Notes from a Byzantine-Rite Calvinist

24 December 2004

The Nativity of our Lord


Orthodox Church of America

Yea, Lord, we greet Thee, born this happy morning;
Jesus, to Thee be glory given;
Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing.
O come, let us adore him:
Christ the Lord!

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23 December 2004

'Born again' Yanukovych?

Ahead of sunday's repeat runoff election in Ukraine, the monks of the Pecherska Lavra on the banks of the Dniepr River are praying for Viktor Yanukovych to win the presidency. “If you are a believer, you are for Yanukovich. To stand for Yanukovich is to stand for Orthodoxy. We must protect from the demons in the West,” according to Metropolitan Volodymyr Sabodan, head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate. Perhaps he and the monks should get together with the clergy in Cyprus who warned Greek Cypriots of eternal damnation if they voted for the Annan Plan to reunify the island. They would seem to have a lot in common.

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US Democrats up for change?

My old Notre Dame classmate and pro-life Catholic, Tim Roemer, is considering a bid for the chairmanship of the Democratic National Committee. He was Representative for Indiana's third congressional district during the 1990s and was a member of the 9/11 commission. If the Democratic Party is in a frame of mind to re-evaluate its position after losing a second time to Bush, it would do well to consider Roemer's prospective leadership very seriously.

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22 December 2004

Chair appointed at ICS

This is somewhat old news, but it is worth repeating here: "The Institute for Christian Studies is pleased to announce that Dr. Jonathan Chaplin has been appointed to the Institute's Herman Dooyeweerd Chair in Social and Political Philosophy." This is a well-deserved honour for a highly esteemed colleague. Congratulations, Dr. Chaplin!

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Another chance for Cyprus?

Now that accession talks for Turkey are set to begin in October of next year, Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende, whose country holds the revolving presidency of the European Union, is urging a renewed effort to reunite the island nation of Cyprus. Perhaps history will record that a successful solution in Cyprus began, not with a UN secretary general, but with a neocalvinist political leader.

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20 December 2004

Second semester courses

This will be of special interest to my students. My courses for the coming semester are now posted at the political science department's website: POL 122 - Introduction to Political Ideologies, POL 221 - Canadian Government and Politics, and POL 325 - Recent Political Theory. The new term begins on wednesday, 5 January 2005.

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19 December 2004

Europe on life support?

Papal biographer George Weigel explores the implications of the Rocco Buttiglione affair for the place of orthodox Christian believers in the new Europe. Writes Weigel:

What kind of polity is it that doesn't want a man like Rocco Buttiglione looking after the administration of justice and the protection of human rights?

A polity in which too many people believe that the God of the Bible is the enemy of human freedom. A polity in which too many people believe that freedom is license. A polity in which "anti-discrimination" has become the excuse for active discrimination against Catholics and others whose moral convictions ill-fit the relativist-secularist opinion mainstream. A polity, in other words, like the new Europe.

The demographers tell us that Europe is dying, physically. The Buttiglione affair tells us that Europe is now on life-support, morally and culturally.

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18 December 2004

A green light for Turkey?

After long and difficult negotiations in Brussels, the European Union has given a tentative go ahead to accession talks to admit Turkey. The sticking point was, of course, Cyprus, one of the ten new members of the EU admitted last May. Turkey has thus far refused to recognize the government of Cyprus, which would logically entail declining to recognize its own client state in the north. A last minute compromise has allowed the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to save face by simply giving a verbal declaration of good will. However, eventually Ankara will have to swallow its pride and do the unthinkable. The earliest Turkey might be admitted is ten years from now. Much can happen between now and then to derail the effort. As a consequence, it's not clear that Turkey is that far ahead of where it was two days ago.

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17 December 2004

Judicial review comes to Britain

The United Kingdom is often, and somewhat misleadingly, said to have an unwritten constitution. What is meant by this is that that country, like New Zealand and Israel but unlike virtually every other country, does not have an entrenched constitutional document possessing superior status to ordinary statutes. The absence of such a document means that Britain's courts, unlike those of Canada and the US, do not possess the right to rule whether or not a law is constitutional. Parliament is legally sovereign and cannot be second-guessed by the judiciary.

