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Canada taps the brakes on the runaway euthanasia train
After the Society of Canadian Psychiatry (SCP) sounded the alarm late last year, the government of Canada has now temporarily put the brakes on its expansion of the country’s already liberal euthanasia regime. It had planned to make euthanasia available to the mentally ill as of March 2023, but is giving the system more time to get ready. The SCP’s warning was based on clinicians’ current inability to assess when a mental illness is or is not “irremediable” (i.e., irreversible/incurable). The SCP asserted as a given that euthanasia shouldn’t be given to people who may still recover. So, their argument went, since we can’t yet tell when someone with a mental illness will or won’t recover, it is premature to be offering it to the mentally ill.
The organization Dying with Dignity, which has been leading the charge for state-sponsored death in Canada, was upset by this decision. "We must avoid creating barriers that will prolong grievous suffering." Sounding very similar, Justice Minister David Lametti said:
“Remember that suicide generally is available to people. This is a group within the population who, for physical reasons and possible mental reasons, can’t make that choice themselves to do it themselves.”
Before Canada legalized assisted suicide back in 2016, ARPA Canada urged the Supreme Court of Canada and the federal government to recognize that once the sacred line of the 6th Commandment is crossed, condoning some killing, it will become impossible to draw a new line that will hold. The past six years bears this out. Our society no longer knows which suicides should be prevented and which should be celebrated as an expression of choice.
Lobbying government to stop (and reverse!) the train is important and needs to continue. But given that the train keeps roaring down the tracks, the Church needs to do what it can to get people off the tracks. More than ever before, Canada needs to hear the hope of the Gospel, which gives meaning to all lives. Have your neighbors heard it?
Saturday Selections – Jan 21, 2023
Should we force all men to get vasectomies? (3 min) Since the overturning of the US Supreme Court Roe vs. Wade decision – the ruling that originall...
Book excerpts, Book Reviews, History, Human Rights, Politics
The bad king that prompted the Great Charter
How Robin Hood’s nemesis Prince John was the impetus behind the Magna Carta In this excerpt from “A Christian Citizenship Guide” by André Schu...
USS Meredith Victory: the “Gallant Ship”
There was nothing about USS Meredith Victory that would make it stand out from the crowd. The ship was a cargo vessel, built as part of the merchant marine during the Second World War. It was 455 feet long from bow to stern. The width at the widest point was a mere 62 feet. To give that context, a Canadian football field is 450 feet long from the farthest part of the endzone to the tip of the other end zone, and 195 feet wide. The Meredith Victory was not an especially big ship. The ship, however, was destined for a brief moment of fame. During the Korean War, the vessel was sent to bring supplies for the troops of the United Nations forces. With the Chinese invasion in December 1950, United Nations and South Korean forces were pushed to the brink. Close to 100 ships, including Meredith Victory, were sent to the port of Hungnam to evacuate 100,000 troops and as many of the 100,000 civilians as possible. Leonard LaRue, captain of Meredith Victory, offloaded any cargo or weapons that had been on board and set off for the port in order to accommodate as many refugees as he could. Room for two dozen On December 22, his vessel was guided through the minefield in the harbor by a minesweeper, and was then left to load passengers. Meredith Victory normally had a crew of 35, with 12 officers, and bunks for up to 12 additional passengers. There was food, water, and sanitation supplies for only that small complement of 59. By the time the ship had been fully loaded, around 11 the next morning, Meredith Victory had brought on approximately 14,000 Korean civilian refugees. No one would have blamed the captain if he had left the port hours earlier, leaving many of the refugees behind. The ships that had escorted Meredith Victory safely in had left during the night, making the vessel’s trip out through the minefield extremely perilous. All around, United Nations ships were shelling the port in order to deny it to the enemy forces. Yet Captain LaRue stayed until his ship was, literally, standing room only. Left vulnerable without a military escort, the ship arrived in the port of Pusan on Christmas Eve. First Mate D.S. Savastio, with only basic first aid training, had delivered five babies en route. Despite the bitter December cold, the lack of light or heat in the holds, and the fact that many were forced to stand on the ship’s deck shoulder to shoulder due to overcrowding, there were no injuries. However, Pusan already had its own problems with refugees, and was only able to accept those injured before boarding the ship. Meredith Victorysailed another 50 miles to Geoje Island, where it was able to unload the refugees on Boxing Day, December 26. Seeing rightly begets bravery After the war, the South Korean government awarded the ship the Presidential Unit Citation. An act of the U.S. Congress gave the vessel the title “Gallant Ship.” And the Guinness World Records group has called the event the largest evacuation from land by a single ship. Considering when it happened, it’s tempting to look at this story as a Christmas Miracle, the kind you might find in a Hallmark movie. The description certainly fits. However, it’s worth noting that Leonard LaRue, the captain of Meredith Victory, said that he believed “God’s own hand was at the helm of my ship.” His words are backed up by his later decision to give up the sea in favor of a life in a monastery. While that was a wrong turn, it’s clear that LaRue saw his life, and the lives of these thousands of others, as gifts from God. So he cherished them. And took enormous risks to try to protect these fellow Image-bearers. Faith isn’t a guarantee of success, but trusting God fully can be the catalyst for us to show love to others – even at great risk to ourselves – because we know that come what may, God’s got us. James Dykstra is a sometimes history teacher, author, and podcaster at History.icu “where history is never boring.” Find his podcast at History.icu, or on Spotify, Google podcasts, or wherever you find your favorite podcasts....
Saturday Selections – Jan 14, 2023
Blue hair as a death sentence? A few years ago headlines declared that Iceland had nearly eradicated Down syndrome. But they hadn't eradicated the syndrome - they were killing those with it. Paul Ehrlich: wrong on 60 Minutes and wrong for 60 years In Deut. 18 God provides a test for a prophet that's pretty simple: if what he says doesn't come true, then we don't need to worry about him. That's a principle that has ready application in the global warming debate as well, and specifically when it comes to Paul Ehrlich. He's a scientist who has been off the mark for almost 60 years now, always predicting imminent doom, but who was recently given a platform on the American news program 60 Minutes to make his same old predictions once again. As Peter Jacobsen explains, he gets it so wrong because he sees only the cost of having children, and overlooks how they are a blessing. What is music for in corporate worship? "Music is a gift of God, a unique way of connecting His revelation with our hearts and minds. St. Augustine is thought to have said, 'he who sings, prays twice.' The Church must recover a more robust understanding and practice of music." More concerns with projectors in church "Using screens for worship devalues Scripture and the Book of Praise as merely books we read and sing from. Not physically using a Bible may result in not knowing which books are OT and NT, where the Minor Prophets are, the five books of Moses, or the Four Gospels...." How competition got my third grader reading Boys don't read. Boys are competitive. So what if we pitted the boys against the girls in a reading contest? This would need to be carefully done, with, most likely, a lesson included about winning and losing graciously - ie. competition sans trash talk. But could it work? Jordan Peterson says no to Ontario's thought police Jordan Peterson is in trouble again, and this Australian article is a great outsider's perspective. Why so many movies have a "Christ-like figure" in them (10 min) Pastor Jake Mentzel explains why Christ-like figures pop up in so many blockbusters. And it's not, he notes, because these movies are so insightful. This could be a great one to share with the kids, to show them that when a story – film or book – features a self-sacrificing figure, that doesn't mean it is deep... or good. ...
