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In a Nutshell

Tidbits - October 2023

Halloween in a small American town

I live in a delightful and occasionally comical small town where the church-attending Christians make up a solid majority of the population. This is such a Christian town that when Halloween comes around, one of the local churches will set up a hot chocolate stand for our area, and you'll see a dad or two dressed up as a monkish Martin Luther, tonsure and all. When I first moved here Halloween fell on a Sunday, and I was impressed to see most of the kids did their trick-or-treating on Saturday instead.

Then I was quite surprised when one of the trick-or-treaters at my door – a little princess – told me "my brother is the devil." Sure enough, there he came toddling up the path, a two-year-old dressed in a bright red satin, forked tail wagging behind. Lynden: it's a town where trick or treating on Sunday is verboten, but dressing up as Satan ain't no big thing.

“The free market is a bathroom scale”

“The free market is simply a measurement. The free market tells us what people are willing to pay for a given thing at a given moment. That’s all the free market does. The free market is a bathroom scale. We may not like what we see when we step on the bathroom scale, but we can’t pass a law making ourselves weigh 165. Liberals and leftists think we can.” – P.J O’Rourke

Are you wearing anything ten years or older?

About ten years back, Christian Courier's editor Angela Bick shared that her friends were surprised to learn that they weren’t wearing anything as much as ten years old. The surprise was probably prompted by the realization that 40 years ago the situation would have been quite different. Kids’ clothing in particular was treated differently then, with patches (and patches upon patches) being far more common. Darning socks was more common, and the resoling of shoes too.

Whenever one generation decides to do something differently than the previous, it is worth a moment’s reflection - if you aren’t wearing anything from a decade ago, why might that be?

  • Is it a result of shoddy manufacturing and living in a throw-away culture? Are clothes simply not made to last like they once were?
  • Are we financially blessed, to the point that we don’t need to wear worn out clothes?
  • Are we financially irresponsible, spending money on clothes when that money could be put to better use?
  • Is it a matter of clothes being less expensive to replace than they once were?
  • Might it mean we are overly concerned with keeping up with the latest fashions?

The way it was… and could be?

In the 1940s, in the Netherlands, most men worked six days a week at physically-taxing jobs. So, come Sunday it could be quite a struggle for these men to stay attentive through the church service, especially when it came time to pray and eyes were shut and heads were bowed. And to make it harder still, the prayers were quite often fifteen minutes long.

In his wartime biography The Way It Was, author Sid Baron notes that to help these men stay awake it was the practice then to allow the option of standing during prayer. So throughout the church, as most bowed their head to pray, many farmers and laborers would rise.

This practice is no longer common anywhere in Reformed churches, most likely because ministers no longer tax their congregation’s attention with fifteen-minute prayers, and because far fewer members do heavy physical labor. Still, it might be a practice worth reviving for some particularly sleep-deprived folk: the mothers and fathers of newborns!

Brother, can you spare a dime?

by Gregory Koukl

You can't help having mixed feelings when people beg for food on the street. Your heart goes out to them, but you have reservations too. Is there a real need here, or is this just laziness disguised?

Here's a simple solution. Give food to the poor by helping fill the cupboards of your local church feeding program. If your church doesn't have one, find a Christian facility that does. They make sure food goes to people with a genuine need, and the Gospel goes out along with it.
Another alternative is to make up a couple of bags of food and keep them in your trunk. Include the kinds of things that can be opened without tools and eaten without cooking. Include plastic silverware that's sealed together with a napkin that you get from take-out food places. Then give it in Jesus' name.

Welfare is not God's answer to the needs of the poor. Instead, He asks for charitable, responsible, obedient giving. Don't give money to someone begging in the street. Instead, send your money to a reputable Christian agency in your area, or give food in prepackaged parcels. You'll have the peaceful confidence you've really done something for the poor and homeless.

SOURCE: Reprinted with permission from www.str.org

Biblical, musical ABCs

Jamie Soles is well known among conservative Reformed churches in Canada, but for those that don’t know of him, below are the lyrics of a song from one of his children’s albums “The Way My Story Goes” which is available (along with more info) on the artist’s website SolMusic.ca.

“These Are They”

Jesus said, “You search the Scriptures
For in these, you say, your life will never end,
Don’t be misled; the life you’re looking for Is found in Me, for I am found in them.
And…

"These are they, these are they,
These are they which speak of Me.”

Adam, Abel, Abraham,
Aaron, Ammon, Amnon, Andrew,
Abishai, Abishag, Abigail, Ahab, tell the world of Me.
Ahaziah, Amaziah, Ahimaaz, Ahasuerus,
Ahithophel, Abiathar, Ahitub, too,
Asahel and Absalom, Abner and Abednego,
Asa and Amasa, just to name a few. Now…

These are they....

Boaz, Balaam, Barzillai,
Balak, Barak, Baal, Babel,
Baasha, Baruch, Benjamin, all tell the world of Me.
Barnabas and Bethel, Bezalel and Bilhah,
Benaiah, Belial, and Bashan, too,
Bethlehem and Ben-Hadad, Beelzebub and Babylon,
The Bible bubbles over with Me; how ‘bout you? Now…

These are they....

Caesar, Caleb, Caiaphas,
Canaan, Cain, and Chedorlaomer,
Cushi, Chloe, Claudius, all tell the world of Me.
Corinthians, Cyrenians, Cyrus and the Cretans,
Cornelius, Capernaum, and Chimham, see?
These are only part of it
This is but the start of it
Stories are your biblical ABCs! Now…

All these stories, they show My glories
These are they which speak of Me.

Top 10 verses: important omission

BibleGateway.com is a website that includes dozens of different translations of the Bible. It gets more than 8 million visitors each month, and back in 2011. when they listed their site’s most-searched for verses of the Bible, Collin Hansen at TheGospelCoalition.org noticed a startling omission among them.

While the top ten includes verses that are often emblazoned on shirts, or are held up on signs at sports events (John 3:16 was the #1 verse) none of the top ten most-searched-for-verses talked about sin! It isn’t until verse #19 that sin is mentioned: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

It’s not surprising that talking about sin is unpopular. But the Good News of the Gospel only makes sense after we understand our own sinfulness, and God’s hatred of sin. Then it is good news indeed that God has sent us a Savior and Mediator!

