The Mail

The Mail

December 13 1999
The Mail

The Mail

December 13 1999

The Mail

Christian challenge

I don’t think that Christianity needs to reinvent itself, as your excellent cover story suggests (“Jesus at 2000,” Nov. 29). Its message is as relevant today as it ever was. What we need to do, however, is to reinvent ways of getting the Christian message to a world that is increasingly visual and increasingly possessed of a shorter and shorter attention span. Arthur E. Ammeter, Petersfield, Man.

After many failed attempts to discredit its historical reliability, Christianity still survives. The only reason it survives is because Jesus does not have to be reinvented. And the only reason the church as an institution has to be rein-

vented is because of its tendency to be an unreliable representation of Christ’s love and compassion. Since truth is just as much caught as taught, those churches that demonstrate a genuine authenticity, integrity and community in living out the gospel of good news will have no trouble entering the new millennium. They will be Chrisdike to the poor, the oppressed, the broken and the wounded. They will focus on the community rather than institutions, on spiritual formation rather than religious traditionalism, and on personal and global transformation rather than selfpreservation. After ministering more than 25 years as an evangelical pastor, I spend my ministry days now working with those with mental illness, specifically those with schizophrenia, advocating, as Jesus would, to abolish the stigma and discrimination of those living with this biochemical brain disease—to offer them a future with hope. Perhaps I have found the church outside the church.

Chris Summerville, Winnipeg Executive Director, Manitoba Schizophrenia Society, Winnipeg

It is refreshing to know that such a distinguished magazine as Macleans took the time to visit those involved in evangelical churches in Canada. At times, we evangelical parishioners feel like lepers among the more liberal mainstream. It feels good to have an ecumenical article written that shows the church is alive and well, as well as excited and equipped to be entering the 21st century.

Dianne R. Noslon, Port Perry, Ont.

Christianity would not have to reinvent itself if prayers were actually answered once in a while. Is it any wonder people become atheists?

John Granic, Mississauga, Ont.

Kids out of control

I read with great interest “Death of a dream” (Canada, Nov. 29) about the killing of Toronto high-school student Dmitri Baranovski. You try to identify the reasons why some youths are troubled, mentioning working parents, violent video games and movies, and so on, but you overlook the main reason. Today’s kids are out of control because, in the name of children’s rights, parents and teachers have effectively been stripped of their authority. It is not that children are desensitized by violence; in my day, cartoons were equally violent and firearms far more freely available, and yet we were not inspired by these conditions to kill our parents, teachers or classmates. As for youth gangs, once again you avoid coming to terms with the real issue. Most gangs are organized along ethnic lines. Their appearance in our society, like the bad behaviour of this generation, is the inevitable consequence of naïve public policy.

Robert Smith, Ottawa

Green memory

Tom Green was a substitute teacher’s worst nightmare (“Shocking Green,” Television, Nov. 29). He was a student I remember very well among the sea of faces 10 years ago at Ottawa’s Colonel By High School. Much to my chagrin, he naturally found the classroom was an ideal testing ground to fine-tune his skills as “anarchistic” comedian. It was obvious that even as a teenager, he was a presence, and I congratulate him for taking his talents to an appreciative public.

Laure W. Neish, Penticton, B.C.


In the Dec. 6,1999, issue of Macleans, a photo credit was inadvertendy omitted. The page 67 photo of Norman Jewison and Rubin (Hurricane) Carter was taken at Florida Jack’s Toronto boxing club, but the location was not mentioned in the credit.

Letters to the Editor

should be addressed to:

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Aussie referendum

While Queen Elizabeth II was

handing the World Rugby Cup to the Australian captain in Cardiff, Wales, the government of Australia was giving the royal finger to the Australian people in its heads we win, tales you lose referendum. The Aussies turned down the governments referendum proposal (“Australians vote to keep the Queen,” World Notes, Nov. 15), which intended to substitute Parliament for the people as the electors of the new president. What the Aussies wanted is to elect their own president. They didn’t vote to keep the Queen, they voted against a parliamentary dictatorship. John Kelly, Vancouver

