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Politics

Being in the room at the Conservative Convention

There’s a line from the musical Hamilton that’s been on repeat in my head: “I wanna be in the room where it happens.” That’s why I attended the Conservative Policy Convention this past September: I wanted to be where the decisions are made that change history. 

Now, it turns out, Canadian history isn’t changed in one room; it starts in 338 rooms across the country. Ridings, rather. In each of these ridings, there is a local Conservative board called the Electoral District Association, or EDA. Each EDA is made up of a group of about 15-30 locals. The EDA hosts local Conservative events and they represent the party to the riding. They also create policies and policy amendments that are voted on at the bi-annual Conservative Policy Convention. And last but not least, they send delegates to the Convention. In other words, the EDA is the voice of the Conservative Party to the riding and also the voice of the riding to the Party. 

Attending the latest Convention as a delegate, I was struck by just how much impact you have when you're willing to show up. So here I am, typing.

Day one was speeches and mingling. On the second day, delegates split into three different breakout sessions: one on social issues, one on economic issues, and one on foreign policy. Here, delegates are deciding what policies will make it to final voting: only 10 out of 20 policies in each session will move forward.

Social issues were the last on the agenda for the plenary voting. The ten that had made it through were voted on by all the delegates. The “for” and “against” sides advocated back and forth until we were ready for a vote. 

  • A new friend had 30 seconds to advocate a policy against child pornography. We cheered so loud we never heard his finish. 
  • A 15-year-old girl spoke against men using women’s spaces. We clapped so emphatically my hands hurt.
  • Finally, my trip was made worth it when we voted against expanding doctor-assisted suicide to youth and the mentally ill. That passed with flying colors.

Now, it’s important to note that party leader Pierre Poilievre isn’t bound to these party policies. Policy Conventions tell leaders what their EDA’s and members care about, and they give principles for decisions made in Parliament – you know, that other important room. But just because policies aren’t binding, doesn’t mean they don’t offer some form of accountability – it doesn’t look great for a leader to ignore their grassroots.

Some of what happened was less encouraging

A policy that would've removed the current abortion policy was short three EDA's votes in order to make it to convention. The policy it would've removed states, "A Conservative government will not support legislation to regulate abortion."

Throughout the Convention, one name kept coming up: Gerrit Van Dorland was a Reformed Christian nominee seeking the Conservative candidacy in Oxford, ON. The former MP had stepped down and the seat was open. Van Dorland was disqualified by an EDA committee from the race, and a fly-in candidate (someone not from the riding) won the nomination.

Van Dorland appealed to National Council, and the majority wouldn’t overturn his disqualification. Three members voted in favor of the appeal and 11 voted against.

Why? The party said that he failed to disclose something in his application. Nobody in the room will/is allowed to say exactly what.

Some people have speculated that Van Dorland was disqualified on a technicality because some of the party leaders had a preferred candidate. Others take it further, saying that Van Dorland was disqualified for his Christian values – but we see other candidates who share those values remain in the party.

One policy voted down in the preliminaries was on the transparency of National Council – that policy would’ve made the whole situation… well, transparent.

Delegates from each province vote in members of National Council. This situation made me realize that National Council can have a big impact on disqualification. Funny enough, a familiar name – former ARPA Canada Lighthouse News anchor Al Siebring – was a name on the Alberta ballot. He lost by less than 30 votes.

In two years, at the next Convention, we will have a chance to vote again – a chance to bring new policies to the table, and to vote again on National Council. With just a few hundred delegates from each province, our votes have a loud voice. In B.C., there was a four-vote difference on two National Council members. In two years, we could also pass that policy on the transparency of council.

More than that, we may yet have the chance to give some anti-abortion policy a standing ovation. 

What we’re told is true – Poilievre doesn’t call himself pro-life, and the Conservative party won’t yet touch abortion. But when you are in the Conservative party, you have the opportunity to shape the Conservative party. What the party looks like in ten years is, in some ways, up to us.

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)....

Indigenous peoples

The Truth matters: analyzing the facts beneath “mass burials” at residential schools

