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Saturday Selections – Feb. 17, 2024

Failing at failure?

This could be a great way to bring up an important conversation with our kids. The fear of failure stops many children from trying new and hard things. God gave them talents, and if they are going to develop those skills (and not bury them - Matthew 25:14-30) our children will need to push their limits. That might mean running so hard they start tripping, stumbling, and even eating some dirt. They need to know there is such a thing as God-glorifying failure... but not God-glorifying cowardice.

Marriage makes men better

Though he doesn't acknowledge God, this evolutionist has discovered that God's plan for the family – marriage – works best, reining in men's antisocial behaviors.

There is a really great metaphor here, too, about our rational self being a rider trying to control an elephant that represents our impulses. Those impulses – or, in Christian terms, sinful desires – can be easier or harder to control depending on where we take them. So, for example, a rider troubled by alcohol shouldn't "take his elephant" into a bar. To extend this to the family realm, a dad or mom trying to deal with a kid that pushes their buttons shouldn't indulge in watching the late show – they'll have to put their elephant to bed early each night to better enable them to be calm and controlled.

The Swiss Family Robinson: a return to the classics

Jonathon Van Maren makes a plug for this great book. Parents, if you get your kids a copy, be sure you get an attractive one: a great cover, good font, and a few illustrations thrown in here and there can really help by making a classic so much more appealing.

G.K. Chesterton on AI

If you want to understand AI, then who better to ask than someone born two hundred years before it was invented? This is a good one! And for an in-depth dive check out what's on offer at Creation.com.

The most bizarre experience of my life

When theologian E. Calvin Beisner was invited to do an interview about climate change, he never expected to be interviewed by a clown. Who knows how this will end, but some people certainly are desperate to try to make Christians look bad.

"He Gets Us" takes a big "L" in the Super Bowl

Among the Super Bowl commercials last week were two to promote the "He Gets Us" evangelistic campaign. Many Christians have defended them as "pre-evangelism" – sure, they didn't hint at the Good News, but they did tell people that Jesus gets them. That's a start, right?

There's some truth to that – they had a minute, and if you had just a minute would you be able to present the whole of the Gospel to someone? To say it another way, an incomplete message isn't wrong... it just needs more.

But the problem comes when we say the easy part and stop. And a lot of "churches" are content with just telling folks that Jesus gets them. But they don't want to offend anyone. Telling people they need to repent? Jesus as Saviour is offensive indeed.

Now someone has shown how it is possible, in just a minute, to tell people quite a lot about Jesus and their need for a Saviour. And Ray Comfort gives his own version here.