Up until 1982 Canada had a similarly "unwritten" constitution, our principal constitutional document, the British North America Act of 1867, being no more than an act of the British Parliament. We never had parliamentary sovereignty in quite the same way as it could be said to exist across the pond, but only because this sovereignty was shared among federal and provincial legislative bodies in a federal system. However, for the last nearly 23 years our courts have become increasingly active interveners in the political process, most recently handing down a reference decision on Ottawa's proposed marriage-revision legislation. This empowerment of the courts has its positive and negative features. The positive side can be seen when a government is forced to justify its treatment of citizens protected under an entrenched bill of rights, provided the court is not in the business of inventing new rights or unilaterally changing the constitution. The negative consequences are spelled out in F. L. Morton and Rainer Knopff's The Charter Revolution & the Court Party, as well as in numerous articles in First Things and elsewhere.

Despite the absence of an entrenched British constitutional document, the courts are nevertheless finding a way to review acts of parliament. This is reflected in yesterday's important decision by the nine law lords, who are the active members of the House of Lords in its capacity as the country's highest court of appeal, declaring that the Blair government's anti-terrorism law is incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights. Although the law lords cannot invalidate a law as such, they can at least put the government of the day in an uncomfortable position. Because Britain is an adherent of the treaties of the European Union, a judicial ruling that it is not living up to these treaties inevitably carries a great deal of weight. Because of Britain's membership in the EU something like an entrenched constitutional document is coming in through the back door, along with the judicial review which it implies.

Is this a good thing? Yes and no. In theory it makes sense to empower the judiciary to check both cabinet and parliament, particularly with respect to protecting the rights of citizens. However, given that constitutional documents spell out those rights in necessarily general terms, they may leave too much room for the courts to fill in the blanks, as it were, and to find rights that were never intended by the drafters. Given, furthermore, that such rights tend to be articulated in narrowly individualistic terms, the courts can rule in ways that subvert basic social institutions, such as marriage, by reducing them to mere contractual relationships. I am inclined to think that one of the failings of the drafters of most constitutional documents, including our own Constitution Acts and the United States Constitution, is that they have imposed insufficient checks on the judiciary itself.

At some point I may post my Christian Courier column from nearly a year ago concerning the courts and the constitution.

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15 December 2004

A choir story from the distant past

Some of the members of the Redeemer University College Choir recently posted accounts of their experience singing Handel's Messiah nearly two weeks ago, which they found to be deeply uplifting. Unfortunately I was unable to be there, but I can testify that there is something profoundly moving in hearing young voices blended together in praise of God.

Three decades ago I sang for one year with the Bethel College Choir in St. Paul, Minnesota. I was in the bass section and we were under the baton of an exceedingly competent conductor who would settle for little less than perfection. During the reading break that winter we went on tour to the east coast of the United States, where we sang mostly in church buildings. One of the pieces we performed was Paul Christiansen's magnificent Revelation of St. John, whose text is taken from the opening verses of the last book of the Bible. It was a primarily atonal piece which required great concentration to sing and to keep on pitch. With practice we performed it very well, as I recall.

Except for one occasion. During a concert in upstate New York, we began the Christiansen piece as planned. At the proper time the bass soloist came in, but he did so on the wrong note and managed to take the choir with him. The conductor's face went white as a sheet and a look of terror came over it. I half expected him to stop us and start over again. But soon thereafter the soprano soloist came in. As she had perfect pitch, she not only came in on the right note but succeeded in pulling the choir back to pitch. Because the conductor had his back to the audience, but mostly because the piece was so atonal, no one hearing us was any the wiser. Afterwards we mingled with the members of the audience and their praise was effusive.

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11 December 2004

European Turkey and islamic democracy?

Friday is the date when the European Union is slated to decide whether to proceed with Turkey's application for membership. At this point, however, Turkey refuses to budge on the issue of recognition of the Republic of Cyprus, which will almost certainly have an impact on that decision. Victor Davis Hanson compares Europeans to J. R. R. Tolkein's complacent but moribund Ents for even considering Turkish membership. Writes Hanson:

Turkey's proposed entry into the EU has become some weird sort of Swiftian satire on the crazy relationship between Europe and Islam. Ponder the contradictions of it all. Privately most Europeans realize that opening its borders without restraint to Turkey's millions will alter the nature of the EU, both by welcoming in a radically different citizenry, largely outside the borders of Europe, whose population will make it the largest and poorest country in the Union — and the most antithetical to Western liberalism. Yet Europe is also trapped in its own utopian race/class/gender rhetoric. It cannot openly question the wisdom of making the "other" coequal to itself, since one does not by any abstract standard judge, much less censure, customs, religions, or values.

