Wednesday Night #1444

Written by  //  November 4, 2009  //  Herb Bercovitz, Reports, Wednesday Nights  //  No comments

Work in progress

The news that David Oliver and his wife Christine are moving in mid-January to North Hatley, where he is to be the Vicar of St. Barnabas was greeted with a mixture of pleasure for him and dismay that his presence at Wednesday Night will be far less frequent.

The politics of religion
Divine will is clear.  A morally pure life will be rewarded, a sinful life punished in the afterlife.  In the end, the world will be cleansed of sinners and only the just shall survive.  The problem lies with those mortals who interpret the ground rules to their own benefit as well as those such as Jim Jones whose paranoia affects the very lives of many who seek morality in religion.  In these troubled times, more than ever, human morality sometimes appears to take second place to the personal ambition of political as well religious leaders.  Sodom and Gomorrah come to mind in viewing the apparent flight of much of the population from traditional religion, mostly to the secular religion.

The current Vatican outreach to dissident Anglicans to return to the Church of Rome in the light of such apparent differences as permitting Anglican Priests and Bishops to marry or the ordination of women Priests and Bishops, on one hand, appears to be a barrier and in truth, although many interesting documents have been prepared, to date, there has not been much movement.  Potentially, the ordination of Priests in same sex relationships might present a problem, but the Vatican has proven to be very flexible, the precedent having been set with a like invitation extended to the Orthodox sect.

In retrospect, the motivation for the origin of the Anglican Church was political rather than theological and so in many respects, the proposal is logical, especially in view of the unfortunate flight of the traditional faithful of both, from the religious to the secular.

The flight of an increasing proportion of the population of the Western World from traditional religions is truly a cause for concern.  Throughout the world, the humans whose interpretation of the scripture of any religion substitutes hatred for love may very well be the authors of a real Armageddon.

 H1N1 vaccination program
The folly of entrusting elected representatives and civil servants with planning events for which no precedent exists, has become evident in the distribution of the H1N1 vaccine.  The hockey scandal (Calgary Flames skip flu vaccine lineup) has raised much controversy, probably less illustrative of the importance of the event than of the unpreparedness of the civil service to plan the distribution with rather than for the population.  The intelligence of Canadians is undoubtedly as at high a level as that of civil servants and when informed, Canadians have been traditionally tolerant of glitches and inconveniences when the situation has been adequately explained.  The delay in explaining the planned distribution until more than a week following its implementation has only served to raise the level of angst and lower Canadians’ confidence in those in whose hands their health has been placed.  The explanation that the unprecedented size of the operation warrants its consideration as a success does not wash.
Should the lacunae in the program, the inadequacy or delay in delivery of the vaccine or as yet unknown factors, fail to prevent a full blown pandemic, it is expected that victims will not be treated in traditional facilities where others can be infected, but in such places as Church basements, schools that have been closed because of the pandemic and in segregated areas in hospital emergency rooms.

Prince Charles’ visit to Canada once again raises questions about the continuing validity of the monarchy, to some, an anachronism in an egalitarian society.  Curiously, this issue is of special importance to Canada where the abolition of the monarchy would technically require a change in the constitution, a repetition of which would risk a return of the acrimony that followed Meech Lake.  It is believed by some that, in the event that for whatever reason, Canadians sought to abandon the monarchy following the death of the Queen, highly respected throughout the Commonwealth, it might be achieved without changing the constitution simply by failing to swear allegiance to the new Monarch.

T H E  I N V I T A T I O N

In the wake of our unusual and respectful discussion of religious issues two weeks ago, our OWN Canon David Oliver has graciously agreed to lead a further exploration of the implications of the Vatican’s outreach to conservative (or as one Wednesday Nighter puts it, “disgruntled” Anglicans. Given David’s exceptionally eclectic background (candidate in municipal elections, MBA and son of a profound thinker on political science and geopolitical issues), we do not expect that he will join the pilgrimage to Rome, but know that he will parse the arguments on both sides of the question, and look forward to a wide-ranging and entertaining discussion, including some accurate historical context (some of us were a bit muddy/muddled without his guidance). Question – if the conservative Anglicans join up with Rome, will that propel an exodus of Catholics to the Anglican faith?