So it isn’t a surprising omission, but it is a glaring one.

It should be polite to ask a woman’s age

Our culture worships youth, so it’s no wonder they think it’s rude to make mention of someone’s age. But why do we think it’s rude? After all, the Bible speaks quite highly of the elderly, as it is with age that wisdom can come (at least among the righteous). That’s why Proverbs 20:29 notes that “gray hair is the splendor of the old” and Prov. 16:31 tells us: “the silver-haired head is a crown of glory.” Among Christians old should be excellent!

30% of Gen Z Americans would welcome gov’t monitoring inside their homes

Nearly a third of Americans under 30 would welcome a government surveillance device in their homes, in the name of reducing spousal and child abuse.

Clearly they haven’t been taught about the surveillance states of the past, like the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany. And they must not know about China’s current “social credit system,” where citizens are constantly monitored and granted freedoms based on how obliging they’ve been to their government’s every requirement. And they haven’t read 1984 or any other dystopian fiction. That a third of American young people trust the government to watch their every move isn’t an endorsement of our political leadership’s trustworthiness, but is instead an indicator of how badly they are educating our youth in their public schools.

Now Christians might think that if we aren’t doing anything wrong what does it matter if we are being watched? But do you spank your children? Might some government official somewhere want to recast as abuse what you know to be appropriate and measured? Do you teach your children that God made us male and female? Do you insist that marriage is between one man and one woman? What might the government think about that? To be constantly monitored is to be constantly assessed. And knowing, as we do, that our governments don’t measure right and wrong by God’s standards, we should fear the prospect.

News

Saturday Selections – Sept. 30, 2023

Click on the titles below to go to the linked articles. Everything has to be working just right, right from the start (2 min) For a baby to grow, all sorts of systems have to be working just right, and have to have been developed all at the same time. So how could evolution ever get over such a "hurdle"? Overcome your enemies by dying Peter Krol has a rather unexpected strategy for effective Christian engagement – he wants us to "overcome enemies by dying." "God does not ask his people to live as idiotic simpletons or punching bags. God wants his people to overcome strife and evil (Rom. 12:21). But the way you overcome it matters. To win the fight in the wrong way is to lose." Just as you can win badly, there is also a way to lose gloriously. Krol's point is that the outcomes are up to God, and the methods are up to us, so, win or lose, do so with His glory in mind. Krol also lays out five strategies on how best to do so. How to lose your pastor in 365 days There always seems to be a pastor shortage. Might it be worth asking ourselves, how do we in the pews make their job attractive or unattractive? Here are 11 ways to show some appreciation. Why we can't trust the science journals - a climate scientist explains "...a climate scientist has written that he pulled his punches in a climate-change article in order to be published by the prestigious journal Nature." Samuel Sey: Why I am not a "Christian Nationalist" If you support a Christian think tank or lobby like ARPA Canada or the Colson Center that advocates for laws that abide with God's commandments, then by the way some define the term, you are a "Christian Nationalist." But as Samuel Sey notes here, there are a lot of folks fighting for this term, bringing different definitions to it, and the way some others define it, you most certainly aren't a "Christian Nationalist." Unmasking "Christian nationalism" (90 minutes) John Stonestreet, Rusty Reno, and Hunter Baker debate the usefulness of the term "Christian nationalism" and debate also whether Christians should even be trying to bring in Christian laws. Isn't that top-down "Christianization"? That's a good point, and a reason why, in our efforts to bring in laws that align with God's commandments, we should do so as Christians, seeing the public square as just one more opportunity to glorify God. Then, when a Christian law is adopted, it won't be forced from the top down but will have been adopted because we've convinced the country that God's ways are best. This is a long listen – an hour and a half – but worth the time for the sort of discourse happening here: some disagreement but done in the spirit of digging down to the truth together. More on Christian nationalism: legislating morality (2 min) While there's reason to question the usefulness of the term "Christian nationalism," all Christians should want and pray for their nations to be governed by God's Word. While apologist Frank Turek is Arminian, in the video above he makes a good, concise point that all legislation is moral in nature. If it isn't justified as being about right and wrong, then it is simply capricious, based on the whims of whoever happens to be in charge. Is that what anyone is after? No, we want our laws based on the only real standard: God's. Where Turek gets it wrong is that he thinks this law is self-evident. There is a sense in which that is true: God tells us His law is written on our hearts (Romans 2:15). But we also know that with work and effort, we are quite capable of blinding ourselves to what is true. Shucks, we have people who believe it is all right to murder a baby so long as one foot is still inside its mother's body, or that the government should fund the mutilation of children who are confused about their gender. So, the law isn't always self-evident; it is often very much in need of proclamation. Thankfully, God has given the world His Church to do that!...

Indigenous peoples

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.” 2. Abuse 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. A difference 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. Conclusion 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...

Indigenous peoples

A call to action: loving our Indigenous neighbors

Chief Dan George, author and actor, pictured on the set of "Kung-Fu" in 1973. Many Canadians, Christians included, are unfamiliar with the painful history of Indigenous peoples in Canada. Chief Dan George, born in North Vancouver and former leader of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation, provides a summary of this history and its impact on Indigenous peoples, and he suggests a path to healing: "My culture is like a wounded stag that has crawled away into the forest to bleed and die alone. The only thing that can truly help us is genuine love. You must truly love us, be patient with us and share with us. And we must love you with a genuine love that forgives and forgets ... a love that forgives the terrible sufferings your culture brought ours when it swept over us like a wave crashing along a beach … with a love that forgets and lifts up its head and sees in your eyes an answering look of trust and understanding."1 Chief Dan George’s words, written 50 years ago, remain relevant today and it is especially important that we, as followers of Jesus Christ, consider the extent to which we know the history he references and the extent to which we are demonstrating understanding, genuine love, and compassion to our Indigenous neighbors, as fellow image bearers of our God. Pursuing the Truth God calls us to pursue knowledge, truth, and understanding. The emphasis on knowing rightly in Scripture means pursuing biblical truth, and truth about the reality of the world as God created it, but it also includes pursuing historical truth. So, what is the truth of the Indigenous experience in Canada? What are the sufferings that Chief Dan George references? A quick survey of Canadian history will suffice to provide some of the broad strokes. Shortly after Confederation, the Canadian government looked to realize the potential of the West and to fully realize a country from “sea to sea.” One of the challenges was Indigenous land title. Government officials entered into treaties with Indigenous peoples beginning in the 1870s when they realized that they could not afford to engage in “Indian wars” as were happening in the United States. At the time, the United States was spending $20 million on its Indian Wars and Canada’s entire budget was $20 million.2 A simple economic calculation swayed the government toward pursuing treaties rather than fighting. Interestingly, Indigenous peoples recognized that education was necessary to help their communities adjust to changing economic and social circumstances. As a result, they insisted that schools, teachers, and teachers’ salaries be included in the treaties negotiated in the 1870s. The early treaties called for on-reserve schools, and from Treaty Seven (1877) onward, the treaties committed the government to pay for teachers.3 There was no mention of residential schools when these treaties were signed – rather the focus was on the establishment of schools, on the reserves, for the instruction of Indigenous children. A misguided approach The Davin Report signaled the beginning of residential schools. Nicholas Floyd Davin was appointed by the federal government to investigate the boarding school system in the United States. In 1879, he submitted his report. He concluded that Indigenous peoples should not have a voice regarding the character and management of their schools. Rather, he recommended that Indigenous children be removed from their families and communities and that the federal government partner with Canadian churches to provide Indigenous children an education off-reserve.4 Christian churches – forgetting that God gives children to parents, and not to the State or Church5 – agreed to this arrangement and supported the removal of children from their families and communities to eradicate their culture, language, and beliefs. When these schools were established, their goal of dismantling Indigenous culture, language, spiritual beliefs, and practices quickly became evident. Residential schools were seen as preferable to on-reserve day schools because they separated children from their parents, who were certain to oppose such intentions. Residential schools were, therefore, not established to meet the government’s treaty obligations to provide schools (which were supposed to be on reserves), but to further its long-term aim of ending the country’s treaty obligations by assimilating its Indigenous population. The prejudice and racism that formed the foundation of the residential school system can be seen clearly through the words of those responsible for putting this system in place. Nicholas Floyd Davin stated: "… As far as the Indian is concerned, ittle can be done with him. He can be taught to do a little farming, and stock-raising, and to dress in a more civilized manner, but that is all … Indian culture is a contradiction in terms. They are uncivilized. The aim of education is to destroy the Indian." John A. Macdonald, Prime Minister during this chapter of Canadian history, similarly commented: "When the school is on the reserve, the child lives with its parents, who are savages, and though he may learn to read and write, his habits and mode of thought are Indian. He is simply a savage who has learned to read and write." Additionally, he said: "It has been strongly impressed upon myself … that Indian children should be withdrawn as much as possible from the parental influence, and the only way to do that would be to put them in central training schools where they will acquire the habits and modes of thought of white men." Duncan Campbell Scott, former Deputy Superintendent of Indian Affairs, revealed similar views when he opined: "Indian children in the residential schools die at a much higher rate than in their villages. But this does not justify a change in the policy of this Department, which is geared towards a final solution to our Indian problem." Throughout their history, residential schools were chronically underfunded, and the quality of education provided was exceedingly low (designed to ensure that it would only prepare students for menial work). The quality of the education provided has been described as: “inappropriate education, often only up to lower grades, that focused mainly on prayer and manual labour in agriculture, light industry such as woodworking, and domestic work such as laundry work and sewing.”6 Early calls for the schools’ end Already early in the 1900s, voices were calling for an end to the schools over death rates and poor health conditions. In 1908, federal Indian Affairs minister Frank Oliver concluded that the “attempt to elevate the Indian by separating the child from his parents and educating him as a white man has turned out to be a deplorable failure.”7 Similarly, Dr. Peter Bryce, Medical Inspector to the Department of the Interior and Indian Affairs (and, incidentally, also a Presbyterian elder) was vocal about the serious failings of these schools after extensively touring them. Known as the “whistleblower of residential schools,” Bryce wrote numerous reports and newspaper articles about the exceedingly high rates of disease and death found in these schools. Duncan Campbell Scott acknowledged these grim realities – in a review of the Department of Indian Affairs’ first forty-five years he wrote that “fifty percent of the children who passed through these schools did not live to benefit from the education they had received therein”8 – but he did nothing to change course. Instead, he forced Bryce out of office, and eliminated the position of medical inspector.9 In 1925, after being forced out of office, and after being ignored by government officials at all levels for nearly two decades, Bryce published The Story of a National Crime: An appeal to justice to the Indians of Canada. However, all his protestations, over several decades, fell on deaf ears because of a government, and a Canadian public, rife with prejudice. During the 100 year history… The number of residential schools rose and fell during its 100+ year history, but the Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement formally recognized the existence of 139 such schools spread across Canada. The Roman Catholic Church operated most of the schools, up to 60 percent at any one time. The Anglican Church operated 25 percent of them, the United Church operated about 15 percent, and the Presbyterian Church ran 2 or 3 percent. Over 150,000 Indigenous children were forcibly removed from their families by the RCMP between the establishment of these schools in the 1870s and the closure of the last school in the mid-1990s. While in the schools, students frequently encountered emotional, physical, sexual (schools knowingly hired convicted “child molesters”), and spiritual abuse as well as barbaric punishments (duly recorded by federal bureaucrats and officials with the churches that ran the schools) such as being shackled to one another, placed in handcuffs and leg irons, beaten with sticks and chains, and sent to solitary confinement cells for days on end.10 The Missing Children Project (formed by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate student deaths at residential schools) recorded more than 4100 deaths, including more than 500 unidentified children (although the actual number is believed to be much higher). In some residential schools, 20 to 75 percent of students died. Pneumonia, influenza, beatings, injuries from being thrown, accidents, fire, drowning, infection, freezing deaths, a fall downstairs, lack of professional medical treatment, and poor overall health were among the many ways that students died.11 Students in front of the Metlakatla Indian Residential School, B.C., date unknown. (Picture credit: William James Topley. Library and Archives Canada, C-015037 / Flickr.com under a CC BY 2.0 license.) That is the truth of the Indigenous experience in Canada. Waves of suffering have swept over their communities – sadly, often at the hands of those who professed to follow Jesus Christ. The removal, by force, of Indigenous children from their homes to impose the Christian faith and eradicate their culture, language, and spiritual beliefs was a grievous evil masquerading as righteousness. The effects are still being felt today due to the resulting disintegration of families and communities. Successive generations of Indigenous children passed through these schools such that: "The impacts began to cascade through generations, as former students – damaged by emotional neglect and often by abuse in the schools – themselves became parents. Family and individual dysfunction grew, until eventually, the legacy of the schools became joblessness, poverty, family violence, drug and alcohol abuse, family breakdown, sexual abuse, prostitution, homelessness, high rates of imprisonment, and early death."12 As Jonathan Van Maren notes, one can only imagine how Dutch-Canadian communities, for example, would react to the same intrusion on parental and religious rights.  He comments, " children were forcibly removed by the state from their families for the express purpose of destroying their family bonds and eradicating their language and culture. I hail from the Dutch diaspora in Canada, and like many immigrant groups in our multicultural patchwork, our communities have remained largely culturally homogenous. Imagine if the Canadian government had decided, at some point, that Dutch-Canadian (or Sikh or Ukrainian or Jewish) culture needed to be destroyed for the good of the children in those communities, who needed to be better assimilated. Then, imagine if the government forcibly removed children as young as three years old from the parental home – state-sanctioned kidnapping. At school, they were deprived of their grandparents, parents, siblings, language, and culture – and told that their homes were bad for them. At the end of the experience, if the child survived disease, abuse, bullying, and loneliness, he or she would have been remade in the image of the state—and community bonds would have been severed and many relationships irrevocably destroyed. The children who died of disease were often buried on school grounds. That means many children were taken by the government – and their families simply never saw them again. Imagine, for just a moment, if that was your family. If you were removed from your family. If your children were removed from you. How might you feel about Canada if her government had, for generations, attempted to destroy everything precious to you? It is a question worth reflecting on."13 It is indeed worth reflecting on. And it is also worth reflecting on how you would feel about Christian churches if you’d known that they were an integral part of the establishment, and operation, of these schools. Additionally, it’s worth reflecting on whether religious and parental rights exist for everyone. If we, as Christians, insist on our religious and parental rights should we not protect those same rights for others? While some Indigenous people reported having positive experiences in these schools, the premise of these schools was seriously misguided and the evidence of the damaging effects of these schools is overwhelming. And it is important to note that this history is recent with many survivors of these schools still alive today. Functioning as ambassadors of Jesus Christ This begs the question: How should we respond as followers of Jesus Christ to these historical events and to the effects they have had on Indigenous people to the present day? As mentioned earlier, we first need to be knowledgeable about the history of Indigenous people in Canada. As followers of Jesus Christ, we cannot be content with holding opinions based on a lack of awareness. One of the ways we can pursue the truth is by educating ourselves and by listening, with humility and compassion, to the stories and experiences of Indigenous people. We should invite them into our homes, our schools, and our churches. We should build bridges of knowledge, understanding, and love with our Indigenous neighbors. In addition, we need to consider how we should function as ambassadors of Jesus Christ to a people who have experienced much injustice, prejudice, and racism. Augustine once commented that a Christian is a mind through which Christ thinks, a heart through which Christ loves, a voice through which Christ speaks, and a hand through which Christ helps. We do well to consider how we are exhibiting the mind, voice, heart, and hands of Jesus Christ to our Indigenous neighbors. Do they find us to be compassionate, full of grace, lovers of truth and justice or do they find in us a prideful and judgmental attitude and a lack of desire for justice and truth? As we read in Micah 6:8: “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” God is clear about the premium He places on the dignity and worth of every human being (whom He made in His Image) and the priority He places on justice and compassion. Finally, this chapter of history provides an opportunity to reflect on how the gospel message should be spread. In the case of residential schools, the gospel was spread through force, by contravening parental and religious rights, and was imposed upon Indigenous people. But we must remember that God’s Word should never be imposed; rather, it should be proposed. As Chuck Colson once stated, " seen as wanting to impose our views on people. Don’t let them tell you that. We don’t impose anything; we propose. We propose an invitation to the wedding feast, to come to a better way of living. A better way of life. It’s a great proposal."14 Ambassadors of Jesus Christ need to ensure that their witness draws others in to know more about Him who loves truth, justice, mercy, gentleness, compassion, and kindness. Much brokenness remains in Indigenous communities and Christians need to be part of the healing by truly exemplifying the love of Jesus Christ. 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. Dr. Mark W. Slomp is a Fellow with the Colson Center for Christian Worldview. He is a Registered Psychologist and holds a senior leadership role in a Canadian post-secondary university. He is also the founder of “XP Counselling, Speaking & Writing” focused on the promotion of the flourishing life in Jesus Christ. He can be reached at [email protected] for inquiries about speaking, counseling (career and personal), and writing. Endnotes 1) North Shore News. (2019). “From the archives: Chief Dan George teaches understanding.” Retrieved from https://www.nsnews.com/nsn-50th/from-the-archives-chief-dan-george-teaches-understanding-3105824 2) The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (2012). “They came for the children,” Winnipeg, Manitoba: The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, p.7. 3) Ibid, p.9. 4) Ibid, p.10. 5) Plantinga, Cornelius. (2010). “Sin: Not the way it should be.” Retrieved from https://henrycenter.tiu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Cornelius-Plantinga_Sin.pdf 6) Hanson, E., Gamez, D., & Manuel, A. (2020). “The residential school system,” Indigenous Foundations. Retrieved from https://indigenousfoundations.arts.ubc.ca/the_residential_school_system/ 7) The Truth and Reconciliation Commission, p.17. 8) Scott, D. C. (1913). ”Indian affairs 1867-1912. In Canada and its Provinces” Vol.7, edited by A. Shortt and A. Doughty. Toronto: University of Edinburgh Press, p.615. 9) Titley, E. Brian. (1986). “A narrow vision: Duncan Campbell Scott and the administration of Indian Affairs in Canada,” Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, p.87. 10) Glavin, Terry. (2021). “Canadians have known about unmarked residential school graves for years. They just kept forgetting”. Retrieved from https://nationalpost.com/opinion/terry-glavin-canadians-have-known-about-unmarked-residential-school-graves-for-years-they-just-kept-forgetting 11) Loyie, L. (2014). “Residential schools with the words and images of survivors,” Indigenous Education Press, p.60. 12) Dion Stout & Kipling. (2003). “Aboriginal people, resilience, and the residential school legacy,” Ottawa: The Aboriginal Healing Foundation, p. i. 13) Van Maren, Jonathan. 2021. “Residential schools and the devastation of state-perpetrated family breakup”. Retrieved from ReformedPerspective.ca/residential-schools-and-the-devastation-of-state-perpetrated-family-breakup/ 14) Colson, Charles. (2015). “My final word: Holding tight to the issues that matter most,” Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, p.233....

Internet, Sexuality

…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, dangerous corners of the Web **** Warning: the following addresses pornography and sexual content Born in 1998, I grew up in the generation when the iPod Touch and cellphones were starting to become more accessible to teens. This had a massive effect on my journey through puberty, my struggle to view sexuality in a healthy, biblical manner, my exposure to non-biblical perspectives and content, and my relationships with peers. This technology was new to parents as well, and many were none the wiser to what information and entertainment their children were suddenly able to access. Today, we no longer have that excuse; private, personal access to the Internet is here, and it is riddled with temptations and depraved content. Parents need to keep informed. No real limits, no oversight             At age 13, I was surrounded by classmates using the iPod Touch, which had all the features of an iPhone except the option to place calls or texts without Wifi. Any app could be downloaded, any website accessed, and any game played. I bought a second-hand iPod off of a classmate for $20, and a whole new world opened up to me; I could message my friends from home rather than having to call them on the landline! We could talk privately without being overheard, something that was of paramount value to awkward youths who had reached the age when nothing is more embarrassing than your parents overhearing you discuss crushes and the like. Just girls reading Old Testament fiction… Several apps began trending amongst my peers, one of which was an app and website anyone could use to write a book, and anyone else could use to read those books; all you needed to do was create an account. This was very popular amongst girls my age. A particular fictional favorite series in my class was set in Old Testament times; it was from a young woman’s point of view, and contained a fairly innocent love triangle. There was little harm in the series itself. But the app contained scores of books, accessible to whoever desired to read them, and as we all began exploring the app, we discovered something else entirely: erotica. I cannot count the number of poorly written stories I devoured. My parents had told me about the basics of sex, and about God’s design for it, but this new narrative was something completely different. It didn’t matter that I had been taught a biblical view of sex; I now had access to a different definition of it. Curiosity can fester into a full-fledged addiction. We see this with drugs, alcohol, money – all of which are things that children raised in a God-fearing home do not have unhindered access to, things that parents can monitor with relative ease. And it used to be simple to monitor your child’s access to pornography; it took bold action to get ahold of dirty magazines purchased at a corner store, and those magazines had to be hidden under a bed. Even when looking back on your lifetime to your own childhood, most if not all of parents would agree that children and teenagers did not have the same ready access to pornography then. Today is not the same. If your child has a device, they have the possibility to discover virtually thousands of corner store magazine racks. And all of this in the palm of their hand. Whether in the past or the present, children are not equipped with the discretion to navigate most conversations about sex, let alone sexual content and entertainment. By the age of 15, I had read hundreds of gratuitously graphic pieces of literary pornography; I was addicted. The majority of these consisted of “fanfiction.” … to erotic fan fiction Fanfiction is defined by Google as “fiction written by a fan of, and featuring characters from, a particular TV series, movie, etc.” To give some further context, the popular and sexually charged book-turned-film franchise Fifty Shades of Grey started out as a fanfiction of the popular young adult vampire series Twilight. There are different genres in fanfiction, one of which includes the “y/n” character, meaning “your name”; these stories are written as though from the reader’s point of view, and fuel fantasies in which the reader is inserted into romantic and sexual relationships with the characters from whatever story the fanfiction is inspired by. Young preteens can explore written fantasies in which they are the love interest of one or more of their favorite characters, fueling incredibly unrealistic ideals and twisted notions of healthy sexuality. Another genre of fanfiction that is hugely popular is where two characters who do not have a romantic/sexual relationship in the original canonical story are given a new storyline. The vast majority of these “ships” (the slang term for relationships) are not heterosexual. Preteens and teens are lured in by extra content about their favorite characters, while gradually being desensitized to sexually graphic content. They can take their pick from hundreds of smutty stories about Sherlock Holmes and John Watson, Captain America’s Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes, Harry Potter’s Sirius Black and Remus Lupin, Merlin and Arthur, etc. Even more alarming are the number of stories in which real people, generally celebrities, are “shipped” together. Does your child have a favorite secular music artist? Chances are, there are fanfictions out there about them. Most common among these are fanfictions about members of boy bands. There are stories in which two band members have a secret relationship behind the scenes, and fans don’t know; there are stories in which two band members – who live in an alternate universe and happen to be vampires, or rich CEOs of companies, or strippers, or baristas – meet and start dating. There are stories in which five plus members of a boy band are all members of a werewolf pack, and engage in polygamous sexual activities together. As PluggedIn’s article on fanfiction puts it, “a major draw for fanfiction writers and readers is usually the exploration of forbidden romance.” Maybe you have parental controls installed on your phone, and you think, “My child has no access to these sorts of things.” But fanfiction is literary, and it isn’t screened in the same way that visual pornography is. Children can access these stories by merely clicking “I accept” after reading a warning of graphic content. Boys and their cartoons… While I and many of my female peers were exploring these things, the boys were doing something similar. Many boys were watching “anime” on their iPods and iPhones. Anime is defined by Google as “a style of Japanese film and television animation, typically aimed at adults as well as children.” Just as with the content on my writing/reading app, some of these anime shows were harmless, and even contained messages of loyalty, friendship, and other important themes. If you’ve ever noticed your child watching an anime series, you may have thought it was merely an innocent cartoon, and not paid any further attention to it. But many anime series have overtly sexualized female character designs, with unnatural body proportions, and severely immodest clothing. Worse than that, many anime series contain graphic sexual scenes; there is even a