Monday, February 22, 2010

I got a reply from Michael Ignatieff

I received this email today:

Dear Philip Carney:

On behalf of the Liberal Party of Canada, I would like to acknowledge receipt of your recent email concerning the Liberal Party’s request that the Conservative government uphold Canada’s long-standing tradition of recognizing women’s reproductive rights and access to contraception as part of Stephen Harper’s maternal health initiative.

The Liberal Party remains concerned that this initiative will break with Canada’s tradition of funding organizations that advance women’s rights to reproductive choice and access to birth control. Access to contraception and reproductive health services is an integral part of any strategy to empower women. Without reproductive choice or access to birth control, women are less able to benefit from education or economic opportunity, and remain susceptible to gender-based violence and discrimination.

Stephen Harper has shown that he is willing to cut funding to aid groups, like KAIROS, an ecumenical charity, that dare to speak out against the Conservative party line. We need a clear commitment that access to contraception reproductive health services – and the organizations that promote them – will not be jeopardized by the Conservative caucus.

We understand this issue stirs extremely strong feelings and the Liberal Party respects the right of every Canadian to express their views freely and openly.

Yours sincerely,

Office of Michael Ignatieff
Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada

Here is part of what I wrote back:

Dear Office of Michael Ignatieff:

Thank you for your reply to my email.

(A)dvancing the Liberal cause by raising the abortion issue and advocating abortion, is an incredibly cynical way to buy votes. The party can appeal to women in a whole lot of ways besides doing it on the backs of unborn children. I am left gasping for breath at this.

The party risks alienating a lot of voters by going down this path. (T)his is what you are offering me to vote for?

You are a taking a huge gamble here. But what a cynical one it is, that's what gets me.

I and many Canadian voters have been caught off guard by this.

I am watching closely.

Time for a rethink.

Philip Carney

Friday, February 12, 2010

Of compartments and spiritual growth

The word has cropped up in news articles a few times in the past few weeks. Articles about high profile individuals involved in scandals that take your breath away when you hear about them. The word is ‘compartment’, the verb form being ‘compartmentalize.’
To put it in perspective, this is an action that we all know about. It is one we probably use every day. For example, think of the clerk at the coffee shop that greets you with a smile when you make your purchase in the morning. You will not know about the argument they just had with a family member before they left for work. You will not know about the pressure they feel about unpaid bills. The reason is that they tuck that memory and the feelings that go with it, into a little compartment, just out of sight, so that they can function in their job of serving us. We do the same thing when we greet our family after a difficult day at work. Or at least we try – not letting our sadness or hurt or anger come in to the conversation about the other person’s day.

The problem occurs when we split our life up into segments that have labels of good and evil, holy and unholy, prayer and hate, on them. Putting those elements of ourselves into separate compartments allows us to visit each of them without being affected by the others. When that happens, the part of me that is a person of prayer never gets to deal with the part of me that is so hateful. The part of me that is my compulsive, greedy self, is able to go to the behaviours involved, without being reined in by the part that knows right from wrong.

Why do we create those kinds of compartments?

First, because we like what is in the dark ones: we are in a conflict of interest, and so we eliminate the conflict by having the separate compartment. Second, because whenever we have thought of eliminating the dark one, we realize we can’t. The struggle is too hard: and so we eliminate the struggle by having a separate compartment to go to. Third, because we do not trust God to see us through: maybe we do not trust that God is even aware of this struggle. Maybe we do not know what the Cross and Resurrection were about. Maybe we simply cannot believe that God cares about our struggle. Maybe we are afraid of God, and so we try to hide the dark stuff even from Him.

Here is the first secret of dealing with the compartments and the stuff in them: we do not have to start by emptying the dark ones out. We do not have to change our whole lives in order to be people of wholeness and integrity. That is not what the Cross and the Resurrection were about. No, what we need to do is take down all the walls of the compartments so that the dark stuff simply stands in the light of the ones that contain our prayer (even our ancient history of prayer), our desire to have a relationship with God, our deep down wish to be holy.

The beginning, in other words, is simply being honest with ourselves. We will feel a sense of peace, not of despair, when we let the light of the tiniest bit of holy inside ourselves, shine on the dark stuff. When the compartments know about each other, we will feel great relief. We might even smile. We will know what the Cross and Resurrection are about. They are about healing, not about a requirement for perfection. Start today – enjoy some light. You will know what to do with the dark stuff.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Abortion policy

The following headline and story appeared in the news today. I immediately sent an email to the Liberal Party of Canada warning them that while I am a card carrying Liberal, any policy initiative made on the backs of unborn children would cost them my membership.

Out here in the Orchard, death occurs in the natural order of things, not with the creatures killing their unborn.

Finance abortion, contraception under health initiative, Ignatieff urges Harper

OTTAWA — Michael Ignatieff has lobbed an abortion grenade into the midst of Prime Minister Stephen Harper's plans to become an international champion of women's and children's health.

The Liberal leader says Harper's commitment must include government aid for "the full gamut" of women's reproductive health services, including abortion and contraception.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Media time, and the ‘iGeners’

Here we are at St. Paul's trying to expand the way we communicate with people. In this case we are using the parish web site for our Blogs. As I have already noted, Pope Benedict himself urged clergy around the world to follow his lead in this area! Imagine!

Well now comes a study confirming what we already knew or suspected: that you can get too much of a good thing. According to a new study by the Kaiser Family Foundation, (American) youths between 8 and 18 spend an average of 7½ hours a day using media devices - not counting the 1½ hours they spend talking on their cell-phones. They are also multi-tasking within the media usage, eg texting while watching TV or listening to music. The result is that they cram “nearly 11 hours of media content into that seven and a half hours.”

“The study’s findings shocked its authors, who had concluded in 2005 that use could not possibly grow further….. . It found, moreover, that heavy media use is associated with several negatives, including behavior problems and lower grades. “

The New York Times invited commentary by a number of experts around the U.S. One that caught my eye was by Dr. Larry Rosen a psychology professor in California. He said the findings of the study corroborated what he himself has been finding in his research. He coined the term ‘iGeners’, and noted that media is critical for socialization and communication. However, read this:

I have also found that this consumption of media was predictive of psychological and behavioral problems … . What’s more, parenting style was directly related to healthy online behavior: Parents who set clear limits and boundaries but did so with warmth and consultation with their children, had children who were less consumed with media, possessed higher self-esteem, were less depressed and had better relationships with their parents.

That’s the part that really caught my eye. Not just that there is a point where a good thing becomes problematic, but that parents can intervene wisely and effectively. Clear limits and boundaries, set with warmth and consultation. The outcomes are wonderful.

Parents and youths alike, have a good look. You have probably wondered whether there is a problem with high media usage. There is. Parents, you have wondered whether you can do anything about it, since it is everywhere and after all you have funded most of it. You can do something about it, and it sounds like you probably need to.
Couple of ideas: First: talk about including some really rich nourishment in their Internet time. At our house, we have been receiving two powerful e-letters on a regular basis. One is from Fr. Henri Nouwen’s website. Fr. Nouwen died a few years ago, and his followers send out these spiritual gems from his writings. They are short, to the point, and never syrupy. You go to the website (, and sign up for the emails right on the home page.

If you would like to add something equally well written, with a feminine perspective, Sr. Joan Chittister is for you. She is well known world-wide, and like Fr. Nouwen has written a number of great books. Super writer, lots to think about, never trivial. Go to the website ( and again sign up for the eletter on the main page.

Second, develop a collaborative approach to the issue of media time. More about that soon.