Saturday, July 03, 2010

Todd Bentley, the TV "reality" show

[Originally posted at Bene Diction Blogs On, June 24, 2010]

Todd Bentley, on his Twitter feed today, is talking up the possibility of a reality TV show on the Discovery channel in the United States.

He tweets:

Pray for a awesome opportunity. Discovery channel has approached us on a new Reality series. Let's take gospel to the world.

\about 5 hours ago via Twitterrific

Todd Bentley

Given Todd Bentley's record of deceit and prevarication, it is mind-boggling that a TV network would consider a reality show about him. Has Discovery done any research on him at all?

Of course, reality shows are not "real" as producers and directors selectively use footage to create "good guys" and "bad guys". What makes this proposed project a little scary is that there is no way that Bentley will agree to it without his having editorial control of some kind.

The only reality in a Discovery show that we will see are the "good parts".

But, when TV goes in search of reality, as in the ABC Nightline profile of Bentley and "Lakeland"--which scuppered the "revival"--both the good and bad is shown.

We could hope that the "other side" of Todd would squeak out...but I am not hopeful, should this come to pass.

How much "reality" may we expect?

Any reporter wanting to dig into what Bentley is doing now will be told "Just watch the show" and be refused access. Which would be a shame.

Meanwhile, also on Twitter, Bentley, here cooking steaks on his fancy barbecue, wrote a day ago that he had "closed" on his house. A while back, he had tweeted that he was building his "dream house".

A far cry from being down to his "last $20" roughly two years ago. Does "low profile ministry" really pay that well?

(Added the photo from Twitter - BD)

UPDATE: Evidently "low level ministry" pays not too badly, according to a video that Bentley friend Jason Hooper has put up on Twitter.

In the video, Todd Bentley talks about the new "commercial grill" that he just bought for himself. If it disappears, Hooper called it "Billy Mays meets IamToddBentley" after the late infomercial star.

I've typed in Bentley's description of the grill, and on the Internet, you can buy grills like his description for between $2,000 and $6,500 U.S..

If you happen to be thinking of his starter wife, Shonnah Bentley, and kids back in Canada, this is very interesting. You could wonder, say, whether college funds have been started for his kids. Given Bentley's house, fancy grill and new ministry headquarters (which he talks about in another video blog), it's a reasonable question.

Jason Hooper compares Bentley to Billy Mays. It may be an apt comparison, as Bentley has often taken the infomercial approach--buy his tapes, videos, come to his courses, and swell things will happen to you.

We can be grateful that Bentley is not old enough to remember Tom Vu! ;)

Why does Faytene Kryskow call herself "F18"?

[Originally posted at bene Diction Blogs On, June 22, 2010]

Evangelist Faytene Kryskow has put up a noble sentiment on Twitter recently. But it's one that might make her critics wonder a bit what she is on about.

Back on March 5, she Tweeted this:

There is not greater ecstasy than the presence of God which touches the soul of a wo/man. I live for THAT. - F18

5:21 PM Mar 5th via web
Faytene Kryskow

I think that is an excellent quote, myself, but I wondered who this "F18" person is who Faytene quotes.

Why, according to her YouTube page, it is Faytene herself. The name of the creator on the profile? One "F18".

I would think what she Tweeted is a fine thing to say, myself. But I would wonder why she would want to nickname herself after the prominent US military fighter aircraft, especially when there are many in the blogosphere and media who wonder about how "militaristic" Faytene might be. Especially when she could just not attribute the quote, as it is hers, and just appeal to any nobler aspects of what she may be trying to do.

Trying to refute critics such as Marci McDonald who are concerned that Faytene has a dominionist, take over the world mindset? Well, good luck with that, Faytene, as you play into their hands.

Or should I say "Miss F18"? ;)

Preston Manning--Keeping faith and politics completely separate will become impossible

[Originally posted at Bene Diction Blogs On, June 18, 2010]

If you have read Marci McDonald's new book, you will recall that Preston Manning--the former Reform Party leader--is someone that she has misgivings about, which she shared at some length.

On Monday June 14, in a speech in Charlottetown, PEI, Manning said some interesting things when you keep in mind the comments that you read in The Armageddon Factor.

The local newspaper quotes him as saying:

“What (politicians) do in practice is keep faith and politics in two separate watertight compartments.”
There are a number of reasons for this, including pressure from party whips and officials for politicians to stay on message, the idea to appeal to the separation of church and state and to remain neutral in a multicultural society like Canada, Manning said.
“We simply don’t know how to handle expression of faith in the political arena,” he said.
However, considering Canada’s democratic society, this will likely not be the case forever, Manning said.
“In the long run, it is not possible to keep faith and politics in separate watertight compartments, not in a free and democratic society.”
The responsibility to make this change does not fall on those who feel the need to restrict faith discussions in political settings, Manning said.
“The initiative for legitimating the discussion of faith in the political arena has to come from those of us who believe and have faith.”


h/t to Ray Pennings who cites this too.

O'Neill vs. [Marci] McDonald? (and other updates)

[Originally posted at Bene Diction Blogs On, June 18, 2010]

Marci McDonald and her book are continuing to get press coverage...but one possible upcoming story would not the be sort of thing that any author would want to see.

My former editor and colleague Terry O'Neill confirms that he has had his legal counsel send a letter to Radom House formally asking for a retraction and apology for an egregious mistake in The Armageddon Factor. I explained how, in my opinion, Terry had a valid complaint with McDonald's coverage of him in her book, in a post which explains what's at issue.

I don't know how far he plans or wishes to go in seeking redress, and I can't speak for him, but I do know that having your lawyers issue a formal complaint in writing to a publisher is the first step in any eventual libel suit.

I don't want to say whether Terry would want to sue another journalsit for libel. But, even if he were the type to settle for an apology and retraction--as I think he is--that could still cause problems for McDonald and her book. I am guessing here, but aside from causing embarrassment, would books have to be pulled off shelves and then re-issued in a new corrected printing? I don't know.

I've mentioned my own sympathies...but anyone might foresee storm clouds ahead here.

Ezra Levant mentioned this this morning on his blog, but I think that he "buried the lede".

Those who appreciate McDonald's work, however, would be pleased to know that she and her book are getting more helpful publicity.

We hear second-hand from McDonald, as she is paraphrased in a update by Lloyd Mackey on the CanadianChristianity website.

Mackey notes that the first chapter of The Armageddon Factor was reprinted at the website of the online Group Citizens Rallying to Unseat Stephen Harper (CRUSH):

....[C]RUSH reproduced the book's first chapter from the publisher's website without the author's knowledge. When McDonald learned, at the end of a busy cross-country book promotion tour, that her book was linked to the website, she asked the site managers to post a disclaimer. The disclaimer says: 'The author wishes to make clear that this does not mean she endorses CRUSH or its aims.'

A little later in his column, he has this to add:

....McDonald assures me that she has never had any partisan associations, and that she has written stories – some of which have been posted on the Walrus website – that have been critical of Liberals as well as Conservatives.

In other updates...the progressive Vancouver free paper The Georgia Straight has an item on former George W, Bush advisor Karl Rove's upcoming visit to Charles' McVety's Canadian Christian College during the G-20 meetings in Toronto. Rove will be meeting with various "faith and business leaders" at the school, notes a press release quoted by the paper. The Straight would naturally be concerned about a figure of the American right meeting with Canadian christian conservatives and McDonald's book is quoted in the article, allowing the reporter to cite Rove's ideological sympathies to ministers such as John Hagee.

There are three new reviews of The Armageddon Factor online. The Winnipeg Free Press' review is critical, as is one by a senior fellow at a Calgary think tank on his blog. Another reviewer, Robert White in yesterday's Guelph Mercury also has misgivings about the book. White's concerns with her premise might be influential, as the veteran journalist is the "Ontario editor" of the Christian Week newspaper.

Faytene apologizes for the "Hitler Youth" quote

[Originally posted at Bene Diction Blogs On, June 10, 2010]

According to a statement on her 4MyCanada website, Faytene Kryskow has apologized for citing the "Hitler Youth" as a historical example for youth, but hopefully only in a good way this time.

I'll quote her entire statement in case it vanishes, but as I was the first in the blogsophere to note all this, I wanted to join Bene D in noting her apology as well.

She writes:
I would like to publicly apologize for my choice in referencing this historical example. I will not use this example again and will seek to be much more sensitive to the impact my comments could have on a wider audience. I, of course, abhor the Holocaust and do not want any young people to follow Hitler's example.

I wouldn't agree that her remarks were intended as a talk to a "small group of young people" when they were made at Toronto's huge missions conference. [If they are like Vancouver's Missionsfest, that is where hundreds, if not thousands of people attend even youth events.]

I wonder if she sent this as a letter to the National Post, as she replies to Don Martin's citation of her quote?

That said, however, when she does the right thing, I want to report on that as well. Faytene Kryskow's apology is the appropriate thing to do.

UPDATE: Her statement...

[The full text of her apology. I've taken the liberty of correcting a couple of spelling mistakes...]