Child poverty

Reading the excerpt from Mel Hurtig’s latest book, Pay the Rent or Feed the Kids (“When kids go hungry,” Nov. 15), in the same issue as the ranking of Canadian universities struck me as ironic. A university education was never cheap, now it’s becoming a luxury, so who’ll get to go in 2000-plus? Maybe kids from middle-income families. Certainly not those Hurtig writes about. With the Yuletide season upon us, the excerpt brought to mind Charles Dickens’s novel A Christmas Carol. Encountering the Spirit of Christmas Present, Scrooge asks if the two children under its cloak belong to the spirit. “They are Man’s,” it replies. “This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy.” The warning is still valid. While I don’t suggest a lack of education in itself fosters crime, its close relative, ignorance, has helped spawn some of the atrocities of this century, and both are in part offshoots of want. Ten years ago, world leaders held a summit on child poverty, pledging to solve it by the end of this century. We’re still far from the mark. Dickens would probably grade our efforts C-minus.

Evelyn Eppes, Halifax

Taxed to the max

“Taxing times in Ottawa” (Canada, Nov. 29) is fine as far as it goes. But in stating that Canada Pension premiums will hit a maximum of $2,238 in 2005, you are only telling half the story. That’s what the premium will be for people who work for other people and whose employers contribute an equal amount. For those like my wife and me, who are self-employed, you have to double that figure. So our two CPP premiums by 2005 will total $8,952. This overall tax situation, if not reversed, will either force us to retire early or to leave the country. David A. Rodger, North Vancouver

Privacy and fraud

Rarely have I read a column as frighteningly stupid as Diane Francis’s “Let’s start nailing cheaters” (Nov. 29). Francis’s proposed solutions are positively Orwellian—DNA markers and biographical information on smart cards? It would be easier to just tattoo numbers on people like the Nazis did. Why stop at allowing government agencies to share data? Why not have the government require banks to disclose everyone’s financial records to ensure that revenues have been correcdy reported on tax returns, or why not have the telephone companies report on all telephone calls to see who has been talking to known criminals? If Canada was to take steps towards becoming such a totalitarian state, the government investigators would have a hard time referencing my customs declarations for there would be none—I would leave for good.

Michael R. Barrick, Vancouver

Diane Francis’s points are valid, her solution to issue national identity cards so logical and simple, it’s amazing this has not been implemented long ago. The cheaters make a laughingstock of the government. Or could it be that the cheaters are so quick and the government so slow they are both making a laughingstock of the rest of us hardworking Canadians?

L. G. Kouri, Kingston, Ont.

May I suggest some more measures to stop entitlement fraud? The federal government could set up a new department to track down and forcibly extract a sample of DNA from those traitorous few who place their own interests ahead of the state. These new brownshirts could also be present at every birth to stamp a UPC code on all newborns for more accurate tracking. Some of us might miss the good old days of individual liberty, but at least no one would be spending a week in Florida while on EL

Michael Zieman, Milton, Ont.

Privacy commissioner Bruce Phillips along with Justice Danièle Tremblay-Lamer are totally out to lunch. If they object to the passing of information about citizens from one government department to another and consider it illegal, what do they think about the same thing happening between police departments? The next thing we know, we will be abusing convicts’ rights, and that would never do. Jim Moar, Halifax

Education for sale

According to your report “On the chopping block” (Education Notes, Nov. 29), 100 Ontario public schools are earmarked for closure while Premier Mike Harris says the province may open the door to private universities. At the same time, Ontario’s postsecondary system was ranked last among all the provinces for quality by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. In addition, university tuition fees have increased substantially every year the Conservatives have been in power. Our children are being treated as guinea pigs with an untried curriculum and thrown-together textbooks, and teacher morale is at an all-time low due to the government’s denigration of the profession. Clearly, the government is carrying out its agenda of the deliberate destruction of public education and the promotion of a private system that only the well-heeled can access. But if only the

children of the wealthy have access to a decent education, it almost certainly follows that the children of those who are currently the elite will be the future elite. Upward mobility will have been effectively curtailed, as will competition for scarce well-paying and meaningful jobs.

Bonnie Showers-Malanoski, Windsor, Ont.

