WHAT DO YOU WANT… A MEDAL?

When I was growing up, if someone would boast of some small victory, we might bring them down to size with the remark; “What do you want… a medal?”  It was always a bit demeaning. Being the consummate Smart Alec I would always reply, “Yes, make it gold.”  Sometimes the put down was made even more disparaging by saying; “What do you want, a medal, or a chest to pin it on?”  Those of you who are old enough to remember the Wacky Races Cartoon will recall that when Muttley did something brave or heroic, Dastardly would say to him, “What do you want? A medal?” And Muttley would say, “Gimme, gimme, gimme!”

I had a bit of a Muttley moment last month when I was nominated for the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.  In honour of the Queen’s diamond jubilee the medal is being awarded in ceremonies all across Canada to a wide variety of people who have “made a significant achievement or contribution to Canada”.  Frankly, I was little surprised to find myself on the list.  The night of the presentation 37 Manitobans gathered at Government House and received the Medal from Lieutenant Governor Phillip S Lee.  It was a unique mix of business leaders, university professors, scientists and ethnic leaders.  It appeared that I was there, at least in part, as a representation of the Christian community as there were Sikh and Muslim leaders as well. The event was actually very multicultural, with people from many visible races and religions.

As much as I could not help but feel undeserving, I was grateful that the work of the church was being recognized.  When was the last time a Christian preacher was publicly esteemed for anything?  I don’t have a persecution complex, but I do think that it has been open season on the Church of late – to criticize and often belittle.  In the last couple of decades we have in many ways been sidelined as an archaic and irrelevant group.  So when my Member of Parliament Rod Bruinooge put forward my name, I decided I would accept on behalf of the Christian Church, or at least my little corner of the vineyard.

Although I clearly feel I was undeserving of the award, there are a few Christians that made the list that might actually deserve a medal.  Saskatchewan MP Maurice Vellacott nominated Linda Gibbons and Mary Wagner for the medal.  Gibbons is a grandmother who has spent 10 years on and off in prison for violating injunctions in front of abortion clinics, and Wagner is in prison in Milton, Ontario awaiting trial right now for the same thing.  When Vellacott was criticized for awarding the medals to convicted criminals he responded  “It’s a pretty upside down world when we honour abortionists like Henry Morgentaler for killing over 5,000 babies and imprison precious women, like Mary Wagner and Linda Gibbons, who try to save babies from such savagery. They are the real heroes of humanity!”  Incidentally, Morgentaler was at one time a convicted felon himself and served months in jail. His conviction was overturned by the Supreme Court.  Then in 2008, he was awarded the Order of Canada – our highest civilian award.  In response, several awardees, including some high profile Catholic clergy returned their Order of Canada medals claiming the award had been tainted by giving it to a murderer like Morgentaler.

When you look at the big picture it is hard to reconcile who really deserves a medal for anything. The Noble Peace Prize has been awarded to men that were widely considered terrorists by many. Yasser Arafat and Nelson Mandela come to mind.  But then, one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.  Barrack Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009 for doing… what was it? I forget now… oh yeah, I remember… nothing!

At the end of the day… I mean let’s face it, none of us deserve a medal for being a Christian!   It is hard to escape Jesus words, “Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven.” (Matt 6:1)  What do you want… a medal?   Actually no, not when you put it that way.

Update Nov 24, 2012:  Astute reader Bruno has observed that I now have something in common with Justin Bieber.   Except I feel like I might have over-dressed for the event.

 

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25 Responses to WHAT DO YOU WANT… A MEDAL?

  1. Ken says:

    well how about Harry Lehotsky who was mostly known for his advocacy on behalf of the poor in the West End of Winnipeg, and his dedication for improving the living conditions of his adopted neighborhood. He also helped found the Lazarus Housing and Nehemiah Housing programs as well as the Ellice Cafe and Theatre. After his diagnosis of terminal pancreatic cancer, but before his death, he was honoured with a mural on the side of a Maryland Street building depicting his efforts in the area. The Attorney General also created the Rev. Harry Lehotsky Award for Community Activism to recognize individuals and organizations that have made outstanding contributions to crime prevention in Manitoba. [1]

  2. Sally says:

    Congratulations Pastor Mark! I, for one, am proud of you. Proud that you stand up for the Lord and for preaching the truth no matter what the outcome will be. You deserve the medal but most of all when our Lord says “well done, my good and faithful servant” that will be the best medal ever. In the meantime, enjoy the honour! God’s word says that we will go before kings and those in authority when we uplift the Name of Christ and that is what you are doing! So keep on keeping on in His Name!

  3. Janella Gowryluk says:

    We all know it’s Kathy’s
    medal anyway. ;)

    Just kidding.
    Congratulations!

  4. Vin says:

    Congratulations Pastor Mark! Now don’t go trying to ‘bronze’ your Gold Medal. ;->

  5. Susan says:

    I know I may have had something intelligent to say – but too busy smiling! Congratulations Pastor Mark and Kathy!

  6. Bruno says:

    The scary part is that you now have something in common with Justin Bieber :)

    http://news.nationalpost.com/2012/11/23/justin-bieber-diamond-jubilee-medal-stephen-harper/

  7. John says:

    Congrats Pastor Hughes but I think that there is a difference between yourself and these 2 ladies. Based on what I’ve read in your blog, you do not seem to advocate violence and civil disobedience or belief that you are somehow above the laws that our elected governments have written. Regarding Ms. Wagner it was reported in the Globe & Mail

    “Court transcripts show she somehow gained access to a secure waiting room of a Toronto abortion clinic, had the waiting patients and their escorts in tears demanding her removal, then attempted to force her way through a door when staff ushered the patients into a more secure counselling and treatment area.

    She refused to leave when police arrived and was charged with trespassing, along with two counts of breach of probation.”

    Winnipeg Dr. Jack Fainman who survived an assassination attempt in ’97 stated in the Free Press

    “There can be little doubt that each shooting involved the assistance of a Canadian resident living in the same city as the intended victim. The investigating detectives thought my movements, which varied a great deal, must have been tracked by someone for at least a year.”

    When fanatics like Ms. Wagner and Ms. Gibbons fail to obtain the support of citizenry through peaceful protest or lobbying, they feel their ” higher calling” gives them carte blanche to do whatever they want.

    The anti abortion lobby is a litany of violence purporting to be in the name of God.

    I don’t take issue with the message but sure take issue with the methods

  8. Keith says:

    One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter: Sure, if the other man is an idiot. Was Martin Luther King Jr. a terrorist? Were the murderers of the Israeli Fogel family freedom fighters? It is false equivalence!

    • John says:

      Martin Luther King exercised his right to free speech, marched publicly and ( in spite of the actions of those against whom he marched) persuaded the majority of citizens to recognize the rights that his government had already granted in the Emancipation Proclamation and the United States Constitution. Both the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli Governments condemned the Fogel family murders – and most rational people would agree it served no purpose – and changed nothing in West Bank.

  9. janie says:

    I feel you deserve this medal for your significant spredding of the gospel. You are not doing this for a reward but to change the world and make it a better place. You do so in such a manner that is enjoyable, formative and personable. I know for a fact that you can see positive results in your audience. God bless you and all those who work behind the scenes each week. Blessings and Bear hugs

  10. Maurice says:

    Wow …. a medal, I can see why , Congratulations

  11. Sally says:

    I feel that I have to defend Linda Gibbons and Mary Wagner for standing up for the unborn. They are doing what we all should be doing and that is to speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves as the Word of God says to do. If it takes going against the norm then so be it. It is time for us to over turn Roe versus Wade that we adopted from the US and get a law in place to protect our unborn children. Last year 491 babies who were born alive from abortions and they were left to die. We have no law preventing abortion at any stage of gestation. A mother can abort her baby up to one day before birth. This is sinful and needs to be stopped. I commend Ms Gibbons and Ms wagner for all they are doing to try stop the slaughter of the innocence. They do deserve a medal!

    • John says:

      Actually this is what I was able to find pertaining abortions in Manitoba
      ” The time limit for abortion in Manitoba
      is approximately 19 weeks after your last normal period but most doctors will only perform abortions within the first 16 weeks of a pregnancy.”
      Violence is never the answer (and forcing your way into clinic involved violence). Do you advocate fire bombings and assassination? Our society offers so many ways to express yourself. Peaceful marches like those outside HSC or the Legislative Building,write your MP or MLA (or better yet get a petition going), blog, advertise, run for office,mobilize your church!! Do you really think that mainstream Canada will be convinced by images of screaming nuts berating crying women then being led away to squad cars or worse (fire bombings, property damage, murder). If these tactics really worked then abortion would be a non issue. The military junta in Argentina only ended when mothers marched to demand answers regarding their missing children and in 1986 Filipino citizens were successful in ousting Marcos with no bloodshed. It can be done but you need to persuade the majority and get them on your side not terrorize those you believe are wrong otherwise the law will remain on their side and you will never achieve your goal.

  12. Sally says:

    I do not advocate violence to make a statement to protect the unborn or to stand up for injustice. Linda Gibbons and Ms Wagner have been peaceful protestors and have not been terrorizing anyone. Abortions are being done at anytime no matter what you hear and a baby is still a baby no matter at what stage of development its at. We like to gloss our sin over so we don’t look bad or have to see ourselves as we really are.

  13. John says:

    The definition of force: “The use of physical power or violence to compel or restrain”. This is what Ms. Wagner did. It is not peaceful protest. These actions only make the pro choice lobby look rational, which makes them credible in the eyes of the mainstream. Christians believe that God gave everyone freedom of choice. As the Pastor stated in a previous post, many have died to protect our freedom of choice. I am not Christian but my wife and a good number of my friends are. You could say ( if that’s your belief) that God has allowed us to live in a country where we have the option to peaceably engage our fellow citizens and convince them of our positions – with evidence. This is why no one has an issue with Pastor Hughes receiving this commendation and why Ms. Wagner and Ms. Gibbons do not. It was stated that we must overturn the abortion law because it is sinful. The secular world does not see it that way. The onus is on you to convince them and then public policy will change. And yes it will take a long time. The democratic opposition in Myanmar took decades to achieve their goal peacefully. Even FARC, the most violent guerrilla group in Columbia is engaged in peace talks because they are realizing that decades of violence isn’t working. Ms. Gibbons and Ms. Wagner are dinosaurs. Time to try something else.

    • Mark Hughes says:

      John
      I think you make a valid point about Mary Wagner’s approach to the cause. Her methods are not likely to have any long term positive impact. It is certainly not an approach I would advocate.
      However, I think I do understand what is behind the seemingly ‘fanatical’conduct. Because she sees what is happening in those clinics as murder, she is taking radical action to try to stop it. Much like someone running into a convenience store holdup and trying to wrestle the gun away from the perpetrator. You are correct that it is a poor long term strategy… not to mention against the law. Although misguided I respect (not endorse) the fact that she is prepared to suffer for her convictions. People who win wartime medals do so by making the same level of sacrifice. The only point I was trying to make was that most of us at Government House that night frankly didn’t really deserve a medal. There were two very elderly gentlemen who were both POW’s in WWII. They received a far greater ovation at the presentation, as everyone in the room knew they had actually earned theirs.
      Today’s battles are of ideals and we have few champions that have both strong convictions and effective methods.
      It probably is time to try something else… but what? We have failed miserably in the abortion battle and I am embarrassed that we have done so little.

      • John says:

        Hi Pastor Hughes. I do empathize with Ms. Wagner’s feelings and apologize for the “dinosaur” remark. It was an ad hominem attack. I do not know Ms. Wagner or Ms. Gibbons personally and it is their methods that I take issue with.
        Unfortunately there are some realities that those against abortion need to face.
        1- Once a law is in place, it is very difficult to repeal.
        2- Politicians are terrified of controversy (for the most part).
        However this does not mean everyone throws up their hands and goes home (or worse, resort to violent disobedience).
        So, what to do?
        Keep in mind that this just off the top of my head.
        Perhaps it’s time to stop thinking in terms of “anti” abortion. Why did “pro choice” get to co-opt the term “pro choice” ? Start thinking ” Hey, we’re pro-choice too, just offering an alternative to abortion.”
        Know your target audience. Who do you want to get through to? Firstly – the woman seeking an abortion. There needs to be an understanding that they are probably truly believing that this is the right path for them. Remove the judgement. Stop with the rhetoric about them being sinners. What are the abortion clinics offering them? Support, counselling, assurance that they are doing the right thing. Breaking into a clinic, driving people who are already emotionally charged into tears is counter productive in the extreme. How many of the women seeking abortion walked out of that clinic? None were reported (and I’m pretty sure they would have been noted.
        Often a woman would believe that an abortion is truly the best solution due to her circumstances. Maybe she cannot support herself during pregnancy, maybe she is under pressure from her partner. Even the pro choice folks truly believe they are doing the right thing, including the doctors and lawmakers. Attacking the clinics only validates these beliefs and remember the law is on their side.
        Christians can promote their values through their churches. Be aware of the challenges of carrying a baby to term with no resources and provide those resources. Provide education in family planning and birth control. But most important be a supportive family ffor everyone, ( including women who have had abortions and their families). Leave the judging to God.
        On the political front, support elected officials by writing en masse. Again, forget the judgemental language, it only makes you look intolerant. Abortion is a controversy and most elected officials are terrified of controversy. However, like minded individuals, acting as a block provide important backing. MPs and MLAs can now take it to the floor on behalf of their constituents (and have to, regardless of their personal beliefs). The media cannot target someone for doing their job.
        Pastor, you use two examples.
        You liken Ms. Wagner’s actions to those of someone wreslting a gun from a robber. In the case of robbery, the law would be on your side, in the case of Ms. Wagner, the law is against her. The men (and women) who fought in WWII – and those who fight for us today, fight/fought against those who attempted to impose their tyranny on others, not against the laws of their elected government – a government that the majority of citizens support.
        And the question needs to be asked. Do those who break the law or commit violent acts in God’s name, do it for God, or their own ego? Wouldn’t God step in and change things if He truly condoned these actions. Use the Bible as your own rock and foundation but don’t load it onto a catapult and hurl it at someone else. Against those who truly don’t believe the way you do, it has no effect. I’ve been to church services where the pastor states that Christians need to hold themselves separate from “the world”. But how can you affect change with an attitude like that? You go into your bunker and they go into theirs, nothing changes.
        There are no fast solutions or easy answers and abortion does have a grey zone. Should a woman be forced to carry her rapists child? What about if there is condition where a choice needs to be made whether the mother lives or dies?
        And, Pastor, don’t sell yourself short. You received the award because you use words rather than the sword to affect change, thereby supporting peaceful dialog. There is a time to pick up a rifle and fight but the abortion battle isn’t it. Canada has it’s issues but is truly “blessed” in many important ways.