Can Islam become democratic? Can it facilitate the development of democratic institutions or is it an obstacle to these? Mustafa Kemal Attatürk took a secularizing approach to the Turkish Republic after 1923, relegating muslim belief to the private sphere. But it may be that strongarm tactics to keep traditional religions out of the public sphere will provoke an extremist backlash. This is acknowledged by Ian Buruma in "An Islamic Democracy for Iraq?", published days ago in The New York Times. Writes Buruma:

It may be useful to reflect for a moment on how the West itself has coped with religion. The separation of church and state was indeed a necessary condition for democratic development in Europe and the United States, but the separation has never been absolute. Britain's constitutional arrangements include organized religion: the monarch is the protector of the Anglican faith. This may now be nothing more than a formality, but in continental European politics Christian democratic parties are still the mainstream. The first such party, the Anti-Revolutionary Party, was founded in 1879 by a Calvinist ex-pastor in the Netherlands named Abraham Kuyper. His aim was to restore God (not the church) as the absolute sovereign over human affairs. Only if secular government was firmly embedded in the Christian faith could its democratic institutions survive. That is what he believed and what Christian Democrats still believe.

I do not believe this. It is always tricky for an agnostic in religious affairs to argue for the importance of organized religion, but I would argue not that more people should be religious or that democracy cannot survive without God, but that the voices of religious people should be heard. The most important condition for a functional democracy is that people take part. If religious affiliations provide the necessary consensus to play by common rules, then they should be recognized. A Sharia-based Shiite theocracy, even if it were supported by a majority, would not be a democracy. Only if the rights and interests of the various ethnic and religious groups are negotiated and compromises reached could you speak of a functioning democracy.

There is, of course, that neglected phenomenon of consociationalism, which was more discussed a generation ago than today but which retains its relevance for divided polities characterized by deep social cleavages along ethnic, linguistic, religious or ideological lines. The best recipe for political stability may not after all be to suppress differences in the interest of creating an artificial majority but to allow citizens to express these differences in peaceful ways through power sharing at the centres of government. Short of this, there may be no alternative to the authoritarian régimes which have plagued so many countries outside the western world.

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10 December 2004

Charles Terpstra (1924-2004): a tribute

The Rev. Charles "Chuck" Terpstra was my pastor at South Bend Christian Reformed Church in Indiana during most of my graduate student years at Notre Dame. He served that congregation between 1982 and 1990, when he retired. He and his wife Jean became good friends of mine during that wonderful time. Chuck was born in Oak Lawn, Illinois, not too far from my own birthplace of Oak Park, both of which are communities just outside Chicago. He served in the US Army during the Second World War. He married Jean Kamp in 1948 and graduated from Calvin Seminary in 1953. He served CRC congregations in Minnesota, New Jersey, Chicago, Grand Rapids, Michigan, and finally South Bend. After retirement he and Jean moved back to Grand Rapids. They have seven children and at Chuck's death he and Jean were grandparents and great-grandparents.

Chuck had just become pastor of South Bend CRC when I became a member of that congregation in 1983. He was not a flashy orator by any means. But his preaching was heartfelt and he put his whole self into his sermons. I recall more than one occasion when tears would come to his eyes as he touched on something that was especially meaningful to him. Moreover, unlike many preachers, he would regularly treat especially difficult passages of scripture that have confounded even the best of expositors. That took some courage, but it was very like Chuck to do this. Above all, I think of him as a firm Reformed Christian with profound catholic sensibilities. He was far from the sectarianism that has plagued some manifestations of confessional protestantism.

But it's the personal side I will remember most. When I was disappointed by a failed romantic relationship, he was the one I talked with. When my grandmother died in early 1987, I went to him with the news. When I defended my dissertation in November 1986, he was one of two close friends who attended this event, crammed into a fairly small room with my examiners and me. Not long afterwards he and Jean hosted a celebrative gathering at their home in my honour, to which members of my family, including my parents, came. This obviously went far beyond the call of pastoral duty. I recall staying at their home in Grand Rapids on at least two occasions in the early 1990s. When Nancy and I were married near Chicago in 1996, Chuck and Jean made the drive down for the occasion. Finally, when they were up in Hamilton on denominational business a few years ago, I remember them sitting in our living room. Jean was entertaining our Theresa, who was an infant at the time, and succeeded in eliciting convulsive giggles from her. It was a joy to see.

