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Saturday Selections – July 1, 2023
Are your kids are looking for some summer holiday inspiration? These Dude Perfect juniors are doing amazing trick shots that might spawn some imitation.
Reading routinely to your children helps you set aside time to teach, shepherd, and love on your child. It is costly – it takes time you might not feel you have – but if you were to talk to a future you about whether they wished they had done more of it, you can be sure of the answer.
The folks at the Christian parenting organization Axis have created a short guide to some of the most popular teen slang. They've divided it into 3 categories, starting with "Fun, harmless, silly" followed by "Be aware of" and finally "Red flags." This heads-up is worth the 5-10 minutes it would take to scan through it.
This article, on the occasion of Calvin Coolidge's 150th birthday last year, celebrates an American president who was best known for thinking government should get out of the way.
Even as Canada's wildfires had a lot of people eating smoke, air pollution has been going down a lot over the last half century. We hear so much doom and gloom these days, it's a good corrective to hear how things are getting better.
Our own online responses should presume the best of whomever we're talking to (Matt. 7:12). But if Marshall McLuhan was at all right about "the medium is the message" (ie. the deliverer has a huge impact on the message delivered) then we shouldn't be naive about what sort of negativity social media fosters.
Economics - Home Finances
On investing, with Wade Van Bostelen
Thoughts from an experienced financial advisor ***** Reformed Perspective interviewed Wade Van Bostelen, a Christian certified financial planner ope...
Documentary, Movie Reviews, Watch for free
Into the Light: a teaching documentary on freedom from pornography
Pro-life - Euthanasia
Getting even crazier: 27% of Canadians think being poor is good enough reason for euthanasia
Alberta and BC champion very different responses to drug use
Earlier this year, BC became the first province to decriminalize small amounts of illegal drugs. The policy was the latest “harm reduction” effort from the province’s NDP government. The province boasted that “British Columbia is taking a critical step toward reducing the shame and fear associated with substance use.” This move was approved by Health Canada, which granted a three-year exemption from federal drug laws. Only a few months later, the effects are being felt in towns and cities throughout the province. “BC’s drug decriminalization experiment is off to a disastrous start” shouted the headline from the national affairs columnist in the Globe and Mail. Gary Mason proceeded to describe the situation on the ground, including a report from Mike Stolte, from Nelson, BC. “I’m a pretty liberal person who has been involved in compassionate programs for hospices and other entities,” Mr. Stolte told the Globe and Mail. “So, I feel for anyone battling addictions. I was initially a fan of decriminalization but I think the longer we continue with this experiment, the more and more downtowns are going to cease to exist. Nobody will want to go near them.” Stolte now keeps a baseball bat and bear spray by his front door after experiencing four thefts in the last two months. One province over, Alberta has refused to decriminalize drugs. Instead, they have been expanding the treatment spaces and now have capacity to serve 29,000 people every year. They also got rid of the fee for treatment. Instead of making drugs more accessible, they are making treatment more accessible. On the heels of their provincial election, the province’s UCP government took it a step further by announcing it would introduce the Compassionate Intervention Act, which would give the province the authority to require chronic drug addicts, who are believed to be at great risk to themselves or others, to get treatment. This too would be the first of its kind in Canada. “There is virtually no addict that makes a change in their life without some measure of intervention,” shared Marshall Smith, the chief of staff to Alberta’s Premier. He knows this from experience, having gone from being a staffer in the BC legislature to living on the streets in Vancouver for four years, as a result of a cocaine and meth addition. According to the National Post, he credits his recovery to the local police, who gave him the option of jail or a spot in a treatment center. Although there are not yet statistics to compare the two approaches, BC overdose deaths have doubled since 2016, though there was a slight decrease of 1.5 percent last year. The drop was much larger in Alberta, at 12 percent last year. BC’s approach rests on a belief that people should be free to pursue their desires, even if they are risky and dangerous. This is a similar strategy to that which was employed over the past half-century with the normalization of sex outside of heterosexual marriage, by focusing on “safe sex.” In contrast, Alberta’s approach recognizes that some activities need to be discouraged, even to the point of forcing people to change their lives. Although there is no explicit recognition of sin, nor an express desire to live in a way that respects our design as image bearers of God, Alberta’s approach is an encouraging step in the right direction. It will be important to compare the results of the two strategies in the coming year....
Saturday Selections – June 24, 2023
A seed that walks? Absolutely awn-some! (5 min) These seeds can walk and dig themselves into the ground! Psychology's culpability in the transgender movement The transgender movement's devilish overreach – trying to force us to say boys can be girls and girls can be boys – clarifies for us what Paul meant when he said the wisdom of the world is foolishness in the sight of God (1 Cor. 3:19). "Experts" can be delusional. We're in freefall because we've never had it so good (10-minute read) Prosperity is blamed here as a key culprit for our culture's ongoing decline in civility. Good diagnosis, but this secular article offers no hope. However, there is hope. Some 300 years ago. Cotton Mather explained that: "Religion begat prosperity, and the daughter devoured the mother." If the good times have our nation turning from our good God, then the solution is to urge them to repentance. Most US teens are watching porn regularly This is a must-read for parents, which has help to offer. The Synod of Dort and the Sabbath (10-minute read) Today many evangelicals might argue that there are 9 Commandments and not 10. However, in the article linked above Dr. Bredenhof weighs in on how the Synod of Dort made the case for 10, and Pastor Wilson offers a very different defense in his 11 Theses on the Glory of the Lord's Day. How do Canada's 2001 climate predictions measure up? (11 min) Today's Canadian government is increasing the cost of energy based on dire predictions of what will happen to the climate if they don't. But how good is the government at prognostication? Are they prophets or pretenders? In the video below, John Robson takes a look back at Canada's 2001 climate predictions and asks, if they got it wrong then, why should we trust that they are reliable today? ...
2023 wildfires an exception to three decades of declining fires
As millions of Canadians and Americans have been exposed to the smoke from Canadian forest fires already this year, along with a steady stream of media coverage, they would be forgiven for coming to a similar conclusion as Prime Minister Trudeau, who recently tweeted “We’re seeing more and more of these fires because of climate change.” But as Dr. Ross McKitrick, professor of environmental economics at the University of Guelph, explained in the Financial Post, Trudeau’s statement is wrong twice over. Pointing to publicly-available data from the Wildland Fire Information System, McKitrick said that wildfires have in fact been getting less frequent in Canada over the past 30 years. “The annual number of fires grew from 1959 to 1990, peaking in 1989 at just over 12,000 that year, and has been trending down since. From 2017 to 2021 (the most recent interval available), there were about 5,500 fires per year, half the average from 1987 to 1991.” The same is true for the amount of area burned, which also peaked 30 years ago at 7.6 million hectares, far above the current average of 2.4 million. McKitrick also pointed to global data which shows a similar decline in wildfires in recent decades. One reason why fires are getting so much attention this year is because 5.29 million hectares have already burned in 2023, and we are still relatively early in the season. Another reason why fires are getting more attention is because they seem to be getting more dangerous, spreading quickly and threatening entire towns. Is it due to global warming? McKitrick offers another explanation, quoting from forestry experts Stefan Doerr and Cristina Santin: “ aggressive fire suppression policies over much of the 20th century have removed fire from ecosystems where it has been a fundamental part of the landscape rejuvenation cycle…. We cannot completely remove fire from the landscape…That is the misconception that led to the ‘100 per cent fire suppression’ policies in the U.S. and elsewhere that have made things worse in many cases.” In the past government agencies, and even private land owners, have used “prescribed burns” – deliberately lit and managed fires – to burn away undergrowth. When done with some regularity these are lower temperature fires, clearing the ground but without burning the trees down. 100 per cent fire suppression policies do away with these burns, and as McKitrick explained, “this has led to a buildup of fuel in the form of woody debris leading to the risk of more explosive and unstoppable fires.” God has entrusted us with stewardship of His creation (Genesis 1:28) and part of stewardship requires an accurate understanding of this creation, including the importance of fires for healthy forests. Picture is of fires near Hope, BC earlier this year (edb3_16 / iStockphoto.com)....
Articles, Book Reviews, Science - Creation/Evolution
ICR’s impactful half century
A look at the Institute for Creation Research (ICR), its work, and its resources ***** See Creation.com's review here. The Institute for Creation Research (ICR) in Dallas, Texas, was established in 1970 and has developed into an outstanding center of scientific research where well-qualified scientists probe and seek to understand the mysteries of God’s creation (www.icr.org). Their impressive Discovery Center, which opened in 2019, highlights how the sixteenth-century Reformation set the stage for the birth of modern science and takes the visitor on an informative journey that includes key biblical events which are relevant for science, stunning displays, and some of the results of their research. Regular shows in the planetarium offer awesome displays of the wonders of God’s creation. This past March, my wife and I had the opportunity to visit ICR. It all started with an email from a staff member of ICR, who had read my book, In the Beginning: Listening to Genesis 1 and 2 (2021, 400 pages). After ongoing contact by email and even in person during a conference in Denver, we ended up visiting the Institute. It was a memorable experience to tour the facilities and get updates from the scientists working there on their research. The purpose of this article is to introduce some of the work done in ICR since it is committed to honoring the Bible as God’s infallible Word, also when doing scientific research. What the Bible states to be true is accepted as reliable information also for a scientist. This laudable approach has enormous consequences since the scientists at ICR reject scientific theories that contradict the clear teachings of Scripture, such as evolution. Much of their research results in showing that the actual facts of science are more readily in agreement with the biblical account of creation and subsequent events like the world-wide flood in the days of Noah than with evolutionary theories of origin spanning billions of years. Their publications, some of which I will highlight in this article, are all very accessible and lavishly illustrated although they are also full of in-depth science. Biological issues In 2005, Dr. Mary Schweitzer announced one of greatest paleontological discoveries in history, the finding of soft pliable organic tissue including blood vessels in a dinosaur bone. This discovery, followed by more of the same, has called into question the dating of millions of years usually assigned to such fossils since such tissue cannot last that long. ICR scientist Brian Thomas did his Ph.D. thesis in paleobiochemistry on this issue at the University of Liverpool. It has been published by ICR as Ancient and Fossil Bone Collagen Remnants (2019, 137 pages). His conclusions include the following: “The pervasive presence of proteins in fossils combined with their short half-lives present a poor fit with deep time. Last, the prevalence of radiocarbon in fossils combined with its even shorter half-life would reasonably follow from a biblical origins scenario. If the Noachic Flood deposited those fossils only thousands of years ago, then it is no wonder they still have proteins including bone collagen and levels of radiocarbon well above AMS detection thresholds.” Although Brian Thomas was raised as an evolutionist, his research made him question mainline evolutionary science since it showed evidence for evolution wanting, but much support for biblical creation. A popular presentation about the unfossilized tissue focussing on the hard evidence and its implications for evolutionary thinking is a documentary hosted by David Rives, Echoes of the Jurassic: Discoveries of Dinosaur Soft Tissue (2012, 95 minutes) published by the Creation Research Society and available through ICR. You can find the trailer for it below. A common argument for evolution and common ancestry is that human beings and chimps are said to have 98% similar DNA. However, when more accurate comparisons are made, the similarity of DNA is only 85%, not enough for humans and chimps to have a common origin. An ape is not a human being and a human being is not an ape. ICR Geneticist Dr. Jeffrey P. Tomkins has published his research on this topic in his book Chimps and Humans: A Geneticist Discovers DNA Evidence That Challenges Evolution (2021, 192 pages). There he shares that his findings, along with those of: “a wide variety of research reports have clearly shown a pattern of incredible irreducible genetic complexity that appears suddenly and fully integrated in humans but is distinctively different from chimpanzees.” Tomkins also wrote The Design and Complexity of the Cell (2012, 132 pages), intending it as a scientific resource “to address the various evolutionary arguments that have dominated and shaped the academic environment.” He wanted to help especially college students, to counter the evolutionary arguments that will come their way. As he notes, science is not a morally neutral discipline, and will always look at the data through an interpretative lens. That’s why ICR is currently doing research on blind cave fish, which have long been cited as an example of Darwinian evolution. These fish, otherwise identical to their sighted cousins living outside in the light, are said to have lost their sight in a random act of adaptive evolution – a mutation caused a fish to lose its eyes, and because that made it better suited for the dark cave system, natural selection eventually led to the “fitter” blind fish taking over. But what if we viewed this through a lens that gives God His brilliant due? ICR researchers are proposing it wasn’t so random after all, but that God has created these fish with the ability to adapt to completely different environments, namely, a dark cave and normal day-lit water. As Tomkins and his co-authors write in their article “Catching the Vision” (Creation Research Society Quarterly vol. 58, 2022): “These rapid, repeatable, and complex organism-wide system adaptations make little sense in the context of Darwinian evolution involving mutation and natural selection.” Earth history Did apes walk on the face of the earth before humans? Evolution holds this to be so. However, in an elucidating video, Adam or Apes (2022, 36 minutes), Dr. Brian Thomas clearly showed that there is no basis for this in scientific fact (see the trailer below). He demonstrated that the designation of certain fossils as "transitional," indicating a development from ape to human, is completely without any scientific basis, and that many mainstream scientists agree with this evaluation. It is essentially the result of wishful evolutionary thinking since the analysis of these fossils is deeply flawed by, for example, supplying bones and features that were not actually found, but were added according to scientists' evolutionary presuppositions. Dinosaurs! What about dinosaurs? How do they fit into biblical history? Dinosaur fossils testify of their existence. Only catastrophic conditions could have killed these powerful huge creatures and buried and fossilized them along with all sorts of other creatures. The world-wide flood in Noah’s days provided the conditions for such fossilisation. The ark likely held young dinosaurs and these eventually matured and multiplied. They were known, for example, as dragons. Pictures of dinosaurs resembling the fossil remains have survived and testify to their existence. Eventually they became extinct. All this and more (including soft tissue in dinosaurs) is explained in a video presentation by Brian Thomas, Discovering Dinosaurs (2018, 50 minutes), a version of which you can watch here. Speaking of the intriguing subject of dinosaurs, ICR geologist Timothy Clarey has written an in-depth scientific work, Dinosaurs: Marvels of God’s Design (2015, 192 pages), to explain these creatures within a biblical context as part of God’s creation. All sorts of issues are dealt with such as what the fossils tell us, why dinosaurs went extinct, and dinosaur behavior and more using the latest up-to-date research. The Flood The notion of a world-wide flood is regularly dismissed as a biblical myth. It never happened according to evolutionary thinking. Dr. Timothy Clarey has, however, shown in his book Carved in Stone: Geological Evidence for the Worldwide Flood (2020, 496 pages) that the geological evidence for such an event is compelling. Clarey has wide experience as an exploration geologist and has access to an enormous amount of data on geological core samples from around the world. Sedimentary (water-deposited) rocks cover 75% of the earth’s land surface and contain fossils of marine and land creatures. So far Clarey has compiled data from three continents (North America, South America, and Africa). The “megasequences” of these deposits on each continent show the same general pattern. Clarey notes that: “this is what makes these data so compelling. It is not just one continent that shows this pattern but three, and three that show it simultaneously. This is the strongest evidence I have ever witnessed in my 35 years as a geologist that indicates a global flood has occurred. How can anyone look at these data, these maps, and not realize it is showing the exact same pattern and timing of global flooding? This is truly compelling evidence of worldwide activity.” These three continents studied comprise about half the earth’s landmass. So the evidence is compelling for a global flood that occurred about 4,500 years ago. Clarey is continuing his studies on land not yet researched. The issue of climate change One of the hottest topics of our time is the issue of climate change. The meticulous scientific study of ICR's Dr. Jake Hebert, The Ice Age and Climate Change (2021, 300 pages), is therefore most welcome to bring clear scientific thinking to this controversial subject. A refreshing aspect of this work is the fact that Hebert integrates the biblical evidence for real climate change in the case of the Genesis flood and draws out the consequences for today’s discussion. It was God’s judgment that brought about the flood and the resulting change of climate. The cataclysmic events of the flood plausibly triggered the Ice Age to which the fossils of tropical plants in, for example, the Arctic bear witness. No longer would there be a temperate climate worldwide. But God assured Noah and all his descendants that there would be stability from here on in the sense that seasons would follow each other in due order (Gen. 8:22). If such a catastrophic, never-to-be-repeated event was required to bring about such a dramatic climate change like the Ice Age, Hebert concluded that “we do not need to worry that noncatastrophic causes such as relatively slow increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide will result in a future climate catastrophe.” This conclusion is in part based on the fact that unbiased scientific evidence indicates that the earth’s climate is stable and self-regulating. The real issue in the debate on climate change is climate sensitivity. Climate change alarmists are convinced that our climate system is very sensitive to changes and that little is needed to effect catastrophic change, a thinking which Hebert challenges and convincingly refutes using scientific evidence and in some cases exposing fraudulent data. Since the earth’s climate is stable, it self-adjusts to prevent out-of-control warming. Hebert strongly suspects that “global warming is not occurring now. This is partly because of the well-known warming pause that has been occurring for the last 20 years or so. But even if warming is occurring right now, it will not continue indefinitely, and it is not a reason to panic.” Draconian measures are not needed to forestall a climate catastrophe. The marvel of the human body Dr. Randy J. Guliuzza is a retired flight surgeon as well as a professional engineer. With these qualifications he is well equipped to appreciate the biological engineering of the human body and its design features as well as the body’s incredible interconnecting systems that enable us to function as humans. He wrote a popular-level book, Made in His Image: Examining the Complexities of the Human Body (2009, 63 pages). In it he unwraps the astounding marvel of God’s design which enables the body to move, have stable temperatures, and resist microscopic invaders with an elaborate immune system. Guliuzza also explains the amazing properties of blood that help to make life possible in a mind-boggling way given the millions of chemical reactions that take place every second. Among other topics dealt with are the marvels of human reproduction, gestation, and birth which leaves one in awe of God’s handiwork and can only invoke praise to the Creator. A DVD set by the same name, Made in His Image (2015, 88 minutes) focusses on the miracle of birth, the marvel of eyes, the uniqueness of human hands, and the beauty of human motion. An accompanying lavishly illustrated viewer guide with thought provoking questions is very helpful in highlighting and reinforcing key information from the DVD (see the trailer below). In conclusion There is no such thing as neutral thinking or research. Everyone is influenced by underlying assumptions and worldviews through which one views and seeks to understand reality. Also, scientific fields of endeavor probing the earth’s past history and using computer models to project into the future are not immune to underlying presuppositions. Whether one, for instance, uses an evolutionary lens through which to interpret scientific data or a biblical perspective can make all the difference. It is a great blessing, then, when Christian scientists publish their work and counter unsubstantiated claims by mainstream science that deny biblical truth and also challenge, for example, the alarmist propaganda surrounding the issue of climate change. Dr. Cornelis Van Dam is the Professor Emeritus of Old Testament at the Canadian Reformed Theological Seminary, and is the author of several books including “In the Beginning: Listening to Genesis 1 and 2.” Canadians may find it easier getting the books listed here from creationist organizations north of the border like CreationBC.org and Create.AB.ca....
In a Nutshell
Tidbits - June 2023
Those wild and crazy Vikings! You may have learned in school that Vikings visited North America long before Christopher Columbus did, but I bet you n...
Dodgers honor drag queen “nuns”
CORRECTION: The original title for this article was "Dodgers honor drag queen 'nuns' in front of empty stadium" was true, as videos showed that when t...
Canada’s population crosses 40 million
Today, Canada’s population is expected to reach 40 million, according to Statistics Canada’s “population clock.” The country’s population has been surging recently, with a growth rate at 2.7 percent, the highest since 1957, when Canada was in the midst of a baby boom. But there is a significant difference between the gains of 1957 and 2023. In 1957, our fertility rate was 3.8 children per woman. Today it is 1.48, far below the 2.1 required to replace a population. This means that in 1957, our population was growing because Canadians were having babies. Now we are growing because people who have already been born are coming to Canada. Statistics Canada reported that last year alone, Canada welcomed 437,180 immigrants and had an increase of 607,782 non-permanent residents. Both numbers are the highest on record. Canada has looked to immigration as an answer to the country’s aging population and decreasing birth rate. Although the numbers make this work in the short-term, the fertility rate in two-thirds of the world has dropped below replacement, and the United Nations is forecasting that the entire world’s population will begin decreasing later this century. No country that has had its fertility rate drop below replacement has been able to reverse the trend, even though many are trying hard with generous incentives. If that is true of a country, it doesn’t bode well for the world. When our secular leaders encounter this problem, they are mystified by what can be done. But the solution isn’t very complicated. As Psalm 127:3 acclaims “Behold, children are a gift of the LORD.” It is time to accept this gift with open arms....
113 MPs supported preborn victims of crime bill
Member of Parliament Cathay Wagantall’s private member’s Bill C-311 was defeated in the House of Commons on June 14, but not without 113 MPs voting in support. That is 37 more MPs than when similar legislation was introduced in 2016. If passed, the bill would have amended the Criminal Code so that when a judge is making a decision about sentencing, they would have to take into consideration if someone knowingly assaulted a pregnant woman. In response to the We Need A Law’s “1 Crime, 2 Victims“ campaign, thousands of post cards and emails were sent to MPs, imploring them to recognize that there are two victims when a pregnant woman is attacked. Quebec MP Rachel Bendayan was alarmed at the support for the bill, saying “Conservative MPs spoke of ‘pre-born’ children. They spoke of ‘legal voids’ caused by the ‘lack of abortion laws in Canada.’ When people tell you what they stand for, believe them.” She also said We Need A Law’s flyers “are everywhere.” She proceeded to quote from Joyce Arthur, the director of the Abortion Rights Coalition. “If the fetuses are recognized in …it could bleed into people’s consciousness and make people change their minds about abortion.” Amen. May we not tire in our efforts to advocate on behalf of Canada’s most vulnerable and victimized group....
Apple to expand its nudity blurring to video too
Apple’s newest iOS 17 update, coming this fall, will expand on its ability to detect and blur nudity on iPhones and iPads. It’ll now work not just with photos, but video content too. This feature will be turned on automatically for children 12 and under, while those 13 and up can opt-in. While that’s a nice feature, it seems to be simply a warning. The user is told: “This could be sensitive. Are you sure you want to view?” It also includes an explanation of why a child might not want to proceed: “It’s not your fault, but naked photos and videos can be used to hurt you.” But the child can choose to ignore the warning. MacRumors.com reported that, when the first version of this photo blurring tech was announced in 2021, Apple offered parents the option of knowing when their child chose to view the image. But Apple changed course, and didn’t equip parents with that tool. In other words, this tech is a useful protection for children and adults who want to use it. But parents need to understand that it offers no help at all for children who are curious or tempted. For more substantial help, they’ll need to turn to apps offered by groups like CovenantEyes or Bark. Got another such tool your family has used and appreciated? Please drop us a note about what it is, how much it costs a month, and why you liked it....
Justice delayed is justice denied: Supreme Court Justice Russell Brown resigns
In the midst of a misconduct investigation, Supreme Court Justice Russell Brown has chosen to resign his post on Canada’s top court. The investigation was triggered by allegations of inappropriate conduct by Brown after an altercation in Arizona earlier this year. In a social setting, after a speaking engagement there, Brown was accused of making unwanted advances on a couple of women. In a public statement, Brown pointed to the slow misconduct investigation, the strain on him and his family, and the impact on the court’s proceedings, as leading to his decision that it was “for the common good” to resign. Accompanying the statement, Brown also released evidence to affirm his innocence in the matter. While we aren’t in a position to judge Justice Brown’s guilt or innocence, we can consider the process. Brown was put on leave Feb. 1 and resigned on June 12. In his public statement he noted: “At this point, it is impossible to know how much longer this delay would continue…. Given the progress so far, it is not unreasonable to think that this process may continue well into 2024.” In Ecclesiastes 8:11, the Preacher tells us that: “When the sentence for a crime is not quickly carried out, people’s hearts are filled with schemes to do wrong.” The National Post’s Jamie Sarkonak echoed the thought: “The Supreme Court and the Canadian Judicial Council have shown troublemakers exactly what needs to be done to de-bench a judge.” Canadian news website The Hub shared the reactions of other legal experts including Yuan Yi Zhu, an assistant professor of international relations and international law at Leiden University, who was very critical of the disciplinary process for Canadian judges. "From Chief Justice Wagner’s decision to place Brown on an immediate leave of absence without official explanation on the basis of a flimsy complaint filed by a man who had assaulted his colleague, to the Canadian Judicial Council’s unbearably sluggish preliminary investigation which took the better part of half a year, to the numerous leaks from well-informed insiders to favoured journalists, the whole process has been designed to be as exhausting and wounding to Justice Brown as possible. "There can be no better illustration of what American law professor Malcolm Feeley described as 'the process is the punishment.' Even if Justice Brown had been fully exonerated at the end of the open-ended process, his reputation would still have suffered, not to mention the fact that he would have been barred from exercising his chosen profession for the duration of the investigation, which could have run into years." The justice’s resignation has also shaken the Christian and conservative legal community. Andre Schutten, Director of Law and Policy for ARPA Canada, told Reformed Perspective that Justice Brown’s resignation “is a major setback for our nation’s legal culture.” Schutten explained that Justice Brown was “faithful to the law, and respected and guarded the rule of law. He was a constitutionalist and believed ardently that the law must be something more than the ruler’s whims. Where a majority of the Supreme Court pursued their own policy preferences and bent the law to reflect that, Justice Brown was loyal to the constitution, even when such loyalty was not in vogue.” Schutten is concerned by what this means for the highest court moving forward, saying that it doesn’t bode well for religious freedom in Canada and is “another step toward judicial policy-making that is decidedly progressive.” Sean Speer, The Hub’s editor-at-large, shared that conservatives sometimes overstate their lack of influence in Canada. However, “the one area though where conservative despair has been justified is the judiciary. The ‘living tree’ view of the Constitution has been the dominant (even the sole) judicial philosophy at law schools and on the bench for more than a generation.” The “living tree doctrine” says that the Constitution’s meaning wasn’t determined by those who wrote it, but is created by the judges who read it, that like a tree it should change and grow with the times. Speer went on to explain that there has been a change in recent years, with “a new generation of law students and scholars… capable of challenging the prevailing legal monoculture.” And he pointed to Brown as a key figure in this movement. "His judicial dissents, including in high-profile cases like References re Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act and Trinity Western University v. Law Society of Upper Canada, gave this emerging cohort of conservative legal thinkers and practitioners a credible and different way to think about individual rights, the division of powers, and the role of the court… "His departure from the bench, therefore, represents a regrettable blow to these efforts. That future now feels farther away especially since he’ll predictably be replaced by another 'living tree' exponent. "It’s important however, particularly for the young people involved in the legal movement that Brown came to personify, that it must ultimately be bigger than one person. While his resignation creates a significant void, it cannot bring an end to these efforts. Quite the contrary. It reinforces the need for more Russell Browns." Schutten came to a similar conclusion, noting that Brown’s resignation underlines again the importance of Christian engagement in the law. “For too long, Christians abandoned the field to secularists and we shouldn’t be surprised that the result is so few principled judges. The Christian community must recommit to serving their nation also in the courts of law, inspiring, encouraging, and assisting the next generation of Christian leaders to pursue law as a calling while ensuring those Christian lawyers think christianly about the law.” The resignation paves the way for Trudeau to appoint a sixth judge to the nine-judge bench that already had the National Post’s Tristin Hopper deeming it “the most activist Supreme Court in the world.” While that’s not an encouraging thought, Christians can remember that one day we will see perfect justice exacted by the Chief Justice of the world’s Supreme Court, before whom every knee will bow....
Puppy love: in praise of pets
The inimitable Cody I was lucky enough to share my growing-up years with a b...
Christians can’t “invest” in cryptocurrency
I hope this headline got your attention! I can hear some of the objections already: What do you mean, we can’t invest in cryptocurrency; don�...
Saturday Selections – June 10, 2023
The astonishing giraffe neck Did you know a giraffe doesn't need its neck muscles to hold its neck up, but rather to bend it down? As a ruminant (an animal that chews its cud) the giraffe has to be able to bring food back up its neck to chew again. It also has to have an enormous heart to create enough pressure to get the blood up to its head. And then it has to have shut-off valves of a sort, to relieve the pressure when it bends its head down to drink, otherwise the blood pressure would cause it to blow out its own brain. The article linked above has more on giraffes' amazing design, as does the video below, though since it is a giraffe dissection (albeit a bloodless one), it might be a bit much for some kids. Population is collapsing and the world has no answers In the not too distant future there will be more grandparents than grandkids, and that's a problem. This downward population trend is happening in Western atheistic countries and Middle Eastern Muslim ones too. How can it be reversed? Different countries have tried child-care subsidies, education, and immigration, all to no avail. What they haven't tried is repentance. Only a nation that turns to God will treasure children as the blessing that God says they are (Ps. 127:3-5, Gen. 1:28, Ps. 128:3) and want more of them. But, of course, how can they know they should repent unless we tell them (Rom. 10:14)? While we can't tell anyone else how many kids they should have, the Church is, collectively, following the world's downward population trend, with smaller families each generation. So we seem to have some repenting to do too. The cult of the presidency (and prime ministership) must end This American article's point applies to Canada too (where the Prime Minister arguably has even more power than the US President): a change of government shouldn't have such a huge impact on our lives, and the only way the impact can be lessened is to have less government. What makes for a good law? Thoughts on Uganda's homosexuality bill Our society has been celebrating homosexuality for so long that even Christians may find the idea of legislating against it shocking. Samuel Sey has some thoughts above about Uganda's controversial law, as does Albert Mohler. Big Tech won't protect our kids: parents must 10 years ago if a depressed teen quit social media that'd quite likely help. But as John Stonestreet notes, that's in part because 10 years ago there were still a lot of teens who weren't on social media. In other words, if the teen left the pressures of the digital world, there was a real world of teens they could meet and interact with. But today parents are leery of taking away their teen's phone because it's the contact point between them and all their friends. At the same time, we can see these phones are a problem. So what's a parent to do? A question will quiet them... or move the discussion forward In the New Testament Jesus asked more questions than He gave answers. Was it because He didn't have answers? Nope. So, perhaps it was because a good question can bring us right to the heart of an issue. Some of His clarifying questions include: Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your lifespan? (Matt 6:27) What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life and what can one give in exchange for his life? (Matt 16:26) Today, a simple question is still effective. We've seen how just asking "What is a woman?" can cause conniptions. In the clip below we have someone complaining about privilege. If she has some examples, great, because specific complaints can then be addressed and hopefully fixed. But if they are simply assertions without justifications, then asking her for more information is a great way of exposing her empty rhetoric. Either way, a question gets us moving forward. Other great clarifying questions Christians should ask include: When does life begin? Where does our worth come from? In what sense would you say men and women are equal? (See Genesis 1:27. Gen 9:6). pic.twitter.com/3poZbLF8Br — Davy Jones (@itsNTBmedia) June 6, 2023 ...
People we should know
Elon Musk and visions of the future
“These human space flight missions were a beacon of hope to me and to millions over the past two years as our world has been going through one of the most difficult periods in recent human history. We see the rise of division, fear, cynicism, and the loss of common humanity, right when it is needed most. So, first, Elon, let me say thank you for giving the world hope and reason to be excited about the future.” – Lex Fridman speaking about SpaceX to Elon Musk, on his podcast released December 28, 2021 **** Where are the dreams of previous decades, of flying cars and paperless offices and TV phones? Not only have these dreams turned out to be rather bleak (Zoom as a sort of TV phone has not sparked joy in anyone), but no new visions of the future have sprung up to replace them. Young people – those supposedly optimistic young people – fill social media feeds with anxiety-soaked visions of climate catastrophe, plague and economic collapse. Our world dreams of catastrophe, not progress. And yet some young people do turn to one figure as a beacon of hope in the negativity all around them. They turn to a public figure who frequently and publicly describes a future where humanity overcomes its challenges, and continues to seek out the meaning of existence. This is the vision of the future provided by Elon Musk – a controversial figure whose “true fans” love him for his insistence that human ingenuity can create a future that will be better. Christians, of all people, have reason to be excited about the future. We live in hope, even in the midst of darkness and despair. Or so we say. And yet it is not Christianity that many turn to, to escape the bleak future. It is not Christianity that provides these young fans with a new vision of the future, and an optimism to be hopeful again. When we see the success of visionary dreams of the future, when we see Elon Musk inspiring millions, it pushes us as Christians to work out what we mean by hope. It pushes us to define what we expect from the future. And it urges us to consider whether we are “visionary,” and whether we should be. The profound hopefulness of Elon Musk “You want to wake up in the morning and think the future is going to be great—and that’s what being a spacefaring civilization is all about. It’s about believing in the future and thinking that the future will be better than the past. And I can’t think of anything more exciting than going out there and being among the stars.” – Elon Musk, SpaceX website What is Elon Musk’s vision? Musk has many critics, including many who doubt he sincerely means to benefit common humanity with his companies and inventions. Despite this, fans continue to flock to him. Whether or not his vision of the future is sincere or a marketing tactic, the simple fact is that there is something in his vision that fulfills something his fans are looking for. They draw hopefulness from his vision. Why is that? First of all, Musk has the ability to drag unlikely concepts, like reusable rockets, into the realm of reality. For a young generation struggling with anxiety, just getting out of bed in the morning can feel superhuman. A person who can come up with an idea, and then make sure that idea gets done, confronts our feelings of helplessness and comforts us that maybe solving our problems is as simple as just doing it. “When something is important enough, you do it, even if the odds are not in your favor,” as Musk says in his interview with Lex Fridman. On one level, Musk is not that revolutionary. Electric cars, space flights to Mars, satellite internet – all of these are ideas that have been dreamed up before Musk came along. But because Musk has done more than dream, Musk has become a source of inspiration. But Musk doesn’t simply get things done – he frames his activities as the stuff that fires imaginations. “You need to have things that when you wake up in the morning, you're excited about the future,” Musk argues in another interview with the Babylon Bee. “Why live? If it's all about solving problems of being miserable, like, why live? So they've got to be things that...you know, get you in the heart. And I think space is one of those things.” God created a world with much more than the bare necessities. He also created a people with a capacity for enthusiasm – an enthusiasm to explore, an enthusiasm to see what is possible. We can be full of curiosity about creation, just as scientists before us reached out to God through their discoveries of the natural world. Haven’t Christians who have come before have been eager to explore and create? From Johannes Kepler to David Livingstone, the world has opened up to us through the enthusiasm of those who have come before us. The Bible itself illustrates this too. The overall arc of the Bible moves from its beginnings in the garden to its ending in the city. The story of creation is a story that includes the development and unfolding of what God made. This is why we need dreamers and visionaries, to bring out the possibilities inherent in creation. Elon Musk hits on some important things. Building real things in the real world matters, even if it isn’t easy to bring things together and make them work together. In fact, building real things can contribute to a feeling of fulfillment in us, a feeling of doing what we were meant to do. No wonder some find inspiration in this. But Musk himself is used as the example to follow for those looking for a hopeful outlook on the future. As a man who presents himself as someone who dreams and builds his dreams, he is viewed as an inspiration. This means the vision he presents should