For this post, I want to just briefly look at three different topics. A lot of things have happened fairly recently which have caught my interest (by recently I mean in the last month) including the Canadian Prime Minister’s tirade against anti-abortion groups and a certain infamous interview between Jordan B. Peterson and Cathy Newman. I want to talk about this stuff. The third thing I want to bring up later is the much discussed Larry Nassar trial and the inspiring speech given by a sexual abuse survivor named Rachael Denhollander.
1. Justin Trudeau’s Self-Defeating Words
In Canada, anti-abortion groups, such as the Toronto Right to Life Association, found several months ago a certain deficiency in the application process for co-op job grants from the Canadian government via the Summer Jobs program. One of the boxes needed to be checked off in order to have grant-requests approved included the approval of abortion as a right. This means that in order for a company to receive government funds to hire co-op students, one needs to be in agreement with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s explicit opinion on abortion and reproductive rights.
Trudeau made his sentiments clear at a town hall meeting in Hamilton. The video below, which captured the moment where he answers a question regarding free speech and, for example, abortion criticism, has gone viral:
So much for diversity. Well, diversity of opinion is good as long as only the people with the right opinions are acting on their conscience. Sarcasm aside, the criticism volleyed towards Trudeau has been hefty and uniform, sparking legal action and inciting heated conversation.
Andrew Scheer, the conservative party leader, said with regards to the controversy, “I believe that the federal government should respect the freedoms that Canadians enjoy to have different beliefs and that by imposing personal values of Justin Trudeau on a wide variety of groups is not an appropriate way to go.”
Trudeau and employment minister Patty Hajdu maintained their approach to the Summer Jobs program application, despite push-back. In the video below, a panel on CBC responded with disagreement, asserting that regardless of political position, the government’s approach is certainly out of line:
Senator Don Plett recently submitted an open letter to minister Hajdu in complaint. In his letter, he makes a great case against the ideological application requirements, saying, “The requirement your [Hajdu’s] Government has put into place regarding the Summer Jobs Grant program is discrimination, in every sense of the word. For a Church, religious organization, or any organization, for that matter, to have to explicitly assert in the application that they support among other things, “women’s rights and women’s reproductive rights, and the rights of gender-diverse and transgender Canadians,” based on the claim that not doing so would be a violation of some enshrined right is preposterous.” I recommend people read the letter entirely.
The issue at hand seems to me emblematic of Trudeau’s entire agenda as a hard-left SJW-turned-Prime Minister, sticking up for the “rights” of oppressed women under the old patriarchy, or whatever.
Now, I don’t think Trudeau is (yet) an incarnation of Stalin, though his philosophy bears some fearsome semblances. I see in him a young guy so up-to-date and so over-zealous that part of his strategy can’t seem to avoid spilling over into the totalitarian zone of socialism which we’ve seen in the past bring about such destructive consequences.
The issue is multifaceted but simple. For one, “reproductive rights” is and will remain a dream and not a reality. There is no right to kill a child. No right to abort. And that brings us to the most fundamental and important problem Trudeau presents and that is his complete ignorance to the pro-life argument, his complete refusal to engage with the pro-life worldview in any meaningful, constructive, and consistent manner. And yet any Canadian that disagrees with him is out of line with Canadian society. Any Canadian that rejects pro-choice logic, or rhetoric, on the basis of human rights and religion is to be considered reprobate. Tolerance becomes intolerance. Diversity becomes homogeneity.
2. Jordan B. Peterson v. Cathy Newman
In the past couple of weeks I kept hearing and seeing online comments about that Peterson/Newman interview. At first I didn’t think too much of it, I just ignored the noise. Now, I knew of the man, a fellow Canadian, called Jordan B. Peterson and knew a little of his political and ethical orientation. However, I haven’t engaged too deeply with his work. All of that changed when, about a week or so ago, that interview between him, a conservative, and Cathy Newman, a liberal, popped up on my “recommended” list on YouTube. I decided to watch and, boy, I don’t regret it. Watch for yourself, here:
‘Hilarious’ is how I would describe the exchange. The total contrast between Peterson’s relatively composed and articulate demeanor and the far more interrogative prodding of Newman was entertaining in itself. Two worldviews so different, made to appear so militaristic towards each other, actually looked on-screen like a father instructing an unteachable daughter who puts words in his mouth and fails to recognize appropriate distinctions.
An interesting moment in the interview was where Newman was actually forced to pause to reconsider — she was stumped — which I actually think hints at some level of maturity. It’s reasonable when faced with an objection we’ve never encountered before to stop and consider rather than jump to ad hominem or straw man counter-arguments, which was a high percentage of the interview. Peterson gives his opinion, and then Newman would often respond by skewing Peterson’s words and adding a question mark at the end.
For those that have not seen the interview, I think it’s at least enjoyable to watch for the politically-minded, which I am not that much, to be honest. It is also, probably, a decent introduction to Peterson and his approach to politics and dialogue which does lean towards the conservative end. What I appreciate is his commitment to honesty and fairness which is in dire need in most conversations. Plenty to be learned, here.
