A common faith… and perhaps craziness in common

My fellow Catholic Register columnist Peter Stockland and I may just be crazy. After writing thousands of columns between us, we certainly know that some readers think so! But this craziness is somewhat different. We have decided to start a magazine.

It’s called Convivium (www.cardus.ca/convivium), and a special preview issue was launched in October. We start bimonthly publishing next February. Convivium literally means life together, though the word is often translated to mean banquet or festive meal; hence the “convivial” person is one who would enliven such an occasion. Our subject is just that — our common life together as Canadians. Specifically, we claim to be about faith in our common life. Continue reading

Love in a cold campus climate

– at Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario –

I am still on campus, but I look forward to getting my alumni magazine. The latest issue was a touch awkward. On the front was one of those lines straight from the fundraising office: “A sense of community and shared values – it’s what this place has always been about.”

How to illustrate that great Queen’s tradition, the pride of the university? Of course, a cover shot of the Queen’s Bands! By our lights here in Kingston, it is the finest university marching band in the land. I love the Bands, but this was bad timing. I was more than a little ashamed to discover that, when not adorning a Saturday football afternoon, our Bands sing from their own songbook, a compilation so explicit, so depraved, so celebratory of promiscuous debauchery that upon its discovery by the administration last week, the Bands were suspended for the rest of the semester. The Bands, chastened but far from chaste, have announced the destruction of the songbook (typical lyrics not suitable for a newspaper, but available on the Queen’s Journal site) and will be sent by the administration for human rights and equity training. Continue reading

Religious liberty under fire, even in the land of the free

BALTIMORE – Last week the bishops of the United States gathered in their premier diocese and protested the erosion of the founding liberties of the American republic. In their annual plenary meeting the bishops designated threats to religious liberty as a key pastoral concern. The American bishops are right to be alarmed, but not only them. Religious liberty is under threat all over the world. Continue reading

Quebec followed the wrong path

For a long time, visitors to Montreal and Quebec City have commented upon their European character – a touch of the Danube or the Tiber on the shores of the St. Lawrence. That used to be a good thing. But the sound of rushing water heard now is that of Europe’s future swirling down the drain, and regrettably for Quebec, it is the most European part of North America.

The European future is rapidly disappearing, or perhaps it is better to say that the European past has raided the future for so long that there is nothing left for the present. Europe gave up on its future long ago, most fundamentally by not having children, which is the single most enduring tie to the future. A nation that chooses not to replace itself does not intend to stick around. Once the decision is taken to live in the present, why not defer to the future the cost of as much of the present as possible? It was once accepted that one generation should not burden future generations, but that argument is far less persuasive when the future generations comprise fewer and fewer people. Continue reading

Family life epitomized by Family Circus

The death of Bil Keane, cartoonist and evangelist of culture, was a reminder that even the former can be an instrument of the latter.

Keane, who died on Nov. 8 at the age of 89, drew the Family Circus cartoon for more than 50 years. It launched in 1960 — during a leap year on Feb. 29 — and is still being published. The one-panel comic was in the form of a circle, and Keane had originally called it the Family Circle. A popular magazine of the same name objected and so Keane changed it to Family Circus, the protest from the eponymous periodical proving serendipitous, for the antics of Daddy, Mommy, Billy, Dolly, Jeffy and PJ were often circus-like. Continue reading