Browse By Topic
Residential schools: the lesson that’s being lost
Our government needs to stop indoctrinating children
As history teachers never fail to remind us, “those who don’t learn their history are doomed to repeat it.” The double meaning is most often lost on their students – that if they don’t pull up their grades, they’ll be doing History 11 next year too. But as adults, it’s the original intent of this adage that we too often overlook: that if painful lessons of the past are forgotten, then we’re going to feel that same pain again. That’s especially true when it comes to the history of Canada’s Indigenous residential school system, where one of the key lessons is being lost.
As Canadians have become aware, the history of the schools is a history of sins being committed against the country’s Indigenous peoples. The sins were of two different sorts, and both have been publicly acknowledged, especially in recent years. But sadly, only one of the two is being universally rejected.
1. Ideological indoctrination
INDOCTRINATION CONDEMNED: Justice Murray Sinclair, who headed the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, called the residential schools, “cultural indoctrination centres.” (Picture credit: Art Babych / Shutterstock)
The first sin involves the indoctrination of Indigenous children. It’s been more than a decade now since the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) started traveling the country to collect testimonies about Canada’s residential schools. As a nation, we learned about how the schools had been intended to teach the children a government-approved ideology, even over the objections of their parents. When the TRC report was released in 2015, the chief justice of Canada’s Supreme Court, Beverley McLachlin, said the findings amounted to “cultural genocide.” The chair of the TRC, Justice Murray Sinclair, agreed with her assessment:
"The evidence is mounting that the government did try to eliminate the culture and language of Indigenous people for well over a hundred years. And they did it by forcibly removing children from their families and placing them within institutions that were cultural indoctrination centres.”
It’s the second sin that’s dominated recent headlines. In May of 2021, news broke that “a mass grave filled with the remains of 215 Indigenous children, some as young as three…” had been discovered on the grounds of the Kamloops Indian Residential School. The reaction across the country was immediate: impromptu memorials appeared, and flags were lowered and kept at half-mast for the next half year. Just a few days later a bill passed unanimously in the House and Senate that declared a new statutory holiday: Sept. 30 would be the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
Today, eighteen months later, it’s starting to look like this mass grave might not be a grave at all – no bodies have been unearthed. But the initial reports made headlines across the country, and around the world, and in the process brought more attention to the physical harms that had been done within the schools’ walls. The TRC had interviewed more than 6,000 former students and staff, and their testimonies included thousands of instances of molestation and all sorts of physical abuse. The Kamloops mass grave might not be real (and as Mark Penninga notes further on in this issue, it is important to find out one way or the other), but the outrage it spawned brought renewed attention to very real sins of the past.
REPENTING OF PAST, BUT NOT PRESENT SINS: The caption for this June 1, 2021 stock photo noted it was part of a “memorial in tribute to 215 aboriginal children whose remains found in Residential School in Kamloops.” Though the 215 graves look like they won’t turn out to be graves at all, their “discovery” in Kamloops was still a pivot point for the country. It shifted attention from the ideological indoctrination that was behind the creation of these government schools to the physical and sexual abuse that were not. To state it another way, government schools have always been about ideological indoctrination, but it’s only with the residential schools that this indoctrination has been recognized for the wicked government overreach that it is. And then with Kamloops, the nation’s attention shifted. This shift of focus has allowed the government to get away with repenting only of its past abuse, even as its schools unrepentantly continue ideological indoctrination to this day.
Two sins were committed in the residential schools, but our governments are only repenting of one. They are repenting of the past abuses, even as in the present they continue to use their schools to indoctrinate another generation.
It’s the unrepentant and ongoing nature of this sin that makes it the more pressing to deal with. We need to recognize, too, that the problem isn’t simply that it continues, but that it’s built right into the system. The abuse was a matter of neglect, while the indoctrination was a matter of deliberate design. As League of Canadian Reformed School Societies coordinator John Wynia noted in a recent Real Talk episode:
“In residential schools, parents of First Nations children had their kids taken away from them. The idea was to assimilate them into the ideology of Western society, so that they could fit, and that has had devasting impacts on the Indigenous community. And it is recognized as a terrible thing, but it will be interesting to see whether that lesson of history is applied to the sexual orientation and gender identity movement.”
Will that lesson be applied? It hasn’t been to this point. The reason the lesson is being lost is because the connections between past and present aren’t being made. In a January 5 article the National Post’s Tom Blackwell highlighted a current and devasting example of how government schools are still deciding they know better than parents what’s best for their own children:
“When a student in a Calgary Grade 6 class came out as transgender this year, the teacher made one thing clear to the other pupils: they mustn’t let slip their classmate’s new gender identity to her parents. The couple was not yet aware of the change. It seemed like an odd message for a group of 11-year-olds, says the mother of one of the pupils. ‘This upset me so much,’ she says. ‘Kids were being taught to lie to parents.’”
Blackwell clearly doesn’t like what’s happening. But he didn’t make the connection to what happened in the residential schools. He didn’t recognize that this is just more of the same.
The lesson is even being lost on the victims. Instead of opposing today’s “cultural indoctrination centres,” Indigenous groups are trying to use government schools to present their own ideology to students. In British Columbia, for example, university education students have been required to include one of nine “First Peoples Principles of Learning” in their lesson plans. Some of the principles are pretty mundane, more Dale Carnegie or Jordan Peterson-esque than anything specifically Native. “Learning involves patience and time.” Sure. Okay.
But the very first principle reads:
“Learning ultimately supports the well-being of the self, the family, the community, the land, the spirits, and the ancestors.”
Learning does not support the spirits and the ancestors. And pushing that on education students is a promotion of a Native spirituality, over and against Christianity.
In November of last year, Canadian Reformed teachers in Western Canada came together for an “Indigenous Perspectives in Reformed Schools” conference and I was allowed to tag along. One of the speakers, Patti Victor, is a Pentecostal pastor, a member of the Stó:lō, and a First Nations advisor for Trinity Western University. I asked her what she thought about the government requiring more First Nations content in the curriculum, regardless of what parents might want. She conceded that the approach was less than ideal, but argued that sometimes less than ideal means have to be used to push forward what needs to be done. She didn’t recognize that this same sort of thinking – pushing a certain ideology even against parents’ wishes because it’s for the kids’ good – would have been a motivation for the residential schools too. She wasn’t making the connection either.
Lost no more
IT'S STILL HAPPENING: Sooke School District students on a public school system float in the 2019 Victoria Pride Parade. The government has never stopped using schools as cultural indoctrination centers. (Picture credit: Blake Elliot / Shutterstock)
Our history teacher’s adage has proven itself true: Canada hasn’t learned from its history, so we’re doing it all again. Even when a government or First Nations leader expresses horror at how residential schools were used as “cultural indoctrination centres,” they don’t apply the lesson to what’s going on today. Of course, it’s no surprise that our governments aren’t making those connections. But what they won’t do, we can. When Sept. 30 comes again this year we can voice the lesson that’s been lost: that education is a God-given parental responsibility, and government will never be up to the task.
To demonstrate the government’s inability, we can remember what happened in the residential schools, and make the connections no one else will, to the horrors going on in government schools today: the far from safe-sex that’s taught, and the gender confusion, depression, and anxiety that’s being fostered. We can explain that this is all a fruit of what the government’s schools are teaching about God. As R.C. Sproul put it:
“Every education, every curriculum, has a viewpoint. That viewpoint either considers God in it or it does not. To teach children about life and the world in which they live without reference to God it to make a statement about God. It screams a statement. The message is either that there is no God or that God is irrelevant. Either way the message is the same.”
For generations residential schools taught First Nations children that their parents were irrelevant. Today’s schools teach that God is irrelevant too. It all has to stop.
While “stop indoctrinating children!” is a good message, God’s people – and specifically our Reformed churches – can give the rest of our country so much more. God has gifted us with Christian schools, and while we aren’t going to open the doors to the rest of Canada, we can invite them to come take a look. They’ll need to: the government has been running its schools for so long, the average Canadian can’t even imagine how education could be done any other way. We can show them there is another way: parental schools do exist! We’ll need to invite our neighbors, friends, and community, to come see what a family and a community looks like when parents are taking up their God-given educational responsibilities.
This isn’t about showing off our bricks and mortar, textbooks and curriculum. It’s about taking off the bushel and letting our light shine. Shy sorts that we are, we might not want to invite our neighbors’ scrutiny since we know we’re far from perfect. We’ll need to remember this really isn’t about us; what we’re showing off is that God’s ways are best, and how it’s only because we’re listening to Him that we have fruit to show. Our homes aren’t perfect, but they are calmer, our kids better adjusted, harder-working, less troubled, kinder and happier – they are a light! So we should invite the world to look, and tell them that it has nothing to do with us, and everything to do with our God.
And, finally, we can invite our fellow Canadians to imagine what it would look like in their own families, communities, and in the country if parents everywhere took up their God-given responsibilities to shape and mold their own children.
This is one of several articles we’ve published about Canada’s history with its Indigenous peoples, with the sum of the whole being even greater than the parts. That's why we'd encourage you to read the rest, available together in the March/April 2003 issue. Top picture is of a Kamloops Indian Residential School. Picture credit: ProPics Canada Media Ltd / iStockPhoto.com
…the Internet can pervert anything
Parents need to know that, whether it's biblical fiction or a favorite boy band, innocent interests are being used to draw good kids into evil, ...
