Thursday, May 31, 2007

Lotsa Thoughts

Lots of thoughts, but not much time. I start putting the June Learning at Home together tomorrow, I'm preparing a couple of sermons, and there's lots of repairs around the house.

Standing in line at the grocery store tonight with the ice cream melting before my eyes. Most of my stuff is on the conveyor belt but the guy ahead of me decides to go pick up a couple of extra chicken breasts. And it takes him about 8 minutes. One of the fundamental signs of a society in decline is simple rudeness.

I was talking to someone the other day as she told her mother that with all the money her company was making they should pay her more. Now I should say the ladies involved are all really great people, but it did get me thinking about the degree to which most people in our country understand our economic system, the basics of business and personal investing. And I suspect that while most people in this country benefit from a capitalist economic system, very few understand it or appreciate it. Modern capitalism understands that workers with good living wages increase the amount of economic activity and contribute to overall wealth. Skilled labour must be well paid, or they will go elsewhere. And many enlightened companies understand that when workers have a share in the profits they grow much faster. But we also need to understand that companies are run for the benefits of the owners. If I own shares in a company, I am one of the owners. The profits belong to me, and I don't want my money being given to other people just because that money happens to exist!

Those who seem philosophically opposed to capitalism need to understand that capitalism provides a strong economic base. With that strong economic base you can offer comprehensive social programs, afford a clean environment and pursue social justice. Without a strong economic base, you can't afford any of these things. Socialism is a philosophical and practical failure. Our country can offer so much of the social programs the socialists want precisely because we have a capitalist economic system. To the extent that we have allowed capitalism to flourish, we have benefited economically. And if there is not enough money for all the social programs we would want and if some people still don't have great jobs, the answer is not to clamp down on capitalist enterprises. The answer is not to bleed our companies dry. The answer is to allow more freedom for capitalism to grow the economy. The guy making $7.00 an hour doesn't need an increase in the minimum wage; he needs an economy that is churning out jobs that pay $20 an hour. The more I think about it, the more I appreciate the capitalist economic system. While socialism might seem more compassionate, it is modern enlightened capitalism that brings the most benefit to the most people.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Is it news?

I know you're never supposed to get into a war of words with people who buy ink by the barrel. However I'm amazed at what passes for news in today's newspapers. Recently I saw a breathless headline declaring Israel was targeting the leaders of Hamas. What amazing in-depth journalism. I would have never suspected if the media hadn't broken the story for me.

Today there was a story in the Ottawa Citizen informing me that divorced men tend to suffer depression at higher rates than men who are not divorced. Oh really? I wonder why? I'd better study that article so I'll know.

Today's National Post featured an article about Stephen Harper visiting Afghanistan. Rarely do you see such negative opinion masquerading as an objective presentation of fact. What really interested me was the complaints by the reporter. Apparently the media was informed that national security charges would be laid if they leaked the story and as a result someone in the military or government was killed. Members of the media actually being held accountable to the same standards the rest of us live by? Now that is news!

Ambiance for Dining

Lunch in the cafeteria today. Waiting in line at the "Innovations Grill" for some Pad Thai. Look down. See box in front of the food service area. Read label. "Latex Examination Gloves". Ambiance ends.

Monday, May 21, 2007

More on C.S. Lewis Discussion Group

I've just sent out the invitation to the first meeting of a C.S. Lewis Discussion Group. We plan to look at the first book of Mere Christianity on June 11th at 7:30pm. Let me know if you are interested in attended. I can be reached as (but remove the AAA from my email address).

An eye for detail

Bethany notices everything. Like for example, someone tried to break into our van. "What's that Daddy?" I looked at where she was pointing, and noticed a small hole just beneath the plastic of the door handle. I don't know how long it's been like that. In fact, it could have been like that 3 years ago when I bought the van. Since the door works fine, I guess my only question is the best way to patch it up. I want to prevent moisture from getting in, but a crack 1 cm long and 2 mm wide is not worth going to the body shop. Any thoughts?

Friday, May 18, 2007

Ice Cream

Hannah never met a bowl of ice cream she didn't like, until tonight. Karen bought Reeses Peanut Butter Cup ice cream and Hannah hated it. After trying it, she walked around the house complaining about how awful it was. Personally I don't think it's too bad.

The other night I was in the bank with Hannah. While I stood talking to the teller, she cowered behind me. As we were leaving I picked her up. I said, "You're not scared. You're just a bit shy." But she replied, "No, I'm scared."

We figured that doctors take oaths to preserve lives

It's a sad article in a number of ways, but the statement with the most profound implications for society is the one in the title, "We figured that doctors take oaths to preserve lives". No, they don't. Not anymore.

This mother was referring to the Hippocratic Oath. It requires a doctor to keep his patients from harm and injustice. It specifically forbids euthanasia and abortion. Of course you can see why physicians in general do not take this oath. In fact, it's difficult to get through medical school if you voice your opinion against euthanasia and abortion.