3. Rachael Denhollander’s Gospel-Infected Speech
“Amazing Grace” is the title of a song written by John Newton, a man who once worked on a British slave ship and was afterwards saved, redeemed, and became an Anglican abolitionist side-by-side with the likes of William Wilberforce. The song goes,
Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found;
Was blind, but now I see.
’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed.
Through many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come;
’Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.
This was the song sung, figuratively speaking, by one Rachael Denhollander, a former gymnast, in her Victim Impact Statement on the final day of the trial of Larry Nassar, on January 24. To her abuser, she spoke of Grace. She spoke of true repentance and justice. And she spoke of perseverance.
To those who are unaware, Larry Nassar was, at one point, the doctor for the national US women’s gymnastics team who had a clinic at Michigan State University. It was there, in the year 2000, that he took advantage of Denhollander, then a 15-year-old aspiring gymnast needing medical treatment, and sexually abused her in the examination room.
Over 150 women were victimized by Nassar. Over 150 Victim Impact Statements were given over the week-long trial. One statement evidently has stood out as it was given last, on the final day of the trial, where Nassar was to be given a sentence.
In the 40 minutes Denhollander had to speak, she mentioned the personal, emotional result of the trauma that was caused. The reality of sexual assault and what it’s done to her, and so many others. She called for accountability at MSU, USA Gymnastics and within the sports community, to report predators like Nassar. But she didn’t just speak of the pain she has had to struggle through, she spoke of the hope she has and the justice God offers. It was a powerful moment. Here is an excerpt of her speech:
You have become a man ruled by selfish and perverted desires, a man defined by his daily choices repeatedly to feed that selfishness and perversion. You chose to pursue your wickedness no matter what it cost others and the opposite of what you have done is for me to choose to love sacrificially, no matter what it costs me.
In our early hearings. you brought your Bible into the courtroom and you have spoken of praying for forgiveness. And so it is on that basis that I appeal to you. If you have read the Bible you carry, you know the definition of sacrificial love portrayed is of God himself loving so sacrificially that he gave up everything to pay a penalty for the sin he did not commit. By his grace, I, too, choose to love this way.
You spoke of praying for forgiveness. But Larry, if you have read the Bible you carry, you know forgiveness does not come from doing good things, as if good deeds can erase what you have done. It comes from repentance which requires facing and acknowledging the truth about what you have done in all of its utter depravity and horror without mitigation, without excuse, without acting as if good deeds can erase what you have seen this courtroom today.
If the Bible you carry says it is better for a stone to be thrown around your neck and you throw into a lake than for you to make even one child stumble. And you have damaged hundreds.
The Bible you speak carries a final judgment where all of God’s wrath and eternal terror is poured out on men like you. Should you ever reach the point of truly facing what you have done, the guilt will be crushing. And that is what makes the gospel of Christ so sweet. Because it extends grace and hope and mercy where none should be found. And it will be there for you.
I pray you experience the soul crushing weight of guilt so you may someday experience true repentance and true forgiveness from God, which you need far more than forgiveness from me—though I extend that to you as well.
Throughout this process, I have clung to a quote by C.S. Lewis, where he says:
My argument against God was that the universe seems so cruel and unjust. But how did I get this idea of just, unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he first has some idea of straight. What was I comparing the universe to when I called it unjust?
Larry, I can call what you did evil and wicked because it was. And I know it was evil and wicked because the straight line exists. The straight line is not measured based on your perception or anyone else’s perception, and this means I can speak the truth about my abuse without minimization or mitigation. And I can call it evil because I know what goodness is. And this is why I pity you. Because when a person loses the ability to define good and evil, when they cannot define evil, they can no longer define and enjoy what is truly good.
When a person can harm another human being, especially a child, without true guilt, they have lost the ability to truly love. Larry, you have shut yourself off from every truly beautiful and good thing in this world that could have and should have brought you joy and fulfillment, and I pity you for it. You could have had everything you pretended to be. Every woman who stood up here truly loved you as an innocent child, real genuine love for you, and it did not satisfy.
I have experienced the soul satisfying joy of a marriage built on sacrificial love and safety and tenderness and care. I have experienced true intimacy in its deepest joys, and it is beautiful and sacred and glorious. And that is a joy you have cut yourself off from ever experiencing, and I pity you for it.
I have been there for young gymnasts and helped them transform from awkward little girls to graceful, beautiful, confident athletes and taken joy in their success because I wanted what was best for them. And this is a joy you have cut yourself off from forever because your desire to help was nothing more than a facade for your desire to harm.
I have lived the deep satisfaction of wrapping my small children up in my arms and making them feel safe and secure because I was safe, and this is a rich joy beyond what I can express, and you have cut yourself off from it, because you were not safe. And I pity you for that.
In losing the ability to call evil what it is without mitigation, without minimization, you have lost the ability to define and enjoy love and goodness. You have fashioned for yourself a prison that is far, far worse than any I could ever put you in, and I pity you for that.
Watch the whole statement, here: