May 11, 2015

Sympathy for Michael Coren

Brett FawcettRebel Blogger

A few years ago, when I was still studying to become a priest, I went to hear Michael Coren speak about his book Why Catholics Are Right. We talked afterwards, and he said some very kind things to me about my intelligence and my ability to express myself.  He recommended I get into blogging.  

Michael Coren, in other words, is, in part, why I am writing for the Rebel Media.

So when I heard that he had become an Anglican a few weeks ago, it was sadder news to me than the realization that my home province of Alberta had defected to the NDP.

That said, I kind of get why he did it.

Coren says that he left because he couldn’t stand the bigotry against homosexual persons that he experienced in the Roman Catholic communion. (We have to specify Roman Catholic, since he still identifies as an Anglo-Catholic - look up the Oxford Movement if you find that confusing.)

Truthfully, I sort of saw this coming. When I talked to him in 2013, he was working on a book called Man and Wife: A Defense of Traditional Marriage. The moment its promotional material disappeared from his website, I felt a dim intuition flicker in me that the news of last April confirmed.

It’s tempting to react the way other Catholics have reacted. Call him out for his poor reasoning; insist that the teachings of the Church are affirming of gay people; remind him that you can’t judge the Church by the idiocy of its members, etc. etc.—stuff he almost certainly knows already.

But, the thing is, I get it. Go watch his debate with Charles McVety on the Ontario sex ed. curriculum; watch what an uncomprehending ass McVety makes of himself.  If that’s your major exposure to the defense of traditional marriage, if that’s the fruit of the Church’s teachings, then I get why a person like Coren might stop caring how theological persuasive the arguments against the gay lifestyle are and decide that, true or not, if it breeds attitudes like this, he wants no part of it.

And here’s the thing: I can’t pretend I’ve always liked Coren’s style over the years, but I’ve always appreciated him for being real. He lets you know where he’s at. And this is where he’s at right now. This isn’t the first time he’s left the RC fold, either: He had a phase as an Evangelical before his return to Rome a few years ago.

And, the fact is, a Catholic has to respect that. No less than Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman, the highest-profile convert from Anglicanism to Catholicism you could ask for, called the conscience “the aboriginal Vicar of Christ”, prior even to the Pope, and maintained that a person would be justified in not being a Catholic if their conscience prevented them.

That doesn’t mean that, to use his own phrase, Catholics are no longer “right”; it just means that a person - and persons are made up of passions as well as reason - isn’t in the spiritual place yet to make the full commitment that the Church calls for.

And this should not frustrate us.  Some, like Michael Voris (who was told by his archdiocese to stop calling his ministry “Catholic” after some of his more egregious comments), have uncharitably compared Coren to King Henry VIII, who also wrote a book about how Catholics were right, but left the Church because of its teachings on sexual ethics.

But I think a better comparison is to Malcolm Muggeridge, another witty British journalist who delighted in demolishing the delusions of the left, and who also remained an Anglican for many years because of his simple inability to bring himself to take the plunge, despite his deep reverence for Mother Theresa.

I don’t know if Coren will remain an Anglican. He presumably still maintains many of his more “right-leaning” views about, for example, the Middle East, and he may not find the warmest reception to this in his new congregation.

Moreover, given that it was the bad examples of Catholics which drove him out of the Church, perhaps, like Muggeridge, the example of a living saint will end up drawing him back. (This is a challenge to all the Catholics reading this to set a better example of charity and holiness in your lives.)

Until then, we should continue to show Michael Coren respect, dignity, and love as a Christian who still sacramentally belongs to Mother Church. Remember, Muggeridge didn’t end up becoming Catholic until he was 79 years old. At the sprightly young age of 56, that gives Coren loads of time. Surely we can spare some prayerful patience for another such brother in Christ.


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commented 2017-06-22 15:40:12 -0400
I have followed Coren for years, dating back to having viewed him for several years on his old show “The Michael Coren Show”, on the CTS network (now YES TV). During those years and later when he made his move to the short lived but much lamented Sun News Network, I often respected his intellect and his opinions. That has changed. Not because his opinions are not sometimes valid but rather because he is not consistent about holding onto them. Trying to relate to Coren, theologically, philosophically or politically, is to build ones house on shifting sands indeed.
commented 2015-05-27 13:22:19 -0400
Your facts dealing with Michael Voris and his Archidiocese are wanting.
commented 2015-05-19 19:02:06 -0400
i hadn’t heard that coren changed. but its not surprising: c.s. lewis was alway his hero and mentor.
commented 2015-05-12 04:50:41 -0400
Joan Abernathy: Christ was not a protestant. He acknowled the authority of the Jewish leadership and submitted to it unto death. Yes he did protest and argue for reform but did not lead a revolution against the existing authority or reject that authority.
commented 2015-05-12 04:00:23 -0400
Glenn Reid, I don’t question Michael Coren’s sincerity at all. I just think he’s wrong and he’s letting his emotions get in the way of taking a sustained look at Christian doctrine. I think he’s confusing feelings of compassion for the LGTB community with genuine compassion, which is a desire to see them come to a saving knowledge of Jesus. As far as Joe Boot is concerned, I think he is one of the most brilliant Christian apologists around today. He is definitely the intellectual equal of Michael Coren, which may be why he so angered Michael.
commented 2015-05-12 02:48:11 -0400
Miroslav Marinov, I wasn’t the one who called Charles McVety a “jerk” or “uncomprehending ass”. All I said was that he was not as intelligent or articulate as Michael Coren. I was defending Charles McVety, and his orthodoxy to the Christian doctrine as outlined in the Bible. He did the best he could. By the way, in the CBC piece on the subject, I thought Michael Coren tried to cut off and talk over Charles McVety just as much as the reverse. So please, watch those pronouns, and don’t roll my comments in with Brett Fawcett’s comments. He can speak for himself, and I can speak for myself.
commented 2015-05-12 02:46:24 -0400
Shrug. A guy leaves a Christain church after leaving another church, after leaving another religion. Call me if/when he starts stumping for the Ayatollahs.
commented 2015-05-12 02:45:12 -0400
Maurice and Miroslav both brilliant posts, for those (like Coren) who claims to be ‘Christian’ which means followers of Christ which by extension follows the Bible…the Bible is crystal clear on the area of human sexuality. I would also add a more practical explanation to Michael’s constant church shopping is perhaps as he seeks employment in Canadian media…he may feel the need to ‘modify’ his social stance and become politically correct – more acceptable to the ruling elites. I saw just how angrily Coren treated one of his guests on his old Arena show on SNN who debated from a Biblical view on the issue of human sexuality – Rev. Boot who was kicked off his show. Rev. Boot is a thoughtful and exceptional communicator, but failed to play the role of either a buffoon or a politically correct Toronto Pastor. Too much for Coren to handle so he was banned after being a ‘regular’ guest.
commented 2015-05-12 00:38:22 -0400
Come on, Ms. Abernethy, it takes a wild imagination to read in my comment that I “condemn the children of homosexual parents as damaged goods, untouchables.” Do you know that I also use ground children to make hamburgers? The pathetic twisting of my words doesn’t do any good to your progressive cause. In my comment I mentioned in passing the negative impact of two prominent homosexual “families” on their children. The latter are not “damaged goods,” they are victims of their parents. Since you are not familiar with (or don’t care about) the cases, let me elaborate. In 2007 Cate Cochran published the book “Reconcilable Differences: Marriages End. Families Don’t,” which has a whole chapter on Kathleen Wynne (she was interviewed for it). When in 1980’s she suddenly discovered the lesbian lifestyle, she brought into the house her girlfriend and forced her husband to move to the basement. The chapter describes in detail the devastating consequences of that arrangement on her three kids’ minds. If she were an honest and rational person, she would’ve moved out, but it appears that a homosexual’s determination to flaunt her lifestyle trumps the interests of the kids. As of George Smitherman, it is well documented that his live-in partner (or “husband” if you prefer) was suffering from drug addiction or acute suicidal depression (or both) and his “disappearances,” which engaged enormous police resources, were covered in the press. Yet the couple was allowed to adopt and raise children – the child protection services didn’t show interest in the case.
Are you saying that I should be “without sin” to criticize those dysfunctional people, who mistreated their children? Is God going to forgive them for that? That is not a popular view in downtown Toronto – but many people agree that lauding and promoting that questionable lifestyle in the educational system is not in the best interests of the kids. You say: “I get it. No respect for anyone who isn’t just like you.” But where is the respect of the sexual minorities for the rest of us?
In response to Mr. Potvin and Mr. Fawcett on the issue of Charles McVety, I agree on most of what they said, with the exception of comparing him to a “jerk” and “uncomprehending ass.” Frankly, I feel uneasy about the theology of the Evangelical Christianity – it interferes too much with the daily lives of its followers. As an Orthodox Christian, I am more comfortable with the Orthodox Church, which hasn’t changed much over many centuries and though it provides guidance, it doesn’t control its members – the Holy Synod doesn’t change its position with every new development in the world; it tells you what’s good and bad, but if you don’t follow its points, God will sort out your sins. I respect McVety for taking a bold position in defense of family and tradition.
It may seem incomprehensible to the downtown sex liberation crowd, but their point of view is not progressive and not even popular in the rest in the world. The ridiculous voodoo theory about the 50 genders and its implications, forced on us by the cultural Marxists as a new tool of class struggle, exists only among the overpaid academia in Canada and a large part of Western Europe (and to borrow Ms. Abernethy’s scathing definition, they have “No respect for anyone who isn’t just like them”), but for the rest of the world we are a laughing stock. You don’t need to go far to realize that – just look at what the new immigrants in Canada support ideologically.
I had to interrupt my typing to see a segment of Steve Paikin’s show on TVO debating the sex-ed curriculum. Representative of the concerned parents was Mr. Feras Marish – a bearded guy with a shaved head, probably Muslim. Though quite articulate, I wonder if he was invited for his look, expected to cause certain reaction. On the other side was Mr. Coren’s usual condescending self that blamed the protests on fringe right-wing religious groups (the main churches supposedly accepted the changes with cheers). The sex-ed opponents were so weird that they even had an Elvis Presley impersonator as a speaker. He managed to import into his talk all progressive lingo – the sex-ed enemies didn’t want to stop the bullying of “different” children; their actions were based on deeply-seated “homophobia” and animosity toward Kathleen Wynne as a “gay woman.” He has surely found a new stream of silver pieces.
commented 2015-05-11 22:44:57 -0400
Brett Fawcett, Michael Coren frequently had Charles McVety on his show “The Arena” on the SNN, as I’m sure you probably recall. He wasn’t particularly eloquent or articulate on that show either. However, since it was Michael’s show, he could control McVety’s outbursts somewhat. McVety probably isn’t the best choice to defend the Evangelical position, but he seems to be the only one stepping up to the plate. However, I still think Michael Coren’s views on human sexuality are problematic from the perspective of a Christian World View.
commented 2015-05-11 21:52:20 -0400
I want to clarify what I was saying about Charles McVety.
Firstly, I know he’s an Evangelical, not a Catholic; my point was that he represents the traditional Christian teaching on homosexuality, and thus represents the sort of attitude Coren is reacting against.
More importantly: I’m actually more sympathetic to McVety than Coren on the issue of Ontario sex ed. HOWEVER, when he accuses Coren of no longer being a “family man”, I’m sorry, but now you’re being a jerk. This is what I was trying to say in the article: It doesn’t make any sense to go after Coren as some kind of traitor who deliberately set out to attack everything he previously believed in. He’s a Christian man who, I think, is confused by some of the Church’s teachings. Making personal attacks like that make Mr. McVety looks like, as I said in the article, an uncomprehending ass. (And it doesn’t help that he isn’t especially well-spoken, but that could be forgivable if he wasn’t so much of a jerk to Coren, if nothing else by not giving him a chance to talk unless the moderator forced him to clam up.)