There are profound implications. You can listen to some of them at John is also promoting a modern version of the Hippocratic Oath.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Mother's Day

It's Mother's Day, so let me reminisce. My Mom spent a lot of time playing with me when I was young, which I guess set a foundation for why I'm so close to her. Growing up she never seemed unreasonable or stressed, although a couple times she'd start counting at 2 (my parents would count to 3 before giving me a spank). And while I don't remember too many spanks, I'm glad I got them and other types of discipline as well. I must have got my love of reading from my Mom (even though I remember my Dad taking me to the library). I came home from school for lunch every day, and a great lunch was always waiting. In fact there was always lots of good food, including her homemade spaghetti sauce and bread. Mom dragged me out to church, much against my will, for many years until I finally as an adult made the decision to personally adopt the Faith. And even now that I've grown up, I still bounce my ideas off her and love to hear her voice. Thanks Mom!


I cross-posted this as a comment on another blog:

Our society has a very weak understanding of civic duty. For that matter, citizenship has become nothing more than a permanent work visa and a health benefits card. Doing our duty is not particularly commendable. It is when we love duty, and when we go beyond the call of duty, that we have done something commendable.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Safe, Legal and Rare

I’ve been re-reading Bill Clinton’s autobiography. It’s an incredible attempt at self-justification on his part, which makes for a sometimes amusing and sometimes frustrating read. However I just came across a line in his book which I’ve also heard Hillary use. Both the Clinton’s have stated that abortion should be “safe, legal and rare”. I don’t know which one of them thought of this, or whether in fact it is the mantra of the pro-abortion crowd. But I think this phrase requires some thought.

Politicians have often used the expression, “I’m personally against abortion, but I support a woman’s right to choose.” This makes the politician sound sensitive to the concerns of pro-life voters, and yet reassures the pro-abortion crowd that they will make no changes to current laws (or in Canada no change to the current lack of laws, because in Canada a woman can have an abortion at any time in her pregnancy for any reason right up until the time she goes in labour). However this politically useful phrase is less useful among thinking voters. After all, why is this politician personally against abortion? What’s wrong with abortion? Which leads intelligent pro-lifers to conclude one thing; this politician has no sense of morality. If you are against something because it’s bad, why do you allow it? Enough people have pointed this out, so this expression is becoming less useful. Note that I say “less useful” rather than “useless” because it does still have some value among the incredibly naïve.

The diminishing of the value of the “I’m personally against abortion” expression increases the utility of the Clinton’s phrase. “Abortion should be safe, legal and rare.” Again it reassures the pro-abortion side that it’s still open season on the unborn, but the inclusion of the idea that abortion should be “rare” gives wishy-washy pro-lifers a sop. But we need to think about this word “rare” and its implications.

Why should abortion be rare? Is there something wrong with abortion? Why is it that abortion is something that we would not want to occur, except rarely? The only answer I can think of is that abortion must be something that is both significant and undesirable. It must be significant. Nobody ever campaigns for the insignificant. While none of us like warts or ingrown toenails, nobody ever has the need to stand up and declare that warts should be rare. The very act of declaring that abortion should be rare declares to the whole world that this is something which is both significant and undesirable. So when we hear politicians declaring that abortion should be “rare” we need to ask them, “what’s wrong with abortion, that it should be rare?”

Now the liberal-minded do have an answer to why abortion should be rare. They will say that it is not the abortion that they object to, but the conditions that would lead a woman to decide that an abortion is her best option. The two conditions that come to mind are poverty and crime. And so the left-leaning will use this as justification to increase the range of government sponsored social programs, while wringing their hands about their inability to reduce crime against women.

But here too we need to apply some logic and consistency. We need to ask our politicians whether abortion should still be legal (or in Canada, whether abortion should still be completely unregulated) when poverty or crime are not present. And when they reply “no, I still support a woman’s right to choose” we need to blow them out of the water about their fiction of believing that abortion should be “rare”. Logically they do not believe abortion should be “rare”.

Now I realize all of this is written for the person whose opinion is swayed by logic. And this does not apply to the vast majority of voters and politicians. However there is one question that still can be raised, which I believe is an emotional crack in the armour of the “abortion for any reason” zealots. The question is this, “Do you believe a woman in our country should be allowed to have an abortion if she is pregnant with a female fetus and she comes from a society that places more value on male children?” This question plays off the concepts of equal rights for women with the rights of a woman to have an abortion for any reason.

