July 23, 2017

The ineffable

By Hendrik van der Breggen
July 23, 2017

The ineffable

(Hendrik van der Breggen, PhD, is associate professor of philosophy at Providence University College. The views expressed here do not always reflect the views of Providence.)

July 19, 2017

Notes from the sidewalk

By Hendrik van der Breggen
The Carillon, July 20, 2017

Notes from the sidewalk

Often I walk the streets of Steinbach. Sometimes I take notes. These are from 2017.

January 28—blessed

Went for a walk today, and it was good for my soul.

(a) Dropped off some books at the library and at the front desk met a good Facebook friend whom I've never met previously in person.

Then (b) stopped at a local convenience store and purchased my favourite pipe tobacco (sometimes out of stock, but not today); purchased pipe cleaners (almost always out of stock, but not today); plus was approached at the till by an elderly gentleman who says he reads my newspaper column regularly, likes them, and clips them out to save them (I was half expecting a heated debate).

Then (c) dropped by the store that sells my restored pipes and was given some cash (nice!). On my way home (d) helped an on-foot, lost, out-of-town woman find the street on which her daughter lives (we had a nice chat in our search).

I am blessed.

May 30—tears

I walk for exercise and to keep from succumbing to depression.

On my walks I often bump into a fellow who is, so to speak, "vulnerable." He has some mental issues, wanders the streets, and usually asks me for money (which I give him in small doses). I pray for him fairly regularly, usually without much thought.

Today he ran up to me. My immediate response was to think about how much cash I had in my pocket and how much (little) to give him.

But HE took out his wallet and said, "You've given me much, so today I want to give you something." He then handed me a 20 dollar bill. I offered to give it back to him, but he refused. Then he said, shaking my hand, "I care about you."

I walked home in tears.

● June 6—saddness

In recent years I often enjoyed short visits with a 90-plus-year-old gentleman named Alex. Alex regularly read my column, and he encouraged me. I learned about Alex's rich life and quickly grew to admire him.

In one of our conversations Alex mentioned he was in the second wave of troops that hit the beaches of Normandy on D-Day. I asked Alex how long that was after the first wave. He said six minutes. (Yes, when I think of Alex I think of the extended battle scene at the beginning of Saving Private Ryan.) It also turns out that Alex helped liberate the Netherlands, where my parents were living under Nazi occupation.

Alex Tarasenko, Sergeant Major: January 23, 1921 - December 26, 2015. I salute you. And I miss you. Rest in peace

P.S. Alex was married to Helena for 70 years. Helena passed six months after Alex. Their house has been sold and demolished.

Today I walked by the space that once was their home. The emptiness is profound, even painful. I remember them with gratitude.

June 10—fear

Sometimes on my walks I stop at our local Thrift Shop. Often when I stroll through the book section I whisper, "Please guide me." Today after I whispered that prayer, the words "Gulag Archipelago" immediately came to mind. A split second later I spotted volumes 1 and 2 of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's Gulag Archipelago for $1.00 each. I purchased them.

Solzhenitsyn's Gulag Archipelago describes a society (former Soviet Union) that slipped into dealing with politically incorrect citizens by creating a far flung system of prisons and forced labour camps in which millions perished.

I wonder if we in the West are headed in this direction.

In chapter 2 of book 1, Solzhenitsyn describes the history of the prison system. These words haunt me: "[I]f people had been heroic in exercising their civil responsibilities, there would never have been any reason to write either this chapter or this whole book."

Hendrik van der Breggen, PhD, is associate professor of philosophy at Providence University College. The views expressed in this column do not always reflect the views of Providence.

July 13, 2017

Why I won't attend my city's gay pride parade

Gay pride parade 2016 (Steinbach, Manitoba)
By Hendrik van der Breggen
July 13, 2017

Why I won't attend my city's gay pride parade: Because the reasons against outweigh the reasons for

Concerning Steinbach's upcoming gay pride parade (July 15), let's look at some pros and cons. I think the cons (reasons against) outweigh the pros (reasons in favour).

On the pro side: Gay pride parades attempt to show love and respect to persons who identify as LGBTQ, plus challenge and draw attention to unfair discrimination and bullying. Gay pride parades are an exercise of freedom of speech.

Another pro (“pro”): We should celebrate, i.e., be proud of and affirm, the (assumed/ alleged) truth and goodness of the various gender identities and expressions thereof: homosexuality, bisexuality, transgender, etc.

Many well-meaning folks stop here and expect citizens (and government officials) to support gay pride parades.

But opposing reasons should be considered, too.

First, a clarification: One can be against discrimination and bullying plus favour love, freedom, equality, respect for all, and—at the same time—not agree with the celebration of LGBTQ as an ideology (set of ideas and ideals about sexuality and its expression). Disagreement doesn't equal hate.

Okay, what are some cons/ counter-considerations concerning gay pride parades? Here are seven.