be examined in more depth. Before we fully jump on board with Elon Musk’s future, we should consider what future, exactly, he presents. The bleakness of Elon’s future Elon Musk claims to want to build the future so humans can continue to seek the meaning of life. “I don't know when I'll die, but I won't live forever. But I would like to know that we are on a path to understanding the nature of the universe and the meaning of life and what questions to ask about the answer that is the universe.” Musk wants to save humanity so humanity can continue to struggle with the meaning of existence. Well and good! Humans are meant to seek out the purpose of their existence, and not give up on their existence as meaningless. But Musk himself holds back from offering an answer to the question of meaning, only vaguely hinting that humanity might figure it out in some far-off someday. And in this way, Musk’s future does not fully alleviate the temptation to nihilism. After all, what does he really think the nature of the universe is? He is building physical technologies that will greatly impact the real world we live in. But he is deeply ambivalent about whether the world we live in is a real world after all. “The odds that we’re in base reality is one in billions,” he explained at Code Conference in 2016. It’s a fun idea that tech entrepreneurs and philosophers like to play with – the idea we might be living in a video game that is a copy of some deeper reality. Except this idea of “what’s really going on” is cold comfort to the apathetic and despairing. And Musk is, famously, all-in on artificial intelligence, as well as linking our brains to computers (see his company Neuralink). This does indicate a belief that reality may really not consist of anything more than ones and zeros after all. If we are living in a simulation, a cosmic simulation where something is jerking us around like puppets – well, some of us might be eager to know the truth of this. But this truth is not the kind of truth that sets us free from apathy. Musk does not know what the meaning of life is. He only wants to buy more time for humanity to figure it out. The answer to the meaning of existence that many people arrive at today, when looking at the failures of humanity, is simply that humanity does not deserve to exist. This is what feeds into our current culture’s apathy. And no journeys among the stars are fantastic enough to change their minds. In some sense, Elon Musk is right. What makes life worth living is working on problems, seeking the meaning of existence, and exploring every cranny of creation. Only Christians can fight with those problems before the face of a God Who has answers. Saving us from the future? Do Musk’s fans really turn to him because of his musings about reality being a simulation, or because of his goal of preserving human consciousness in order to seek out the meaning of life? It is possible they turn to him for a far simpler reason than this. For some of them, it may be less about finding positive inspiration in his message, and excitement for the future – and more of a response to fear of the future. Fear of the future is behind so much of human activity. As Dietrich Bonhoeffer said in a sermon in 1933, “What else is all the razzle-dazzle and drunkenness of New Year’s Eve, other than our great fear of a new era, of the future? Fear is breathing down our necks.” Elon Musk’s vision is a relief because it offers a positive vision of the future, in contrast to the terrible ones on the news every day. It acknowledges terrible consequences that may occur, but it encourages us that humanity can overcome them. By being hopeful, it helps others to hang onto hope. And this relief from fear brings devotion along with it. After all, is it really self-evident that space travel is inspiring, and is that truly what his fans latch onto when they admire Musk? Going to Mars is presented with the enthusiasm that the age of exploration brought, when voyages to unknown lands brought home wonders. Except in our case, Mars is not exactly unknown or unexplored. The magic of going there is to just say we can go there, to say humans have set foot on a place we already know all about – more like a family vacation to Paris than a voyage of discovery to the South Seas. To make it even more prosaic, the reason to go there is “a life insurance policy.” Musk presents his technology as supplying a reason to get up in the morning and feel optimistic about the future, but he simultaneously does not shy away from arguing his work will preserve humanity in case something really bad happens to earth. He says, “We should basically think of this, being a multi-planet species, just like taking out insurance for life itself – like, life insurance for life.” (“This turned into an infomercial real quick,” says his interviewer, Lex Fridman). His focus on using technology to avoid potentially devasting problems, such as climate change, helps explain why he is so often viewed as a savior by the devoted. To explore out of a love of exploration, out of a joy of living, is quite different than to explore and build to avoid a negative outcome. To the extent Elon Musk’s vision is driven by a joy of discovery, it is admirable. To the extent it reveals humanity’s underlying fears and insecurities, it reveals a drive to control and secure our own futures. Looking to technology to solve all our problems and absolve us of our fears quickly becomes placing our faith in technology – in other words, placing our faith in humankind. Ideally, we recognize the capabilities God has given to humanity, while simultaneously recognizing their source in God. Otherwise the failures of humanity can feel overwhelming, as demonstrated by our current culture’s reaction to the optimism of the 1950s. Nihilism and apathy are much more common, despite the technological progress of the twentieth century. Christians and the hope that we have Christianity should also inspire us to live, and not just a grit-your-teeth-and-get-through-life kind of living. There is a superficial similarity with Elon Musk here. But what is Christianity’s vision of the future? One critique of Christianity is that it directs all hope to life after death. It neglects the world we live in for some fairy tale future. It maintains the status quo by promising if Christians are meek and humble they will be rewarded in the life to come. Christian visions of the future that have been presented have at times been bleak as well – that the physical world doesn’t deserve improvement, as it will be enveloped in fire anyway. Or that humanity can never progress, because we’re deeply stained by sin. Or history will just continue to get worse and worse (“wars and rumors of wars”) until Jesus comes again. But let’s turn from what some Christians have thought about the future and look towards what the Bible presents as the future. What is the clearest, most concrete vision of the future that Christianity offers? It is actually quite simple and clear: the return of Christ. “e wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:11-13). The return of Christ is our future. Notably, this future that the Bible describes is a future that Elon Musk does not find comforting at all: “We could have a chapter past Revelation,” he says when asked what book he’d add to the Bible. “Like, is there a happy ending here? Revelation Part 2: The Happy Ending.” He does not elaborate on what he finds so depressing about the new earth and the Bible’s vision of the future, but it could be that he does not see the continuation and culmination of our work in this world into the next. Perhaps “the apocalypse” really sounds like a final end to him. Christians live with their lives pointing towards the kingdom of heaven. Yes, this means living for the world to come. But at the same time, this means recognizing the kingdom of heaven exists already in the world today, like “yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds of flour until it worked all through the dough” (Matt. 13:33). It is about doing our work in this world in the light of eternity, not as if our work right now doesn’t matter because there will be another world, but because what we do now does matter for our eternal future. Perhaps it is Herman Bavinck who explains this best, in his article, “The Kingdom of God, The Highest Good”: “We are, finally, the totality of what we have ever willed, thought, felt, and done. The profit that we yield for ourselves in this way is profit for the Kingdom of God. Even a cup of cold water given to a disciple of Jesus receives a reward. God calls us to work in such a way that, amid all that we do, we should envision the eternal work that God desires to bring about through people… even if our work space be ever so small and our occupation ever so nondescript. This is truly and essentially working for the Kingdom of God.” It is mysterious how God promises to bring everything to fulfillment, but the new world will not be “starting over.” Even in Revelation 21, the kings of the earth bring their splendor into the new Jerusalem, indicating that in some fashion the glories of this world, once redeemed, will crown the new heavens and new earth. It will not make God’s work in history now into something meaningless. We’re allowed to be visionary. We’ve been given a vision that equips us to work. And so we’re called to hope. To hope in a way that encourages us to try, to build and invent, to strive for a concrete idea of what could be better, and to fight to understand what we’re here on earth for. For Christians the future is inevitable. Our consciousness will not be snuffed out. Humanity will go on for eternity, to live and love and build, and learn about what we can do, before the face of our God....
