Monthly Archives: March 2013

Forty-eight hours ago, I had no idea who this guy was.  Did you?

This is Mark Warawa, Conservative MP for Langley.  And he’s causing a bit of a fuss in the Conservative Party.

Warawa introduced a motion in the House of Commons to end sex-selective abortion.  It’s controversial, no doubt, and some see it as a thinly-veiled attempt at re-opening the abortion question.

But a motion is not a law; a motion is simply a declaration of what Parliament feels about a certain issue.  They could pass a motion that says, “We condemn the fact that Cadbury Creme Eggs are only available at Easter.”  Passing this motion would not force Cadbury to start selling Creme Eggs all year.  It would have no effect other than to say that Parliament would like Cadbury Creme Eggs to be available year-round (wouldn’t we all?).

But while they have no effect, they’re political statements all the same.  They often show which way the government is leaning on a certain issue, but most of the time they’re used to condemn actions that are universally opposed or support actions that should be supported.  And sometimes they’re used by governments to pat themselves on the back (e.g. “We support the government’s recent budget.”).

Anyway, such motions go through the Subcommittee on Private Members’ Business before they come before the House to be voted on.  Not every motion will come before the House; it has to fit the following criteria: 

  1. Bills and motions must not concern questions that are outside federal jurisdiction.
  2. Bills and motions must not clearly violate the Constitution Acts, 1867 to 1982, including the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
  3. Bills and motions must not concern questions that are substantially the same as ones already voted on by the House of Commons in the current session of Parliament.
  4. Bills and motions must not concern questions that are currently on the Order Paper or Notice Paper as items of government business.

The expert Library of Parliament official, who gives nonpartisan advice to the committee, deemed the motion votable, i.e. it satisfied the criteria.  Yet the Conservative-majority Committee voted it non-votable after a push from the Prime Minister’s Office to make it so.

So what did Warawa do? He raised a point of privilege against his own government.  He also appealed the Committee’s decision to deem his motion non-votable.  And that led Warawa to “[challenge] the soul of our parliamentary democracy.

To the average Canadian, this seems to be much ado about nothing.  Warawa’s motion got voted down, so we should get on with things.  Besides, nobody really wants to have a fight about sex-selective abortion, right?

It’s somewhat unfortunate that Warawa’s motion is so controversial, because it’s difficult to support someone whose motives may or may not be genuine.  But the fact of the matter is that majorities use their power to game the parliamentary system all of the time, and it’s got to stop.

Once again, remember that MPs aren’t there to represent the government; they’re to represent the people.  They’re supposed to be able to speak freely.

Warawa has a lot of supporters, from both sides of the party.  This morning, NDP House Leader Nathan Cullen got up in the House to add his support.  Meanwhile, the fear of a revolt by back bench MPs caused the Conservatives to have a longer-than-normal caucus meeting yesterday.

I’m not a fan of Warawa’s motion, but I support the principle he’s fighting for, which is for letting MPs do their job unencumbered by the demands of the Prime Minister’s Office.  

But I doubt the matter will get any farther than it already has.  Back bench Conservative MPs have tasted power after years of being on the opposition benches, and I doubt they’re willing to give it up to prove a parliamentary principle (particularly one they only support when it suits them).  But to this point, I applaud them for speaking out.  Too bad it’s not over a less controversial issue.


Uh, yeah.

What a MASSIVE failure Lent was for me this year.

About two weeks into Lent, I gave up.  I was feeling oh so deprived.

At the time, it made sense.  It’s been a hard year, and I’d felt like I’d been deprived in a lot of ways in the fall when I couldn’t sleep, couldn’t do the stuff I normally enjoy doing and was just miserable.

I felt like I’d gone through my time of Lent for the year.

And I suppose I did.

So, I went back to doing whatever it was that I wanted and left Lent alone.

But then a funny thing happened last week.  I realized that by deliberately giving up on Lent, I somehow learned its lesson anyway.

You see, Lent is supposed to remind us of our faults and our failings, our selfishness and our corruptness, and that we need a Saviour.  We can’t do everything ourselves.  And in pushing Lent to the side, I somehow reminded myself of all of these things.

So while I thought I completely failed this Lent, I ended up not failing at all.  

What wonderful grace.

Saskatoon, Saskatchewan - 7 Day Forecast - Environment Canada
Please let this forecast be the beginning of spring!


Faith & Religion

Eliel Cruz – Why I’m Still a Seventh-Day Adventist

The F Word

Micah J. Murray – When we criticize the church

Nick Rynerson – The Country Music Culture Wars

Lisa-Jo Baker – On showing your waist grace

Morf Morford – Your privilege is showing

Matt Appling – Why I Don’t Believe in Equality (but why I’m a feminist) and The Reason You Haven’t Figured Out God’s Plan for Your Life

Giles Fraser – I bang my head against the wall when evangelicals turn Jesus into Cheesus

Culture, Society & Life

Tabatha Southey – Rape is still treated like a matter of sex.  But I know better. (MUST READ!)

Noah Berlatsky – What Rush Limbaugh got right about BeyonceMaria Popova – Learn to enjoy your own company

John Acuff – Learn how to create a life list

Jeremy Statton – What to do when your story scares you

Politics, Economics & Law

Colby Cosh – Why the NDP may not be able to go home again

Aaron Wherry – How sprawling budget bills threaten parliamentary democracy and Preston Manning suggests shutting up

Exit interview with Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page and another one here

The fight over budget documents going down in Federal Court

Paul Wells – Idle some more

Econowatch has all kinds of federal and provincial budget stuff

Former Supreme Court of Canada Justice L’Heureux-Dubé is awesome

If Canada is so oil rich, why are we so in debt?

Emily Bazelon – DOMA Drama: What to watch for at the gay marriage arguments before the Supreme Court (I’m more interested in what offensive thing Scalia will say)

Ben W. Heineman Jr. – On DOMA, real-world arguments could sway the Supreme Court

Nancy Pelosi: They had to take me down

Garance Franke-Ruta – The politics of misperception

Why Mitt Romney lost: views from CPAC

LOL Tea Party

Random & Weird

 The world’s first LEGO museum!

The Bible in LEGO form

16 bands to check out from SXSW 

What I’m dreading…

What I’m anticipating…

Only two days away!


So this month I’ve been leading a series at church on women and the Bible.  Notice it’s women *and* the Bible.

For centuries now, people have used the Bible to basically tell women that they’re inferior to men.

“Biblical language, biblical stories, and biblical ideas underlie high and low culture, political rhetoric, conceptions of self and community, of duty and justice, of denial and aspiration.  The Bible’s gender mythology provides ample raw material for popular culture.  Indeed it does.  For example: did you know that Apple’s corporate logo recalls Eve’s bite of the forbidden fruit (fruit from the tree of knowledge)?”

No, I did not.  But I do know that the interpretation of the Bible and the Bible itself has had a profound influence on gender inequality.

The first week, we looked at the story of Adam and Eve and how what was initially an equal partnership between a man and a woman was reinterpreted over the years to become a story of man’s dominion over women.  I demonstrated this through a look at the writings of various influential Christian theologians and philosophers, and what I found was enough to make me want to find their graves and spit on them (Martin Luther’s especially).  Luckily, there are a lot of feminist biblical scholars and researchers (both male and female) who’ve done a lot of work in this area over the last couple of decades who’ve pretty much dismantled all of the arguments the dominionists (my name for them) use.  Unfortunately, we still live with the consequences of these centuries of misinterpretation.

During the second week, we looked at those lovely passages in the New Testament that basically tell women to sit down and shut up.  I’d never sat down and actually studied the passages before; I simply ignored them, believing they were relics of a previous era.  Well, once again I learned the importance of context.  Those verses do not mean what they say.  In the context of the passages where they come from, they are specific instructions written to specific churches about specific problems within those specific churches, which means they aren’t universal instructions.  Those instructions did not mean that women couldn’t and shouldn’t participate in church and should instead submit to their husbands whenever and however.  Besides, if everything in the Bible was meant to be an instruction that we’re supposed to follow forever and ever, we’d all better stop wearing cotton blends and start stoning adulterers (Tiger Woods goes first).

Last week we looked at the issue of violence in the Bible.  Unfortunately some men use those lovely verses about submitting to your husband as a means of justifying abuse.  And there’s no doubt that a lot of the imagery about God’s relationship to the people of Israel is pretty misogynistic: Israel was portrayed as a whore on many occasions.  Then we looked at Judges 19, that horrific passage where a woman is pushed out into the street by her master and is gang-raped all night by a group of men, only to have her master possibly kill her and then dismember her and send parts of her body out to the 12 tribes of Israel, who then seek revenge for her death and end up slaughtering thousands of men and kidnapping hundreds of women.  The master conveniently leaves out his part in the woman’s death.  I came across some writing by Greg Boyd that gave me some hope in that others are struggling with synthesizing the violent images of God found in the Old Testament with the merciful and benevolent God found in the New Testament.  How can you reconcile divine love and divine wrath?  I don’t have a clue, but it’s an issue I want to continue exploring.

And that leads me to this week’s session, which is on leadership and valour.  Here’s a primer on female pastors in the Adventist church.

I LOVE this video.  And yeah, they’re ordaining women as pastors in CHINA of all places.

Some people think there’s a biblical basis for not ordaining women, based on those passages about women being silent and the supposed idea that there aren’t any female apostles in the Bible (Dear Catholic Church and other churches that won’t allow women to be pastors: let me introduce you to Junia).  I’m not convinced there’s anything in the Bible that outlaws women becoming pastors.