Elections are another hot topic. By Wednesday we will have the outcome of our municipal elections [ Update: Tremblay reelected], which for Montreal may prove to be a cliff hanger. Whatever the outcome, nobody will be overjoyed. We applaud our friends and Wednesday Nighters (notably Helen Fotopulos), who are in the race and wish them the best of luck.
It is good to see some lively contests for Council seats in Westmount – democracy at work. [Update: the results] As we write, it is a beautiful day and we hope it encourages all to do their civic duty – get out and vote – and remember, if you aren’t enamoured of a single candidate, you can still vote against the worse option(s) – – the lesser of evils is generally the best, if not most satisfying, choice. And bear in mind the importance of experience – the candidates’ (political and professional) and yours as a citizen.
Update: David Jones writes: You should also have a chance to mull over a bit the meaning of our 3 November elections.
While I don’t think that it is the “end of the ‘Age of Obama'” neither do it think that it is irrelevant. The more important of the two elections is the NJ result (Obama pretty much wrote off VA several weeks ago) in which Obama invested rather heavily on a personal level in a state he won by 16 percentage points in 2008 with an incumbent Democrat billionaire willing to spend any sum of money to win. But he didn’t.
Democrats will be appreciating the limits to which the president’s charisma can be harnessed to drag dead candidates across the finish line. Reps will be appreciating the utility of “centrist” candidates. Off year elections are always bad news for ruling national leadership; we will probably see more-of-the-same in the 2010 congressional elections.
If you prefer the international stage, Afghanistan is in disarray, now that Mr. Abdullah has pulled out “in the interests of national unity”. We are not quite sure how it helps national unity to acclaim Mr. Karzai whose previous tally was proven to be fraudulent, but perhaps someone can convince us.

H1N1 [this link takes you to the page that we are trying to keep up to date with news and reports – we welcome suggestions] will likely continue to dominate much of our conversation – at the local (and national) level, we deplore the apparent mishandling of every aspect, but most especially the conflicting information about vaccine availability and who is entitled, when and where. We have been following this quite closely with Tony Deutsch and landed on the not very helpful Quebec gov website, which tells us that we belong to Sector D, however the bleak announcement is:
“Vaccination Centers for CSSS de la Montagne – No vaccination center is currently open in your area. Please note that this information will be updated daily.”
Tony burrowed further and says that it seems there is a center at Alexis Nihon (no doubt to be shared with all of Dawson), where there is a series of time slots for various priorities. He adds “Unfortunately, there is no time slot assigned to people with health complications over 65.” Maybe the crazy lady Dr. from Finland with her conspiracy theories was right?
In addition, one of our OWN doctors comments, “As well the supply of flu vaccine is lower than expected”.
It is not as though this were a sudden catastrophe; we’ve been talking about it for months.
And now, to add insult to injury, the Gazette carries the alarming headline Flu pandemic could bring down Internet; however, Ofer Avital offers us a link to the report of the National Research Council of the National Academies on how the internet responded on 9/11, adding “As you would no doubt surmise, the internet did very well during this sudden, catastrophic event, as it has for many other events that were unexpected or otherwise (e.g. Olympics)”

Finally, we always need some cheerful news: Defence Minister Peter MacKay to marry CTV news executive In a startling reversal of roles, it was Defence Minister Peter MacKay asking the news media a big question when he proposed to a CTV news executive Saturday.

There will no doubt be more, of course including the three Es: Economy, Energy and the Environment, so please return here for updates, more information and new topics as the week unfolds.

For your calendar
The Atwater Library and Computer Centre advises that a Benefit Cocktail Party and Silent Auction, part of the annual fundraising campaign, will be held on Wednesday, November 4 in our beautiful heritage building, now classified as a National Historic Site.  Oliver Jones, jazz pianist extraordinaire, is to be the guest of honour. The Dave Turner Jazz Trio will be playing throughout the evening and smoked meat will be on offer as well as tasty hors d’oeuvre, wine and McAuslan beer.  As in past years, Dennis Trudeau will be our emcee. Tickets priced at $100 each (tax receipt for $75) are available at the Library: call 514-935-7344 and ask for Tanya Mayhew.  It is a great cause and we are happy to endorse it (but not at the cost of your absence from WN).

And don’t forget, next Saturday, November 7,  Susanna Eyton-Jones is the vedette of an Evening of Chamber Music at Lakeside Heights Baptist Church (7:30 PM).

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