I speak from a place of socially conservative Catholicism. I want to be on McVety’s side. But stuff like this makes me see why Coren doesn’t, anymore.
commented 2015-05-11 21:35:36 -0400
I wasn’t aware that Michael Coren had left the Catholic church. I was concerned with his ever-evolving views on human sexuality. That was because they were beginning to stray away from the teachings of Biblical scriptures on the subject. Ironically, I too left the Catholic church because of something Michael Coren once said while he still fully embraced Catholic doctrine. It was a simple statement; “You don’t have to be Catholic, but if you are, you have to be!” That meant if I didn’t fully embrace Catholic doctrine, if I didn’t believe it completely, I wasn’t a real Catholic. It was my increased, intense study of the Bible that got me questioning some Catholic doctrine, and brought me to the inescapable conclusion that some of it just did not line up with scripture. So, if I couldn’t embrace Catholic doctrine completely, I wasn’t a real Catholic.

Leaving the Catholic church was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life, particularly since I was well into my 60s at the time. And, believe it or not, it was my respect for the Catholic church that made me leave. Some of the most wise and brilliant Christian apologists that I’ve ever heard or read have come from the Catholic church. And in no way do I question the salvation of those in the Catholic church who truly love and serve Jesus. It’s just that every time I receive the sacraments of the church in unbelief, that is without believing Catholic doctrine fully and completely, I would be, in their view, desecrating something they hold very sacred, and I just couldn’t do that.