category of anime geared specifically towards pornographic content. Male peers admitted to me in later conversation that it was through anime that they discovered pornographic websites. As young teens, they had no credit cards to pay for authentic, licensed anime streaming sites, and so they accessed their anime shows through illegal websites, many of which had flashing advertisements on every page. Nearly every boy in my class and wider peer group was watching pornography on a regular basis by the age of sixteen; some of us girls were curious enough to check it out, too. The pull parents didn’t understand Our parents tried to keep an eye on what we were up to. But it was easy enough to convince them that we were simply reading a harmless book or watching a harmless cartoon. For some of us, our parents set a boundary of not having our electronic devices in our rooms when we went to bed, but we still had access to these things in the bathroom, on the school bus, even in the foyer at school. If you passed by your child in the living room and saw them reading a paragraph or watching an animated show on their phone, how often would you sit next to them and see what they’re reading? Or, perhaps the more relevant question: what is the likelihood they would hide their screen immediately? Many parents today fall into one of two categories: they don’t want to invade the privacy of their teens, and thus leave them to their devices or they constantly demand to know what their children are up to, leading their kids to become more aloof and secretive. I remember being a young teen, and how I chafed against my mother’s occasional questions about what I was reading on my phone. I’d even blatantly lie about it for fear of the truth being discovered. I cannot imagine how much more I would have pulled away from her if she had badgered me about these things. Leaving our kids defenseless In Reformed circles, it is not uncommon for parents to refrain from teaching their children about sex before adulthood. In some cases, parents are so uncomfortable with this that they do not tell their children until they are preparing for marriage, or they do not tell them at all. Some parents, in contrast, give their children too many details at too young an age. I have peers who fall into all of these categories. Finding the balance in this seems very difficult. The biggest issue here is that, due to the prevalence of graphic sexual content available to today’s youth, many are learning about sex through erotic literature or visual pornography. Pornography is typically filmed by men, for men; erotica is typically written by women, for women. Men are creating a fantasy of what to expect from women in a sexual relationship, and women are creating a fantasy of what to expect from men in a sexual relationship. The result is an incredibly narcissistic view of sexuality, stemming from a focus on the reader or viewer’s satisfaction, with no consideration for the other party and no understanding of God’s design for sex and the expression of love it is meant to be. When a boy or young man watches porn, he is buying into a fantasy where he has ultimate power, and the woman’s presence is meant for his pleasure alone. When a girl or young woman reads erotica, she is buying into a fantasy where a man is so utterly consumed by his need for her that he will do absolutely anything for her, as he cannot resist her near-goddess status. (Most females depicted in these books do not believe themselves to be attractive, feeding everyday women the narrative that the most attractive men out there will be attracted to them, and they should not “settle for less.”) This sort of content creates a fantasy of self-worship. It teaches boys and girls to view sex through a greedy, twisted lens. And it’s not slowing down. Common Sense Media’s research report “Teens and Pornography” surveyed a demographically representative set of teens in the United States, and the collected data revealed that 72% of the teens surveyed they had seen pornography; of those, 54% saw it by age 13, including the 15% who saw it by age 11. I am a Gen Z’er. The Oxford Dictionary defines Generation Z as “the group of people who were born between the late 1990s and the early 2010s, who are regarded as being very familiar with the Internet.” I would like to suggest a new definition: “The group of people born between the late 1990s and the early 2010s who have been, en masse, bombarded with pervasive, self-indulgent content – deemed acceptable under the label of expression – to the point that they have been convinced to take up the mantle of blurring the line between advancement and destruction.” Better to pluck out your eyes Roughly two years ago, I made the decision to leave social media. Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, I deleted my accounts for all three. Very quickly I noticed an improvement in my moods, thought processes, and overall mental health. But today’s modern message of the importance of identity and sexual expression is everywhere. It’s on Pinterest, in the form of an advertisement under the search bar titled, “Beyond blue and pink - Breaking down the binary.” It’s on YouTube, in the form of reaction videos in which you, the viewer, watch someone else react to a video, typically of a third “someone else.” There is no end to technology’s primary narrative: “It’s all about you.” Youth today are growing up surrounded by a message that is directly contradictory to God’s Word. That’s just as true for the youth of the Church. Don’t be fooled into thinking your children are the exception; my parents did their best with what knowledge they had, but without directly monitoring my every move online, they had no way they could know the full extent of what I was accessing. As someone who grew up in the Church and in a Bible-teaching home, I could still write multiple articles on how today’s social environment and media made me question my sexuality, struggle with extremely low self-esteem, and buy into the notion that a message that contradicts Scripture is maybe not so harmful after all. By the grace of God, the worst of those seasons are behind me, but there are still after-effects that have repercussions on my day-to-day life. Many peers I’ve spoken to about this express the same sentiment. Not all e-books are harmful. Not all animation is harmful. In both categories, there are stories to be found with great messages. But they are the rare diamonds in a pile of coal, and parents must be made aware of the danger present in these forms of entertainment. On a broader scale, parents ought to know how many seemingly “harmless” things their children have access to, and the way it is affecting the development, lifestyles, and perspectives of youth across Western civilization as a whole. If you do not want your child exposed to the Internet or social media, but are looking for a smartphone alternative that offers calling and texting in case of emergencies, you can search for "dumb phone" offerings online (though you'll need to do your research as even some "dumb phones" still do have access to the Internet). Americans have a couple of options: the Light Phone (www.thelightphone.com) and the Gabb Phone (https://gabb.com)....

