Tuesday, December 18, 2007

My Grandmother

I went to a friend's Birthday celebration yesterday and missed the phone call my parents made to inform me that my grandmother, Jean Beekman, had passed away on Sunday night. In fact, I did not get the message until this morning. The message did not come as a shock, as her health had been steadily and painfully declining for some time. A sudden affliction of mouth cancer more than two years ago had left her with no choice but to be fed intravenously. This severely limited her mobility as she had to be fed three hours for every meal every day. My grandmother was a woman of great strength and courage, but she was only able to hold off the effects of such a prolonged battle for so long.

The entire ordeal was very difficult for my grandfather, especially in the last few months. My aunts and uncles and my mother also had quite a bit of pain and worry. Her death, which occurred peacefully while she was sleeping, relieves the pain of watching her suffer. Although we have comfort in knowing she has moved on to a place of incomparable joy and beauty, we still mourn the loss of the joy and beauty she brought to our lives. She survived the Depression and the Nazi-occupied Netherlands, she struggled alongside her husband to cobble a life together in a new land, she reached a level of assurance with the English language that few immigrants master, she raised five children, found great joy in spoiling all eight of her grandchildren, and she even had the opportunity to hold her first great-grandchild, Owen Langelaar. My grandmother was a Scrabble champion, a great chef, a loving mother and grandmother, and a woman whose strength of spirit was only surpassed by her love for her family and friends.

Grandma, I miss you so much.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


This is a poem that has no purpose
beyond promoting the use of Sherpas
for international climbing expeditions
to avoid search and rescue missions

Mount Everest is the highest point on earth
in height, this mountain has no dearth
it is 29,035 feet into the air
that's 8,850 metres for those who care

Mr. Edmund Hillary climbed its face
back in '53, and found his historic place
in history as the first man to the summit
without freezing or dying in a plummet

This brings to mind our friend, George
whose frozen body was found in a gorge*
What lesson can we learn from Mr. Mallory
Who remains a footnote in a museum gallery?

Hillary was successful for one good reason
and it was not his choice of climbing season
it was the Sherpa he brought, Mr. Norgay
Yes, Tenzing got Edmund up all the way

Whereas Mr. Mallory died tragically,
Mr. Hillary made it almost magically
with that Sherpa pushing him to the sky
and making sure that he didn't die

This poem really did not have a purpose
beyond promoting the use of Sherpas
for international climbing expeditions
to avoid search and rescue missions

*not really, but call it poetic license

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Song of the Moment: Daniel Lanois - Jolie Louise

Yesterday I went to see Matthew De Zoete in concert again. If you haven't heard his music you can take a gander here: Matthew De Zoete
De Zoete has a song called Mathilde in which he sings in both French and English. Of course, the song is mostly in English, but it reminds me of Daniel Lanois' song "Jolie Louise." Lanois has produced music for such greats as Ron Sexsmith, Bob Dylan, and U2. This often overshadows his own solo work which is also quite good. Daniel Lanois was born in Hull (now Gatineau) but moved to Hamilton, and so he has been influenced by two cities close to my heart. Enjoy the Franglais.

Jolie Louise

Ma jolie, how do you do?
Mon nom est Jean-Guy Thibault-Leroux
I come from east of Gatineau
My name is Jean-Guy, ma jolie

J'ai une maison a Lafontaine
where we can live, if you marry me
Une belle maison a Lafontaine
where we will live, you and me
Oh Louise, ma jolie Louise

Tous les matins au soleil
I will work 'til work is done
Tous les matins au soleil
I did work 'til work was done
And one day, the foreman said
"Jean-Guy, we must let you go"
Et pis mon nom, y est pas bon
at the mill anymore...
Oh Louise, I'm losing my head,
I'm losing my head

My kids are small, 4 and 3
et la bouteille, she's mon ami
I drink the rum 'til I I can't see
It hides the shame Louise does not see
Carousel turns in my head,
and I can't hide, oh no, no, no, no
And the rage turned in my head
and Louise, I struck her down,
down on the ground
I'm losing my mind, I'm losing my mind

En Septembre '63
kids are gone, and so is Louise.
Ontario, they did go
near la ville de Toronto
Now my tears, they roll down,
tous les jours
And I remember the days,
and the promises that we made
Oh Louise, ma jolie Louise, ma jolie Louise

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

A Ridiculous Story

. . . I warned you, it's ridiculous.

. . . If you go beyond this point you will expose yourself to a new level of ludicrity beyond made-up words like "ludicrity"

. . . ok, then, I accept no responsibility

"I would like a book," the woman started, "A book with a blue cover."

The round-headed man at the desk stared at her blankly as a photocopier hummed somewhere behind him.

"Um, Sorry, I guess that's pretty generic," she admitted as she fiddled with her purse strings uncomfortably.

The man continued to stare ahead blankly.

"Well, there's a mystery in the book and there's two brothers who are trying to solve it," she added helpfully.

The man blinked, but otherwise remained impassive.

"They're twins named Joe and something," she continued.

The man's head moved imperceptibly, his leafy hair rustling in the breeze of a humming fan. His hair sprouted from the top of his head in a strange greenish colour which the woman attributed to a bad hair dye.

"The author's name is Dixon, something W. Dixon," she mused as she nervously chewed a long fingernail.

The man's face was a stone wall.

"Franklin! That's it, Franklin!" she laughed, "Franklin W. Dixon . . ."

Her voice trailed off as her sudden inspiration had not inspired anything in the brooding bulk in front of her.

"So maybe you can type the name in your computer and tell me where to find it," she pointed at the computer beside him helpfully.

His stony gaze didn't even flinch.

"They have a friend named Chet and he drives a Jalopey," she offered, an edge in her voice.


"Franklin W. Dixon! Type it into your computer, you moron!" she yelled.

"Excuse me, ma'am, but I resent your tone," the man muttered almost inaudibly.

"Well, I resent you sitting here like some kind of brain-dead tuber while you collect money from the municipal government," the woman jabbed a red fingernail two inches from the man's impassive face.

"I don't work here," the man breathed.

"Then why, might I ask, are you sitting at the librarian's desk?"

"I dunno," the man mumbled.

"You don't know?" the woman queried sharply.


"Are you a, a, ehrm, uh," the woman was speaking gently now, "addicted to drugs?"


" . . . so . . . why are you here?"

"I dunno."

"What's your name?" the woman asked slowly, carefully pronouncing each syllable.

"People call me Brassica Rap L," the man intoned.

"That's an odd name," the woman said in an over-friendly way, the tone many adults reserve for the mentally handicapped or extremely young.

"Not really," the man said, "I share it with millions of others."

"I find that hard to believe. This is the first time I've heard it," the woman shook her head, looking at the expressionless man with a mixture of pity and outright confusion.

Suddenly the man's round forehead became a deep shade of purple, "Maybe you should remember that name the next time you so casually feed my brethren to an overgrown cow!"

The woman jumped back, startled by the sudden animation of the man, "what?"

"Say the name! Say the name Brassica Rap L . . . savour the name of the vegetable you so calmly allow your livestock to consume," the man snarled, his bulbous nose red and his large nostrils flaring like tap roots.

"You're crazy!" the woman gasped.

"Am I?" the man growled, "or is your mind having conniptions at the very idea of a tasty bit of creamed turnips with gravy covered steak or stewed turnips a la francais or some mashed turnips with a side of stuffed turnips smothered in goat cheese? The only crazy person is the one who would think it harmless fun to consume a helpless vegetable."

"You think you're a turnip?" the woman asked incredulously.

"You did not think it so ridiculous to call me a tuber a minute ago," the man argued.

"I-I . . ." the woman stuttered and then trailed off.

"By the way, your book can be found in the adolescent literature section," the man offered.

"Thank you."

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

"I love inside jokes. I'd like to be a part of one some day." - Michael Scott, The Office

A certain individual recently complained about the previous post which is not only very short but also says absolutely nothing. The complainant shall remain nameless, although his name rhymes with the words "fill" and "belly whopper". Strictly speaking, the former word doesn't truly rhyme with his first name and is, in fact, a homonym. I suppose they do rhyme, but only because they are phonetically identical. In the latter two words, you could drop the word "belly" entirely, and the phrase would still rhyme quite comfortably with his last name. Just an aside, but Boerishbwoy does not acknowledge using any sort of online rhyming dictionary to come up with such a strange and enigmatic phrase as "belly whopper." Moreover, Boerishbwoy refuses to recognize or admit to the grammar mistake in the previous sentence.

If you were to call this individual by his full first name it would be Greek and mean "lover of horses." Incidentally, one of the Greek words for love is "philia" as in "Philosophy" (the love of wisdom), phalanges (the love of French angels) or Philistine (the love of large pitchers of beer). The word for horse in Greek is hippo, so his name is something like Philia-hippo - only with less syllables. His first name, in its more common shortened form, makes the common acronym Polarized Helium to Image the Lung. It should be noted, however, that the words "to" and "the" are not part of the acronym.
His second name is a word which is an antonym of the word "improper" and means "suitable, fitting, or right."

This Russell-native is also the target of a concerted campaign to get him to join the social networking site known as facebook. In some circles in which he flies (you'll get this pun later on in this sentence) he is known as the Vulture. This is because, back in university, he was accused of eagerly scavenging for the meal in the same way that a vulture would. Later, he perched atop the refrigerator in the manner he imagined a vulture would. Hilarity ensued.

Despite remaining unapologetic about the previous post, Boerishbwoy has promised to produce a better post. In fact, John has so hyped up this post to the anonymous complainant that he is certain to be disappointed.

