Pride Indeed

June 30, 2008

Shame ParadeLike all other non-heretical Christians, I regard this past weekend’s Gay Pride Parade as little more than a really sad exercise in self-deception: it was just a bunch of people sharing a common vice, looking to fool themselves and others into affirming the “right” to sin. Having an inclination towards sin – of any kind – should never be a source of pride, but of shame. Of course, pride itself is actually an even bigger sin, but such irony was obviously lost on those responsible for gay political agenda nomenclature. But I digress.The usual saying in these situations is “Love the sinner, hate the sin.” The problem with this is not that it isn’t true; indeed, this is precisely what Christian dogma requires.

The problem is that almost everyone who says it is lying.

After listening to many of my confreres on the front lines of the Christian culture wars, I get the distinct impression that they don’t really think of homosexual persons as anything other than contemptuous creatures undeserving of the heaven that (surely) awaits them. They may not support public stoning per se, but I’m not sure they’re really all that much against it either.

Hating the sin while loving the sinner simultaneously presents Christians with a great paradox: it is at once one of the most advanced challenges a Christian can face, while at the same time being so fundamental a tenet of faith that any advancement along the path of true, Christian life is impossible without it. To quote a pro-gay bumper sticker, “Hate is not a Christian value.” True, the misguided souls who espouse this propaganda equate any opposition to the gay agenda (gay marriage, adoption, etc.) with “hate”, but the statement nonetheless stands alone as being objectively true.

So how do we solve the problem of leading an honest, Christian life when faced daily with the in-your-face gay political agenda? Well, here are a few steps:

First of all, remember St. Paul’s admonishment to those wacky Ephesians: “…our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” People are not your enemy. Keep your eye on the ball; there’s a bigger picture here, and a cunning enemy.

Second, do not regard it as mere coincidence that you happen to share this temporal existence of yours with other people. No matter how annoying they are, through some kind of mysterious, divine plan you have been thrust together with them in this battle and daily struggle. Believe it or not, the goal here is not to try to thrust each other into the bowels of Hell, but to raise each other up at the end of this life. In other words, like it or not, that other person is in the same war you are, and on the same side, whether either of you believes it or not.

Third, don’t lie. You should not speak untruthfully, and neither should you speak uncharitably. If you are ever pressed into the debate, simply state that you affirm the beliefs of your faith and regret that so many people are being affirmed in a lifestyle that is ultimately harmful to them.

Fourth, be genuine in your own personal relationships. If you legitimately believe that every human being is made in the likeness of God, and is entitled to dignity and respect, then this will show naturally in your personal dealings with others. Even if your views are out of sync with theirs, more often then not they will react negatively to your views but not to you. Just because others trample their own dignity underfoot is no reason for the rest of us to pile on.

And if none of this works for you, don’t ask your self “What would Jesus do?”

As whom He had dinner with. (Hint – sinners).

The Left Lies

April 23, 2008

I have two things to say about the intellectual dishonesty of the left in so far as the gay political agenda is concerned:

1. They engage in it frequently; and
2. It works.

The political agenda is clear: normalize homosexual relations to the point where everyone actually believes (or professes a belief) that they are on par with/equal to heterosexual relations. Opposing views are to be silenced in the public square either through the coercive power of the state (e.g., Human Rights Commissions) or the group dynamics of political correctness (e.g., “diversity” training and programs at work and educational institutions).

First, the agenda has been a success, by any measure. People who continue espouse contrary, traditional Judeo-Christian viewpoints are made to shut up, and gay marriage has become the law of the land. Forcing intransigent religions to marry same-sex couples is still on the to-do list, but frankly this can best be described as a “mopping up” exercise.

How did they do it? They lied.

They parsed the debate such that imaginary “rights” like gay marriage somehow naturally followed from “people should not be fired because they’re gay.” They don’t, of course, but the agenda is now so politicized that if you were to say “I agree with not discriminating against gays, but I don’t think homosexuality should be positively affirmed as normal” you would be immediately branded a “homophobe” and shunned – or worse. You would do well to remember that Canada has a vast array of Human Rights Commissions that are not in the business of defending human rights, so much as inventing new ones. Marriage, for example, isn’t actually a right for anyone, in any correct meaning of the word; it is an ontological condition, ordained by nature, and intended as a state of being for some men and women who cleve together to become one flesh.