News

Understanding the war in Gaza

On October 7, 2023, the terrorist organization Hamas launched an attack on Israel from Gaza that killed about 1400 Israeli civilians. Hamas also took over 200 hostages. The brutality of the attack was staggering, and there are reports of Hamas terrorists recording videos of their own gleefulness as they committed atrocities against Jewish women and children. In Western countries, thousands of “progressives” began demonstrating in the streets and posting messages on social media in support of the Hamas attacks. Then, as Israel counterattacked into Gaza to prevent further Hamas aggression, progressives demanded that there be a ceasefire to halt Israel’s military advance. In the view of such progressives, the Palestinians of Gaza are an oppressed people under the colonial rule of Israel. But such a view doesn’t understand the history of the region and the current situation. Correcting misinformation To correct the misconceptions, Dr. Willem J. Ouweneel, a prominent evangelical theologian in the Netherlands, quickly put together a small book to help Christians understand the big picture. This book is called Israel and the Palestinians and it was published by Paideia Press within weeks of the terrorist attack. First of all, it’s important to understand that Palestinian Arabs are not the original occupants of the land who were subsequently dispossessed by Jews. Yes, there have been Arabs in Palestine for centuries, and there were Jews living there too for an even longer time. As Ouweneel explains, “There have been Jews living in the Holy Land virtually continuously since the arrival of Israel under the leadership of Moses (about 3,200 to 3,400 years ago).” Yes, many Jews were expelled by the Romans in the first and second centuries AD, but some Jews always remained. It was their original homeland, after all. Arab and Jewish Palestinians The Muslims conquered Jerusalem in 638 and much of the rest of the Middle East during the seventh century. For centuries thereafter the area, revered as the “Holy Land,” remained under Muslim rule – except for a brief interlude when the Crusaders held control. In 1917, during World War One, the British seized it from the Ottoman Empire. Between the two world wars, while the British administered this territory, large numbers of Jews came from other parts of the world to live there. Both the Arab and Jewish residents were known as “Palestinians.” The idea that only Arabs are Palestinians developed later, especially after Israel became a country in 1948. That is, the claim that there is a specifically Arab Palestinian national identity is very recent historically. Palestine partitioned As the number of Jewish people in Palestine surged, their potential military strength grew correspondingly. Tensions between Jews and Arabs increased. The British therefore tossed the “Palestinian issue” hot potato to the United Nations (UN) for a solution. A UN commission proposed partitioning Palestine into the modern country of Israel and an Arab Palestine territory, and this proposal was adopted by the UN. The Jews were jubilant that they would get their own country and they formed the State of Israel on May 14, 1948. The Palestinian Arabs refused to establish their own country, partly due to pressure from neighboring Arab countries. The Arab leadership wanted every inch of Palestine. Those neighboring Arab states immediately launched an all-out attack to wipe Israel off the map in 1948. However, the Arabs lost this conflict, known as Israel’s War of Independence (1948-1949), so Israel was successfully established. The Palestinian Arabs ended up with nothing, because the country of Jordan took control of the West Bank and Egypt took control of the Gaza Strip, both of which territories had been assigned by the UN to the Palestinian Arabs. Ethnic cleansing? At the formation of Israel, about 700,000 Arabs fled the new country and became refugees in surrounding Arab countries. This was encouraged by the Arab states, but Ouweneel notes that “the Jews themselves may have contributed to this Arab departure by intimidating them.” At the same time, though, “around 850,000 Jews were expelled from the surrounding Arab countries. These were Jews whose ancestors had often lived in those Arab countries for centuries.” They were welcomed in Israel. So, it seems that to some degree, there was a form of ethnic cleansing on both sides. Israel is an officially Jewish state, so Arabs who live there “are, in a sense, second-class citizens.” Nevertheless, they enjoy the same democratic rights as Jewish residents. Indeed, there “is no country in the Middle East where Arabic speakers have as many rights as in the land of Israel.” The main point, though, is that Israel is not some sort of Jewish colony in Palestine. Jews have lived there for millennia. Furthermore: “throughout history, there have always been more Jews than Muslims living in Jerusalem. In 1860, when Zionism did not yet exist, there were 11,000 Jews compared to 6,500 Muslims, and in 1906, there were 40,000 Jews compared to 7,000 Muslims. At all times, Jerusalem has been more of a Jewish city than an Arab one.” Muslims cannot accept Israel According to Ouweneel, the bottom line is that the root of the conflict is religious. Muslims believe that since they conquered Palestine in the seventh century, it is and must always belong to the “realm of Allah.” In other words, “it is inconceivable that Jews would ever have their own state in an area that has become part of Allah’s world. This is an abomination to many consistent Muslims, both within and outside the Middle East. For seventy-five years, these Muslims have fervently desired that the state of Israel come to an end as soon as possible.” It is with this in mind that the chant “From the River to the Sea, Palestine must be free” can be properly understood. It means that “all Jews must be expelled (or better yet, killed) from the land, only then will Palestine truly be ‘liberated.’” Due to the deep-seated religious basis of this conflict, then, Ouweneel believes there can be no lasting political solution. The Jews believe strongly in defending their country, and consistent Muslims believe strongly in wiping it out completely. There’s no middle ground. Peace only through Christ However, peace would be possible if both Jews and Muslims in the region turned to Christ. As Ouweneel writes, “The solution is for Jews and Arabs to be reconciled with God individually, in Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 5:18–20). Then reconciliation with each other will follow naturally.” So, while it’s easy to sympathize with the Israelis rather than their opponents, there is no room for hatred. “We must learn to see in the face of every Muslim a potential Jesus-believer." Indeed, some missionary organizations are reporting that thousands of Muslims are turning to Christ right now. Conclusion Israeli forces have continued to push into Gaza to root out Hamas terrorists. Unfortunately, many civilians are dying as result. Civilian casualties are much higher than they need to be because Hamas uses them as human shields by operating out of schools and hospitals. From the Israeli perspective, if Hamas is not destroyed, its terrorists will continue to commit atrocities against civilians in Israel. Thus, to protect their own people, the military operation in Gaza must continue, despite the unfortunate civilian casualties. Every country has a right to self-defense, and Israel is no different in this regard. Hamas launched its attack on October 7, and Israel is fighting back. Those who are outraged by Israel’s military operation should reflect on the fact that this entire episode is the result of a massacre of Israeli civilians by Hamas. Oct 9 march in New York two days after the attacks with a sign touting the slogan "From the River to the Sea." (Picture credit: Lev Radin / Shutterstock - Top picture credit: Below the Sky / Shutterstock)...