This article was first published in the March/April 2023 issue. ***** "Searches for unmarked graves at the site of a former northern Ontario residential school have uncovered 171 ‘plausible burials’…” That’s what The Globe and Mail reported earlier this year, but it was back in 2021 that the discovery of alleged burial sites next to residential schools first made headlines. Nearly two years ago news agencies, in Canada and around the world, reported that a mass grave of 215 indigenous children had been detected, with the help of ground-penetrating radar, next to a former residential school near Kamloops, BC. Since then, hundreds more “plausible burials” have been alleged at other school sites across the country. But are these plausible burials actual graves? That’s a question worth asking because Truth is critical for pursuing justice and reconciliation. As the Heidelberg Catechism says about the ninth commandment, “I must not give false testimony against anyone…nor condemn or join in condemning anyone rashly and unheard.” Determining the facts about these alleged graves is necessary before making decisions about how to respond, including whether to take part in the resulting initiatives like the “every child matters” t-shirts, flags, and displays. Now that “Truth and Reconciliation Day” is a stat holiday in Canada, and the curriculum in some provincial education systems requires extensive coverage of Indigenous culture and residential schools, Christians can’t stand on the sideline but should be eager to “love the truth, speak and confess it honestly, and do what I can to defend and promote my neighbour’s honour and reputation” (Q&A 112 HC). Fall-out from the discovery In response to the 2021 media reports, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau mandated that all flags of federal buildings fly half-mast (it took over five months before many public buildings and schools brought the flags back to the top of the pole, so that they could be lowered for Remembrance Day). Governments also committed $320 million to fund more research, and another $40 billion towards settlements with students of residential schools. The Pope issued a formal apology on behalf of the Roman Catholic Church (which oversaw the majority of residential schools) and followed that up with a visit to Canada in 2022. Another response was far more vindictive. Over 70 churches have been vandalized or burned to the ground in Canada since the “discovery” of these “mass graves.” The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights called the situation “a large scale human rights violation” and Amnesty International demanded that those responsible for the “remains” that were “found” be prosecuted. Ironically, even China piled on to the calls for an investigation. Beyond the political response, the public rallied to show their concern with “every child matters” displays, often featuring 215 orange flags to remember the lives lost. The local Roman Catholic school that I walk past regularly has replaced its Canadian flag with an orange “every child matters” flag, and many of the storefronts in my community still featured the “every child matters” message, even over a year after it first became a news story. An "Every Child Matters" rally at the Vancouver Art Gallery on July 1, 2021. (Picture by GoToVan and licensed under a CC BY 2.0 license.) Digging for answers Solomon tells us that “The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him” (Prov. 18:17). Unfortunately, the Canadian mainstream media, academia, and politicians, refuse to ask basic questions to confirm the truth of these serious allegations. Why this lack of journalistic inquisitiveness?  It’s because few issues are as politically charged and culturally sensitive in Canada today as Indigenous affairs. When Senator Lynn Beyak attempted to defend some positive things accomplished at residential schools, the attacks were so swift and strong that she chose to retire rather than face imminent ejection from the Senate. But some smaller publications have dared tread where Canada’s mainstream press hasn’t. In an essay in The Dorchester Review titled, “In Kamloops, not one body has been found,” Jacques Rouillard, professor emeritus in the Department of History at the Université de Montréal, asked: “After months of recrimination and denunciation, where are the remains of the children buried at the Kamloops Indian Residential School?” In a detailed article on the topic by the New York Post, the local First Nations band confirmed that indeed, no bodies have yet been exhumed, and there are not plans to start digging or to share the report from the radar. The Post also revealed that these discoveries were made very quickly, and with little accountability. The band hired a young anthropologist named Sarah Beaulieu on May 17, 2021, who scanned the site from May 21-23, and the band announced its findings already on May 27. “Beaulieu said that remote sensors picked up ‘anomalies’ and what are called ‘reflections’ that indicate the remains of children may be buried at the site,” reported the Post. “My findings confirmed what Elders had shared,” Beaulieu said. “It’s an example of science playing an affirming role of what the Knowledge Keepers already recognized.” The “Knowledge Keepers” is a reference to the Indigenous elders, who pass on their history orally. Indeed, science can affirm oral history. Yet for it to be trustworthy, scientific inquiry includes a peer review process and investigations to substantiate a hypothesis. And the investigations made public to date aren’t helping with building trust. An in-depth report called “Graves in the Apple Orchard” has since been published anonymously by someone who knows the site and its history intimately. The report includes detailed maps and drawings of excavation work that was done at the residential school through the last century, and how it correlates with the sites of the “anomalies.” While anonymous sources are understandably suspect, this one cited his sources. The National Post’s Terry Glavin also spoke to the source and confirmed that he had some expertise in this area as “an architectural consultant who specializes in site inspections.” The source wished to remain anonymous because “his company does work with First Nations.” Some of the report’s findings include: “Since the rumours of a graveyard began, more than 30% of the orchard has been excavated. Archaeologists have been active on site since the 1980s, conducting excavations and monitoring construction work. Deep trenches have been cut straight across the orchard and a sewage lagoon was excavated from the entire southwestern quadrant. No graves have ever been discovered…. “In July of 2021, Dr. Beaulieu admitted that 15 ‘probable burials’ were actually ‘archaeological impact assessments, as well as construction.’ Evidently, well documented site work was not accounted for in her initial survey. Several of the remaining 200 ‘probable burials’ overlap with a utilities trench dug in 1998, as can be seen in drone photography captured after the GPR survey. Still other ‘probable burials’ follow the rout of old roads or correlate suggestively with the pattern of previous plantings, furrows and underground sewage disposal beds…. “Given that the apple orchard is deeply textured by centuries of human activity, how can it be said that Dr. Beaulieu’s targets are more ‘probably’ graves than probably other features of human activity? “With more than 30% of the orchard already excavated, is it probable that a staggering 200 burials were missed?” Professor Jacques Rouillard, again, in The Dorchester Review, detailed how quickly the allegations became a new narrative. “From an allegation of ‘cultural genocide’ endorsed by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) we have moved to ‘physical genocide,’ a conclusion that the Commission explicitly rejects in its report. And all of this is based only on soil abnormalities that could easily be caused by root movements, as the anthropologist herself cautioned in the July 15 press conference.” At least one Indigenous scholar from BC is asking similar questions. The New York Post also spoke with Eldon Yellowhorn, professor and chair of the Indigenous Studies department at Simon Fraser University. A member of the Blackfoot nation, Yellowhorn grew up on a reserve where many of his family attended residential schools, before becoming an archeologist and anthropologist. He was hired by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to search for and identify grave sites at residential schools since 2009. “I can understand why some people are skeptical about the Kamloops case,” Yellowhorn told the Post. “This is all very new. There’s a lot of misinformation floating out there. People are speaking from their emotions.” He added that “The only way to be certain is to peel back the earth and ascertain what lies beneath. We have not gotten to the point where we can do that. It’s a huge job.” Unfortunately, there seems to be little interest in substantiating just how “plausible” these graves are.  Justice and reconciliation require truth Nobody disputes that some children died while attending residential schools, and that these schools bear blame for some of these deaths. The accompanying story from the Lejac residential school in 1937 is an example of this. But that story also shows that when four children tragically died after trying to run away back home in the freezing cold, the matter was investigated swiftly and thoroughly, and the school was appropriately chastised. The story was shared across the country. An effort was made to discover the truth and to enact justice. It is possible that some of the “anomalies” detected by the ground-penetrating radar are indeed burial sites. And it is also possible that some unmarked graves hide injustices that were perpetrated against Indigenous children at these schools. The many proven examples of sexual abuse by Roman Catholic leaders (as well as those from other denominations) have legitimately eroded the trust of the public towards this church’s care for children. The 2007-2015 Truth and Reconciliation Commission was a nine-year effort by the Government of Canada to travel across the country, listen to 6,500 witnesses, and facilitate reconciliation with former students and their communities. It also led to the creation of the National Center for Truth and Reconciliation, an archive of the data obtained during the commission. It found 49 children who died between 1915 and 1964 at the Kamloops residential school. Records have been found of 35 of these students, 24 of whom were buried at their homes and four in Kamloops. Although the data is not complete, it is a far cry from allegations of hundreds of missing children. Scripture speaks strongly in defence of the vulnerable, including the widow, orphan, and the immigrant. The young boys and girls at residential schools, separated from their parents, and under intense pressure to abandon their culture, definitely qualify as vulnerable. And Christians of all kinds now publicly recognize that it was wrong, even wicked, for the government to forcibly separate children from their parents. But the fact that evil was committed at these schools does not mean that the only appropriate response to new allegations can ever be an assumption of further guilt and evil at these institutions. In this broken world, it doesn’t take long to find evidence of abuse and other forms of evil in most institutions. It is then reasonable to compare and assess. (For example, according to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission findings, the death rate in residential schools between 1921 and 1950 is twice as high as the general population, though between 1950 and 1965 it was comparable to the Canadian average for youth age five to fourteen.) Truth and reconciliation are laudable objectives that align with Scripture. The truth should be welcomed, and the facts acknowledged. When necessary, this should lead to an acknowledgment that claims made were wrong, and efforts made towards restitution and repentance. When truth is verified, trust is built, and a foundation exists for genuine justice and reconciliation. To go deeper: Find an extensive analysis by Terry Glavin in his May 26, 2022 National Post article “The year of the graves: How the world’s media got it wrong on residential school graves.” 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....