Contrary to what gay activists would have us believe, it is entirely possible to both oppose unjust discrimination against homosexual persons, while opposing the gay rights agenda. Indeed, that is precisely what Christians ought to do, as taught in the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

2357 Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.” They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.
2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.
2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.

So what do we make of this? Well, since only “unjust” discrimination is barred, the question that naturally follows is “Is there such a thing as just discrimination, and if so what would it look like in the case of homosexuals?”

Well, here’s a partial list:

  • Unjust: employment, access to essential public services, survivor pension rights, substitute decisions legislation, etc.
  • Just: Marriage, adoption, education, access to private services (e.g., “You, Catholic Church – rent us your hall for our gay wedding!” or “You, Christian printer, print our gay bath house flyers!”, etc.

The gay agenda has succeeded so successfully because their opponents have now either succumbed to this intellectual slight of hand, and thus believe that they “must” agree with the agenda to “be fair”, or they have been cowed into silence seeing the diversity machine chew up their confreres.

Personally, I’m in the latter group.

 

eBay takes a chainsaw to its feedback system

March 24, 2008

eBayTo address the power imbalance between buyers and sellers, eBay is making some truly revolutionary changes to the way its feedback system works. The current system is deceptively egalitarian: A willing seller and buyer meet in the marketplace and agree to a deal. After the transaction is completed, both the buyer and the seller leave a feedback rating (positive, neutral or negative) and associated comment for each other. Sounds simple and fair, right?

Not so much.

You see, most merchandise on eBay is sold by “Power Sellers” who have thousands of feedback ratings under their belts. Since feedback ratings are simply the user’s percentage of their total feedback that is positive, leaving negative or neutral feedback for a seller is like spitting in the ocean. Your typical Power Seller’s feedback rating was a stellar 99.8% before your bad deal, and will remain at 99.8% after you leave negative feedback for them. It’s like shooting at a tank with a pellet gun.

The buyer, however, is never so lucky. The seller, having just received a “neg” will retaliate by leaving negative feedback for the unhappy buyer, notwithstanding the fact that the buyer may have done everything right (i.e. paid immediately for an item he, say, never received from the seller). As most buyers have only a few dozen or so transactions under their belts, any negative feedback they receive will have an immediate and drastic effect. A user with nine positive feedbacks, for example, will go from a 100% rating down to 90% if just a single negative rating is added to their previous nine.

Buyers are terrified to leave negative feedback no matter how badly their deals went, because they know what will happen to them if they dare “neg” their seller. The problem perpetuates itself as more and more buyers leave positive feedback for a rotten seller just to ensure that they at least get a small boost in their own positive feedback from the lousy deal. Anyone who shops on eBay frequently knows that any Power Seller with a feedback rating of less than 99% may be trouble, and below 98% – forget it!

So what has eBay finally done about this? They have restored the balance.

As of May 2008, sellers will only be able to leave positive feedback for buyers. If a buyer truly did do something wrong, sellers can only withhold positive feedback (i.e. not leave any feedback for the buyer at all). Behind the scenes, of course, they can file unpaid item strikes and take buyers to mediation, etc., but the buyer’s public facing feedback rating can never decrease.

What I anticipate will happen is that a lot more neutral and negative feedback ratings will start being left by unsatisfied buyers, and seller feedback ratings will begin to more closely approximate the actual feelings of their clientele. We’re going to start seeing feedback ratings in the 60s, 70s and 80s within a year. And as eBay buyers, we’re going to be able to shop around a lot more smartly, and give our business to the true good guys (probably anyone with a feedback rating over, say, 95%).

Well done, eBay, well done. Colour me very impressed.

Warren Kinsella Channels Captain Renault

March 21, 2008

Capt. RenaultRick: How can you close me up? On what grounds?

Captain Renault: I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!

[a croupier hands Renault a pile of money]Croupier: Your winnings, sir.

Captain Renault: [sotto voce] Oh, thank you very much.

Captain Renault: [aloud]Everybody out at once!

Warren Kinsella is outraged – outraged – that the Toronto Star, a nice liberal newspaper, is taking ads from “Big Tobacco”.

