison population, a suggestion supported by the underrepresentation of Asians in the prisons of both countries, which can hardly be explained by a racial bias that favours whites against all others, and by statistics gleaned from the victims of crime as to the race of the perpetrator.   Liberals and progressives treat any suggestion that the races overrepresented in the prison populations of Canada and the United States are not overrepresented when contrasted with the percentages of each race among the criminal perpetrator population rather than the general population, no matter how backed by facts and data that suggestion may be, as arising out of racism.  Their actions, however, and the policies they support demonstrate that they do not really believe this, that on an unspoken level they acknowledge it, but in their need to be seen and to see themselves as sympathetic with American blacks, Canadian Indians, and, to switch to the economic status category, the poor, they blame the larger society for this.   This makes them, of course, vulnerable to all the ugly accusations they hurl against others.   Blaming the larger society for the overrepresentation of American blacks, Canadian Indians, and the poor is to deny agency to blacks, Indians, and the poor.   Furthermore, justifying being soft-on-crime in the name of being fair to these groups, overlooks the fact that they are also overrepresented among the victims of crime.   This is a fact that goes hand-in-glove with these same groups being overrepresented among the perpetrators of crime because the majority of crimes are in-group rather than perpetrated by members of one racial or socioeconomic group against members of another.   Therefore, it is favouring soft-on-crime policies that is discriminatory against these groups, because even if American blacks and Canadian Indians are represented among perpetrators of crime at a higher percentage than they are represented among the general population, the majority of these groups are not criminals and all members of these groups, here including the poor, are at a higher risk of being the victims of violent crime than the general population, and so need the protection of hard-on-crime policies more.   However, liberalism and progressivism’s misguided, ill-informed, and myopic crusade against discrimination, while it may explain the shape of the arguments currently used by soft-on-crime liberals and the policies they currently support, it does not explain the origin of their way of thinking.


This is so because liberals have been soft-on-crime for a lot longer than they have been obsessed with discrimination.   In the “Enlightenment”, the seventeenth and eighteenth century movement away from the light of orthodox Christianity into the darkness of the superstitious idolatry of science and materialistic reason that took Puritanism, the anal retentive form of Calvinism and transformed it into liberalism, the anal retentive form of secular agnosticism, the early liberals decided that traditional criminal justice was barbaric and cruel both in its penalties – death for capital crimes like murder, corporal punishment, fines, public humiliation, exile and such for lesser crimes – and its underlying theory – that by breaking the law, criminals incurred a debt to society which they had had to pay.   In place of the older penalties the early liberals wanted incarceration to become the default penalty for crime which they achieved in the nineteenth century.   In the traditional system gaol was merely for holding the accused until trial, long term imprisonment was reserved for political prisoners.   Punishing people for their crimes, the liberals said, was not justice but revenge.  This is nonsense.  In all the ancient accounts of the origins of the traditional criminal justice system, from Aeschylus’ tragedic account of the origins of jury trials in his retelling of the myths of Agamemnon, Clytemnestra and Orestes in the Oresteia to the account of the establishment of refugee cities in ancient Israel in sacred Scripture, the criminal justice system was not based on revenge but implemented to curb the lust for revenge and protect societies from out of control cycles of vengeance.   Although obviously, for criminal justice to do this, it must legitimately satisfy the need which blood vengeance seeks to satisfy in an illegitimate manner – unsuccessfully as its tendency to get out of control indicates – there is a careful and clear distinction between the two.   In revenge, a wrong doer’s debt is owed to the victim or his kin, and they exact it from him to the extent that they are able and that they themselves see fit.  Under justice, the debt is owed to the laws of society, it is not exacted by those with a personal stake in the case but by the lawfully appointed court and its officers, guilt has to be investigated and established and the accused has the right to present his own case, and the law places limits on the penalties that can be exacted.   The Lex Talionis – “an eye for an eye” – whether enshrined in the Code of Hammurabi or the Law of Moses is in its fundamental nature, a limit on the penalty someone can be made to pay for injury to another.   The principle underlying it is that expressed by Cicero in De Legibus III.4, noxiae poena par esto, more commonly remembered as the Roman legal maxim culpae poena par esto which means “let the punishment fit the crime” (or “offense” in Tully’s wording).   By treating the traditional system of criminal justice as being the very thing it was designed to limit, prevent, and replace the liberals committed a most impious injustice against multiple generations of their ancestors stretching back to antiquity.   They argued that making a criminal pay for his offence must not be the goal of the criminal justice system, that the only acceptable goals were deterring others from committing similar crimes and reforming or rehabilitating the criminal.   This was the original liberal soft-on-crime attitude.

C. S. Lewis answered this earlier version of the liberal soft-on-crime attitude in an essay entitled “The Humanitarian Theory of Punishment” that was originally published in The Twentieth Century in 1949 and later included in the collection of his essays posthumously edited and published by William Hooper as God in the Dock in 1976.   Lewis clearly felt very strongly on the matter – he alluded to it in later essays, asked T. S. Eliot to write an essay about it in a letter in 1962, and included a discussion of it in his novel That Hideous Strength.   What made Lewis’ response so interesting is that he based his case against the progressive view to which he gave the name found in the title of his essay and his defense of the traditional view on the argument that the progressives’ humanitarian theory failed on the very point on which it claimed superiority over the traditional view, that is, treating offenders in a humane, dignified manner.   Its advocates think it “mild and merciful” but in reality it “disguises the possibility of cruelty and injustice without end”.   Removing the concept of “desert”, i.e., the offender getting what he deserves as punishment for his crime from the picture, removes “the only connecting link between punishment and justice” so that without retributive justice, rehabilitative justice is not justice at all.   By treating crime as essentially pathological and the courts and prison system as essentially therapeutic, the progressive humanitarian theory opens the door to excessive punishment by transferring the decision as to the fate of the convicted into  the hands of “technical experts” trained in “special sciences “which “do not even employ such categories as rights and justice”.   These, since they are operating under the idea that they are curing the criminal rather than punishing him, are not bound by the limits which justice places on what punishment can be exacted from a criminal and will keep on until they are convinced he is cured.   Lewis argued that this theory made it possible for good men to act “as cruelly and unjustly as the greatest tyrants” or “even worse” because “a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive” since “those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience” and while they “may be more likely to go to Heaven” they are also “likelier to make a Hell of earth”.   Lewis argued that far from being “humane” the system advocated by the progressives in the name of humanitarianism treated law breakers as less than human.   This seems indisputable.  The traditional system treated the criminal as responsible for his actions and so owing a debt the payment of which squared the criminal with the law and society.   The progressive humanitarian system denies responsibility to the criminal and keeps his crime dangling above his head forever as the experts who “cured” him keep perennial watch lest he have a “relapse”.