But Adventists are a little weird in this respect.  We allow female pastors, we just won’t ordain them.  And that means that they can’t officially represent the church nor aspire to church leadership.  I remember when I first realized this.  I was 7 or 8, I think, and I was PISSED.  The church and I just about broke up that day.

Needless to say, I was a little surprised to find this recent article: “WANTED! More Female Pastors.”

It’s about damn time.

If you look at the Bible, you see amazing examples of female leadership.  The first person who comes to mind for me is Deborah.  Deborah was a bad ass.  She was the only female judge found in the book of Judges, and Barak wouldn’t go into battle without her.  She was fierce and brave.

What about Esther?  She stood up to the King and risked her life for her people.

Ruth did not wait for a guy to ask her out; she went after what she wanted.

Huldah lived at the time of the mighty prophet Jeremiah (who has an entire book named after him in the Bible), yet she was the one that King Josiah trusted.

Mary of Nazareth carried a so-called illegitimate child and had a faith that we’ve admired throughout the ages.

Then there’s Phoebe, Priscilla, Miriam, Hannah, Abigail, Sarah, Elizabeth, and Tabitha.

Don’t tell me that women aren’t capable of leading because aren’t any examples of women in leadership positions in the Bible.  There are TONS, and besides, leadership doesn’t always mean standing at the front of a group of people.  Leadership doesn’t mean yelling your own point of view at the top of your lungs.  True leadership involves understanding people, inspiring people, challenging people and pushing forward.

All of these women were leaders in their own right.  They challenged their circumstances and followed their hearts, all while inspiring those around them.  Churches need more women like them.  Churches need leading ladies.

This video demonstrates how politics is insidious, and not in a good way.

Last week, prominent Ohio Republican Senator Rob Portman came out (pardon the pun) in favour of gay marriage after fighting against it for years.

Why the change of heart?

“I’ve come to the conclusion that for me, personally, I think this is something that we should allow people to do, to get married, and to have the joy and stability of marriage that I’ve had for over 26 years. That I want all of my children to have, including our son, who is gay.”

Needless to say, there’s been a lot of push back against Portman’s position, mostly from those who find it troubling that Republican politicians only seem to grow hearts when their own family members are affected by their draconian policies.

I’ll admit that my favourite response was this one:

Matthew Yglesias wrote:

But if Portman can turn around on one issue once he realizes how it touches his family personally, shouldn’t he take some time to think about how he might feel about other issues that don’t happen to touch him personally? Obviously the answers to complicated public policy questions don’t just directly fall out of the emotion of compassion. But what Portman is telling us here is that on this one issue, his previous position was driven by a lack of compassion and empathy. Once he looked at the issue through his son’s eyes, he realized he was wrong. Shouldn’t that lead to some broader soul-searching? Is it just a coincidence that his son is gay, and also gay rights is the one issue on which a lack of empathy was leading him astray? That, it seems to me, would be a pretty remarkable coincidence. The great challenge for a senator isn’t to go to Washington and represent the problems of his own family. It’s to try to obtain the intellectual and moral perspective necessary to represent the problems of the people who don’t have direct access to the corridors of power.

This really speaks to the heart of the tension between politics and citizenship, which I’ve talked about before: how do politicians represent the wide differences of opinion that exist in their districts, and how do their own beliefs fit into this?

I agree with Jonathan Chait:

Wanting your children to be happy is the most natural human impulse. But our responsibility as political beings — and the special responsibility of those who hold political power — is to consider issues from a societal perspective.

Unfortunately, we live in political systems that are designed to reflect the will of the majority, leaving minorities in the uncomfortable position of having to fight for their rights. This is further complicated by the party system which leaves MPs beholden to their party; in exchange for power and campaign funds, they agree to tow the party line. It’s a terrible conundrum.

On a human level, I think we ought to cut politicians such as Senator Portman a little slack. I know good, kind and decent people who don’t agree with gay marriage, and I’ve seen them struggle with it, mostly for faith reasons. When you’ve been taught all of your life that something is wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, it’s difficult to admit that what you’ve been taught is what was actually wrong.

But as a politician, don’t people in Senator Portman’s position owe it to society to be a lot more compassionate than they are?  Yes, because

[p]ower is concentrated in the hands of people who routinely make policy on matters they have little experience or real stakes in. You don’t need any conscious malice in this setup to produce policy that has devastating effects on the communities these issues touch most directly (though there’s plenty of malice, too). All you need is a system run by people who can afford not to care that much about policies that mostly impact other people’s lives.

This is the problem with privilege. If you don’t identify as LGBTQ, you don’t have a clue about the discrimination, the hatred and the bullying that this group endures.  As Yglesias said, in the context of politicians being unable to identify with the circumstances of poor Americans,

Senators basically never have poor kids. That’s something members of Congress should think about. Especially members of Congress who know personally that realizing an issue affects their own children changes their thinking.