Christian education

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....

News

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 Hearts'). As you consider the book that might be made of your words, what would it look like? Would it be a book you would like to give away as a birthday present? Would it be a book you could read to the grandkids? More importantly, would it be a book you would be content to sit down and read with the Lord?" – Rev. Andrew de Vries, in his article "Talk the talk" in the May 2013 edition of Faith in Focus Willpower! "I can't even imagine the self control required to work at a bubble wrap factory." – attributed to Bill Murray Technically true can be completely false Proberbs 18:17 tells us how important it is to hear both sides of a story: "The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him." In his book, How to know God exists, Ray Comfort recounts a story, that while not true, shows what can happen if you are stuck with hearing a story from just one source. "The story is told of a symbolic foot race that took place between Russia and the U.S. during the Cold War. The very best athlete from each country compete to see who was superior. The Amerian runner won. The next day, the Soviet newspaper headline read: 'Russia comes in second in big race; US comes in next to last.'" Best bumper stickers As seen on the back bumpers of cars all over... What if there were no hypothetical questions? Eschew obfuscation If you can read this, I can hit my brakes and sue you. If you ate pasta and antipasta, would you still be hungry? How is it possible to have a civil war? A day without sunshine is like, you know, night. Five out of four people have trouble with fractions Evolution is a non-starter "Survival of the fittest doesn't explain the arrival of the fittest." – Dr. Donald Batten, explaining in the documentary Evolution's Achilles' Heels, that while the process of natural selection can whittle down the a species to only the fittest few, it isn't a creative force – it pares things down, but can't explain the orgin of anything new. Host as you are Have you ever said, We'll start asking people over when... we tidy up the house, our kids our older our kids are better behaved we move into a larger place we get a proper dining room table we have time to shop for/cook a special meal But blogger Jack King encourages us to do away with the excuses and consider offering our guests "scruffy hospitality." He explains: "Scruffy hospitality means you’re not waiting for everything in your house to be in order before you host and serve friends in your home. Scruffy hospitality means you hunger more for good conversation and serving a simple meal of what you have, not what you don’t have. Scruffy hospitality means you’re more interested in quality conversation than the impression your home or lawn makes. If we only share meals with friends when we’re excellent, we aren’t truly sharing life together. Don’t allow a to-do list to disqualify you from an evening with people you’re called to love in friendship..... We tell our guests 'come as you are,' perhaps we should tell ourselves 'host as you are.' ....What does it look like to welcome people into my humility rather than my standard of excellence? The playroom may not be tidy. Our kids, who are lovely and enjoyable, may become noisy and cranky around 7 pm. Dinners may be sponsored entirely by Trader Joe's frozen section.... But why would I withhold an invitation simply because I can’t make dinner from scratch?" On reading children dramatic works  "Since it is so likely that children will meet cruel enemies, let them at least have heard of brave knights and heroic courage.” – C.S. Lewis, On Stories: And Other Essays on Literature   Jesus' impact on our culture today Twenty years ago Preysbyterian pastor D. James Kennedy wrote a book exploring the question What If Jesus Had Never Been Born? As Kennedy noted, Christ's influence has been such that the whole world counts times as Before Christ (B.C.) and Anno Domini (A.D.) which is Latin for "in the year of the Lord." It is an irony, Kennedy writes, "that the most vitriolic atheist writing a propagandistic letter to a friend must acknowledge Christ when he dates that letter." But the irony doesn't stop there. The very same people who shake their fist at God benefit from Christ's influence. The following is a short list of some of the very best features of our culture and civilization that can be attributed, as Kennedy does, to Jesus' lasting impact: hospitals were started back in the Middle Ages by Christians slavery was abolished by Christians most universities were begun by Christians literacy for the masses was begun so that even peasants could read the Bible modern science was developed by Christians to investigate the wonders God has wrought we owe the seperation of powers in government to the Christian understanding of man's corrupt nature - if we can't be ruled by angels, then let us at least ensure no one devil gets his hands on all the power Capitalism and free enterprise are based on property rights found in the Bible the common man was elevated, and we began to have a higher regard for human life, based on the understanding all of mankind is made in God's image Henry VIII to Pope: "Go away, but the title can stay " For almost 500 years now, to this present day, British monarchs have gone by the title "Defender of the Faith." We were until last year ruled by Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, of Great Britain, Ireland and the British Dominions beyond the Seas Queen, Defender of the Faith. The current King Charles is no longer officially known as "defender of the faith" in Canada, but retained the title as Great Britain's king. This title finds its origin back in 1521, when as a reward for service rendered, the Pope gave the English king this "Defender of the Faith" designation. What did Henry VIII do to warrant such an impressive title? He wrote a pamphlet titled, Declaration of the Seven Sacreaments Against Martin Luther. In it Henry defended the Pope and attacked Luther. But a scant nine years later this Roman Catholic "Defender of the Faith" broke with Rome, and started the Anglican church. In response the Pope revoked his title, but the English Parliament later restored it. So the official head of the Anglican church bears a title first awarded to the very first Anglican King by none other than the Pope. Photo credit: Shutterstock/ Michael Tubi...

News

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 thinking machines? Folks who say yes only say so because they believe we're nothing more than computing machines ourselves, and merely the sum of our material parts. But Christians know that we are more than our matter. If we were to lose an arm, there would then be less of our body, but there wouldn't be less of us, because we are more than our body. What is that something else? Our spirit. We were made in the very Image of our Maker (Gen. 1:27), and that's not ever going to be true of machines. Ottawa's anti-plastic ban moving into dangerous territory "...while the previous stages in the war on plastics might have inconvenienced people or wasted their money, this new phase may sicken and kill them." Canadian male teacher who wore fake z-cup breasts to school is back The Toronto shop teacher who made international news last year for wearing enormous fake breasts to class will be back in the classroom this year, though seemingly without the beach-ball-sized prosthetics. When he first showed up at his school in this ridiculous attire, the administration wouldn't discipline him for the spectacle. This was a man clearly having mental issues, but his public school's secular worldview wouldn't allow them to acknowledge the elephants in the room, even when he claimed that his breasts were real. This year, however, he seems to be dressing like the man that he is. Worthy of note is the manner in which "conservative" media outlets have covered this story. The New York Post and Daily Mail have both been critical of his antics, but have called him a "her" in their articles. Meanwhile, both Fox News and Rebel News have used male pronouns for him (at least in recent articles), even as they have used female pronouns for American Olympian Bruce, now Caitlyn, Jenner. The problem with these organizations is that though they are sometimes conservative, they are not Christian, and so they aren't grounded on an unshakeable foundation, and thus waver back and forth. We could ask of them, "How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the LORD is God, follow Him..." (1 Kings 18:21). Does the FBI already have a file on Oliver Anthony? Probably. This is about an American agency, but more so, simply about a big government that has no boundaries... which we're familiar with in Canada too. Parents in Irish town band together to ban their kids from phones until at least 12 This voluntary ban applies not simply to school, but home too... Empty Canadian graves A Christian perspective from south of the border... Jordan Peterson will try to film his "re-education" The College of Psychologists of Ontario wants Jordan Peterson to undergo "re-education" for statements and tweets he's made critical of the Canadian PM, as well as of the doctor who cut off actress Ellen Page's healthy breasts in her futile attempt to become a man. The College said they were ordering the re-education because Peterson's comments ran the risk of: "undermining public trust in the profession of psychology, and trust in the College's ability to regulate the profession in the public interest." They are, of course, right that trust in the College is being undermined. Who'd trust a psychological body that insists that when men and women cut off healthy body parts in an attempt to become what they can never be that's a good mental health practice? We're going to trust these guys with our difficulties? We read throughout Proverbs, that the fool likes to air out their own opinions (Prov. 18:2) and blurt out their folly (Prov. 12:23). We can be thankful here for how the College has exposed themselves, for if they'd kept silent, we might have still supposed them wise (Prov. 17:28). But in coming after Peterson for positions that aren't even controversial to most of the Canadian public, the College has discredited themselves. ...

