felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
[personal profile] felis_ultharus
'Tis been a quiet day - which will likely become an increasing rarity in the months ahead, and so all the more precious. The busy season started early at work.

Anyway, in my continuing struggle to get all these to-review books off my pile, here's another from the Non-Fiction pile - The Armageddon Factor by Marci McDonald, an exposé of the religious right in Canada and their power within the Harper government.

I have to admit I've been reluctant to review this here. Lately my Facebook has exploded into political stuff - with the election, with all the issues going on, it's hard for it not to have. At the same time, I've been keeping my LJ, Dreamwidth, and Google+ accounts personal.

With apologies to Carol Hanisch, any activist who does not know how to draw a thick black line between the personal and the political is headed for burnout. I know - I've been in activist circles a long time, and I've been the one who burnt out. In cyberspace, that thick black line has been around Facebook for me.

But this is a valuable little book, and necessary for anyone who wants to understand what the Harper government really is and what it's doing.

McDonald greatly expands on her original article that inspired the book. That article is here. She first delves into the origins of the Dominionist movement - the neo-theocrats - then covers each area the Dominionists have moved into: climate-change denial, private religious-based education, anti-gay politics, removing broadcast standards, and replacing the judiciary. She also goes into their tactics - how they recruit for government, how they lobby, and how they draw in the youth movement.

The book is an excellent read, though I don't think it quite accomplishes what it sets out to do. She wants a smoking gun, but never quite gets one. Instead she interviews activists who have the ear of the Harper government (like Charles McVety), attends rallies of Christian youth who support him (like Faytene Kriskow's Acquire the Fire movement), reads books and blogs written by conservative advisors, including highly-placed ones.

She never once gets a quote from Harper or his fellow MPs admitting to being Dominionists. Though MP Maurice Vellacott's top advisor is one scary individual - he defends the killing of abortion doctors, and his mentor wrote a book about replacing a country's legal code with Leviticus.

It's very hard to measure that kind of influence. But it is something that should worry us. And even without the smoking gun, this is a very worrying book.

She does pile up a mountain of circumstantial evidence, and gives us a clear look into religious-right lobby. She gets right inside the lobbyist world, from the youth groups to the think-tanks, to behind the scenes at the radio shows, to Preston manning's school for turning fundamentalist Christians into media-savvy politicos. She documents a lot of contacts between these people and the Harper government. That alone makes it worth the read.

One other note. I have to say that her writing style was a bit disappointing. I'm so used to the excellent efforts of Linda McQuaig and Naomi Klein writing about Canadian politics, that I find it a bit lacklustre. Maybe she'll improve with future books. If this one is any indication, she's got quite a future ahead of her as a political commentator on an issue most journalists won't touch.
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felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)

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