News

Saturday Selections – Sept. 23, 2023

This is why you don't ask children to "choose" their gender Back in 2007, Barbara Walters interviewed a family and their 7-year-old boy about his supposed journey to "becoming" a girl. Walters was uncritical, accepting that a child could change genders, and accepting that a child could understand the implications of all the surgeries, the chemicals, and the sterility, that were going to be inflicted on him. Click on the link above to learn about the tragic journey of "Jazz Jennings" and where he is now. Click on the video below to see a 30-second explanation of how insane Jazz's parents and Barbara Walters were. This is why you don't let children choose their gender pic.twitter.com/wBTlE7hkWq — Mario Nawfal (@MarioNawfal) September 15, 2023 Quick tips on how to read better and faster.... but not necessarily more "I would like to show you how you can read less, more — and twice as fast. It’s based on one simple idea: It’s better to thoroughly read and absorb one or two good books than 'finish' five or ten by reading them cover to cover and then moving on." Long-term thinking: 5 lessons for Christians from the life of Elon Musk "I believe the great weakness of our generation of Christians is our lack of a long-term outlook... "When I look at the inspiring, yet ultimately misguided, aspirations of people like Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos I can’t help but wonder at the impact believers might have if we rediscovered the long-term mindset that God intended for us." Does "Net Zero" make sense?  "American taxpayers will spend $50 trillion (about $150,000 per person) to avoid 0.009 ℃ of warming. A high school student could tell you that this makes no sense...." In Luke 16:26-33, Jesus talks about the cost that comes with following Him. That's the point of the passage, but He mentions in passing something applicable to climate change too, that counting the cost before you set out on an expensive project is just common sense. Combatting climate change comes with an enormous cost and seemingly insignificant benefits. Consider what other benefits $50 trillion could buy, if it were spent elsewhere. Clean drinking water for millions, just to mention one possibility. Gen Z isn't okay (10-minute read) Dr. Jean Twenge is a psychologist whose 16-year-old daughter does not have social media. Why? Because girls today with social media are lonelier and more depressed than ever. 5 reasons not to follow your heart How's "just follow your heart" working out for us? Maybe we need to start looking for a more awesome, more knowledgeable, more loving guide... ...

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. ...

Christian education, News

How’s this for a graduate profile?

Marcus Schroeder had 4 minutes to call his city to repentance. The 19-year-old was ready. **** As parents, teachers, and students, we put a lot of energy, prayer, money, and time into our Christian schools. So, after it’s all done – after the 12 years are completed – what are we hoping our graduates will be equipped to do? What’s our measure of success? Some schools have a “graduate profile” that highlights certain skills or attitudes it expects every student to leave with. It's great to have that written down, but it’s even better when those expectations are being modeled. And this past summer a 19-year-old down south offered up this different sort of graduate profile. Over the course of just a few days, Marcus Schroeder modeled what a young Christian can do when he’s both well-educated and eager to take on whatever challenges come at him.  As Christian activist Jason Storms recounted the story on the Apologia Radio podcast, this teen was one of a couple hundred Christians who demonstrated against the Watertown, Wisconsin’s second annual “Pride in the Park” festival. The July 29 event was billed as: “loads of family entertainment, including a Children’s Dance Party, Drag Story Hour, 2 Drag shows.” A typical drag show will have a guy in a campy dress and perhaps lingerie, gyrating on stage, pretending to be some bimbo-esque sort of woman. This one promised to be family-friendly, so perhaps the gyrating was kept to a minimum. Now we’ve gotten so used to our upside-down world, we might not even be shocked that the gyraters got protected and the protesters got arrested. We should be shocked. As God tells us, our rulers are supposed to pursue righteousness and punish evil (Prov. 16:10-12, Ps. 72). Instead, police moved in on Schroeder as he was standing on the sidewalk outside the event. They arrested him after he used a microphone and speaker to start reading Galatians 5 out loud. As Storms recounts it, the teen was charged with “unlawful use of amplification and resisting arrest.” I don’t know what the city’s noise bylaws allow or ban, but as a viral video of the arrest shows, Schroeder’s resistance amounted to tensing his arms for the first 10-20 seconds of the confrontation as the first officer tried to grab the mike from him. In arresting him, the authorities made a big deal out of what was at worst a minor infraction. Their heavy hand didn’t intimidate the young man. Just days later, Schroeder took the opportunity to address his city council. He didn’t take a long time. What he said was remarkable: “I just wanted to ask a simple question. A Nazi group showed up at the event Saturday, and people were talking about that, and I just wanted for all of us to really think about this: what's wrong with Nazism? Seriously, what's wrong with Nazism? “Because imagine for a moment, that there is no God above us, no hell below us, no heaven to live for, as John Lennon wanted to imagine. If we are truly the result of evolved stardust, and our ancestors were fish, and we're the descendants of monkeys, then where do we find our value as human beings?  “What's wrong with Nazism, unless you understand that the God of Scripture says that we are made in His Image, and so to murder innocent people is a violation to God's commands? As a Christian I can say that what the Nazis did in Nazi Germany was completely horrific and that they should have been resisted. In fact, the number one people group that resisted the Nazis were Christians. And the reason why was because they had a worldview that says that people are made in God's Image and that they have worth and value. That's why Nazism is wrong. “But if we're going to reject the Christian worldview then we can't hold on to the fruit that comes from the Christian worldview, while denying the actual foundation. “Intolerance is an interesting word – tolerance/intolerance, hatred/love, bigotry, things like that – because really every culture has something that it's intolerant towards and something that it's tolerant of. I mean there are things like murder and rape and stealing that we are intolerant towards as a society. And so, every society has something that it’s intolerant towards. The question is just what is our object of intolerance, and what is our object of tolerance? “When I showed up Saturday all I did was read from Scripture on the sidewalk. I read from the Bible, Galatians. And, by the way, I wasn't reading Romans 1. I wasn't reading any passage that spoke against homosexuality or anything like that. I was reading a passage from the Bible about love and I was arrested. No reason. Not given any warning. Not told anything about my amplification needing to be turning down. I was arrested and taken into custody simply for reading the Bible on the sidewalk. “You see, as we become more and more tolerant of sexual immorality in our culture, we've become more and more intolerant towards Christian morality. And the more we become intolerant towards Christian morality the more we're going to see lawlessness in our streets. The more we become intolerant of Christian morality, the more we're going to see Nazis, the more we're going to see people who don't hold to a Christian worldview, who think that everybody is a result of animals, and therefore if we are animals then why can't we just act like animals? “We were called a hate group. We were told that we don't want to understand the other side. I just want to set the record straight. I am more than happy to have that conversation with the other side. I did speech and debate throughout high school and one of the things that we were taught in debate is that you can't make an argument for your side until you're able to make the argument for the other side. I've sat down and had hours of discussions with LGBTQ activists. I completely understand the other side; I want to understand the other side.  “But drag queens twerking on kids in lingerie is unacceptable and that's something that we have to notice as a culture. We can have our disagreements but there comes a time when we have to understand that we are all going to stand before God one day and we're going to have to give an account for what we have done with the children in our society, the innocent minds and the children who deserve to be protected. Thank you.” Isn’t this… glorious? Marcus Schroeder has been gifted by God with some exceptional talents. It’s just as clear that he’s been gifted with an exceptional education. That’s, then, the goal for our own graduate profile. We can pray that God will so equip us, that we can gift our own children with an education that’ll allow them to take on the world with confidence. Picture above is a screenshot from the Apologia Radio podcast with Marcus Schroeder. ...

Dating

Dude, where’s your bride?

As I speak at different venues across the country, one of the recurring questions I get comes from women, young women in particular. Their question usually goes something like this: “What is up with men?” These aren’t angry women. Their question is more plaintive than petulant. I’m not quite sure why they ask me. Maybe because they’ve read Just Do Something and figure I’ll be a sympathetic ear. Or maybe they think I can help. They often follow up their initial question by exhorting me, “Please speak to the men in our generation and tell them to be men.” Boys aplenty, but where are the men? They’re talking about marriage. I have met scores of godly young women nearby and far away who wonder “Where have all the marriageable men gone?” More and more commentators – Christian or otherwise – are noticing a trend in young men; namely, that they don’t seem to be growing up. Recently, William Bennett’s CNN article “Why Men Are in Trouble” has garnered widespread attention. The point of the post is summarized in the final line: “It’s time for men to man up.” Sounds almost biblical (1 Cor. 16:13). Virtually every single single person I know wants to be married. And yet, it is taking couples longer and longer to get around to marriage. Education patterns have something to do with it. A bad economy doesn’t help either. But there is something even more befuddling going on. Go to almost any church and you’ll meet mature, intelligent, attractive Christian women who want to get married and virtually no men to pursue them. These women are often in graduate programs and may have started a career already. But they aren’t feminists. They are eager to embrace the roles of wife and mother. Most of the women I’ve met don’t object to the being a helpmate. There just doesn’t seem to be a lot of mates to go around. What’s going on here? Why are there so many unmarried, college graduated, serious-about-Christ, committed-to-the-church, put-together young women who haven’t found a groom, and don’t see any possibilities on the horizon? Women can make things more difficult... Maybe women have impossible standards. That is a distinct possibility in some circumstances. I’m sure there are guys reading this thinking to themselves, “I’ve pursued these young women, Kevin! And they pushed me over the edge of the horizon.” Some women may be expecting too much from Mr. Right. But in my experience this is not the main problem. Impossible standards? Not usually. Some standards? Absolutely. On the other end of the spectrum, some women may be so over-eager to be married they make guys nervous about showing any signs of interest. There is a fine line between anticipation and desperation. Men don’t want to spot the girl they like inside David’s Bridal after their first date. The guy will panic – and be a little creeped out. ...but there's a serious problem with the guys This path of prolonged singleness is a two way street. But I think the problem largely resides with men. Or at least as a guy I can identify the problems of men more quickly. I see two issues. 1. Where's the drive? First, the Christian men that are “good guys” could use a little – what’s the word I’m looking for – ambition. Every pastor has railed on video games at some point. But the problem is not really video games, it’s what gaming can (but doesn’t always) represent. It’s the picture of a 20-something or 30-something guy who doesn’t seem to want anything out of life. He may or may not have a job. He may or may not live with his parents. Those things are sometimes out of our control. There’s a difference between a down-on-his-luck fella charging hard to make something out of himself and a guy who seems content to watch movies, make enough to eat frozen pizzas in a one room apartment, play Madden, watch football 12 hours on Saturday, show up at church for an hour on Sunday and then go home to watch more football. I don’t think young women are expecting Mr. Right to be a corporate executive with two houses, three cars, and a personality like Dale Carnegie. They just want a guy with some substance. A guy with plans. A guy with some intellectual depth. A guy who can winsomely take initiative and lead a conversation. A guy with consistency. A guy who no longer works at his play and plays with his faith. A guy with a little desire to succeed in life. A guy they can imagine providing for a family, praying with the kids at bedtime, mowing the lawn on Saturday, and being eager to take everyone to church on Sunday. Where are the dudes that will grow into men? 2. Where's the commitment to Christ? The second issue is that we may simply not have enough men in the church. Maybe the biggest problem isn’t with nice Christian guys who lack ambition, maturity, and commitment. Maybe we have lots of these men in the church, but they’re all married and there aren’t enough of their brethren to go around. I don’t know which is the bigger problem, the lack of good men or the lack of men in general. It’s probably a combination of both. The church needs to train up the guys it has. And by “training” I don’t mean “clean ‘em up, plug ‘em in the singles ministry and start matching them up with a spouse.” I don’t believe most unmarried Christians are looking for a church community full of Yentas. But a church full of godly, involved, respectable, respected, grown up men? That’s a project worth undertaking. What we can all do to help So, what can be done about the growing tribe of unmarried women? Four things come to mind. Everyone, pray. Pray for a joyful accepting of God’s providential care, believing that godliness with contentment is great gain. If you are single, pray more for the sort of spouse you should be than for the sort of spouse you want. Pray also for the married couples and families in your church. If you are married, pray for the single people in your church, for those never married and those divorced or widowed. All people everywhere, pray for ways to start serving the Lord now, no matter what stage of life you are in or wish you were in. Women, don’t settle and don’t ever compromise on requiring solid Christian commitment in a husband, but make sure your list of non-negotiables doesn’t effectively exclude everyone outside of Mr. Darcy. Churches, don’t make church one giant man cave or machismo, but think about whether your church has been unnecessarily emasculated. Do you challenge and exhort? Do you sing songs to Jesus that men can sing with a straight face? Does “fellowship” at your church always focus on activities men don’t typically excel at, like sitting around and talking about how you feel? Does your church specifically target the discipling of men – particularly young men in high school and college? Grab them young and get them growing up in their teens instead of their twenties. Men, you don’t have to be rich and you don’t have to climb corporate ladders. You don’t have to fix cars and grow a beard. But it’s time to take a little initiative – in the church, with your career, and with women. Stop circling around and start going somewhere. It’s probably a good idea to be more like your grandpa and less like Captain Jack Sparrow. Even less like Peter Pan. Show some godly ambition. Take some risks. Stop looking for play dates and – unless God is calling you to greater service through singleness – start looking for a wife. This article first appeared on The Gospel Coalition blog is reprinted with permission of the author....