Lewis’ answer to the humanitarian theory, since it addresses it on the level of its fundamental injustice, is an answer that would stand even if the experiment in “curing” criminals had been one hundred percent successful.   The experiment has not been successful.   It has rather proven to be a colossal failure.   Yes, people have gone to prison and come out reformed.   Merle Haggard, referred to at the beginning of this essay, is an example.   His reformation in San Quentin, however, had less to do with the prison’s rehabilitation system working than with its retaining part of the older retributive system.   California did not abolish the death penalty until 1972.    Haggard was sent to San Quentin while Caryl Chessman was serving his last days on death row there before his execution in 1960.   Chessman’s early life, with the experience of being in and out of detention, initially for petty crimes, later for more serious ones, mirrored Haggard’s in some ways.   Later, however, he had been convicted of the “Red Light Bandit” crimes, a series of robberies and rapes that had taken place in the Los Angeles area in 1948, and sentenced to death.   By Haggard’s own testimony it was the experience of being caught brewing liquor in San Quentin and sent to “the shelf” – a row of solitary confinement cells in the same part of the prison as death row – where he saw Chessman, awaiting his execution, and this scared him straight.    He was rehabilitated in prison, but not by the prison, at least not in the direct sense that liberal supporters of the rehabilitation theory had in mind.   Others have entered prison and for various reasons – being further corrupted by worse criminals themselves, being hardened by prison culture and as a necessity for survival, etc. – have ended up worse than when they went in.   According to a research summary entitled “The effect of prison on criminal behaviour” published by Public Safety Canada in November 1999 which looked at 50 studies involving 300 000 offenders “None of the analyses found imprisonment to reduce recidivism”.


The liberal and progressive attitude towards how society should deal with crime and criminals has consistently been based on the conceit that their ideas are more “humane”, “enlightened”, “kind”, “compassionate”, et cetera ad nauseam than anything that preceded them no matter how ancient and time-tested-and-proven.   Initially, this manifested itself as the idea that it is more “humane” to treat criminals as rats in a social experiment in rehabilitation in prison laboratories than to treat them as men, responsible for their actions, who owe a debt to society and society’s laws.   Later, as the progressive conceit evolved from an attitude of superiority to the past and the civilization we have inherited from it to one of hatred for said past and civilization, it manifested itself in the idea that the criminal is the true victim, the real blame belongs to civilized society, and so civilized society must be made to pay rather than the criminal, who should be released into the rest of society as soon as possible with as few conditions as possible.   The progressive mind has proven remarkably resistant to the abundance of evidence demonstrating these ideas to be the very opposite of “humane” and “enlightened”.   For people who are always shooting their mouths off about their “compassion” and demanding that various groups be made “safe” from words and ideas that offend them they are extremely blithe about how their absurd policies make everyday life less safe from the threat of actual physical harm due to violent crime in our cities.


Ultimately, the liberal and progressive conceit goes back to the superstition they imbibed during the period that would more appropriately called the Darkening rather than the Enlightenment.   Having transferred their faith from the True and Living God to the idol of science, they no longer recognized that the True and Living God, in Whom both Perfect Justice and Perfect Mercy are untied without compromise, has delegated authority to two earthly institutions, to one of which He gave a sword and charged it with the exercising of Justice, to the other of which He gave a pulpit and an altar and charged it with bringing His Mercy and Grace to people all of whom are offenders under Divine Law.   The State, consisting of the king and his ministers, an earthly depiction of the government of the Universe, God as King of Kings, served by His ministers in Heaven, for which reason king-headed government is the only legitimate form of the State, was given the sword of Justice, but Justice that was to be tempered with Mercy, for which reason kings and the courts that act in their name have always had the power of clemency and pardon.   The Church, consisting of the Apostolic priesthood and the congregations of baptized Christians they shepherd, brings God’s Mercy and Grace to the sinful world by preaching the Gospel and administering the Sacraments.   While the Church’s ministry is primarily one of Mercy and Grace, as the State’s ministry is primarily one of Justice, just as the State must temper the Justice it exercises with Mercy, so the Church’s Apostolic leadership has been given the keys – the power of excommunication – to exclude from the ministration of Grace those who defiantly persist in rebellious and open sin until such time as they repent.   No longer recognizing the God from Whom the authority of Church and State alike are derived, liberals and progressives reject the Church and have replaced divine Mercy and Grace with inferior human substitutes the burden of distributing which they have placed on the State, the divine authority of which they have sought to replace with democratic power, the power of the mob.   Idols always fail those who worship them, however, and it has become abundantly clear that liberalism’s efforts to create a new justice superior to the old and more merciful after cutting itself off from the Source of true Justice and Mercy have failed and unleashed upon our civilization the opposite of both Justice and Mercy.


It is about time that we as a civilization turned our backs on liberalism forever and returned to the True and Living God, Who is Merciful and Gracious to all who turn to Him in repentance and faith, but has given to the State the sword to punish crime and expects it to be used for the safety of us all.