The Truth matters: analyzing the facts beneath “mass burials” at residential schools
Saturday Selections – Sept. 23, 2023
This is why you don't ask children to "choose" their gender Back in 2007, Barbara Walters interviewed a family and their 7-year-old boy about his supposed journey to "becoming" a girl. Walters was uncritical, accepting that a child could change genders, and accepting that a child could understand the implications of all the surgeries, the chemicals, and the sterility, that were going to be inflicted on him. Click on the link above to learn about the tragic journey of "Jazz Jennings" and where he is now. Click on the video below to see a 30-second explanation of how insane Jazz's parents and Barbara Walters were. This is why you don't let children choose their gender pic.twitter.com/wBTlE7hkWq — Mario Nawfal (@MarioNawfal) September 15, 2023 Quick tips on how to read better and faster.... but not necessarily more "I would like to show you how you can read less, more — and twice as fast. It’s based on one simple idea: It’s better to thoroughly read and absorb one or two good books than 'finish' five or ten by reading them cover to cover and then moving on." Long-term thinking: 5 lessons for Christians from the life of Elon Musk "I believe the great weakness of our generation of Christians is our lack of a long-term outlook... "When I look at the inspiring, yet ultimately misguided, aspirations of people like Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos I can’t help but wonder at the impact believers might have if we rediscovered the long-term mindset that God intended for us." Does "Net Zero" make sense? "American taxpayers will spend $50 trillion (about $150,000 per person) to avoid 0.009 ℃ of warming. A high school student could tell you that this makes no sense...." In Luke 16:26-33, Jesus talks about the cost that comes with following Him. That's the point of the passage, but He mentions in passing something applicable to climate change too, that counting the cost before you set out on an expensive project is just common sense. Combatting climate change comes with an enormous cost and seemingly insignificant benefits. Consider what other benefits $50 trillion could buy, if it were spent elsewhere. Clean drinking water for millions, just to mention one possibility. Gen Z isn't okay (10-minute read) Dr. Jean Twenge is a psychologist whose 16-year-old daughter does not have social media. Why? Because girls today with social media are lonelier and more depressed than ever. 5 reasons not to follow your heart How's "just follow your heart" working out for us? Maybe we need to start looking for a more awesome, more knowledgeable, more loving guide... ...
How to live your best life: knowing, and participating in, the greatest (true) story
I had always felt life first as a story: and if there is a story there is a story-teller. ― G.K. Chesterton ***** There’s a phrase in popular culture – “I’m living my best life.” It captures the human desire to experience a fulfilling life. Advertising companies, film industry executives, recording artists, and popular culture teach us that the best life is one with white teeth, exciting vacations, the newest car, and living a life true to oneself. They are pitching a vision and story of how the best life can be obtained and are inviting us – enticing us – to run after the storylines they present. But there is a remarkable verse in the Bible -- one that speaks about “living our best life.” It is a countercultural verse that offers a doorway into understanding how to truly flourish. John 10:10 tells us that Jesus Christ came “that we may have life and have it to the full.” Life to the full – our best life – we are told, is found in Jesus Christ. The “best life” that Jesus promises is a reality for followers of Jesus Christ through the eternal life He promises, and we can begin to experience it already in this life too. How can we begin to live, already now, the “life to the full” that Jesus promises? When we know, and step into, the only real and true story – the glorious story that fits with reality – that God Himself is writing. When we say that we want to “live our best life” we are saying that we want our lives to be a beautiful story filled with adventure, love, purpose, meaning, connection, and joy. What God tells us in John 10:10 is that the only story that will fulfill all those longings is our participation in the story He is writing. What is the story that God is writing? It can be divided into four broad “chapters,” with each chapter providing insights vital to the well-lived, flourishing life. The four broad chapters are: Creation Fall Redemption Restoration The following will explore each of these chapters, and their implications for the flourishing life. 1. Creation Last summer I caught a beautiful cutthroat trout while flyfishing. Knowing others would never believe I caught such a large fish without photographic proof (I’m known to be slightly enthusiastic about things), I spent a few moments taking pictures of the fish. When I put it back in the water to release it, it floated upside down and drifted deep into a large pool of water. I felt a tinge of sorrow that the fish was seemingly dying, and I felt more than a tinge of dread that I would have to wade armpit deep into the cold water to try retrieve and revive it. Thankfully, the fish spared me the frigid inconvenience when it caught a second wind, and with a flash of its tail, was gone. Fish thrive in water, but they die quickly when they are out of their element. This is similar for human beings. We only thrive when we live according to how we have been designed. Thankfully, God’s opening creation “chapter” answers many of the biggest questions of life, such as: Who are we? Why are we here? And for what purposes have we been designed? It is in understanding the God-given answers to these foundational questions that we flourish. The Bible teaches us that living in certain ways leads to death and living in other ways leads to life. As we read in Jeremiah, “For my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water” (2:13). Elsewhere we read: “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death” (Prov. 16:25). Some paths to the “best life” are empty vessels, but others are fountains of living waters. The path to life involves, in part, living according to our design. So what are we told in the creation story about our identity, design, and purpose? We are told that we are created in God’s image with dignity and worth, and we are designed to walk with God, to pursue holiness, and to seek His honor and glory above all. We are created male and female and to live within these identities as they have been assigned to us individually by God. We are created to live in community and to seek the welfare of others. We are designed to form and fill the earth and to continue the creative work of the Ultimate Creator. The creation “chapter” tells us that God created the world beautiful and good, and He created you and me in His image and with a glorious purpose. We thrive when we live according to God’s design for us and pursue the truth, beauty, and goodness found in Him. 2. Fall The next chapter, on Man’s fall into sin, also answers some of the big questions of life. It explains why the world is not as it could be, or should be, and where the solutions to this reality are found. Unless your head is buried in the sand it is hard to miss the brokenness of this world. As Malcolm Muggeridge once noted, the depravity of man is the most empirically verifiable reality (and ironically, also one of the most intellectually resisted facts). And this brokenness is found both within and outside of us. To consider the extent of the brokenness within, reflect on how hard it is to forgive. God tells us that He forgives us so completely that He “removes our sins as far as the east is from the west” (Ps. 103:12) and yet how often do we not hold tightly to grudges. As for the brokenness outside of us, consider that historians generally agree that there has not been a single year in human history that did not contain war (which they describe as a conflict causing more than a thousand deaths). Not one solitary year in the thousands of years of human existence has been filled with universal peace. How can a person flourish when there is so much misery in the world? Simply put, the beauty of the gospel story is that it helps us understand the brokenness and put it into the context of a larger story. The Fall “chapter” gives us context because it rightly describes the problem so that we can apply the right solution. In my work as a psychologist, I have routinely observed the need to explore, in detail, the nature of the problems and issues people present to me because it is only when the precise nature of the problem is understood that an effective remedy can be applied. And this is true of any work. My son is a commercial refrigeration mechanic and the favorite aspect of the job for him is problem-solving customers’ issues – fully exploring why their refrigeration equipment is not functioning properly so that he can ensure that the solution he applies will, in fact, address the heart of the issue. In a similar way, to have the best chance of flourishing, you must understand the nature of the problems you face in your life (in your relationships, workplace, church, or family, etc.) so that you can gain proper perspective and apply appropriate solutions. The Fall chapter illustrates how sin has destroyed the shalom that God provided in the creation chapter. Sin in our hearts, and in the hearts of others, does not surprise us (and when it is a surprise it often produces traumatic effects) but it directs us to the only comfort and solution as found in Jesus Christ. We need to humble ourselves before God (and others) and seek the solutions to our brokenness (and to the brokenness around us) in Him and in His revealed Word. Only God can redeem our suffering and pain. At the same time, we can live in the hope that the brokenness in and around us is not the enduring reality of the world, and neither is the resulting pain. Goodness, beauty, and truth are the ultimate reality. 3. Redemption Recently, I was talking with another psychologist about the topic of flourishing, and he said something striking to me – “flourishing is knowing that you are always okay.” I’ve thought a lot about his comment since then and even though I do not know whether he is a practicing Christian or not, there is a great deal of truth in this statement. There is an unshakeable peace in your soul when you know that, despite your feelings of inadequacy, loneliness, uncertainty, sin, and suffering you are ultimately always okay. Without such bedrock assurance human beings are prone to anxiety, depression, and insecurity. But the redemption chapter tells us that, in Jesus Christ, you are always okay, and you are always, completely, loved. Research in psychology has demonstrated that children can only thrive when they have a secure base of attachment (called attachment theory). If children feel safe and loved, they present as calm and curious and willing to take risks and explore the world around them. But if children feel unsafe and unloved, they present as anxious, hostile, and withdrawn. Human beings need a secure attachment to flourish. The redemption “chapter” describes the rock, the foundation, the refuge, the secure attachment of our lives. In Christ we are completely safe and deeply loved. In Stumbling Towards Eternity, Josh White writes, “My Christian life did not begin to open up until I truly believed in the depth of my being that on my worst day, Jesus is crazy about me. It’s not just Jesus but the triune God who loves and who is love.” Or as Tim Keller wrote in The Meaning of Marriage: “The gospel is this: We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope.” As Os Guinness has rightly noted, “the ultimate reality behind the universe is love” – a God that loves so deeply that He died for your sins, dear reader, and mine. When we let that reality sink deep into our hearts and minds, peace and joy enter our souls. And peace and joy are foundational to flourishing. The redemption “chapter” tells us that in Jesus Christ, we are deeply loved – and nothing can separate us from that love – “neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation” (Romans 8:38-39). Flourishing comes from embracing this reality, loving others as we have been loved, and living a life of thankfulness and gratitude – two practices secular psychologists have overwhelmingly demonstrated to correlate with the flourishing life. 4. Restoration Victor Frankl, a Holocaust survivor, and eminent psychologist, once famously wrote that “Those who have a 'why' to live, can bear with almost any 'how.'” But an even bigger truth is that those who know the end of the story can bear with any what. My wife is a big reader. But she has a reading habit that I have never understood. She reads the final pages of a book before she begins reading the first pages. She likes to know how things work out in the end before she immerses herself in the drama of the story. There is great comfort in knowing the end of a story during the ups and downs of the narrative. The same is infinitely truer of our own life stories. Not long ago, several people were killed in a Christian school in Nashville, Tennessee by a deranged shooter. One of the children was the daughter of a local pastor, Chad Scruggs. Just weeks before his daughter was murdered, he preached a sermon on John 11, and he focussed on the assurance found in that passage that “the middle of a hard story looks different when you know how the story ends.” That perspective must have provided him with incredible comfort in the wake of the personal tragedy he experienced. That is the beauty of the gospel. Despite what we may suffer in our lives because of the brokenness both within us, and outside of us, we know how the story ends and we do not “grieve as others do who have no hope” (1 Thess. 4:13). By God’s grace, we already know the end of the story that God is writing – God is “working to make all things new” (Rev. 21:5). The title of Daniel Nayeri’s beautiful (and funny) book, Everything Sad is Untrue, could be an alternative title to the restoration “chapter” as it conveys the power of Revelation 21:5 in supplying hope, courage, joy, and peace to our lives – even amid the most difficult circumstances. In his book, Daniel tells an account of his families’ experience of persecution in Iran, and the hardships they faced, due to his mother’s conversion to Christianity. Daniel marvels at the strength his mother displayed despite the hardships she faced, and he writes, “I don’t know how my mom was so unstoppable despite all that stuff happening. I dunno. Maybe it's anticipation. Hope. The anticipation that the God who listens in love will one day speak justice. The hope that some final fantasy will come to pass that will make everything sad untrue. Unpainful. That across rivers of sewage and blood will be a field of yellow flowers blooming. You can get lost there and still be unafraid. No one will chase you off of it. It's yours. A father who loves you planted it for you. A mother who loves you watered it. And maybe there are other people there, but they are all kind. Or better than that, they are right with each other. They treat each other right. If you have that, maybe you keep moving forward.” Knowing that “everything sad will one day be untrue,” that across the “rivers of sewage and blood will be a field of yellow flowers blooming,” that one day all injustices will be made right, every disability will evaporate, every hurt will be removed, and every tear will be wiped away (Rev. 21:4), provides a hope that will not fail. Without hope, people perish. The psychologist referenced earlier, Victor Frankl, observed that this was the case in the horror of the death camps of WWII as well. Those without hope died much sooner than those with hope. God did not leave us without the kind of hope that sustains and strengthens even in the darkest circumstances. God assures us that: “those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (Is. 40:31) As J.C. Ryle has said about hope, “I am more convinced as I grow older, that to keep our eyes fixed on the second coming of Christ is the secret of Christian peace.” The flourishing life is internalizing, amid the hurts and pain we experience in this life, what we are promised in 1 Cor. 2:9: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him” – “a field of yellow flowers blooming.” God is making all things new and He will restore the shalom of paradise. Even more, He invites us to participate in His beautiful work of restoration by being reconcilers and by being agents of His justice, mercy, love, truth, and goodness in all the roles and circumstances in which He places us. In Chuck Colson’s eloquent words, “In every action we take, we are doing one of two things: we are either helping to create hell on earth or helping to bring down a foretaste of heaven. We are either contributing to the broken condition of the world or participating with God in transforming the world to reflect his righteousness.” (How Now Shall We Live?) Participating in God’s work brings life to the world around you, but it also brings life to your own heart, soul, and mind. Some final words To summarize, I want to share one last important thought about finding the flourishing life in Jesus Christ. I recently listened to a woman, Gianna Jessen, who survived an abortion attempt in 1977 tell her story. She described how doctors used a saline solution to try to end her mother’s pregnancy – and her life. She endured this saline “bath” for 18 hours in the womb. But miraculously, she survived. However, because of the method of abortion used, she was born with cerebral palsy due to lack of oxygen. She made the point that often children with disabilities or deformities are aborted due to the justification that they will not have a high quality of life (or any form of the “best life”). But then she also said something that served to fundamentally enrich my understanding of the flourishing life. She said (a rough paraphrase of her words): “Do you know what it is like to live with cerebral palsy every day and struggle with every movement? It means that you must depend upon God at every moment. And do you know what it means when you must depend upon God at every moment and for every movement? It means that you become a friend of God. And do you know what it means when you are a friend of God? It means that you have the highest quality of life.” God, in His grace, has invited us to be a part of the greatest story ever told. Knowledge of, and participation in this Great Story of truth, goodness, and beauty, is the “fountain of living water” and the “life to the full.” Accept no substitutes. Instead, know this story deeply. Let it permeate your heart and mind and participate in it with all your being. Even amid brokenness, you will be able to say that you are “living your best life.” Dr. Mark W. Slomp holds a senior leadership role in a Canadian post-secondary university. He is a Registered Psychologist and is also the founder of XP Counselling, Speaking & Writing focused on the promotion of the flourishing life, and ambassadorship, in Jesus Christ. He can be reached at [email protected] for inquiries about speaking, counselling (career and personal), and writing....
Do we need public schools?
History shows that the West became literate without governmental help ***** I once heard a lady say, “If it wasn’t for the government, none of us would be able to read or write.” She was referring to the fact that the vast majority of children in Canada (approximately 94%) attend public schools. In that lady’s view, if the government had not provided schools, most people would be illiterate. This is probably a fairly common assumption. How would it be possible to have a literate society without government schools? Long ago literacy rates were very low. At the end of the Middle Ages, for example, probably less than 10% of European men were literate, and an even smaller percentage of women. Today literacy is close to universal in all Western societies. So this change from mass illiteracy to mass literacy must have been the result of government schooling, right? Actually, no. Free, compulsory, and universal schooling People today think governmental schools are needed because that’s what they see. Compulsory attendance laws require children to attend school, and the vast majority of these schools are owned, operated, and staffed by the government. Education is largely a governmental quasi-monopoly. And they do not charge any fees to attend, which means schooling is free, compulsory, and universal. In addition, there are a couple of common arguments given for why the government should dominate the field of education. For one, many people are too poor to afford to pay for education. Therefore without schools provided through taxation, their children would not get any education. It is also believed by many that making schooling compulsory is necessary because parents need to be coerced by the government to send their children to school. The government wants all children to receive an appropriate education, but some parents don’t. The assumption is that the government cares more about the educational welfare of children than parents. Edwin G. West The most compelling academic challenge to these arguments has been provided by Edwin G. West (1922-2001), formerly an economics professor at Carleton University in Ottawa. As James Tooley explains in his book E. G. West: Economic Liberalism and the Role of Government in Education, West did not believe there was a need for either compulsory attendance laws or public schools. The historical evidence Most of West’s original research dealt with nineteenth century England. What he found was that schooling was available on a large scale, even for most children from the poorest families. This is significant because the government did not have any role in education before 1833, when it began providing limited funding for a small number of private schools. Before this private schools had essentially educated the vast majority of English children. Interestingly, as West points out, earlier in the nineteenth century (before 1833) the British government was concerned that too many children of lower class families were learning to read! It was afraid that they would read anti-government literature, and therefore took steps to prevent lower class children from becoming literate. As Tooley relates, the "…government used both legal and fiscal actions against newspaper circulation in order to control the reading habits of the masses, including advertising duties, stamp taxes and excise taxes." It is important to take note of this fact: the government was trying to interfere with the spread of literacy that was occurring through exclusively private sector initiative. Left on their own, parents from poor families were eagerly obtaining basic education for their children, even in the face of government opposition. Contrary to supporters of compulsory schooling laws, parents want their children to get the best education possible! They don’t need the government to force them to provide education for their children. Widespread working class literacy West provides all kinds of statistical data from various parts of England to demonstrate the widespread learning that was occurring without government involvement. For example, the evidence suggests that at least two-thirds of the working class was literate by 1840, with that proportion increasing to about 90 percent by the mid-1860s. Keep in mind that this is the segment of the population believed to have least access to education due to financial hardships. The upper and middle classes had even greater educational opportunities. The figure from the mid-1860s is particularly significant because Britain did not begin creating public schools until 1870. The private education sector in England grew dramatically during the 1800s leading to almost universal literacy before a single public school was established. There were subsidies to some private schools after 1833, but most educational funding came from parents and other private sources. The original purpose of creating public schools from 1870 onwards was to fill the small holes that some people believed existed in the private sector. However, once “free” government schooling was available, it began to displace private schooling. Increasing numbers of students opted for “free” education, and many private schools therefore shut down. This process of replacing private education with public education was encouraged by government education bureaucrats and teachers’ associations. Over time, the government schools became dominant. First literacy, then government schools Literacy was virtually universal in England before the government schools came along and displaced the private schools, and West has data from New York State and New South Wales that show a very similar pattern. This historical record leads Tooley to an important conclusion about public education: "What West’s analysis suggests is that in order to promote universal literacy and schooling more generally, the kind of state education with which we are familiar—namely, state-provided, state-funded and regulated schooling—is not required." Some targeted funding to help children of the poorest families may be justifiable, but government provision of education is unnecessary. The original edition of West’s most well-known book, Education and the State, was published in 1965 and led to a firestorm because it challenged widespread beliefs about government’s role in education. A third and expanded edition of the book is currently kept in print by the Liberty Fund in Indianapolis. Despite the availability of his work, many people are unaware of it. But Tooley notes that West’s evidence is unassailable: "To scholars who are willing to go back to the original sources, rather than rely on secondhand historical summaries, there appears to be little real dispute about the ways in which private sources—the churches and philanthropists, and small-scale proprietors—largely independent of any government assistance, were able to bring about literacy and provide schooling for the vast majority, including the poor." Conclusion Contrary to what the lady at the start of this article might believe, government intervention was not a key factor in the spread of literacy in the West. The assumption made by most that the government must provide schools and compel children to attend in order for basic skills to be acquired is nonsense. Parents want their children to get the best education possible and are willing to make big sacrifices to achieve that goal. That is what the historical evidence shows, as demonstrated by E. G. West. Parents are much more concerned about the education of their children than any politician or bureaucrat ever will be. In the absence of government schooling, the vast majority of children would still receive an education....
