OTTAWA — An Ottawa-based think tank has launched Canadian Observer, a culturally conservative Canadian quarterly its editor, Richard Bastien, hopes will engage Catholic readers.
"The culture has turned against Christians generally," said Bastien, a Catholic and retired economist who is a senior research fellow at the Canadian Centre for Policy Studies. The centre's president, Joseph Ben-Ami, an Orthodox Jew, is the magazine's publisher.
"We are constantly being challenged by various aspects of the culture and we must respond to that challenge by showing abandoning certain beliefs and practices will lead to chaos," said Bastien.
He said he hoped the magazine would provide an antidote to the "utopian ideology that crops up everywhere, including in some Christian circles."
"The state is being vested with some of the functions that were legitimately assumed by the Church or by religious organizations in the past," he said. "People now turn to the state to be told what is right and what is wrong. That's dangerous."
Bastien used the role of the family as an example. "We are being told increasing by the dominant culture that a society is made up of individuals and we should be concerned almost solely about individuals.
"The fact is the basic unit of society is the family and there's a need for recognition of that in our laws and in our general practices."
"We are also being told for instance that the responsibility for children belongs first to the state and only secondarily to parents and there even some people who go so far as to say that parents are agents of the state," he said.
"That's totalitarianism. The state is meant to serve families, not the other way around."
The magazine features articles by authors from a range of faith perspectives: Catholic, Protestant, Jewish and Muslim. "We're happy to say that while we are defending the Judeo-Christian tradition, there is room in our pages for people from all religious backgrounds," said Bastien.
"This magazine will include contributions from scholars but it is not a magazine for scholars. It's for the educated layperson."
In the inaugural Spring 2011 edition, Ben-Ami writes about how the magazine Cité Libre, magazine founded in Quebec by Pierre Trudeau and like-minded political thinkers in 1950, provided a platform "for the development and dissemination of left-wing ideas that were not in vogue at the time" but that eventually spawned the Quiet Revolution.
Ben-Ami said the goal for Canadian Observer is to "provide a similar platform for the development of conservative ideas in the areas of culture, politics and public affairs."
Bastien said the magazine will give prominence to cultural issues because culture is "the driving force behind politics."
"Canadian Observer is pro-faith, pro-family and pro-life," he said. "It assumes that there are objective moral standards and takes a critical view of modern liberalism, understood as the political expression of moral relativism."
A free PDF copy of magazine can be downloaded at www.canadianobservermag.ca.