News

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. ...

News

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 of a sculptor, the image of a chainsaw does not immediately come to mind. But for Ontario sculptor and carver Jim Menken, the chainsaw is the tool of choice for creating his masterpieces large and small. Menken has had a lifelong interest in art. But in 2003, while still working as a teacher, Jim saw a chainsaw carver at a local festival and became so enthralled with the process that upon arriving home later that day he carved a heron! And he literally has been carving ever since – transforming old trees, stumps and logs into beautiful works of art for a wide range of clients. Jim took up this new passion full time in 2005. He now lives and carves in the town of Mono in beautiful Dufferin County (about 1 hour north west of Toronto) on a property that is perfect for a chainsaw carver; isolated, and with no neighbors within earshot. He has never advertised once and the phone calls and emails have never stopped since. Jim considers this a gift – an answer to prayer. Jim is inspired by God’s creation and uses his God-given talents, a chainsaw and a few other tools to depict animals, people, and select objects as realistically as possible. Jim’s portfolio includes bears, beavers, birds of prey, critters and pets. Living close to the Bruce Trail and the breath-taking Hockley Valley, provides Jim with an endless stream of inspiration and interesting subjects to draw from. This commission was of a grandfather who'd played lacrosse in his younger days. Interestingly, Jim does not title his pieces! This is partly because Jim’s work is almost 100% commissioned. He does not create pieces and then try to sell them. Rather, Menken enjoys the challenge of commissioned works where the client picks the subject. Menken says his clients often have memories attached to their trees and will ask him to carve something to help preserve those memories. In this way Jim meets many different people from different backgrounds and his life and work intersect with many interesting stories. In 2005 Jim was commissioned to carve the veteran for Gage Park in Brampton. It was an existing tree in the park. The legion is close by and veteran Bill Bettridge was used as a model. Unfortunately, the tree had a bit of a seam in it, so it began to decay over time. In 2013 a replacement carving was commissioned. Last year the city commissioned a bronze sculpture modeled after Jim’s original carving which was returned to Jim who then passed it on to Bill's family. Jim has never set foot back in the classroom but he is available for chainsaw carving demonstrations throughout the year. In the winter he demonstrates ice carving and sculpture. Perhaps he’ll inspire the next budding sculptor to lay down the traditional tools and pick up a chainsaw instead. It appears you can take the teacher out of the classroom but you can’t take the classroom out of the teacher. Jim is married to artist Deb Menken, and has 3 grown children who are all artistic as well! He is a member of the Orangeville Canadian Reformed Church. Visit Jim’s website, JimMenken.com, to learn more about his work and you can also follow him on Facebook (@JimMenkenCarving) and Instagram (@jimmenken). If you have a suggestion for an artist you’d like to see profiled in RP please email Jason Bouwman at [email protected]....

Churches’ food drive bears fruit, and births a challenge

Evangelism committees and home mission groups sometimes struggle with how can we show God’s love to our neighbors. Members of five Reformed churches in Dunnville, Ontario gave a great example of God’s love in action recently, when they organized their first annual “OneChurch Food Drive.” They collected 8,900 pounds of donated groceries, along with over $2,600 in cash and checks for their local Salvation Army food bank. Bruce DeBoer, one of the drive’s organizers, was inspired after meeting Mike Bosveld, who had helped organize food drives among churches in the greater Brantford area. Bruce and his wife Helena jumped in with both feet, calling the home mission committees of other Reformed churches locally, who in turn organized volunteers from their membership. Food banks often experience lighter donations in the summer months, but there remains a need among many of our neighbors who have a hard time getting by without some supplemental groceries. Members from Canadian Reformed Churches at Attercliffe, Dunnville East, and Dunnville West, and members from the Dunnville URC and the Dunnville CRC, knocked on almost every door in town – nearly 2,700 in total! – a week ahead of the drive. They were letting families know that they would be back to collect any donations on the scheduled Saturday. If they couldn’t speak to the residents, they left a flyer letting folks know about the drive, and what kind of items would be helpful to donate. Word quickly spread about this initiative, helped by articles in the local newspaper. On the morning of the drive, 85 volunteers, including little ones and seniors, met to divide up the city section by section, and make their way out to collect from their neighbors. Volunteers were amazed at the generosity of the community: they gathered enough food and donations to supply the needs of the food bank for over two months! The Food Bank’s Facebook page effusively thanked the volunteers: “We are speechless right now!... To our beautiful town and community, because of your generosity, the amazing volunteers and organizers of the First Annual OneChurch Food Drive, we now have 8,873 pounds of food and $2,685 raised. This I believe has beat our old record! We are so blessed and so thankful for everyone who showed up today and those who organized this amazing event!” Besides collecting food and funds, the Food Drive gave Christians an opportunity to interact with their neighbors and establish some relationships, while raising awareness about Reformed churches as a place where God’s people are called to show love and mercy to one another and their neighbors. Door knockers were also able to find out where there were people who could use help down the road, perhaps with a meal at Thanksgiving, or with a friendly knock on the door to check up on them. “This could be a very powerful way for our churches across the country to make an impact on their communities,” said DeBoer, who hopes that this can become an annual event for Dunnville. He and Helena have volunteered to assist the first group in each province and state that would like to do a food drive. “We can host their inaugural meeting (virtual or in person), and work with them to make a successful drive in their community. We can share access to a ‘do’s and don’ts’ handbook with examples of effective flyers, lists of what kinds of items to collect, and other best practices, to ensure a successful event. Our only ask in return is that anyone helped pays it forward by encouraging other communities around them to do likewise!” Bruce DeBoer can be reached by email at [email protected] or by phone at (416) 660-3172....

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