Memo to Warren: It’s a business, not your plaything. It trades on a public stock exchange and has a legal obligation to maximize shareholder wealth. Maybe you missed that fiduciary obligation thing in law school.

Yawn.

Stephan Dion, Not an English Speaker Either, Apparently

March 20, 2008

DionMy wife and I were watching the news the other night, and Dion was on television bragging about not losing all the by-elections like he did last time, or something.

I think.

You see, I’m not really sure, and neither was my wife. All kidding aside, Dion had a 7 second sound bite and neither of us had a friggin clue what this guy said! To quote my wife, “I can’t vote for a party lead by a guy who couldn’t pass an ESL test.”

Chretien’s spoken English was bad too, but at least you could understand his words well enough to know that he spoke the English language poorly. But this Dion guy? Honestly, there’s nothing to judge – I can’t tell if it’s poor diction, inappropriate or limited vocabulary, or what.  He sounds like me trying to speak Japanese (i.e. just making it up after a few beers).

The Liberals have actually elected a unilingual francophone as their leader.  One people in Quebec don’t particularly like.

Good luck at the English language debates, guys. Harper’s going to beat your leader like a wet mule, and he won’t even know it until some French guy explains it to him later.

Satan, Exorcism and Other Real Things

March 19, 2008

I know someone will ask me, “Do you really mean, at this time of day, to reintroduce our old friend the devil-hoofs and horns and all?” Well, what the time of day has to do with it I do not know. And I am not particular about the hoofs and horns. But in other respects my answer is “Yes, I do.” I do not claim to know anything about his personal appearance. If anybody really wants to know him better I would say to that person, “Don’t worry. If you really want to, you will. Whether you’ll like it when you do is another question.”
– C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, Book 2, Chapter 2

I am now going to confess something that in 2008 places me squarely in the minority of contemporary public opinion: like C.S. Lewis, I too believe in the devil, or if you prefer Satan. In fact, I came to believe in him before I even believed in God, or Christ. I’ll spare you the details of my own conversion, but when you take on a Christian world view you come to understand that other people are never really your true enemies. You may have to fight them from time to time, but our true enemy works behind the scenes. As St. Paul wrote to those whacky Ephesians:

“Put you on the armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the deceits of the devil. For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood; but against principalities and power, against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places.”
– Ephesians 6:11-12

That’s us: soldiers fighting behind enemy lines. Now that you know we’re at war, you might want to know how our enemy operates. Fr. Gabriele Amorth, Chief Exorcist of Rome, has written extensively on these topics, which may be researched further at your leisure. He works very closely with Psychiatrists to discern between medical/mental health issues and extraordinary demonic activity. According to Fr. Amorth, demonic activity may be classified as either ordinary or extraordinary:

Ordinary:

Temptation is the only category of ordinary demonic activity. It is something that all people experience throughout their lives: the desire to sin. Whether lust, envy, sloth, wrath – everybody makes moral choices throughout their lives in response to temptation. When we don’t make the right ones, it’s called sin.

Extraordinary:

External Physical Pain: Many stories from the lives of the Saints illustrate this phenomenon. This external form of persecution does not affect the soul, and does not require an exorcism.

Demonic Possession: This occurs when the devil takes full possession of the body, and speaks and acts without the knowledge or consent of the person, who is therefore morally blameless. This is the gravest and most spectacular form of extraordinary demonic activity and is the subject of the cult film, The Exorcist.

Diabolical Oppression: There is no possession, loss of consciousness or involuntary action. Oppression leads to a loss of health, jobs and relationships. The diabolically oppressed make poor choices, seemingly against their will, that adversely affect their lives and bring about despair.

Diabolical Obsession: Symptoms include sudden attacks of obsessive or absurd thoughts, such that the victim is unable to free himself. The obsessed person lives with perpetual anxiety, and often attempts suicide. The symptoms are also inconsistent with known mental illnesses, so medical as well as theological experts need to be involved in the diagnosis.

Diabolic Infestation: Infestations affect houses, things or animals, but not people.

Diabolical Subjugation: This involves those who voluntarily consecrate themselves to Satan, i.e. Satanists.

Now you know.