- He likes Jason Spezza.
- In the fantasy hockey league for which he is commissioner, he is known as a tyrant.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

This post was initiated to inform you that there are certain elements which are coming together in order for a general idea about certain ideas espoused by individuals in general to remain unarticulated.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

The Lucayans of the Bahamas

In 1492 there were an estimated 45,000 Lucayans inhabiting what is now known as the Bahamas. By the close of the sixteenth century, the entire group had been wiped out. The Lucayans were part of a larger cluster of Arawakan people who referred to themselves as Taíno, meaning good or noble. This, scholars believe, was to differentiate themselves from the war-like Caribs who often raided the Taíno and abducted their women. According to archaeologists, Lucayans began colonizing the Bahamian chain of islands as early as A.D. 600. When they reached the Bahamian archipelago they displaced, killed, or absorbed a group of Siboney natives. The irony is that while the descendants of other Siboney native groups survive, there are no living descendants of the Lucayans.

The Lucayans were fairly short, slim, and muscular with straight black hair and dark reddish skin. Like other groups from Central America, the Lucayans flattened the foreheads of their infants soon after birth by binding boards to their heads. They believed that this increased not only the beauty of their offspring, but also their intelligence. The Lucayans were a peaceful people, who only manufactured weapons for protection against the brutality of the Caribs. This, unfortunately, was not enough against the might of the Spanish.

While they did engage in trade with islanders to the south, the Lucayans were geographically separated from other Taíno groups. Thus, the Lucayans developed their own religion, language, and crafts. The Lucayans were ruled by hereditary chiefs known as caciques who governed specific regions of each island. The cacique was both a religious and political leader of his people, a sort of priest-king. The Lucayans engaged in ancestor worship and believed in gods who inhabited the bodies of animals. In death, they believed that the spirit moved southwards to a blissful paradise, although the bodies of the dead were treated with immense respect.

The villages of the Lucayans were near the sea and none of them numbered more than a thousand in population. The Lucayans were avid fishermen and used shells in their jewelry, pottery, and ceremonial crafts. The men hunted, fished, and fashioned tools, weapons, and canoes. The canoes were up to thirty metres in length, and were treated with immense pride and respect. In addition to caring for the children, the women cooked, farmed, wove, and created ceramics.

The circular homes of the Lucayans were constructed from wooden posts and thatch, with one entrance and enough room for a small family to sleep on their hammocks. Near the chief's rectangular home there was often a ball court or wide space for religious or ceremonial gatherings. The game played on the ball court was a fast-paced sport which utilized a bouncing rubber ball, a clay pitch, and three walls. In addition to this sport, the Lucayans enjoyed dancing, singing, smoking tobacco through their noses, and drinking cassava wine.

On October 12 1492, Christopher Columbus arrived in the Bahamas and he abducted some Lucayans who guided him southwards to the Greater Antilles. Shortly after, the Spaniards enslaved the Lucayans and shipped them to Cuba and Hispaniola as slave labour in the pearl industry and in the mines. Thousands of Lucayans died from Spanish savagery, the harshness of their labour, and suicide-inspiring depression. Those who remained alive quickly succumbed to European diseases they had not developed immunity to. Within ninety years of Columbus' arrival, there were no Lucayans left.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Song of the Moment: My Body is a Cage - The Arcade Fire

Take the great Canadian band, Arcade Fire, mix them with Sergio Leone's "Once Upon a Time in the West" and this is the awesomeness that results:

Thursday, November 01, 2007

The Odyssey of the Plugged Sink

Long ago, in the depths of an enchanted province, amidst a beautiful forest, there lived a king and queen. The queen was a regal beauty renowned for her kind nature while the king was a strikingly handsome monarch whose vast wisdom and eloquence were legendary. Their palace was less than legendary. In fact, it was more of a basement apartment of a triplex.

As long as we're being honest, the province was not enchanted, but separatist; and the beautiful forest was actually more of a jungle of concrete and asphalt. In addition, although the couple was fairly good-looking, they were not royalty despite the royal pedigree of the woman. Also, the man was not, in fact, known for being wise or eloquent. He did, however, wish deeply to be both of these things, and that must count for something.

The rest of the story will continue to be willfully dishonest. Although it should be noted that the wicked queen about to be introduced is neither wicked nor a queen. She's more of a landlady who would like to avoid spending money on proper pipe fitting.

One day, the royal basin became plugged because of the evil machinations of a wicked queen. The basin kept magically filling up with the greasy water of the royal neighbours. When the king and queen sent a number of royal couriers to the wicked queen to complain about this there was no reply. Finally, exasperated, the queen sent a messenger to tell the wicked queen that they were going to seek the help of a basin-wizard. Quick as a flash, the wicked queen responded that she would send her own basin-wizard in two days. Later, she sent out another messenger to say that the basin-wizard would not be arriving until six days later because his gadgetry was in need of repair. The queen then inquired as to the possibility of hiring another basin-wizard. The wicked queen grew furious: "It is your fault the royal basin is plugged because you put pasta in the royal drain!"

As the sixth day neared, the king inquired to the wicked queen about the coming of the basin-wizard. A response came on the seventh day that the basin wizard would be arriving on the ninth day. Meanwhile, the royal cutlery and china were piling to preposterous heights. On the ninth day the basin-wizard never arrived despite sending a message relating that he would be late. On the tenth day, he arrived, fixed the problem and then told the king that the royal pipes needed replacing and adjusting because there was a royal problem that would cause the definite repetition of the basin-plugging. After all, who in their right mind would put pasta in the drain? The royal couple were vindicated but rather upset with the wicked queen.

And they lived happily ever after.

Monday, October 29, 2007

More Boerishbwoy FAQ's

Here at Boerishbwoy we strive to serve our vast readership with quick and efficient responses to the many queries we receive. Lately, we have fallen behind on our FAQ's for which we would apologize, but that would mean acknowledging a mistake of some kind. As you may or may not be aware, we at Boerishbwoy do not make mistakes.

~ What the devil kind of name is Boerishbwoy, anyway?
The name Boerishbwoy is a title that has absolutely nothing to do with the occult. In fact, we at Boerishbwoy are consistently opposed to the devil and his activities.

~ In his early posts, John made a lot of references to a bad fingernail which annoyed him. Whatever happened to those enlightening posts?
John has chosen to remain sullenly silent on the issue of his fingernail(s) until such a time as the affliction is solved.

~ What? It still isn't solved?
Please re-read the previous answer. If the question still remain unanswered in your mind then we'll offer you this: some mysteries are better left unexplained.

~ Seriously, what does the name Boerishbwoy mean?
At the time he created this blog, John made five attempts at clever moniker for himself. It was only on the fifth try that he came up with a name that no one had taken. As you may be aware, John's last name is "den Boer" which means "the farmer" in Dutch. Boorish is the adjective form of the word Boor which, according to the online etymology dictionary is derived the following way:
13c., from O.Fr. bovier "herdsman," from L. bovis, gen. of bos "cow, ox." Later re-borrowed (1581) from Du. boer, from M.Du. gheboer "fellow dweller," from P.Gmc. base *bu- "dwell" (cf. second element of neighbor). Original meaning was "peasant farmer" (cf. Ger. Bauer, Du. boer, Dan. bonde), and in Eng. it was at first applied to agricultural laborers in or from other lands, as opposed to the native yeoman; negative connotation first attested 1562 (in boorish), from notion of clownish rustics.
Thus, boerish refers to John's heritage and clumsy clownishness and is an ironic contrast to his status as a city boy.
Bwoy, is a word which the online Jamaican patois dictionary defines in the following way:
Thus, bwoy refers to John's fondness for reggae, his status as a male, and his immaturity.

~ Is it really an ironic contrast to his status as a city boy?
We at boerishbwoy are in the generation of people whose minds were at a critical stage of neural development when Alanis Morissette's song Ironic came out. Between that and the short stories of O. Henry, we therefore have only a tenuous idea of what true irony is. We apologize if we have in any way slandered the definition of true irony.

~ I really like that map that shows where blog hits come from, could you please elaborate on that?
We at boerishbwoy are pretty thrilled with the clustrmap. However, the map only seems to register a fraction of the millions of readers who peruse this blog daily. We are not complaining as we understand the difficulty computers can have with counting so high using those weird binary codes. Seeing the wide array of international hits is very interesting. Still, we'll only be satisfied as soon as we have a hit from Mongolia. MONGOLIA!

~ Why did you type Mongolia in capital letters with an exclamation mark?
Our hope is that by cyber-shouting, a Mongolian searching through google using the word "Mongolia" will come across this site near the top of the pile.

~ Why don't you just put Mongolia in the post label?
We were going to do that too.

~ You could also put the name "Nominjin", she's a popular Mongolian singer.
Duly noted.

~ Where is the plumber who was supposed to arrive at John's house at 1:00 pm to fix the plugged kitchen sink?
We are not sure how you knew this information as John has not posted on this particular issue. However, putting that issue of creepy insider information aside, we have no idea and are rather perplexed and perturbed.

~ Do you belie--ieve in love after love after love after love?
We can feel something inside us say that we really don't think you're strong enough, no.

~ Why do the FAQs include a question which is certain to put a mindbogglingly bad song into the heads of innocent readers?
We have to post all of the questions that we are frequently asked.

~ Are you frequently asked about the plumber coming to fix John's sink?
No, but sometimes we allow questions of grave import to be included with the questions which we are frequently asked.

