Friday, July 02, 2010

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...