  14. Sally says:

    Hmm, I find it umbelieveable that the “fanatical actions” of these two pro life women whose only fanatical action was to go inside an abortionary clinic and counsel women who were going to abort their children for two hours would cause someone to hate them so vehemnently; and to call them “dinosaurs” is just over the top, but isn’t that just the way of the world now calling evil good and good evil.It is easy to see how that lying deceiving spirit, the doctine of devils has taken over our society. May I say God help us all and in fact only He can! And yes it is time for us Christians to repent for our complacency get involved and do what Proverbs 31:8 says “open your mouth for the speechless in cause of all those who are apointed to die” and to begin to speak for those who can’t speak for themselves, our next generation of unborn children whom God values greatly!

    • John says:

      Hi Sally. You’re right, calling them dinosaurs was over the top but their methods haven’t worked in 40 years. The anti-abortion lobby has a terrible reputation. In its current state, I wouldn’t want my kids involved in it. There was no counselling reported only tearful patients barricading themselves behind a door (I assume for protection). How many women left the clinic? Ms. Wagner is the best thing to happen to the pro-choice lobby. There is no hate in what I say but I’m sure that there is a significant number of Christians who would engage in the abortion debate if the judgemental rhetoric was given a rest and rational pro active actions were undertaken. I agree with what you say about complacency however you give Satan too much credit. We’re perfectly capable of messing up on our own. Using Satan as a crutch takes away accountability for our own actions ( or inaction).

      • Jordan Baribeau says:

        It appears someone missed the 18th and 19th century German philosophy course. Stating X has a “terrible reputation” falls right into the subject/object dichotomy directly related to ought/is statements. Just because social framework X states that Y’s actions lead to a ‘terrible reputation’ or are understood to be ‘misdirected’ does not make it objectively so. We all (should) know the folly of social science. I don’t need to elaborate on this in reference to your comment =). Heck, even Richard Rorty touches base with this.

        • John says:

          Hi Jordan, you’re right. I missed that course. I prefer an evidence based approach. Go online and find a timeline of the abortion debate. Fire bombings, shootings, unlawful entry, being mainly perpetrated by only one side of the debate. At U of M, in the late eighties, I attended a talk by Dr. Morgentaler that was interrupted by shrill protesters who had to be removed by security. Yet there was a microphone there for people to ask questions. You couldn’t even hear the protesters message because they were so loud and garbled. It is no surprise that shortly thereafter the abortion laws were enacted. I have not said that abortion is right. I don’t think that abortion on demand is a good idea (but not for idealogical reasons).
          Too late, the social framework is in place. The laws have been passed, the majority of citizens do not consider this a hot button issue. 400 First Nations folks marched on the legislature the other day. Outside the HSC Women’s Hospital, I see maybe a handful of anti abortion protesters and even then only occasionally. What those who protest against abortion need to ask is, “how do we engage tne average citizen so that we can affect public policy?”
          Couching your debate in judgemental language hasn’t worked, screaming hasn’t worked, unlawful entry hasn’t worked, assassination and property damage definitely hasn’t worked.
          You are facing an opposition that is just as convinced of their rightness as you are and the law is on their side. You have an unengaged secular society that is not motivated by your belief system ( ie they are not all Christians, they do not follow the bible, they do not go to church). The law of the land will not change unless these realities are addressed. Public policy will not change until the majority of the public considers it an issue.
          We are not in the Europe of the Industrial Revolution, this is a post modern world. German philosophy also gave rise to Communism as a backlash to the injustices of unrestrained capitalism in England. These same philosophies also gave rise to the modern liberal democracy that we live in today ( a much better alternative than the totalitarianism that gripped Germany in the mid 20th century). What is the folly of social science, and where does it fit with the discussion at hand? I don’t know much about Richard Rorty but I do know he advocated empathy in human rights. This is what those who are against abortion need to have. An understanding of the other side and the wider society in general.

  15. Steve says:

    2nd Corinthians 10:5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.

  16. Karen says:

    I am sad that this blog became one about abortion, and not about congratulations…

    Congratulations Mark!

  17. Don James says:

    Congratulations Mark! Just learned of your being honored. May God continue to bless your life and ministry.

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