News

Alberta government announces new transgender policies 

Yesterday, the Premier of Alberta, Danielle Smith, announced several transgender policies concerning surgeries, hormone treatment, parental rights, sexual education, and sports. Smith delivered the policies in a video posted on social media. Surgeries and hormone treatments  Smith declared a ban on transgender top and bottom “surgeries” for minors aged 17 and under. Previously, “bottom surgeries,” involving the mutilation of a child’s genitalia, were already prohibited for minors. Levi Minderhoud is the BC Manager at the Association for Reformed Political Action (ARPA), which has been advocating for these changes through the “Let Kids Be” campaign. He mentions that before this announcement, “top surgeries” – breast removals – were happening to minors: “The National Post reported last year that hundreds of girls in Canada have had mastectomies under the guise of ‘gender-affirming care.’ These are not only medically unnecessary but also cause permanent damage to young women's bodies. Alberta is right to prohibit them for minors.” Additionally, Smith announced the ban on hormone treatments for children aged 15 and under. She clarified that children currently receiving hormones would not be affected. Those aged 16 and 17 could start hormones with approval from parents, a physician, and a psychologist. Parental rights in the classroom Under the new policies, students aged 15 and under who wish to use another name and/or pronouns at school must get parental permission. Students aged 16 and 17 will not require permission, but parents will have to be informed by the school if their child is using a new name or pronouns. Regarding sexual education lessons in the classroom, parents will need to opt-in to every lesson covering sex education, sexual identity, or gender identity. Smith’s decision to implement an opt-in policy, rather than an opt-out policy, is significant, as it could remove contentious presentations from the classroom without facing a major political backlash. If most parents choose not to opt-in, it could lead to the shutdown of these classes if only a few students participate. Female sports   The new rules will also prohibit so-called “transgender female athletes” (aka, men) from participating in female sports. As Smith noted: “There are obvious biological realities that give transgender female athletes a massive competitive advantage over women and girls.” Although Smith failed to articulate that “transgender female” really means “male,” she did affirm the reality of biological differences between males and females (Gen 1:27). Two steps forward, one back It wasn’t all good though. Children 16 and up will still be able to get hormones that may leave them irreversibly sterile. Smith also announced efforts to advance “transgender care” for adults. Currently, Alberta residents seeking transgender surgeries have to travel to Quebec. Smith aims to change this by bringing specialists to Alberta to facilitate these genital mutilations within the province. It’s important to care for those around us struggling with gender dysphoria, but it’s not caring to harm a patient’s body in an attempt to remake them into a gender they can never become. These policies have faced significant backlash from transgender advocacy groups, some arguing that Alberta’s policies surpass the parental rights policies in Saskatchewan and New Brunswick.  John Sikkema, Director of Law and Policy for ARPA, expressed gratitude for the announcement, stating: “ARPA is very thankful for Premier Smith’s policy announcement this week. We urge her government to follow through with implementing these sound policy changes, despite the predictable backlash by progressive activist groups and media.” Smith took questions today, at a press conference on these new policies. You can view it below. ...

News

Judge: government wasn’t legally justified to invoke the Emergencies Act

A year ago, Justice Paul Rouleau ruled that Canada’s federal government acted appropriately when it invoked the Emergencies Act to clear out “Freedom Convoy” protesters who were camping out around Parliament Hill back in 2022. But this past week a different judge made the opposite call. Federal Court Justice Richard Mosley ruled that the government was not legally justified in invoking the Act. For those who need a refresher, on Feb 14, 2022, the Canadian government invoked the Emergencies Act, claiming that the hundreds of semi-trucks and thousands of protesters that had been around Parliament Hill since late January of that year were a “threat to the security of Canada.” Invoking the Act gave the government increased powers. However, any increase of power for government has to come with a corresponding loss of freedom for their citizens. For example, the government gained the power to freeze protesters’ bank accounts, and those they chose to do this to, lost the ability to access their own money. The government gained the power to ban protests, but, as Justice Mosley ruled earlier this week, they did so at the expense of citizens’ Charter Right to freedom of expression. However, as The Globe and Mail’s Marieke Walsh and Sean Fine reported: “The government failed to prove that there was an emergency, as defined by the Emergencies Act, with the protests not meeting the high threshold of a threat to the security of Canada, said. The government ‘cannot invoke the Emergencies Act because it is convenient, or because it may work better than other tools at their disposal or available to the provinces,’ he wrote.” For Christians who have been wrestling with what the limits of government power are, this ruling presents another wrinkle. What does submission to government look like when one arm of the government declares something right, and another declares it wrong? This ruling also confirms that just because a government official declares something doesn’t make it so. Even as our country drifts from God, it is still a nation of laws, not just a nation of men – we don’t have to submit to every whim of our political leader, but can appeal to a system of laws, including our Charter of Rights, that even the Prime Minister can be held accountable to. Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland has announced the government plans to appeal. Photo is of Ottawa protesters on January 29, 2022. Picture credit: Michel Elzo/Shutterstock...

News

Saturday Selections – Jan 27, 2024

Click on the titles below for the linked articles... 80's "kids'" movies aren't how you remember them Those classic 80s kids' movies that you remember so fondly? Turns out they aren't kid movies at all - woah! There's a strange blessing that comes with understanding stuff was wacky back in the day too (Eccl. 7:10). We can remember how God was with us in the middle of that craziness, and be reassured that He's able to sustain us in today's clown world too. "Be fruitful and multiply" is not religious bumph. It’s how civilizations survive. The West is facing a coming economic implosion due to its low birthrate. And we don't seem to get it. What is Critical Race Theory? Samuel Sey offers this succinct explanation. Brits take Canada to task for state-sanctioned suicide (10 min read) This is a really good summary of how Canada has flung itself down the slippery slope, offering death as the medical treatment for more and more conditions. And while this is a secular article, they almost get to the root of it: they recognize that autonomy is a lie, and death isn't medicine. What they miss is that our lives are not our own to dispose of as we wish – the author doesn't acknowledge life as a gift from God entrusted to our stewardship. "In less than a decade, Canada has gone from legalising assisted dying in the tightest of circumstances – for adults suffering from terminal illnesses, for whom death was imminent – to offering suicide as an alternative to life’s woes. It amounts to a cautionary tale of the deep inhumanity, the cruel disregard for human life, that is unleashed when you introduce state-assisted death." We owe so much, just the interest is going to cost Canadians almost $2,000 a year Whenever you borrow, you're actually taking from future you, which might be fine sometimes if you really need to (for example, it's tough to buy a house without borrowing any money). But when it comes to massive government debt loads, what the previous generation borrowed is hitting us now, and if we keeping going along this route, then we'll be taking from our children. 8 fossil fuel facts: the other side (6 min) While we often hear about supposed downsides to fossil fuel usage, we rarely get the upside. But if we aren't taking that into consideration, then we aren't really counting the cost (Luke 14:28-30) of going "carbon free." This is a secular presentation but it presents the other side of the argument that we most often don't hear but need to (Prov. 18:17). ...