Saturday Selections – Sept. 16, 2023
Click on the titles below to go to the linked articles... The terrific trunk! (8 min) "The elephant's truck is the Swiss Army Knife of the animal kingdom..." Chinese economy won't surpass US? Experts have long been predicting that China's economy would pass (or had already passed) the United States' economy very soon. But now Bloomberg has published a forecast that says if China surpasses the US it will only be briefly before sinking below soon after. But why would a nation 3 to 4 times the US in population not grow past them economically? This article only gives the barest explanation, but God's Word tells us more. China's economy is more centrally planned than the US, and such top-down planning presumes leaders have an omniscience that only God actually possesses. Communism (and socialism too) is also predicated on villainizing the rich and while China's economy isn't as strictly communist as it was, the government still has little respect for private property. So, we see here the sins of arrogance, envy, and theft. Add to that China's decades-long and only just ended One-Child Policy, which treated children as a curse and not as the blessing they are, and you have the explanation for their coming demographic crisis: a married couple will have two sets of parents and four sets of grandparents, but no aunts or uncles, cousins or siblings, to help them with their care. In the workforce there are also fewer and fewer young people to support the aging population. While the US has its own sins plaguing it in these same areas, China is going to do worse because they are embracing their sins even more fervently. Imagine then, what blessings a country might experience if they turned back to God? We didn't force anyone to be vaccinated - Justin Trudeau Maybe it's not surprising that the pro-choice Trudeau can't admit that he forced others to do with their bodies as he demanded. And he's not the only world leader to resort to doublespeak. Language learning app Duolingo normalizing LGBT As Jonathon Van Maren reports, the popular app that helps kids learn any language they want is deliberately inserting LGBT characters into their stories and sentences. Is Christian nationalism Christian? Do we want our nation to be un-Christian? Was our nation better when it was more Christian? Does "Christian nationalism" mean using the government to impose Christianity on an unwilling populace? How is this term "Christian nationalism" being used by different groups? John Stonestreet has some questions, provides a few answers, and has an upcoming online presentation this Sept. 26th where he hopes to get help providing more. Philadelphia's soda tax 5 years later Should North Americans drink less soda? Quite likely. More to the point, should the government make it so? And does God's Word have anything to say about it? The video below is by a libertarian, not a Christian, so it only presents some of the problems. The Bible's teaching on favoritism (Lev. 19:15) would bar us from penalizing one producer over another. It would also dissuade us from issuing taxes that target the poor (Is. 10:1-2, Prov. 28:3). And Samuel's warning against kings (1 Samuel 8:10-18) would have us leery of a government that thinks there are no limits to what it can involve itself in, even to what choice of beverage we make. A biblical understanding of Man's fallen nature, and his fallibility, also point us in the direction of much smaller, more limited government, recognizing that no one can competently micromanage thousands or millions of other people's lives. ...
In a Nutshell
Tidbits – September 2023
Season your words "Every day, our words could write a book of 50-60 pages (cited by John MacArthur in his sermon 'Exposing the Truth About Men’s He...
Saturday Selections – Sept. 9, 2023
Click on the titles below for the linked articles... Can AI ever become conscious? (10 min) As computers become more powerful, will they ever become...
Christian education, News
How’s this for a graduate profile?
Marcus Schroeder had 4 minutes to call his city to repentance. The 19-year-old was ready. **** As parents, teachers, and students, we put a lot of e...
Saturday Selections – Sept. 2, 2023
Cessationist trailer Click below for the trailer of a great new documentary that takes on "cessationism," the belief that the miraculous gifts of the New Testament have ceased happening. But have they? Pentecostals say no; most Reformed denominations says yes.... though we also acknowledge that God still performs miracles today (and, in fact, we regularly ask Him to miraculously intercede). This will be available for streaming on Sept 22. Does therapy even work? Talking to someone else about our problems is powerful. But secular psychology can only aim to answer, "What's going on inside of me?" and can't point us outward, to the God who made us. Free parents' guide to TikTok Axis is a Christian organization that specializes in resources meant to take a parent from knowing nothing about a new technology, app, or cultural trend to knowing enough that they can talk knowledgeably about it with their teenagers. And they manage this in a guide that takes just 10 to 15 minutes to read. Check out their TikTok guide in article form by clicking above or read it as a pdf booklet here. 1,600+ scientists, plus a couple Nobel laureates say climate "emergency" is a myth This says less than it might first seem to: 1,600 is a large number, but not compared with all the scientists who haven't backed this petition (or, at least, not backed it yet). Also, how many of them even have expertise in this field? But what the 1,600+ do offer, and the two Nobel Laureates as well, is a good counter to the notion that the "debate is over" and that only the uneducated could think different. John Piper: "life-changing moments come in sentences and paragraphs" (10-min read) "What I have learned from about twenty years of serious reading is this: sentences change my life, not books. What changes my life is some new glimpse of truth, some powerful challenge, some resolution to a long-standing dilemma, and these usually come concentrated in a sentence or two. I do not remember 99 percent of what I read, but if the 1 percent of each book or article I do remember is a life-changing insight, then I don’t begrudge the 99 percent." Yo-Yo magic This is the winning performance from last month's yo-yo world championships. This below is Division 1A where they use a long string. For 4 more division champions – including one where the yo-yo isn't even attached to the string! – check out the article linked in the title above. ...
The emotional communism of sensitivity training
or, the difference a Christian worldview brings to the HR world too ***** “Kelsey, have you seen the Slack channel? Someone posted something that was kind of offensive.” “Thanks so much for reaching out. I appreciate your concern – have you addressed this with the person who posted?” “Well I personally wasn’t offended, and I am well able to stand up for myself – I’m a pretty outspoken person – and I don’t think it was intentional, but there might be people who are less outspoken than me who were offended. If the company were to do more sensitivity training to help others be more aware I’d definitely be in favor of that.” ***** During my tenure in Human Resources (HR) I have received a number of messages to this effect. Not as many perhaps as some who work in a more compliance-driven environment (I have been blessed to have generally avoided that world), but enough. It isn’t surprising – after all, sensitivity training is seen by the HR world as the solution to so many problems, and we have trained that into our employees as well. However, there is something deeply misguided with the above interaction. It is the kind of response that, if catered to, is cancer to company culture. So let’s dig in. Isn’t it HR’s job to handle conflict? First of all, I’d like to address the intent behind the employee reaching out. It is a good instinct to want to right a wrong. In every instance where an employee brought up a concern like this I am confident it came out of a desire to protect others and to create a better work environment for their coworkers. But if the goal is a better work environment, we need to ask ourselves does the solution presented actually create a better work environment? You’ll note my response contains the question “have you talked to the person about it?” (Now to be clear – in this article we are talking solely about situations in which we have a reasonable confidence that there is no threat of violence and/or cause for concern in that area.) Why would I ask this? “If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed.” – Matt. 18:15-16 Let’s first consider this verse from the point of view of the person who is the offender. Imagine you are someone who has unknowingly caused offense. Would you prefer to have this talked about behind your back and analyzed by those who were not part of the situation? Or would you prefer someone come and talk to you about it first? No one likes being discussed behind their back. So don’t do that to other people. (The golden rule still applies at work.) One key assumption I want to point out here, is that in situations like this (where this is a first offense or where the offense has gone unaddressed in particular) you must assume the best of the person. This is a clear theme in Scripture as well. Take Proverbs 18:13, “He who answers a matter before he hears it, it is folly and shame to him.” If you walk into a confrontation having assumed answers to all the questions you have not asked, you set your neighbor, and yourself, up for failure from the start. Going straight to a person gives you the best chance to hear directly from the source about their motivations, without giving HR or someone else the power to imagine and assign motives different to, or beyond the bounds of, that situation. In short, if Stacy was having a bad day because she was feeling behind on her projects and so she came across as grouchy you don’t need HR to turn that into “Maybe Stacy really doesn’t want other women to succeed and that is why she was grouchy to another employee.” Maybe Stacy really does hate other women, but let’s not start there. This comes down to the fundamental principles of honor and respect – do we want to treat employees as adults? Or do we want to create a world where people are afraid that even innocent mistakes will jeopardize their job? Assuming we all want the former, that means giving people the opportunity to face their accuser. However, even if this approach is better for the offender, couldn’t it be argued that it prioritizes the needs of the accused over the person who was hurt? Absolutely not. As discussed above, bringing disagreements to someone else to handle creates a world in which motives are often incorrectly applied to the person accused. This very same issue also negatively affects the person who brings up the complaint. If you hand off a disagreement to HR you then give them the opportunity to creatively muddy and misrepresent your complaint. HR can now make the issue bigger or smaller than the person initially intended, based on the lens they apply to the situation. Aren’t we all too familiar with that? An issue taking on a life of its own and becoming far bigger than was appropriate, or a big issue being downplayed to nothing? Treating employees with dignity and respect also means empowering employees who have been wronged to be able to express exactly what the issue is, no telephone game required. To answer the question asked in the heading then – no, it is not HR’s job to handle conflict. Happy to provide support to you as you handle it, though. Isn’t it good to be sensitive? So let’s talk about the response to the “have you talked to them about it” question. Each time it has been a “No” with a request for general sensitivity training to help people in the company be more aware about the ways in which they could potentially offend someone. Sounds innocent enough, right? And yet here I am, calling it emotional communism. What is communism? It is the Marxist doctrine that eliminates private property and as stated by Webster’s Dictionary, is a totalitarian system of government in which a single authoritarian party controls state-owned means of production. Emotional communism, then, would eliminate private ownership of your need to address an issue, and would put the addressing of that issue in a single authoritarian party’s control. And who runs that single authoritarian party? HR. Enter the world of anonymous hotlines, and confidential HR backchannels. HR, instead of empowering you to directly address the offender, is now the one to address the issue and to roll out sensitivity training to the company as a whole. HR is now the one who determines the weight of your complaint, and the pathway forward. Few of us with experience in the corporate world need to ask the question, “why is that a bad thing?” After all, HR’s bad reputation is no secret. Remember when I said “every instance where an employee brought up a concern like this I am confident it came out of a desire to protect others”? Well, I have also had this concern brought up to me by fellow HR leaders. When I’ve discussed this philosophy with them around conflict management they have asked me “what about the people who do not feel comfortable speaking up?” As much as I wish this were different, every single time someone in HR has raised this question it was not in the context