News

Saturday Selections – Sept. 2, 2023

Cessationist trailer Click below for the trailer of a great new documentary that takes on "cessationism," the belief that the miraculous gifts of the New Testament have ceased happening. But have they? Pentecostals say no; most Reformed denominations says yes.... though we also acknowledge that God still performs miracles today (and, in fact, we regularly ask Him to miraculously intercede). This will be available for streaming on Sept 22. Does therapy even work? Talking to someone else about our problems is powerful. But secular psychology can only aim to answer, "What's going on inside of me?" and can't point us outward, to the God who made us. Free parents' guide to TikTok Axis is a Christian organization that specializes in resources meant to take a parent from knowing nothing about a new technology, app, or cultural trend to knowing enough that they can talk knowledgeably about it with their teenagers. And they manage this in a guide that takes just 10 to 15 minutes to read. Check out their TikTok guide in article form by clicking above or read it as a pdf booklet here. 1,600+ scientists, plus a couple Nobel laureates say climate "emergency" is a myth This says less than it might first seem to: 1,600 is a large number, but not compared with all the scientists who haven't backed this petition (or, at least, not backed it yet). Also, how many of them even have expertise in this field? But what the 1,600+ do offer, and the two Nobel Laureates as well, is a good counter to the notion that the "debate is over" and that only the uneducated could think different. John Piper: "life-changing moments come in sentences and paragraphs" (10-min read) "What I have learned from about twenty years of serious reading is this: sentences change my life, not books. What changes my life is some new glimpse of truth, some powerful challenge, some resolution to a long-standing dilemma, and these usually come concentrated in a sentence or two. I do not remember 99 percent of what I read, but if the 1 percent of each book or article I do remember is a life-changing insight, then I don’t begrudge the 99 percent." Yo-Yo magic This is the winning performance from last month's yo-yo world championships. This below is Division 1A where they use a long string. For 4 more division champions – including one where the yo-yo isn't even attached to the string! – check out the article linked in the title above. ...

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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Unless the Lord builds the house

