Sunday, May 28, 2006

The Sunday Sun Comment page … - Eric Margolis - Final act in the death of Yugoslavia

As people who know me personally know, I am a voracious newspaper reader. I read at least 2 newspapers on most days … The Globe and Mail, and the Calgary Sun. One of the reasons I love the Sun is its easy to read format … unlike the big broadsheet format papers, the tabloid Sun is easy to handle. That format spills over into the writing and content and design. In many ways, the Sun is my 'Headline News' to the Globe's in-depth analysis.

But even that doesn't work all the way, because the Sun comment department is second to none. Even with the conservative, right leaning editorial stance of the paper itself, they have one of the more balanced comment sections I have seen. While all newspapers these days talk about the independence of their editorial commenter's, many avoid the real issue by only hiring people who generally share the editorial slant of the paper itself. Its doubtful Eric Margolis would be in the Sun if they operated that way, lol.

But there he is, and again this week he has a fascinating bit, talking about, essentially, the final end of The Great War. Many people think that there were 2 great wars in the 20th century, and a third cold war. But the fact remains, they were all simply a continuation of World War I. We call WWII a different war, because of the large gap in active hostilities, but the rise of German nationalism can be tied directly to the conditions of the 'end' of WWI, conditions that were little more than the continuation of warfare through economic means.

'Peace conditions' after WWII, which essentially led to the Cold War, also continued the domination of the Balkan region, which, after all, were where it all started back in 1914. Even as the Soviet empire collapsed, WWI was still not quite over, as Yugoslavia was always a fiction of peace treaties, as opposed to a real country. And its 'destruction' into its 'original' ethnic elements is really what signals that The Great War is finally over. And it took less than a century, just barely, lol.

But its not just Margolis who shines, IMO … especially on Sunday's, the Comment Section is remarkable. Today there were a couple of other articles I wanted to discuss as well. - Lorrie Goldstein - Tories: It's no time to gloat talks a bit about new polls that show Harper's PC's might win a majority if an election were held today. Goldstein rightly cautions people not to listen, lol. I've always wondered what purpose such polls are in Canada … in NO way is general popularity a relevant number for a Canadian political leader, at least not in terms if their job.

While there are "feel-good" things you can attach to a high approval rating, in a political system of ridings, where the leader of the party that wins the most ridings is Prime Minister, general popularity means squat in any real sense. What matters is how popular you are in a majority of ridings and while on the surface those two things may seem similar, a quick look at election results shows how silly it is.

Every election, we do 'popularity polling' alongside the actual election. And every election, glaring deficits of democracy are shown where the 'popular vote' never lines up with the number of ridings won. At election time, its not a popular vote that counts, its whether or not you can get a majority in a majority of ridings. Popularity may be nice measure of how well the country is accepting your policy, but to use it as a political forecasting tool is lunacy in Canada. Without more detailed geographical information about popularity by riding, polls like this give NO useful electability data, IMO … if anything, its more misleading than accurate. Check out Fair Vote Canada for more details.

The Calgary Sun - New revelations by Bishop Fred Henry was an interesting attempt to debunk the new Gospel of Judas documents recently profiled by National Geographic and others (I blogged on it here). He uses a rather silly analogy, borrowed from the Catholic World News, about a discovery of the Gospel of Skip and Muffy. Its a humourous approach to obscuring the issues, but that's all it is in the end … a veil to cast over issues.

Henry talks about how "The fourfold Gospels are part of the canon of Scripture" and he is right. What he fails to discuss is their radically different treatments of Judas. While none goes as far as the Gospel of Judas does, its only in John that Judas reaches truly evil proportions. In Mark, Judas' role in everything is shown in a FAR more wrok-a-day way. Henry never addresses these differences, or how they may relate to the new documents being translated.

But in the end, Skip and Muffy have nothing to do with the formation of Catholic theology, nor are they in a time-frame or place to do so. The Gospel of Judas is contemporaneous to other gospels, date wise, written in the generation or two to follow Jesus. As later scholars like Aquinas would debate canonical texts, early Christians were creating and discussing the ideas that would go into those texts. The Judas Gospel, like the Gospel of Mary, clearly represents a view that didn't win out, over the course of history, but Henry and others fail to acknowledge, when they use silly analogies like Skip and Muffy, that early Christianity wasn't a place where a single, clear message ruled … it was a time and place when many different messages competed for supremacy. Uncovering documents like Judas, or a full version of Mary, if we ever do (and OOOOOO how I hope we someday stumble across THAT little gem, lol), can only serve to help us understand better. Whether we ultimately decide they are relevant to our faith or not, I think its arrogant to dismiss so readily words like the Judas Gospel.

Finally, - Sheila Copps - The Beltway feud was an interesting article by the former Liberal cabinet minister about the feud between Harper and the media. As someone whose been on both sides of this debate, she is perhaps uniquely qualified to comment. Its not surprising that she would highlight the symbiotic relationship where each side needs the other to survive, but I wish more politicians took their responsibility to the people who elect them more seriously. Ultimately, the politician is my employee, and the reporter is my proxy … when Harper walks out on a reporter, he is walking out on me. You can spin that anyway you like … his job is to answer to the people who elected him, and he does that through a free media, unencumbered by 'approved' lists of reporters and questions.


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