of taking care of the employee, but rather came from a desire (at least in part) to avoid successful lawsuits against the company. I remember once as a freshly minted HR manager I went to an HR conference where a senior vice president, Human Resources, gave a short speech to us all regarding how proud he was of the sexual harassment training he’d just implemented for his company, to applause and congratulations from the HR group. He had been in HR for about as long as I’d been alive. In fact, I was surrounded by tenured HR leaders. I remember raising my hand to ask a question. “How do you know if this program is effective?” After all we all know sexual harassment is wrong. We want it to disappear from the workplace. So programs aimed at sexual harassment training should reduce that behavior, right? I’ll never forget his blank stare. “It is legally required,” he replied. I tried again. “Okay, let’s imagine for a moment a world in which it is not legally required. How would you be able to tell if your program is effective?” Again, a blank stare. “Well, that’s not the case. It is legally required.” That was the moment I realized: A) I never want to work in California, and B) HR’s real job in most organizations is to protect the company from employees, not for employees. And throughout my time in the HR world, that type of conversation became more and more frequent. By relinquishing your right and ability to have difficult conversations with your coworkers to HR, you have given full authority to weigh the severity (or lack thereof) of your complaint to a group of people who are typically hired to protect the company from you. On the whole, sensitivity training seeks to avoid conflict, because conflict can result in lawsuits. It trains people to be afraid of HR and, worse, each other; to walk on eggshells and to hesitate to speak up with an idea or any form of disagreement. “If I tell my manager that I think this project is going downhill, will she see that as sexism or honest feedback?” “If I tell my coworker that I think we should bring Jane onto the project, will he see this as subtle racism?” We all know the answer is usually no – but in a world driven by sensitivity training, we become more afraid it might be yes and that we won’t be given the opportunity to defend ourselves. After all, we have been trained that HR is generally more driven by the appearance of wrong, instead of what is true. What can we do instead? Jordan Peterson said, “It is far better to render beings in your care competent than to protect them.” So how about instead of sensitivity training, we promote strength training – the kind of training that empowers people to have a voice, to be strong even in moments when they are offended or disagreed with, and does not penalize them for it. Let’s train people that you can care about each other even when you disagree with them. That is how we create work environments where we are able to work without fear of being fired for our beliefs, where we don’t need to feel like we have to pretend our religion is anything other than what it is. After all, wars are fought when we‘re no longer able to sit down together to reason with each other. (Of note, this also requires that you hire the right people, people who will respond in love and not anger when confronted with their own wrongdoing. If someone does react poorly to being confronted that does become an issue for the manager or HR. That topic requires an article of its own.) We are so afraid of direct conflict that we go round and round in circles to avoid it, accidentally building the offense into something bigger and bigger until it gets far out of our control and someone has to get fired. And suddenly HR is getting paid a heck of a lot more because, well, employing them is cheaper than a lost lawsuit. At the end of the day, it is imperative that we build a culture of dignity and respect, where we understand that conflict is not in itself evil. As Max Lucado put it, “Conflict is inevitable, combat is optional.” People have different ideas, different opinions, and that is actually a good thing if we are daring enough to be uncomfortable. This brings me to the true role of HR: to help people have a voice to speak up for themselves, not to take away their voice. We worship a God who says “Count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience,” and “Take up your cross and follow me,” not a God who says “Live comfortably, avoid conflict, and don’t do hard things.” So let’s put in the work to help each other take ownership of the challenge of conflict, and be able to stand up for ourselves and for others, without needing to hide like a child behind his mother’s skirt. Is this what your workplace looks like? So ask yourself: are you empowered to stand up for what you actually believe, even if it isn’t the popular mood of the day? Are you and your team encouraged to respect each other even when you disagree? If you work in HR, are your employees able to tackle issues without you? Or are they dependent on you to handle difficult conversations? I promise you, facing that awkward conversation at the start is a lot less daunting than the behemoth it can grow into when introduced to the world of compliance and hurt feelings. Yes, this takes a lot of time and effort, and a willingness to be uncomfortable and to face your own shortcomings. But remember this: whatever product you are working on or service you are selling will be long gone in 100+ years. The people you are working with however? Their souls are eternal. Wherever you work, whatever the policies, you can be a light to those around you, and face conflict head on in gentleness and humility, honoring the people you interact with. We can do better than emotional communism. Let’s give people their agency back....
John Calvin: Florida state attorney?
John Calvin showed up at a press conference in Florida earlier this month, as Governor Ron DeSantis introduced the state’s newest state attorney, Andrew Bain. As Bain took his turn at the podium he began by thanking the governor and his legal mentors, before then transitioning to an explanation of why he was happy with his new role. “For me, this is a place where John Calvin's second purpose of the law came to life. The second purpose for law is a restraint on evil. The law in and of itself cannot change the human heart. It can however, serve to protect the righteous from the unjust…. We are here to prosecute crimes, and to hold people accountable.” What he was referencing here was what’s known as Calvin’s threefold purposes of the law. Calvin said that God’s Law acts on us in three different ways: It acts as a mirror, showing us our sins, and our desperate need for a Savior. As Bain noted, it restrains evil. In forbidding murder, theft, and more, and promising to punish those acts, it will, as Calvin put it, “curb those who, unless forced, have no regard for…justice.” Finally, it shows us how to live a life of thankfulness to God by telling us what pleases Him. Now, Calvin was talking about God’s Law and not Florida’s, and the latter has some major departures from the former. Most notably, while Florida offers more protections for the unborn than Canada, banning abortion six weeks after conception, the state still allows the unborn to be murdered without sanction before that point. Still the second purpose is relevant in civil law, and Bain’s reminder is timely as that purpose is being forgotten. That forgetfulness is perhaps more evident south of the border, where in recent years we've seen major US cities decide not to enforce laws already on the books involving both smaller matters like shoplifting, and more major ones like rioting. From this distance, it’s impossible to know what sort of state attorney Bain will be, but what’s worth noting is his example here: a judicial official shamelessly talking from an explicitly Christian worldview, teaching the public about the benefit of the law in protecting the righteous from the unjust. That’s worthy of celebration and imitation. ...
Saturday Selections – Aug 26, 2023
Click on the titles below for the linked articles and videos. Canadians pay more to government than for housing, food, and clothing combined Over the last 60 years the cost of clothing is 7 times higher, food 9 times, and housing is 19 times higher. But the biggest increase of all has been taxes, 28 times higher than they were in 1961. Samuel warned the Israelites that a king would demand 10% of their goods – what the Lord Himself required! Canadians are paying more than 4 times that to their government. PM's cross-country vacation is hypocritical... but, more importantly, instructive News media will often hype political hypocrisy to get outraged readers to click thru. But instead of blowing a gasket, Christians should recognize hypocrisy for the insight it offers. God tells us that our actions can give lie to our words - someone might "profess to know God, but they deny him by their works" (Titus 1:16a). Our actions speak louder than our words. So when someone is hypocritical, it's actually instructive, with their actions telling us what they really believe. Canada's prime minister has called climate change an "existential threat" – a threat to our very existence. Yet this past month Justin Trudeau flew his family across the country for a vacation in BC. All that carbon... simply for pleasure. Then he'll head 5,500 kilometers the other way for a 3-day retreat with all of his cabinet in Prince Edward Island where they will discuss, among other things, climate change. That's a lot more carbon for meetings that could have been held right there in Ottawa... if carbon emissions needed to be a consideration. The PM is big on climate politics, and it certainly plays well at the polls, but his actions tell us that he really doesn't think climate change is that big of a deal. It certainly isn't important enough to get him to change his lifestyle. The tawdry and creepy origins of Barbie Barbie was modeled after a German doll known for her double entendres. But this article's most significant paragraph highlights a different sort of influence Barbie may have had: "Where young girls used to care for baby dolls, presumably projecting themselves as a wife and mother, far more girls today envision themselves one day being fiercely independent, fashionable, and seemingly successful like Barbie..." Manitoba residential school excavation turns up no bodies Claims two years ago of a mass grave at a residential school in Kamloops started a period of national mourning. No digging has been done there, but in a Manitoba residential school where digging just finished, no bodies were found. Does that mean nothing happened at these schools? No. But claims do need to be substantiated - as Mark Penninga wrote, the truth matters. As a Christian I went down the AI rabbit hole... ...and here are 12 things he discovered. Story of a deaf tennis championship comeback Haven't seen this yet, but the trailer caught my kid's attention. Subpar production values, but the educational aspect – getting some understanding of what it is like to be deaf – might still make this a good one for the family. It comes to theaters in September. ...
Interview with an artist
Jim Menken transforms tree trunks!
Interview with an artist ***** An 8-foot tall grizzly! When you think ...
Unless the Lord builds the house
"...but Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to Me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.’” – Matt. 19:14 **...
Saturday Selections – Aug 19, 2023
Click on the titles below to head to the linked articles. What grandma's chili recipe tells us about the trustworthiness of the Bible We don't have the original manuscripts of the Bible, so how do we know that what we have is accurate? Todd Friel explains by way of this really helpful analogy. Using the climate change scare to promote abortion As author Tom Harris shows here, climate catastrophists have long been telling us that children are a curse on the planet, and not the blessing that God declares them to be (Ps. 127:3). That their solution is clearly wrong also gives us reason to suspect their diagnostic abilities. Canadian offered death as a "treatment option" for her mental health crisis She came looking for help, was told none was to be had, and was offered "medical assistance in dying" instead. Evolution is "settled science"? Really? Which theory of evolution? "Darwinian evolution assumes much of what it needs to be explained. For instance, consider the origin of light-sensitive cells that rearranged to become the first eye, or the blood vessels that became the first placenta. How did these things originate? According to one University of Indiana biologist, 'we still do not have a good answer. The classic idea of gradual change, one happy accident at a time,' he says, 'has so far fallen flat.'" Pastoring in a pandemic: of grey hair and glory "I am not against those who decided to defy the government. They were, I believe, seeking to honor God. Many times I wanted to just say enough is enough. But I hope those (in America) who promoted their faithfulness can also appreciate that there was another type of faithfulness happening that was perhaps even more challenging in certain respects..." How has John Calvin influenced WORLD magazine? In this 2009 clip, former WORLD editor Marvin Olasky explains how John Calvin influenced his Christian news magazine. What he says about WORLD is, in large part, what we aspire to here at RP too. ...
Math: why are we learning this anyway?