RE: Don Martin: Author warns of growing influence of religious right in Canadian politics

In recent days the national media has be buzzing with their coverage of Marci McDonald’s book, “The Armageddon Factor: The Rise of Christian Nationalism in Canada”.

It has stirred a great deal of controversy, as McDonald presents her perspective regarding the political influence the “Christian Right” in Canada.

As this controversy has been unfolding it appears that one of the more popular quotes from McDonald’s book, which was making some headlines, is from a speech I gave a few years ago to a small group of youth where the main point of the message was to encourage them to become responsibly engaged citizens.

In the speech I described youth movements of the past – one of which was during Hitler’s time. I posed the question, “If these young people could use their focus and passion for such evil, what could our generation accomplish with the same kind of focus but for ‘good’?” I was referring to combating things like human trafficking, poverty, life issues etc.

At the time, my content and intent was to inpsire my audience to engage in the democratic process – showing them that they could make a difference for ‘good’ today. However, now I can see how using this example was inappropriate.

I would like to publicly apologize for my choice in referencing this historical example. I will not use this example again and will seek to be much more sensitive to the impact my comments could have on a wider audience. I, of course, abhor the Holocaust and do not want any young people to follow Hitler’s example.

Faytene Kryskow

Marci McDonald replies to the right

[Originally posted at Bene Diction Blogs On, June 9, 2010]

Marci McDonald, in an op-ed in today's Ottawa Citizen, has a response to some of her media and blogopshere critics on the right.

Aside from marvelling that she would ever be targeted by a blogger named "Blazingcatfur", she has noticed "distinctly un-Christian invective". Is Ezra Levant, she wonders, "part of an orchestrated effort to discredit a work that links the growing presence of the religious right in Ottawa to one particular cabinet minister, Levant's former boss, Stockwell Day?"

I'll let you read her piece, in which she wonders if she has kicked over a hornet's nest, for yourself.

In the meantime, David Frum, whom she critiques in her op-ed, has a response of his own up at the NationalPost's website.

UPDATE: Dennis Gruending, a friend of BDBO, has an online article on the media fuss in which he mentions that McDonald felt the need for two bodyguards during her recent Calgary speech. He also quotes John Stackhouse.

Update: (from BD) Christian Week has weighed in with an op-ed on the book: A shiver runs through it

Marci McDonald pulls out of interview on conservative radio show

[Originally posted at Bene Diction Blogs On, June 4, 2010]

Marci McDonald, who agreed three weeks ago to an interview on the conservative Internet radio program Roadkill Radio, has decided to pull out of an interview for the program, citing a pressing personal engagement that has just come up and can't be rescheduled.

Kari Simpson, co-host of the show, expresses Captain Renault levels of shock, in an e-mail to the e-list for her program, that this has happened.

It might be all for the best from McDonald's perspective, as Kari, her co-hosts--and guest Brian Rushfeldt of the Canadian Family Action Coalition--critiqued The Armageddon Factor and laid into McDonald in some detail a couple of weeks ago. It's Show 64 here, if you care to give it a listen to.

Marci McDonald in Xtra!

[Originally posted at Bene Diction Blogs On, June 3, 2010]

An excerpt of Marci McDonald's book is running in Xtra!, the national gay/lesbian newspaper chain.

To go with it, online, is this brief video interview:

You may want to keep an eye out for the first comment on the online book excerpt by Karen Selick of the Canadian Constitution Foundation.

Faytene: "Narf!" :)

[Originally posted at Bene Diction Blogs On, June 3, 2010]

Gotta hand it to Faytene Kryskow. She's so much of a dominionist theocrat that she jokes about it on Facebook. If you are cartoon savvy, that is.

Check out her Facebook profile page. At this moment it reads:

About Me
Basic Info Relationship Status: Single


Political Views: PINKY AND THE BRAIN

Before you scratch your head, as I was a big fan of the cartoon, I can tell you that the cartoon was about these two lab mice, Pinky--who was dumb as a post--and machiavellian genius The Brain.

And what was the running gag of the cartoon? The Brain was trying to take over the world!

Pinky: "Gee, Brain, what do you want to do tonight?"
The Brain: "The same thing we do every night, Pinky—try to take over the world!"

Those who fondly recall the show--or aren't dominionist theocrats--will be pleased to recall that the funny part of the cartoon show was that The Brian's convoluted schemes would always hilariously fail.

If Faytene is wanting to joke about trying to take over the world, perhaps she might not like to cite an example where the world is never taken over and hilarity ensures at the expense of the would be world rulers. (That sort of thing is called "speaking death" over something in charismatic circles.)

So which character would Faytene like to be, the genius who talks like Orson Welles, or the one who says "Narf!" ?


Poor Faytene and Marci

[Originally posted at Bene Diction Blogs On, June 2, 2010]

After seeing today's Vancouver Sun, I feel a little sorry for evangelist Faytene Kryskow.

Today, Sun columnist Daphne Bramham wrote a column on Marci McDonald's book. It appears not only online, but on page A15 of the actual newspaper.

Bramham spoke to McDonald, as she writes that her own column will look at the characters of the movement "because -as McDonald told me in a frank assessment of her own work -there aren't a lot of headlines from it."

She follows McDonald's lead and gives a lot of play to Faytene Kryskow, who needs no introduction to BDBO readers, as Vancouver is where Faytene spent her earliest years in ministry. A large picture of Faytene accompanies the op-ed.

Whatever you may think of Faytene's thoughts and doings, as documented in the column, she may understandably be upset with the newspaper today.

Bramham writes:

"McDonald describes Kryskow as 'spiritual godmother to a young Abbotsford revivalist named Todd Bentley, a burly former jailbird with face piercings and tattoos from ankles to neck.'"

McDonald may also be perturbed with columnist Bramham today as that's not so. (I don't want McDonald to be blamed for this--as happened with the TorStar excerpt--when it is not her fault.)

On Page 159 of The Armageddon Factor, McDonald writes:

"When [Patricia] King won her own TV show on the Miracle Channel, Kryskow became a regular guest, introduced as a 'budding prohetess', but she was not King's only protege. The Extreme Prophetess had a also played spiritual godmother to a young Abbotsford revivalist named Todd Bentley...."

It must be disconcerting to Faytene--who has had little to do with Todd Bentley--to be associated with the controversial, if not infamous evangelist, and have Vancouver Sun readers who know of the Lakeland "revival" think that Faytene was responsible for springing Bentley on the world.

We at BDBO have differed with Faytene but we also try to get things right too. So, in fairness to her, I would like to chide the Sun for being a bit sloppy too.

I wonder if there was a Sun editor who wondered "Gosh, this lady in the picture looks to be a contemporary of Bentley's, not old enough to be a 'godmother'. This should be factchecked against the book."

Hopefully, Kryskow's letter to the editor is on its way to the Vancouver Sun.

I "honour" Faytene dot com was already taken?

[Originally posted at Bene Diction Blogs On June 1, 2010]

If evangelist Faytene Kryskow is sad after getting rhetorically pummelled in Marci McDonald's book, The Armageddon Factor, there is a curious little blog that might cheer her up.

It's probably innocent, but this blog is curiously timed, as I'll explain.

A Marci MacDonald media update

{Originally posted at Bene Diction Blogs On, May 31, 2010]

Marci McDonald, and her book, are continuing to get a lot of media attention.

To begin, her interview on The Agenda is now online at YouTube:

Meanwhile at the Winnipeg Free Press, columnist Tom Ford suggests that "Christian nationalists" are not the only religious ones active in politics.

Bene D might need to brace himself, as the Earth starts rotating in the other direction. The National Post, which has been quite critical of The Armageddon Factor, is the home of Chris Selley, the paper's "op-eds, and editorials watch" blogger. His comment might surprise:

"Having actually read the book, we must say that while there are certainly a few eye-rolling moments, and some factual errors that have been documented, it’s far more reportorial than it is judgmental. We’ve found some of the coverage downright baffling, actually."

Perhaps he was encouraged in this opinion after talking to her and posting their conversation at the paper's Full Comment podcast page. It's "Canada's Christian Right" from May 21.

On the blogosphere, the right has moved to wondering whether Marci McDonald is channelling "Tail Gunner Joe". "McCarthyism" directed against Christians. This is tied to Gilles Duceppe's and NDP MP Pat Martin's worries that a small number of Tory staffers and such had agreed to meet for lunch with Msgr. Fred Dolan, a Canadian leader of the very conservative Catholic lay group Opus Dei.

The CBC's Evan Solomon interviewed Dolan on air, and as the controversy was brewing. blogger and journalist Deborah Gyapong, argued that the politician's comments about the lunch singled out conservative Christians for censure in a way that Sikhs and Jews, say, would not shunned be in Ottawa. She has been continuing with the story over the past few days. Ottawa Citizen columnist David Warren was dismayed. Ezra Levant, in a blog post that will no doubt be appearing rewritten in the National Post, makes similar arguments and comes right out and writes "McCarthyism of the left".