"...but Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to Me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.’” – Matt. 19:14 ***** A baby was laid into my arms this last week – a little baby boy. His name was Bo Anthony. Bo means “to live” and Anthony means “precious one” or “priceless one.” The parents, my granddaughter Emma, and her husband Sam, told me they would teach Bo to live for the precious One, that is, for Jesus. They also told me that the name Anthony had been chosen in honor of his great-grandfather, Anco, my precious husband. Anco went to be with the Lord last December 2022. I cherish the name my grandchildren chose for their son. They are letting God build their house. Bo lay in my arms. He was a warm, little bundle of soft, cuddly flesh. Full of his mother's milk, he slept contentedly, totally oblivious to his great-grandmother. Trustingly he fit into the crook of my right arm. Feeding a newborn is a full-time commitment. Breast milk is ideal. Babies don't need cereal, cookies, or steak. They need milk. All infants in Christ need milk, not solid food. Feeding on the basic nutrients of God's Word, covenant children grow into maturity, grow up into salvation (1 Pet. 2:2). This is the way God builds houses. Solomon was very aware of this. He composed and sang Psalm 127. Verses 1 and 2 of this Psalm drip with milk and read: Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep. A world in need of milk Bo's birthdate in June of 2023, marks almost one quarter of the way through this twenty-first century. There are many, many people walking about on this century's streets whose houses have not been built by God. They have never swallowed, or have even heard of, God's milk. These folks hide behind cell phone technology, behind laptops and social media. They are, although not usually willing to admit it, unhappy, insecure, unsure, and generally afraid to engage in personal conversation about eternal life and eternal death. The economic outlook today is somber, marriage is on the decline, families are becoming a minority, and most children have no idea that they have been created in the image of Almighty God. Science is touted, Climate Change has morphed into a god, Wokeism is on the rise and politics and the justice system appear to be infiltrated with bribery and power hunger. All of these are served up on the world's platter resulting in a woefully meager diet for the soul. Worshipping self-reliance, the world has turned away from God. Their toil, their anxiety, and their daily striving is all in vain. Touch and being touched Baby Bo grasps my fingers with his tiny hand. His grip is solid and it is amazing to think that such a small hand, barely a week old, can clutch mine so firmly. God has endowed this chubby hand with sensitivity. The threshold of touch, that is to say, the amount of gram weight it takes for a person to sense that an object has come into contact with the skin, has been measured. Although the back of the forearm is triggered by 33 milligrams of pressure, the back of the hand is activated by 12 milligrams. But the fingertips, the fingertips are most sensitive and are stimulated by a mere 3 milligrams. Bo continues to squeeze my fingers. Hebrews 11:6 tells us that without faith it is impossible to please God, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists. J.C. Ryle calls faith the hand by which the soul lays hold on Christ and is united to Him and saved. Will little Bo's hand grow in strength? Will that strength be planted in his heart by the Holy Spirit? And how will those lilliputian fingers react to the daily things with which it will come into contact? There are many things which will touch baby Bo. We can look back over our shoulder at history and note that bygone civilizations have totally disappeared – civilizations such as the Babylonian, the Egyptian, the Roman, as well as the empire of Alexander the Great. These powers have long been erased from the map of the world. But others have taken their place. Civilizations always come and go. In Bo's lifetime he will possibly behold the collapse of a number of regimes, as well as the demise of temporal millionaires – men such as Soros, Bezos, Gates and Musk. And he might perceive the dissolution of international godless organizations such as the WEF and the WHO. These regimes, these men and organizations, are all building cities without God. They will all try to touch Bo. They will all try to shape his thoughts. And they will all try to align his values with theirs and position their principles as his. Baby Bo snuggles into my arm. It is obvious that he is comfortable and feels safe with the embrace he experiences. Touch studies have been conducted with monkeys. In one such study eight baby monkeys were put into a large cage containing a terry cloth mother and a mother figure made out of wire mesh. Both surrogate mothers were fitted with milk flow. Four babies were taught to nurse from the terry cloth mother and four from the wire mesh mother. But all eight babies exhibited a strong need for the terry cloth mother. The four who had been taught to drink from the wire mesh mother went to her only for the feeding. They spent the remaining time hugging, grasping and stroking the terry cloth mother. Intimate soft body contact was essential. As a matter of fact, continued studies showed that many baby monkeys, deprived of warm touch, cowered in the corner of their cages and died. Dr. Paul Brand and Philip Yancy, in their book Fearfully and Wonderfully Made (Zondervan, 1980), record a remarkable truth. They chronicle: “As late as 1920, the death rate among infants in some foundling hospitals in America approached 100 percent. Then Dr. Fritz Talbot of Boston brought from Germany an unscientific-sounding concept of 'tender loving care.' While visiting the Children's Clinic in Düsseldorf, he had noticed an old woman wandering through the hospital, always balancing a sickly baby on her hip. 'That,' said his guide, 'is Old Anna. When we have done everything we can medically do for a baby and it still is not doing well, we turn it over to Old Anna, and she cures it.' “When Talbot proposed this quaint idea to American institutions, administrators derided the notion that something as archaic as simple touching could improve their care. Statistics soon convinced them. In Bellevue Hospital in New York, after a rule was established that ill babies must be picked up, carried around, and 'mothered' several times a day, the infant mortality rate dropped from 35 percent to less than 10 percent.” Exercising our muscles The church is the body of Christ. It is a house built by God. It is a house that should be touching and carrying the ill, lonely and feeble in prayer care. It has been constructed by God, and should be a visible manifestation of His commandments. Jesus often touched people when He healed. His touch radiated love, power and hope. The church, the body of Christ, is fearfully and wonderfully made. As I hold baby Bo on my lap he stretches out his tiny arms above his head, giving me an unprompted smile. There are many sorrowful things going on in this world in which he has been placed by God. Jealousy, envy and fear are etched on the faces of countless members of society. Commandments, freely and lovingly given by God, are held up to be inaccurate. Truth is hidden and people are afraid to speak up for truth for fear of being called bigots or racists. The world has become a dark, dark place. It needs light. Seventy separate muscles contribute to hand movements. Little Bo has no inkling as yet that God has endowed him with such a gift as seventy separate muscles in both his right and his left hand. But a muscle must be exercised for it to grow and to work. Will he exercise his hands under the management of his Lord and Savior? Before Bo was born, God planned this little child's life. He has given this baby God-fearing parents and He has placed milk in his crib via his mother's breast and God's Word. In this way He gives His beloved children sleep. Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. So Proverbs 22:6 tells us. It is a sobering responsibility,­­ and a wonderful promise....

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Getting old(er)