(1)   The elimination of peremptory challenge in jury selection is not “soft-on-crime” in the sense of making it easier for someone who has committed a crime to go unpunished or with insufficient punishment.  It was included in Bill C-75, however, because the Prime Minister and his Justice Minister at the time – Jody Wilson-Raybould - were outraged that a Saskatchewan farmer was acquitted for using lethal force in defending his farm against an Indian youth who was on the farm for criminal purposes.   Indian groups decried the acquittal as racist because they thought they should have been represented on the jury, apparently failing to understand that one purpose of jury selection is to keep people prejudiced against the accused off the jury and that since a larger percentage of their own end up before judges as the accused than their percentage in the general population it is very much against their own interests to make it harder to do this.   To make it clear, imagine the situation in reverse.   Imagine that some young white idiot went onto a reserve with evil intentions and got himself killed.  Then image that the Indian that killed him was charged with manslaughter or murder.   Then imagine that whites had shown up for the jury selection process making racially charged statements against the accused and were rightly excluded for prejudice against the defendant.   An all-Indian jury acquits the defendant, and the parents of the white kid slain, backed by the organized white community, denounce the outcome and demand that in all future trials where the accused is Indian and the victim white, they be guaranteed spots on the jury.   If you can see what is wrong with the demands of the whites in that scenario, understand that the exact same thing is what was wrong with the demands of the Indians in the real scenario. The real outrage in the affair was that the farmer was charged in the first place.   This was an assault on the right of self-defence for the purposes of appeasing a group that was practicing the very racism of which it was accusing others.   Attacks on the right of self-defence are a different form of “soft-on-crime” since it is against crime, especially violent crime, that this right is exercised.   As for the Prime Minister and Wilson-Raybould, they should have both been required to step down out of office after making their disgraceful remarks in which both were guilty of political interference in a matter of criminal justice, ironically, the very issue over which the two would shortly thereafter find themselves in conflict in the SNC-Lavalin affair.


Wednesday, July 19, 2023

Captain Airhead Opens His Mouth and Something Stupid Comes Out


Captain Airhead has stuck his foot in his mouth again.   Or, to put it another way, he opened his mouth again.   He is incapable of opening his mouth without sticking his foot in it.   Captain Airhead, for those of you fortunate enough not to be familiar with him, is the man who has been Prime Minister of His Majesty’s federal government here in my country, Canada, since the Dominion election of 2015.    In that time, not a year has passed without him being embroiled in at least one major scandal that would have ended the political career of anyone else, including scandals concerning him behaving in ways that had someone else been caught so doing he would have been the first to demand that such be utterly depersoned and driven from public life and polite society.    That he has managed to remain in office so long is a bit of a mystery although I assume that it has something to do with a deal signed with blood at the stroke of midnight in some unhallowed place.   This is a most reasonable assumption.   Since he clearly has no soul now he must have traded it away at some point.  The only real argument against it is that it would be beneath the dignity of the other party to strike such a deal with him.   Those who wish to be unkind often refer to him by the epithet “Justin Trudeau”.


So what has Captain Airhead said this time?


Earlier this month he showed up in Calgary, Alberta for a photo-op at the Stampede.   While there someone caught him on film talking with a Muslim father in the Baitun Nur Mosque, which is the largest mosque in the country and was the host of several events during this year’s Calgary Stampede.    The father expressed his concerns that his children were being exposed to indoctrination that was attacking their religion particularly on alphabet soup gang issues in the public schools.  Captain Airhead replied by basically telling him that he had swallowed “misinformation” peddled by the “American far right”, that the provincial curricula did not include “what is being said out there about aggressive teaching or conversion of kids to being LGBT” and that those who were saying that this was going on were people who “have consistently stood against Muslim rights and the Muslim community.”    The video of this was uploaded to social media and has generated a ton of negative feedback although not near as much as it deserves.


It is important to realize that the questions the Muslim father was putting to Captain Airhead were unavoidable evidence that the unstable coalition that is the foundation of his particular brand of left-wing politics is finally starting to unravel.   He made an attempt to save it by asserting that both Muslims and the alphabet soup gang were facing “increasing levels of violence and hatred” and that “one thing we don’t need right now is for communities that are facing hatred to start turning on each other”.   This was an interesting thing for him to say in the context of a conversation in which he himself was trying to turn Muslims against Christians over an issue on which they are historically and traditionally in agreement, at least in terms of the basic moral principles at stake.   It ought to be noted here that two years ago 68 church buildings in Canada were burned, otherwise vandalized, or desecrated in a string of Christophobic hate crimes whipped up by the media.  Captain Airhead, after giving a weak and anemic condemnation of the Christophobic hate spree, described the hate behind it as “fully understandable”.


This was not the first time that Captain Airhead had dismissed the type of parental concerns expressed by the Muslim father as “far right”.   A look at the previous occasion on which he used this language and the circumstances surrounding it is quite revealing with regards to the credibility of his attempt to assuage parental fears.   In the province of New Brunswick, Policy 713 was enacted by the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development three years ago.   It required schools to maintain gender-neutral bathrooms, use the pronouns and names students chose for themselves, and to basically make the schools as alphabet souper friendly as possible.   Earlier this year, in May, the policy was placed under review following complaints from parents and the following month Blaine Higgs, Premier of New Brunswick announced that it was being revised.   The most relevant revision was that schools in that province would no longer be allowed to facilitate kids living double lives in which they assume new names and gender identities without their parents’ knowledge and consent.   Captain Airhead blew a gasket, threw a hissy fit, and denounced Higgs in a grandstanding manner in which he said such things as “Far-right political actors are trying to outdo themselves with the types of cruelty and isolation they can inflict on these already vulnerable people.”   Note that whenever Captain Airhead – or any other progressive, left-winger or liberal for that matter – speaks of “vulnerable people” he should be understood as meaning “people I am empowering to act as bullies to others with total impunity”.     This was the month that has been renamed after the worst of the Seven Deadly Sins or, to use its deadname, June, and Captain Airhead was addressing something called the Rainbow Railroad Freedom Party which, as I understand it, is an organization that helps alphabet people escape from actual persecution.  One would think that such an organization would know well the difference between being in danger of one’s life on the one hand and of your teacher’s not being allowed to keep secrets from your parents on the other and would have broke out into loud booing when Captain Airhead conflated the two, much like the Indians did when he walked onto the stage to give a speech at the opening of the North American Indigenous Games in Halifax last weekend.   To be fair, there was a little bit of applause later on when he finally shut his mouth, but it seemed like the type featured in the Statler and Waldorf segment on the Muppet Show where the one starts loudly clapping and the other says something to the effect of “it wasn’t that good” getting a response along the lines of “I’m not clapping because I liked it, I'm clapping because it’s over!”


Someone who one month equates the New Brunswick premier’s standing up for parents and no longer allowing schools to hide their under-16 children’s life-altering choices from them with inflicting cruelty is clearly not speaking in bona fide when the next month he tries to assure a father that the schools are not trying to convert his children to alternate sexual and gender identities.


“Far right”, of course, as Captain Airhead uses it is merely an empty pejorative with no real meaning.   Anyone who opposes him and his ideas if they can properly be called that is “far right” to Captain Airhead.   Of course the expression “far right” is rather silly even when used with a precise meaning.  It is often understood to mean “Nazi” even though the historical Nazis thought of themselves as leftists, opposed everything the original, traditional, and historical right stood for and embraced urban industrialism, rapid technological advancement, and basically everything the term progress conveyed in the first half of the twentieth century.   Even the one part of their program that was ostensibly right-wing, their fierce opposition to Communism, was not right-wing anti-communism, i.e., anti-communism based on a loathing of what Communism stood for - militant atheism, destructive revolutionary violence, egalitarian levelling, and blind faith in materialistic science - but the anti-communism of a rival that was as close to Communism as possible without being Communist, a fact evident both in the Nazis’ use of “socialist” in the name of their movement and in the remarkable similarities between the apparatus of totalitarian state oppression both systems established in their respective regimes.   The Nazis, therefore, were not right-wing at all in any traditional sense of the word, much less “far” or “extremely” right-wing.   The use of “far right” as an epithet, whether used with a precise meaning or simply as an empty slur, reveals the user of the term to be an idiot.


When people use epithets in this loose manner they eventually lose their force.  It has been several years since everyone realized that when a liberal calls someone a racist this doesn’t mean much more than “I disagree with you” or “I dislike you”.   This is why liberals have taken to using stronger insults like “white supremacist” or “far right”.   Since, however, these words have a much narrower meaning than “racist” their lifespan as effective liberal insults is much shorter.   Mercifully, the more liberally and loosely people like Captain Airhead throw these insults around, the shorter that lifespan will be.   I suspect that most parents who see the now viral video of Captain Airhead sticking his foot in his mouth and understand the context will think something along the lines of “if it is far right for us to want our pre-pubescent children protected from those who would rob them of the innocence of childhood by exposing them to non-traditional ideas about sex and gender way too early then count us as far right”.   I, for one, am willing to own the label “far right” if Captain Airhead insists on using it in this manner.   Since I am right wing in an ad fontes manner, i.e., still holding to and emphasizing the things the original continental “right” and the pre-conservative Tories stood for, i.e., pre-Modern traditions and institutions such as royal monarchy, orthodox Christianity, the Church and its Apostolic hierarchy, the code of chivalry, rural agrarianism, technoskepticism and our civilization’s entire heritage from ancient times and Christendom, “far right” is a less absurd label in my case than it is in those of most of the people to whom liberals apply it.   Since, in Canada, the equally absurd habit of referring to those who are “conservative” in the traditional, orthodox Christian, monarchist sense of the word as opposed to “neoconservatives” who are “conservative” in the American sense of being classical liberals as “Red Tories”, let us compound the absurdity by saying that I am a far right Red Tory.


The distinction just mentioned between the traditional and American senses of the word “conservative” brings me around to my final point about Captain Airhead’s remarks.   His use of the word “American” before “far right” is clearly intended to convey the idea that the parental concerns he was addressing is rooted in a form of thinking that is American and foreign to Canada.   This is extremely rich coming someone who not only leads the Liberal Party, which from Confederation to this day has been the party of Americanization in Canada, but who personally gives off the impression that he never wipes his own arse without permission from the White House to do so.   I have made the point several times in the past that the Canadian left has never had an idea that it did not borrow from the American left.   The progressive income tax, central banking, the welfare state in both its New Deal introduction in the 1930s and its Great/Just Society expansion in the 1960s, anti-discrimination laws, liberal immigration, judicial activism that banned the Bible and prayer from public schools, abortion-on-demand, and no-fault divorce are among the liberal innovations that were introduced in the United States first with Canadian liberals later following their example.   More recently, critical race theory inspired movements of national self-loathing, race riots masquerading as protests, and Year Zero monument toppling began with Black Lives Matter in the United States which was followed by Every Child Matters in Canada.   The exceptions that prove the rule are single-payer healthcare and same-sex marriage.


In the very matter which we have been discussing Captain Airhead by demonizing parental opposition to teachers indoctrinating their kids with ideas that conflict with their fundamental values is himself following an American example.   In the fall of 2021 several American school boards were facing heavy criticism from parents over what their children were being taught.   In this case the teaching of critical race theory was the pivotal issue but the conflict between educators who thought they had the right to propagandize children however they saw fit and parents who correctly insisted that they ought to have the final say over the educators was essentially the same.   In late September, the National School Board Association published a letter they had sent to J. Brandon Magoo, or, as he will undoubtedly be known now following the discovery of a white substance resembling sugar in appearance as well as the properties of being highly addictive and eliciting similar responses in the euphoric centres of  the brain in his residence at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington DC, Joe Blow.   In the letter they asked Magoo to look into using the PATRIOT ACT, the piece of tyrannical totalitarian legislation passed in 2001 that allows the American government to circumvent the limits the American constitution placed on its powers in order to protect the civil rights and liberties of its citizens in the name of fighting the bogeyman of terrorism, against those parents who had the nerve to think that they had a say in what their own kids were to be taught, characterizing the parents who were showing up at school board meetings to loudly voice their complaints as hate groups, extremists, and domestic terrorists.   A few days later Magoo’s Attorney General, Merrick Garland, sent a memo to FBI director Christopher Wray telling him that the Department of Justice would be announcing measures to address “the rise in criminal conduct directed towards school personnel” and instructing him to reach out to the United States Attorneys and local law enforcement within thirty days of the memo to coordinate their efforts in implementing the new measures.   Among the measures Garland’s DOJ took were the establishment of a task force in which counterterrorism agencies were represented and of a FBI snitch line to facilitate the tagging of outspoken parents as potential threats.   All of this was quickly leaked after which the school boards of almost half of the American states dropped their affiliation with the National School Board Association.   The humiliated NSBA apologized for the language they had used and withdrew the letter from publication.   It was later revealed that Magoo’s Secretary of Education, Miguel Cardona, had asked the NSBA to write the letter and provided assistance with its drafting.   Garland, subpoenaed to testify before the House Judiciary Committee, maintained that parents voicing their viewpoints at schoolboard meetings were not the issue, merely actual crimes like threats, violence, intimidation, and harassment.   Unfortunately for him, the only evidence that any such things were taking place on a scale out of the ordinary was the assertions of the withdrawn latter.   Those who made such assertions seem to have been engaging in the same sleight of hand employed by Captain Airhead in his assertion about “increasing levels of violence and hatred” against Muslims and alphabet people, a sleight of hand very common on the left today.   It involves the redefinition of “violence” to include words – and not just words of the “I’m going to *fill in violent act here* you” sort, but words deemed to be violent because someone who is offended by them no longer “feels safe”.   Indeed, the people who think that words can amount to “violence” in this way have even taken it as a step further and identified certain types of the absence of words as violence.   Remember how in the BLM hysteria of three years ago the inane slogan “silence is violence” was rolled out?   The idea behind this was that you need to jump on board the BLM bandwagon, affirm everything they told you to affirm, and start spouting the same drivel as them, and that to fail to do so was itself a form of aggression against those on whose behalf they purported to speak and so a form of “violence”.   People crazy enough to think this way and to think that educational professionals and experts have the right to decide what to indoctrinate kids with without the input or approval of the kids’ parents would obviously interpret outspoken and angry opposition to what they were doing as violence.  Indeed, this is exactly what can be found in the NSBA letter, which supported its assertions by referencing a number of incidents, nearly all of which merely involved angry speech rather than violence or the literal threat thereof.


In all of this, the Magoo administration proved even more adamant and inflexible in its support of the position that professional educators and educational experts should have control of pedagogy without having to answer to parents than the National School Board Association.   Indeed, considering that Magoo officials requested the NSBA letter and coached the association in the writing of it, it is clear that the impetus for labelling parents who disagree, parents who think that the job of raising their children belongs to them and that part of that job is protecting their children from those, including teachers, who want to poison their minds with critical race theory, gender ideology and other such excrement, parents who voice their views, as the equivalent of terrorists came from the Magoo White House.   The Magoo administration has shown a strong disposition ever since it took power to treating serious political opponents as a national threat.  


Captain Airhead, who scratches every time Magoo gets an itch, shares this disposition.   This was evident in his tyrannical invoking of the Emergencies Act to crush a non-violent protest against his unjust and evil vaccine mandates in February of last year.   It is evident today in his arrogant attitude towards parents who do not want their kids’ heads filled with garbage about sex and gender identity in school.   Such parental concern is not an American import as he suggests.   It would be better described as being universal, arising as it does out of the natural and good instinct of parents to protect their children.   If anything is an unwanted American import here, it is his own bad attitude.


He really ought to learn to keep his mouth shut.   You would think he would be sick of the taste of his own feet by now.

Saturday, July 1, 2023

Canada’s Greatest Need


It is 1 July, the anniversary of the day in 1867 on which the British North America Act came into effect establishing the Confederation of the provinces of Canada – the single province into which Upper and Lower Canada had been united in 1841, now split into two provinces again - New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia into the Dominion of Canada.   Between 1867 and 1905, the provinces of Manitoba, British Columbia, Prince Edward Island, Saskatchewan and Alberta would be added to Confederation, with Newfoundland joining in 1949.   Also part of Canada since 1870 are the territories, originally all the Northwest Territories, with Yukon becoming a distinct territory in 1898 and Nunavut much more recently in 1999.   Until 1982 the anniversary of our country was celebrated as Dominion Day, because it was the day Canada became a Dominion – a term our Fathers of Confederation chose themselves, out of the Bible, as a substitute for their original choice of title “Kingdom” - and which became the designation within the British Empire of a country under the reign of the shared monarch which governed herself through her own Parliament.   When the British Empire evolved into the British Commonwealth the term Commonwealth Realm took on the same meaning within the new arrangement but Canada is still designated a Dominion in what was renamed the "Constitution Act, 1867" in the same year that the holiday was renamed.   Although the change of the name of the founding document was accomplished legally – unlike the change in the name of the holiday which was snuck through Parliament on a hot summer’s Friday with less than a quorum present – traditionalists such as myself still call it the British North America Act, just as we continue to celebrate today as Dominion Day.


This year for Dominion Day we shall be looking at our country’s greatest need, something that while it would not make all of the problems that afflict Canada – social, economic, cultural, moral, political, etc. – go away, would provide a large degree of relief in many if not all of these areas.   No, I do not mean a change in our federal premiership for while undoubtedly the present Prime Minister has contributed significantly to making all of our problems worse for the last eight years, there is no guarantee that his successor and replacement would be much or any better.   Our greatest need is for something much deeper than that.  It is for spiritual and religious revival.


In North America the word “revival” has had certain associations since the eighteenth century.   Itinerant open-air preaching of the type John Wesley and George Whitefield specialized in, threats of hell-fire and damnation like in the sermons of Jonathan Edwards, all-week camp meetings, tents and the sawdust trail, coming forward to confess Christ and shake the hand of sensationalist and theatrical ball-player turned evangelist Billy Sunday, “I see that hand”, the uncompromising morality and theology of Bob Jones Sr., and most recently Billy Graham and “Just as I Am”.   All of these associations are the outward trappings of a kind of revival that centred around the conversion of either outright unbelievers or those whose Christianity had been merely nominal or formal to an active personal faith in Jesus Christ.   When used in this sense, revival so overlaps evangelism that the distinction between the two is in danger of being lost.   The two, however, are not the same and the difference is an important one.