How may this be relevant to a discussion of McDonald's book, given that it really doesn't mention Opus Dei in depth at all? Well, both Gyapong and Levant cite McDonald's book as an example of how the atmosphere may be posioned against conservative Christians. A "catalyst".

So, I mention it here to suggest that any mentions of Opus Dei and McDonald on the right may merely muddy the waters and be a possible distraction. It may arguably be a common symptom of a rhetorical disease, but "Nurse McDonald" didn't cause it in the patient.

As I have mentioned Opus Dei, I should also go on to say that Duceppe and Martin, both members of left-leaning parties, would naturally be worried about the group, along with other progressives north of the 49th, even if Marci McDonald had never written her book. Comments and actions by Opus Dei leaders in the United States have worried progressives down there as well, leading them to wonder whether the lay group is respectful of pluralism and democracy.

I don't know much about the group myself , but here is a place to start.

UPDATE: As Ezra Levant hinted he would yesterday, he's written an op-ed in today's National Post, which follows up on his concerns.

Todd Bentley repents of “hype”, only to use hype moments later

[Originally posted at Bene Diction Blogs On, May 29, 2010]

What is new with Canadian evangelist Todd Bentley, trying to make a comeback in the U.S., after the collapse of the Lakeland “revival”?

Well, Bentley gave evidence a few weeks ago that he is up to his old tricks. But I would think that publicly repenting of using “hype” and then, a few minutes later, using hype again would be a bit brazen, even for him.

I refer to his “Kingdom Authority and Healing” talk of April 10, at the Morningstar complex in the United States.
If you would like to follow along, the full video is here.

Bentley is on stage, warming to his topic, promising that, naturally, he has a “special authority” to speak that night.

He’s telling “war stories” and at roughly 1:48, he says this:

“The church is tired of the word ‘miracle healing service’ I get on Facebook and everybody and their cat and dog is having a miracle healing service. I mean we, the currency of the Kingdom has been so lowered to get numbers. The way that we market and promote, and advertise and put the word ‘prophetic’ or whatever. Just anything to get the people. We have so cheapened—I believe that there’s a great disappointment and discouragement in America when we talk about signs and wonders. We believe, as believers. But If we got honest about it, our churches and ministries are not walking in the kind of Kingdom authority and power that we know and read about in the gospels and that we’ve seen glimpses of.”

And why would this be, Todd? Could it have something to do with Lakeland and all the people that your said were healed, and then subsequently died?

“I know the kind of anointing we saw in Lakeland, and it’s still not here,” he adds.

Given the fruit of Lakeland, may we hope not?

At 1;49:50, Bentley says

“When God—when He opens up the heavens…People ask why are you doing these Saturday nights with hundreds, when In Lakeland you had five, ten thousand a night? When the anointing begins to show up again like that, where we can see twenty wheelchairs in one service healed—I don’t even see a wheelchair in the building, there might be one. But you see, the sick aren’t really healed. There might be a few that need a healing, but the desperate really aren’t here. And I’ll tell you why they aren’t here. Because they really aren’t convinced that anything is going to happen different than anything that happened all the other times they have been to revival.”

If only we could get to the state, as in Lakeland, where the “desperate” start to come, Bentley says. Chilling. And what about all the people who came to Lakeland, only to have the same lack of healing happen to them?

If Todd is wise, he’ll start to apologize and make amends. And, at Bentley starts to cultivate the impression, at the 1:50 mark that that is what he is going to do:

“So, I want to get honest about it. Say ‘God we need you’. And I want to get honest about it tonight and say God, no more fluff. We want the raw power of God. I give my whole life for this message. And I’m sure there’s different cities and churches maybe even nations we could be at right now—and we will be. We’re still making plans to go to Haiti, and the miracles that will happen in Haiti will be the kind of miracles that you read about in the Book of Acts. And I’m telling you that there will be cities this year and next year. We know it’s just a matter of time, and the Lord will send us out….”

“No more fluff” Care to explain when in the past you shared “fluff”, or do you care to leave it to your critics.

I’m sure that the Haitians will be grateful for Bentley’s visit, but is it right—in almost the same breath as “no more fluff”—to say that there *will* be book of Acts miracles in the country. Trying for them, yes. They *will* happen? Potential “fluff”, especially given that desperate Haitians will be hoping against hope that they will be blessed, unlike the many other times that they may have been at a revival and got nothing.

At 1:53:40, Bentley says:

“Can we just get honest for a moment and say ‘Oh God, forgive us, forgive me’, I want you to repent with me on behalf of the church for all of the fluff and hype. You know, I’ve been guilty of it over the years. I know I have. Every one of us. And God, we want the raw power of God again. We want to get honest and we want to say this. We want to say this. We want to say ‘God we don’t want to act like we’ve got more than we really do.’ It’s okay to say we have this measure and trust God for more….”

“….Can you repent with me? ‘Cause you need to repent. Because if you think you are walking in authority right now, you’re really not….you’re only walking in a measure, because I haven’t heard about your shadow healing the sick yet, I haven’t seen you on CNN. Your miracle ministry isn’t turning cities upside down. I’m sure I’d know about it by now.”

Well, technically, Lakeland didn’t quite pass Bentley’s own criteria, unless someone is brought forward whom Bentley’s shadow healed. And nice attitude on Bentley’s part towards his fellow hard-working ministers who didn’t happen to be the “flavour-of-the-month” a couple of years ago.

Bentley is being shrewd here. He knows that there are some things that he needs to repent of regarding creating something out of little at Lakeland. So much so, that a lot of people in his audience probably conduct their ministry in a more ethical way than Bentley has. So, what he needs to do is bring them down to his level. No one is absolutely perfectly honest, so Bentley knows that he can bring everyone down to his level by appealing to perfection.

So, his audience, in the seats and elsewhere, has to hold him to the same standards of repentance that they would hold themselves to. This is a bit sneaky, as I doubt that anyone he was speaking to, while they are also imperfect, committed the same scale and kind of mistakes that Bentley did.

And who says that people can’t be doing great works for God without Bentley and the media knowing about it? That is just hubris on Bentley’s part.

What about not letting your right hand know what you left hand is doing? I understand that is in the Bible somewhere.

Bentley continues:

“….There’ll be a thousand more times that you’ll hear me ask for your forgiveness because…there was an anointing and a favour, when we were in Florida, and we lost, the body of Christ around the world lost some momentum when Lakeland ended. It wasn’t just the end of Todd Bentley, but when that wind came out of our sails—I know whole churches where revival just stopped when Lakeland was over. There were miracle ministries just went went whoompf. They are still going for it. But we lost something around the world. As far as the level of the river of God and the level of faith corporately in the Body of Christ. If you were a part of it, maybe you were just post-Lakeland, if you don’t know what I am talking about, good. But If you’ve been tuned in at all, the past couple of years to the body of Christ, there was a momentum rising. We weren’t there, but it was rising, the wave was high. And I feel not only for Todd Bentley and Fresh Fire, but I feel for the body of Christ, a lot of ministries took a kicking because you stood for Florida, you stood for signs and wonders, you stood for revival….”

Here, Bentley throws his fellows who act and share the same theology as he does under the wheels of the train. Surely, there are some of them who do their activities in an honest and ethical way that would have allowed them to keep tooting along once Lakeland crashed? But no. If Todd, post-affair, post-lies, etc. can’t have his revival continue, neither can they. His revival has to be the best, even in retrospect.

“If you don’t know [about Lakeland] , good.” ‘Cause you wouldn’t want to judge Bentley’s past fruit before trusting him now.

This is the crucial part here, at 1:57:52. Watch, as Bentley, who has repented just minutes beforehand of using “fluff” and “hype”, uses “fluff” and “hype”. Emphasis mine.

“We were seeing resurrections. We had 31 testimonies of the dead raised. Over 22 of them were medically verified. Twenty- two. Two independent doctors verified 22 of the claims of resurrection stories and they called them ‘miraculous resuscitations’. Scientifically unexplainable. Twenty-two. The stories were found to be unexplainable. 31 stories.”

Oh Todd, you are so slick. If you don’t listen to what he says carefully, you’ll miss it and think that these two doctors said that these 22 people were raised from the dead. Not so.

The first thing that needs to be said here is that we would like the doctor’s identities, their full report, and all the names and relevant details so that the work of the doctors can be checked. If Christ, who sent the 10 lepers--who He really healed-- to be checked out by the local priest, in a public way, we can ask Todd Bentley to do all this in a fully public way as well.

Won’t happen, but we can ask.

The words "of them" refer to the 22 that were "raised from the dead". But in the same paragraph, it slips out that that is not exactly what the doctors say.

Let’s parse these sentences to see what Todd does.

“seeing resurrections”

“the dead raised”

“resurrection stories”

“miraculous” which is right next to and qualifies


“Scientifically unexplainable”


The word “resuscitations” is intended to be the filling of his rhetorical “resurrection” sandwich. Six wordsand phrases that lead you to think “raised from the dead” around “resuscitation”. But if you went to Subway and they gave you a “resuscitation” sandwich when you asked for a “resurrection” sandwich, you’d ask for your money back.