Back in 2021, math teacher David Shuster gave this presentation to the parents of his students at Trinity Classical School in Bellingham, WA. **** How can you and I best work together to help your children learn mathematics? Actually, I don’t really want to talk about that. I think, in pursuit of the “how,” we sometimes lose sight of the “why,” which is something often especially elusive in mathematics. As I’m teaching my students in their proofs for geometry, we need to always work with the goal in mind. If you don’t know where you’re headed, how are you going to get there? My hope is that talking about the “why” of math will naturally illuminate the “how” of math. So that will be the main part of my talk, and then maybe we’ll briefly revisit the “how” towards the end. So, why should we, as Christians, learn math? If there is no good answer to this question, then the student who says “Uggh, I’m never going to use this anyway” is making a good point. Life is short; memento mori!1 Don’t waste your life staring at numbers. Now of course the why of everything is to become more Christ-like. Yet if we look at Christ’s life, it doesn’t seem like there’s that much math in it. “If you have 5 loaves of bread and 2 pieces of fish, and divide that among 5000 people, then the remainder is 12 basketfuls...” The Bible is full of theology and history and philosophy and language and even music. But it seems like the most math you get is those seemingly skim-worthy census counts or tabernacle dimensions in Exodus, etc. It is in there, for eternity Raise your hand if you know what the Ten Commandments are. If you know who Moses is. If you know what the Tabernacle is. If you know who Bezalel is. Well, God was telling Moses about Bezalel and God said, “I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with ability and intelligence, with knowledge, etc.” Now go read Exodus and notice that much of that Spirit-filled ability, intelligence, and knowledge was very mathematical and quantitative. Bezalel spearheaded the building of the Tabernacle which serves, inscribed in the everlasting Word of God, as a reminder that God dwells among His people. Bezalel used math to eternally preach the beauty of the Incarnation of Christ. We may use buzzwords like “financial stewardship,” but we forget the potential significance of practicality. We often forget that the real core of the Christian battle is fought on the ground in the most mundane moments of life. And, as with the behind-the-scenes character who helped build the Tabernacle, those mundane material moments are etched into eternity. Math fosters logic Ok, but what if I don’t want to be a Tabernacle-designer? Ah, ya got me. Let me tell you about the second reason we should study math. It develops principled thinking. Are you glad you can figure out what 2+5 is? What’s the use of learning it? You can just use a calculator. But the language of math forms our ability to think abstractly and recognize patterns. In fact, let’s look at what happens when the mathematical way of thinking is missing. Among the majors in college some odd ones tend to score very low in tests of mathematical and statistical skill: public administration and journalism. Now look where that got us. I’m not insulting anyone. I am saying that we desperately need godly journalists and public administrators who can logically pursue objective truth. In fact, whoever you are, you need quantitative discernment now to even read the news with wisdom. Studying math builds a deep intuition for the objectivity of truth. Math echoes our faithful God I sometimes like to watch grappling matches. And now and then I’ll see a wrestler who is about to get choked, and he just looks so incredibly calm. Calm wrestling. That’s what we do in math class. Uh, except no chokeholds. So often, that calmness allows us to notice openings and turn the tables instead of struggling in a futile and unproductive way. We learn to wrestle calmly even when uncertainty hangs over our heads. Because we know that our reality is upheld by a firm foundation, we know we can learn to love the pursuit of pure truth without fearing that our ground will give way. These characteristics of math are largely due to the structure deeply built into the content of math, which is reflected in its highly structured language. In philosophy, literature, and theology, the grammatical/ linguistic/literary structures, and the argument constructions, rely on consistent ways of moving symbols around to create meaning and to move from truth to truth. And math does a particularly good job of honing in on that skillset because the rigid language develops a keenly patterned way of thinking. Studying mathematics trains a principled pursuit of truth. But does the structure of mathematics become a circular cage? G. K. Chesterton said that: “Imagination does not breed insanity. Exactly what does breed insanity is reason. Poets do not go mad; but chess-players do. Mathematicians go mad, and cashiers; but creative artists very seldom.... Poetry is sane because it floats easily in an infinite sea; reason seeks to cross the infinite sea, and so make it finite....” What Chesterton just described as math and reason is its form in the fallen world divorced from its Creator. But when math and reason are contextualized by the liberal arts and, most importantly, grounded in a relationship with Christ, they take on a different tone. To return to Chesterton again, children have a natural sense of wonder when they see patterns in nature. Why does the sun always rise? Why do apples not cease to fall from trees? There is something miraculous about regularity, even in mathematics. We often take “1+1=2” for granted. Yet the patterns and consistencies of reality do not exist fully ex-nihilo. Rather, each of these consistencies reflects the faithfulness of God. The order and the logic behind the universe must be understood as a creative act of God, as a constant outpouring of His nature. And when we see reason as a creative outpouring of God’s nature, math’s true beauty becomes visible. Rather than having an either/or relationship with imagination, reason joins forces with imagination. And so, because math is God’s creative act, poetry is built into the language of mathematics. Out of His nature, God spoke nature into order, and mathematics is the patterned language that we speak back to Him to echo His faithfulness. Math points to the magic undergirding it all Thus in a fundamental way, math is myth. I don’t mean that it’s false, but I mean that it orients us around the regularities that we can behold but cannot grasp. Therefore we must strive to see poetry in the logical, and logic in the poetical. As we draw connections between different areas of mathematics, we see how the fabric of mathematics is skillfully woven by God to help us behold what is beyond us. For the Christian, reason is that fragile little vessel which allows us to chase the horizon on the infinite sea of poetry. The structure, pattern, the consistency of the mathematical language, this is the rigidity of that little wooden boat we’re in. And this little wooden boat is the interface of the infinite. And as we learn to see God’s order and infinitude reflected in every horizon, mathematics is transformed. For the Christian, math is patterned praise, a cosmic liturgy. And so when all this comes back around to the practical, we can find reason to praise God when calculating our taxes. No, I’m serious: in an ashy wasteland, even the littlest green sprout of God’s truth can be greeted with thanksgiving. So, to reiterate: Math is practical – it has eternal implications. Math is principled – it trains a drive for truth. And math is poetic – it is our way of cherishing and proclaiming the creative consistency that God perpetually speaks into reality. Conclusion Therefore, and this is the part to take notes, please make sure your kids get enough sleep. Make sure they have a quiet space because math is a little bit meditative. Whenever possible, ask them to help compute budgets or sketch out geometry behind fencing projects. Play games, think about riddles. Do regular things with math eyes on. Also consider your own attitude, as a parent, about math. If you’ve had a bad experience with math in school, try to take on the Christian vision of mathematics as something beautiful. Many things in life, attitudes included, can be inherited. Endnotes 1 “Remember death”...
Learning to be anxious for nothing
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6-7 When does care and concern cross a line and become a problem? I found the answer to this question the hard way: a painful and confusing burnout about six years ago, followed by years of learning, counseling, and slow change. My journey isn’t over yet, but I now see how I could have prevented much pain if I had truly understood, and repented from, my misguided response to worries, fears, and anxieties prior to that burnout. Knowing just how prevalent anxiety has become, also among Christians, I’m sharing my story here with the hope that it will help others in their walk with the LORD. Worry, care, and concern In a two-part podcast on the topic, biblical counselor Dr. Greg Gifford explains that the Bible uses the same Greek word in three different ways to describe anxiety. One sort is warned against, but in the other two instances a form of anxiousness is encouraged. So, first, in Matthew 6, we read Jesus warning us: “…do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will anxious about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Then in 1 Corinthians 12:25, Paul explains that God composed the body with many different parts so that the members “may have the same care for one another.” The word he uses here for “care” is the same that is translated as “anxious” in Matthew 6 – in other words we are being encouraged to be “anxious for one another.” In Philippians 2:20, Paul uses this word again, but in another context. Writing from prison, Paul shares with the Philippians that he will be sending Timothy to check in on them “for I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare.” It is clear from this passage and more like it, that there can also be a godly form of concern for others. This makes sense to our everyday experience as we walk alongside our loved ones through health concerns and other trials. We see in these two passages that caring is important and concern can be appropriate. So, when does a line get crossed from the caring that is encouraged to the anxiety that should be avoided? Confused and humbled They didn’t teach me this line in school, and I was slow to learn it in the school of life. Shortly after I was married, my responsibilities increased quickly. In a span of ten or twelve years, I went from looking after myself to being responsible for a family of eight. And I went from being a student, to starting and overseeing an organization with about fifteen staff, spread across the country. My interest and care for political developments in Canada turned into a responsibility to provide faithful leadership to the largest Christian political advocacy organization in the country. At the same time, my wife and I took up a host of extra-curricular roles in our church, school, and community, from serving on boards to teaching catechism. And we were also trying to turn a wild piece of land and its dilapidated house into a good family home and investment opportunity. I did these things because I cared, and I had concerns. Each facet on its own was well worth caring for, or being concerned about. We held things together quite well until a family tragedy came unexpectedly. Amidst the grieving, my wife was expecting another child, and I had concerns about the delivery in light of how previous ones went. Through all of this, I felt great pressure to press on as a leader at work, in the home, and on various other files. But as hard as I tried, as the days ticked closer to the delivery day, God humbled me by shutting down my body. My muscles tightened up to the point where I had a hard time walking the 30 steps to my office. I was nauseous every day, my body twitched, my eyes hurt, my vision declined, my face and head became numb, it hurt to stand and it hurt to sit. I got to the point where I couldn’t face another day of work. If you asked me at that time if I felt anxious, I likely would have brushed it off. Anxiety wasn’t really relevant to me, or so I thought. I figured that I had some inconvenient health issues. When my doctor had tests done and told me that I needed to take a break from stress, I was confused. And when I asked for a break from work, my board and colleagues seemed no less confused. It was humbling to go from being the leader, always looking out for others, to not being able to report for duty. And it was also humbling to not really understand what was happening, and