Chuck had suffered from an increasing number of health problems in recent years. I believe the last time I saw him was during my visit to Calvin College two years ago for the first Henry Institute Symposium on Religion and Politics. I last spoke with him at the end of October. He was a faithful reader of this blog, and he even took the time and effort to read my book.

May God grant him rest and may we meet again at the resurrection when God's kingdom comes to fruition. May God grant Jean and the family comfort at what scripture tells us will be but a temporary loss.

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09 December 2004

Supreme Court reference

In most other countries a court cannot rule on an issue unless it hears a relevant case which has made its way through the judicial hierarchy. However, Canada is unusual in permitting its governments to refer a question to the Supreme Court for a ruling in the abstract. Two famous reference decisions were (1) the Patriation Reference of 1981 respecting the legality of Pierre Trudeau's effort to patriate the constitution without the backing of the provinces; and (2) the 1998 Reference re Secession of Quebec, in which the right of a province to secede unilaterally from confederation was at issue. Reference decisions are not strictly legally binding, but they are usually treated as if they were.

Today the Supreme Court handed down its long awaited reference decision on the federal government's same-sex marriage legislation. Here is the high court's decision in response to the federal government's four questions:

First question: Does Parliament have the exclusive legislative authority to change the legal definition of marriage?

Supreme Court's answer: Yes

Second question: Is extending the capacity to marry persons of the same sex consistent with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms?

Supreme Court's answer: Yes

Third question: Are religious leaders protected under the Charter of Rights from having to marry same-sex couples?

Supreme Court's answer: Yes

Fourth question: Is the traditional definition of marriage between a man and a woman constitutional?

Supreme Court's answer: The Court exercises its discretion not to answer this question.

From the court's ruling: "Several centuries ago, it would have been understood that marriage be available only to opposite-sex couples." Several centuries ago? Judging from this statement, the justices on the court must be very, very young indeed. I myself remember this ostensibly long-ago era, and I'm not quite at the half-century mark.

The issue will continue to be debated, most notably in the House of Commons itself.

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About to hit the fan?

For a long time many of us have been tiptoeing around the increasingly yawning gap separating two institutions here in southern Ontario with roots in the same tradition. Now student journalist Albert Postma brings this out into the open with an article in the Crown which is certain to generate heated debate.

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08 December 2004

Apropos apparel?

Just once I'd love to see someone wear a t-shirt with the following motto on the front:

QUESTION AUTHORITY. . .


and on the back:

. . . BECAUSE I TOLD YOU SO!

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New blogger

A heartfelt welcome to the bloggosphere is extended to Dr. Robert J. Bernhardt. Please take time to visit his new site, A Voice in the Village, subtitled "My contribution to the current Internet conversation about life and meaning in the Global Village." Dr. Bernhardt is the recently retired pastor of Chalmers Presbyterian Church here in Hamilton and a personal friend.

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07 December 2004

Ukraine: what's really going on?

Among the observers of the current turmoil in Ukraine one finds three principal interpretations:

(1) It is a struggle between a democratic reform movement and a corrupt post-soviet oligarchy. The partisans of Viktor Yushchenko are on the side of all that is right and good. Viktor Yanukovych's supporters are trying to hold back progress and are in cahoots with Vladimir "Stalin Lite" Putin's Russia. This is clearly the perspective of Discoshaman, who is writing from the centre of the action (and whose real name I should probably know but can't recall at the moment).

(2) It is a struggle between two geographic and cultural regions, with the largely Greek Catholic west pulling the country towards Europe and the largely russophone and (vestigially) Orthodox east leaning towards Russia. Westerners support Yushchenko and easterners largely favour Yanukovych.

(3) Yushchenko is the latest in a long line of western pawns put in place in countries around the world on the pretext of facilitating democracy. This third perspective is articulated by the former Indian ambassador to Turkey, K Gajendra Singh, writing for the Asia Times Online.