Todd Bentley is hoping that you don’t listen carefully, as resuscitation doesn’t mean resurrection.

A Princeton University online dictionary offers a very interesting definition for our purpose:

(n) resuscitation (the act of reviving a person and returning them to consciousness) "although he was apparently drowned, resuscitation was accomplished by artificial respiration"

I’ll bet that these two doctors and their report, commissioned by Todd Bentley and his friends, will never see the light of day.
Doctors X and Y are playing it very safe. I’ll bet dollars for doughnuts that they don’t use the exact phrase “miraculous resuscitations”. I’ll bet it is “resuscitations”.

It could refer to a miracle, but the doctors are playing it safe. “This person was apparently unconscious and is now conscious. We do not know why,” is probably a layman’s explanation of what they are trying to say.

And Todd Bentley takes it and runs with it, swaddling what the doctors were willing to say in “back from the dead” verbiage.

And this is within 5 minutes of leading his entire audience in a prayer repenting for using “hype”.

Bentley may say “I only said resuscitate!” But will people hear it in such a context.

I’m afraid that all Bentley’s repentance and honesty talk might have been a strategy to get his audience to think “Okay, he can’t possibly be brazen enough to pull a fast one virtually in the same paragraph…” when he had a whopper in his back pocket, meaning to mislead.

I guess that Rick Joyner’s restoration program must be coming along swimmingly in regards to Todd Bentley’s honestly. Pardon me if I prefer to stay near the lifeguard.

Marci McDonald media update 3, Vancouver Canucks 0

[Originally posted at Bene Diction Blogs On, May 28, 2010]

Here are some more media links, as Marci McDonald continues to promote her book The Armageddon Factor.

Her interview a couple of weeks ago on the Drew Marshall show is at last online in streaming form. It's the second item down for his May 22 show.

She was on TV Ontario's The Agenda program last night. No streaming video yet.

The left-leaning Vancouver free paper The Georgia Straight, following up on their story on the book, has a video segment online in which she talks about B.C.'s Trinity Western University:

Calgary's equivalent of the Straight, Fast Forward Weekly, also has a video clip about her visit to Calgary a few days ago.

Marci McDonald on TV

[Originally posted at Bene Diction Blogs On, May 27, 2010]

Marci McDonald is getting some video attention as she continues to promote The Armageddon Factor.

A progressive news blog, which covered her recent visit to Alberta, also has a video interview:

While in Alberta, McDonald was also featured in a TV news apenl on her book, which was saved to YouTube in two parts by the Christian activist who was part of the panel.

Part 1

and Part 2

And somehow I don't think this, which I came across during my YouTube search, is McDonald, unless she is moonlighting as a singing Christian puppet.

[The last is "Little Marcy"--the famous Christian ventriloquist dummy of the 1960s. I have a couple "Little Marcy" LPs ;) ]

Faytene Kryskow adds a cup of "martyr" to the mix

[Originally posted at Bene Diction Blogs On, May 24, 2010]

You can't fault evangelist Faytene Kryskow for not knowing the ways of the media, even if they technically aren't "allowed" to cover her without first asking "Mother, may I?"

Want to bury something? Release it on or just before a holiday weekend. And it is the Victoria Day stat holiday up here in Canada.

She has a notice up on the front page of her website. It reads like this:
Regarding the Armeggadon Factor by Marci Macdonald: I was going to post a video regarding AF because it was in my heart to pray for Marci and video is a great way to spread that love. I was also considering addressing some of the errors, biases an misrepresentations in her book, however, the national media seems to be addressing them pretty well on their own with the many articles being posted exposing this. There is no need for me to add my voice to the mix. I do want to say however, "Bless you Marci and bless you Random House. God's love for you fills us and we do pray for you to be lead into that love, sincerely."

If she doesn't want to respond, that's her business. But if she wants to take the high road, why not only pray for McDonald and the publishing company in a video and leave it at that?

The Faytene brains trust has probably decided this about Marci McDonald's book. Progressives in the regular media who would like the book would probably not like Kryskow anyway. It can be made much more difficult to allow them to get things that will help them with their stories by using Faytene's media rules against them. And those conservatives in and out of the media who find Faytene's theocratic extras to not be a problem? Well, they are probably listening to the various conservative critiques of the book, so much so, that it all is discredited to them.

As long as Faytene's support base on Parliament Hill and elsewhere is not paying attention to the book, a blanket "This book is hooey" as Faytene has posted would work fine. "Let sleeping dogs lie, for who wants to rouse 'em."

I, however, would have liked to see a detailed response from Faytene Kryskow myself. About a tenth of The Armageddon Factor is devoted to her alone, and if she had been able to cite 20-30 factual errors of the sort we are keeping track of in our special post, it would be helpful for allowing more neutral observers to judge the veracity of the book.

If someone were to say "Do you have a list of these errors? Please pass it on to me, so that I can use it to decide for myself how good the book is," what would she say? It would be a good idea for her to have one ready, as reporters are going to start using the book, or McDonald, in stories about her.

There is one regrettable feature of her statement though. Now she can use it to say that she is not commenting on the book or McDonald at all. And the regrettable thing about that is that McDonald cites some things that the average person might be wondering about.

Faytene's statement may fool people into thinking that everything about her in the book is incorrect when it may not be.

And Faytene may never apologize for some things that she has apparently done in public that McDonald reports, such as using the infamous "Hitler youth analogy" sweeping it under the rug of "The entire book is bad!"

"Pay no attention to the youth evangelist behind the curtain. I am OZ!"

(BD here - This is dated May 15/10 and is on the 4MyCanada site. This came in a google alert dated 27/05/10)

Deborah Gyapong, Faytene Kryskow, and "good" versus "better"

[Originally posted at Bene Diction Blogs On, May 22, 2010]

You can read a lot of complaints by conservatives about Marci McDonald’s book The Armageddon Factor. One of the things that they are dismayed about is McDonald’s argument that Canada’s Christian Right is full of extremist theocrats.

I am pretty certain that Deborah Gyapong, the respected Canadian conservative Christian journalist might be one of these people, judging by the various rhetorical assaults that she is making on The Armageddon Factor on her blog.

But as much as I usually like what she has to say, I have to add that in one of her recent blog posts I fear for her that she plays right into McDonald’s hands.

Deborah Gyapong may rightfully complain that not all Christians are extremists…but you couldn’t fault McDonald for thinking so when conservatives fail to use discernment and wisdom.

A few days ago, Gyapong wrote a post entitled Right-wing Christian Conspiracy alert! She makes what I think may be a thoughtful point—namely that if there is a significant social conservative movement in Ottawa, it doesn’t seem to have much influence there. ‘Increasingly, we are confined to the back of the bus” she writes, arguing that conservatives are unfairly subjected to derision.

But before then, she makes some observations about Charles McVety and frequent BDBO subject Faytene Kryskow that will subject conservatives to derision. I don’t know much about McVety, but I think that I may know a little about Kryskow.

Gyapong begins her post with a photo of Faytene (who Gyapong sat next to at the recent Rose Dinner in Ottawa) beside the Archbishop of Ottawa. As Gyapong suggests, Faytene may well be very good at pretending that she has more influence in Ottawa than she does, but if there is no one else who is stepping forward, what else is McDonald to think?

Gyapong writes:

"On a serious note, I don’t know Faytene all that well….

I know Faytene loves Jesus and she loves Israel—for whatever reason, I don’t know, maybe because the Bible says something about blessing those who bless Israel—and I admire her courage and her energy.

I’m disappointed, frankly, that some evangelicals semm to be throwing Faytene under the bus and distancing themselves from her to make sure that they are not perceived as scary because Faytene is. I can’t find the link right now, but if I do I’ll put it in.

And mea culpa. I have distanced myself from Charles McVety in the past because his style has made me uncomfortable and wished he wasn’t always first to get into the mainstream media on this or that topic.

Sorry about that. Right here and now I want to give both Charles and Faytene credit for stepping in and stepping up when sometimes others have just not anticipated where the media puck was going next. Yeah, some of us might wish Charles wasn’t always in the spotlight, but really was anyone else ready to get out in front of that horrible sex education program Dalton McGuinty was going to foist on Ontario? …."

Do I detect a bit of “Great, someone else is on top of this for me. More power to them…” in this?

If someone is not the best spokesman for your cause, why not say “Can someone else do this?”

As I have tried to note several times, there are several things that I like about Faytene Kryskow. She is pious, loves her country and does a lot of conservative work amongst you that I quite like. However, she is also a theocrat and a dominionist, someone who believes that Christians need to take over society so that Jesus may come back. (As compared to someone who tries to be Christlike and serve Jesus in the public sphere, knowing that they need to be faithful to him whether they win or not, whether or not Christ returns while they are alive—because what Christ is asking them to do is the right thing to do.)

What dismays me about Gyapong’s endorsement of Kryskow despite not knowing her “all that well”, is that it is fairly easy to pick up on the extremist theocratic actions, words and goals that Faytene adds to what I think is her laudable conservatism. If she doesn’t care to attend one of Faytene’s CRY events (as I did), she can read Faytene’s books Stand on Guard and Marked, which are larded with her dominionist ideas.

Wouldn’t it be wise to study up on a person before deciding if they are praiseworthy?

Isn’t that what a journalist does?

You could say that Faytene lacks some street smarts. I don’t think that Gyapong would ever use an analogy of citing the Hitler Youth to strike up the idea of a laudable thing that she wants to do. Gyapong knows that this is catnip to a reporter wanting to attack the right, so wouldn’t the right want someone wiser around?

As Gyapong is a journalist, I wonder what she would think of someone who required reporters to ask permission to attend before covering a public event that they were involved in. Would she be suspicious, in a professional way, of someone who grabbed material about her and her doings that she had collected for a story, saying “I don’t want you to have those!”

That sort of treatment of the press sets off alarms for me.

I can empathize with Gyapong’s desire that someone step up for the right. But I think that Gyapong also knows the need to not settle for “good” when you can have “better”.

Lauding Kryskow plays right into the hands of critics who want to crown Kryskow as “Miss Christian Right in Canada”, when there are many Christians who look askance at some of the things that Kryskow believes.

Gyapong begins her remarks on Faytene by noting that they probably have different worship styles:

“….I’m a Traditional Anglican, who kneels a lot, loves the King James Version, recites canticles from the Book of Common Prayer and I am an aspiring Catholic, hoping to be part of an Anglican Ordinate within the Catholic Church soon…"

If you or I were to ask Gyapong about her change of faith, we might say something like this: “Well, isn’t the Anglican church good enough? Doesn’t it “get the job done”?”

Gyapong would, quite rightly, say something like this: “Well, according to my understanding of my faith and the Bible, being an Anglican within the Catholic church is much better. The Anglicans are good, but this linked group with the Catholic church is closer to being exactly right.”

If it is fair for Gyapong to want things “exactly so” in her own faith walk, why can’t the Christian right want the spokesperson or the methodology or the ideology that is “exactly right” for what they want to do? (One which doesn’t, incidentally, allow the McDonald’s of the world to beat the Christian right like a rented mule, *if* they do not deserve it.)

Trying to use discernment and sense in judgment isn’t “friendly fire”, it is wisdom. Which the Bible commends.

Marci McDonald has some explaining to do

[Originally posted at Bene Diction Blogs On, May 21, 2010]

Over the past few days, various bloggers have weighed the errors that are in Marci McDonald's book, and whether they affect the validity of her argument.

Well, it can't help her efforts when she quotes someone and what was actually written is the opposite of what she says it was in her book.

Enter Terry O'Neill, conservative journalist. [And full disclosurewise, my former boss at the Report newsmagazines and someone I continue to greatly respect.]

Terry has always been interested in pro-life causes and volunteers his skills to a certain extent. Back on May 21, 2009, he wrote an op-ed piece for the National Post about the pro-life group Signal Hill in B.C.. The group had been commended by Preston Manning for adotping a new communications strategy of emphasizing "service education and compassion", "aiming, not for Canadian minds, but for their hearts."

He wrote, emphasis mine:

John Stackhouse in the National Post

[Originally posted at Bene Diction Blogs On, May 21]

John Stackhouse's comments on the Marci McDonald book have proved of interest to the National Post. A version of his earlier remarks has been put up at the newspaper's website this afternoon.

Friday, July 02, 2010

A Tory cabinet minister's comments on faith in politics

In a fortnight where the media is abuzz with talk about Marci McDonald's book on the Canadian Christian right, surely a must-cover event would be a gathering yesterday that was sponsored by the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada and the Canadian Council of Churches. Especially since Indian Affairs Minister Chuck Strahl, a professed Christian, spoke. Perfect time for a follow-up story on the subject, served up on a plate for reporters.

Apparently not. The Google News cache for Chuck Strahl, as I write, mostly notes his recent annoucements about Nunavut and the Yukon. Nothing about this.

But fortunately for us, the noted conservative, Christian journalist Deborah Gyapong was there. And her report of what Strahl said, on her own blog, is interesting in the midst of the recent media swirl.

Chuck Strahl began with getting his own dig in at the media fuss: "You never hear complaints about the role of atheists in the public square." He then, according to Gyapong, sounded quite unlike a dominionist or theocrat.

Strahl, she reports, went on to question the media's balance in regards to Christianity. But at the same time, she paraphrases him as saying that while it would be wrong for him to forget his own faith it would also be wrong to force his moral perspective on others through legislation.

"Christians should be the first ones to reach out and help others and the last ones to legislate from their faith perspective," she quotes Strahl as saying. "Jesus brole a lot of hearts when he made it clear he was not here to establish his kingdom here on earth."

"This is not a theocracy and Christians don't want one," Strahl added.

I've quoted a bit from her item...but please read her whole post. Hopefully she can forgive my intention that no one else miss this.

I cite this because I think that Gyapong, in her many years of covering politicians and other Christians is not surprised by folks like Strahl who ostensibly try to be fair-minded and reasonable in what they do. While many who fear the Christian right might think that this might be a "cover story", Gyapong might, in turn, respond that the majority of Christians active in and around politics that she meets act much as Strahl does.

I'll bet that Gyapong has an educated guess why it could come to pass why these Strahl remarks might prove newsworthy to her but not to others. I'll bet that I know what that guess is too. But I will let her share that with you, if you visit her blog, and she wants to explain.

I expect to be disagreeing with Gyapong in a future post, but for now I won't deny that her "news nose" can certainly sniff.

"Marci McDonald just makes stuff up" writes Ezra Levant

{Originally posted at Bene Diction Blogs On, May 20, 2010]

There probably will be a bit of a splash following Ezra Levant's op-ed in the National Post this morning.

However, the conservative activist is doing something that may be of use to non-conservative readers too--citing factual errors in The Armageddon Factor.

He cites "dozens" that he has found, but quotes only a few, which I will be adding to BDBO's own running post of McDonald errata when I have a moment.

Although I would agree with Ezra's critics on the left that it is naughty to scrub one's blog of mistakes without apologizing for them, Levant's efforts in his op-ed moves towards both "sides" in this affair getting to the meat of the matter, namely what exactly is reported accurately and what, if anything may be discounted, which I think is useful.

A Marci McDonald round-up part 2: electric boogaloo

[Originally posted at Bene Diction Blogs On, May 19, 2010]

At this rate, more words might soon be used to report and comment on Marci McDonald's new book on Canada's Christian Right, The Armageddon Factor, than are used in the book itself.

Here are some things that I think may be of interest.

Indirect coverage continues in the press. Frances Russell of the Winnipeg Free Press quotes a pollster to the effect that Harper may be tossing pro-lifers in the religious right a bone merely to solidify his base. Chantal Hebert, the noted Toronto Star political reporter, notices the book, and the big pro-kife rally in Ottawa earlier this week, and decides that this means that social conservatives are determined that the abortion issue may be re-opened, whether Stephen Harper wants the issue to be raised or not.

Staying in Toronto, Toronto Sun columnist Lorrie Goldstein is back with a follow-up column on their item from earlier this week, which asks if those who fear political christians had a problem with those clerics who used a "social gospel" to advance a political end.

And speaking of following up, it makes sense that National Post columnist Davd Frum, who assailed The Armageddon Factor in the newspaper a few days ago would ask one of the editors of his US website to quote Ezra Levant as saying the book is "laughable."

Not all the new attention towards the book is from the right. A progressive blogger invites their readers to compare Tommy Douglas, and similar Christians of the past, to Christians from the other side. Which, they ask, is more Christ-like?

McDonald's book, happily, is bringing foward some ostensibly non-partisan thinking on the issue of how powerful the religious should be in politics. Margaret Somerville, the Director of the McGill Centre for Medicine, Ethics and Law argues for letting all points of vire be weighed in this op-ed. Should that link not work, she appears to have written similarly in the Ottawa Citizen in an op-ed that has now been picked up by the Montreal Gazette.

John Carpay, whom I first met when he was prearing to run against Svend Robinson for the Reform Party in 1993, is now the executive director of the Canadian Constitution Federation. In one of his regular Calgary Herald columns, he asks, not unreasonably, that if the religious right is as powerful in Ottawa as McDonald argues, why can't it get what it wants?

Last but not least, I would suggest that Gerry Nichols, formerly of the very conservative National Citizens Coalition, makes a valid point in a National Post blog item.

He writes:

....I worked with Harper for five years (1997-2002) at the National Citizens Coalition. During all the time I knew him, he never displayed an ounce of zealotry. He never even talked about religion. He did, however, talk a lot about the intersection of religion and politics. And his views in those days would probably shock Marci McDonald.

Harper did not have much affinity for social conservatives. He viewed them as "culturally isolated" and a dwindling political force in Canada. That's why he also believed a conservative political party would be successful only if it talked less about social and moral issues, and more about economic and fiscal issues. In other words, he was a libertarian.....

....Harper's strategy has been pretty simple. To keep social conservatives happy, he likes to make symbolic moves. These pleases religious types, but doesn't set off alarm bells in the rest of the country."

Of course, one could say that Harper is often criticized from the right for not being conservative enough. But I would suggest to McDonald that the question of how much the "religious right" will be able to get now and in the future might be a crucial test of how correct her thesis winds up being.

I know that people on the right will cite "well...when push comes to shove..." and I am looking forward to reading what sort of answer McDonald has to that.

Lee Grady decries "epidemic of moral failure"

[Originally posted at Bene Diction Blogs On, May 18, 2010]

J. Lee Grady, former editor of Charisma magazine, has been conducting a series of interviews about his recently published book The Holy Spirit is Not For Sale.

The latest, with the Religious News Service in the U.S., was picked up by the Huffington Post website a few days ago.

Says Grady in the interview:

"We can have the gifts of the Holy Spirit in operation without this circus sideshow going on....I'm waving my hands in the air because this is a huge problem, and we are going to experience even more serious problems in our churches if we don't know how to apply godly discipline to our wayward leaders."

Marci McDonald in the Vancouver Sun

[Originally psoted at Bene Diction Blogs On, May 18, 2010]

The Vancouver Sun's respected religion reporter/columnist Douglas Todd has a piece on The Armageddon Factor in the newspaper today.

Judging by his comments and tone, I would guess that he thinks that the book is useful and good.

A Marci McDonald media round-up

[Originally posted at Bene Diction Blogs On, May 17, 2010]

The Marci McDonald book The Armageddon Factor has been continuing to get some print and internet media mentions. Here are some links, which also point to a simmering interest about the book.

Git' along little media dogies...

On the left, I neglected to mention that the Canadian Dimension magazine had a fairly lengthy opinion piece which touched on the religious right in Canada, with a mention of the McDonald book, by Murray Dobbin. Dobbin followed it up over the weekend in the progressive B.C. news blog The Tyee, with a Tyee article specifically about the book, which leads Dobbin to wonder whether the social conservatives in Ottawa are getting an influence over Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff. "Here's the tragic irony:" he writes "a high percentage of right-wing Christians vote. Why? To ensure that democracy, the deification of man, is gradually diminished."

McDonald's book sprung from a cover story in The Walrus, so it is natural that the magazine would do an online interview with her, which appeared over the past few days. Amongst her observations? Preston Manning may be more influential now than in his days in formal politics.

McDonald was also given fairly sympathetic treatment in a Calgary Herald interview as well.

She's noticed the blogsophere's response, according to the Calgary Herald piece. Emphasis mine:

"....Even before it was released on Tuesday, the book has had the fringe right frothing on the blogosphere.

“It’s not my part to represent one side or the other of the real debate that should be taking place in this country,” she says. “I’m not going to argue for or against a greater role of religion in government. I can certainly warn of the pitfalls and I can say that this is the building and here is some of the examples."

Yes, I think I probably will be pilloried, and I think I’m being pilloried, in the blogosphere. That’s not unexpected and I hope I can take it with good grace and we can all end up having somewhat civilized conversations out of it.....”

Also in the media, the Globe and Mail's review of the book, written by a PhD student in religious history, argues that McDonald's approach to theology and history may be too simplistic.

The Hill Times, Parliament Hill's newspaper, has a story on the book, but unfortunately, it's "only the first couple sentences are free" online.

Moving towards the right, Toronto Sun columnist Lorrie Goldstein "who is pro-choice and Jewish" shares many of the concerns that conservatives have shared about the book so far. He also adds a new nuance--he also writes about a so-con minister he knows in Toronto who is helping the poor in Toronto's less genteel areas and seem to ask an implied question, "But I know a Christian activist who is kind and non-theocratic--how does this jibe with the book?"

This sort of observation is at the level of most people who know lots of, well, Christ-like Christians. McDonald may need to counter this in some way.

A conservative columnist in the Guelph Mercury newspaper, I think, may be sharing similar concerns. In a column, Keith Knight argues that shunning the religious right may not be the sort of tolerance that Canadians traditionally are supposed to espouse:

If we were a truly tolerant society, we would be mutually tolerant. We would expect the Conservative government to promote and espouse conservative values, and we’d respect the right of Canadians to embrace those values. We would expect the Liberal government to promote and espouse liberal values and we wouldn’t be surprised or upset when the “radical left” infiltrated the party hierarchy. We would also respect the right of the Bloc Quebecois to exist and we similarly tolerate all those French-Canadians who choose to vote for them.

But would this "classical liberal" stance work with the type of people that McDonald discusses in her book? Read the book for yourself and decide...

Was Faytene Kryskow's Hitler Youth quote accurate then?

(Originally posted at Bene Diction Blogs On, May 15, 2010]

Youth evangelist Faytene Kryskow has a letter in today's National Post newspaper, seeking a correction in Don Martin's column about The Armageddon Factor, which mentions her.

You may remember that about a week or so ago now that I was amazed to read what Marci McDonald apparently heard when hearing Faytene Kryskow speak in Toronto at the March 2008 Toronto Missionfest.

McDonald reports:

Winding up her spiel at Missionfest, she summons the crowd to political activism with an unusual pitch. “Imagine an army of young people, five million strong,” she says. “Imagine their passion to arise as a youth force that effectively decided who would get elected to political office–a force so powerful that it literally began to change their nation.” Her audience is warming to her message when it takes a bizarre turn. “This actually happened,” They called themselves the Hitler Youth and they changed the face of their nation and the world.” As her listeners sit in stunned silence, she delivers her closing call to arms: “If they could mobilize their cause to become that mighty with the power of evil backing them,” she tells the crowd, “how much more could we accomplish with the power of God backing us up.”

National Post columnist Don Martin was also stunned that Faytene could be so misguided as to make such a reference, and led off his column on the book with this reference, and made a couple other remarks about Kryskow as well.

Well, today Faytene Kryskow has a letter in the National Post asking for a correction and mentioning that she is going to make a formal written complaint to Random House Canada, McDonald's publisher.

I don't know if the National Post's editors edited her letter severely for length, but what I find odd is that she is disputing whether she has met Stockwell Day at his home (as reported in McDonald's book and quoted in the Martin item.) Certainly she has a right to have that fixed...but isn't it strange that she has nothing to say about the quote which led his column?

If I hadn't used a dumb analogy to the Hitler Youth, that is the first thing that I would be citing as that is the most damaging to my own causes. But Kryskow lets it pass, assuming she didn't say anything about it in an unedited letter to the newspaper.

Is Faytene hoping that people will assume that since she may have spotted one error, that by implication everything is incorrect, including the original report of the "Hitler Youth" gaffe? Perhaps she may want to brazen this through, without apologizing.

I believe that Don Martin is much wiser than I am, and has noticed this for himself.

The Marci McDonald-Kari Simpson steel cage match is set for June 8

{Originally posted at Bene Diction Blogs On, May 14, 2010]

Author Marci McDonald will probably wind up having a debate on an Internet radio program with a lady that she critiqued in her book. And Kari Simpson is "loaded for bear".

Simpson, a conservative activist out here in B.C., hosts an internet radio show called Roadkill Radio. [In the in the interest of full disclosure her usual co-host on the show--who phoned in to the episode that I will be mentioning below--is distinguished conservative journalist Terry O'Neill, whom I have had great respect for since he was my editor at the various Report newsmagazines.]

Roadkill Radio for this week came out on the same day as McDonald's book. Simpson and her substitute host (former Christian Heritage Party leader Ron Gray) began the first five or so minutes of the program by being greatly amused, in a tongue-in-cheek way, that Simpson rated a mention in The Armageddon Factor.

Later on the program, when my old editor Terry O'Neill phoned in, the three of them started to talk about the book in a more serious way. (If You are interested, this is at "Show 63, Download Part 2", starting at the 13:56 mark here).

The three conservatives see the book as being "hysterical" and "paranoid", but they do make a point that I think that folks beside me may be interested in.

Bene D, quoting the Bridgeway Foundation earlier this week, quoted them citing some factual errors in The Armageddon Factor. And Kari Simpson, on her radio show, spotted one too.

The second paragraph of page 214 of the book starts like this, talking about Simpson:

"Now the co-host of the syndicated right-wing webcast Roadkill Radio...Simpson..." .

The problem being, as Simpson would tell you, is that you have to log on to Roadkill Radio to listen to her show. It's not "syndicated".

Simpson also goes on to say that, contrary to the implication of McDonald's section on her, she doesn't object to homosexuality between consenting adults. 'I don't think it's the state's business," she said.

My old boss, Terry O'Neill was led to observe that if the rest of the book has many similar mistakes: "It's Random Facts instead of Random House."

As I am still reading the book, I don't want to comment on McDonald's thesis. But Terry makes what I think is a very good point. If a writer is not careful about facts, you could fairly argue that they may not be careful in their arguments derived from the mistaken facts.

If the right fact-checks the book heavily--will it undermine what McDonald has to say?

I'm guessing that Kari Simpson will avidly read the book, pencil in hand, because McDonald has agreed to be a guest on Roadkill Radio on June 8.

Until then, conservative critics of the book will be looking for errors in The Armageddon Factor. Bet on it.

It's not the first time that McDonald will be on at the same time as one of the people she critiques as she appeared with Joseph Ben-Ami on a CTV broadcast yesterday. But if McDonald follows through on her promise to appear on Roadkill Radio, it may be the feistiest exchange about the book yet.

[I have no part of the show, by the way. I just like a good debate. :) ]

Marci McDonald: "demonizing" the Christian right not her goal

{Originally posted at Bene Diction Blogs On, May 13, 2010]

In a brand new interview, Marci McDonald is paraphrased as saying that "demonizing" the Christian right in Canada was not her goal when writing The Armageddon Factor.

The "so-hot-off-the-presses-you need gloves" piece is written by Lloyd Mackey, the veteran Ottawa jouranalist (and former editor of the B.C. Christian News) who writes for

He begins his article on the book with this:

THE IDEAS of "Christian nationalist" leaders are presented as a "dark and dangerous vision" in Marci McDonald's new book, The Armageddon Factor: The Rise of Christian Nationalism in Canada (Random House).

But in her first post-release interviews, given after the book was launched May 11, McDonald softened her stance, pointing out that she has no intention of "demonizing" right-leaning Christians.

Pressed to say as much as she wanted about her faith, she told that she is, indeed, a Christian.

However, she emphasized, "I am not a polemicist . . . but a reporter. I am not an atheist. I believe that faith is a strong motivator for some of the finest actions in public life."

McDonald said she sees herself as a "centrist" politically, and acknowledged that there "might be some issues" espoused by the religious right, with which "I would agree."

He goes on to do a bit of a review and summary of the book, and explores, a little, McDonald's own religious background.

She does mention, deep in the book, that she is a "christian" and Mackey's probing comfirms my own guess that she attends a more centrist demonination and could perhaps be described as a "small-l liberal Christian"

I'd like to know the quotes relating to "demonizing", though. I trust Mackey's paraphrase, but I wonder what she said. Whether it was something along with lines of "I intended to be fair and not have an axe to grind." or instead. "'Demonizing' would not apply here as they *are*..."

I think, though, given the reaction of the online right to the book so far, that McDonald might be wanting to reinforce her "moderate" status through the answers she is giving. She may be moderate, but I can see her critics on the right saying "Too bad for us that it doesn't come across in your book."

Mackey's own opinions are useful too. he is the author of a 2005 book The Pilgrimmage of Stephen Harper. The book studies what I would say is --based on reading it--Harper's moderately conservative evangelical faith.

I believe that Mackey's sense of McDonald's thesis, given his own research, might have some weight.

Doesn't mean *all* Christians, I hope

[Originally posted at Bene Diction Blogs On, May 13, 2010]

Two quick items that I spotted on blogs today, for what they are worth, as they say.

Brian Lilley, a radio reporter back east who also writes for the conservative internet site in the U.S., may have seen something interesting in Marci McDonald's book.

On his radio station's blog he writes that a passerby in Ottawa asked "Is that the book?" which means that it big big news there.

He's following the right's early meme that the book seems paranoid. (Me? Not finished the book yet.). But he does make one point that all might want to consider when reading the book.

I quote his blog:

On page 352 of her book the author chastises the Liberals and NDP for reaching out to religious voters who tilt the left politically. Specifically McDonald takes issue with Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff tapping long time MP and Evangelical, John McKay, to reach out to faith groups that used to vote for the Liberals but have left the party. The NDP's decision to bring about a faith and justice caucus is wrong in McDonald's eyes.

"Rather that creating a riposte to the religious right, they may simply have pre-empted their parties' ability to critique the increasing Christianization of the public square. If so, they are helping to ensure that religion remains an irrevocable force in Canadian politics, regardless of whether Stephen Harper is tossed out of office."

I don't think that people who fear the Christian right mean this. Surely, those who conduct politics in a Christlike and non-extremist way would be welcome.

He goes on to note the "social gospel" tinged history of the NDP--which has had several ministers and lay church members active in their politics. Lots of change for the good.

McDonald can't mean that any Christian wanting to be active in politics should be discouraged, can she? Surely she means only the extremist right? And they wouldn't join the NDP or Liberals.

I sincerely hope I find some quotes in the book that that is not what she means. If it is, the right will pick up on this, surely.

The blogger at BigCityLib, who also has yet to read the book, thinks that Lilley may have a point. The blogger says they have often written critically about the Christian right, but suspects, offering evidence, that they might be less powerful in Ottawa than McDonald suspects. All that has been done so far can be fixed by a new Liberal government.

Brian Stiller weighs in on the McDonald book

[Originally posted at Bene Diction Blogs On, May 13, 2010]

In Marci McDonald's new book, Brian Stiller, who served as leader of the Evaneglical Fellowship of Canada from 1983 to 1997, is viewed with some apporoval.

She writes about him at some length, approving of his caution that Canadians avoid the excesses of the American evangelical right.

Well, it may be of some interest that he doesn't fully return the favor. Stiller, after reading the excerpt of her book that ran in the Toronto Star last week, has some concerns with her arguments. Along with some letters from other Star readers, his letter to the newspaper ran today.

His letter, if you are interested, is the second one down.

Deborah Gyapong on ants and Marci McDonald

[Originally posted at Bene Diction Blogs on, May 12, 2010]

Deborah Gyapong, the noted Canadian conservative journalist, continues to be dismayed with what she sees as the "you scratch my back..." press coverage of Marci McDonald's book.

I mention this to thank her for her mention of my post from yesterday. I couldn't make this comment on her blog.

If she is trying to comment, at my expense, that more than so-cons attended the National Prayer Breakfast yesterday, she would of course be quite correct. However, I might also be correct in that you'd expect to see mostly so-cons of various faiths. Lots of Christians, too, which would make it a good news peg if you were publishing McDonald's book.

No matter, I'll be keeping an eye out for other thoughtful things she may have to say. But, I am happy to help Bene D, the main fellow here at Bene Diction Blogs On, try to report on all that's going on with the reaction to the book.

(The Armageddon Factor? I probably will have some grave issues with the book once I finish it. I suspect that Deborah Gyapong and I might agree on some things about it...given the many years that I happily reported for a living, with a conservative point of view.)

Faytene's Hitler Youth analogy dismays National Post columnist

[Originally posted at Bene Diction Blogs On, May 12, 2010]

Two mentions of Marci McDonald's book on the National Post's blog section of their website. The conservative national newspaper might have run these "Full Comment" items in the actual newspaper as well.

Charles Lewis listened to The Current interview of McDonald yesterday, and thought that it was a case of two people with the same world view talking to each other.

Although I was a few days before National Post columnist Don Martin noticing that infamous Faytene Kryskow quote that compared the good that she hopes to do to the, erm, Hitler Youth, that is probably only due to my getting the book earlier.

It's only a matter of time before others in the media look at the various things that Faytene says and does and go "Whaaa". She's losing the opportunity to change her ways, and thinking, before reporters take her behind the woodshed.

Don Martin does a fairly even-handed column about the book, but he leads off with this:
There’s a particularly bizarre analogy in a just-released book on Canada's religious right, in which a youth evangelist with strong connections to the federal Conservatives compares her Christian followers to the Hitler Youth.

"If they could mobilize their cause to become that mighty with the power of evil backing them," militant evangelical Faytene Kryskow says, "how much more could we accomplish with the power of God backing us up?"

Yikes. Here’s some free and friendly advice, Faytene. If you aim to lead your Christian soldiers onward into political war, drop all Nazi references. Please.

I wonder if Faytene Kryskow will issue an apology. Or a libel writ.

The Marci McDonald book, round one. *ding*

[Originally posted at Bene Diction Blogs On, May 11, 2010]

Today is the day that Marci McDonald's book on the Christian Right in Canada, "The Armageddon Factor" is released. And we have a de facto confirmation, via the press release for the book, that the book's release was targeted for the same day as the National Prayer Breakfast in Ottawa, where various social conservatives gathered to eat, pray and hang out together.

Smart planning on Random House Canada's part. It makes it easier for news reporters to cover either the book or the prayer breakfast, as the "news peg" to talk about either has been provided for the assignment editors.

I wonder if we'll see or hear, later today, reporters walking up to one of the prayer breakfast participants and asking something like "McDonald's book says such and such about you, do you have anything to say. Oh, and you can clean up the coffee that you just spilled on your lap before we start to film." :)

I'd suggest that you keep you eyes peeled, with TV perhaps choosing to get footage at the prayer breakfast and then, even in a day or two, leading into a story this way, "...but this lady who has just written a book that says...."

CBC Radio's The Current has an interview today with McDonald talking about her book. It's part two of their program.

Antonia Zerbisias also chimes in today with a Toronto Star story on the book. Zerbisias, I can mention, is a bete noire of the Canadian online right. She often makes the right annoyed by her very progressive points of view. (if Zerbisias likes...they probably won't.)