Red, White, and Blue? Are there greener pastures south of the border?
“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore.” These words are engraved on the base of the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor, calling out to countless immigrants to America, who were longing for freedom from persecution, from poverty, from overcrowding, from a restricted way of life. These words, when written in 1883, were mostly aimed at citizens of the “Old World,” but lately more Canadians are hearing the call of “Lady Liberty,” and wondering if life would be better south of the 49th parallel. Are Americans really freer than Canadians? What would our lives be like if we moved to the USA? I would like to make clear that I’m not entirely unbiased. I’m proud of my Canadian heritage, and I love Canada, but my wife Faith and I moved from B.C. to the U.S.A. in 1996, first to Blue Bell, Pennsylvania, and later to Lynden, Washington, where we have lived since 2002. We love the U.S. but we also recognize that there are many things about moving that should be considered carefully before making a momentous decision that will have generational consequences. I hope that this article may give good food for thought to RP readers who are thinking about pulling up stakes, or who know others who are considering such a move. Freedom Both countries’ national anthems espouse freedom: America is “the land of the free, and the home of the brave,” while Canada is “The True North, strong and free.” As a test case, the COVID restrictions and lockdowns of 2020-2021 are a fascinating study in how much freedom was or wasn’t prized, with all the different policies that were implemented in the hopes of saving lives. In general, Canadian provinces locked down more tightly and for a longer time than most American states. Bryan Grim and his wife Leanne moved to Sioux Falls, South Dakota this past summer from Surrey, B.C. with their seven children. Bryan recalled that in B.C. for long stretches, they were restricted in their movements within the province, forbidden to travel between arbitrarily designated zones. Travel restrictions were tough, but having “in-person” worship services forbidden was another matter entirely. For many months, most Canadian churches did not gather together for worship in their church buildings, but resorted to live streaming of a pastor preaching to a mostly empty church. As these restrictions stretched on, church members debated and argued over whether or not they should defy the shutdown orders, or reluctantly obey. Church councils across the country had to deal with division among office bearers and among the members, and in some cases these wounds are still healing. In the U.S., with fifty different governors, and fifty different legislatures, there were many different responses to COVID. Some more rural and conservative states (including Arkansas, Iowa, Nebraska, the Dakotas, Utah, and Wyoming) had very few state-wide restrictions, and no enforced “stay at home” orders. Other states like Arizona, Florida, Tennessee and Texas opened up to regular commerce, worship services, and in-person education much more quickly than more left-leaning states like California, New York, and Washington. One common pattern in both countries is that most big cities were tougher on lockdowns: whether you lived in Los Angeles or Toronto, at times you would have felt very restricted. In more rural parts of both countries, there may have been more lenience by police forces and local governments. In my adopted home town of Lynden, the local police and the county sheriff’s department did not enforce any of the state governor’s directives restricting worship services, and local mayors and elected officials encouraged churches to use common sense in deciding whether or not, and how, to hold in-person worship services. Many of the “lesser magistrates” in different parts of the USA recognized the vital (literally, life-giving) importance of worship services to the lives of a free people, upholding the First Amendment of the Constitution that states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” RP readers may be aware of areas in Canada where overly burdensome regulations from provincial or national governments were not enforced by local governments, but it’s safe to say that these cases were few and far between. Canadians are by and large brought up to respect those in authority over us, and most Canadian Christians can quote from Romans 13 by heart: “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God…” Americans, of course, have the same Bible! But somehow, there is a spirit of independence among citizens of the U.S. that pushes back strongly against any authority that is deemed to have over-reached its powers as granted in national or state constitutions. Americans rebelled against what they judged to be the unlawful and unjust authority of King George III in 1776; many who were loyal to the British crown and did not believe rebellion was the proper path left the country and moved to Canada. Are Americans more free than Canadians? That likely depends greatly on the state or province in which you hang your hat, and on the size of the city you have made your home. But the spirit of independence of citizens, and their desire to curtail government powers to those specifically granted by constitutions does seem to be more alive in most of the fifty states than in the provinces and territories. Drifting in the same direction? The Canadian Charter of Rights guarantees fundamental freedoms such as “freedom of religion, freedom of thought, freedom of belief, and freedom of expression.” Yet many Canadians are angry about the government’s power being directed against them when they exercise these freedoms, and call homosexuality a sin against God, or when they speak out against government policies they judge to be unjust. (Some truckers who spoke out against the COVID lockdowns found themselves frozen out of their bank accounts!) But how different are things in the U.S.? The recent mid-term elections in the U.S. were disappointing for many American Christians. If the exit polling is accurate, millions of voters were swayed by pro-abortion advocates to keep the Democrat party in control of the Senate. Conservatives had hoped that the leftward drift of the country would be rejected by its citizenry. Instead, the voters appeared to endorse the leadership of President Biden, who despite his Roman Catholic faith, has embraced abortion as a “reproductive right.” Self-identified independents who can sway election results for either side mostly voted for the Democratic candidates: in particular younger, female voters helped push results in favor of the more liberal of the country’s two major political parties. (The Republican party did gain control of the House of Representatives, but with a far slimmer margin than pollsters had predicted.) One election does not necessarily indicate a permanent shift, but Canadians who wish to escape liberal trends in government might pause to look carefully at directions in the United States. Church communities Nate and Victoria and their son Jaxon – show off some of their geographical connections, sitting in front of the US, Canadian, and Australia flags. A generation or two ago, many Reformed people would narrow down the locations that they’d be willing to move, to areas where they could find a church from within their own federation, or one that was already recognized as a “sister church.” There is definitely some safety and wisdom in this approach: if we move for greater economic opportunities, or political freedom, but compromise in our choice of which church to join, we may live to regret that decision. Nate and Victoria VanAndel recently moved to Maryville, Tennessee from Brantford, Ontario with their son Jaxon. The VanAndels were grateful for the ability to watch recorded worship services from churches they were considering; it helped them make their decision to join Sandy Springs Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC) near Knoxville after also visiting some local congregations of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA). “Sundays include a pre-service Sunday school in the morning, a bi-monthly potluck lunch, and an evening service,” said Victoria. “We have found this church to be very inviting, and we felt at home here very quickly.” (The OPC is in a fraternal relationship with both the URC and CanRC federations; the PCA is recognized within NAPARC as a faithful church body.) Canadians who have been members of long-established Reformed churches back at home may be surprised by how small many of the conservative Presbyterian or Reformed churches are in the USA, particularly in areas where there has not been a large Dutch immigrant community. For example, the OPC has an average congregational size of 110 members. Smaller churches can have many benefits, with greater opportunity for strong relationships between members, and community involvement, but some of the resources of a larger church community may not be present. Christian schooling Bryan Grim found this to be the case in particular with regard to Christian education. Grim grew up in the Fraser Valley of B.C., and appreciates the schools founded by Canadian Reformed people in the 1950s, with many United Reformed members