So who is right? Who has the handle on what is really happening in the former Soviet republic? I myself tend towards the second interpretation. In my study of politics over the decades I have long been persuaded of the tremendous impact of political culture in the functioning of political systems. The notion of political culture is roughly synonymous with what earlier generations would have labelled a constitution in the larger empirical sense. It is the intangible complex of attitudes that a community carries towards a variety of factors, such as respect for authority, the rule of law, political participation, styles of leadership, the role of government, national purpose, &c. These are intimately connected with specific arrangements of political institutions to such an extent that efforts to refashion the latter in fundamental ways can collapse if they run counter to the political culture.

With respect to Ukraine, it may well be true that the largely Greek Catholic ukrainophone (is that a word?) westerners value democracy and aspire to membership in the European Union and NATO. There may indeed be more corruption in the east, and Yanukovych may indeed have authoritarian tendencies more in keeping with the country's Soviet past. Yet efforts to portray the current struggle as one pitting the good democrat against the bad autocrat may miss the mark in at least one respect. Even if the russophone east is mired in its old Soviet ways, this is a political reality that must be taken into account in any effort to bring peace and unity to the country as a whole. If Yushchenko wins the runoff vote on 26 December and if easterners feel hard done by, any effort to move Ukraine in a more westerly direction will effectively alienate a large proportion of the population.

That is why a political system whose chief executive is elected on a winner-take-all basis may not be best for a divided country such as Ukraine. The current electoral battle is a zero-sum contest in which one of the halves of the country, in the absence of a tradition of loyal opposition, is certain to feel shut out. Western journalists who can hardly conceal their enthusiasm for Yushchenko might wish to keep this in mind as they file their reports from Kyiv and elsewhere. So by all means the election should be free and fair. Everything must be done to prevent fraud. But it may be that the electoral system itself should be reformed to better reflect the reality of a divided polity. If citizens are no longer fearful of being locked out of the political process and having their legitimate interests ignored or trampled upon, they are less likely to succumb to efforts to subvert elections.

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05 December 2004

The greatest Canadian: my nominee

Here is my nominee for the title of greatest Canadian: General Georges Vanier (1888-1967).


National Archives of Canada


Gen. Vanier is best known for having served as Governor General from 1959 until his death in Canada's centennial year, 1967. As the Queen's representative in her capacity as head of state, Vanier was the first francophone and only the second Canadian to fill the position. Prior to his residence at Rideau Hall, he had been in the diplomatic service, distinguishing himself in more than one post between 1928 and 1953. He served in the military during both world wars, losing his right leg in the first, and rising to the rank of major general in the second.

Gen. Vanier was a Christian of deep faith, as indicated in the following paragraphs taken from the government of Canada's webpages:

Although Canada was experiencing turbulent times and General Vanier suffered from a heart condition, he reacted to the news of his appointment [as Governor General] with the deep faith that was his constant companion. "If God wants me to do this job," he said, "He will give me the strength to do it." The Vaniers' strong religious beliefs led them to champion the disadvantaged, youth and the family. Their concern for the state of the family in Canada led them to organize the 'Canadian Conference of the Family' at Rideau Hall in 1964, which led to the founding of the Vanier Institute of the Family.

During General Vanier's term, the separatist cause accelerated in Quebec. General Vanier firmly believed in Canadian unity and his speeches often attempted to improve relations between Francophones and Anglophones. He possessed a masterful command of both languages and promoted a policy of bilingualism long before his tenure as Governor General. The depth of his concern for Canada is revealed in one of the last speeches of his life, where he said, "The road of unity is the road of love: love of one's country and faith in its future will give new direction and purpose to our lives, lift us above our domestic quarrels, and unite us in dedication to the common good... I pray God that we may all go forward hand in hand. We can't run the risk of this great country falling into pieces."

Due to their evident love for God and their fellow humanity, both Georges and his wife Pauline Vanier have been put forward for beatification in the Roman Catholic Church. Their son, Jean Vanier, is well known as the founder of the l'Arche communities in Toronto and elsewhere. We could use more people like the Vaniers in this country.

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Ukrainian crisis, continued

A repeat of the second round in the Ukrainian presidential election has been set for 26 December. Unfortunately, the country's parliament failed to adopt a crucial reform of the electoral laws that would ensure that this new ballot is free and fair. In the meantime, might opposition candidate Viktor Yushchenko have been poisoned by his political opponents? He claims this is true, and western medical specialists have noted a changed appearance, possibly due to massive exposure to dioxins.