News

Saturday Selections – Jan 13, 2024

Click on the titles below to go to the linked articles... Were women dying by the thousands before abortion was legalized? (3 min) One of the big lies was that before abortion was legal, women resorted to dangerous back-alley abortions that killed women by the thousands. Even if that was true, this sidesteps the bigger issue that for every legal abortion, one person dies every time. And it isn't even true. The case against legal gambling (10 min read) Now that marijuana has been legalized, the Church is going to have to deal with it on a whole other level. It used to be only the kids willing to break laws who could get their hands on it. But with legalization, experimentation becomes a lot easier to do... even for the "good" kids. So, too, with gambling. It's always been an issue, but only for some. Now, it seems like half the commercials on TV are shouting about some easy online way to gamble away your money. The article linked above is an American secular argument against gambling, but the point is equally applicable to Canada. And a biblical case against gambling can be found here. 7 questions for COVID expert Francis Collins Collins was part of the efforts being made to censor COVID questioners, but in a clip making the rounds recently, he concedes that as a public health "expert" he was pushing conclusions based on only limited considerations: “...so you attach infinite value to stopping the disease and saving a life. You attach zero value to whether this actually totally disrupts people’s lives, ruins the economy, and has many kids kept out of school in a way that they never might quite recover from. Collateral damage. This is a public health mindset. And I think a lot of us involved in trying to make those recommendations had that mindset — and that was really unfortunate, it’s another mistake we made.” If we were to become a post-family world (10-min read) South Korea is the leading edge of a post-natalist – no baby – world where, in the last 70 years, women have gone from having an average of 6 children each to now just 0.78. And where South Korea is, is where we are heading. Much of the blame for this demographic decline can be laid at the feet of the government, but the government is finding they aren't able to undo the damage they've done. This, then, is just another example of how desperately the world needs to hear the Gospel so they can know and love the Lord first of all, and then, so they can start seeing the world as He does. Only then will countries be able to repent from and overcome the selfishness their governments have encouraged them to embrace. Solar and wind are cheaper? (15-min read) Solar and wind are sometimes marketed as being cheaper than fossil fuels. If that were so, notes Alex Epstein, author of The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels, then why would they need massive government subsidies to get people to use them? I appreciate Epstein for making his case methodically and carefully, but wish he'd call a spade a spade and use "lie" instead of "false generalizations." Eggs are a wonder of engineering The closer we look at creation, the more obvious the Creator's fingerprints... even in the case of a "simple" chicken's egg. ...

News

Toronto hospital experiments with artificial wombs

In mid-November, Toronto SickKids Hospital began the first experiments in its new lab, testing the creation of an artificial womb.  In 2017, artificial womb testing succeeded in keeping fetal lambs gestating in “bio bags” for up to 28 days. Lambs surgically removed from their mothers' wombs at 105 to 115 days, were transferred into the bio bags. Scientists from the Philadelphia-based lab claim this experiment showed promise as the first time an artificial womb could maintain fetal and organ development. These tests have been conducted with over 300 lambs. Toronto SickKids Hospital is following on with their own experiment, this time using pigs, not lambs.  Dr. Mike Seed, head cardiologist of the hospital, states that these experiments aim to develop better life support for prematurely born babies. The hope is to simulate a womb that would support continued growth and nurture of the fetus, providing a better chance at life.  If the preborn aren't recognized as human... Now, just because we can do something, doesn’t necessarily mean we should. In the pursuit of scientific advancements, there is a need for scrutiny, especially when it involves interventions that potentially disrupt the natural order established by God, such as the sacred process of childbearing. Of course, the idea that a baby born prematurely at 22 weeks could thrive in an “artificial womb” is appealing. However, can we trust those who evidently have little regard for the sanctity of life to continue their process of experimentation in a way that respects these smallest and most vulnerable of lives? What if it wasn't her body? A recent National Post article explores the idea that advances in this medical technology could impact “abortion rights.” In Canada, pre-born children have no legal status until their first breath. University of Montreal bioethicist Vardit Ravitsky expresses concern about how this could “revolutionize our relationship to pregnancy, reproduction, and women’s place in society.”  Could legislators change abortion policies to remove the pre-born child from the mother to finish gestation inside an artificial womb? Ravitsky warns that having such a womb capable of carrying on an unwanted pregnancy apart from the mother could result in the mother losing the "right to decide that this child will not live.” She poses the questions: “Is the pre-born child considered born when it leaves my body? Is it born when it leaves the artificial womb?”  An important truth that can be highlighted is that inside or outside of the womb (natural or artificial) life begins at conception. Although this bioethicist has a pro-abortion worldview, she strips away the jargon and euphemisms of what abortion is. Ravisky says that when women say they want an abortion they are saying two things: “I don’t want this pregnancy in my body,” and “I don’t want this child to be in the world.” Abortion is not just the removal of pregnancy; it is at the essence the removal of the child from the world in a way that is utterly brutal and destructive to God’s creation.  Not a brave new world Another concern is where this could all lead. The concept of an artificial womb is not new, with Aldous Huxley’s dystopian classic Brave New World exploring the idea over 90 years ago. Huxley warned that separating reproduction from love and family bonds could lead to a less human and more controlled society. Eliminating natural reproduction from the God-ordained male-female process alters the structure of families. This transformation is evident in practices like in vitro fertilization and surrogacy, where same-sex couples are now able to create children, depriving the right for children to have both a mother and a father. The plotline of babies being born inside of incubated bottles now doesn’t seem too far off. As the medical field makes advances that may seem like “preserving” human life, there is a need for discernment. Society should avoid practicing science or legislation that would harm the pre-born. Psalm 127:3-5 says, “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them!” Photo by Nature Communications, DOI: 10.1038/NCOMMS15112, used and adapted under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license....

News

Saturday Selections – Jan 6, 2024

"Let the fire fall!" (6 min) Two fantastic fire shows, just miles apart, point us to the incredible showmanship of God. Tucker Carlson on building a home library (10 min read) Your digital editions can be edited without your permission. They can't do that to paper. Rainbow blowback: African countries are turning away from the West over its LGBT agenda ...and consequently, they are turning towards China. 2023 Word of the year: Authentic Authentic got the Merriam-Webster Dictionary's 2023 "Word of the Year" top prize, but for a usage that is entirely unauthentic. "Be your authentic self" is an affirmation meant to encourage someone to continue to act the gender they say they are rather than the gender they actually are. Should scientists lie to us for our own good? Materialist evolutionists argue the universe has no purpose, but some of them admit that could leave folks feeling really depressed. So they wonder if that purposelessness might be something to lie about – wouldn't it be better if folks pretended or were deceived into believing life has meaning? That they are asking this question shouldn't surprise us: if there is no purpose, then there also isn't any reason to prefer truth over feelings. But, that they are asking the question also highlights the incoherence of their own purposeless worldview. If there really is no point to life, then there also isn't any reason to prefer people being happy over people being depressed – shucks, if we're just chemicals in motion, why would anything at all matter? So no, dear scientists, it isn't good to lie to people. It is good to abandon incoherent worldviews and turn in repentance to the Creator who made you with a purpose: to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. Yes, I am "anti-abortion" We don't need to shy away from being labeled anti-abortion. We just need to explain why. ...