Revival comes from the verb revive which literally means to live again or to bring back to life although we generally use it in the sense of restoring consciousness or energy rather than resurrection.   While passing from spiritual death to new life in Jesus Christ certainly fits the literal definition the concept of revival, which is derived from the Old Testament, is of the restoring to new life of God’s people rather than of individuals.   In the Old Testament, the idea of God’s people as a specific nation, Israel, and the idea of God’s people as a spiritual assembly, the Congregation of the Lord, were to a great degree interchangeable.   This is not the case in the New Testament, in which God’s people are the Church, a spiritual assembly drawn from every kindred, tribe, and nation in which the wall between Israel and the Gentiles has been broken down.   The New Testament is the substance, the Old is the shadow, and so on this side of the Cross and Empty Tomb, revival is primarily the revival of the Church rather than the national societies in which the Church is found.   Paradoxically, however, since the Church is a multi-national society, when revival comes to the Church in a particular national community, the nation experiences a renewal or awakening to some degree as well.


When I say, therefore, that revival is Canada’s greatest need, I mean that our country’s greatest need is for the Church to undergo a spiritual reawakening here that will spill over into a renewal of our general society.


A genuine spiritual awakening of the Church does not have to outwardly resemble the revivals of the eighteenth to early twentieth centuries.   Historically, revivals of this type have been more associated with American expressions of Christianity than with those in Canada although an examination of revivals in the two countries reveals that differences in regional culture are just as important as differences in natural culture in determining the shape of revival.  In the early eighteenth century, before the American and Loyalist traditions broke from each other, with the Loyalist merging with the French Canadian tradition to become the national tradition of the Dominion of Canada, the revival known historically as the Great Awakening took place in both the colonies of New England which would become the core of Yankee culture and in what would become the Maritime Provinces.     In New England the Great Awakening proved to be less a revival of Christianity – the Churches in which it occurred would apostasize into deism, liberalism, and Unitarianism in less than a century – than of Puritanism, the schismatic, extremist, form of Calvinism that spawned that trio of Modern Age evils, liberalism, Americanism and Communism.   This was not the case with the same revival in the Maritimes which remained Loyal.  The difference was, perhaps, due to the less stringently Calvinist character of the revival in the Maritimes.     The Wesleyan revival in England is often credited with having had the opposite effect of the Puritan revival in New England and sparing the United Kingdom from experiencing the sort of bloody, Puritan-inspired, proto-Communist revolution that introduced murderous totalitarian republicanism to France in the late eighteenth century.  In North America, however, in pre-Confederation days, the United States sponsored Methodist revivalist meetings in English Canada for the purpose of generating class strife and undermining the Loyalist establishment.   This undoubtedly added significantly to the suspicion of revivalism already held by the more traditional expressions of Canadian Christianity – French Roman Catholicism, English Anglicanism, and Scottish Presbyterianism – on the grounds that it was unbalanced and placed too much weigh on personal experience.   These suspicions were hardly unfounded.   While John Wesley and George Whitefield had laid an orthodox foundation for the revival movement in the eighteenth century, their influence was eclipsed in the nineteenth century by that of Charles G. Finney, a converted lawyer whose anything-but-orthodox theology resembled the early Church heresy of Pelagianism and who taught a rationalistic, mechanical, doctrine of revival in which it was the automatic outcome of following a prescribed method or technique, prompting B. B. Warfield to harshly, but not inaccurately, say of his theology that “God might be eliminated from it entirely without changing its essential character”.

That notwithstanding, the North American evangelistic style of revival is not entirely foreign to Canada.   The best known distinctive Canadian revival of this sort is likely the one that began in Saskatoon in October of 1971 when Bill McLeod, pastor of Ebenezer Baptist, invited twin evangelists Ralph and Lou Sutra to hold a week and a half of meetings.   By the end of the week the crowds coming to the meetings had swelled to the point that they surpassed the capacity of the Baptist building, were moved to a larger Anglican Church, then to the larger yet Christian and Missionary Alliance building, before the Saskatoon Centennial Auditorium with a capacity of over 2000 had to be rented.   The week and a half, of course, had to be repeatedly extended and in the end went for seven weeks in total.   The revival spread from Saskatoon to the Saskatchewan provincial capital of Regina, then here to Winnipeg, the provincial capital of Manitoba which was McLeod’s home town, eventually spreading across the prairies and into British Columbia.   The story of this revival was told at book length by Kurt E. Koch in Revival Fires in Canada (1973), then again by Saskatoon-born Erwin Lutzer in Flames of Freedom (1976).  Note that this revival began in the prairie province of Saskatchewan, spread east to the prairie province of Manitoba, and made it to the west coast but was largely a prairie phenomenon.   This further illustrates what was said previously about regional cultural differences being as important as national ones.   It does not mean that the prairie provinces are more “American” than the rest of Canada – as a lifelong Manitoban and a lifelong Loyalist Tory, I would very much resent such a suggestion.   The prairies, however, and the American Midwest, share elements of a regional culture that may explain why revivals of this particular form are more common in these regions than elsewhere in both countries.


The last century also saw a new branch spring from the roots of the older revivalism.  Pentecostalism was born from the Holiness movement, the branch of Wesleyanism that stressed the most unfortunate false doctrine of perfection in this life, in the Azusa Street Revival in Los Angeles that began in 1906.   This was a different type of revival that in one very limited sense was closer to the Scriptural concept of revival.   That sense is that it was primarily something that occurred among those who already professed Christian faith, rather than the mass evangelism of the unconverted.   The Holiness movement already taught the idea of a “second blessing” in which the Holy Ghost comes upon a Christian after conversion and eradicates the sin nature.  Pentecostalism modified this concept of a “second blessing” into one in which the Holy Ghost comes upon the individual Christian and bestows upon him the sign-and-wonder working power exercised by the Apostles in the early days of the Church, this “second blessing” – “third blessing” at first, because the original Pentecostals were still Holiness believers – manifesting itself in the gift of tongues and being identical in Pentecostal thought, albeit not in orthodox truth, with baptism of the Holy Ghost.    Since the Pentecostal movement split into multiple schisms pretty much from its inception some of which revived not Christianity but ancient heresies like Sabellianism, those of us who are skeptical towards identifying this as a genuine revival might be pardoned for so being.  The Pentecostal movement developed into a denomination – or rather class of denominations – of its own.  Later in the twentieth century the distinctive doctrines of Pentecostalism and, more relevantly the associated concept of revival, was borrowed by the Charismatic movement that at first was distinguished from Pentecostalism primarily by its taking place in other, more traditional and mainstream, denominations of Christianity.  Eventually it too produced new denominations and out of one of these, John Wimber’s Vineyard Movement which began as a schism from Chuck Smith’s Calvary Chapel, itself a schism from the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel, a Pentecostal sect founded by the American celebrity female evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson, a string of revivals of the Pentecostal/Charismatic type broke out in the mid-1990s.   One of the first of these, and the one which attracted such international attention that its name is sometimes used synonymously with this entire wave of revival, took place in the provincial capital of Upper Canada.   This was the “Toronto Blessing” that began in what was then called the Toronto Airport Vineyard in January of 1994.   These revivals proved controversial among Christians, even more so than previous versions of this phenomenon.  Hank Hanegraaff, director of the Christian Research Institute took the position that rather than being genuine movements of God they did more harm than good, a position he argued at book length in his 1997 The Counterfeit Revival.   James A. Beverley, a professor at Tyndale Seminary, took a more nuanced approach in his Holy Laughter and the Toronto Blessing: An Investigative Report (1995).   As for myself, I was in my last semester in high school when the Toronto Blessing started and by the time I started my theological studies in the fall of the same year it was spreading.   Here in Winnipeg the phenomenon was dubbed “Prairie Fire” and it was very much the talk of the campus at the time.   I was a skeptic then and am a skeptic now.   I do not mean that I question those who say they experienced God and grew closer to Him through this.   What I mean is that when I compare how revival supposedly manifested itself in the 1990s – laughing, barking like a dog, collapsing, shaking – with how it manifested itself in Saskatoon in 1971 – people coming to faith in Jesus Christ, confessing their sins to the very large congregation and asking for forgiveness, confessing their crimes to the police, abandoning divorce proceedings and restoring their marriages – my impression of what happened in the ‘90s is best expressed in the words of Canadian country and western superstar Shania Twain, “that don’t impress me much”.


Which brings me back to the point that led in to this discussion and comparison of these well-known Canadian examples of evangelical and Charismatic revivals.   The genuine spiritual awakening within the Christian Churches that is our country’s greatest need will if it comes not be limited to although it may include these evangelical types of revival.   In Lower Canada, the decline into its lamentable present condition of secularism, welfare-socialism, and a language-based nationalism that is needlessly hostile to the unity of the country and the interests of other Canadians was directly tied to the decline of Roman Catholicism in the province into a surface nominalism, both declines culminating in the “Quiet Revolution” of the 1960s.   Revival there would be more likely to take the form of a mass return of the province’s Roman Catholics to the authority, beliefs, ethical teachings and traditions of their Church.   It would be something along the lines of them all becoming SSPX Latin Mass types, probably sedevacantists too, and finally demanding and obtaining the excommunication of the Trudeau family if not demanding that the Trudeaus be turned over to the Holy Office or Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith or whatever name the Inquisition now goes under with the request that it go Medieval on their derrieres.  


The two largest Protestant denominations in Canada are according to the latest statistics still the United Church of Canada and the Anglican Church of Canada.   These are what have become of the two main Canadian Christian traditions other than French Roman Catholicism from before Confederation.   The United Church of Canada was formed in 1925 by the strange wedding of Presbyterianism with Methodism.   Until 1955 Canadian Anglicanism was still formally part of the Mother Church of the Anglican Communion, the Church of England, but in 1955 the Church’s ecclesiastical provinces in the Dominion of Canada were federated into the Anglican Church of Canada  in a process that rather resembled how the country was formed in Confederation.   That these are still the largest denominations other than the Roman Catholic Church may seem surprising to those familiar with the work in the sociology of religion done by the University of Lethbridge’s Reginald W. Bibby.   In a number of books, including Fragmented Gods (1987) and Unknown Gods (1993), Bibby has analyzed the decline of religion in Canada and one of his observations has been that Churches that remain conservative or orthodox retain their membership and even grow better than those that embrace liberalism.   Yet liberalism has so permeated the United Church that there is not much of anything else left and it has heavily infiltrated the Anglican Church as well although not quite to the same extent yet.   Part of the explanation, no doubt, is the gap between what people identify as their religion on surveys and their actual active involvement in the Church.   The vast majority of my relatives are either United Church or Anglican in affiliation but this does not mean that you will find most of them in the pew regularly or in some cases ever.   In one of Sir Kingsley Amis’ novels he says of a character that he always filled in the blank on forms for religion with “C of E” to indicate the Church whose door he never darkened and whose services he never attended.  This gap is much larger for the United Church and Anglican Church than for denominations in which liberalism is not such a problem.   Another part of the explanation is that conservative or orthodox Churches are divided over a large number of denominations no one of which is as large as the United or Anglican.