Concerning electoral reform, here is advice from a Canadian. Please do not -- repeat: do not -- adopt a system that translates between 38 and 43 percent of the popular vote into an artificial majority and then gives it all the political power! Bad move. We're struggling mightily over here to rid ourselves at last of this travesty of democracy, with some hope for change on the horizon. Perhaps we need our own velvet revolution.

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03 December 2004

Finnish Orthodoxy and a Finnish ancestor

The vast majority of Finns are at least nominal Lutherans, but there is a small percentage of Orthodox Christian Finns, most of whom originally came from eastern Karelia, the historic territory around Lake Ladoga. Today I rediscovered in my vinyl record collection two volumes of Orthodox Church Music from Finland, published by Ikon Records. The first volume contains music sung by the Hymnodia Choir under the direction of Archbishop Paul of Karelia and All Finland, and the second includes music by the Ecumenical Quartet. Texts are sung in both Church Slavonic and Finnish. I think I purchased these at the Anglican Book Centre in Toronto close to 15 years ago, when they were selling the last of their stock of vinyl albums.

Most of my Finnish ancestors were Lutherans, but among the meticulously-kept parish records which have come into my hands one often finds someone listed as having been transferred to the Orthodox parish in Kajaani. This would appear to signify a conversion, probably due to intermarriage.

Incidentally, just yesterday I received a remarkable letter from a distant cousin in New Mexico who found my genealogical webpages. She was kind enough to send me three photographs, one of which (below) is of my great-great-grandfather, Justus Korpinen (1848-1941), who is buried in the cemetery in Oskar, Michigan, located in that state's upper peninsula.


Photo courtesy of Mary Ann Kauppila

Justus Korpinen, seated, with grandson


I was, of course, pleased to receive this, as I had never before seen a photograph of this particular forebear, although I had known of his existence since childhood. I doubt that I look much like him. We both have beards, but I myself am not bald. Then again he was apparently in his 80s when the above photo was taken. By that age I too might be bald.

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Is Google taxonomically challenged?

So why does Google News categorize this story under entertainment?

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New election to be held

The supporters of Viktor Yushchenko have scored a victory -- for now: "Ukraine's Supreme Court declares run-off presidential vote void." Stand by. There's more to come.

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02 December 2004

This day in history

On this date 200 years ago, Napoléon crowned himself Emperor of France, as shown below in the famous painting by Jacques-Louis David hanging in the Louvre.



Caroline Wyatt reflects on his legacy for the BBC: "Napoleon still haunts France." Might the would-be unifier of Europe have been the first person to employ the tools of propaganda on a massive scale? Some think so. According to the Associated Press, "Because of his controversial legacy, the [French] government planned no official commemorations of the coronation. But French media trumpeted the anniversary, and museums are hosting seminars, exhibits and concerts."

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01 December 2004

The NYT's startling discovery

The New York Times is supposed to be the arbiter of élite cultural opinion in the United States. It is thus nothing short of remarkable when one of its columnists, David Brooks, discovers something that millions of non-NYT readers have known all along. Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson are not, after all, the most typical representatives of North American evangelicalism; John Stott is. Writes Brooks:

It could be that you have never heard of John Stott. I don't blame you. As far as I can tell, Stott has never appeared on an important American news program. A computer search suggests that Stott's name hasn't appeared in this newspaper since April 10, 1956, and it's never appeared in many other important publications.

Yet, as Michael Cromartie of the Ethics and Public Policy Center notes, if evangelicals could elect a pope, Stott is the person they would likely choose. He was the framer of the Lausanne Covenant, a crucial organizing document for modern evangelicalism. He is the author of more than 40 books, which have been translated into over 72 languages and have sold in the millions. Now rector emeritus at All Souls, Langham Place, in London, he has traveled the world preaching and teaching.

Although I am by no means an expert in that exceedingly nebulous phenomenon called evangelicalism, I am inclined to think that Brooks is on to something. At first blush it might seem somewhat odd that a quiet Anglican priest with utterly orthodox beliefs would be an influence on particularly American evangelicalism, which is largely baptistic in orientation. Then again Wheaton College (I grew up in the city of Wheaton) is the home of the Wade Centre, which houses a host of material related to C. S. Lewis, the Anglican layman who authored Mere Christianity, the Chronicles of Narnia, and many other immensely popular writings. All of which goes to show that evangelicals are not easily pigeon-holed -- even by The New York Times.

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