Frank Mahovlich and the Hidden Failure of Our Churches


I’ll get to the title of this post in the next paragraph but for now let me just say that in my library I have copies of a number of magazines from the 1960s and 1970s.  I have several copies of Maclean’s dating from the early 60s. I also have several copies of a magazine called Soviet Union and I have a copy of Fortune Magazine, a much more substantial publication than the first two I mention above.  Soviet Union  is a publication founded by Maxim Gorky in 1930 originally called USSR in Construction, it was renamed in 1950.  Maclean’s was, in the early 60s, a domestic weekly current affairs magazine with fairly innocuous content, much as today. All the publications I address here are large format, about 34 X 26 centimeters.  The current Maclean’s is 27 X 20 centimeters.

In this post I write about the Maclean’s of February 25th, 1961. In the next post I write about Soviet Union and I’ll follow that with a post on Fortune.  All of these publications are essentially propagandistic although there would be vehement denials of this on the part of the publishers although I doubt if they care an iota about what I have to say about them.  For a current affairs magazine, Maclean’s addresses a range of topics as can be noted from a photograph of the front page:

Sports, religion and police work dominate this edition of the magazine.  Peter Gzowski writes an article called Viva Mahovlich!  In it he waxes poetic about the “Maple Leafs’ young star.”  I was 14 years old at the time and Frank Mahovlich was a young star on the Maple Leafs. He played against the best, such as Henri Richard and Bobby Hull.  I played very poorly  at a boarding school in Edmonton, one of a number of boys from  the west coast of British Columbia with very little experience with ice.  I would never qualify for Junior ‘B’, never mind the NHL.  Frank Mahovlich was a star before he joined the Maple Leafs.  The names in the NHL have changed, but I still can’t play hockey worth a shit.  But I’m not dead yet, which is more than I can say for lots of hockey players who played with Frank Mahovlich.

The religion part of this edition features a report by Ralph Allen who writes this about Christianity: “Against such other gigantic forces as communism, materialism and a thinly sheathed militarism, the Christian church is widely held to be the most hopeful protector of the human race, physically as well as spiritually.”  How’s that for objective journalism.  Whatever, this is just a year after the heady days of the defeat in Quebec of the Duplessis government by the Lesage Liberals with René Lévesque in the Cabinet.  This year marks the beginning of a huge transformation in Quebec politics and religion.  Bring on secular religion and bring on a much expanded French speaking provincial government bureaucracy and the beginnings of the CEGEP movement in higher education.

So, 1961 was the year I was 14 years old, the year Diefenbaker would march side by side with John Kennedy and the year Quebec turned church buildings  into gift shops.  The ads in the 1961 Maclean’s include ones for booze, big American cars and insurance…and there’s a Pepsi ad appealing to the young.  Nothing’s changed except the youth of then are the old farts of now.

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