News

What’s happening on the Hill: federal legislation to watch in 2024

What came first: the chicken or the egg? While I’m convinced that God started by creating a chicken, the riddle points to two truths: that eggs come from chickens and chickens come from eggs. We can ask a similar question in a different and more important area of life. What comes first: laws or culture? Again, the answer to this riddle is that both are true. And that’s why a country’s laws are so important. They not only shape our culture, but they are also symptoms of what our culture wants. Laws are not only signposts of where we are going, but conveyor belts pushing us in a particular direction. So, where are our laws directing us to go? Well, here are some of the potential laws on a variety of issues that the House of Commons and the Senate will continue to study and debate throughout 2024. The bills that ARPA Canada is actively following can be categorized into bills relating to life, pornography and sexual exploitation, family, and human rights and justice. Note: In Canada, bills need to go through eleven steps to become law. A bill needs to pass first reading, second reading, consideration in committee, report stage, and third reading in the House of Commons (or Senate) first and then go through the same five steps in the Senate (or House of Commons). Finally, the Governor General must give Royal Assent to the legislation. We mention this so you can know how close the bills listed below are to becoming the law of the land. Life Euthanizing the mentally ill The first one is actually not a bill, but an ongoing discussion. The Special Joint Committee on Medical Assistance in Dying (consisting of both Senators and MPs) is meeting to discuss the expansion of euthanasia to people with mental illness as their sole underlying medical condition. The committee is officially reviewing “the level of preparedness in Canada” to euthanize people with mental illness. But some MPs and committee witnesses believe Parliament must stop, or at least delay, the expansion of euthanasia to mental illness, which remains scheduled for March 17, 2024. The committee is expected to submit a final report to Parliament, with recommendations, by January 31, 2024. Euthanizing the mentally incompetent Another bill, S-248, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (medical assistance in dying), seeks to expand euthanasia still further by permitting advance requests for euthanasia. This means that a person who is worried about losing the capacity to consent to euthanasia may consent weeks, months, or even years in advance. They would just need to pick a random day in the future to be euthanized or declare that they agree to be euthanized if they reach a stated level of decline and have lost the capacity to consent by that point. The bill is awaiting further study at the Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs. Pornography and Sexual Exploitation Protecting young eyes Bill S-210, the Protecting Young Persons from Exposure to Pornography Act, prohibits making pornography accessible to young people online and requires pornography companies to verify the age of potential viewers of pornography. Canadians rank 7th in the world for daily porn consumption, and children are exposed to it at increasingly younger ages. This bill is an important step in restricting pornography that is available for children and adolescents. Bill S-210 has successfully passed through the Senate and completed its first hour of debate in the House of Commons on November 23, 2023. It is currently awaiting further debate at second reading in the House of Commons. Protecting young people While Bill S-210 prohibits children from viewing pornography, another bill seeks to prohibit a person from making or distributing pornography without first ensuring that those depicted are at least 18 years of age and have consented to their image being depicted. Online pornography often exploits young people, particularly girls. Bill C-270, the Stopping Internet Sexual Exploitation Act, would make such exploitation punishable by a fine of up to $500,000 or up to two years in prison. Bill C-270 successfully passed through the Senate and, in December, also passed its second reading in the House of Commons, with all Conservative, NDP, and Bloc MPs, as well as several Liberal members, supporting it. It is currently awaiting further study by the National Safety and Public Security Committee. Better terminology Bill C-291, introduced by MP Mel Arnold in June 2022, focuses on the issue of child pornography. The bill seeks to replace the term “child pornography” with “child sexual abuse and exploitation material.” While a simple terminology change does not directly combat child pornography, it does shift our society away from viewing child pornography as something that is potentially value-neutral to denouncing it for the abuse and exploitation that it is. The bill has received widespread support so far, passing unanimously in the House of Commons and passing second reading in the Senate. It is awaiting further study at the Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs. Human trafficking Finally, a set of bills focus generally on human trafficking. Bill S-263 and C-308 are identical bills in the Senate and House of Commons which would require the government to maintain, update, and report on the progress of its National Strategy to Combat Human Trafficking. The current strategy ends in 2024 but Canada desperately needs to do more – not less – to combat human trafficking. Both bills have passed first reading in their respective legislatures but have yet to proceed any further. Family Spanking bans Currently, parents in Canada are permitted to use force (e.g. spanking) to correct a child, as long as the force is reasonable under the circumstances. In the past 25 years, at least 14 bills have been introduced as attempts to ban corporal discipline, but none have passed. The government can never replace parents in the life of a child and must not try to do so by legislating how children ought to be raised. A set of bills – Bill S-251 and Bill C-273 – are the most recent attempts to ban corporal discipline entirely. The Senate bill is currently awaiting further study at the Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, while the House of Commons bill completed its first hour of debate at second reading on November 27, 2023. Human Rights and Justice Protecting personal political speech MP Garnett Genuis introduced Bill C-257, An Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act (protecting against discrimination based on political belief), in 2022. An identical bill, bill S-257, was also introduced in the Senate in 2022 by Senator Salma Ataullahjan. Both bills have passed first reading but are awaiting further debate in their respective legislatures. These bills would prohibit discrimination by federally regulated employees against a person because of their political belief or partisan activity, such as, for example, an air traffic controller being fired because he expressed support for a conservative policy on a radio talk show. These bills would help safeguard free participation of all people in public life. Restorative justice The Canadian justice system is the focus of Bill S-265, introduced in the Senate in May 2023. Some elements of the bill support pathways for restorative justice as an alternative to incarceration. It would require training for authorities in the justice system regarding restitution and restorative justice programs. The bill also focuses on helping victims of crime navigate the justice system and access information about various services and programs. The Senate has begun to debate the bill at second reading, but it is awaiting further debate. Conclusion All of these bills are private members’ bills, meaning that they aren’t given the same priority as government bills to be debated and voted on. And yet, these bills give our representatives in the House of Commons and the Senate the opportunity to focus on critically important issues that the government may be ignoring. Some of these bills would have a negative impact, while others would have a positive impact. Either way, each one has the potential to shape Canadian law. If you are interested in further analysis of any of these bills, please visit ARPACanada.ca for existing analysis or any updates as they develop....

News

Halloween decorations overtaking Christmas decorations in BC

A survey of BC residents concluded that, for the first time, more people in the province are going “all out” with their decorating for Halloween than for Christmas. The survey was conducted by BC Hydro, the crown corporation that provides most of BC’s hydro power. It found that half of BC residents decorated their homes for Halloween this year, thirteen percent of which put on a “mega display” (defined as ten or more strings of lights and at least one plug-in inflatable). Just over half plan to decorate for Christmas, of which ten percent plan a “mega display.” Although the numbers are similar, and the survey was done before Christmas, when one compares Halloween decorations with Christmas, the contrast is striking. Halloween decorations generally celebrate death with tombstones, skeletons, and even effigies, ropes around their necks, hanging from trees, and then there’s the embrace of the occult, witches, and darkness. In contrast, most Christmas decorations radiate light, joy, and beauty, a fitting display to mark a holiday that celebrates the birth of our Incarnate LORD. BC recently made headlines for being the province with the highest proportion of people who say they have “no religious affiliation” (now up to 41 percent). As such, it isn’t surprising that there is waning enthusiasm for the celebration of Christ’s birth. Yet it is sad that a population would willfully celebrate the darkness which Christ came to save us from. “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness” (Isaiah 5:20)....