what it would take to get back to “normal.” Although I was back at work relatively soon and did my best to carry on with all my regular duties, it took me more than five years, and plenty of stumbles, to begin to understand the problem from a physical, emotional, and spiritual perspective. The change has also been slow and will likely be a life-long journey. I’m very grateful for a loving family who walked this journey with me, giving regular encouragement, and grateful as well for a good Christian counselor. Clearly a line had been crossed from godly caring and concern to something harmful. But I didn’t understand it. Wasn’t I supposed to care and be concerned? The cul-de-sac of ungodly anxiety On his “Transformed” podcast Dr. Gifford explains that Scripture makes it plain that it is possible to care and be concerned in an ungodly way. We do that when we aren’t truly entrusting our cares and concerns to the LORD, the only One who can truly do something about them. He goes further and explains: “this isn't a just a disorder. This isn't a physiological issue of my body. Anxiety is connected to my trust and faith in the Lord. And Jesus clearly identifies anxiety as being wrong and sinful.” Here Dr. Gifford is referencing Matthew 6 where Jesus urges His people “do not worry about your life.” He also references Philippians 4 where we are told to “be anxious for nothing.” I should note here that although Dr. Gifford calls this kind of anxiety sinful, other biblical counselors respectfully disagree. Edward T. Welch devotes an entire article to the topic, entitled, “Fear is not sin,” explaining from Scripture that anxiety, like grief, isn’t itself sinful. Although Jesus uses an imperative form in Matthew 6 – He tells us “do not be anxious” – it isn’t meant to be a command. We do the same thing when we tell a child “don’t be afraid,” which is meant as an encouragement, not an order. Welch believes Jesus is offering comfort, similar to when He says “do not weep.” So the fact that we struggle with anxiety itself isn’t a sin, according to Welch. Rather, what matters is what we do with it. Although Welch makes a valid point, which can be comforting to Christians who struggle with chronic anxiety, the added nuance of definitions doesn’t take away from Dr. Gifford’s important explanation of where I, and many others, go wrong with our anxiety. Gifford contrasts two kinds of roads: a cul-de-sac and a thoroughfare (a main road that passes on through a town or city). An ungodly anxiety is like a cul-de-sac where traffic stops and stays – all my cares and concerns terminate on me. “How am I going to fix this? What am I going to do about it? Okay, I need to save more. I need to work harder. I need to get up earlier. I need to sleep less. I can do this.” Those that struggle with anxiety often also struggle with the desire to be in control. That is true for me too. But how is this a faith issue? In answer, Dr. Gifford explains the difference between a formal confession and a functional confession. “Formally we would say, ‘I know God is in control.’ Formally, I know that prayer is important in Scripture. But functionally, I’m in control. When I'm trying to discern the difference between a concern and anxiety, I have to be able to evaluate are all of these cares and concerns terminating with me, and that's why I'm worried.” Not every type of anxiety is a faith issue or something to be repented of. God created us good, and that includes the functions of our bodies that make us aware of, and respond to, stress. There is a time for adrenaline to rule (like running away from a bear)! There are also physiological disorders that aren’t a result of choices being made. Anxiety can also result from experiencing trauma in the past. And there is a general brokenness in creation as a result of sin which makes it difficult for us humans to respond to challenges the way we want to (as Paul says in Romans 7 “for what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do”). So I’m not suggesting that all those who struggle with anxiety ought to repent and have a change of heart. However, I also believe that there are many more like me, who are guilty of trying to carry cares and concerns that God never intended us to carry. Thoroughfare to God Dr. Gifford contrasts this cul-de-sac of ungodly anxiety with a thoroughfare. Instead of our cares and concerns terminating with us in the cul-de-sac, we take them to the LORD and trust Him with them. This is exemplified in 1 Peter 5:6-7: “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” If we compare our concerns and cares to a big stone that we are rolling, this passage calls us to roll that stone over to the LORD, realizing that we aren’t able to carry the weight ourselves. In contrast, He is the good, wise, and all-powerful God who can do this. So the line between care, concern, and ungodly anxiety isn’t actually about caring too much or being concerned too much. Rather it is the difference between trusting ourselves to deal with the weight, or bringing it straight to the LORD, who alone is able to carry it. It isn’t enough to confess this. It has to be done daily. If we aren’t quite convinced yet, take to heart these words from Dr. Gifford: “When you have cares and concerns you bring them to the Lord, ultimately. But when you have anxiety, you are the Lord ultimately. You functionally take his place and become God. You become the Sustainer and you become the one that is providentially working all things according to your end. And it is an overwhelming task. “No wonder why some of us are run through, because we are riddled with anxiety. That's what it's like when we try to do God's job. We try to be God and we can't, and we're overwhelmed. You can actually have panic attacks where it feels like you're suffocating, because of too much anxiety in your life. It feels like you're having a heart attack. What is that saying? It's even your own body saying that you can't be God. And it's not always an exciting way for your body to tell you that. You can't be God. If you've ever experienced severe anxiety, and you started to have chest pains, it's a reminder that you're finite, and God is infinite. You're small, and God is big.” I‘m thankful that God literally stopped me in my tracks, not allowing me to live the way I was any longer. The physical symptoms hurt, and that stage was humbling, but it was what I needed to prompt lasting change. Opposite and equally bad As with many challenges in life, it is easy to swing too far in opposite directions. In response to anxiety, Dr. Gifford identifies two extremes. The first is to legitimize our anxiety, telling ourselves that our worries are valid because we really are the center of the universe, we really are God. “I have to do everything. If I don’t do it, no one else is going to do it for me. I have to grind in this season of life.” In response to this we can take to heart God’s Word in 1 Corinthians 4, where we are reminded that everything we have is a gift from the LORD. There is nothing we have that we didn’t receive. So none of us can say that it is really up to me. God is the one who is in charge, and He is the one who blesses. If we believe this, our actions need to prove that we trust Him to care and provide. The other extreme is to simply not care, or do what we can to numb the pain. When the pressure goes up, it is tempting to hide, escape, or distract ourselves. We do this with vacations, reading, TV, hobbies, shopping, playing video games, or maybe even substance abuse. Yet we know from Scripture that the Christian life isn’t about being care-free and happy. Being a faithful spouse, sibling, parent, colleague, boss, employee, elder, deacon, church member, and citizen will expose us to some troubling situations. We need to be present, to care, and to act. Going back to Dr. Gifford’s analogy of the cul-de-sac and thoroughfare, many of us would prefer to not even be next to a road at all. We would rather be living off-grid, in the peaceful countryside, looking after ourselves and a few others that we are comfortable with. Yet this ignores the great command to love our neighbor as ourself. So how do we care and be concerned without becoming a cul-de-sac? Some remedies for anxiety In the height of my burnout, the first help I received was very practical and simple. My doctor told me to take two Tylenol Arthritis pills every certain number of hours. Tylenol? It wasn’t what I expected. Yet it did wonders for relaxing my muscles. And some progress in the right direction was a huge encouragement. Our bodies are complex, and self-diagnosing through the internet will likely cause more anxiety than help. I recommend starting with a visit to a trustworthy doctor. The second stage of help came from a different kind of prescription – to the AnxietyCentre.com website. The wealth of information behind the paywall was incredibly helpful and also encouraging to me. I learned there that anxiety is something that is fully treatable. I also saw how the symptoms I had were all directly related to anxiety. This gave me hope that change was possible. But learning alone isn’t always enough to bring the change that is necessary. It was quite a long time later, after seeing recurrences of symptoms, that I knew I needed more help and signed up for counseling with a psychotherapist. It is hard to over-state the help that came from talking with someone who both understood anxiety and was willing to journey with me as I tried to overcome it. In the following years, I grew in understanding through more books and resources. But I also slowly started to see the spiritual roots to my struggles with anxiety. As long as I was going to be in this world, it was evident that I would have to deal with stress. Although I went to my LORD through this journey, I wasn’t experiencing the relief that Jesus says is possible when transferring my burdens to Him. Why? With time, I began to see that I was taking myself far too seriously, and not taking God seriously enough. Time and again I was living as a cul-de-sac instead of a thoroughfare. A four-step approach Now, over six years after being humbled by burnout, I can testify to the truth and importance of Dr. Gifford’s four-step remedy for anxiety. As helpful as medication, counseling, books, and breaks may be, I need to start with getting things right with God. 1. Repent The first step, says Dr. Gifford, is to repent. That sounds harsh, but over time I recognized the truth of this in my own situation (though as I mentioned earlier, there are some forms of anxiety that are not sin issues and that need a different response). “This is a sin issue, not an illness, not a disease, not a personal tendency that I have.” How often to do we hear this, even in the church? It wasn’t until quite recently in my journey that someone had the courage to gently rebuke me about how I was dealing with my cares and worries. “I don't repent of an illness. I don't repent of the flu. I repent of sins in my life and so should you” shares Dr. Gifford. Although this may sound harsh, it actually brings great hope and encouragement. There is a remedy to sin – Jesus Christ has made full atonement. “Step one is that I repent of anxiety, I go to the Lord and say something like, Lord, please forgive me for worrying when You are in complete control. Please forgive me for thinking that I can do Your job, and I can't, would You help me to exhibit greater trust in You?” 2. Remember the nature of God The next step, says Dr. Gifford, involves taking to heart the nature of God. In Matthew 6, Jesus doesn’t stop after telling us not to be anxious or worry. He tells us to look at the birds of the air. They don’t sow or reap or gather in barns, yet our heavenly Father feeds them. He also tells us to look at the lilies in the field, and how they grow. “If God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?” The point is that when we understand that God is all knowing and all powerful, our anxiety will slowly go away. “There's a sense in which I don't try to take control of something when I know someone more competent than myself is in control. I know that they got it. And I'm actually thankful they got it. I don't have to worry about it.” illustration by Stephanie Vanderpol Dr. Gifford drives the point home: “When you understand the character of God, it crushes your anxiety, it suffocates it in the sense that you say, well, I know God's good. And I know God's in control. And I know God knows. He's omniscient. Well, then why in the world would I ever try to step in and take His place?” 