Some ‘Christians’ deserve our anger and contempt

But filtering our anger through our spirituality becomes a powerful force for good

Some ‘Christians’ deserve our anger and contemptAnger can be a powerful force for good. It can also be extremely destructive, both to ourselves and the world around us. The key is to understand the anger within and to direct it in a way that will bring about positive change. Anger comes from a place of fear. We know deep inside that…

Fenians used Canada as an Irish revolutionary pawn

There were five failed armed Fenian incursions into Canada between 1866 and 1871

Fenians used Canada as an Irish revolutionary pawnUniversity of Toronto historian David A. Wilson has an interesting new book called Canadian Spy Story: Irish Revolutionaries and the Secret Police. It’s a detailed examination of a mid-19th-century episode that had the potential to turn Canadian history upside down. And Wilson makes a credible case that the danger wasn’t entirely farfetched. Following the conclusion…

Hereditary empires and the struggle with modernity

Hereditary dynasties could not survive the industrial revolution. Well, except for one

Hereditary empires and the struggle with modernityLast week’s column drew from British historian Dominic Lieven’s current book about emperors and empires. Called In the Shadow of the Gods, it’s an exploration of the characteristics that contributed to dynastic success or failure. Lieven’s penultimate chapter deals with the challenges modernity posed to hereditary dynasties. As the environment changed rapidly, the crowns adorning…

Are we seeing the destruction of democratic capitalism?

More than 100 years after H.G. Wells forecast big changes in the world order, the tide is turning

Are we seeing the destruction of democratic capitalism?Democratic capitalism is a remarkably empowering and wealth-generating structure. Although wealth is not a zero-sum game, power may well be. In his 2011 book The Fruits of Graft: Great Depressions Then and Now, Wayne Jett explores how certain elitists have actively sought to undermine the masses and usurp political and economic power for themselves. In H.G.…

How empires grab and hold on to power

Being recognized as divinely anointed didn’t guarantee acquiescence, but it was still a huge asset

How empires grab and hold on to powerDominic Lieven is a British historian who has written extensively on European, particularly Russian, history. His latest book, In the Shadow of the Gods, is about emperors and empires. It examines their historical scope and the characteristics that contributed to dynastic success or failure. At over 400 densely written pages (excluding notes), the book is…

Catholic Ireland’s conflicted interest in the monarchy

Dublin cinemas planned to screen the Queen's coronation but opted not to after receiving threats

Catholic Ireland’s conflicted interest in the monarchyNews stories about Queen Elizabeth’s Platinum Jubilee put me in mind of a book by Irish author Mary Kenny. Called Crown and Shamrock, it’s described by historian Roy Foster as a “characteristically breezy, racy and insightful” look at a complicated relationship. Kenny is five months older than I am and what she writes of Ireland…

How to maximize the meaning in our lives

There’s nothing more significant than living with meaning

How to maximize the meaning in our livesThere’s nothing more significant than living with meaning. This is the concept pondered by the Jewish psychiatrist Viktor Frankl as he struggled to remain alive for three years in Nazi concentration camps. Frankl established the groundwork for his psychological theory on the importance of finding meaning in life before he was sent to Auschwitz. He…

War and brutality go hand in hand

Combat naturally leads to behaviours that would be deemed shocking in normal life

War and brutality go hand in handAntony Beevor is a prolific English military historian, most famous for the bestseller Stalingrad. First published in the late 1990s, the book’s narrative covers the period between the June 1941 German invasion of the Soviet Union and the conclusion of the Battle of Stalingrad in February 1943. That battle is often described as the Second…

A love letter from Canadian LGBQT artist to the Queen 

She led me to the intersection of the many roads I could walk, in a bigger world with room for us all

A love letter from Canadian LGBQT artist to the Queen I began my life in Nova Scotia, the most British of Canadian provinces. As a young boy in the 1960s who preferred pink over blue, there was an enormous sense of not belonging, of living in a world that had not yet carved out a place for a child like me. In the accepted definition…

The last children of Anglo-Saxon England

For the upper class of England, the Norman conquest was wipe out time

The last children of Anglo-Saxon EnglandHarold Godwineson, the last Anglo-Saxon king of England, died on the battlefield at Hastings in October 1066. It wasn’t a pretty ending. Whether he was killed by an arrow through the eye (the traditional story), trampled underfoot, or hunted down and (literally) cut to pieces by invading Norman knights remains a matter of speculation. For…

Is there power in positive thinking?

Thinking positively can give you hope

Is there power in positive thinking?If you’ve ever picked up a motivational book or attended a wealth-building seminar, you’re probably already familiar with terms like “Positive Thinking” and “Create your own destiny.” Ever since Vincent Peale’s The Power of Positive Thinking hit New York Times’ Bestseller List in 1952, the idea that you can think your way to financial success…

Why has Canadian citizenship become an oxymoron?

The country may be falling apart

Why has Canadian citizenship become an oxymoron?Canadian citizenship is under attack. Over the past 20 years, the public’s commitment to Canada appears to be waning. With billions of dollars in emergency pandemic assistance and promises of almost free childcare, a targeted dental program, new investments in housing and health care, and a stream of almost “free” social programs, one would think…

The overwhelming imagery of the Crucifixion

The child that was me experienced the lead-up to Easter as foreboding rather than inspiring

The overwhelming imagery of the CrucifixionI was never big on Easter. As a Catholic schoolboy in 1950s Ireland, Easter played second fiddle to Christmas. In fact, the competition wasn’t even close. Christmas had several advantages. For one thing, school holidays were longer. Whereas Easter only delivered a week and a half, Christmas tacked on a further full week. The tone,…

It’s time to put the myth of ‘white privilege’ to bed

Institutional, systemic discrimination was attacked root and branch as far back as seven decades ago

It’s time to put the myth of ‘white privilege’ to bedWhen Jordan Peterson recently tweeted out a copy of Home Depot’s ‘white privilege’ memorandum given to its staff, it rightly caused a stir: Yet another corporation’s diversity, equity and inclusion staff parroting a simplistic academic theory. The memo offered the usual assumption that one’s skin colour explains incomes and opportunities, or not. It includes the…

Wandering into the world of fantasy for a mental break

Steve Skurka has written an intriguing historical legal thriller intertwined with several real-life people, places and events

Wandering into the world of fantasy for a mental breakI’m regularly inundated with requests for writing, commentary and analysis on a wide variety of topics. This includes domestic and international politics, history, philosophy, military invasions and the ongoing global pandemic. Don’t get me wrong. I thoroughly enjoy what I do. At the same time, taking small breaks from reality and delving into fantasy helps…
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