This reminds me of a comment I made a few days ago, to the effect that if a writer or editor had been looking for an excuse to write about Canada's Christian Right, the book gives them a reason to. And those, like Zerbisias, who are themselves inclined to dislike the "fairly radical groups" that McDonald decries, have a newsy reason to express their dislike.

We'll see the right respond, as they have a chance to read. They might touch on some of the things that Deborah Gyapong, the respected conseravtive Christian writer and blogger, writes on her blog to respond to the Toronto Star excerpt from the book. Her argument that not all Christians are theocrats is persuasive, and something that I may agree with when I am finished with the book myself.

Given that all this is out mere hours after the book's release, we can expect other stories too. I'll be keeping my eyes peeled as well.

Let's get ready to (rhetorically) rumble

[Originally posted at Bene Diction Blogs On, May 10, 2010]

A quick mention. Lots of internet talk amongst my friends and acquaintances on the right, based on the Toronto Star article that Bene D posted last week, that the McDonald book is sloppy and poorly argued. She will be in for a fight.

My opinion? Doesn't look good from my first perspective...but I want to give it a careful read first.

But I did think it odd that Ezra Levant, who is Jewish, was included in the book. So did Ezra, as he notes in this cutting post on his own blog, which I think might be typical of some to follow.

One thing is clear though, with so much chatter about a book before it's release tommorrow, the fur is going to fly.

Time for me to don a tuxedo, stand at the middle of the boxing ring, pull a microphone down and announce "Ladieeeessss and Gentlemeeeeen...."

Faytene Kryskow talked about another Hitler Youth?!?

[Originally posted at Bene Diction Blogs On, May 9, 2010]

Whatever I might eventually say about Marci McDonald's new book, The Armageddon Factor, which I have two days before its release on the 11th, I have to admit that she has a heck of an ear for a newsworthy quote.

So much so that I almost called this post "Why Faytene Kryskow may sue Marci McDonald for libel."

I'll explain about what I found in McDonald's new book attacking Canada's Christian right....

I'll need to preface this by saying that I would categorically say that neither Faytene or her followers are Nazis in any way, shape, or form. What follows is a ghastly gaffe on Kryskow's part.

But her luck run out. Assuming that McDonald heard her correctly, assuming that she was rolling tape and has proof that that was what was said, assuming that Faytene Kryskow didn't apologize then or later...well McDonald has caught Kryskow in an act of dumbness that may cause her carefully cultivated Tory friends to start backing away from her.

To reiterate, Kryskow does not sit around her house wearing lederhosen and reading Mein Kampf. But McDonald is quite right to cite her for being very very thoughtless.

McDonald is in the audience at the March 2008 Toronto Missionfest. Faytene Kryskow is speaking to a large plenary audience as McDonald recalls on page 152 of her book:
Winding up her spiel at Missionfest, she summons the crowd to political activism with an unusual pitch. "Imagine an army of young people, five million strong," she says. "Imagine their passion to arise as a youth force that effectively decided who would get elected to political office--a force so powerful that it literally began to change their nation." Her audience is warming to her message when it takes a bizarre turn. "This actually happened," They called themselves the Hitler Youth and they changed the face of their nation and the world." As her listeners sit in stunned silence, she delivers her closing call to arms: "If they could mobilize their cause to become that mighty with the power of evil backing them," she tells the crowd, "how much more could we accomplish with the power of God backing us up."

You could argue that she is trying to use a variant of the "Hitler built the autobahns, so we, being good..." argument. But these days, and properly so, any comparison to the Nazis invites thinking of evil, diabolical cunning and such is both parts of your comparison. That's why Stephen Harper, say, wouldn't use it.

Why mention this?

If Kryskow is not quoted totally accurately, I would predict that McDonald and her publishing company will probably be sued for libel. If that were to happen, sales of the book would be hampered, as Random House Canada either refused to ship the book, to save their necks, or started pulling it off the shelves.

Truth is an ironclad defense, but you'd be left wondering "What happened to that book that I read about on BDBO?"

Kryskow is not going to comment on the book at all. Watch for her to issue an apology for this--if she hasn't already done so--and disappear for a bit. (Yes, the quote is a couple years old, but I don't think you can brazen it out...)

("Why did she cancel her appearance at my church the week after that book came out?")

Her carefully cultivated allies, mostly in the Tory Party, are going to wonder what goes on in her head, if nothing else.

The left, either in blogdom or in the newsroom, would, I am sure, have noticed this. I just happened to do so first.

Bloggers on the right might be tempted to say "This is a clear case of bias. She talks about so many things that McDonald saw, and this is what she quotes. Hardly representative. Not objective at all." And they might be right...but at the same time anyone who has worked in a newsroom would say: "I would say that it is newsworthy to compare what you hope for, in a left-handed way--to the Nazis."

McDonald, for her part, hates the Christian Right, it is fair to say.But she must have seen Kryskow as a godsend for her thesis. Want someone to say that the Christian right wants to take over the world? Kryskow obliges. And any left leaning reporter would jump all over a reference to the Nazis by a conservative person if it is not handled exactly right. (I bet that Kryskow will learn this now, the hard way.)

Well, if libel writs start flying, or Kryskow decides that she needs an immediate vacation, you will know exactly why.

Faytene, theocrat queen of the sock puppets? :)

[Originally posted at Bene Diction Blogs On, May 8, 2010]

One person who won’t be happy with the release of Marci McDonald’s The Armageddon Factor is youth evangelist and activist Faytene Kryskow. Before Faytene unplugs her phone and takes the bus out of town, I would like to make a quick note about some of how she is treated in the book. She gets mentioned on 38 pages—about a tenth of the book—and also has most of a chapter to herself.

“Gosh, thanks”, Faytene might think, as she is one of McDonald’s bĂȘte noires.

As readers might guess, Kryskow is a person whom I would admit that McDonald would have a valid reason to be apprehensive about. But there’s more. In McDonald’s mind, not only is The CRY a perhaps aberrant youth event, Kryskow might even be a main ideological spokesman for the “Christian nationalist” movement that the author fears.

McDonald writes (page 15):

“But The CRY is not merely another pro-life rally attempting to storm Parliament Hill. Its agenda is much broader and far more radical; Nothing less than restructuring Canada as a devoutly Christian nation government by Biblical literalists according to principles selectively plucked from the Old and New Testaments. That theocratic vision provides the underpinnings for a new Christian nationalist movement emerging in the capital, where Kryskow has become its most public face, the winsome front for a handful of militant evangelical groups determined to infiltrate the political system and, as she puts it, “reclaim Canada for Christ”

McDonald also goes on to note the informal ties between Faytene Kryskow and other dominionist-minded people in the U.S., as I did when writing about The CRY Vancouver last year. She also notes, as I did, how Kryskow’s closest political friends all seem to be Tories.

You may also recall that I speculated at the time that if Kryskow wasn’t as theocratic as she makes herself seem that she needed to work at publicly changing and recanting some of the more extreme things that she has said. I also wondered whether it was wise for the church to stand aside and let her be the only or main voice of passionate Christian youth in the country.

I would have hated to have Faytene learn and grow out of her dominionist ideas at the hands of the secular media, but now, thanks to McDonald, this might start to happen. McDonald briefly quotes where Faytene has written about “taking over”, which might lead some reporters to go “Whaaaa?” The fox is afoot and the hounds may start to bark.

I am sure that there are many in Ottawa and elsewhere who are happy that Kryskow is a witness for conservative Christian values in the public sphere. But they would be aghast with her dominionist ideas. Well, thanks to the new book, it may be getting too late for them to make a distinction to the effect of “This, we love about Faytene, but this…well…” McDonald, looking for a public face to represent all the diverse elements of the Christian Right, believes she has found one.

Most of Chapter 5 is devoted to a profile of Kryskow and brief explanations of some things she has done and believes. She has a critical eye. She notes that she was refused permission to attend one of Faytene’s events and that Kryskow even snatched back some CDs of hers that McDonald had bought from her book table. “I don’t want you to have those,” Faytene reportedly said, refunding her money.

She has managed to come across a couple of very interesting things about Kryskow.

I was unaware that Kryskow was reportedly healed through a prayer by my favorite evangelist Todd Bentley. (Best not to play that up, Faytene!)

Also McDonald records how she teaches her young followers to lobby MPs about issues that she, and presumably they, should be concerned about.
“On, ablaze with hyper-patriotic graphics and red maple leaves,” writes McDonald, “she leaves no room for misguided civic passion or error: she lists ‘bills we are watching’, and lays out the desired response step by step, even providing printable postcards and petition forms.”

As a former journalist and present blogger, I would be more than happy to have people share their views with the public and their politicians. However, its rightly frowned on when an avalanche of canned, prewritten responses flow hither and yon and people don’t take the time to formulate their own thoughts in their own way.

No doubt McDonald was thinking that in addition to encouraging young conservatives to get involved, they should also be encouraged not to be parrots (“Polly want Bill C-350, Waaaack! *whistles*” :) ). Is there a reason why the youth need not think through what they believe, and then send in the mail?

If I even think this is not a good thing, I’ m certain that McDonald would not either, if I follow her logic.