Tuesday, 31 January 2017

The Demise of Civility Matters

I thought this from Carey Nieuwhof made sense:

From here...
There should be a deep mourning and concern over the death of objective truth, because with it comes the erosion of civility.

Objectivity pulls us beyond ourselves. The things that are beyond us are the things that save us from ourselves. When a culture, for example, decides that murder will not be tolerated, that assault is punishable or that theft is a crime, it puts the brakes on our selfish and impulsive emotions. Human nature, after all, has a dark side. You and I have probably both felt like punching someone or taking things that didn’t belong to us. Occasionally, we might even wish that someone we don’t like had a shortened life span. What keeps us from acting on our impulses other than self-control?
Objective truth. The idea that somehow murder, theft and violence are wrong.

Also saving us from ourselves is the knowledge that if we do something offensive to a widely embraced standard, we will suffer for it. A fine. Jail time. Social shunning. This is good, not just for us, but for our country. But the logical extension of a post-fact, post-truth world, is this: who says I’m right and you’re wrong? Who even said it happened? I didn’t. That’s just you saying I did. And you’re wrong.

For thousands of years, we humans have tried to keep ourselves from ourselves. Surprisingly, the Gospel has fueled much of that. Because when you die to yourself, something greater rises.
The rise of self as the ultimate arbiter of truth is antithetical not only to the Gospel but to the very basis of civilization. Civilized people think beyond themselves. They care and they give. They put themselves second, or third. It sounds hyperbolic to say civilization is being threatened. But maybe it’s not hyperbole. Why love your neighbour when you can attack him?

Take Care

Monday, 23 January 2017

Haunting and Poignant

I enjoy reading Mark Steyn's website (linked to at the bottom of my page), not only because I tend to share some of his conservative viewpoints, but also because he often comments on various areas of pop culture, past and present. It is a wonderful source of information and trivia of music and entertainment for the last hundred years or so.

Leonard Cohen died a couple of months ago and through Steyn's website I learned of Cohen's song, "Dance Me To The End of Love." I found the video rather touching, showing elderly couples dancing with photographs of their younger selves as backdrops.

Little did I know the rest of the story. As explained by one of the comments on the You Tube video:

Leonard Cohen was inspired by the true story of the "Violinist of Auschwitz", Greek-Jew Jack Stroumsa! In this song, Stroumsa's wife (victim of the Nazis) speaks to him, through Cohen's voice, asking her husband to play her some music when she is being dragged toward the gas chambers. You see, the duty of Stroumsa in this camp was  to play classical music for the funeral procession of the naked victims who were told by the SS officers that they are going away just to get a bath. Stroumsa was forced to play this music as his melancholy farewell for unsuspecting victims; friends, neighbours, coreligionists and his very own family, all dragged in the same path of death with music in their ears... - Christos Tsanakas.

There is a personal connection with this. My wife's father was a Jew who survived the Holocaust in Poland. He lost all his family, and apparently narrowly escaped himself by finding a way to jump off the train on the way to Auschwitz. Sam himself was a musician and survived the rest of the war with help from the Polish underground and playing in bands to entertain Nazi officers.

He married Irene, my mother-in-law just after the war and escaped Poland for Austria just before the iron curtain fell. Eva was born in a refugee camp at Linz, and celebrated her first birthday on a boat on the way to Canada in 1949. God brought us together to be married in 1968.

Maybe that's why I find it so touching.

Take Care

Thursday, 5 January 2017

Afraid to Say Merry Christmas

The day before Christmas I was out doing some shopping. Every store I went to, the clerk said, "Have a nice day." And every time they did, I said, "That sounds kind of lame on Christmas eve. Aren't you allowed to say 'Merry Christmas?'"

Some then wished me a half-hearted Merry Christmas. One said, "You don't know who you're talking to." I wonder, why should it make a difference. Now, I'm not one of those, 'Let's keep Christ in Christmas' folks. Keeping Christ in Christmas has nothing to do with true faith in Christ. To those who have such a faith, Christ never left Christmas. To those without it it's irrelevant.

But I find it interesting how we have cloaked our traditions, so to speak, for the sake of... what? Typical Canadian deference? Embarrassment? Fear of offending someone? Who? There is a YouTube video of a Sikh gentleman encouraging the use of 'Merry Christmas." At a convenience store I often visit the staff are all Hindus, and are not insulted by "Merry Christmas," and not afraid to say it. Frankly, I suspect the only ones who might be truly offended might be militant atheists bent on removing all vestiges of religion from the public square, and who cares if they're offended. 😌

In any case, finally I walked in to another local gas station/convenience store after filling up my tank, and saw this sign. The clerk behind the counter spoke with an accent. I often patronize this store and the staff all seem to be newer Canadians. I told him how nice it was to see his sign and asked if the store was owned by Christians.

"No," he said, "We are all Muslims."

Now, who are we afraid of insulting?

No editorial, just found it interesting.

Take Care