also joining these school societies in the last twenty years. Grim stated that the local Christian school society in Sioux Falls appears to have drifted from its Reformed roots, and not many members of his new home church, Christ Reformed URC, send their children there (although Bryan and Leanne’s children are attending). More parents have chosen to homeschool their students, rather than worry about what the young people are taught when away from the home. This appears to be a more common trend in long established American Christian school societies in Reformed communities, which after a period of years, drop their requirements that teachers and leaders adhere to the Reformed confessions and maintain membership in a faithful church body. How the parents and educators who worked so hard to establish these schools would lament these developments! How about our grandparents? Those in favor of moving out of Canada might point to their grandparents or great grandparents, many of whom moved away from the Netherlands without having issues of church membership or schooling finally settled. No doubt, many of the Dutch who left Holland had not thought through every detail of family and church life, but judged that greater opportunity in Canada, and further distance from European wars and struggles made the risk a responsible one. In the rear-view mirror, they may judge that they made the right decision, that they by and large were able to establish strong, faithful churches, schools, and communities, and leave behind a country that had much less opportunity for the average citizen. This did not come easily, however, and these older generations had difficult years and struggles along the way. The Lord blessed His people as they worked faithfully wherever He placed them. Affordability In the last thirty years, real estate prices in Canadian cities have increased by leaps and bounds. In southern Ontario, in B.C.’s Fraser Valley, and in the larger prairie cities, young people may have a very hard time buying their own home. Research firm Oxford Economics recently reported that overall Canadian real estate prices rose 331% from 1990 through today. The report sounded an alarm that with rising interest rates, many Canadians would have difficulties making their mortgage payments. The study also reported that real estate had risen 289% during the same time period in the USA, which sounds like a similar rise in value, but as any realtor will say, all real estate is local, and the top three factors in a home’s value are “location, location, location!” Home prices in rural American states remain much more affordable for the average wage-earner. Bryan and Leanne Grim were able to buy a home on a four-acre property that would be far out of reach for the average buyer if that home were located in Surrey or Mississauga or Los Angeles. In addition, mortgage rates in the U.S. can be locked in for up to thirty years, giving cost certainty for buyers who can be confident that their payments will remain constant as long as they stay in the same home. With housing prices so high in the lower B.C. mainland, Bryan believed his children would likely have had to move away to become homeowners. By moving to Sioux Falls, he and Leanne have a greater chance that as their children grow up and form their own households, these might be near Dad and Mom. So far, the Grims have found the cost of living in Sioux Falls to be significantly less than in B.C. with the exception of Christian schooling. Many Christian school societies in Canada charge at a discounted rate for large families, while these discounts might be smaller or non existent in the more typical American Christian school system. Federal tax rates are substantially lower in the U.S. than in Canada, and there are nine states (Alaska, Florida, Nevada, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and Washington) that have no state-level income tax at all. Michigan, with an abundance of Reformed churches, has the fourth lowest cost of living of the fifty states, and is among the most affordable for housing costs. Family and friends Adam, the oldest son of Bryan and Leanne Grim children, shown exercising his American "right to bear arms." Emigrants inevitably leave behind precious loved ones in their family circle – parents, siblings, cousins, extended church family, and friends. When four of Gary and Cindy Wieske’s six grown children began to move south, one by one, it made the decision to pursue a move themselves easier. Daughter Jodi was already settled in suburban Chicago with her husband. Son Caleb, an entrepreneur like his dad, had always wanted to move to the States, and eventually chose Tennessee as his destination, where he and his brother Dustin have started an outdoor living company, supplying patio furniture, barbecues, smokers, and similar products. As owners of Ontario Stone Supply in Dundas, Gary and Cindy Wieske were able to buy a similar company in Fort Myers, Florida, where they moved along with son Rodney and his family: Rodney is manager of the new location in Fort Myers, while son Luke and daughter Nadia are running the company back home in Ontario. Gary Wieske is thankful to be able to travel to see his kids and grandkids in Florida, Tennessee, Illinois and southern Ontario. In South Dakota, Bryan and Leanne Grim are also glad that Bryan’s sister and her family moved to the same neighborhood, giving all the children the benefit of having cousins and friends nearby. Most of those who move, however, will not have the benefit of frequent in-person contact with extended family and long-time friends. While staying connected through phone and internet is easier and more affordable now than it’s ever been, it isn’t the same as in-person visits or catching up over a cup of coffee. In particular, parents with young families may find it hard to be away from the network of babysitting grandparents, and friends ready to pitch in at a moment’s notice. Can you do it? There are a number of possible legal paths that Canadians can consider for a move to the U.S. Many American companies are looking for professionally qualified employees in diverse fields, and may be able to help with the immigration procedure. Investors’ visas are another common route: they do require a good amount of capital, a good business plan, and a lot of paperwork to qualify, but the route is a well-trodden one. It is possible to take care of the paperwork and filing to immigrate without a lawyer but it may be a much more frustrating and time-consuming endeavor. Everyone I spoke to for this article mentioned the value of a good immigration attorney. “They give you the confidence that you can do it,” said Gary Wieske. “Although there is still a lot of planning, and a lot of paperwork and charts.” In general, immigration attorneys know their business and are able to find the most expeditious path to a visa, including advice on which visas can lead to eventual permanent residence status (also known as a “green card”). It may be wise to find a lawyer who you know has been able to help other Canadians make the move legally: in our Lynden community, we could readily recommend which lawyers have been excellent, and which may not have quite as sterling a reputation. Should you do it? When asked, “Why make the move?” Gary Wieske quoted his son Dustin: “For faith, for family, and for freedom: if that’s what we’re doing it for, then we’ll be blessed.” So far, Wieske has no regrets: his family appreciates living among so many more outspoken Christians than back home. He recalls the simple gesture of a waitress in a Tennessee restaurant who reminded Wieske’s grandkids to pray for their meal: “That’s something I’ve never seen in all my years in Ontario!” For Bryan Grim and his family, the move has so far been all very positive: he appreciates that South Dakotans value their freedom, and, in particular, their freedom of expression. Grim finds that folks in his relatively small town are tolerant of other viewpoints: “In South Dakota, you’re still allowed to have your own opinion.” While Victoria VanAndel misses family back in Ontario, she instantly felt at home in the south: “The first week here in Tennessee I remember saying to Nate that I had such nice people serve me at the grocery store, and wherever I had to run errands that day. After a week of this though it became clear that the people are just friendlier and happier here! We had neighbors welcome us with baskets of veggies, porch flowers and a kind word of ‘welcome to Tennessee, this here is God’s country!” Whether or not a move out of your community is right for you and your family is really a question that you can only answer yourself. As has been discussed, there are many factors to consider. God has called us to live faithfully before Him as prophets confessing His name, as priests presenting ourselves as living sacrifices to Him, and as kings fighting against sin and the devil, and we may and must do all these things wherever we find ourselves living on this earth. As we consider our roles as members of God’s Church, as parents, as children, as employees, and as citizens, let us use wisdom from God’s word, listen to good counsel from those we respect, and pray to the Lord for guidance in these decisions. Marty VanDriel is the Assistant Editor of Reformed Perspective....
Is it time to leave Canada?
I had to answer this question in front of a live, though physically distanced, audience in Toronto in the fall of 2021. The presentation occurred in the midst of numerous Covid restrictions and concerning developments in Canada’s Parliament and legislatures, including a proposal to criminalize “conversion therapy.” Since then, the hypothetical has become a reality for some Reformed families, who have decided to uproot and move to the USA, and Marty VanDriel is sharing some of their stories in this issue’s feature article. While talk is cheap, action often inspires others to action. Their decisions to leave is provoking many of us to search our hearts and make our own decision about whether to stay or think seriously about relocating. If I were to follow my heart or even my mind, it wouldn’t be too hard to convince me to move, especially if the new location comes with a warmer climate and a few palm trees thrown in. Yet I also know we are called not to follow simply our hearts, but God’s Word and law (Ps. 119) and to “test the spirits to see whether they are from God” (1 John 4:1). God’s Word makes it clear that whether we stay or leave, what should ultimately motivate us is the furtherance of His kingdom, not our own. Don’t look for Heaven on Earth C.S. Lewis once said that “if we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.” So when our hearts long for a better place than Canada, that longing isn’t a bad thing. It only means we are pilgrims, looking for a country of our own (Heb. 11:14). We just shouldn’t be fooled by the hope that the USA, or any other region of this world, is going to satisfy that longing. The problem with going to a new location is that we take ourselves with us. And that is a problem because “the heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure” (Jer. 17:9). A change of location doesn’t change our broken condition, as much as we may want it to. Although some places in this world may have more freedom than Canada, there isn’t a place on the planet that is free of the effects of the fall into sin. And even if one location is better than another, it might be just a matter of time before that changes, especially because it will attract people like ourselves, stained with sin even before we were born (Ps. 51). God wants the Earth filled and the Gospel spread This doesn’t mean that we have a divine mandate to stay put. On the contrary, God has given humanity two commissions or mandates, and both come with a calling to move. God’s first instruction to humanity was the cultural mandate to “be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it” (Gen. 1:28). As beautiful as Eden was, God didn’t want Adam and Eve’s children to stay there. They were instructed to inhabit the entire earth. When we fast-forward to Genesis 11, we read about people starting to move eastward and then settling down and deciding to build a city, “otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth” (Gen. 11:4). In response, God confused their language and “the LORD scattered them from there over all the earth” (11:8). He didn’t want them to get comfortable. At the end of Christ’s ministry, He gave us another commission – the Great Commission – which once again included a global focus, to “go and make disciples of all nations” (Matt. 28:19). The apostles wasted little time and brought the Gospel throughout the known world. Centuries later, that Gospel reached our forefathers. Without people obeying that call to spread their wings, the Gospel wouldn’t have reached us. Reaching the world without leaving the country Canada has recently seen a massive influx of immigration and is set to welcome 500,000 more immigrants every year. That means we don’t need to move to a different continent to reach others. God is sending them to our own neighborhoods. And even though Canada has a Christian heritage, even most of the children growing up in this country don’t know the basics of the Gospel message. In northern BC, where my family currently lives, many communities still don’t have access to faithful Gospel preaching. When we think about where to settle down, we often look at where our relatives are, where job opportunities may be, and the cost of real estate. These things matter a great deal, as we have to first be responsible for our own families. But many of us are capable of relocating. In fact, technology has made it easer than ever to work and study in other places. Speaking from my own experience, our family has been able to stay very connected to the family members that we left a thousand kilometers away. So if Canadian Christians are able to move, instead of looking at other countries, why not consider Prince George, BC, Niverville, Manitoba, or Powassan, Ontario? These communities have small Reformed church plants that are eager for more members. It may not be as attractive to head to communities where the climate is colder, where there aren’t established Reformed schools, and there’s little or no family or friends. But that is how most Reformed communities in Canada started just 50-70 years ago. We already know the language and the culture, we have skills that we can utilize immediately and there are often jobs waiting. In other words, although it may not stir our hearts in the way that a full-time mission position overseas may, moving to these communities is practical and impactful for God’s kingdom. Seek the welfare of the country where we have been placed Whether we stay or go, it is helpful to keep in mind that throughout the ages, most of God’s people had little choice about where they would live. They had to work to survive and didn’t have the luxury of uprooting. That is true of many of us today too. Even if we wanted to move to a better country or a different community, it doesn’t mean that country would allow us to come or that a move would work for our spouse or children. When God’s people were forced to uproot in the Babylonian exile, God’s instruction to them through His prophet was to “build houses and settle down” and “seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile“ (Jer. 29:5,7). Regardless of where we settle, these are words we can still take to heart. God’s people are generally encouraged to “live as a believer in whatever situation the Lord has assigned to them, just as God has called them” (1 Cor. 7:17). But, lest we conclude that God intends that we just accept our situation, only a verse later he tells slaves “Don’t let it trouble you – although if you can gain your freedom, do so” (vs. 21). In other words, we should bloom as kingdom citizens where we are planted, but that doesn’t mean that we need to wilt if the conditions are poor and another good option is possible. Building off of this, if we are concerned by the direction of our land, we need to “be the change we want to see.” God has given us opportunities to shine our lights in this land and even to serve in institutions and offices of government, or to support those who are. Knowing solid Christians who have answered that call and been willing to serve as MPs, MPPs, town councilors, and leaders in business or other realms, I’m convinced that we can do a better job of encouraging and assisting them in these roles, rather than just criticizing them. It is incredibly difficult to serve as a Christian in a secular land. Let’s help each other rather than tear each other down, discouraging others from serving themselves. Exceptional circumstances may force a move The points above apply in times of widespread freedom and safety. But circumstances can change quickly. Jesus experienced this early in His life. His parents were warned to leave Israel when he was still a baby, seeking refuge from political persecution by relocating to Egypt (Matt. 2). When it was safe to move back, his parents were warned in a dream about going to Judea, so they settled instead in Nazareth, the community where Jesus was raised. And it isn’t just our safety that can change quickly. The same can apply to our spiritual health. We confess that the preaching of the Gospel is one of the two keys of the kingdom of heaven (Lord’s Day 31, Heidelberg Catechism). In other words, we need to be under the preaching. The last two years have made it clear that many of Canada’s leaders simply don’t care much if Christians can’t gather for worship. In my home province, we were told that gathering virtually is a sufficient long-term replacement, even though churches respectfully explained that God’s Word, not the government, should determine what is sufficient when it comes to worship. If it were up to many of our leaders, they would have no problem with shutting down churches for good. Thankfully, God has restrained wickedness and still allows the freedom to preach the Gospel. This is something to be grateful for and to use while we have it. Don’t be paralyzed There is a lot, then, to prayerfully consider. But we shouldn’t get caught up in analysis paralysis. If an opportunity arises where we can best further God’s kingdom and bless our families in a different country or community, and if people who know us well advise us to pursue it, we can embrace the move with enthusiasm, not held back by those who don’t agree or understand. God’s kingdom isn’t limited by earthly borders. In his superb book, aptly titled Just Do Something, Kevin DeYoung advises: “we should stop looking for God to reveal the future to us and remove all risk from our lives. We should start looking to God – His character and His promises – and thereby have confidence to take risks for His name’s sake.” So whether in Canada or beyond, let’s be strong and courageous, taking risks for His kingdom, not our own. Mark Penninga is the Reformed Perspective’s Executive Director....
Articles, Movie Reviews
Top 10 films on PureFlix right now
Pureflix is a per month subscription streaming service that provides Christian content on both sides of the US/Canadian border. While much of its cont...
Saturday Selections – Jan. 7, 2023
Tariffs help producers only by hurting consumers (3 min) Tariffs at best protect the domestic producer at the expense of domestic consumers by requir...
4 problems with State-funded daycare
…and the erosion of the family that the Church isn’t talking about enough **** Orthodox Christians are champions of the family, and rightly so. ...
Calvin Hutchinson: from chemical engineering to high school teacher
There are all sorts of paths to teaching and reasons to teach, and in this interview, conducted with Mark Penninga (and lightly edited), Calvin Hutchinson offers up his own. ***** My pathway into teaching is a fairly bizarre one. I went to university at McMaster in Hamilton, graduating with a chemical engineering degree. With this degree, I was able to get hired by a consulting firm, and for the next little while I worked with a number of different companies doing IT management, project management, and general business analyst work. After spending some time working in New Brunswick, I came back to Ontario and was asked to fill in at Emmanuel Christian High School (ECHS) for a teacher who had to take emergency medical leave. I finished one semester and, while I had fun helping out, I made the decision to go back to consulting as I felt that I was too close in age to the students at the time. God wasn’t letting me leave education completely though. Shortly afterward I was asked to help out with coaching the boys’ basketball teams. And then I joined the board of directors for ECHS. It was through this experience that I received the “management” view of the school, and realized there was a huge need for effective educators. A major part of the board’s early spring meetings, and a huge source of stress, was making sure that we had enough staff in place to even run the school for the following school year. This still happens every single year in many of the Reformed Christian schools. The private Christian education I had taken for granted my entire life seemed to actually be struggling to continue. The story of how I decided to become a teacher again is a fairly personal one, but to sum it up, I needed a change, I saw the different talents and paths God made available to me, and saw the need for Christian educators, I listened to some advice from those much wiser than me, and decided to give teaching another chance. It was the best decision of my life to date. It doesn’t matter how grumpy I am in the morning, how little coffee I have had, or even if my car gets a flat tire on my way into work and everything goes wrong, whenever the students come into the class, I start to smile. Each student is completely unique, and has their own personalities and quirks that are fun to get to know and interact with. This makes teaching the same subject year after year seem completely new, as each group of students will respond to a different teaching method and delivery. And when you are willing to create an environment where having fun while learning is the norm, then there is no end to the uniqueness that students are willing to bring to the class. I remember teaching a class on microbiology where I made an analogy comparing enzymes to turbochargers. I was told I was wrong, and received a 30-minute lecture from my students telling me why I was wrong, and on the difference between superchargers and turbochargers. A little off of the government curriculum maybe, but I guarantee that the students remember what an enzyme does. Interactions like that happen on a daily basis, and it is amazing to experience. I have so much fun doing my job every single day, and am so grateful that God led me down the pathway to being a teacher....
Christian education, Sexuality
The Sexual Revolution: a glaring gap in our kids’ education?
There is no series of historical events that have impacted every human being living in the West – and beyond – more than the Sexual Revolution. And yet, while many of us may be familiar with the term, few can explain what the Sexual Revolution really is and was. Legal abortion; digital pornography everywhere; the LGBT movement; hookup culture; gender ideology; threats to religious freedom – all are either an aspect or a direct result of the Sexual Revolution. It has also shaped virtually everything that emanates from our screens, from popular TV sitcoms (which had a hand in mainstreaming revolutionary ideas) to mainstream Hollywood films, produced and directed by the revolution’s most powerful storytellers. A sexualized West We live, in short, in a culture that has been effectively conquered by a revolution we know very little about – because unlike the American or French Revolutions, our society was overthrown from within. As the Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard noted: “A passionate tumultuous age will overthrow everything, pull everything down; but a revolutionary age which is, at the same time, reflective and passionless leaves everything standing but cunningly empties it of significance." Those who brought about the Sexual Revolution did not attack government buildings – they initiated the “long march through the institutions,” eventually occupying powerful places of influence virtually everywhere. When I arrived at university and lived on campus, I left a church community for what was, at first, a fundamentally foreign culture. For the most part, my peers had not consciously rejected the tenets of Christianity. Aside from traditional mentions of God at certain solemn occasions like Remembrance Day ceremonies, they had grown up in a world that was shaped, not by Christianity, but by the Sexual Revolution. So hookup culture was not simply uncontroversial, but standard. The idea that someone could actually oppose extramarital sex, or homosexuality, or pornography was for most of them simply weird. I had grown up shaped by the Christian community I was a part of; most of them had grown up in communities in which Christianity was a part of family history, a generation or two in the past. Not treated like the pivotal event it was At the Christian school I attended, I learned the history of the Bible; church history, and the great stories of the Reformation; the bloody history of the twentieth century, and of Canada’s great explorers and leaders of the past. Despite much insistence from some quarters that students do not learn about the injustice of the residential schools, I learned about those, too, as well as the history of a local Indigenous group (the Sto:lo). But while we learned a little about the consequences of the Sexual Revolution – evils like abortion were covered in Bible class – we learned nothing about the Sexual Revolution as a historical event that had transformed and shaped the society we lived in, and that would impact nearly every aspect of our lives not only on campus, but beyond. For many people, the study of history can seem tedious or useless. But if we wish to understand the cultural moment we find pressing in all around us, an understanding of the history of the Sexual Revolution is absolutely essential. The ideologies of the Sexual Revolution now form the basis of nearly every field of study in academia, and Christian university students often have no idea that what they are learning in education, law, psychology, or anthropology is actually based on the work of ideologues such as Margaret Mead or Dr. Alfred Kinsey. They will almost certainly hear arguments made against Christianity based on revolutionary research and junk science. To know the history of the Sexual Revolution is to have an invaluable context for what is taught in secular universities, and to possess a greater confidence in the Christian worldview. Then the lightbulbs go off Each summer at the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform, I teach a course on the culture wars to dozens of university students and high schoolers. Every time, as I’m speaking, I see shock and realization spread across their faces as many of the things they have been taught click into place. “That makes so much sense!” they tell me. And when the summer ends and they head back to their places of learning, I get messages throughout the year: “One of my fellow students is citing the Kinsey Reports to attack the Christian view of sexuality. Can you email me the titles of some of your sources?” “Thank you so much for your course this summer. It helped me understand everything my prof was saying in my mandatory sexuality course!” These students, armed with the historical and cultural context necessary to understand what they were being taught, were thus prepared to defend their own worldview. In academic institutions often openly hostile to Christian belief, this context provides an invaluable confidence. 