But the teachings of scripture on human sexuality are what they are. They are not ambiguous. If one believes that the scriptures are the divinely inspired words of God (and I do) then it really doesn’t matter whether or not I like what the Bible says, it only matters whether or not it’s the truth. Truth is not relative nor subjective, and it isn’t subject to emotions or feelings, it simply is what it is. I believe, and the Bible teaches, that God has one plan for human sexuality, and one plan only; and that is that one man and one woman come together in marriage, and stay together for life. There’s no backup plan.

Having said that, I’ve never been married. I’m celibate now, which isn’t that tough at my age, but I did live through the 60s. I was no dope smoking hippie love child, but I certainly took full advantage of the young ladies who were. But there was never a time that I didn’t know in my heart that “this is wrong”. I just didn’t care, I was having way too much fun, and I could always repent later. So I judge no one. But if I call myself a Christian, I have to judge whether or not the sexual acts are in line with scripture. And homosexual activity is not in line with scripture. I can’t judge salvation, that’s God’s department, and rightly so; I’m sure I’d get it wrong every time. But I don’t believe one can engage in homosexual activity and be fully committed to living the Christian life.

Of course, we don’t live in a Christian theocracy. Gays and Lesbians must have the same rights as everyone else. But I’ve always thought that the debate about same-sex marriage was never about equal rights, but about semantics. What does the word marriage mean? Traditionally, it has always meant a covenant relationship with procreative potential. Until about 10 or 15 years ago, that definition was never questioned. I suppose the meaning of words are mutable and can change over time, but biology doesn’t. It still takes a man and a women to make a baby, and to buttress and support procreation is the only logical reason for government incursion into the institute of marriage.

Michael’s ever-shifting position is troubling to me. And I think any ridicule of Charles Mc Vety is unfair. Granted, he’s not as intelligent or articulate as Michael Coren, and he can sometimes seem unsympathetic to people who take opposing views to his. I don’t believe that’s who he really is, I think it’s just the trouble that he has articulating his thoughts. And what he said was more in line with Biblical teaching than was what Michael Coren seems to believe these days.

I like some of what CS Lewis said about homosexuality: “There is much hypocrisy on this theme. People commonly talk as if every other evil were more tolerable than this. But why? Because those of us who do not share the vice feel for it a certain nausea. Cruelty is surely more evil than lust and the World at least as dangerous as the Flesh.” Sexual activity outside of heterosexual marriage is not the worst of sin, but to deny that it is sin is to deny scripture. One doesn’t have to believe scripture or be Christian, but like everything else, it’s either true or it’s not. I’m either right or I’m wrong, so is Michael Coren, so everyone else. That’s just how truth works.
commented 2015-05-11 18:26:00 -0400
Well, I am not going to judge Mr. Coren. Nor will I judge the activities of the rainbow people, but I also do not want to be asked to admire them, since this also is judgement. It is not up to me to set the rules for any one Christian church. But, I must confess that I am not looking forward to Pope Francis’ expected encyclical on climate.
commented 2015-05-11 16:16:36 -0400
Miroslav Marinov – I am not a United Church advocate – but I note your disdain.

I get it. No respect for anyone who isn’t just like you.

Are you so perfect, so without sin, that you are entitled to condemn the children of homosexual parents as damaged goods, untouchables? No. Then God forgive you.
commented 2015-05-11 15:43:12 -0400
The author of the article appreciates Mr. Coren for being real: “He lets you know where he’s at. And this is where he’s at right now.” Forgive me for saying so, but jumping from church to church doesn’t make you real (I didn’t even know that Mr. Coren had an Evangelical period). He reminds me of a tense boy scout, who rushes from assignment to assignment to collect more badges and impress his peers. A kid could be excused for that, but a grown man, who has collected plenty of incompatible ideological badges and makes a living by commenting on social issues, is far from real. Does he stand today by what he said yesterday and how is his opinion going to change tomorrow? We are not talking news reporting, where facts could change quickly, we are dealing with fundamental concepts, which determine a person’s worldview – obviously, in Mr. Coren’s mind they could be changed easily.