Yes, things get pretty complicated when life, faith and politics are pulling you in different directions. But our politicians are paid pretty well and have infinite resources to come to terms with these intersections and figure out the best way to proceed.  The problem is that our politicians, as well as us as citizens, have forgotten that they are paid to represent ALL of us – everyone in their districts.  They are not there to push their own personal views and biases.

My biggest problem with politicians of Senator Portman’s ilk is that while I’m happy they’ve come around on this issue, the hurt and pain they’ve caused by their past words and policy stances can’t be undone.  They never thought that their job was to represent the interests of all of their citizens, and that includes the ability to be free from discrimination and to be treated with dignity and respect.

Our politicians represent all of us.  Perhaps we should start demanding that they do so.  I think it’s time for me to write a letter to my own MP.

I’ve had about enough of this.  Spring, where are you?


Faith & Religion

Lore Ferguson – Sleeping alone (so heartbreakingly truthful; I’ve felt all of this)

Preston Yancey – when this is just a rant

Ann Voskamp – The 1 command that could resurrect the Church, our hurting places and the sisterhood of women

Stephanie Drury – Covert misogyny in progressive churches

Juan O. Perla – Disestablishing the family: the Adventist case for legalizaing same-sex marriage

Ed Cyzewski – It’s biblically impossible to be biblical and Unity as intellectual uniformity is impossible

Scott McKnight – Legalism: old and new perspectives

Sarah Bessey – In which God does not want to use me

Progressive religious leaders seek to shift the conversation on contraception and abortion in Texas

Culture, Society & Life

“Admonishing someone with depression is like telling a paraplegic person ‘I don’t see the problem, just get up and walk!’”

Richard Beck – The poor and the fundamental attribution error

Naomi Wolf – Feminists need to challenge themselves, too

Valarie Kaur – ‘Lean In?’ For Millennials, the question is what are we leaning toward?

Juli Woodward – Have faith that slowing down will be good for you

Jason Boyett – Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook, and the less filtered life

10 years later, Dixie Chicks right all along

Politics, Economics & Law

Stephen Gordon – What will be (and what should be) in the federal budget

Richard French – Tom Flanagan’s banishment was a betrayal of basic values

Garrett Epps – Did Rand Paul ask the wrong questions in his drone filibuster?

Wonkette – Female SCOTUS justices gettin’ mighty uppity with their ‘questions’ and such (warning: language)

Random & Weird

 Einstein’s advice to a little girl who wants to be a scientist

Tralee Pearce – Sugar, salt, fat: How the food industry got us hooked on an ‘unholy trinity’

What I’m mourning…

Oh Google Reader, how I will miss you…

What I’m anticipating…

These guys, next Wednesday at TCU!

The creativity of people never ceases to amaze me…

I am tired.

I am tired of winter.

I am tired of snow.

I am tired of cloud.

I am tired of cold.

I am tired of school.

I am tired of being poor.

I am tired of never feeling full.

I am tired of struggling.

I am tired of trying.

I am tired of being told that I shouldn’t feel what I feel.

I am tired of being kind and thoughtful.

I am tired of being quiet.

I am tired of being anonymous.

I am tired of being ignored.

I am tired of living with inconsiderate people.

I am tired of being told to be patient, that good things come to those who wait, because it’s a lie.

I’m tired of being told to accept circumstances by people who would never accept the same.

I am tired of being different.

I am tired of being the oldest.

I am tired of watching the lazy and undeserving get whatever they desire.

I am tired of buses.

I am tired of relying on others to get from Point A to Point B.

I am tired of being single.

I am tired of feeling ugly and undesirable.

I am tired of seeing others luck out.

I am tired of not earning what I am worth.

I am tired of feeling fulfilled only when my calendar is full.

I am tired of trying to be grateful.

I am tired of looking for the silver lining.

I am tired of relying on little pink pills.

I am tired of everything being so f**king hard.

I am tired of second-guessing everything I feel.

I am tired of holding on to old hurts.

I am tired of never being heard.

I am tired of being strong.

I am tired of everyone’s expectations and my own unattainable ones.

I am tired of feeling anxious.

I am tired of being afraid.

I am tired of crying alone in the dark.

I am tired of others assuming that everything comes easy to me.

I am tired of younger people getting ahead of me.

I am tired of people thinking I don’t work hard when I work harder than most.

I am tired of not believing that I am enough.

I am tired of people completely dismissing my feelings.

I am tired of explaining who I am.

I am tired of a Facebook full of weddings and babies, new cars and new houses.

I am getting tired of hoping and dreaming.

But mostly, I am tired of giving so much to everyone and everything yet getting next to nothing in return.

I am really tired of walking into the wind.


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