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MONDAY, JULY 04, 2011

HARPER'S DREAMS, OUR NIGHTMARES

Hogan

HOGAN

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On the suggestion from Margaret Atwood, who wrote in her 2008 Massey Lectures, Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth, "Since politicians, at least in the English-speaking West, are showing an increasing tendency to drag religion into politics, it would seem fair for the electorate to be able to question them on their own theological views", I'd like to ask Stephen Harper, in Atwood's words,

"Do you believe that you personally are irrevocably saved, that any graft, fraud, lying, torturing, or other criminal activities you may engage in are fully justified because you're one of the Elect and can do no wrong, that to the pure such as yourself all things are pure, and that the vast majority of those you say you wish to represent as their political leader are vile and worthless and predestined to fry in hell, so why should you give a damn about them?"

Harper's favourite book is undoubtedly The Bible, which is, in part, why Yann Martel wrote to Harper, during his nearly 4-year-long book club with him:

"Because that has been the whole point of our literary duet, hasn’t it? If you haven’t read, now or earlier, any of the books I have suggested, or books like them, if you haven’t read The Death of Ivan Ilych or any other Russian novel, if you haven’t read Miss Julia or any other Scandinavian play, if you haven’t read Metamorphosis or any other German-language novel, if you haven’t read Waiting for Godot or To the Lighthouse or any other experimental play or novel, if you haven’t read Artists and Models or any other erotica, if you haven’t read the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius or The Educated Imagination or any other philosophical inquiry, if you haven’t read Under Milk Wood or any other poetic prose, if you haven’t read Their Eyes Were Watching God or Drown or any other American novel, if you haven’t read The Cellist of Sarajevo or The Island Means Minago or The Dragonfly of Chicoutimi or any other Canadian novel, poem or play—then what is your mind made of? What materials went into the building of the dreams you have for our country? What is the colour, the pattern, the rhyme and reason of your imagination? These are not questions one is usually entitled to ask, but once someone has power over me, then, yes, I do have the right to probe your imagination, because your dreams may become my nightmares."

Or, if Harper were interested in a more humane interpretation of Christianity and of democracy (two things he is obviously not interested in), he might feel less comfortable with his own taste for autocracy, and agree with the great Canadian literary, biblical and social critic Northrop Frye, who was also a United Church minister:

"Democracy was not founded on a maudlin enthusiasm for the common man, but on an inference from original sin: that men and are not fit to be trusted with too much power."

If Harper's political policies regarding gay marriage, crime and punishment, scientific research, etc. are influenced by his religious beliefs, then we have a right, maybe even a duty, to question him on those religious beliefs, and hit him where it might potentially hurt him the most: right in his soul...that is, if he has one left.
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