3 resources to help us understand As revolutionary ideas spread even into many religious institutions, this history becomes even more essential to understand. As George Orwell once noted: “The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.” Unfortunately, the Sexual Revolution is as much a part of American or Canadian history as World War II or the Cold War – and its daily, real-world impact is more keenly seen and felt. I believe that for students to be forewarned and forearmed, they should be taught this history before they enter university. There are an increasing number of valuable resources available. For higher grades, Carl Trueman’s Strange New World: How Thinkers and Activists Redefined Identity and Sparked the Sexual Revolution is a valuable analysis of the intellectual forces that brought this revolution about; Gabriele Kuby’s The Global Sexual Revolution is an important worldwide view; I attempt to explain how our current society came about in my own 2016 book, The Culture War. The material is, of course, difficult – but considering the state of our culture, I do not think age 16 is too young to begin preparing. Increasingly, people are not rejecting Christianity because they do not believe in the historicity of the Resurrection or because they find theism intellectually challenging. They are rejecting Christianity because they believe that biblical standards are cruel and that God is loveless. To understand that, we must understand the history of the Sexual Revolution. Jonathon Van Maren blogs at TheBridgehead.ca....
Saturday Selections – Dec. 31, 2022
Dutch woman draws 6 pictures at the same time! This is just fun and crazy... Benefits of working a job for a long time Russell Gehrlein offers a couple of benefits that can come with working the same job for decades. But he's also previously offered a couple of problems that can come with doing the same thing for too long. Blaise Pascal, with four rules for mocking God's enemies These are insightful rules, but worth testing against how God's enemies are mocked in the Bible. Pascal says we shouldn't make things personal - we should mock ideas, not people – but that someone might think it personal doesn't mean it is. A man conducting a "drag queen story hour" might take personal any ridicule of him as a groomer, but would that really be a reason not to do it? Bone growth demonstrates brilliant design When it comes to the human body, and seeing God's fingerprints, we might most often think about the eye, which is truly astonishing. Our bones, however, might get overlooked, because we imagine them to be simple, just supports, hardly more than sticks, right? But no indeed - even your bones, and how they know to grow just so, are unbelievably marvelous! The best-kept secret in preparing kids against pornography "The best kept secret in the fight for your kids’ minds is role-playing. A simple and not very time-consuming activity that costs nothing. Role-playing is practicing difficult situations with your child that might come up as they navigate through a world filled with pornography." Why does Socialism fail? (3 min) Christian economist, Dr. Anne Bradley, offers 4 reasons (for the article version, click above): Socialism doesn't account for self-interest... ...or the importance of incentives Without a marketplace, producers (and socialism's central planners) can't know what products people really want Socialism requires that its all-powerful central planner remain benevolent, which never happens ...
Paul Bartels: from carpenter to high school shop teacher
There are all sorts of reasons to consider teaching and in this interview, conducted with Mark Penninga (and lightly edited), Paul Bartels offers up his own. ***** My story starts in 1998. I was working as a carpenter with my own company. I replied to an ad in a bulletin to go on a Faithworks team and ended up going to the Dominican Republic. While I was there, I met a missionary and thought “I could do this job.” He was a former police officer from the Netherlands and he had made the switch. That is what I ended up doing; for four years my family and I moved down to the Dominican Republic and we ended up building Christian schools with Worldwide Christian Schools (now EduDeo). After four years we knew it was time to come back. Whose kingdom? However, I wasn’t exactly happy about being back. I enjoyed what I did in the Dominican. And for nine or ten years afterward I was really angry with God about being here. At the end of that time, my wife asked me to listen to a sermon from Pastor Hilmer Jagersma, on the petition “your kingdom come” from the Lord’s Prayer. The gist of the sermon was “what are we praying for? Are we praying for our own kingdoms or are we praying for God’s kingdom? What is more important in our lives?” I decided for a month I was going to pray, but I wasn’t going to pray for anything in my kingdom. It was all going to be about God’s kingdom. At that time, I was subbing for a landscaping company and we were building some pretty high-end backyard structures. I had one customer say to me “I don’t really care what it costs, I just want my neighbor to be impressed.” That morning I decided, That’s it, I’m out of this industry. I don’t want to be involved in that. I didn’t think that was good for anyone – I’m building structures that are just to show off. It just played against everything I ever really felt about Christianity. More important than the material I quit and over the next year did some interviews. Then a friend of mine, who was actually the board chairman at asked me if I would consider being the high school shop teacher since I was a carpenter. I said “Nah, I’m looking for a missional job.” He said “well, pray about it.” I went home and talked to my wife and we prayed. A week later I was at a breakfast meeting with one of our pastors and he was standing in line waiting for his food, talking to someone else, and he was saying that if he hadn’t become a pastor, he would be a high school teacher since it was so missional. It’s funny how God works in those situations. I immediately clued in, so I applied, got the job and that’s the reality of it. I think what I was searching for in life was something that had permanent value. I can’t think of anything more permanent than salvation and eternal life and being a catalyst to bring that into people’s life. When I went in for the interview they asked me why I wanted to this. I said “to be honest, I don’t really care about teaching woodworking to kids. That is not my goal. My goal is to teach them about God.” They said “perfect,” so that’s how I got hired. One of the issues that I feel is affecting the draw of teachers – more so for males than females – is “whose kingdom are you working for?” I think that if people would take real stock of what they are working for, they might find that material goods are high up on their list, whereas God’s kingdom is not. That’s really what I’m hearing, and what I experienced in my life. I was a Christian but never really took the time to take stock or just pray about God’s kingdom. I think that is one of the biggest pulls that can influence people to go into a career as a teacher, (or even a pastors) – asking, what are we doing for God’s kingdom, and, is it permanent? Great conversations Hands-on tech students will often have certain characteristics. Some like to be busy, can’t sit in a desk long, and they can’t focus on reading. So, it takes a different style to teach them. By adapting my way of teaching to their style, it gives me a level of creditability. They think “finally, someone who understands us.” That then opens up the possibilities for better discussions. I get to develop a personal relationship with these students. It has been an awesome opportunity. I have had students who have contacted me with some of their problems and we have taken time to pray about it and try to develop their prayer life as well. However, Covid did put a big stomp on that. We often talk about the providence of God and how He looks after us. I think a lot of times we forget about His providence when we go to work on Monday. We need to develop a holistic view of our lives. We’re not just people who go to church twice on Sunday and wear the appropriate clothes. We need to be asking, "What are we really doing with our lives for God’s kingdom?" That is what I’m preaching to people struggling with their careers, and not happy with what they are doing. Maybe there is no enjoyment because you are not doing what God wants you to be doing....
Saturday Selections – Dec. 24, 2022
God's artistry seen from space (8 min) There may be 300 trillion billion stars, planets, and moons in our universe and yet the Earth is likely the on...
In a Nutshell
Tidbits – December 2022
Just ain’t the same “Watching church on a livestream is like watching a fireplace on TV: you can see everything with no warmth.” – Charlie Ki...
Economics - Home Finances
When your finances have you scared
Inflation, rising interest rates, business failure, job losses – there’s no shortage of financial trouble these days. And these all contribute to anxiety and depression and even physical illness. This financial uncertainty has us looking for solutions to our many questions, questions like: Am I being responsible with what God has given me? What will the future bring? Where can I turn for help and advice? What should I do? Others aren’t looking for solutions – some will simply shut down in hopelessness and fear, as a kind of paralysis takes hold, procrastination sets in, and the feeling of financial doom settles over them. TRUST THAT GOD DOES REIGN How, then, do we move from fear to faith? The Bible contains many commands to God’s people not to be afraid. There are more than one hundred imperatives to “Fear not; be strong; be courageous,” and the like. Some commentators suggest that these commands rank second in number only to the commands to love. Why such repetition? The Lord knows we are weak, so He requires that we take hold of Him in faith. Our finances can be a major stumbling block in doing so. We confess that He is our provident God, and that all things come from His Fatherly hand, including prosperity and poverty. But when the prospect of poverty or financial difficulty looms over us, we panic and become fearful, and so we fail the test to trust Him. Likewise in prosperity, one can easily forget that the Lord is the provider of it all. USE WHAT GOD HAS GIVEN YOU Trust does not mean sitting back and doing nothing. The Lord gives us knowledge, wisdom, and the ability to plan. We must do so under His guidance and with much prayer. Proverbs 16:3 tells us to “Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.” We have been given the tools for the job. First of all, we have God’s Word which has over 2000 verses that speak to possessions and finances. The Bible provides us with the principles by which we can think and act in a godly and faithful way, and it gives us direction and solutions. Another tool we have is our basic elementary school education which taught us the essentials of addition, subtraction, division, and multiplication. Basic math can give us many answers. Armed with these tools, we can walk the path the Lord is leading us on. DON’T GO IT ALONE We should not try to do this alone. It should go without saying that we must seek the Lord’s guidance and direction in our finances, except this may not always be the case. Prayerful contemplation needs to be part of our financial exercise. We must commit all our finances to the Lord, rather than trying to sort things out for ourselves, and we do well when we consult His word in all situations. We are told in Proverbs 3:5 to: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” The Lord has also given us many advisers and He tells us to use them. Proverbs 15:22 says: “Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed.” There are many qualified and experienced brothers and sisters in the extended church who are able and willing to help. This may include the Deacons whom God has appointed for circumstances of need, and the ministry of mercy. For many other financial issues there are accountants, lawyers, and experts in investments, insurance, banking, mortgages, etc., and these people are all not much more than a phone call away. Qualified advisors can help us stand back from ourselves and our situation. This is a very important step in the quest for answers and solutions. Many who experience financial difficulty are too absorbed in their own problem to see a clear way out. Objective assessment is an important aspect of decision making. Standing back from your circumstances and understanding the problem in a detailed way, while looking at all the options, and asking lots of questions, will help to settle anxiety and to give comfort in decision making. CONCLUSION In all circumstances, including those relating to our finances, God tells us to turn from fear and anxiety and to look to him for our comfort and help. He provides tools and support in both His Word and his people. Finding solutions in the midst of difficult circumstances may require us to expend a lot of effort as well. Knowing the character of our God, it should provide great comfort when we read in Proverbs 19:21 “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand.” This has been a father-daughter collaboration: Rev. Hank Van der Woerd (MDiv) is emeritus minister (URCNA) and past president of the Mortgage Brokers Association of BC; Maria Dawes CIM CFP is a Portfolio Manager for Capstone Asset Management (www.capstoneassets.ca)....
Top 10 RP articles of 2022
Two news events of 2022 pop up in this Top 10 list, the first unsurprisingly regarding vaccine mandates, and the other a ripple of the astonishing overturn of Roe vs. Wade. C.S. Lewis and John Calvin also make appearances. So, without further ado, here are the best of the past year! Click the titles to check them out. #10 – Why do we suffer? Buddhism vs. Christianity Sharon Bratcher pits the answers these two religions offer. This is an old article that on a previous version of the website had more than 80,000 read it. This last year another 2,000 checked it out. #9 – 20+ Christian fiction suggestions for your 10-15-year-old boys Boys aged 10-15 can sometimes stop reading, so I didn’t want to pitch them run-of-the-mill material. Nope, I wanted to hit them with the best of the best, so what's included here are my top suggestions. #8 – Is recreational marijuana sinful? The answer this question was clearer when marijuana was still illegal. But as John Piper and others help us see, there's still a clear answer to be had. #7 – 10 tools to help pick a good flick You want to have a family movie night, but want to figure out beforehand if the film you have in mind is good or has problems. Here are ten easy to use tools to help you figure it out quick. #6 – Calvin’s Institutes: Which edition should you read? There are three main translations of this pivotal work. So which should you read? #5 – Pro-life memes and cartoons to share With the overturning this part year of the US Supreme Court's 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision which had legalized abortion, there was every reason for Christians to speak up for the defense of the unborn. And here was a small tool in that fight. #4 – The hidden meaning of The Chronicles of Narnia This has been on the yearly Top 10 every year since it was first published in 2020. Cap Stewart explains how we’ve only recently discovered that C.S. Lewis – for his own private amusement because he seems to have never told anyone – linked each of his famous Narnia books to one of the 7 planets as medieval cosmology understood them. #3 – Christianity explains everything...including Reincarnation This didn't make the Top 10 in 2020 when it was first published, but more than 3,000 people checked it out this year. #2 – The RP 52 in 2022 challenge A lawyer, a missionary, and an editor challenged each other to read 52 books in 2022. Find how they did, and all that they read. #1 – A group of 50 BC doctors are challenging Dr. Henry's vaccine mandates in court Reformed doctor Matt Dykstra, and a group of colleagues, have challenged the BC government's requirements for medical personal to be vaccinated or else, in many cases, lose their positions....