Time to Bury the Presumption of Innocence

March 18, 2008

Democracies often tell themselves lies, usually in the form of moral platitudes that fulfill the old maxim “if you say something often enough, people will eventually believe it.” The presumption of innocence is a prime example of this juvenile, democratic sophistry. “Better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer,” says English jurist William Blackstone. The ratio 10:1 has become known as the “Blackstone ratio.” Lawyers are indoctrinated with it early in law school. But no one really stops to ask “Is it true?”

Is it really better that, say, 10 rapists go free so that one innocent man might escape conviction for shoplifting? Could it not be argued that, in fact, society would be better served with one innocent man being fined unjustly, and the 10 rapists being in jail where they belong?

Let’s take this from first principles: Everybody wants a system that accurately administers justice. Justice, I think we can agree, is served when our “system” correctly distinguishes the guilty from the innocent, and metes out appropriate punishment and compensatory measures. Since man is imperfect, any system he designs is also bound to be imperfect, so the challenge is to construct a justice system that approximates perfection as closely as possible. This means managing systemic risks so that, as nearly as we can, guilty men are identified and punished while innocent ones are freed.

By this definition, I think we can agree that the Canadian justice system does a poor job. Media reports are ripe with numerous stories of perfectly innocent men being cleared after rotting in jail for years for crimes they did not commit. Likewise, there are numerous cases of obviously guilty criminals getting a free pass because of legal technicalities or violations of their Charter rights by police. Perfectly sound criminal cases collapse under their own weight due simply to the sheer logistics involved with dotting all the I’s and crossing the T’s as the Crown jumps through legal hoops that do not even have the most tenuous connection to an accused’s actual guilt or innocence.

Even liberals are onside with such an analysis so far; everyone wants a system that doesn’t mistake the guilty for the innocent and vice versa. The controversy comes when we try to decide how to strike the balance between these two risks.

The main flaw, I believe, is that our current justice system is based on a single foundation: the presumption of innocence. This presumption is the legal equivalent of “let’s pretend” and it applies not only in those cases where there may be genuine questions of guilt, but also in those where there never was. Never mind that we’ve got an accused on video committing the crime, or that he did it right in front of dozens of witnesses, or that the evidence is overwhelming; we’re going to hold a trial – for as long as it takes – all the while “pretending” that he didn’t do what everybody knows he did. How we get through criminal trials in this country with a straight face is beyond me.

In my view, the presumption of innocence should be afforded to an accused where, as a result of some judicial pre-trial vetting or evaluation process, it is determined that there exists some reasonable possibility that the accused is innocent, or that he would have a defence to the charge. The onus is this pre-trial process would rest with the accused. In cases where the guilt of the accused can be quickly and obviously satisfied, due process should consist of some opportunity for him to explain himself or his actions, but the Crown should be relieved of its burden to actually prove the charge. Take Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka, for example. Both accused were captured on video tape actually committing the rapes and murders of young girls. Their guilt was never in doubt. Yet our justice system felt compelled to cut a deal with Homolka to get Bernardo, and stick with it after the tapes were discovered, so the former is free today.

I will say what others have thought: no reasonably effective “justice” system should have ever afforded either of them a trial in the first place. They should have been hauled before a judge and jury, the tapes should have been played, and the accused asked “What do you have to say for yourselves?” And that’s all, save the sentencing.

If democracy is to survive, its citizens will need to mature and outgrow false platitudes like the presumption of innocence. A modern justice system should employ a sliding scale approach, where the burdens of due process increases proportionally to the existence of a reasonably probable defence.

The idea that every single accused in every single case ought to be afforded the full presumption of innocence is, in and of itself, an affront to “justice” as the term ought to be understood by right thinking people.

Blackstone was wrong.

Why Men Commit Adultery

March 14, 2008

The recent American political debacle involving disgraced New York Governor Elliot Spitzer highlights once again the need for an honest discussion about why men commit adultery. The truth, however, is not likely to be popular.Men who commit adultery generally fall into one of the following three categories: The Narcissist, Situational Adulterers, or Neglected Husbands.

The Narcissist

This type of husband commits adultery because of a deep-seated character flaw that generates an incredible sense of entitlement. This man will commit adultery not because of anything missing in his own life, but simply because he genuinely believes himself deserving of sexual gratification whenever and wherever he can find it. The name of the game here is constant gratification of the self; it really is all about him. Sorry ladies – if you’re married to this guy, nothing short of serious intervention and possibly coercion is going to fix your marriage. Fortunately, this is also the least common cause of male adultery.

Situational Adulterers

Alcohol + Opportunity = Adultery

Put another way, here is the one thing that is nearly impossible for a drunk husband to ever say:

“Sorry, I’m currently involved in a long-term, monogamous relationship built on trust and mutual respect, so I couldn’t possibly have sex with you right now, even if you are promising to give me the kind of exciting sex my wife eliminated from our relationship years ago.”

Successful, attractive men away from home for business are particularly vulnerable to this trap. I don’t know what it is, but every floozy within pheromone distance just kind of homes in on us at conventions and retreats. Catholics call these kinds of situations “occasions of sin” and the trick is to disrupt the above formula. Limit the opportunity by staying with the guys and do what I do now – don’t drink at these things! You heard me, lay of the booze, and don’t offer to walk anybody back to their room. One thing actually does lead to another.

Neglected Husbands

We live in a world that seems to have adopted what some call the “capitalist model of marriage”; everybody expects a return on their investment. Marriage is supposed to be about giving, not getting, but we’ll save sacramental theology for another day and just deal now with the problem in front of us. Men, rightly or wrongly, expect sexual gratification in their marriages. If sex is withheld or greatly reduced in either quality or quantity, they will eventually say to themselves something like “I’m entitled to sex, and if I can’t get it at home I’ll get it somewhere else.”

Ladies, not to put too fine a point on it, but if you’re not having sex with your husband somebody else probably is.

There are two possible solutions here:

  1. Both husband and wife come to accept that the underlying causes of sexual dysfunction in the marriage need to be addressed, starting with an acknowledgment that marriage is not a transaction – it’s the combination of two human beings into a new person that cannot realize its full potential until each gives themselves totally to the other person. Their love then grows in new and special ways they could not have possibly imagined when they first fell in love. Crosses, whatever they may be, are carried together.
  2. The wife starts having more sex with her husband.

The second flows from the first, by the way, but it also works as a quick fix. I’ll leave it to you to decide what works for you.

The One Time Pad: Ciphers & Codes Part I

March 8, 2008

The One Time Pad (OTP) is the only cipher that has been theoretically proven to be “unbreakable.” It has one other virtue as well: it is one of the easiest to use! For the benefit of anyone who either needs, or simply wants to know how to use, an unbreakable cipher I now present one of the simplest ways to use the world’s only “perfect” cipher:

How does it work?

There are many different ways OTP can be used, but here is the easiest:

  • Write out the message you wish to encipher (in cryptography, this is called “plaintext”), running all the characters together, leaving out punctuation. You may use the word “stop” instead of a period if you really need to. Leave enough space so that you can write a two digit number under each character (e.g., if using graph paper, place one character every two spaces). Add some “X”s to even out the number of characters to some multiple of five.
  • Underneath each character write a two digit number corresponding to the character (e.g., 1-26 for the alphabet, and 27-36 for numerals 0-9).
  • Underneath these numbers, write a series of random digits that line up perfectly with the others. Draw a line under these three rows.
  • Now add the columned pairs of numbers together in a special way: only write down the last digit of the sum (a method of arithmetic called “modular addition”). For example, 3+2=5, and so does 9+6=5 (it equals 15, but we’re only writing down the last digit, remember?). Write the sums in a long fourth row under the line.
  • Break these up into groups of five, and send them. This is your encrypted message (called “cipher text”).

Can I see an example?

Sure:

S E C R E T M E S S A G E X X } Plaintext
190503180520130519190107052424 } Substituted numbers
568989532456788764347808753245 } Random Numbers
658482612976818273437905705669 } Cipher Text

Final message to be sent is:

65848 26129 76818 27343 79057 05669

How does the other person decipher it?

The just reverse the process; write the received cipher text down, and draw a line over top of it. Next, write the same sequence of random numbers above the line (the recipient needs to have the pad of random numbers you used), aligned with the cipher text digits. Then ask yourself the simple question “What number plus this random digit would equal this cipher text digit (using modular addition, of course)? Write that digit above the random digit. Finally, just look at all the paired two-digit numbers and write the corresponding letter or other character above them to get the plaintext message!

