Saturday, July 03, 2010

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.