THERE'S NO FREE LUNCH – an economic principle Christian teens (& adults) need to know
Small revolutions in schooling are occurring across the world. From homeschooling to microschools, many parents find themselves wanting more for their children in terms of education. Resources are available for independent schooling now more than ever, but some subjects remain difficult to tackle. My own field of economics remains elusive for many educators. Part of the difficulty is that many people don’t know what economics actually is. Many think economics is just composed of principles budgeting and investment. This view of economics and finance being the same is common, but it’s wrong. Instead, economics considers how people interact in a world where there are limited means but unlimited desires. The study of this interaction and the rules that govern it is of fundamental importance for anyone who wants to understand human flourishing, politics, or any topic of social importance. My high school economics teacher used to say, “everything goes back to economics.” Math and science, for example, are the tools people use to accomplish their goals. But the reasons they use these tools are economic. And I can’t think of a better starting point for understanding economics than the concept of opportunity cost. What is an “Opportunity Cost”? One of the most famous phrases in economics is, “there ain't no such thing as a free lunch.” This phrase is meant to illustrate the always present role of opportunity costs. Whenever you make any decision to do anything at all, you’re essentially choosing between two possibilities – your best option and your second-best option. Consider an example. Molly has three offers of how to spend her Saturday evening. She can study for her college algebra final exam, she can babysit for 3 hours at a rate of $15 per hour, or she can hang out with her friends. Let’s say her favorite option is to study, her second favorite is babysitting, and her third pick would be having out with friends. Since studying is Molly’s most urgent desire, she decides to allocate her time that way. But what did she give up? You might be tempted to say she sacrificed $45 and time with friends, but that isn’t really the case. After all, Molly couldn’t have babysat and spent time with friends. So even if she hadn’t studied, she would still have only been able to do one of these other options, so in a very real sense that’s the only option she was sacrificing. In this case, her second favorite option would have been to earn $45 babysitting. So, the “opportunity cost” of Molly’s studying is $45. To say it again, the opportunity cost is the option you value second highest and sacrificed when you decide to pursue your first choice. In this light, we can see every action has a cost. Time spent resting could be time learning or fixing up the house. Another hour of overtime at work is one less hour at home with family. Every time you say yes to one opportunity, that prevents you from accepting another. There is no free lunch. Why does it matter? The concept of opportunity cost is important for people to understand for several reasons. First, opportunity cost helps us understand some of the hard-to-see downsides of certain policies. Consider the income tax. If a government increases the income tax from 25% to 40% this has major ramifications for someone deciding whether they want to work an extra week during the summer for $1,500. With a 25% tax rate, the person takes home $1,125, while at 40%, the person only takes home only $900. Now let’s say this person values their relaxation time as being worth about $1,000 a week to them. Then this tax policy will make a big difference. The opportunity cost of working this week will be the equivalent of what this fellow valued for his time off: the opportunity cost for working would be $1,000. Now with a 30% tax rate, that extra paycheck is worth more to the person than the extra week off ($1,125 is greater than $1,000). But with a 40% tax rate, suddenly the relaxation is worth more ($1,000 is greater than $900)! So, by understanding the concept of opportunity cost, we can also understand that higher income taxes will mean people will work less. Even free comes with a cost Opportunity cost has practical usefulness too. Why is it that sometimes deals sound too good to be true? It’s because implicitly, we all have some understanding of opportunity cost. If a person offers to give you a free car, his opportunity cost is, at minimum, keeping the car for himself. Why would he give it away rather than keep it? Is it possible he is getting something from you? Something having a price of zero dollars is not the same as something being free. When my local ice cream shop offers “free” ice cream, I know there’s going to be a line going out the door. When I take into account the fact that my time is valuable, I realize waiting half an hour in line for free ice cream could have a higher cost than paying the regular $3 but without waiting. To learn more… If you’re interested in learning more about opportunity cost and how it applies in the world, I highly recommend reading Economics in One Lesson. Author Henry Hazlitt does an excellent job of applying the logic of opportunity cost, and the book will only cost you your time (as it is a free download at fee.org/resources/economics-in-one-lesson). And trust me when I say, it’s worth the opportunity cost. Peter Jacobsen is an Assistant Professor of Economics at Ottawa University and the Gwartney Professor of Economic Education and Research at the Gwartney Institute. He has previously written for both the Foundation for Economic Education and the Institute for Faith, Works, and Economics....
Assorted, Church history
Santa Claus at Nicea
As we continue to celebrate Advent, we need to deal with a competing story. But it would probably be more accurate to say that we have to deal with a godly story that has been encrusted with many layers of foolishness. But let us take away those layers, and ask – who was the original Santa Claus? St. Nicholas of Myra (a city in modern-day Turkey) was a fourth-century bishop. He was renowned for his kindliness to the needy and to children. He inherited a large fortune which he gave away, establishing orphanages, hospitals, and hostels for the mentally infirm. Legends spread concerning his generosity, which included him delivering gifts secretly by night. During his day, the famous Council of Nicea was held and, according to one legend, the orthodox Nicholas slapped Arius in the face for his blasphemy. Following the legend, Nicholas was then defrocked for this breach of decorum, but was later reinstated as the result of a vision. It should be obvious to us Protestants that some of the medieval follies concerning veneration of saints were already at work here. The man became a bishop, the bishop became a saint (in the medieval sense), and stories spread concerning his ability to continue on with his generosity, even though he had long been with the Lord. The stories all had many variations, but generosity was at the heart of all of them. These different European stories came to America from many directions, and they all went into our famous melting pot. The Scandinavians brought their conception of him as an elf. The Dutch brought their name for him (Sinterklaas). In 1808 Washington Irving wrote a story of him as a jolly Dutchman. In 1822, a poet named Moore gave us the Night before Christmas getting rid of Irving’s horses and wagon, and subbing in reindeer and sleigh. Then in 1863 the famous cartoonist Thomas Nast gave us the popular conception we see all around us today. The issue for us is not stockings by the chimney, or other harmless customs. But we must learn from this that if we do not tell our stories faithfully, they will gradually change over time until they become quite unrecognizable. With a story like this – one that has in the minds of many supplanted the story of the Christ child – we have to remember that St. Nicholas probably would have slugged somebody over it. Pastor Douglas Wilson’s “God Rest Ye Merry: Why Christmas is the Foundation for Everything” is a wonderfully curious book that not only explains how Santa once punched a guy in the face, but ”why nativity sets should have Herod’s soldiers.” If the yearly repetition has you less than enthused about Christmas time coming yet again, this book is for you, to help rekindle your understanding of, and enthusiasm for Advent and Christmas. This excerpt has been reprinted here with permission of the publisher Canon Press....