Magna Carta at 800
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that there should be constitutional recognition and protection of religious life in society. Principled pluralism means that government should give equal treatment to different communities of faith. Government should not have the authority to decide what constitutes true religion. Therefore, government should not try to establish one religion or to enforce secularism in public life. Most religious ways of life seek expression beyond the walls of a church. Most guide their adherents in the way they should live in society and not only in their worship and creedal confessions. Justice, therefore, requires equal treatment of religions in public as well as in private life.
Cars have made distance less of a factor in our lives. For this reason, church goers can choose from a marketplace of churches. But in order to decide, they have to narrow down the options, and when they do, they (naturally) consider their personal preferences first. They’ll try on different churches and see what “fits.”
Pastors, in reaction, are today forced to account for these new dynamics of affinity. Because church shoppers are exploring their options, area pastors often respond by targeting “felt needs.” For pastors, attracting and retaining church goers often means preaching on the topics people are looking for.
“I have had a lot of Liberals come up to me and say, ‘I don’t quite understand, isn’t the Liberal party about freedom and about defending people’s rights?’” Trudeau said in an interview with CBC’s The Sunday Edition with Michael Enright.
“Absolutely it is. And the rights that women have fought for over decades to be in control of their own bodies and to control their own reproductive health is not a right I’m going to brush aside to defend the freedom of speech or the freedom to vote a particular way for an MP.”
Trudeau has said that any Liberal MP, regardless of their personal beliefs, would have to vote against any proposed legislation that could limit a woman’s right to an abortion.
“If they vote in favour of restricting women’s access to abortion, that’s taking away their rights. And that is something that we will not accept in the Liberal party. We are the party of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and that’s a serious, serious position that Liberals have to defend.
“It’s time the Liberal party actually defended rights,” he said.
The late Canadian philosopher, George Parkin Grant (1918-1988), argued that, while the American experiment south of the border was preoccupied with the development of technique in the service of the expansive desires of sovereign individuals, both English and French Canadians were traditionally more communitarian in orientation. However, already half a century ago Grant lamented that Canada was becoming more individualistic and almost certainly for the worse. Although Grant initially expressed concern about the homogenizing influences of liberalism and capitalism on his country’s distinctive traditions, in his last decades he became increasingly worried about the easy acceptance of euthanasia and abortion in western societies and the inevitable cheapening of human life that would follow in its wake.
Unlike most of his socially-prominent extended family, including his nephew, former federal Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff, Grant was no fan of liberalism and held the late Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau in particular disregard. Were he still alive today, Grant would be livid at what his nemesis’ son, the current Liberal leader, has unilaterally decreed to his parliamentary caucus: Anti-abortion candidates need not apply in 2015, Justin Trudeau says.
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau says all candidates running for nomination to represent the Liberal Party in 2015 will have to support the party’s pro-choice position, but that the same rule does not apply to sitting MPs. “I have made it clear that future candidates need to be completely understanding that they will be expected to vote pro-choice on any bills,” Trudeau said Wednesday following his party’s weekly caucus meeting in Ottawa. . . . “We are steadfast in our belief ... it is not for any government to legislate what a woman chooses to do with her body. And that is the bottom line.”
But the Liberals are not alone. Although Grant, as a Red Tory, tended to support the Conservative Party, he would scarcely be enthusiastic about what that party has become today under Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who moved two years ago to shut down a backbencher’s effort to reopen the issue of when human life begins. Unlike the Liberals and the socialist New Democrats, the Conservative position seems to be to tolerate pro-lifers as long as they keep their mouths shut on the matter in the House of Commons. This means that all three major federal parties have effectively banished pro-lifers to the political wilderness. The autonomous person, liberated from the constraints of the past and free perhaps even from the stigma of social disapproval of his chosen lifestyle, has become the new god of the Canadian civil religion, almost totally eclipsing whatever communitarian elements have managed to survive the cultural shifts of recent decades.
The notion of freedom as the right to define ourselves autonomously was famously heralded by the US Supreme Court’s notorious Planned Parenthood vs Casey decision in 1992. But, as Grant feared so many decades ago, this notion has expanded north of the 49th parallel. If John Locke is right that “everyone is orthodox to himself,” then perhaps freedom as autonomy must be held to trump the claims, not only of institutional religions, but of any faith that recognizes that we answer to God and to the covenant community he has called into being. A Catholic like his late father, Justin Trudeau objects to anyone who might question that status based on his abortion stance. The use of such expressions as “a private matter” and “between God and me” suggests that his Catholicism, however sincere, has been considerably attenuated by Canada’s civil religion, which, following Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s, will brook no dissent, particularly from those whose faith entails obedience to something beyond the socially-sanctioned quest for autonomy.
Grant would definitely not be pleased.
Russia has truly fallen into a torn state: 24 million have found themselves “abroad” without moving anywhere, by staying on the lands of their fathers and grandfathers. Twenty-five million – the largest diaspora in the world by far; how dare we turn our back to it?? – especially since local nationalisms (which we have grown accustomed to view as quite understandable, forgivable, and “progressive”) are everywhere suppressing and maltreating our severed compatriots.
A sizeable portion of the ethnic Ukrainian population itself does not even use or have command of the Ukrainian language. (The native language for 63 percent of the population is Russian, while ethnic Russians make up only 22 percent of the population; i.e., in Ukraine, for every Russian there are two “non-Russians” who nonetheless consider Russian to be their mother tongue!) (Russian Question, 91)
Solzhenitsyn’s “idolizing obsession with Russia” (p. 65). “For [Solzhenitsyn] there is only Russia. For me, Russia could disappear, die, and nothing would change in my fundamental vision of the world. ‘The image of the world is passing.’ This tonality of Christianity is quite foreign to him” (p. 61).