News, Pro-life - Abortion

What does Pierre Poilievre think about the unborn?

In a Dec. 11 profile published by le journal de québec, the wife of Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre talked about the couple’s attitude toward the unborn. Anaida Poilievre told the newspaper (in French): “We are pro-choice. We decided on this. I am a woman from Quebec, I grew up here. And it’s part of my values.” But one of Canada’s most prominent abortion defenders, Joyce Arthur, doesn’t think Poilievre is really on her side. She argued back in the summer of 2022 that while Poilievre had declared himself both “pro-choice” and “pro-choix” at the French-language leadership debate earlier that year, his voting record indicated he was “anti-choice.” So which is it? Is Poilievre somehow against the slaughter of the unborn, even as he has verbally defended a mother’s right to murder her child? The voting record that Arthur points to shows Poilievre voted for a number of bills which did seek to protect the unborn. But these were protections that pro-choicers should have supported too… if they were, in fact, pro-choice and not simply pro-abortion. Poilievre voted for bills that would have made it a crime to kill or harm an unborn child that the mother wanted to keep. He also supporting penalizing attempts to coerce a woman into having an abortion she didn’t want. Even if we were, for the sake of argument, to adopt the pro-choice notion that a mother’s decision is what makes an unborn baby valuable, then one could be entirely pro-choice (or “pro-choix”) and still support these bills. That same voting record also shows that Poilievre voted against a pro-life bill that would have banned sex-selective abortions. So, Arthur doesn’t make a compelling case for Poilievre to be anything other than what he, and his wife, have said he is. That said, Poilievre’s Conservatives still welcome pro-life MPs – the only party in Parliament to do so – and he himself has voted for some of the private member's bills the party’s pro-life MPs have offered that would have protected at least some unborn children. As leader he is courting the pro-choice vote, but he is still looking for the pro-life vote too. So any interaction pro-life voters have with him will need to be done with our eyes wide open. Photo is adapted from the original here by Wikipageedittor099 and is licensed under a CC BY-SA 4.0 agreement....

News

Climate conference hypocrisy continues to be instructive

COP28, this year’s edition of the annual United Nations climate conference, has come and gone, setting a record for accredited participants, with more than 70,000. That’s a sizable increase over the previous year’s 49,000, and there were estimates of 400,000 others in the trade and technology expo around the conference. Canada sent more than 700. The Nov. 30 to Dec. 12 event took place in the United Arab Emirates, one of the planet’s leading fossil fuel producers. There’s an irony there, but more pointed is the hypocrisy. These are the same politicians who are deliberately making fossil fuels more expensive to discourage your and my usage. It needs to be done, we’re told, because we face an “existential crisis.” Whatever it takes, because there is no Planet B! But what’s up with the 70,000 plane tickets? What’s the CO2 count for that? Why doesn’t that matter? If we’re really at a crisis point, wouldn’t drastic measures be warranted at the highest levels too? How painful is it, really, to hold their conference via Zoom? But no, we’re not at that level of crisis yet. The hypocrisy is aggravating, but more importantly it is instructive. Whatever our leaders might be saying about a crisis, their actions tell us what they really think (1 John 3:18, Tit 1:16a, James 1:22) and what we should think too. In a Dec. 6 post, the folks at the Climate Discussion Nexus made a plea for world leaders to demonstrate good faith by showing they can actually do what they propose. “To all the people gathering at COP28 ….if you’re so sure this energy transition can work, and be fun exciting cheap easy and great, stop with the grand pontificating and finger-pointing, and show us a demonstration project. Show us just one large or even medium-sized jurisdiction that can run its economy on ‘green’ energy.” We need to move off of fossil fuels? Before you propose it for the entire world, show us it can work in a small town somewhere. Show us how it can be done reliably and affordably. But until you can do that for a town, what reason would we have to think you could ever do it for the world?...

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