Adversarial relations

To get straight to the point, Barbara Amiels “The Christian war against Islam” (Nov 22) is racist. How did she determine that Islam is the “adversary of Christianity”? Did she read that in the Koran or in the Sunnah of the prophet Mohammed? This is either her mistake or a deliberate slander against Islam. Amiel writes that “the West prefers to believe in two kinds of Islam. One is fundamentalism made up of irrational old mullahs and wildeyed radicals; the other is just like us.” Who is the “West”? Does she and her views represent the West or could I, a Canadian whose religion is Islam, play a part in defining the views of the West? Her complete lack of understanding about Islam also becomes clear when she comments that no Islamic leader or theocracy has reformed the Shari’ah. Unlike Christianity, Islam is not a religion that can be reformed or changed to suit popular opinion. It should be quite obvious by now that Amiel cannot define a “moderate Islamic adherent,” as she is, first, biased, and second, lacks a fundamental understanding of Islam in order to state what is moderate, what is permissive and what is extreme.

Troy Marquis, Co-ordinator, Media Watch Bureau, Canadian Centre for Islamic Studies, Halifax

Amiel’s column provides a valuable public service in enlightening readers with a litde-known fact: aberrant local cultural interpretations of religious tenets are really indicative of broader religious rot. In other words, we should be looking at cult leaders like

David Koresh to see the true face of Christianity. Amiel breaks new ground in highlighting what will happen “if Islam declares war on [Christianity],” and the imminent threat to Christian-Arabs in the Middle East. We hope that she will serve to enlighten all North Americans— enlightenment necessary to justify roundthe-clock bombing and more restrictive and punitive economic measures against Muslim nations. Perhaps Amiel can serve as the 21st-century’s crier for a new crusade echoing Pope Urban II’s words of almost 1,000 years ago: “Take the road to the Holy Sepulchre, rescue that land from a dreadful race.”

Wahida Valíante, National Vice-Chairwoman, The Canadian Islamic Congress,

Waterloo, Ont.

As a Canadian originally from Nazareth in Israel, I would like to assure you that only ignorance does not recognize that Nazareth is a city of peace and goodwill. Barbara Amiel’s article states that “the Netanyahu government played up to the Muslims, promising them the mosque and hoping for votes.” Then at the end of her article, she twists the facts and claims that “the only thing that seems clear is that the Jews are between a rock and a hard place.” How could this make sense to any logical, rational person? Amiel tries to portray the instigator as the victim. Like Swiss cheese, her article is hall of holes.

Elham Farah, Dundas, Ont.

‘Church of Bill Reid’

To the religious mind, nothing is more hated than an uncomfortable truth that explodes a tenuous myth. Thus, we see the church of Bill Reid again in high dudgeon over your Oct. 18 cover story, “Trade secrets.” In the Nov. 29 edition, Haida elder Lavina White resorts to the desperate, pathetic claim that Reid is simply the victim of a media bias against natives (“Bill Reids legacy,” The Mail). Haida artist Jim Hart equates Reid with God. Get over yourselves, people. Macleans meticulous research showed Reid to be a mercurial,

exploitative taskmaster, not the allvirtuous Haida messiah that you created. Preserve the myth if you want, but do us all a favour and keep it to yourself. Macleans does not deserve to be vilified for doing good journalism.

Greg Felton, New Westminster, B.C.

Looking for balance

The table of contents of the Nov. 22 issue of Macleans strikingly demonstrated the magazine’s unfortunate choice in devoting yet another cover story to a celebrity—Wayne Gretzky (“Wayne’s new world”)—while giving a smaller amount of space to the tragic story of the appallingly high youth suicide rate in Inuit communities across Canada (“The tragedy of Andrew Rich,” Canada). Surely we can recognize that it is more important to address the problems faced by the Inuit people rather than being obsessed with the lives of the rich and famous. Perhaps by doing so, we could find a way to give hope to children like Andrew Rich, so that parents such as Napess Ashini would not have to face the tragic news that their children have taken their own lives.

Ruth Cluley, Bathurst, N.B.

Where would Wayne Gretzky be today if he had been born a female? Not only would there have been no framework to systematically advance him though the sport to reach the Hall of Fame, but would his dad have been as avid about building the hockey rinks in the backyard and coaching him so intently if he were a girl? If Wayne is serious about wanting to make an even more significant contribution to hockey, it would behoove him to first understand how difficult it is for women to be passionate about the sport when the institutional machinery is in its infancy. In his daughter Paulina’s lifetime could she achieve the fame and fortune her dad has attained if she (hypothetically) wanted nothing more than to play professional women’s hockey? It’s time to balance the scorecard and Wayne is capable of doing it.

Natasha Koziol, London, Ont.