“Getting older is so tough - I get tired after just a small amount of work or fun.” “I lost 4 teeth right after I turned 60.” “I exercised to make my knees feel better and ended up messing up my back.” “My hip goes out more often than I do!” “‘Grow old along with me, the best is yet to be.’ Hah!” ***** At my Inter-City Christian High School reunion, we were all wide-eyed with wonder to even try and grasp the fact that it had been 50 years since some of us had seen one another. I was proud of myself for guessing the name of each person accurately, but it did take me a minute. Some of them looked older than I did. Some were in better physical shape. Some had gone through terrible difficulties, diseases, and operations that I wouldn’t even want to imagine. Yet we all talked about how God has blessed us and brought us through trials throughout all five decades, and how our Christian schooling/Bible curriculum laid a foundation that enabled us to face all that we went through. We praised God together! We thought about Psalm 37:25 that says: “I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging for bread.” But not everyone was there. My best friend Robin died at age 43 and three other classmates out of our class of 24 have also passed on. I’ve said it, and so have many of my friends: we don’t like getting older. But someone always counters that sentiment with, “Well, what’s the other option?” We are ready to go to Heaven and live with our Lord. But we also love our spouses, kids, grandkids, and friends. Though we sing about the joy we will know in Heaven, whenever another body part fails us, we head for the doctor and pharmacy for another bottle of “Stay Here.” God continues to care for us as we age People fear death, and aging destroys our independent, strong self-image. Every ad promises that a product or experience will make us “feel and look young again.” We are tempted to feel sorry for ourselves when we lose the abilities that we were previously blessed to have. We might even feel ashamed because we cannot carry the same load. It becomes difficult to drive at night, walk very far, get up the stairs, or move furniture. Our weeks fill with frequent medical appointments. We start to experience pain, and we forget names, items, and events. It hurts our pride, and we think or say, “You should have seen me when I was 25!” There is a tendency to think that the “good old days” were somehow better than now. It seems like our Western world is more sinful – or is it just that the sins are more public now? In Ecclesiastes 7:10 we are reminded: “Say not, ‘Why were the former days better than these?’ For it is not from wisdom that you ask this.” Those who do not know the Lord Jesus as their Savior must grieve the loss of their youth for they have no God to turn to for comfort, wisdom, or strength. They fear death. But we need not act like them. While it’s not enjoyable to be in pain, hospitalized, or extremely tired all the time, our Lord promises, “I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you” (Is. 46:4) and “He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength” (Is. 40:29). We have a loving Good Shepherd who takes care of His sheep. We are not alone! And if we are reading God’s Word and worshipping at a Biblical church, we will know the truth of 2 Corinthians 4:16 where the Apostle Paul encourages us: “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.” As our bodies become more and more “corrupt,” we are moving towards receiving our “incorruptible” bodies! How does God want us to view the aged? In our Western culture, it isn’t popular to regard the aged with honor and respect. It’s no wonder that the elderly (sometimes even Christians) worry that they will become a burden to their families. God knew the sins that we would be prone to, and so He gives us commands to treat the aged with high regard: “Wisdom is with the aged, and understanding in length of days.” – Job 12:12 “You shall stand up before the gray head and honor the face of an old man, and you shall fear your God: I am the Lord.” – Lev. 19:32 “Listen to your father, who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old.” – Prov. 23:22 “Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity.” – 1 Tim. 5:1-2 How does God expect the aged to act? If one reads the headlines on the magazines near the grocery store checkout counter, a consistent theme expressed is this: you worked hard raising kids and working at your job and taking care of your family all those years – now it’s your turn. It’s time to sit back and relax, or travel, or do what you want and make yourself happy. The sad news is that too often this call to self-centeredness has been adopted by aging Christian people as well. It’s not wrong to travel or to participate in favorite activities, especially when the daily tasks of parenthood have ended. It’s the attitude that isn’t right. What does God say that the aged (retirees?) should do? “They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green…” – Ps. 92:14 “Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness.” – Titus 2:2 “Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.” – Titus 2:3-5 “Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, my God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your mighty acts to all who are to come.” – Ps. 71:18 Rather than deciding that we have “done our bit,” we should do all that we are still capable of to glorify God and declare His power to the next generations. Conclusion When we grow older, God is not finished with us, and we are not finished with our work here. As the Westminster Catechism states it, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” If our purpose in life is to glorify God, then there is nothing that can thwart our purpose in life! Even in difficulties and illness, even in progressively physically falling apart, we can and should glorify God. We can still pray, read or listen to God’s Word, encourage others by phone call or letter/email, teach others, sing praise, give money, perhaps make a meal, or write edifying words. As the Apostle Paul said in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10: “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.’” We don’t like being weak. But we who know the Lord need not fear! We can take comfort and draw strength from the Heidelberg Catechism Lord’s Day 1 which begins by asking, “What is your only comfort in life and death?” The answer is certainly for the aging as well as the youth who memorize these awesome words: “That I am not my own, but belong with body and soul, both in life and in death, to my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ. He has fully paid for all my sins with His precious blood, and has set me free from all the power of the devil. He also preserves me in such a way that without the will of my heavenly Father not a hair can fall from my head; indeed, all things must work together for my salvation.” Sharon L. Bratcher has collected 45 of her RP articles into a book which is available by contacting her at [email protected]...

News

Saturday Selections – Aug 19, 2023

Click on the titles below to head to the linked articles. What grandma's chili recipe tells us about the trustworthiness of the Bible We don't have the original manuscripts of the Bible, so how do we know that what we have is accurate? Todd Friel explains by way of this really helpful analogy. Using the climate change scare to promote abortion As author Tom Harris shows here, climate catastrophists have long been telling us that children are a curse on the planet, and not the blessing that God declares them to be (Ps. 127:3). That their solution is clearly wrong also gives us reason to suspect their diagnostic abilities. Canadian offered death as a "treatment option" for her mental health crisis  She came looking for help, was told none was to be had, and was offered "medical assistance in dying" instead. Evolution is "settled science"? Really? Which theory of evolution? "Darwinian evolution assumes much of what it needs to be explained. For instance, consider the origin of light-sensitive cells that rearranged to become the first eye, or the blood vessels that became the first placenta. How did these things originate? According to one University of Indiana biologist, 'we still do not have a good answer. The classic idea of gradual change, one happy accident at a time,' he says, 'has so far fallen flat.'"  Pastoring in a pandemic: of grey hair and glory "I am not against those who decided to defy the government. They were, I believe, seeking to honor God. Many times I wanted to just say enough is enough. But I hope those (in America) who promoted their faithfulness can also appreciate that there was another type of faithfulness happening that was perhaps even more challenging in certain respects..." How has John Calvin influenced WORLD magazine? In this 2009 clip, former WORLD editor Marvin Olasky explains how John Calvin influenced his Christian news magazine. What he says about WORLD is, in large part, what we aspire to here at RP too. ...

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