The fact is, the pro-life side is incredibly ineffectual. They have placed all their hopes in a law forbidding abortion. Their idea is that if they can just elect the right government, they’ll get their way. But they won’t, or even if they do it will be short lived until the next government comes along. The only way to protect the unborn is to play the game a whole lot better. A strong and sustained change in public opinion is the only way to change the law. We need to look for strategic ways to change public opinion. I’ve just presented one way. Play off abortion rights against the nationally felt belief that female babies are as valuable as male babies. Use this aspect of public opinion to introduce laws. In Canada, the first step is to have a law regulating some aspect of abortion. It doesn’t matter how unusual the circumstances, provided we get some sort of initial law against abortion. Perhaps a law against having an abortion based on the sex of the baby for women who are in the top 1% of income earners. It doesn’t matter how rare the case is. In fact, it would be better if it were incredibly rare. The purpose of an initial law is not to save 100,000 children a year because we’ll never get a law that will save 100,000 children a year. The purpose of an initial law is to get an initial law that can then be built upon. And the way to get an initial law is to get public opinion on our side. All the marches and letter writing campaigns in the world have done nothing and will do nothing. We need to play the game much, much better.

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Tuesday, May 08, 2007


I think it is time we all recognized how dangerous it would be for Stephane Dion to become Prime Minister. I have my disagreements with liberal philosophy, and I would say some aspects of their belief system are dangerous, but all this is eclipsed by potential danger to our country should Stephane Dion ever become PM. To put it simply, Dion has one focus and that is global warming.

His monomania has serious implications for other aspects of sound environmental policy. Instead of a balanced approach that includes clean air (as the Conservatives has proposed) Dion is only concerned about global warming. Indeed it seems that in some circles, if you favour a balanced approach to environmental issues it is evidence that you don't care about the One Issues Above All Issues; global warming!

But the danger goes further. To make good on his singular focus, Dion seems all too willing to ignore the potential economic cost. The fact is that a strong economy gives us the tools we need to address environmental issues including global warming. Take away the strength of the economy and we take away the best tool we have for fixing the environment! After all, starving people don't have the luxury of worrying about the environment.

May I also point out the social implications of "Kyoto at any cost" economic disruption. A strong economy allows us to fund a wide variety of social programs. These programs are not only a sacred trust, but also make for social stability. Take away the strong economy and we will need to slash social programs, which will lead to social chaos.

Finally I must point out the danger of having a potential Prime Minister who is willing to ignore and reject any scientific studies he doesn't like. A number of real scientists have questioned whether global warming is a man-made phenomenon, but for their heresy they have been suppressed by the true believers in global warming. Can we afford to have a Prime Minister who will ignore scientific evidence because it disagrees with his main mission?

I tend to think Stephane Dion is a nice man. I'm sure he would make a nice neighbour. I'd say his heart is in the right place. But his naive approach and singular focus makes him a dangerous choice for Prime Minister. At this critical time we need a clear thinker. We need a Prime Minister with a balanced and well thought out approach. Stephen Harper has quickly proven himself to be one of the smartest men to occupy 24 Sussex Drive. While the left may mindlessly label Harper as being dangerous (to their narrow agenda), Canada cannot afford to have a man as dangerous as Stephane Dion leading us.


Dr Francis Beckwith, a professor at Baylor University and a leading figure among Christian thinkers, has converted to Catholicism. I'm aware that this type of thing sometimes happens. Sometimes we cannot see the forest because of the trees, and this can happen to leading thinkers just as often as the rest of us. For example, in Dr. Beckwith's case, he read the early "Church Fathers" and found a system more akin to Roman Catholicism than to Protestant Evangelicalism. This is the main reason, so far as I can tell from his own message about his conversion. I left the following message on his blog:
If one views the Church Fathers as a lens through which we understand the Bible, it is quite possible to end up as a Roman Catholic. On the other hand, if we start in the other direction, and evaluate the Church Fathers by the standard of what we read in the Bible, it is unlikely that we will end up Roman Catholic. I for one am surprised at how quickly the early church fell away from New Testament simplicity.
In some recent sermons I explored the logical necessity for an infallible Special Revelation from God, and contrasted this to the Roman Catholic system whereby the Bible is considered to be a product of the Church. My hope is that these sermons would help answer the philosophical questions raised by the Roman Catholic approach.

However, few people would take a step this radical based solely on their interpretation of the Church Fathers. Though he didn't discuss this reason in his message, I have to wonder if the sad state of evangelical thinking had something to do with his conversion. I'm not a genuine intellectual, but I do understand a little of the emotions that some of these leading thinkers must feel. It's got to be lonely for a Protestant Evangelical thinker. A friend of mine was once told by a Roman Catholic that Protestants need the Roman Catholics because there isn't an issue that can be raised that Roman Catholics haven't been thinking about for the last thousand years. You can see some of this by looking through some of my blog postings over the last couple of years. I have subscribed to "First Things" for a couple of years now. It requires me to wade through a lot of Roman Catholic dogma (and some Roman Catholic navel gazing) in order to mine a few nuggets. And yet I must because I cannot find anything equivalent within Evangelical Protestant circles. It's my hope that some day Evangelical Protestants will be producing their own works that display depth of thought as well as loyalty to the simple gospel of Jesus Christ. Until then, it is lonely for Christian thinkers, and each year we'll see a few of them move to the Roman Catholic church.