~ Your blog sucks.
This is not question but a statement that merely displays an astounding lack of taste. We at Boerishbwoy, like the recording industry, understand that there are many people in this world who lack good taste. Unlike the recording industry, we have failed to capitalize on this ... yet.

~ The suggestion about Nominjin was not a question either, was it?
No, but we at Boerishbwoy reserve the right to set the rules of the FAQs arbitrarily.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Song of the Moment - Bob Dylan - Most Likely You'll Go Your Way

Bob Dylan has, in the words of Don Mclean, "a voice that came from you and me." According to that song, he also has Elvis' thorny crown and a coat he borrowed from James Dean. Of those three items, the only one that wasn't stolen or borrowed was that unique gravelly voice of his. Dylan's voice may be far from ideal, but I find it highly effective in relaying his poetic words. Dylan's lyrics are often spare and simple, but he has the ability to paint evocative pictures and tackle complicated emotions with those words. I am not one of those serious Dylan fans with the box sets and encyclopaedic knowledge of everything related to him. In fact, until recently one of my favourite Dylan songs was "Stuck in the Middle With You" which is, in reality, a song by Scottish band Stealers Wheel (it's still a great song).
"Most Likely You'll Go My Way (and I'll go Mine)" is a classic Dylan song that has been remixed by musical artist and producer Mark Ronson. The song has a funky vibe which I enjoy and the video has quite a bit of interesting imagery from Dylan's songs and life. From his early days, the motorcycle accident, through to his Christian conversion and beyond, the video goes through the decades of his life. See if you can spot who I think is Wyclef Jean (it would make sense if it were Wyclef, as Dylan appeared in Wyclef's video for "Gone 'Til November.)

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Today I set out to find out a little more about Afghan politics. Little did I know how difficult it would be to wade through so much information. I have listed a few of the major political parties within Afghanistan. If anyone reads this and finds a mistake, please let me know and I will correct it. I found it a valuable exercise for sorting out some of the political currents in Afghan politics. Unfortunately, it is impossible to give information regarding a party's influence as elections were carried out without party lists.

Hezbe Jamiat-e Islami-ye Afghanistan - The oldest Afghan political party, Jamiat-e Islami fought as a Muhajideen against the Soviets, and then fought against the communist government, and, when they had finally seized power, they fought violently against other Muhajideen factions (over 50,000 people, mainly civilians, died in the civil war). Burhanuddin Rabbani, the leader of Jamiat-e Islami since 1968, was Afghanistan's president from 1992 to 1996. Most of the members of Jamiat are ethnic Tajiks, the second-largest ethnic group in Afghanistan. Tajiks number around 4.3 million and are found mainly in northern and western Afghanistan. The political dominance of the Tajiks and the prevalence of warlords inspired the rise of the Taliban. When the Taliban began to invade in 1995 the Jamiat-e Islami fought back with initial success, but were eventually driven from power. With his ouster, Rabbani lost quite a bit of his power base. Putting aside their feuds with the other Muhajideen groups, Jamiat e-Islami helped form the United Islamic Front for the Salvation of Afghanistan better known to Westerners as the Northern Alliance. In the Persian dialect which Tajiks speak Jamiat-e Islami means "Islamic Society." Although the party bases its ideology upon Islamic law, it is still considered moderately progressive. After the capture of Kabul by coalition, Rabbani assumed the presidency for a little over a month until he relinquished control to Hamid Karzai in late December of 2001. Rabbani's son-in-law was appointed as Hamid Karzai's vice president. Rabbani still heads Jamiat-e Islami, but the military wing of the party has since splintered into a Karzai opposition party, Afghanistan e Naween.

Afghanistan e Naween - Led by Burhanudin Rabbani's former ally, Yunis Qanuni, Afghanistan e Naween means New Afghanistan. Yunis Qanuni served as interior minister during Burhanudin Rabbani's reign as president from 1992 to 1996, and as a security advisor to Harmid Karzai during Karzai's interim presidency. In the 2004 elections, upset that his friend and ally, Mohammed Fahim, had been passed over as Karzai's vice-presidential running-mate, Qanuni decided to enter the presidential race himself. During his campaign, Qanuni accused Karzai's supporters of jailing his supporters in several provinces. Qanuni also faced the assassination of one of his key campaign supporters. Nevertheless, Qanuni finished second to Karzai and is currently the speaker of the house. It should be noted, however, that there were wide-scale boycotts of the ballots as the integrity of the electoral process was called into question. Qanuni is often seen as the spokesman for the Tajiks as he is the most prominent Tajik in power. Qanuni is recognized as Karzai's most powerful opposition and leads a 12-party National Reconciliation Front against Karzai.

Hezbe Wahdat e Islami-ye Mardum-e Afghanistan - The largest Shia political group in Afghanistan, the Islamic Unity Party of the People of Afghanistan is mainly supported by Hazara people. Hailing from the mountainous central region of Afghanistan, many Hazaras claim lineage from Genghis Khan himself. Hazaras are thought to number a little over one million in Afghanistan, although it is difficult to get a proper estimate. Hezbe Wahdat was formed in 1990 out of a coalition of nine Shia Mujahideen groups based in Tehran. Iran has close ties to the Hezbe Wahdat and has done much to try to ensure it receives a fair role in the Afghan government. During Burhanuddin Rabbani's reign as president from 1992 to 1996, Hezbe Wahdat was denied a place in the government despite their help in defeating the Soviets and communists. Hezbe Wahdat served in the transitional government after the fall of the Taliban, but split into two groups (see below). The leader of Hezbe Wahdat, Haji Muhammed Mohaqiq, finished third in the presidential elections behind Karzai and Qanuni. Mohaqiq is a member of Qanuni's coalition against Karzai.

Hezbe Wahdat Islami-ye Afghanistan - Mohammed Karim Khalili leads the original Hezbe Wahdat Islami-ye Afghanistan, the Islamic Unity Party of Afghanistan (as opposed to the Islamic Unity Party of the People of Afghanistan). The party fractured after Khalili began to collaborate with the Taliban during their reign. Khalili currently serves as Karzai's second vice-president, and is seen as the candidate for Hazaras who support Hamid Karzai. Haji Mohammed Mohaqiq was Karim Khalili's deputy before the party split.

Afghan Mellat - Afghan Nation is led by Anwar Al-Haq Ahadi and finds most of its support among some of the Pashtun people of Afghanistan (Hamid Karzai is also a Pashtun). Numbering 10 million in Afghanistan, there are also about 14 million Pashtuns in Northern Pakistan. Most Pashtuns live in the southern arch-shaped belt of Afghanistan running along the Pakistani border in the east to the Iranian border in the west. Afghan Nation was formerly known as the Afghan Social Democratic Party. The party was formerly highly nationalist and favoured an extension of Afghanistan into Pashtun-dominated areas of northern Pakistan. The party has now distanced itself from these expressions, although it does favour increased Pashtun rights and the promotion of the Pashto language. Afghan Mellat supports the Karzai regime and Ahadi serves as Karzai's finance minister.

Hezbe Islami Afghanistan - Meaning Islamic Party of Afghanistan, Hezbe Islami is also a Pashtun based party. Like the other political parties, Hezbe Islami fought against the Soviets. The notorious founder of the group, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, fought alongside Hezbe Wahdat against Jamiat until 1996 when a power-sharing agreement was reached in which Hekmatyar became Prime Minister under Burhanuddin Rabbani. When the Taliban rose to power, Hekmatyar fled to Iran where he continued to lead his party. When the coalition forces invaded Afghanistan in 2001, Hekmatyar voiced his violent opposition to the invasion. Hekmatyar has allegedly allied himself with his erstwhile enemies, the remnants of the Taliban, in order to expel the Americans from Afghanistan. However, just prior to the 2004 elections 150 members of Hezbe Islami defected to Karzai's government, where they lead the non-violent faction of Hezbe Islami under Khaled Farooqi. They have denounced terrorism, narcotics, and weapons trafficking and declared their support for the national army and police force. It is unclear, however, how much support this group has among the population.

Hezbe Kongra e Mili Afghanistan - Although it appears their website has not been updated since late 2001, the National Congress Party of Afghanistan did, in fact, participate in the 2004 election. Hezbe Kongra is lead by Dr. Latif Pedram, an ethnic Tajik and intellectual. Dr. Pedram was an early supporter of the Communists, but later became very critical of the Soviet presence in Afghanistan. Pedram was forced into exile by the coming of the Taliban. Refreshingly, Dr. Pedram promotes his party as multi-ethnic and nonreligious. However, he has very little support among Afghanistan's Pashtun majority. Pedram is a strong supporter of federalism and secularism, insisting on the importance of voices from every group within Afghanistan being heard. Pedram opposes both Islamic fundamentalism and the American occupation of Afghanistan, and has been critical of the participation of ex-Taliban members in the current government.

Hezbe Nuzhat e Mili Afghanistan - The National Movement of Afghanistan is led by Ahmad Wali Mas'ud, the youngest brother of slain Tajik hero Ahmad Shah Mas'ud. Ahmad Shah Mas'ud played a pivotal role in driving the Soviets out of Afghanistan and was known as the "Lion of Panjshir." Afterwards, he led the Northern Alliance against the Taliban who assassinated him in September of 2001. Buoyed by the popularity of his brother, Ahmad Wail Mas'ud set up Hezbe Nuzhat as an ethnic Tajik alternative to Hamid Karzai. Karzai cleverly deflated this possibility by appointing Zia Mas'ud, Ahmad Shah Masud's other brother, as his vice president (who is, you will recall, also the son-in-law of Burhanuddin Rabbani). The National Movement offers Tajiks a strong alternative against Qanuni.

Jumbish-e Mili Islami Afghanistan - The National Islamic Movement of Afghanistan is an Uzbek political party. Uzbeks are Sunni Muslims and are known as skilled artisans and businessmen. Approximately 1.3 million Uzbek people live alongside the Tajik people in the northern plains of Afghanistan. The amount of support for the party and the number of Uzbeks in Afghanistan roughly correspond. General Abdul Rashid Dostum, who currently holds the ceremonial post of chief of staff to the commander in chief of the Afghan armed forces, was the founder of the party. Dostum supported the communist government, but in 1992 he revolted. Alongside Ahmad Shah Mas'ud he overthrew the government of President Najiballah. In 1994, Dostum switched sides, allying himself with Gulbuddin Hekmatyar against Ahmad Shah Mas'ud and President Burhanuddin Rabbani. In 1996, after the rise of the Taliban, Dostum allied with Rabbani and helped form the Northern Alliance. Forced to flee during the reign of the Taliban, Dostum returned when the coalition forces arrived. Dostum wields a great deal of power in the Uzbek dominated areas of northern Afghanistan and some Afghans fear the strength of his military forces. The current leader of the party is Sayid Nurullah, although Dostum still retains control.

Tanzim- Diwat-e Islami-ye Afghanistan - Afghanistan's Islamic Mission Organization, led by Abdul Rabb al-Rasul Sayyaf, is probably Afghanistan's most conservative Islamist party. The party is generally supportive of Karzai, but seeks to push Afghanistan along a more conservative agenda. The following of this party is small, but Sayyaf is said to receive substantial financial backing from contacts throughout the Arab states.

The United National Front - Formed in March 2007, the United National Front is a coalition led by Burhanuddin Rabbani and made up of the grandson of Afghanistan's former king Mustafa Zahir, New Afghanistan Party leader Yunus Qanuni, Uzbek leader Abdul Dostum, two former communist generals, and several former Muhajideen leaders. The coalition claims to have the support of 40 per cent of the parliament, but it seems unlikely that such a diverse group of people could hold themselves together for very long---especially since many of them have fought on opposite sides of the battlefield. Some commentators believe that the coalition was formed out of fears of renewed calls for an investigation of war crimes committed during the Afghan civil war. It seems unlikely that anything else could bring together such an ideologically diverse group of people.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

This account of the meeting of Leopold II, the king of the Belgians, and Henry Morton Stanley, the explorer, was done for a history class. I have taken a few liberties with history. Of course, the author was not present and can only guess what was said at that historic meeting. The meeting did take place and great effort was taken to ensure that the words which emerge from the mouths of both men are words that they would, in fact, have likely believed and known. Still, it should be noted that Leopold’s instructions at this time were not likely to have been as detailed as the story portrays. Italics signify phrases which they either wrote themselves or were reported to have said. Enjoy.

“The other day . . . I watched a fox which wanted to cross a stream unobserved: first of all he dipped a paw carefully to see how deep it was, and then, with a thousand precautions, very slowly made his way across. That is Leopold’s way!” - Leopold I, of Belgium, referring to his eldest son, the future Leopold II.

June 10, 1878:
Leopold absently stroked his long greying beard as he carefully examined the map laid out on his desk. His long index finger carefully traced pencilled-in route of Henry Morton Stanley. Leopold had meticulously followed the progress of Stanley’s trek through the heart of Africa in London’s Daily Telegraph and traced the route himself. He removed his finger from the page as his gaze wandered from Stanley’s route to the great empty continent of Africa. Leopold read the familiar names of the colonized territories along the edge of Africa’s coast. The British held Sierra Leone, the Gold Coast, Lagos, and South Africa; the French held Algeria, Gambia, and Gabon, while the Portuguese held Angola and Mozambique. Leopold’s eyes lighted on Stanley’s route again. No one, he smiled, no one country held that territory along that great dark Congo river.

Leopold pushed himself away from his desk and paced over to the office window of the palace. He stared out over the well-kept gardens and his smile broadened. Albert, the heir to the throne, had once said that his uncle’s expansive building projects and vast greenhouses were turning Laeken into a “little Versailles.” Leopold dreamed on a grand scale and had huffed, “Little?” Belgium, he was sure, could be a world power. All that Belgium needed was a beautiful capital, increased strength and colonies. Yes, colonies would put Belgium on the map.

“Enfin” he muttered, “enfin la Belgique deviendra une puissance coloniale européenne.” He shook his head and pursed his lips, imagining the surprise of those Hollanders when Belgium emerged with colonies of her own. Those fat Jews sitting in Amsterdam would tear their hair out. This would be worse, snickered Leopold, than when they had lost South Africa to the British. Aaah, but he admired those plucky Dutch. If a small power like the Netherlands could assert themselves as a world power, so could Belgium. The Netherlands had reaped prestige and wealth from their scattered colonies and this, Leopold grinned, was where he too was headed.

A knock sounded at the door.

“Oui?” Leopold answered, masking his excitement as best he could.
“Henri Morton Stanley, seigneur,” a voice called from behind the door.

“Excellent, laissez-l’entrer,” Leopold strode stiffly towards the door, carefully straightening his regal uniform.

The door swung open and an imperious servant held the door open for the sturdy explorer. A grizzled, anxious-looking man stepped into Leopold’s office. Stanley bowed awkwardly, his steely eyes betraying uncertainty, “C’est un honneure, seigneur.”

Leopold smiled and said in flawless English, “I am also honoured to be in the presence of such a brave man.”

Stanley’s face betrayed relief at the sound of English, “Thank you, sire.”

Leopold nodded in acknowledgement and gestured magnanimously towards some ornate wooden chairs, “Please, my friend, let us take a seat.”

Stanley bobbed his head nervously.

Leopold slunk over to his seat and slowly lowered his lanky body onto his chair as, from the corner of his eye, he watched Stanley awkwardly make his way to his seat, “I trust your trip across the Channel went well, yes?”

Stanley absently ran a finger over his brown mustache as he gingerly lowered himself into his seat, “Yes-yes. I mean it is truly remarkable how fast the steamship is. Progress, sire, is unstoppable.” Stanley’s pronouncement revealed traces of a Welsh background although he deliberately affected an American accent.

“Yes, truly it is,” Leopold nodded, “it is brave men like you who will ensure that man uncovers every corner of this globe and that progress will continue at this remarkable rate.”

Stanley’s posture seemed to straighten slightly at the compliment, “Thank you, sire, it seems that very few people appreciate the great deal of danger the exploration of such savage country exposes one to.”

“Your time in England,” Leopold asked, “how was it?”

“Fine sire,” Stanley hesitated, “Although I must confess that I do not understand Englishmen at all. Either they suspect me of some self-interest, or they do not believe me.

“Please,” the tall king ran a finger over his beak-like nose, “what do you mean?”

“I simply mean that my contributions are not acknowledged,” Stanley’s eyebrows peaked, revealing a strange mix of resolve and pain, “For the relief of Livingstone I was called an impostor; for the crossing of Africa I was called a pirate.”

“Snobbery, I say,” said Leopold, remembering with a certain amount of amusement how one of his English friends had related one of Stanley’s unfortunate adventures in England. Stanley had been the guest of honour at a white-collar dinner attended not only by England’s upper crust, but by the Prince of Wales himself. After Stanley’s speech, all that the Prince had said to Stanley was that he was wearing his medals out of order. The fragile ego of this complex explorer, Leopold thought, was still wounded.

“These Englishmen are merely jealous. I dare say, I should like to see some of those portly English lords try to navigate through the jungle,” Leopold declared; “this is an endeavour that demands the strongest of men.”

“You flatter me, sire,” Stanley beamed.

Leopold smiled to himself; this man was putty in his hands. Leopold was fully aware of the strange mix of raw ambition and woundedness which plagued Stanley. He did not know, however, that Stanley’s pain came from his rough Welsh childhood. Born in the small town of Denbigh, his name on the register was listed as “John Rowlands, Bastard.” After his birth, Stanley’s mother fled in disgrace and left him to the mercy of an abusive grandfather. When Stanley’s grandfather died he bounced from relative to relative until he finally ended up in the St. Asaph Workhouse. At the age of twelve, Stanley finally met his mother, who instead of lovingly embracing her son, coolly regarded him with a critical eye. Not long afterwards she left the workhouse and drove Stanley further into nervous social awkwardness. The melodramatic Stanley would later make great attempts to obscure his humble beginnings in both writing and in speech.

“I try my best to tell the plain truth, as you Americans say,” Leopold crooked his fingers in front of him, “I have little use for flattery.”

“I appreciate your straightforwardness, sire,” Stanley bowed his head.

“You, no doubt, know why I invited you to talk.” Leopold watched Stanley carefully. “I am a man who regards your exploration with great interest. Belgium, as you may know, is a young nation and needs to increase its prestige. My emissaries made an offer to you when you arrived in Marseilles from your great expedition, and I realize now that you were too tired to accept it.”

Stanley cleared his throat and Leopold continued, “As much as you were disappointed by the lack of interest of the British in your exploration, I was overjoyed at their apathy. You see, Mr. Stanley, it was with much interest that I read your accounts of the vast Congo and the potential which lay in that great dark country for the light of European civilization. As you know, my interest in Africa runs deep, I established the Assocation Internationale pour reprimer la traite et ouvrir l’Afrique centrale for reasons which I’m sure the title explains.” The title Leopold had chosen was deliberately vague. When anyone asked what the African International Association was for Leopold would simply recite some vaguely philanthropic aims and leave it at that.

“As you may know, I established this International African Association at the geographical conference I held two years ago, while you were in the dark heart of Africa.” Leopold pointed a bony finger in a general southward direction. “Those of us at the conference agreed at that time to establish hospitable, scientific, and pacification bases for our philanthropic crusade into the heart of Africa.”

Stanley leaned forward, drinking in every word. Leopold paused and finally asked, “What do you say to my offer now, Mr. Stanley? What do you say to my commission?”

Stanley licked his lips, “Sire, I am thrilled that you have the vision to see the potential of this land. You see as I do, sire, that we must civilize this land. We must spread the Gospel to the darkened minds of the savages. We must end the brutal Arab slavery.” Stanley’s Welsh accent was unmistakable in his excitement. “We must develop the full potential of this unused weed-strewn garden.”

Leopold stretched his long legs in front of him, “I wish to civilize this land of barbarians, you understand, yes?”

“I have written on this very subject,” Stanley grinned. “I feel there are still pilgrims among the Europeans who could transform Africa into the new America! This unpeopled country needs the glorious touch of European civilization.”

Leopold cocked his head. “You say ‘unpeopled,’ but there are savages there, no?”

“Yes-yes,” Stanley laughed, “if they indeed count as people. You, sire, must realize that they need to be civilized, and if they aren’t willing we must use force.”

“Some say you are too quick with your gun and feel your exploration parties are too large,” Leopold thrust a calculated barb at Stanley, “but, my friend, I feel the force you use is admirable.”

“These critics don’t seem to understand that often the most convincing instruction you can give a nigger is either the crack of the whip or the sharp retort of the Snider rifle.” Stanley grimaced sternly. “the savages are hostile and the miserable slaves I used as porters are faithless, lying, thievish, indolent knaves.” Stanley sighed, “sometimes I do not think I was made for an African explorer, for I detest the land most heartily.

Leopold observed the reddening complexion of Stanley. This, he thought to himself, was a man with a short temper. He found that passionate men were often easily manipulated. Leopold could not have known the extent of Stanley’s self-centred fury. A white officer who had served under Stanley once complained that the demanding Stanley often fell into “ungovernable fits of rage.”

“I have gained the respect of these savages, however. I’m not sure if you’ve read this, but my porters gave me the name Bula Matari which means ‘stone-breaker.’ This honourable title I received for teaching them how to quarry through rock.” Stanley smiled in satisfaction. This was true, but the natives had attached a double-meaning to Bula Matari — calling Stanley ‘breakstones’ for his relentlessly brutal discipline.

Stanley continued, his eyes lighting up, “Every cordial-face aborigine whom I meet . . . I look upon . . . with much the same regard that an agriculturalist views his strong-limbed child; he is a future recruit to the ranks of soldier-laborers.

Stanley ran his expeditions like a military campaign and had left hundreds of dead natives in the wake of his exploration. Any sign of hostility was taken as an insult by the sensitive Stanley and any perceived insult was settled with bullets. Stanley despised his porters and doled out heavy discipline for anything remotely resembling insubordination. If men were “lazily inclined” they would pay with a vicious tongue-lashing if they were white and a harsh thrashing with a dogwhip if they were black. Any black man caught deserting was lashed one hundred times and placed in chains.

“As a king I must admire a man like yourself who isn’t afraid to use force when necessary.” Leopold stroked his great beard. Many of the white men who had accompanied Stanley on his expeditions had died. Stanley seemed to choose slightly incompetent men for his expeditions so that his own manliness was not outshone. Stanley’s diaries were filled with bitter complaints against the white incompetents, contrasted by embarrassingly sappy melodrama when these same men died.

“Thank you, sire.” Stanley relaxed his clenched fists.

“I am interested in your assessment of the Congo.” Leopold leaned his spindly body forward. “What potential do you see in this country?”

“Sire, the possibilities are endless. As I said before Africa could be the new America. Not only will we bring commerce to that dark continent, but we’ll bring civilization. Africa will be a source of minerals, lumber, ivory, rubber, and who knows what other goods,” Stanley gestured, his hands grasping the air; “we will combat slavery, we will bring clothes to the infernal nudes, and we’ll make great gains for science and human knowledge. The Congo River will be the grand highway of commerce to West Central Africa.”

“Yes, this is exactly how I feel.” Leopold leaned back. “Mainly I’m interested in rubber and ivory. You, Mr. Stanley, are the perfect man to aide me in the establishment of that very project. What more could I ask for than a man who knows the territory and has the ruthless leadership necessary for that harsh country? A railway must be built around the unnavigable section of the Congo River, and stations along the river which can be served by steamboat.”

“For now, however,” Leopold continued, “I will be content to hire you as an explorer, and believe me when I say that you will be more than compensated for your efforts.” Leopold had moved carefully, fearing that the outright establishment of a colony would be seen with hostility by the British and his dream of a Belgian colony would never be realized. Leopold knew that even if he consulted the British on his territorial ambitions, they would oppose him. The only solution was a Trojan Horse — sending Stanley to explore in Leopold’s name.

“Sire, I would be honoured to be employed in your service . . .” Stanley bowed his head; “ . . . truly honoured.”

“I have one concern, however, sire.” All signs of weakness had disappeared from Stanley’s stern features. “It is these Dutch merchants — I am concerned with their influence on the planning process. I’m not entirely sure who I’m serving here which is why I demand my pay in advance.”

Leopold was slightly taken aback: Stanley was sharper than he had given him credit for, “Aah, the Dutch House, the African Trading Company!” Leopold hid his surprise well. “These men, Kerdijk and Pincoffs, already have interests in the Congo and have generously offered their help. Free transport to the Congo, on the Congo, not to mention the generous help of his agents, who could say no?”

“It seems too good to be true,” Stanley intoned.

“Yes, it is quite unbelievable,” Leopold nodded; “but these men are quite rich. I have it on authority that Pincoffs controls over twenty million guilders in capital. These Dutchmen are sharp businessmen and I’m sure they know what they’re doing. Besides, I have a quarter of the shares myself, financed by my banker, Lambert.”

“Twenty million guilders is an unheard of amount, but I’ll keep an eye on them.” Stanley’s face was red again. His suspicions were well-founded: Pincoffs saw the African International Association as a chance to wash his hands of his bad African investments. He had merely taken funds from his other successful investments and juggled them into his poorly-performing African investment to make it appear profitable. On the 15 May, 1879 Pincoffs fled to America when his African Trading Company was unable to make payments. He dumped his bankrupt but apparently flourishing African investments into the African International Association. This problem did little to phase the wily Leopold who was now able to take personal charge of the company without any dissenting voices.

“But do not fear, I will pay you in advance 25,000 francs a year for your time in Europe and 50,000 francs a year for your time spent in Africa,” Leopold reassured Stanley.

“Thank you, sire,” Stanley smiled, “I did not doubt your good intentions.”

“When you assert my claim on this land,” Leopold said carefully, “you must remember that it is a question of creating a new State, as big as possible, and of running it. It is clearly understood that in this project there is no question of granting the slightest political power to the negroes. That would be absurd.”

“Of course not, sire,” Stanley agreed. “I feel the best way to make your claim is to buy the land off of the local chiefs, who are splintered into many tribes anyhow, and establish forts along the Congo River. Those chiefs not willing to be convinced can easily be persuaded by force of arms.”

“I must caution you, Mr. Stanley,” Leopold warned, “it is important that you keep my intent in mind. You must ensure that I am seen as a mere sponsor of your next exploration and nothing more.”

“I will make sure that your intentions are not revealed,” Stanley reassured the king.

“Mr. Stanley,” Leopold rose from his seat, “I’m very pleased with the progress we’ve made so far.”

Stanley quickly jumped to his feet, “Sire, I am honoured to be working in partnership with you.”

Leopold extended his hand towards the sturdy explorer. “As am I, my friend. We will work out the further details later on. For now, I’m sure you would be happy to prepare for dinner.”

Stanley grasped the Belgian king’s hand. “Thank you sire.”

As Stanley left the room, Leopold sauntered over to the window and surveyed his gardens. He gazed into the great expanse of southern sky and he whispered to himself, “We must be careful, skillful and ready to act . . .” A flock of blackbirds streaked towards the earth in the distance, as if they were falling from the sky, “to get us a slice of this magnificent African cake.”

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Out of Ontario at the Wrong Time.

On October 10th, Ontarians head to the polls to vote for their MPPs and, hopefully, for MMP (Mixed Member Plurality). It is a shame that I cannot vote in this important referendum. My wife, who has always been interested in politics, impresses me almost everyday with her political savvy, but remains unconvinced by MMP. She, unfortunately, believes that there is less accountability with MMP. Fortunately, she can't vote in the referendum either. Those around me also seem unconvinced by the arguments in favour of this system, arguing that there is less accountability with MMP.

Au contraire, as they might say on this side of the Ottawa river, MMP actually gives politicians more accountability. Of the 107 politicians in the legislature, 106 are currently unaccountable to you and the one who is may or may not be the one you actually voted for. With MMP you vote not only for the MPP who you want in your riding, but also for the party of your choice and, wonder of wonders, your vote actually counts towards that party.

In first-past-the-post, if 32% of the people vote for the tie-dye party, 17% of the people vote for the polka-dot party, 21% of the people vote for the plaid party, 14% of the people vote for the pinstripe party, and 16% of the people spoil their ballot, the tie-dye party wins that riding. 68% of the people in that imaginary riding have a vote that doesn't count.

In MMP, people vote for the candidate they want in their riding and the person with the most votes would represent that riding. So for the previous imaginary riding, the tie-dye candidate would probably represent that area. People would then cast a second vote for their favoured party and this vote would count towards the percentage of seats for that particular party. In Germany, there is a five per cent clause which helps exclude extremist groups from having representation.

Opponents argue that because the rest of the members of the party in MMP are appointed and not directly elected, these people are somehow going to be unaccountable and irresponsible. This argument does not hold water, in my opinion. Currently, candidates in a riding are nominated by party members. In MMP, party members will also nominate members who will then, depending on the election results, receive the party's proportion of the popular vote.

First-past-the-post is hardly representative of the people's will. For example, in the last federal election, the Bloc Quebecois received 10 % of the popular vote but had 51 seats (that is, 17% of the seats). The NDP, on the other hand, received 17% of the popular voted but had only 29 seats (that is 9% of the seats).

With MMP you still have regional representation (via your local representative), but your second vote will actually count towards the party of your choice. Voters can vote with their conscience for the party that represents their beliefs on issues that range further than their own local area.

The current system is democratic, but favours a two party system. MMP would involve more parties working together to pass legislation. Some proponents of MMP have gone so far as to call the current system of first-past-the-post undemocratic. That is, in my opinion, ridiculous. First-past-the-post is democratic, just less democratic than MMP.

My former Political Science professor, Dr. Koyzis, is quite passionate on this issue. He wrote an article on the issue and responded to the counter-argument on his blog. Both the article and his response can be found here.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Song of the Moment: Let Down - Easy Star All-Stars featuring Toots Hibbert

The Easy Star All-Stars are a reggae group based in New York who created their own label. In 2003 they released Dub Side of the Moon an album covering Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon. Recently, they released Radiodread a cover of Radiohead's Ok Computer. The following is a cover of Radiohead's Let Down. Let Down is a very sad song which makes its delivery in a bouncing reggae beat a little disorienting for some people. However, reggae has a long history of juxtaposing sad lyrics over happy-sounding rhythms. Reggae, a music from the third world, knows full well the importance of dancing one's sorrows away. The legendary Toots Hibbert does an amazing job of injecting this song with soul and making it his own. The two versions of this song are worlds apart, but each is beautiful in its own way.

Transport, motorways and tramlines
Starting and then stopping
Taking off and landing
The emptiest of feelings
Disappointed people clinging on to bottles
And when it comes it's so so disappointing

Let down and hanging around
Crushed like a bug in the ground
Let down and hanging around

Shell smashed, juices flowing
Wings twitch, legs are going
Don't get sentimental
It always ends up drivel

One day I'm going to grow wings
A chemical reaction
Hysterical and useless
Hysterical and ...

Let down and hanging around
Crushed like a bug in the ground
Let down and hanging around

Let down again
Let down again
Let down again

You know, you know where you are with
You know where you are with
Floor collapsing
Floating, bouncing back
And one day....
I am going to grow wings
A chemical reaction
Hysterical and useless
Hysterical and...

Let down and hanging around
Crushed like a bug in the ground
Let down and hanging around

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Shake Hands with the Devil

Earlier this week Laurianne won tickets to see a pre-screening of the new film, Shake Hands with the Devil. Thus, last night, we headed to the World Exchange Plaza in downtown Ottawa to watch the official selection of the 2007 Toronto film festival. The film is based on Lieutenant General Romeo Dallaire's riveting account of leading the UN force in Rwanda during the 1994 genocide. Roy Dupuis plays Dallaire in a strong performance that is certain to garner critical attention. Dupuis is a talented French-Canadian actor whom Anglophones might recognize from The Rocket (aka Maurice Richard) or the made-for-tv movie about the Dion quintuplets.
Movie aficionados might recall Nick Nolte's impassioned performance as a temperamental French-Canadian named Colonel Roy in the 2002 film Hotel Rwanda. The character of Colonel Roy was modeled after Dallaire but seemed to more closely resemble Nick Nolte. Roy Dupuis avoids the trap of overacting in a subdued but ultimately effective performance. In fact, it is Dupuis' quiet control that allows him to tap into the pensive grief that almost drove Dallaire to suicide.
Throughout the film, the movie goes back and forth between what happened in 1994 and a therapy session in which Dallaire wrestles with his post-traumatic stress. The therapy session is shot in a darkly lit room with characters from the 1994 events appearing and disappearing to not only give retrospective observations, but also to show Dallaire's struggle with despair. The filmmakers made the right decision not to include Dallaire's family in the movie. While they are, no doubt, an important part of his journey, the movie would have been too crowded if it had tried to show the effect the ordeal had on his family.
I have now seen four movies dealing with the Rwandan genocide: Hotel Rwanda, Shooting Dogs, Sometimes in April, and Shake Hands with the Devil. Each movie is strong on its own, but I feel that Shake Hands with the Devil and Sometimes in April were more effective in bringing an understanding of the background of the genocide. Also, shooting in Rwanda and using actual Rwandan actors and extras brings a realism to the latter three films which Hotel Rwanda was unable to tap. While Hotel Rwanda was an excellent film, I was more emotionally affected by the other three.
One main reason that I feel Shake Hands with the Devil was so strong was that the beautiful mountain scenery of Rwanda is almost a character on its own. The stark contrast between the brutality and sheer evil of the genocide and the breath-taking beauty of the Rwandan countryside is gut-wrenching. The cinematography of this movie is well-done and deserves recognition.
The film does an excellent job of bringing Dallaire's important book to the big screen. Viewers have a deep sense of Dallaire's horrible journey through those dark days of 1994. While I had sad sense of the horror and despair of the genocide, the heroic stand of one man in the face of international apathy and political tap-dancing offered a glimmer of hope.
There are very few films that leave the audience walking out of the theatre in stunned silence and introspection. This movie was one of those films: a strong, emotionally-evocative, and startling work that will hopefully stir people to both contemplate and react to the world around them.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

This weekend my family came up to visit. We had quite a nice time visiting the art gallery, hiking in the Gatineau Hills, and watching the Office.

Here's a commemorative picture of Christina on a lonely walk through the woods:
Here's a picture of Christina and I conquering the world:
Here's Christina consolidating power:

Here's a picture that Laurianne took on the soaring precipice of the King Mountain:

Monday, September 24, 2007

Last week Wednesday, Laurianne and I attended a screening of five short films from Burundi. Burundi, as many people know, is my wife's native country. These films were produced by the Burundi Film Center, an organization founded by Canadian filmmakers (despite the Americanized spelling of "center"). The Burundi Film Center taught students the basics of film-making and production. Every student wrote a script from which five scripts were chosen. Five teams produced five ten-minute films with each movie having a budget of one hundred dollars American. Each team had one day to film and one day to edit their movie. The result was, for the most part, some very fine work. It was actually quite impressive that movies of this caliber were produced by first-time film students in such a short time. The best film, in my opinion, was the story of a young boy named Kimvuvu (basket-boy) who wonders where his strange name originated.

Some people might wonder about supporting a film centre in a country facing many economic and political challenges. While it might seem superfluous to some, I feel that film is a valuable art form that enriches and inspires. While film might not solve ethnic tensions or feed the hungry, it is a medium which has the potential to challenge cultural mores, entertain, educate and foster hope. While I personally lack the funds to make a difference for this organization, I do hope that the Burundi Film Center continues to blossom and grow in the years to come.

After the films we were entertained by some traditional Burundian drumming which is simply amazing. Here are two clips of Burundian drumming:

Clip 1
Clip 2

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Similes Ad Nauseum

After a brief hiatus, I have returned to the blog like a vulture to its carrion. My blog, of course, is not carrion, but I have merely returned to the blog like a vulture would to the rotting corpse of a dead animal. My blog is like a classic novel that all the critics rave over. That is to say that it is awesome. I have been absent from the information superhighway for a while like a man who has left his home for a few days. There is no need for explanation, but I will explain anyways like a person who tells you a tasteless joke even though you asked them to stop. The explanation is not like a tasteless joke, it's more like a boring anecdote from a co-worker that you have to hear anyway. Here is the explanation, as clear as pudding on the wall. Our internet providers was as effective as duct tape. That is to say that the internet provider was working properly. The computer, however, was like trying to use a mildly adhesive epoxy to hold your work boot together. That is to say that the computer was not functioning properly. I had downloaded an online virus program like someone who wanted to protect their computer. Unfortunately, when trying to upload some photos from our new digital camera (which is like an electronic version of awesomeness), the virus program was like an angry beachcomber whose metal detector had just broken. That is to say, it did not allow my computer to connect to the modem.

Of course, I'm a bit like a person who is waxing poetically on something which they know nothing about. That is to say that I know as much about computers as the meter man knows about home security. That is to say that I know a bit, but you would be like a fool who has hired an inept person if you were to hire me to fix your computer in the same way that you would be wrong to hire the meter man to install your home security system. Of course, he might know what he's doing, but I'm speaking in generalities like an incompetent leader who wishes to distract from their own failings. I would like to thank our friends Ben and Francois who were as instrumental in the repair of our computer as a good computer repair team is instrumental in the repair of a computer.

Well, until next time.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

This is an excellent article on the recent cave-in of the Canadian War Museum to the veteran's demands for a change to the wording of the bomber command exhibit.

Beyond Dispute - Randall Hansen

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Due to certain computer problems there will be no updates on this blog for a week or two.