Sooners seize opportunity to glorify God
Doesn’t matter if you like sports or not, you’re going to enjoy hearing about this team. The Oklahoma Sooners won their third straight Women’s College World Series on Thursday, with a 3-1 victory in the series finale. That also added to their record-breaking winning streak, which sits at 53 games, 6 more than the old record. But what really makes this team special came out in a pre-series press conference on Tuesday, when ESPN’s Alex Scarborough asked players about the streak. “I know you guys talk about keeping the joy of the game, but it's a long season and you guys have had the target on your back the entire time, with the win streak, with being number one. How do you handle the unique pressure that comes with that? How do you keep the joy for so long when anxiety seems like a thing that could very easily set in?” Shortstop Grace Lyons was the first to answer: “The only way that you can have a joy that doesn't fade away is from the Lord. And any other type of joy is actually happiness that comes from circumstances, and outcomes. I think coach has said this before but, joy from the Lord is really the only thing that can keep you motivated, and just in a good mindset, no matter the outcomes. Thankfully we've had a lot of success this year but if it was the other way around, joy from the Lord is the only thing that can keep you embracing those memories, moments, friendships, and all of that. So, really the only answer to that, because there's no other way that softball can bring you that because of how much failure comes in it and just how much of a roller coaster the game can be.” And if that wasn’t amazing enough, utility player Jayda Coleman wanted to echo the point: “One thousand percent agree with Grace Lyons. I went through that my freshman year. I’ve talked about this before, but I was just so happy that we won the College World Series but I didn't feel joy. I didn't know what to do the next day. I didn't know what to do for that following week. I didn't feel filled. And I had to find Christ in that. I think that is what makes our team so strong: we're not afraid to lose because it's not the end of the world if we do lose. Yes, obviously we've worked our butts off to be here and we want to win. But it's not the end of the world because our life is in Christ and that's all that matters.” Next up was sophomore Alyssa Brito: “We're really fixing our eyes on Christ. Like they were saying, you can't find fulfillment in an outcome, whether it's good or bad. I think that's why we're so steady in what we do… because we know this game is giving us the opportunity to glorify God. Once we figured that out, and that was our purpose and everyone was all in with that, it's really changed so much for us. Once I turned to Jesus and I realized how He had changed my outlook on life – not just softball but understanding how much I have to live for, living to exemplify the kingdom – I think that brings so much freedom. I'm sure everyone's story is similar: we all have those great testimonies that have really shown how awesome it is to play for something bigger. That's just what brings me so much joy, no matter the outcome, whether we get a trophy in the end or not. This isn't our home, and I think that's what's amazing. We have so much more; we have an eternity of joy with our Father and I'm so excited about that. Yes, I live in the moment, but I know this isn't my home and no matter what, my sisters in Christ will be there with me in the end when we're with our King.” The final word went to the coach after a follow-up question. The same reporter wanted to know how she could get these kids to keep going hard when they were winning so often. Wasn’t it just human nature to slack off in the midst of so much success? How could they keep their focus? Coach Patty Gasso replied: “I think that they just gave you that answer.” ...
BC paying a steep price for its healthcare policies
BC plans to send about 4,800 patients to private health clinics in Washington state over the next two years for cancer treatment, in response to growing wait times and a health system that is increasingly unable to cope. BC’s Health Minister Adrian Dix blamed the situation on a growing and aging population and staffing shortages. According to coverage from the Globe & Mail, only 77 percent of cancer patients who require radiation are receiving care within 28 days, far lower than the national average of 97 percent. Not only is this travel a great inconvenience for cancer patients, it also comes at three times the cost for the same treatment in Canada. The irony here is that the BC NDP government has been fighting hard to keep privately funded health care out of the province. In fact, a 14-year court effort to challenge this by Dr. Brian Day was recently dismissed by the Supreme Court. The NDP got their way and killed any hope of private care, only to now have to pay substantially more so that the public can get much-needed care from private clinics in another country. At the same time, the province continues to reject doctors and other health professionals here in the province who are eager to help but are being prevented by government vaccination requirements that still exist for employees in health care settings. This development also comes on the heels of the NDP’s budget, which devoted much fanfare to announcing $119M of funding to provide free “contraception” to all residents, including pills, implants, and the abortion-inducing “morning-after pill.” In addition to killing innocent life, this will only compound the problem of an aging population by diverting much-needed funds away from their urgent health care needs. Picture by LIVINUS / Istockphoto.com...