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The Supreme Court and America’s Moral Leadership

As a Canadian, I have always had the highest admiration for America, this mighty, upbeat and freedom-loving neighbor to my own country. And for the past twenty-two years (and three consecutive Green Cards), it’s been my privilege to live in this great country and to enjoy, even as an alien, a generous measure of its bounty and benefits.

In so many ways America has been and remains a beacon to the world. Through the years, this nation’s positive influence has been extended even more by the example that it has set than by the military power it has flexed. And one of the enviable foundation stones for the American way of life has been the United States Supreme Court. Its lofty front pillars, echoing ancient architectural ideals, serve as reassuring symbols of stability and even-handed judgments.

The Supreme Court is indeed the very pinnacle of the American judiciary. It is serenely accountable only to constitution and law, and thereby stands above the partisanship, corruption and injustice that embroil so many other nations of the world and now encroach upon certain other respected institutions of the United States. The Court’s integrity, and the trust that the public must be able to place in its decisions going forward, are absolutely indispensable to the continuing unity and civility of this amazing democracy.

This is why, of course, we must view the current hearings about the nomination of Judge Kavanagh to the Supreme Court as a decisive moment for America. Emotions and partisanship are running high. The scene is awash in expressions of moral outrage by both sides.

But so much more is actually at stake. Members of both political parties must be willing, therefore, to subsume their personal and party ambitions beneath the needs of the high court itself. Those who sit for life upon this lofty bench must be, and be perceived as being, entirely above the faintest hints of partisanship, suspicion or reproach. Every true patriot knows this. Only a very few judges will ever be able to meet its highest of all standards of temperament, competence, character and credibility. Yet holding to such standards, in the face of the fiercest pressures to compromise, is certainly one of the keys to keeping America strong.

Therefore, if even the faintest odor of doubt attaches to any candidate for this highest of all judicial offices, it is right for patriots to ask him or her honorably to step down for the sake of the Supreme Court’s credibility, and ultimately for the good of the whole country. By this standard even many good people will be disqualified. But there will be others in the land ready and able to step up to take their place. America is still the most richly resourced country on earth, and that includes its unparalleled resources of human leadership capital. Has this supply chain of great leaders been exhausted? Is America no longer able to demand the very best? The final verdict that is about to be given on an appointment to the Supreme Court will help decide the future of the United States of America and its role as a global moral leader.

I, for one, am cheering America on.

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A Visit to the Vatican

 

It was a great honor to be recently invited as an official observer to a conference convened by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences at the Vatican in Rome. Ever since Pope Francis’s 2015 encyclical Laudato si’ (also known as On Care for Our Common Home), the Vatican has been providing moral leadership in shaping global Christian response to the intensifying threats to a safe and sustainable planet—threats created largely by human activity and choices.

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Our Dear, Sweet Dad

Our dear, sweet Dad, James Taylor Scorgie, passed away on March 8, 2017 in Kelowna, British Columbia. He was 90 years old. As he breathed his last, I had the privilege of whispering in his ear the sacred words “I have fought the good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith . . .” and then he was gone.

Dad was born in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, in 1926—during a blizzard, as he always reminded us. He grew up in the East York neighborhood of Toronto, went off to Moody Bible Institute in Chicago in the 1940s, fell in love with and married our mother, and embarked on his first calling as a minister of a number of churches in British Columbia, Ontario and Saskatchewan. Dad considered it one of the great privileges of his life to have been personally mentored by the renowned Christian mystic A. W. Tozer. During the second half of his career, he worked in the employment and immigration sector of the Canadian government. Then, in the late 1980s, at the onset of retirement, he and Mom moved all the way out to Kelowna, British Columbia and with considerable courage launched a whole new life there. They excelled at hospitality. Then, after Mom died in 1999, Dad found a comforting pathway forward with another life companion in the gracious person of Rita Beitel.

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Donald Trump and the Evangelical Silent Spring

Back in 1962 Rachel Carson wrote Silent Spring, a book that exposed the ominous silence caused by the dearth of songbirds returning to northern climes in the Spring. Her book exposed the toxic effects of DDT on all kinds of fragile life forms, and in doing so sensitized the conscience of the nation toward our environmental peril and responsibility. Today we are experiencing another kind of silent Spring, but one that is equally ominous. It is the silence of evangelicals concerning the egregious character and conduct of the president of the United States. It is as if evangelicals have suddenly lost their capacity for moral outrage, lost touch with their purported allegiance to biblical values and virtues.

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