Thank you for your patience, and please visit again.


the management.

Monday, August 13, 2007


~ I have added the blog of one Ben Reynolds to my sidebar. I went to high school with Ben and he recently moved to Ottawa. He's quite a talented illustrator - check out his artwork if you have the time.

~ Lately I have been biking to work. I really enjoy the exercise, but getting passed by all these men and women with calves the size of boulders is beginning to wear down my self esteem.

~ Laurianne's birthday is on Thursday. If you're from the Ottawa area, and you care about Laurianne, you can meet her at Yesterday's on Sparks Street for a drink and some snacks between five and seven.

~ If you're not from the Ottawa area well wishes can be sent to her at laurianne_munezero@yahoo.ca

~ If you are from the Ottawa area but can't make it on that particular day please refer to the bullet above.

~ If you are from the Ottawa area, but don't care about Laurianne, then you are excused from attending.

~ If you are not from the Ottawa area, but happen to be in the Ottawa area on that particular day, you are welcome to drop by.

~ If you are from Russell, you can come too.

~ We recently watched Disturbia, a remake of Hitchcock's classic Rear Window. Usually remakes of classic movies are very very bad, because remaking classic cinema is pretty pointless - sort of like trying to redoVan Gogh's Starry Night. This movie, however, was different enough from the original that it worked . . . somewhat. Although lacking in the flair and subtleties of the original, it was mildly entertaining.

~ We also watched Hot Fuzz which is send-up satire of old cop movies and shows. It's a bit over-the-top bloody, but overall it is quite funny and enjoyable.

~ I've taken to reviewing movies on facebook. I'm fairly harsh and pretty economical with my stars - but only because it's more entertaining for me that way.

~ I should note that the bikers who pass me are passing me on road bikes. I'm on a mountain bike. My only advantage would be if we hit some rough mountain terrain. Unfortunately, there are no mountains between my home and my place of work.

~ If you have time, check out Dave Beldman's continuing guide to reading Job and his insightful analysis of new insights into DaVinci's Last Supper.

~ Actually, I'm kind of glad that there are no mountains between my home and my place of work.

~ Someone is knocking on my ceiling. Well, I guess they're knocking on their floor and I'm hearing it through my ceiling.

~ Alright, they stopped now.

~ I have twice come across books claiming that Ring around the Rosie originates from the period of the Black Death. However, the words of that rhyme were not written down until some time in the nineteenth century. The words seem to fit so well. Although, apparently there was no sneezing involved in the bubonic plague. Maybe the rhyme was written about the plague afterwards. It's hard to believe that it would remain unwritten for some four hundred years.

~ My cousin Jon Barnhoorn, his wife, Janice, and their two children, Stephen and Samuel, will be heading to Nigeria very soon for translation work with Wycliffe ministries. Please keep them in your prayers.

Sunday, August 12, 2007


This is a poem that has no purpose
beyond promoting the use of Sherpas
for international climbing expeditions
to avoid search and rescue missions

Mount Everest is the highest point on earth
in height, this mountain has no dearth
it is 29,035 feet into the air
that's 8,850 metres for those who care

Mr. Edmund Hillary climbed its face
back in '53, and found his historic place
in history as the first man to the summit
without freezing or dying in a plummet

This brings to mind our friend, George
whose frozen body was found in a gorge*
What lesson can we learn from Mr. Mallory
Who remains a footnote in a museum gallery?

Hillary was successful for one good reason
and it was not his choice of climbing season
it was the Sherpa he brought, Mr. Norgay
Yes, Tenzing got Edmund up all the way

Whereas Mr. Mallory died tragically,
Mr. Hillary made it almost magically
with that Sherpa pushing him to the sky
and making sure that he didn't die

This poem really did not have a purpose
beyond promoting the use of Sherpas
for international climbing expeditions
to avoid search and rescue missions

*not really, but call it poetic license

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Song of the Moment: Bob Marley and the Wailers - Stir It Up

Robert Nesta Marley, and the original Wailers sing the famous love song from the amazing Catch a Fire album. Peter Tosh, the six foot six towering bundle of cantankerousness, and Bob's childhood friend, Bunny Wailer, were still part of the band at this point. Marley, a recent Rastafarian convert is beginning to grow his dreads, Tosh is wearing the knitted woolen cap with the Rasta tri-colours ,and Bunny Wailer is wearing the fez. Their vocals mixed quite well.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

On Benny Hinn

Benny Hinn is the white-suited tan gentleman with a sweeping wave of grey hair who can be seen plying his trade on his show, This is Your Day! The controversial preacher is noted for his pleasant voice, dramatic spiritual theatrics, and his claim to have a direct connection to God. To some he merely seems strange, while to other he is a modern-day God-infused prophet.

Hinn's life, as he tells it, is a confusing and inconsistent tale. He was born Toufik Bendictus Hinn in 1953 in Israel to a Greek father and an Armenian mother (that's Armenian, not Arminian). In his home they primarily spoke Arabic. He was raised as a Greek Orthodox Christian and attended a Roman Catholic School. Hinn has claimed that his father was mayor of Jaffa. The truth, however, is that his father was a clerk at an Arab law office. In fact, there was no mayor of Jaffa by the name of Hinn, ever. After 1948, Jaffa did not exist as it was amalgamated with Tel Aviv. Hinn's father, a Palestinian, would not have been elected mayor of a largely Jewish Tel-Aviv-Jaffa. All of the city's mayors from 1936 onwards were Jewish men whose names were certainly not Constandi Hinn. Hinn now claims that his father was not a mayor, but merely carried out some of the functions of a mayor as a liaison between the Israeli government and the Arab community. These claims have not been substantiated, but do smell of self-aggrandizement.

Hinn claimed to have grown up in a spacious house in the suburb, but he actually grew up in the basement of a Greek Orthodox Church. He claimed to be both a self-conscious stutterer and an extroverted showman in his youth. He claimed to be a high school graduate when records reveal that he dropped out. Hinn has three or four separate stories about his own conversion and at least two versions of the story of his family's conversion. It is abundantly clear that Hinn has no desire for an honest recounting of his past. Instead, Hinn is content to build up a hagiographic mythology about himself with little regard for truth or honesty.

This would just be an unfortunate matter of personal dishonesty if it were not for the fact that Hinn makes his opulent living from being an evangelist. Hinn applies his fondness for stretching and inventing the truth to the Gospel. Any time an individual opens their mouth to say that they have a fresh new revelation from God relating to theology, one should exercise caution. Chances are, this person is just recycling age-old heresies. Hinn has taught that each person of the trinity has a separate trinity within itself, making a nine-person Godhead. Each person of the trinity, Hinn claimed, is a trinity. Hinn later apologized for saying this, but still claimed that each person of the Godhead possessed his own body, spirit, and soul. Unfortunately, this is not much better. This heresy is called Tritheism and denies the unity of the Godhead. This is not a new heresy as it is a basic misunderstanding of the trinity that has been taught since at least the latter half of the sixth century. This teaching makes Christianity into a polytheistic three-god religion. Christianity is monotheistic and, although the trinity is beyond human comprehension, it is clear that the trinity does not describe three separate entities. No, there are three persons in one indivisible God.

Among other things, Hinn has taught the following: that Jesus became sin and took on the nature of Satan when he was on the cross, that Hinn spoke with Katherine Kuhlman despite her being dead, that Christ was only blameless because he had the Holy Spirit, that Adam could fly, that Adam landed on the moon, that those who speak against his ministry are cursed (no worries here, mate), that critics of ministers would get sick, and that dead people watching his program (don't ask how) would be raised.

Hinn has also taught that each human being is a God-man. He claims that we are "samples of Jesus" and "little gods on the earth." Hinn claims further, through a little bit of bizarre etymological tap-dancing, that when we call ourselves Christians we "are saying 'I am a messiah' in Hebrew. I am a little messiah walking on earth." In making this claim, Hinn has blurred the line between humans as created beings and God as the Almighty Creator of the universe. Rather than bowing before his incomprehensible might, a God-man Christian would merely respectfully nod to a God who is, after all, his superior. Humans are created in God's image, but we are not little versions of God. We are like him, but we are not him. We are nothing compared to his glory.

Related to this teaching of man's deity is Hinn's teaching of the health and wealth gospel. Since each person is a God-man, then each person's words have a similar power to God's creating and upholding word. Thus, if a Christian, in faith, says they are rich and do not have cancer, then -by golly!- they are a wealthy cancer-free individual. In the same way, if a Christian says something like, "Ugh, I hab a cold," then this is a negative confession. A true Christian must make positive confessions by saying such things as, "Ugh, I do not hab a cold." In that way, through the power of words, the cold would disappear (probably within 24 hours).

Our words are pale shadows of fragility when compared to the unchanging and all-powerful words of the Almighty. Our words fall weakly from our lips while God's words uphold the very fabric of the universe. While our words have power to wound and build up both ourselves and others, they do not have the power to create or alter realities. There is only room for one God, not a pantheon of duelling gods. We can only humbly make our requests to God, not demand his action.