That transformation must be working, if a United Church activist like Ms. Abernethy gives him such a glowing seal of approval in her comment. Nothing else matters – it’s all about the gay “marriage” and warming up the cold homosexual bed with more intimacy (despite the dysfunctionality of that type of marriage, as the experiences of the kids of homosexual elites like Wynne and Smitherman show). It seems that Mr. Coren has passed the test of progressivism with flying colours – in the tiny world of the Canadian media where a (still alleged) sadist with correct progressive views like Jian Ghomeshi could flourish for years, trashing the values that have sustained our civilization is a prime requirement for joining that privileged club. A simple and straightforward man like Charles McVety may not be able to match the condescending and cynical wit of Mr. Coren, but he speaks for millions of people, who, contrary to the “enlightened” elites’ opinions, somehow can’t see anything beneficial in pushing sex perversion on their kids as something perfectly normal.
commented 2015-05-11 13:37:18 -0400
Thanks for that Brett Fawcett. So, Coren is now into his 3rd religion. I noticed he was having trouble with the first two. Western churches are being challenged in this age of politically correct enlightenment. Church tenets and dogma being revised to fit in with the times. What value do tenets have if you can change them, as often as you change your socks? I’m looking forward to a new and improved Michael Coren. One who doesn’t drown out his guests when he doesn’t agree with them.
commented 2015-05-11 13:05:59 -0400
Mr. Coren is an articulate writer and thinker, and of course he has the right to join and leave any church he wishes to. But I wonder about how quickly and often he changes his beliefs, and switches his allegiance from one major church denomination to another. The Catholic church has chosen a new, far more liberal pope than its predecessor, but yet Mr. Coren leaves the church. And what about the Anglican church? The past decade or so it has tilted leftward in most of its pronouncements. In foreign policy, the Anglican church (like most left-leaning institutions) has become anti-Israel, anti-Western and anti-human rights. Does Mr. Coren believe in all of these leftward statements by the Anglican establishment? Is his entire spiritual belief system underpinned solely by pronouncements on homosexuality?

There is a wonderful Christian book, by John Bevere, called “The Bait of Satan”. The main point of this book is that God plants us in a church for a reason, that we have to undertake purposeful ministry work, through Christian love, within that church. If problems arise, we should forgive others, talk things out, and stay at the church, supporting other ministry workers. We may go through hard, spiritual times — staying at a church — put this is part of carrying Christ’s cross. We should not become “spiritual vagabonds”, roaming from one church to another. When we do the latter, we cut off spiritual, loving ties with the people at the former church. We dry up, spiritually. I think Mr. Coren is a spiritual vagabond, sampling one church then another, as if churches are cafeteria food. — David Murrell, Fredericton, NB
commented 2015-05-11 12:30:30 -0400
Well said K Very well said indeed. LOL
commented 2015-05-11 11:54:18 -0400
Charles McVety is an evangelical, not a Catholic, and a man to be admired IMHO.
commented 2015-05-11 11:33:26 -0400
Victor – you mean like how Reality “bitch-slapped” Jesus for his fulfillment of the law? For revealing God’s will is not hatred and vengeance but love and inclusion?
commented 2015-05-11 11:27:10 -0400
Brett Fawcet – Anglicans are not the enemy. Nor are any Protestant Christians. Geez Louise, Christ himself was a Protestant, wasn’t he. His protests on behalf of love are what got him crucified.

Nor are Sikhs, Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, Animists or atheists who practice love our enemies.

I have followed Coren’s Twitter account and read some of the hateful comments posted there. One such asked him if a family member had come out of the closet and he responded “yes”.

We know homo- bi- and trans- sexual youths suicide in disproportionate numbers to other children. What sort of man puts his career in opinion-making before the survival of suffering family?

I think Michael Coren did the right thing. For a number of reasons. Including that Christians cannot afford ro bicker amongst ourselves while the global caliphate grows more united by the day. Including that Christian-Right hate for difference has become particularly virulent of late. Including that it is fundamentally anti-love and anti-Christ to insist heterosexuals can enjoy the comfort of intimacy, a warm bed and family life but that homosexuals must always sleep alone and never hold their children. Including that even though many homosexuals are well-placed to provide excellent, secure and privileged parenting for orphaned and rejected children, because the Church denies them the sacrament of marriage, such families are not welcome in the Church. And so on.

And Coren is right about the sex-ed curriculum. The video of him and McVety was highly entertaining. Here it is for anyone who missed it:

It is time for Christians to abandon our differences and embrace Christ’s ethic of love for neighbour. Enough of playing God the Avenger. Let’s stop the stone-throwing tradition.
commented 2015-05-11 11:08:55 -0400
“traditional marriage”

As if the species spawned a new type, and simply because delusional activists throw temper tantrums at anyone who dares to acknowledge just how badly reality bitch-slaps their toxic rainbow of civilization-exterminating politics.
commented 2015-05-11 11:08:45 -0400
Kathy Shaide: Is your opinion reflective of the Roman Catholic Church?
commented 2015-05-11 10:41:26 -0400
Well, if someone wants to join a “church” founded by a fat king so he could get some fresh p****, who am I to stop them?