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Good Question

Andrew Prescott at raises a good question. Stephane Dion holds French citizenship. So did he vote in this week's French election, or does he take the responsibilities and duties of citizenship lightly?

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Out and About

It's been a busy day. I've been trying to do more work around the house, fixing things up. I've slowly been banging the items off my list. This morning it was fixing up the fence so the critters don't get into the backyard. I had some help from Hannah and the other children. While we were in the back yard, Karen was doing a big load of groceries.

Then I put Hannah's new car seat into the van, and took the 3 kids out. We had to pick up our newly fixed vacuum. Then we went out to Pizza Hut for lunch. The idea was to get the kids out of the house so Karen could spend some time listening to this online homeschool conference.

But I must admit the Pizza Hut pizza was rather disappointing. Not much cheese, and the cheese stuffed crust was stuffed with processed cheese (yuck). The last couple of times I've been to Pizza Hut I've been disappointed. Pizza Hut used to be a place with great pizza. In fact, it was a bit of a premium kind of place, with great pizza if you could afford it. Now a lot of corner pizza places offer better pizza. Which makes me wonder about "Yum Brands", the company that owns Pizza Hut, Taco Bell and KFC. They've got a well established brand, but they've let it go downhill. I understand a bit about business and I need to wonder why they aren't doing much with this particular product. It seems to me that a bit of energy on the part of management could really reinvigorate this brand.

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Friday, May 04, 2007

I guess we knew the stupidity was inevitable

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Joy, Happiness, Accomplishment and Sin

It was a real joy to pull into the driveway tonight, because Joel was playing outside. He woke up a bit sick this morning, and he's still a bit wiped, but he is much better!

Bethany was out at the AWANA bowling tonight. She had a great time. Sometimes she feels a bit left out, but she had a really good time with the other girls on her team. I sat and listened to her bubble away, but finally had to send her to bed. I was really happy for her.

Tonight I finished getting the May issue of Learning at Home together. It is the newsletter for the Rideau Valley Home Educators Association. This month was easy because I was sent 3 great articles on our theme of mathematics. Done!

Finally, last night was quite interesting. I woke up in the middle of the night, couldn't sleep for quite a while, and ended up praying. It was a most interesting experience. As I prayed I ended up reflecting on the sin of pride, and how much pride there has been in my life over the last 30 years. I won't go into all the details, though I feel free to confess it, but I can see how pride has tainted so much of what I've done in most of the areas of my life. I find myself longing for a richer spiritual walk, one that is not tainted by self. Part of last night's prayer was confession. And yet I wasn't overcome with grief for sin, but rather found myself being so thankful that God brought to mind more and more areas for me to recognize as pride and confess as sin. Every time it seemed I was ready to end the "conversation" about pride and close off my prayer, another thought popped into my mind. I'm so thankful that God deals gently with us. I know who I want to be, and pride will keep me from getting there. Confession and dependency on the Lord will be the key, one step at a time. Forgive me if this type of blog posting makes you uncomfortable. I don't intend to bleed all over you! But it is something I wanted to share. S.D.G.

Interesting Read

There is a very long but very interesting article at

It is worth your time to read this.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Still Sick

Joel was still sick when he went to bed tonight, although it's been over 8 hours since he last vomited.

Hannah stepped on my broken toe tonight, but I guess there are worse things that can happen.

And Bethany was absolutely delighted to watch the Ottawa Senators playing hockey over streaming video off the CBC website. But we still made her go to bed during the middle of the second period.

As for me, I'm crawling into bed with a good book. Joel being sick meant for a topsy-turvy kind of day.

Maybe I shouldn't have woken up

I was having a weird dream last night. I was single, and acting like a single guy. And we were telling funny stories about Uncle Jack (my grandfather's brother). And there was a software CD with an old copy of Microsoft FoxPro. As I said, pretty weird.

Then I heard the voice. "Mom. Mom!" I went running in Joel's room because I was awake and Karen was still asleep. I asked Joel what was wrong. He said he'd barfed. I asked where, he pointed down, and I realized I was standing in it. Yum. Lasagna barf. I got him a bowl, cleaned my feet, worked with Karen on cleaning up the barf, and then went back to bed. I was up from 12:30 to 2:00pm, and then at 3:00, 3:45, 4:20 and finally for good at 6:00am with both Joel and Hannah.

He's still sick. I took the day off work. Karen let me take a nap after she made a run to the pharmacy. So far, it's not a banner day in the Abigail household.