Why is it unbreakable?

OTPs are theoretically unbreakable because each piece of cipher text has an equal possibility of being decrypted to an infinite number of plaintext messages. Put another way, a message enciphered with an OTP could be anything! It depends entirely on what the random numbers are. Other cipher systems use an algorithm to encipher plaintext, and algorithms can be broken. In other words, every other cipher system in the world uses some kind of rules or formulas to encipher text, and these can be “cracked.” With OTP, there’s simply nothing to crack; everyone knows how it’s done, but without the random numbers they’re out of luck!

Why is it called “theoretically” unbreakable?

OTP is still vulnerable to any number of practical attacks that have nothing whatsoever to do with cracking a cipher system, including:

  • Reproducing the random numbers: This is a huge, complex area of mathematics. Numbers are only truly random when they are incapable of being reproduced, and so far the world’s biggest computers can reproduce sequences of random numbers from just about any source (other computers, decaying atoms, etc.). My advice is to go low-tech and buy a handful of 10-sided game die from a local hobby/game store and keep rolling them, then writing down the numbers. Many people get lazy and simply arrange with the recipient to use the last four digits of phone numbers from the phone book, or a statistical table on the web somewhere. If it’s the government from whom you’re hiding your message, it’s safe to assume they can crack such a system. You’ll have to determine your own threat matrix and make the call.
  • Physical attacks: If someone knows this is how you send messages, they just need to steal your One Time Pads and copy them. Or they can hide a camera in your room and watch you encipher or decipher a message. Or they can steal the pad you were writing on and read the impressions left on the paper or blotter. Or they can install a key logger on your PC if you’re typing out the plaintext. Or…well, you get the idea.
  • Practicality: Because OTPs do not rely on a system or formula, you need as many random digits as you have plaintext digits. Needless to say, very long messages can become very time consuming to encipher. In addition, the longer the message the greater the chance for human error in either enciphering or deciphering a message (called “entropy”). In other words, using OTPs for long messages is a real pain.

How should I send the cipher text?

Do all your rough work on paper, then burn everything, even the pages or blotter underneath. Send the cipher text to a disposable e-mail like this:

  • Go to an internet café, and pay cash.
  • Create a disposable webmail account (Hotmail, Yahoo! – whatever).
  • Send the message to another disposable e-mail account. Go to MyTrashMail.com and read how that works. Pre-arrange the account name and send it off to (prearrangedname)@trashymail.com.
  • Delete the sent message from the sending account, and log out of the webmail service.
  • Dump the history, temp files and cookies and empty the recycle bin.
  • Leave. Never use either webmail account again. Ever.
  • Have the recipient check MyTrashMail under that prearranged account from another internet café and retrieve the message. Delete it and never use that Trashymail address again. Ever.

OTPs work well when you need to send short message that are 100% secure, and where potential interceptors have no prior knowledge that this is how you will be communicating. There are many varieties of OTP systems, and lots of variations on this one. Feel free to add suggestions in the comments.

Warren Kinsella, Heretic

March 7, 2008

On Wednesday February 27, 2008 at 8:33 AM Warren Kinsella, a well-known and oft-quoted Toronto author, blogger, columnist and Canadian liberal political strategist, published an online article titled The Numbers Game that included the following quote about a recent television interview he did:

“I think [the] producers were interested in the fact that an aging punk rocker – who favours gay marriage and reproductive choice, among other things – could be a regular church-goer, as I am. Steve asked me something or the other about the propagation of the faith, and I told him the truth: I could be in church by myself, and I would be just as happy as being there with hundreds of others. With the exception of the obligation I feel I have to expose my kids to the values that Christianity espouses, I feel no obligation to convert others, at all.”

Now as far as I can discern, there’s rather a lot to like about Kinsella. He seems to be a devoted family man, a hard worker, an entrepreneur and a pretty intelligent and savvy fellow all round. I am not writing here about any of these fine attributes.

I am writing about Kinsella, the heretic.