3. Take our cares to God Step three is to take our cares to God so that they don’t become anxieties. In 1 Peter 5, we are told to cast all our anxieties on Him, for He cares for us. The simple truth is that when we have anxiety, it is because we are trying to do the carrying ourselves. It stops with us – like the cul-de-sac. Taking our cares to God involves pinpointing what exactly we are anxious about. What is keeping us up at night? It will be different things for different people. Perhaps a loved one, or a biblical counselor, can help us put a finger on what it is. Then we can ask what it means to entrust this thing to the LORD, and what I need to hear from Him. “Entrust it to the LORD” is something we hear all the time, but what does it look like? I regularly prayed about the things I was anxious about. But simply telling God about it isn’t the same as entrusting our cares to Him. If I hire someone to look after my yard maintenance, I can tell them what I’m hoping they will do. But then I also need to get out of their way and let them do the job. If I fire up my lawn mower as soon as the grass looks like it needs a trim, I’m not entrusting the work to the person I hired. And if I look out the window and inspect the grass every day, I’m not benefiting a whole lot from hiring someone else to do the job. I need to give the care over completely, and stop wasting my time and energy on it. 4. Be faithful to our responsibilities The final step is to be faithful to our responsibilities. This involves articulating what exactly is our responsibility, and what is the LORD’s. For example, it is my responsibility to pay my mortgage payment. That means I should not spend money on a holiday if that results in not being able to make my mortgage payment. The issue for many of us is that we don’t acknowledge that there are many things we can’t control and aren’t responsible for. “I can't control the future of my health. I'm not that powerful. I can't control the spiritual walk of my children. I am not that powerful. I can't control the winds and the finances of my employer, I am not that powerful.” In contrast I can “be a good steward of my body to the best of my ability, I can be a positive spiritual influence in my children's lives. But I have to trust the Lord to be the one to do the work. I can be a hard worker at my job and attempt to be valuable to them, but I can't control if they want to keep me or want to jettison me.” Strength through weakness Taking these four steps to heart and changing our daily walk isn’t easy, but neither is it complicated. For many of us, we have developed bad habits for dealing with our cares and concerns, and this occurred over many years. Changing it won’t happen in an instant. But, unlike many things in life, moving away from anxiety is possible, in God’s strength and by His grace. I’ll take this a step further. Not only is it possible – in God’s strength – to leave the cul-de-sac of ungodly anxiety behind, it is also a responsibility that we can help each other with. And we aren’t going to make it any easier if we make anxiety our identity. Yes, some of us are more predisposed to worry, and yes it can definitely have consequences on our health. But if we take Jesus at His word, we will also acknowledge that there are some forms of anxiety that need to be repented of. This doesn’t mean that we should harshly rebuke someone struggling with ungodly anxiety. On the contrary, this calls for love and care. When God tells us over and over again to not worry, He does so as a loving father to a little child. Jesus knows what it is like to feel the weight of the world on His shoulders. He was in agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, awaiting His death. But He also modeled faithfulness – taking his cares to His Father and walking the road that He was called to. My journey isn’t over. Every day I fall short, also when it comes to how I’m managing cares and concerns. From time to time, I still experience the physical symptoms that come from stress and anxiety. But instead of them causing me concern, I take them as a clear signal that I’m not managing things well. I’m straying and need to change course, entrusting things to the LORD and to others. Yes, it is humbling to admit that I’m weak and don’t have what it takes to solve most challenges in life, be it Covid policies, the spiritual walk of loved ones, or conflict. But it is also liberating. We have a Savior who has already made things right between us and God. The price has been paid. Our future is secure in His hands. Dear brother or sister, bring your anxieties to our LORD and experience His peace. Go deeper: Dr. Greg Gifford’s two-part series on anxiety is available at his podcast called “Transformed” but can also be heard on his website here: Transformed.org/podcast/biblical-clarity-on-anxiety-part-one/ Transformed.org/podcast/biblical-clarity-on-anxiety-part-two/ Below, Rich Mullins honestly and provocatively addresses the anxiety of our heart, pointing us to the only One who can truly still our worries. <span data-mce-type="bookmark" style="display: inline-block; width: 0px; overflow: hidden; line-height: 0;" class="mce_SELRES_start"></span>...
In a Nutshell
Tidbits – August 2023
All sorts of time to talk with God Some years ago a friend told me about a plan she had put into motion – she'd decided that on her drive to work each day she wouldn’t listen to anything in her car. Instead she would use that time to pray, to dwell on what God has done for her, and to sing to Him. She also brings different concerns to God each day of the week – I found out, for example, that on some Wednesdays she has prayed for me, asking God to equip me to be a good spiritual leader in my marriage. Every morning for the 40-50 minute commute to work it is just God and her, and she loves it. Then, on her afternoon drive home she listens to good audiobooks – anything from Narnia to Les Miserables or even an audio recording of the Bible. by Hannah P. (Age 13) At the time I'd occasionally listened to books in my car, but the one thing I never did was drive in silence. I think I’m part of a generation that finds too much silence an almost scary thing. I want talk radio; I want some music playing; I want the distraction. And consequently I wouldn't have thought of talking to God in my car. But I’ve rethought that some now. World’s toughest riddle Can you answer this riddle? According to one (very unreliable) source 97 per cent of Harvard students wouldn't have an answer within 5 minutes, while 84 per cent of kindergarteners would. Can you answer this riddle? I turn polar bears white and I will make you cry. I make guys taller and girls comb their hair. I make celebrities look stupid and normal people look like celebrities. I turn pancakes brown and make your champagne bubble. If you squeeze me, I'll pop. If you look at me, you'll pop. Can you guess the riddle? See the bottom of this page for the answer. Neither banana-eaters nor half banana "We also share about 50 per cent of our DNA with bananas and that doesn't make us half bananas, either from the waist up or the waist down." – Geneticist and evolutionist Steve Jones, making it clear that chimps and humans are not alike, even if they share some percentage of the same DNA. Faith is… On her long-running talk show Oprah would tell guests and audience members alike to just, “Have more faith!” But faith in what? That isn’t clear. During his Barrack Obama's first presidential campaign he encouraged his supporters to vote for "hope and change." But hope in what? In change? That's a rather uncertain idea to place our hope in. In his Truth Project video series, Dr. Del Tackett notes how the world has sucked the meaning out of words like “hope,” “belief” and “faith.” They want us to have hope in hope, and place our faith in faith. In contrast, our hope is anchored in, as Tackett puts it, the “truth claims of God, and the One who stands behind those claims.” What does it mean then, to have faith? Tackett give the illustration of a child preparing to jump off a diving board for the first time, into the arms of a parent, swimming below. “What an incredible faith we see in a child who stands on the end of the board. And everything within them tells them ‘Don’t jump!’ But they look at their mom or their dad and their faith and their trust in them overcomes what they feel. Our faith is not a feeling. Our hope is not a feeling. Our faith is what allows us to overcome our feelings….Those times you don’t feel like it, those times when you are sure there is no one there, what do we reach out and grab a hold of? Faith? No. Him! Even though you don’t feel it.” To kiss or not to kiss isn't even a question While the movie Fireproof is only middling. it has strong message about the importance of marriage: the tag line for the movie poster tells us to “never leave your partner behind.” The lead actor, Kirk Cameron, has some pretty strong views about marriage himself, and one of his non-negotiables is that the only woman a man should kiss is his wife. But how does an actor, who is playing the role of a husband trying to win back the affections of his wife, avoid kissing the actress playing his wife? The solution is simple enough, if a film’s producers are willing to get a little creative. To shoot the scene where the husband and wife characters kiss, Cameron's real-life wife, Chelsea Noble, stepped in. It was shot in the shadows so that no one would notice the difference between Noble and the actress, Erin Bethea, who played the role of the wife in the rest of the movie. by Hannah P. (Age 13) Quote of the month “Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.” – Groucho Marx Why are Christians less gullible? “When men stop believing in God, they don't believe in nothing. They believe in anything.” So Chesterton is attributed with saying, though I'm not entirely sure you should believe that, because I haven't been able to track it down to a specific book or article yet. Regardless of whether he said it, someone certainly should have. Some years back Gallup released a poll on "What Americans Really Believe." It asked subjects about their beliefs on the occult. The report found that those who hold to traditional Christian beliefs were far less likely to hold paranormal beliefs than those who professed to be irreligious. For example, 31 per cent of those who never worship declared a strong belief in the paranormal and pseudoscience, compared to only 8 per cent of regular worshippers. Why are Christians less gullible? In telling His people quite a bit about the real spiritual realm, God has equipped us to see through these frauds and fakes. Easy 10-step program to raise a delinquent John MacArthur had some thoughts on raising children right that he shared by detailing how best to do it wrong. This, here, is his 10-step program guaranteed to deliver a delinquent. Spoil him. Give him everything he wants so you can get him off your back. When he does wrong, nag him a little, but don’t spank him. Protect him from all those "mean" teachers who want to discipline him from time to time. Make all of his decisions for him because he might make mistakes…and learn from them. Criticize his father to him or his mother, so your son or daughter will lose respect for his parents. Criticize others openly; criticize others routinely, so that he will continue to realize that he is better than everybody else. Whenever he gets into trouble bail him out. Besides, if he faces any real consequence it might hurt your reputation. Never let him suffer the consequences of his behavior... Let him express himself any way he feels like it. Don’t run his life; let him run yours. Don’t bother him with chores; do everything for him…then he can be irresponsible all his life and blame others when things don’t get done right. Give him a big allowance and don’t make him do anything for it. Believe his lies because it’s too much hassle to try to sort through to get the truth. Alien expert and apologist? Gary Bates is one of a kind: a Christian apologist and an alien expert. In his brilliant book Alien Intrusion, Bates argues there is a definite link between the extraterrestrial and the spiritual. It turns out that most people who claim to have been abducted by aliens have also been involved in occultic activity. So while there are too many UFO and alien incidents to just dismiss – something really is happening – Bates argues that instead of extraterrestrials, these incidents involve devils in disguise. If you want to know more about his book and the fantastic documentary based on it, check out his website AlienIntrusion.com. Too learned A young theologian name Fiddle Refused to accept his degree. He said, “It’s bad enough being Fiddle, “Without being Fiddle, D.D.” – author unknown Answer to the "world's toughest riddle." Can you answer the riddle? The correct answer is, no. That's the answer kindergarteners might well give quickly, which is the correct answer, since this riddle has no correct solution. The hypothetical Harvard students would refuse to give up, and so wouldn't give an answer within five minutes. SOURCE: adapted from something making the rounds...