It follows from Hinn's teaching of the power of a Christian's words, that, by claiming healing, a Christian can be completely restored. This healing is, in fact, a major part of Hinn's performance. If one observes Hinn's crusades, one can see the obviously handicapped, the paralyzed, the blind, and other visibly handicapped individuals shuffled off to one side. Meanwhile, individuals whose afflictions are not so visible are ushered to the front. The ushers are supposedly rooting out the genuine seekers from the non-genuine, but really they're picking out the sickies that will make the best show. Often people with slight walking problems are given wheelchairs "to rest in" only to miraculously walk later on. Whenever Hinn's ministry is asked to substantiate claims of healing, it inevitably fails to produce even one example of miraculous healing. Often on-stage healings are the manifestation of the extreme spiritual high that Christians receive at Hinn's meetings. Symptoms dissipate temporarily while the actual problems remain. Dr. William Nolen in his book Healing: A Doctor in Search of a Miracle, writes of a Katherine Kuhlman service he attended in the seventies. Of the twenty-five people who were supposedly healed, not one of them actually improved. In an extreme and saddening example, a woman who had been urged to throw away her braces and run across the stage had her backbone collapse the next day. Four months later she died. Kuhlman is notable as the charismatic faith-healer that Hinn has modeled himself after.

It is entirely possible for someone to be healed at a Benny Hinn crusade. However, it would be a case of God acting despite Benny Hinn, not because of him.

The easy excuse for faith healers is that the healing of each person depends upon that person's faith. Therefore, if the person lacks faith then there is no healing. The blame is shifted directly to the afflicted person. Hinn has acknowledged in interviews that not everyone is healed at his services. Of course, the words that come out of his mouth on his program tell a different story. Hinn consistently offers the false hope of miracle cures that can be accessed by faith through sowing the seeds of donation. After all, Hinn needs his private jet, swanky getaways, and five-star service.

Hinn is a proponent of the so-called prosperity gospel. According to this teaching, Christians merely have to give in faith and they will receive back one hundredfold. At the root of this errant teaching is fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of faith. Prosperity gospel followers believe that faith is a substance that humans work up inside themselves which allows them to alter reality. However, faith is not something that people create, it is only granted to believers by the grace of God. Faith is the gift of God and is not spontaneously self-manifested by some kind of Christian superpower. There is absolutely no Biblical call for Christians to have faith in Extra-Biblical concepts such as the name-it, claim it gospel. God is sovereign and he will not surrender his sovereignty to any human no matter how sincerely that person believes they have worked their faith up to dizzying heights of glory.

Followers of this teaching often defend it by asking the rhetorical question, "did Jesus die so we could be weak and poor or so that we could be healthy and rich?" In fact, this question raises a false dichotomy. Jesus died to take away the sin of the world, to redeem the world from sin. Jesus died to save us from our sins, not to ensure our pockets are overflowing and our health is always perfect. The prosperity gospel forgets that Jesus' death, while a final victory, has not yet been consummated in a final removal of sin from the earth. The victory has been won, but consummation of this victory has yet to happen. This is why poverty, war, sickness, and all the other horrible results of sin remain.

One of the most pathetic things about the prosperity gospel is the implication that faithful Christians who are poor, afflicted, sick, or persecuted are not walking in obedience to God. If poverty is a curse of disobedience, then the Bible would reflect the mentality that the rich are the most faithful Christians while the poor are the least faithful. The Scriptures, in fact, tell just the opposite tale. Christians are urged not to show favouritism to the rich, but to embrace all brothers and sisters regardless of wealth. When early church members gave up large portions of their wealth to the church, it is not with the understanding of a huge financial return. The gifts are given out of humble service to God. There is no indication that any of these donors became richer after their act of charity.

Interestingly enough, Hinn is always the one asking for money from his viewers. According to his teaching, just sending a donation to his ministry will bring in vast financial rewards to his viewers. By the same token, if he were to give money to his viewers, he would also be blessed. If he would only step out in faith and sow a seed into his viewers' lives, imagine how much he would be blessed! In fact, his ministry shouldn't need donations if the prosperity gospel is true. He merely needs to send money to various churches and charitable causes, and the money will spontaneously come pouring back to him.

For prosperity gospel adherents, Biblical passages which speak of blessings are inevitably twisted into passages which speak about material blessing. This is basically American materialism awkwardly jammed into Scriptural mold. There is a stunning difference between prosperity and having one's needs provided, and wasteful and decadent living.

How can any conscionable Christian drive an $80,000 dollar luxury vehicle while there are men and women around the world without food? Children are going hungry in the very cities that these mega-churches are built in, and yet there are no programs in place to feed, clothe, and care for these needy. After all, the prosperity gospellers argue, the poor just need to adopt the health and wealth gospel and they'll flourish. What happened to mercy and compassion? What happened to the example of Christ who cared for the poor?

Hinn's own life is filled with extravagance. Although Hinn refuses to reveal his ministry's accounting, Benny Hinn's ministry takes in an estimated revenue of $100 million per year. Hinn's personal salary is as much as $1 million per year. In addition, he receives royalties from his best-selling books. Hinn's own ministry snaps up many of the books, and Hinn collects the royalties on these sales. Hinn also has plenty of job perks. His company purchased his $3.5 million home as his parsonage, a business expense. Using his multi-million dollar personal jet, Hinn travels the world in luxury. While travelling to and from his crusades, Hinn makes expensive stopovers at luxurious resorts for relaxation. This is charged to his ministry. Even while at his crusades, Hinn only stays at the most expensive five-star hotels with his entourage. Donations are being spent on decadent luxuries, and former employees charge that cash donations are being syphoned off. Clearly, this is not a Christian model of proper financial stewardship.

I am not arguing that God does not bless Christians. I believe that God does bless Christians, and that sometimes these blessings are related to health and finances. However, it is not as simple as ordering these blessings out of the sky. Every human is given a certain amount of blessings, and every human is given a certain amount of suffering (never more than we can bear). God certainly blesses us with health, money, and success; however, these blessings are not guarantees. Christians who believe that these blessings are guarantees will never be able to withstand direct persecution and will continue to be poor communicators of the gospel. When a Pakistani church is burned down are the congregants to believe that it is due to their lack of faith? If a devout person's family is wiped out by hunger, war, or disease is he to believe it is because he was not "walking in God's promises"? These questions don't merely address the nature of faith but they speak to the very nature of suffering and pierce straight down into the gospel itself. Did Jesus die so that we could be rich and healthy? Is suffering just a result of unfaithfulness?

Several months ago I watched a film about the Rwandan genocide called "Shooting Dogs." In this film, John Hurt plays a Catholic priest at a school in the midst of the 1994 genocide. One particular line he uttered stuck with me. The Belgian UN forces at the school have announced they were pulling out. Hurt's character decides to stay with the Tutsi refugees as Interhamwe militia mill menacingly nearby. At this time, he says to another character (and I am paraphrasing) : "All this time I have been searching for God and I found him here. He's right here suffering with these people . . ." An incredible thing about God is that we often sense him closest when we are most vulnerable, when we are face to face with the enormity of humanity's evil.

What is interesting to me personally is Hinn's teaching that people cannot judge or criticize the Lord's anointed. Rather than face those who criticize his questionable teachings and practices Hinn says things like this:

The Holy Ghost is upon me...The day is coming when those that attack us will drop dead. You say, 'What did he say?' I speak this under the anointing of the Spirit. Can I tell you something? Don't touch God's servants; it's deadly...Woe to you that touch God's servants. You're going to pay. 'And the day will come.' The Lord said that to me. He said, 'The day will come when I will punish instantly. Woe to those who touch my chosen.' They will fear us. Hear this: today they mock us; tomorrow they will fear us. (Benny Hinn, November 22, 1991, Anaheim Convention Center)

Not only is this embarrassing, sad, and shameful, but it is also unBiblical. The passage that untouchable holy-men such as Hinn quote is Psalm 105:15 which says, "Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm" (KJV). Benny Hinn and his ilk would have gullible Christians believe that this passage means that those who claim to have direct anointing from God should not be criticized. In reality, the anointed in this passage are not the televangelists, but the Israelite kings and patriarchs. The passage is a command not to physically harm kings or prophets. It is not a carte blanche for leaders to act as infallible interpreters of God's will and teaching. Christians are called to be accountable to one another and this is especially true for leaders. If Christians were not permitted to criticize men claiming to have God's revelation, then Christianity would just be a milky stew of half-cooked philosophies, warmed-over Unitarianism, and bits and pieces from the fertile imaginations of religious con-men like Benny Hinn. Accountability is what makes the church strong. Without accountability, entire congregations are misled and taken advantage of. Church politics can certainly be ugly, but not as ugly cult-like devotion to one man. A little accountability goes a long way.

Claims to be receiving the truth via a direct line to God should be treated skeptically. Gnosticism simplified, is a belief system whereby special revealed knowledge is revealed only to a specially-attuned elite. Hinn has repeatedly made the claim, as many charismatic evangelical preachers do, of having received special revelation from God. However, if one examines his claims carefully, Hinn comes out looking like a two-bit circus psychic. Hinn prophesied that Fidel Castro would die in the nineties, that the entire homosexual community of North America would be destroyed by fire by the mid-nineties, that Jesus would appear physically at one of his Crusades in Nairobi, and that a great event would occur on approximately April 15th 2003 in Israel. None of these prophecies came true.

There are a number of possibilities here. Three immediately occur to me. First, God was mistaken when he told Hinn these things. Second, Hinn misheard God. Third, Hinn never heard from God and merely made up these predictions. The first possibility would mean that God is not omniscient. The second possibility would mean that God was unaware that Hinn might misunderstand him which, in turn, would mean that he is not omniscient. The third possibility is the most likely, as it becomes not the fumbles or mistakes of a pure and inerrant God, but the deception of a religious con-man. Even one false prophecy from a man who claims to be hearing directly from God is enough to dismiss him as a liar.

Who deh?