Yes, I used the “H” word. It’s a tough word to use, I know. It conjures up images of the Spanish Inquisition and immediately labels the one who uses it as some kind of intolerant, religious zealot who passes the time burning young women at the stake. Readers may be forgiven if they forget that the word has an actual definition: a person who holds religious beliefs in conflict with the teachings of their Church, in this case the Roman Catholic Church. Kinsella writes that he “favours…reproductive choice.” If by this he means that he favours a woman’s right to choose whether or not she engages in sexual intercourse, there would certainly be no heresy in that. But I rather suspect that what he means is that he favours a woman’s “right” to have an abortion – in other words, to separate the consequences of her previous actions from the choice itself. If this is what he means, then he is certainly a heretic: In 1995 Pope John Paul II declared that the Church’s teaching on abortion is:

“…unchanged and unchangeable. Therefore, by the authority which Christ conferred upon Peter and his successors . . . I declare that direct abortion, that is, abortion willed as an end or as a means, always constitutes a grave moral disorder, since it is the deliberate killing of an innocent human being. This doctrine is based upon the natural law and upon the written word of God, is transmitted by the Church’s tradition and taught by the ordinary and universal magisterium. No circumstance, no purpose, no law whatsoever can ever make licit an act which is intrinsically illicit, since it is contrary to the law of God which is written in every human heart, knowable by reason itself, and proclaimed by the Church” (Evangelium Vitae 62).

On the issue of gay “marriage”, the Church teaching is set out in a letter Kinsella’s own Archbishop sent to all Catholics in his charge back in November 2005:

“In recent years, there have been calls for the public acceptance of actions and lifestyles which the Church cannot condone. One of them is homosexual activity. Let us be clear on the distinction between person and behaviour. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches clearly that homosexual acts, being intrinsically disordered, can never be approved. It affirms at the same time the love of God for every person. Each one must be treated with sensitivity, compassion and justice. “Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection” (Catechism, 2359). The Church continues, and will always continue, to teach and to celebrate marriage as the union of a man and a woman, as a lifelong commitment for the mutual love of the spouses and open to the creation and rearing of children. This is our duty as well as our right in accord with our freedom of religion. As responsible citizens we have the duty to make our views known in the service of the common good. It is by no means the first time that the Church’s voice will be written off, laughed at, or even persecuted for proclaiming truth and simple human dignity.”

The reader will note that neither official teaching is nuanced in any way. There are no wiggle words, no exceptions, no way any Catholic could ever support either abortion or gay “marriage” and in the same breath assert that they are anything other than heretics.

Kinsella also states that one of the reasons he attends Mass is out of the “obligation I feel I have to expose my kids to the values that Christianity espouses.” Now, Kinsella either means to say that he supports exposing his children to at least some values he doesn’t personally share, or that he only wishes to expose his children to some Catholic values, but not all of them. People throughout history have always found this teaching or that teaching inconvenient to them, so some of them set off to either create a new church for themselves (there are over 60,000 Protestant denominations; now you know why) or knock down the teachings of their own to give themselves permission to do what is wrong:

“For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine but, following their own desires and insatiable curiosity, will accumulate teachers and will stop listening to the truth and will be diverted to myths.” (2 Timothy, 4)

The problem for Kinsella and others of like minds is that Christ founded only one Church and gave it very explicit authority and leadership. This authority and leadership continues today. There is no Catholic cafeteria – you can’t just pick and choose the parts you like, and leave the rest. If you’re in, you’re eating the whole meal.

So when prominent, public Catholics like Kinsella casually backhand the Church’s teachings on important matters, the result is often scandal – another loaded word meaning simply to lead others to sin. It is possible that Kinsella’s Catholic readers may infer from his careless dismissal of Church teachings that it is somehow permissible to be pro-abortion or gay “marriage”, when it is not.

What do we do about Kinsella and other heretical Catholics with public profiles who use their bully pulpits in such scandalous ways? We pray for them. We hope our Bishops will rebuke them if they feel doing so is necessary to counter any scandal raised. Their Pastor (the priest personally charged with the spiritual well being of Catholics residing in his Parish) should catechize his wayward sheep, in the hope that they will return to the fold. Of course, if they persist in their heresy, it just becomes that much graver – for the sheep, not the Church. And we pray for them some more.

Oh, and we publish our own articles pointing out the heresy. No matter how loaded the word is.