Liberalism in this context means a Church’s accommodation of her beliefs and teachings to ideas that spring from rationalist presuppositions that it is popularly but mistakenly assumed have been confirmed by science or some other form of Modern inquiry, the idea that science and Modern inquiry in general have the potential to confirm such presuppositions being itself a mistaken assumption.   It varies in extent and degree with the most severe being the kind that regards the supernatural or miraculous as primitive superstitious ideas that have been debunked by Modern technique and so rejects all the tenets of the Christian faith confessed in the ancient Creeds or reinterprets them in such a way that to confess them with the new interpretation would be to confess unbelief rather than faith.   It is a thought poison that kills Churches and the larger societies in which those Churches are found.   Since this is the disease killing the two Churches representing the Christian traditions other than the Roman Catholic that have played the most significant roles in our country’s history, the revival we need is a revival that brings these Churches back to life with an uncompromisingly orthodox adherence to and proclamation of essential Christian Truth against Modern and rationalistic ideas.


In the 1830s, the Church of England underwent a revival led by men seeking precisely this, to combat the encroaching influence of rationalism, Modernism, and liberalism.   This revival was very influential in pre-Confederation Canadian Anglicanism.   It began with a sermon entitled “National Apostasy” preached by the Rev. John Keble against the Reform Act from the University Pulpit at St. Mary’s, Oxford on 14 July, 1833.   It was spread through a series of “Tracts for the Times” published from 1833 to 1841.   The leaders of this revival, such as Keble, Edward B. Pousey, and John Henry Newman were associated with Oxford University.   Accordingly, the revival is known as “The Oxford Movement” or alternately the Tractarian Movement after the publications.   The Movement promoted primitive – in the positive sense of belonging to the early centuries of Christianity – orthodox Christianity, the practice of reading the Scriptures while sitting at the feet of the Fathers (1), frequent – and by this they meant daily not weekly – participation in Holy Communion, practical holiness, a renewed recognition of the authority established in the Church by Jesus Christ through His Apostles and that this and not that bestowed by the state is the Church’s true authority and establishment, and worshipping God liturgically in the “beauty of holiness” (Psalm 96:9).   Calvinists saw all this as a betrayal of the Reformation and were, unfortunately, given plenty of ammunition for making this accusation by Newman’s crossing the Tiber and receiving a cardinal’s cap.   They missed the point, as Calvinists usually do.   It was not the heritage of the Reformation, at least the English Reformation, that the Tractarians fought against but rationalism, liberalism, and Modernism, and they believed that the best way to combat these things was to renew their Church’s connection with the pre-Modern heritage and tradition of the entire Church.  


In Canada, the Right Reverend John Strachan who was consecrated the first Bishop of Toronto in 1839, while the Oxford Movement revival was underway, and who died the year of Confederation after a long career in which he arguably did more than any other single person to shape the form of Upper Canadian Anglicanism, was a man very much in sympathy with the Oxford Movement and expressed as much in his correspondence with John Henry Newman although strangely, considering his admirable and fierce opposition to Americanism, it was the Right Reverend John Henry Hobart, Episcopal Bishop of New York who had first influenced him in this direction before the Oxford Movement even began (Hobart died in 1830).   The Oxford Movement’s influence in Upper Canadian Anglicanism did not end with Bishop Strachan’s death but continued to spread.  John Charles Roper, who had studied in Keble College – founded in 1870 and named after John Keble – at Oxford, became the Professor of Divinity at Trinity College, the last of the many schools Bishop Strachan had founded, in 1886 and in this capacity promoted the vision of the Oxford Movement as he did as rector of the parish of St. Thomas.   He would later be consecrated Bishop of British Columbia before being translated to the See of Ottawa where he would serve for a quarter of a century and would become the Metropolitan Archbishop over the Ecclesiastical Province.   So yes, the Oxford Movement, the Anglican Catholic Revival, was very influential in the development of the Anglican Church of Canada and this influence can still be seen in the architecture, vestments, and practice of regular Communion even in parishes that would not wish to identify with the Oxford Movement.


The problem is that just as the sawdust trail, camp meetings, etc. were merely the outward trappings of the North American evangelistic revivals and not the inner essence which was the preaching of the Gospel and conversion of unbelievers, so the forms, rituals, etc. were the outward trappings of the Anglican Catholic Revival and not the inner essence, which was the renewal of the Church’s spiritual connection with the ancient, pre-Schism, Church to renew her to stand against the errors of Modernity.   I say this not to disparage these outward trappings – smells and bells are far more to my taste and liking than making “worship” as indistinguishable from a nightclub as possible, but because our  Anglican Church of Canada, I am afraid, has not been near as faithful to the inner essence of the Oxford Revival as it has to the outward trappings.   This is why our Church is in desperate need of the same kind of revival as is needed by the United Church – a revival of belief in the truths of Christianity as confessed in the ancient Creeds and taught by the Church Fathers rather than some watered down and explained away with rationalistic gibber gabber version of the same, and a revival of the courage to proclaim these truths, to proclaim Christ Crucified, in an uncompromising manner, rather than to preach social justice, recycling, cutting carbon emissions, the racist idea that racism is the worst of evils and that all whites are guilty of it and everybody else is the victim of it, gender ideology and the whole alphabet people agenda, and all the other garbage that apostate ministers fill their sermons with when they won’t preach Christ.  


Churches that preach every sort of liberal and left-wing clap trap imaginable but not Christ bleed members and die.  Their message does not meet the basic needs of the souls of men, it does not touch the human heart, and it does not have the blessing of the Holy Ghost.   When Churches commit suicide in this way, the larger society becomes increasingly secular.  When this happens, the country’s civil religion, for lack of a better expression, can become similarly corrupted, and a healthy patriotic respect for national traditions, institutions, and history be eroded and replaced with a cult of national self-loathing, endless apologies for the actions of our founders and past leaders as judged by the standards of today rather than their day, a disgusting violation of both the fifth and the ninth commandments in which our ancestors who are no longer around to defend themselves are defamed with an ugly lie in which the humanitarian educational efforts of the Churches and State are portrayed as “genocide”, and this sort of thing.


This is why a revival of sound, orthodox, Christianity in our Churches is what Canada needs the most.


Happy Dominion Day!

God Save the King!


(1)   This wording is not original with me.   Hans Boersma used a variation of it in a recent article, I have encountered other variations of it in the writings of Ron Dart, and I am fairly certain elsewhere, although exactly where eludes me at the moment.