1. Many persons (including me) hold moral/ religious beliefs that limit the appropriate expression of sexual intimacy to one man and one woman in marriage. These persons (e.g., many Christians, Jews, Muslims, Sikhs, etc.) hold such beliefs to be true, i.e., not a mere matter of opinion. These people count, too.

Significantly, in a pluralist society that values diversity, such beliefs are legitimate to hold. So, in so far as a pride parade celebrates or affirms behaviour one thinks is wrong, to that extent the moral/ religious belief—whether opponents agree or not—is a legitimate reason against attending (or supporting or endorsing) such parades.

(And the right to free speech of paraders is not infringed upon by those who disagree with the parade when they don't attend the parade.)

2. There are serious public health reasons for questioning the wisdom of celebrating and encouraging sexual expression outside the one-man-one-woman-united-in-marriage paradigm for sexual intimacy.

Psychiatrist-physician Miriam Grossman: Compared to the general heterosexual population, persons who identify as gay, lesbian, or bisexual report “more high risk sexual behaviors, higher rates of infection with HIV, syphilis, and gonorrhea, and more mental health problems [anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts].”

Significantly, Grossman adds, these disparities also occur in more accepting, gay-friendly societies (e.g., The Netherlands), so can't be blamed wholly on cultural attitudes.

See Dr. Grossman's book You're Teaching My Child What?: A Physician Exposes the Lies of Sex Ed and How They Harm Your Child. (This book is recommended by Nicholas Cummings, a former president of the American Psychological Association.)

3. LGBTQ ideology typically encourages redefining marriage from (a) the union of a man and woman who can (at least in principle) reproduce sexually via their union and nurture their biological children to (b) a union of, say, two adults regardless of sexual noncomplementarity.

However, according to researcher Ryan T. Anderson, reliable studies from social sciences strongly suggest parenting by married biological parents—i.e., biological mother and biological father—is ideal for well-being of children. The redefinition of marriage (along with divorce and single parenting) takes society another step away from this ideal.

See Ryan T. Anderson's lecture at Stanford University: What Is Marriage? (56 minute video). See too the Q&A (36 minute video). Anderson also sets out and develops three negative consequences of same-sex marriage in this 23 minute video presentation. (The subsequent 34 minute Q&A is important, too.)

4. Stepping away from sexual complementarity also increases demand for reproductive technology.

In Vitro Fertilization may become normalized and its problems exacerbated. IVF creates leftover frozen human embryos, i.e., human beings; often requires “selective termination, i.e., abortion of unwanted implantations/ fetuses; exploits women as surrogates and egg suppliers; threatens to turn children into commodities; plus threatens to abolish children's biologically-based moral right to know and be raised by both biological parents.

See my column Think, for baby's sake.

5. Transgender ideology is problematic, too. See my column Transgender ideology.

6. Recent history shows that LGBTQ ideologues tend to be extremely intolerant toward dissenters.

Last year's Steinbach parade spokesperson said those who disagree don't have a right to their opinion (a threat to free speech, surely), plus she shamed politicians who respectfully disagree with LGBTQ ideologues for not "representing" them (a threat to freedom of conscience, surely).

Moreover, local LGBTQ activists are attempting to use the force of law to promote LGBTQ ideology in public schools (in the academic curriculum of young children), in spite of what dissenting parents think. Also, Canada's recent passing of Bill C16, a.k.a. Transgender Rights Bill, threatens to compel speech (see my C16 and Forcing Your Religion and my Bill C16 is incoherent—and that's a concern).

More broadly, various businesses—bakers, florists, photographers, farmers—and private schools—e.g., Trinity Western University law school—are facing serious legal and financial difficulties because of LGBTQ activism. For example, one baker is facing a fine of $137,000.00 U.S. for not baking a same-sex wedding cake! Wow.

(Personal note: Because I have carefully critiqued LGBTQ matters over the past several years, some LGBTQ supporters have made public calls for me not only to be fired from my current place of employment but also to be stripped of my PhD. That's in addition to lots of name-calling. A growing LGBTQ understanding of "tolerance" of dissenters seems to be this: if you can't beat them with respectful use of reason and evidence, crush their ability to make a living.)

In other words, LGBTQ ideology—marching under rainbow flags and chanting ambiguous slogans about “diversity", “tolerance", and “love is love"—has a distinctly undemocratic, fascist flavor.

7. Arguments in favour of LGBTQ matters tend to be seriously flawed from the point of view of truth and logic. Space doesn't permit me to discuss those arguments here, so please see my relevant articles. For starters, see Untangling LGBTQ arguments (plus see below, especially my replies to critics).

Surely, truth-seeking responsible citizens are justified in refusing to support an ideology that is often based on (and even promotes) faulty reasoning.

My conclusion: When it comes to gay pride parades, I think the cons outweigh the pros. Thus I will not attend Steinbach's upcoming parade.

Nevertheless, I will show respect (and gentleness) to those who disagree with me, as I hope they will to me.

(Hendrik van der Breggen, PhD, is associate professor of philosophy at Providence University College. The views expressed in this column do not always reflect the views of Providence.)

Note to critics: Please read at least a few of my (relevant) suggested readings before commenting. Thanks.

Resources for people who have unwanted same-sex sexual attractions

Online resources, for starters: 
The following books are helpful too: 

 Suggested readings: Other Apologia columns on related matters

 Homosexuality (general) 
 Homosexuality (non-religious criticisms) 
 Homosexuality (and Bible) 
 Same-sex marriage 
 Replies to my critics 

Note to critics (again): Please read at least a few of my (relevant) suggested readings before commenting. Thanks.

June 24, 2017


St. Boniface Hospital, Winnipeg, Manitoba
By Hendrik van der Breggen
The Carillon, July 6, 2017


In view of St. Boniface Hospital's recent controversial decision not to permit medical assistance in dying (MAID), it might be helpful to look at some questions and answers about MAID.

Q. What is MAID?

A. The term Medical Assistance In Dying/ MAID is a dangerous euphemism.

Yes, of course we all want medical assistance in dying: please, doctors and nurses, don't abandon us as we die, please provide clean sheets, food, and morphine as death takes its course.

But MAID—the procedure—is the KILLING of a patient.

MAID, in other words, suggests comfort care, but translates the meaning of "care" into direct killing action.

Q. Are there other concerns about MAID?

A. Yes, MAID weakens our society's respect for life because its practice assumes life is no longer the default position. There is no doubt a non-fallacious slippery slope that lurks close by when we accept killing the sufferer is a solution to suffering.

Also, MAID places yet another burden on the elderly, terminally ill, and disabled. How? By subtly implying they must justify their continued existence. This is not good, surely.

In addition, proponents of choosing MAID inadvertently insult the elderly, terminally ill, and disabled by communicating this message: We'd rather be dead than be like you!

Q. University of Manitoba ethicist Arthur Schafer says this: "The fundamental principle of health-care ethics is the needs of patients come first." What about that?

A. Let's think. A patient NEEDS to be killed? Really? There is confusion here between needs and wants.

Also, shouldn't we remember something called the Hippocratic Oath? We should remember at least this part of it, especially if we're having a discussion of fundamental health-care ethics: "I will neither give a deadly drug to anybody who asked for it, nor will I make a suggestion to this effect."

Q. Schafer (again) about St. Boniface Hospital: "They're not taking into account people's end-of-life comfort." What about that?

A. This is simply not true. Significantly, St. Boniface is one of two hospitals in Winnipeg which provides palliative care. Palliative care is a branch of medicine that focuses on patient comfort when facing a life-threatening illness. St. Boniface doesn't conflate comfort and killing.

Q. St. Boniface Hospital is a publicly-funded institution, i.e., it receives taxpayer dollars, so, as Schafer argues (in the words of a CBC reporter), "the church has no place deciding the care doctors can provide at a public hospital." What about that?

A. We should keep in mind that St. Boniface is not merely a public hospital. It's also a church-run hospital. It was founded by Grey Nuns and has historically been governed by the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church is part of the public, too. Catholics are taxpayers, too. And Catholics provide additional funding (beyond taxes) to St. B.

Moreover, not every hospital offers all services, nor is required to.

Conclusion. We live in a free, pluralist society which requires wisdom on the part of its government. It seems to me that the official statement by Manitoba's Health Minister Kelvin Goertzen shows such wisdom: "We think that we've struck the right balance by ensuring that there is access to MAID but also ensuring that those individual rights and those hospitals that are uncomfortable with the procedure can also have their rights respected as well."

Thank you, Health Minister Goertzen.

Hendrik van der Breggen, PhD, is associate professor of philosophy at Providence University College where he teaches ethics (and other philosophy courses). The views in this column do not always reflect the views of Providence.

P.S. Food for further thought for doctors and nurses who conscientiously object to MAID:

It's good for objecting doctors and nurses to insist on conscience provisions, i.e., insist that if a doctor or nurse thinks physician-assisted killing is wrong, then he/she shouldn't have to do it.

But is this enough? What about referrals to others who will do the killing?

Let's think about it. If we think killing patients is truly wrong, as, say, slavery is truly wrong, then it's not enough simply not to own slaves. We should also not refer slave-buyers to slave sellers. In other words, we must object that slavery itself is wrong, period, and wrong for all.

Perhaps objecting doctors and nurses may only be required to provide accurate information about physician-assisted killing. If so, keep in mind that although it may not be wrong to be required to provide accurate information about slavery, it would be wrong if this information included directions about where to purchase a slave.

Additional columns/ articles on physician-assisted killing, for further reading: