Soup and Buns
Friends or acquaintances?
Loneliness can make you pretty sad. In lonely times, you may ponder your relationships and realize that they are superficial. Perhaps you have wanted to strengthen them and not known how. Perhaps you have tried, but you have not yet been successful. It may be that a little analysis and understanding could head you in the right direction.
In the realm of relationships, there are four categories that people fall into: strangers, acquaintances, companions, and friends. Strangers are those whom you haven’t met yet; the other three categories can somewhat overlap.
Acquaintances and companions
Acquaintances are people whom we have met. They may be neighbors, fellow students, customers or co-workers. They may also be the majority of the members of our church. We know them by sight and reputation, and may feel comfortable having a conversation with them. The level of the conversation is usually superficial, pleasant, and relevant to our activities or the weather.
Companions are the people whom we are together with in a specific group. We function together because we are together. But as soon as we graduate, retire, or move away, we rarely stay in touch with most of them. The group defined our activities and without its structure, we drift apart.
Friends are on a level above these categories. Some will be close and one or two may get the title of “best friend” within your lifetime. Friends enjoy, love, and encourage you. They stick by you in difficult times, and are never an intrusion. Friends don’t keep track or keep score. Friends understand you and share your deepest griefs and your highest joys. They help when necessary and possible. This connection rarely disappears, for even if busy friends live far apart, they still value contact.
I read about a tribe in an African country where each person is assigned a friend when he is young. This person is his official best friend, and they are to care for one another throughout their lives. It is considered as sacred a relationship as marriage. What a remarkable way to honor friendship, instill loyalty, provide security and prevent loneliness! The people there didn’t move away from home, so outside of death, this friendship was a certainty in a person’s life. It was stability, a fact to be counted upon.
To call everyone a “friend” on a daily basis is sometimes easier than trying to subdivide into all of these categories. But it can be helpful to analyze and determine which of your companions you might like to encourage to become your friends.
From one to the other
How do you change the categories?
A friendship must be built. Proverbs 18:24 states, “A man that has friends must show himself friendly.”
From this we learn that selfless effort is the way to get started. I'll note it is somewhat like a dating relationship, even as I'll quickly add I am not talking in any way about a sexual attraction. Two people are determining whether the other person’s company is worth an investment of their time. Usually one person is more proactive in pursuing the relationship at the beginning. It helps to know that. This is not necessarily because the friendship is undesired by the other party. Rather, it is just because the other person is busy, isn’t as eager for company, or is kind of lazy about that sort of thing. Let’s face it, it’s easier to relax at home than to get out and interact with people.
Think about your companions and choose someone who might be “friendship material.” Now it is time for both action and patience. Think of an activity that you might enjoy together and call with an invitation. Or just call to say hello and talk for a while. If it goes well, try it again after a week. Take joy in the slow progress, and be patient because depth takes time. If nothing comes of it, still give it a try at another time, and/or choose someone else to befriend.
Don’t be discouraged if the person doesn’t issue invitations to you or initiate the call, as long as he or she is glad to hear from you and spend time together. Some people aren’t good at initiating but they enjoy responding.
On the other hand, if you are accustomed to responding and not initiating, and you really want friends, you might want to pray for courage to get the process going instead of feeling sad that no one is calling you. As we put forth the efforts to build friendships, we can also pray and ask God to provide for us in this way, because a friend is a gift from God.
We should also realize that others may need to have our care and friendship. It is important not to get so caught up in our own little worlds that we neglect growing closer to the members of our congregation.
This first appeared in the December 2007 issue of Reformed Perspective.
Saturday Selections - Feb. 4, 2023
How different athletes act at home (4 min) Some fun goofiness to share with the kids... though only if you don't mind some imitation. Jack Phill...
In a Nutshell
Tidbits – February 2023
What Darwin didn’t know Darwin, ignorant of the inner workings of the cell, could imagine them to be simple. But the more we learn of the cell toda...
Saturday Selections – Jan 28, 2023
British comic on climate change (7 min) Comedian Konstantin Kisin went viral in mid-January for his common sense counter to climate change hysteria. What we can learn about sacrifice from John Calvin’s "School of Death" "If any of our seminaries today were nicknamed 'The School of Death,' they would be empty!" Denmark secretly inserted IUDs in Greenland's women for decades In a 15-year span, from 1963 to 1978, Greenland's fertility rate dropped from 6.74 births per woman to just 2.21, and it was due in part to Danish doctors secretly and systematically chemically sterilizing Greenland women. While the world doesn't know how such a widespread evil like this is even possible, John Stonestreet offers an explanation above. Lord Acton offers another: "all power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely." A Christian response to an arrogant government's abuse is to urge citizens to minimize its powers. Instead of expecting our governments to run not only justice and defense, but healthcare, education, the overall economy, and even whether we should have children, we should demand our elected leaders control much less. When a government is forced to acknowledge it doesn't know better than its own citizens how best to run their lives, that humility can counter the temptation to abuse its powers. And should it still succumb, a smaller government won't have the power to do harm on this scale. 8 ways we normalize the abnormal The world is normalizing certain sins, but as Paul Tripp notes even Christians – orthodox Bible-believing Christians – are busy normalizing our own sins. 8 times C.S. Lewis displayed brilliant political commentary in the Chronicles of Narnia Peter Jacobsen shares "what Narnia can teach us about politics in our own world." A key difference between social justice and biblical justice (4 min) Voddie Baucham says that one big difference between the two is how they each define "injustice." ...
Population of the world’s largest country begins to decline
For the first time since the early 1960s, deaths have outnumbered births in the world’s largest country – over the course of 2022 China’s population shrunk by 850,000. This development was a long time coming, as the country has seen a steady decrease in births since the 1970’s. That is thanks in part to China’s One-Child Policy, which stayed in force till 2015, and which penalized parents for having more than one child. The Communist government has been trying to reverse the downward trend since then, but with no success. China’s fertility rate is a dismal 1.28 children per woman, and still decreasing each year. To simply stay stable, a country’s fertility rate needs to average out to 2.1 children per woman, the two children to take the place of their two parents in the next generation, and the .1 to account for the fact that not all children reach adulthood. According to the Globe & Mail’s coverage: “no country has successfully reversed birth-rate decline, which tends to track with development, as wealthier, urbanized populations choose to have less children.” “China’s demographic and economic outlook is much bleaker than expected,” demographer Yi Fuxian commented in response to these findings. China is realizing quickly what Psalm 127:3 proclaims: “Children are a heritage from the LORD, offspring a reward from Him.” However, even as China is being confronted by this truth, Canada and much of the Western world continues to discourage children and is relying on immigration to keep the population and economy stable or growing. But where are these immigrants coming from, and what happens when these countries too need people? And if no country has been successful with reversing a decline, what happens when the world’s population begins to decline, as is expected later this century? Through birth, fostering, and adoption, Christian families have an opportunity to show to the world the gift that life is....
Science - Creation/Evolution
How does the world explain the origin of life?
or, highlighting the problems with a Naturalistic explanation ***** Naturalism can be defined best by what it doesn’t believe: in the Supernatural; it denies the existence of God. That means that all naturalists are left with to explain all that exists, why we exist, and how we came to be is Nature and natural laws. And that presents them with a problem. Nature cannot provide us with an explanation for abiogenesis – life coming from non-life. You don’t have to take my word for it – this is also acknowledged as a foundational problem by many scientists, sometimes explicitly, and sometimes only by the irrational arguments they’ll offer as an alternative to acknowledging God. In what follows I’m going to share both the publicly acknowledged problems with naturalistic abiogenesis, as well as some of the theories the world has proposed to address those problems. Both are revealing. The RNA problem In paleontologist Peter Ward’s book Life As We Do Not Know It, he addresses how RNA (or ribonucleic acid) – because it is simpler than DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) – is theorized as an evolutionary step in the development of DNA. But, Ward notes: Amazingly, one of the major criticisms of RNA life…the hypothesized last common ancestor of all DNA life, is that it probably did not exist because it would have been impossible to build RNA through natural chemical processes. Paul Davies notes: .… ”without a trained organic chemist on hand to supervise, nature would be struggling to make RNA from a dilute soup under any plausible prebiotic condition.” Or, as organic chemist Clemens Richert wrote in the Dec 12, 2018 edition of Nature Communications: Experimentalists in the field of prebiotic chemistry strive to re-enact what may have happened when life arose from inanimate material. How often human intervention was needed to obtain a specific result in their studies is worth reporting. When Diego Maradona was asked about having used his hand to score a goal in the quarter-finals of the 1986 soccer World Cup, he initially claimed that there had been divine intervention, and the term “Hand of God Goal” was coined. – There had been manual intervention, and there had been an understandable interest of the player not to admit it. – Organic chemists, if not all experimentalists in the field of prebiotic chemistry, are faced with a similar dilemma. We do our best to perform experiments that we believe re-enact possible steps of prebiotic evolution, but we know that we need to intervene manually to obtain meaningful results. Further, the ideal experiment does not involve any human intervention. He also frankly said: Understandably, this has drawn the ire of those who feel that no or only minimal intervention is allowed for a process to be called prebiotically plausible. After all, it is not easy to see what replaced the flasks, pipettes and stir bars of a chemistry lab during prebiotic evolution, let alone the hands of the chemist who performed the manipulations. (And yes, most of us are not comfortable with the idea of divine intervention in this context.) Whether divine intervention or human intervention, there’s a conscious entity doing the intervening. So even if our friends were to succeed in creating life in the lab, that would only demonstrate that intelligence and deliberate intent are needed to create a living thing. I'm glad this issue is explicitly acknowledged. Every honest Origin of Life (OOL) researcher will agree fully. It’s one thing for highly trained chemists to create RNA in a lab, but another thing entirely for unaided Nature to accomplish the same. Especially considering that Nature is not trying to make RNA, and has no intention of doing so. The multiverse “solution” But, if the researcher is committed to Naturalism and atheism, then he has no choice but to maintain a strong (and unrealistic) faith that Nature did it anyway, even though he knows it’s not possible. One such researcher, Eugene Koonin, resorted to “an infinite multiverse” as a potential way out of this problem. This is the view that supposedly, anything that can happen will happen in an infinite multiverse, and this would also include the chance origin of life. In a 2011 book, The Logic of Chance: the Nature and Origin of Biological Evolution, he added this: The origin of life is one of the hardest problems in all of science, but it is also one of the most important. Origin-of-life research has evolved into a lively, interdisciplinary field, but other scientists often view it with skepticism and even derision. This attitude is understandable and, in a sense, perhaps justified, given the “dirty” rarely mentioned secret: Despite many interesting results to its credit, when judged by the straightforward criterion of reaching (or even approaching) the ultimate goal, the origin of life field is a failure – we still do not have even a plausible coherent model, let alone a validated scenario, for the emergence of life on Earth. Certainly, this is due not to a lack of experimental and theoretical effort, but to the extraordinary intrinsic difficulty and complexity of the problem. A succession of exceedingly unlikely steps is essential for the origin of life, from the synthesis and accumulation of nucleotides to the origin of translation; through the multiplication of probabilities, these make the final outcome seem almost like a miracle. “Almost like a miracle” is a frank admission of what OOL entails. Nevertheless, in the same book, Koonin continued to cling to the multiverse hypothesis as a guaranteed solution to the problems involved with OOL. Here’s the summary of Koonin’s argument, in his own words: Simply put, the probability of the realization of any scenario permitted by the conservation laws in an infinite universe (and, of course, in the multiverse) is, exactly, one.... Thus, spontaneous emergence of complex systems that would have to be considered virtually impossible in a finite universe becomes not only possible but inevitable under MWO … What he’s saying is that if you have an infinite number of universes then anything, no matter how improbable, not only can happen, but will happen… in some universe somewhere within the multiverse. Including naturalistic abiogenesis. According to Koonin (and some “Many Worlds” physicists who agree with him), in some universe somewhere right now, there’s a guy who’s a practicing neurosurgeon, a janitor, and the lead actor in a recent blockbuster movie – simultaneously. He owns 271 cars, and is married to his high school sweetheart (who happens to be a princess from a tribe of highly-advanced super-beings). Their son adopted a pet chimpanzee named Wilson, while their twin daughters are ballistic missile experts in the local galactic army. No, this isn’t a hypothetical story I just made up. Or, rather it is, but according to Koonin’s logic these things are actually going on right now as we speak, in some universe somewhere. The pet chimp is also very clever, and has learned how to fly a helicopter, among other things. Now think about this trained monkey trying to synthesize life in a chemistry lab. What are the odds of him succeeding?? Exactly. But even the monkey has a better chance than a prebiotic Nature which has no intent or purpose whatsoever. In any case, simply postulating an infinite multiverse in an attempt to overcome the problem does not help – Koonin doesn’t put forth any mechanism whereby life could be naturally synthesized, but just makes the bold assertion that it must certainly happen given a multiverse. Time is no solution Another factor that is usually seen as a possible helper for abiogenesis is Time. If Nature has billions of years to work with, she should be able to eventually get the right combination to the safe, right? No, not at all. That would be akin to claiming a blind engineer could invent a BMW, or a Model-T Ford, given billions of years to live and try. It’s clear why time isn’t the problem. The blind engineer actually has better odds in this analogy than Nature does, since he at least knows what he’s attempting to accomplish. The language/information problem The origin of life gets all the more complicated when we realize it also necessitates the origin of information, and the origin of a language to convey that information. I could employ many quotes here concerning what information is, but I like how physicist and information theorist Hubert Yockey put it in this simple statement: The meaning, if any, of words, that is, a sequence of letters, is arbitrary. It is determined by the natural language and is not a property of the letters or their arrangement ... For example, "O singe fort!" has no meaning as a sentence in English, although each is an English word, yet in German it means, "O sing on!" and in French it means "O strong monkey". Like all messages, the life message is non-material but has an information content measurable in bits and bytes. Or, as chemistry professor Michael Polanyi already noted way back in 1958, in his book Personal Knowledge: Information in the DNA could no more be reduced to the chemicals than could the ideas in a book be reduced to the ink and paper: something beyond physics and chemistry is encoded in DNA. The origin of encoded genetic information is also assumed to have just happened miraculously under the multiverse scenario. Information here isn’t just the physical nucleobases, or even their sophisticated ordering alone, but the ribosomes’ understanding of the language, and their ability to decode and use those instructions to build the specified proteins. And then we have multiple regulatory genes in addition, which are all information networks. There’s actually a $10 million challenge out there still ongoing, for anyone who can demonstrate a set of coded information that didn’t originate from a mind, i.e., that can be spontaneously generated by Nature. The judges include well-respected biologists George Church and Denis Noble, and the Royal Society has also gotten involved recently. No one has claimed the prize (find out more in the 2 minute video below). The complexity problem Most of us don’t actually know, much less appreciate, the number of things that need to be done in order to arrive at the “simplest” cell. Nature has no goal or aim or plan to create a cell. The fact that highly trained, highly intelligent chemists still can’t do it, speaks volumes. So how is it that some lay naturalists and even some with degrees think all that’s needed is lots of time, and then Nature will eventually produce a living cell? The sheer amount of intellectual effort that goes into OOL research is more than impressive, and we still can’t make life ourselves – we can’t pull it off. But a mindless prebiotic Nature with no intention of creating a cell somehow did? Consider the ingredients needed to make a basic candy. Here’s the list for Skittles: Sugar Corn syrup Hydrogenated palm kernel oil Citric acid Tapioca dextrin Modified corn starch Natural and artificial flavors Colors (Red 40 Lake, Titanium Dioxide, Red 40, Yellow 5 Lake, Yellow 5, Yellow 6 Lake, Yellow 6, Blue 2 Lake, Blue 1, Blue 1 Lake) Sodium citrate Carnauba wax Now consider just a miniscule piece of a Skittle. Would Nature alone be able to synthesize and assemble the ingredients needed to make a tiny piece of a Skittle? No. Never. Not in ten billion years! But many adults believe Nature somehow synthesized and assembled everything that’s needed to make a living, metabolizing, self-replicating cell. The extraterrestrials “solution” But what if we were to claim that life on earth resulted from panspermia – that Extraterrestrials (ETs) seeded the first life on Earth? This is indeed what some among our SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) friends propose. Well, then they’d have the problem of explaining how Nature produced those ETs. As Richard Dawkins wrote in The God Delusion: …there are very probably alien civilizations that are superhuman, to the point of being god-like in ways that exceed anything a theologian could possibly imagine. Their technical achievements would seem as supernatural to us as ours would seem to a Dark Age peasant transported to the twenty-first century…In what sense would they be superhuman but not supernatural? In a very important sense…the crucial difference between gods and god-like extraterrestrials lies not in their properties but in their provenance. Entities that are complex enough to be intelligent are products of an evolutionary process. No matter how god-like they may seem when we encounter them, they didn’t start that way…They probably owe their existence to a (perhaps unfamiliar) version of Darwinian evolution. Saying ETs put the first life on Earth still keeps us inside the box of Naturalism. And then Nature still has to create and evolve the ETs, so the abiogenesis problem – how life can ever have come from non-life – remains. Then there’s at least one scientist in peer-reviewed publication who also thinks panspermia by ETs isn’t a good enough proposal. Brig Klyce concedes there’s one of two possibilities: “supernatural intervention or intelligence” (aka God) or that cellular life has existed from eternity This concession appeared in a paper (“Cause of Cambrian Explosion – Terrestrial or Cosmic?” in the August 2018 edition of the journal Progress in Biophysics and Molecular Biology) that Klyce co-authored with more than a dozen other scientists. He believed “that the complexity and sophistication of life cannot originate (from non-biological) matter under any scenario, over any expanse of space and time, however vast.” But if that’s so, then how is life here? Rejecting the possibility that God was involved, Klyce then proposes this: A strictly scientific way around this dilemma would be to amend or tweak the big bang theory to allow for life from the eternal past. After all, the big bang theory is relatively new and still occasionally amended. Therefore, it seems unready to forever overrule the unviolated principle and consistent evidence that life comes from life. Yes, that’s an actual suggestion from a peer-reviewed secular scientific paper – that life started here from a universe before the big bang. So either God did it, or self-replicating microbes have always existed. The difference between the two proposals is that: God is an eternal Supernatural This is logically consistent and plausible, and even a metaphysical necessity to avoid an infinite regress of causes. On the other hand, proposing an eternity of replicating microbes, each of which had a beginning and an end, is trying to say that abiogenesis never happened because there was no “first ever microbe.” But things that have a beginning still need to have an explanation for that beginning. Trying to hide that behind an infinite regression isn’t an answer to this problem. Conclusion For decades, highly trained experts have been striving to create life from scratch, using the raw materials found in nature. They have yet to succeed. Even if they did eventually succeed somehow, that would only demonstrate that a high level of intelligent input is needed to create biological life; which is what we’ve been saying the evidence has always shown. Proposing an infinite multiverse where “anything that can happen will happen” is an unsubstantiated assertion with no empirical evidence whatsoever, and doesn’t offer a mechanism for abiogenesis or even address the issue that Nature has no intent to create life. The suggestion that microbial life has always existed and self-replicated is a logical absurdity, since there can be no such thing as an infinite regress of causes. Thus in the question of God vs Naturalism, there is no question as to which answer is absurd. Kenechi Okoli is a Christian who loves science, and in his free time he enjoys reading, music, and cooking. While he lived for over a decade in the US, he now resides in Nigeria....
Economics, Science - Environment
Thinking on the margin, or why some pollution is better than none
Another economic principle Christian teens (& adults) need to know ***** An important aspect of economics is counting the costs of an action or purchase, and, on the flipside, also evaluating the benefit that could result. With these two concepts, cost and benefit, we can understand how people make their decisions. When the benefit of taking an action is greater than the cost, people will take that action. For example, if buying a soda would bring you $3 worth of enjoyment, but it only costs $1, then you’ll choose to buy the soda. And afterwards, if you’ve had your fill of soda, you might hardly enjoy another soda, and perhaps value it at just a quarter. So of course you then won’t buy it for $1. What is “marginal thinking"? This example illustrates the meaning of the concept of marginality. When economists use the term “marginal benefit,” they are referring to the benefit added by the last unit purchased – in this case the last soda. Another example: when you decide whether to work for another hour, you don’t consider the cost and benefit of all the hours you already worked. Instead, you consider the cost and benefit associated with the final (or marginal) hour under consideration. So when you “think marginal," then think about the cost and benefit of “one more unit.” And whether people realize it or not, we all engage in marginal thinking. Imagine you’re deciding to buy an ice cream cone. Let’s say a single scoop cone costs $2, and every additional scoop costs 50 cents. When deciding whether to buy a single scoop you have to compare how much benefit you get from the single cone to the cost of the cone ($2). So long as you value the single scoop cone at more than $2 you buy it. When the marginal benefit of an action is greater than the cost, people will do that action. What about the second scoop? Well, each scoop is 50 cents, so you’ll choose to buy the second scoop if you enjoy it at a value more than 50 cents. You’ll keep purchasing more scoops but at some point, another scoop just won’t be worth another 50 cents to you, so you’ll stop. Why does it matter? So hopefully you understand marginal thinking, because now we have to consider why it matters. Marginal thinking is valuable in all sorts of applications. For students, marginal thinking can help you prioritize your studying. I always tell my students that, if their goal is a good GPA, they shouldn’t spend much time trying to improve their grade from a 96% to a 98%. Why? First, both grades are an “A” so the marginal benefit to your GPA is nothing. Also, once your grade is already high, it’s much more difficult to move it up. Therefore, the cost is high and the marginal benefit is low. Most students would be better off dedicating their time to working on a class where they have a 79% since the cost is lower – just a little more study could boost them up a letter grade – and the marginal benefit is higher. In Luke 16, Jesus tells the story of a man who manages the money of a rich man. The manager is going to be fired because of his wasteful practices. When he discovers this, he forgives the debtors of his master to make friends before he’s fired. Jesus tells us in Luke 16:8a, “The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly.” In 16:9 He goes on to give the meaning of the parable, “I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.” The point of the parable is not that we should be dishonest in our dealings. Instead, it’s that we should use our resources shrewdly for the Kingdom. Christians are called to be good stewards of the resources we are given, which includes our time. As the studying example above illustrates, effective use of time requires the ability to consider the relevant costs and benefits of a given decision. There’s a “good” amount of pollution and crime? Marginal thinking is also valuable when it comes to thinking about policy. Economists have a pithy saying: the efficient amount of anything is not zero. It’s tempting to believe bad things should be eliminated completely. For example, many people would likely support the phrase, “politicians should eliminate pollution.” But imagine what it would mean to eliminate the very last “units” of pollution. Almost every vehicle, either personal or those used for transporting goods and services, relies on some form of pollution to operate. If we had zero pollution, our grocery stores would receive zero food deliveries because we wouldn’t have semi-trucks, and they would receive zero visits from us, because we wouldn’t have cars. Elimination of all pollution, at least at this point, would result in most of humanity returning to subsistence conditions – the cost is too high, and thus that is a “purchase” we shouldn’t make. Of course, some pollution should be eliminated. If a factory is dumping toxic waste into a public river, the cost of allowing the pollution to continue is very high. As strange as it might sound, the efficient amount of crime is also not zero. Imagine how much money and how many resources would need to be spent to ensure zero crime. We’d need a police officer on every street corner 24/7. Think of how high your taxes would need to be to support those pensions! Surely taxpayers have other priorities with higher marginal benefits than preventing some minor traffic violation. No Nirvana naivete This sort of logic can be summarized neatly by saying economics as a field is inherently opposed to the Nirvana fallacy. The Nirvana fallacy is the mistake that is made when people compare the real world to an unrealistically ideal alternative. We would all like to get a grade of 100% in every class and live in a world without crime or pollution. But these are unrealistic desires for this world. A solid understanding of marginal analysis complements the Christian understanding of our fallen world. When politicians offer us a vision of a world where all bad is eliminated, a clear understanding of marginal analysis provides us with an argument for why such a world is out of reach. Economists Armen Alchian and William Allen rightly summarize this in the foreword of their book Universal Economics. They say: “since the discouraging fiasco in the Garden of Eden, all the world has been a place conspicuous in its scarcity of resources, contributing heavily to an abundance of various sorrows and sins. People have had to adjust and adapt to limitations of what is available to satisfy unlimited desires.” In sum, marginal thinking helps us better understand the nature of our own decisions. When applied properly, this way of thinking provides a more sober view of the important decisions we make in our personal lives and in the public square. Peter Jacobsen is an Assistant Professor of Economics at Ottawa University and the Gwartney Professor of Economic Education and Research at the Gwartney Institute. He has previously written for both the Foundation for Economic Education and the Institute for Faith, Work, and Economics....
Saturday Selections – Jan 21, 2023
Should we force all men to get vasectomies? (3 min) Since the overturning of the US Supreme Court Roe vs. Wade decision – the ruling that originall...
Book excerpts, Book Reviews, History, Human Rights, Politics
The bad king that prompted the Great Charter
How Robin Hood’s nemesis Prince John was the impetus behind the Magna Carta In this excerpt from “A Christian Citizenship Guide” by André Schu...
Sperm counts plummet
An Oxford Academic journal has found that human sperm concentrations have dropped an average of 51.6% in the past 45 years, from 104 million to 49 million sperm per milliliter of semen. The findings are based on data from 223 papers that looked at sperm samples from 57,000 men from 53 countries worldwide. Declines in concentration were seen throughout the world, and the rate of decline seems to be increasing – to 2.64% annually since the year 2000. According to a report from the Guardian, previous studies suggested that sperm count begins to affect fertility when it decreases beneath 40 million per ml. Reactions to the study have been mixed, with some experts arguing that we need better data to determine with certainty that sperm counts are decreasing. There also isn’t clarity on what may be causing the decline, with suggestions including chemicals or environmental factors that are impacting the development of preborn boys. Others suggest that smoking, drinking, and a poor diet all contribute. It's important to note, though, that while the fertility rate has been plummeting throughout the world since 1963 – when it was 5.3 children per woman, compared to about 2.3 today – this decline is not because couples are unable to have children. Rather, through abortion and birth control, children simply aren’t welcomed into many lives any more. Canada’s rate is a dismal 1.4, meaning that our population would be plummeting if not for immigration. The very first command God gave to humanity was “be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth” (Genesis 1:28). Young men and women, let’s not get old trying to discern God’s will for our lives when much of His will is printed in black and white in His Word. Find a godly spouse, get married, and embrace the gift of children if you are able. He knows what is best for us....
USS Meredith Victory: the “Gallant Ship”
There was nothing about USS Meredith Victory that would make it stand out from the crowd. The ship was a cargo vessel, built as part of the merchant marine during the Second World War. It was 455 feet long from bow to stern. The width at the widest point was a mere 62 feet. To give that context, a Canadian football field is 450 feet long from the farthest part of the endzone to the tip of the other end zone, and 195 feet wide. The Meredith Victory was not an especially big ship. The ship, however, was destined for a brief moment of fame. During the Korean War, the vessel was sent to bring supplies for the troops of the United Nations forces. With the Chinese invasion in December 1950, United Nations and South Korean forces were pushed to the brink. Close to 100 ships, including Meredith Victory, were sent to the port of Hungnam to evacuate 100,000 troops and as many of the 100,000 civilians as possible. Leonard LaRue, captain of Meredith Victory, offloaded any cargo or weapons that had been on board and set off for the port in order to accommodate as many refugees as he could. Room for two dozen On December 22, his vessel was guided through the minefield in the harbor by a minesweeper, and was then left to load passengers. Meredith Victory normally had a crew of 35, with 12 officers, and bunks for up to 12 additional passengers. There was food, water, and sanitation supplies for only that small complement of 59. By the time the ship had been fully loaded, around 11 the next morning, Meredith Victory had brought on approximately 14,000 Korean civilian refugees. No one would have blamed the captain if he had left the port hours earlier, leaving many of the refugees behind. The ships that had escorted Meredith Victory safely in had left during the night, making the vessel’s trip out through the minefield extremely perilous. All around, United Nations ships were shelling the port in order to deny it to the enemy forces. Yet Captain LaRue stayed until his ship was, literally, standing room only. Left vulnerable without a military escort, the ship arrived in the port of Pusan on Christmas Eve. First Mate D.S. Savastio, with only basic first aid training, had delivered five babies en route. Despite the bitter December cold, the lack of light or heat in the holds, and the fact that many were forced to stand on the ship’s deck shoulder to shoulder due to overcrowding, there were no injuries. However, Pusan already had its own problems with refugees, and was only able to accept those injured before boarding the ship. Meredith Victorysailed another 50 miles to Geoje Island, where it was able to unload the refugees on Boxing Day, December 26. Seeing rightly begets bravery After the war, the South Korean government awarded the ship the Presidential Unit Citation. An act of the U.S. Congress gave the vessel the title “Gallant Ship.” And the Guinness World Records group has called the event the largest evacuation from land by a single ship. Considering when it happened, it’s tempting to look at this story as a Christmas Miracle, the kind you might find in a Hallmark movie. The description certainly fits. However, it’s worth noting that Leonard LaRue, the captain of Meredith Victory, said that he believed “God’s own hand was at the helm of my ship.” His words are backed up by his later decision to give up the sea in favor of a life in a monastery. While that was a wrong turn, it’s clear that LaRue saw his life, and the lives of these thousands of others, as gifts from God. So he cherished them. And took enormous risks to try to protect these fellow Image-bearers. Faith isn’t a guarantee of success, but trusting God fully can be the catalyst for us to show love to others – even at great risk to ourselves – because we know that come what may, God’s got us. James Dykstra is a sometimes history teacher, author, and podcaster at History.icu “where history is never boring.” Find his podcast at History.icu, or on Spotify, Google podcasts, or wherever you find your favorite podcasts....
Saturday Selections – Jan 14, 2023
Blue hair as a death sentence? A few years ago headlines declared that Iceland had nearly eradicated Down syndrome. But they hadn't eradicated the syndrome - they were killing those with it. Paul Ehrlich: wrong on 60 Minutes and wrong for 60 years In Deut. 18 God provides a test for a prophet that's pretty simple: if what he says doesn't come true, then we don't need to worry about him. That's a principle that has ready application in the global warming debate as well, and specifically when it comes to Paul Ehrlich. He's a scientist who has been off the mark for almost 60 years now, always predicting imminent doom, but who was recently given a platform on the American news program 60 Minutes to make his same old predictions once again. As Peter Jacobsen explains, he gets it so wrong because he sees only the cost of having children, and overlooks how they are a blessing. What is music for in corporate worship? "Music is a gift of God, a unique way of connecting His revelation with our hearts and minds. St. Augustine is thought to have said, 'he who sings, prays twice.' The Church must recover a more robust understanding and practice of music." More concerns with projectors in church "Using screens for worship devalues Scripture and the Book of Praise as merely books we read and sing from. Not physically using a Bible may result in not knowing which books are OT and NT, where the Minor Prophets are, the five books of Moses, or the Four Gospels...." How competition got my third grader reading Boys don't read. Boys are competitive. So what if we pitted the boys against the girls in a reading contest? This would need to be carefully done, with, most likely, a lesson included about winning and losing graciously - ie. competition sans trash talk. But could it work? Jordan Peterson says no to Ontario's thought police Jordan Peterson is in trouble again, and this Australian article is a great outsider's perspective. Why so many movies have a "Christ-like figure" in them (10 min) Pastor Jake Mentzel explains why Christ-like figures pop up in so many blockbusters. And it's not, he notes, because these movies are so insightful. This could be a great one to share with the kids, to show them that when a story – film or book – features a self-sacrificing figure, that doesn't mean it is deep... or good. ...
Is it time to leave Canada?
I had to answer this question in front of a live, though physically distanced, audience in Toronto in the fall of 2021. The presentation occurred in the midst of numerous Covid restrictions and concerning developments in Canada’s Parliament and legislatures, including a proposal to criminalize “conversion therapy.” Since then, the hypothetical has become a reality for some Reformed families, who have decided to uproot and move to the USA, and Marty VanDriel is sharing some of their stories in this issue’s feature article. While talk is cheap, action often inspires others to action. Their decisions to leave is provoking many of us to search our hearts and make our own decision about whether to stay or think seriously about relocating. If I were to follow my heart or even my mind, it wouldn’t be too hard to convince me to move, especially if the new location comes with a warmer climate and a few palm trees thrown in. Yet I also know we are called not to follow simply our hearts, but God’s Word and law (Ps. 119) and to “test the spirits to see whether they are from God” (1 John 4:1). God’s Word makes it clear that whether we stay or leave, what should ultimately motivate us is the furtherance of His kingdom, not our own. Don’t look for Heaven on Earth C.S. Lewis once said that “if we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.” So when our hearts long for a better place than Canada, that longing isn’t a bad thing. It only means we are pilgrims, looking for a country of our own (Heb. 11:14). We just shouldn’t be fooled by the hope that the USA, or any other region of this world, is going to satisfy that longing. The problem with going to a new location is that we take ourselves with us. And that is a problem because “the heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure” (Jer. 17:9). A change of location doesn’t change our broken condition, as much as we may want it to. Although some places in this world may have more freedom than Canada, there isn’t a place on the planet that is free of the effects of the fall into sin. And even if one location is better than another, it might be just a matter of time before that changes, especially because it will attract people like ourselves, stained with sin even before we were born (Ps. 51). God wants the Earth filled and the Gospel spread This doesn’t mean that we have a divine mandate to stay put. On the contrary, God has given humanity two commissions or mandates, and both come with a calling to move. God’s first instruction to humanity was the cultural mandate to “be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it” (Gen. 1:28). As beautiful as Eden was, God didn’t want Adam and Eve’s children to stay there. They were instructed to inhabit the entire earth. When we fast-forward to Genesis 11, we read about people starting to move eastward and then settling down and deciding to build a city, “otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth” (Gen. 11:4). In response, God confused their language and “the LORD scattered them from there over all the earth” (11:8). He didn’t want them to get comfortable. At the end of Christ’s ministry, He gave us another commission – the Great Commission – which once again included a global focus, to “go and make disciples of all nations” (Matt. 28:19). The apostles wasted little time and brought the Gospel throughout the known world. Centuries later, that Gospel reached our forefathers. Without people obeying that call to spread their wings, the Gospel wouldn’t have reached us. Reaching the world without leaving the country Canada has recently seen a massive influx of immigration and is set to welcome 500,000 more immigrants every year. That means we don’t need to move to a different continent to reach others. God is sending them to our own neighborhoods. And even though Canada has a Christian heritage, even most of the children growing up in this country don’t know the basics of the Gospel message. In northern BC, where my family currently lives, many communities still don’t have access to faithful Gospel preaching. When we think about where to settle down, we often look at where our relatives are, where job opportunities may be, and the cost of real estate. These things matter a great deal, as we have to first be responsible for our own families. But many of us are capable of relocating. In fact, technology has made it easer than ever to work and study in other places. Speaking from my own experience, our family has been able to stay very connected to the family members that we left a thousand kilometers away. So if Canadian Christians are able to move, instead of looking at other countries, why not consider Prince George, BC, Niverville, Manitoba, or Powassan, Ontario? These communities have small Reformed church plants that are eager for more members. It may not be as attractive to head to communities where the climate is colder, where there aren’t established Reformed schools, and there’s little or no family or friends. But that is how most Reformed communities in Canada started just 50-70 years ago. We already know the language and the culture, we have skills that we can utilize immediately and there are often jobs waiting. In other words, although it may not stir our hearts in the way that a full-time mission position overseas may, moving to these communities is practical and impactful for God’s kingdom. Seek the welfare of the country where we have been placed Whether we stay or go, it is helpful to keep in mind that throughout the ages, most of God’s people had little choice about where they would live. They had to work to survive and didn’t have the luxury of uprooting. That is true of many of us today too. Even if we wanted to move to a better country or a different community, it doesn’t mean that country would allow us to come or that a move would work for our spouse or children. When God’s people were forced to uproot in the Babylonian exile, God’s instruction to them through His prophet was to “build houses and settle down” and “seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile“ (Jer. 29:5,7). Regardless of where we settle, these are words we can still take to heart. God’s people are generally encouraged to “live as a believer in whatever situation the Lord has assigned to them, just as God has called them” (1 Cor. 7:17). But, lest we conclude that God intends that we just accept our situation, only a verse later he tells slaves “Don’t let it trouble you – although if you can gain your freedom, do so” (vs. 21). In other words, we should bloom as kingdom citizens where we are planted, but that doesn’t mean that we need to wilt if the conditions are poor and another good option is possible. Building off of this, if we are concerned by the direction of our land, we need to “be the change we want to see.” God has given us opportunities to shine our lights in this land and even to serve in institutions and offices of government, or to support those who are. Knowing solid Christians who have answered that call and been willing to serve as MPs, MPPs, town councilors, and leaders in business or other realms, I’m convinced that we can do a better job of encouraging and assisting them in these roles, rather than just criticizing them. It is incredibly difficult to serve as a Christian in a secular land. Let’s help each other rather than tear each other down, discouraging others from serving themselves. Exceptional circumstances may force a move The points above apply in times of widespread freedom and safety. But circumstances can change quickly. Jesus experienced this early in His life. His parents were warned to leave Israel when he was still a baby, seeking refuge from political persecution by relocating to Egypt (Matt. 2). When it was safe to move back, his parents were warned in a dream about going to Judea, so they settled instead in Nazareth, the community where Jesus was raised. And it isn’t just our safety that can change quickly. The same can apply to our spiritual health. We confess that the preaching of the Gospel is one of the two keys of the kingdom of heaven (Lord’s Day 31, Heidelberg Catechism). In other words, we need to be under the preaching. The last two years have made it clear that many of Canada’s leaders simply don’t care much if Christians can’t gather for worship. In my home province, we were told that gathering virtually is a sufficient long-term replacement, even though churches respectfully explained that God’s Word, not the government, should determine what is sufficient when it comes to worship. If it were up to many of our leaders, they would have no problem with shutting down churches for good. Thankfully, God has restrained wickedness and still allows the freedom to preach the Gospel. This is something to be grateful for and to use while we have it. Don’t be paralyzed There is a lot, then, to prayerfully consider. But we shouldn’t get caught up in analysis paralysis. If an opportunity arises where we can best further God’s kingdom and bless our families in a different country or community, and if people who know us well advise us to pursue it, we can embrace the move with enthusiasm, not held back by those who don’t agree or understand. God’s kingdom isn’t limited by earthly borders. In his superb book, aptly titled Just Do Something, Kevin DeYoung advises: “we should stop looking for God to reveal the future to us and remove all risk from our lives. We should start looking to God – His character and His promises – and thereby have confidence to take risks for His name’s sake.” So whether in Canada or beyond, let’s be strong and courageous, taking risks for His kingdom, not our own. Mark Penninga is the Reformed Perspective’s Executive Director....
Articles, Movie Reviews
Top 10 films on PureFlix right now
Pureflix is a per month subscription streaming service that provides Christian content on both sides of the US/Canadian border. While much of its cont...
Saturday Selections – Jan. 7, 2023
Tariffs help producers only by hurting consumers (3 min) Tariffs at best protect the domestic producer at the expense of domestic consumers by requir...
4 problems with State-funded daycare
…and the erosion of the family that the Church isn’t talking about enough **** Orthodox Christians are champions of the family, and rightly so. ...
Calvin Hutchinson: from chemical engineering to high school teacher
There are all sorts of paths to teaching and reasons to teach, and in this interview, conducted with Mark Penninga (and lightly edited), Calvin Hutchinson offers up his own. ***** My pathway into teaching is a fairly bizarre one. I went to university at McMaster in Hamilton, graduating with a chemical engineering degree. With this degree, I was able to get hired by a consulting firm, and for the next little while I worked with a number of different companies doing IT management, project management, and general business analyst work. After spending some time working in New Brunswick, I came back to Ontario and was asked to fill in at Emmanuel Christian High School (ECHS) for a teacher who had to take emergency medical leave. I finished one semester and, while I had fun helping out, I made the decision to go back to consulting as I felt that I was too close in age to the students at the time. God wasn’t letting me leave education completely though. Shortly afterward I was asked to help out with coaching the boys’ basketball teams. And then I joined the board of directors for ECHS. It was through this experience that I received the “management” view of the school, and realized there was a huge need for effective educators. A major part of the board’s early spring meetings, and a huge source of stress, was making sure that we had enough staff in place to even run the school for the following school year. This still happens every single year in many of the Reformed Christian schools. The private Christian education I had taken for granted my entire life seemed to actually be struggling to continue. The story of how I decided to become a teacher again is a fairly personal one, but to sum it up, I needed a change, I saw the different talents and paths God made available to me, and saw the need for Christian educators, I listened to some advice from those much wiser than me, and decided to give teaching another chance. It was the best decision of my life to date. It doesn’t matter how grumpy I am in the morning, how little coffee I have had, or even if my car gets a flat tire on my way into work and everything goes wrong, whenever the students come into the class, I start to smile. Each student is completely unique, and has their own personalities and quirks that are fun to get to know and interact with. This makes teaching the same subject year after year seem completely new, as each group of students will respond to a different teaching method and delivery. And when you are willing to create an environment where having fun while learning is the norm, then there is no end to the uniqueness that students are willing to bring to the class. I remember teaching a class on microbiology where I made an analogy comparing enzymes to turbochargers. I was told I was wrong, and received a 30-minute lecture from my students telling me why I was wrong, and on the difference between superchargers and turbochargers. A little off of the government curriculum maybe, but I guarantee that the students remember what an enzyme does. Interactions like that happen on a daily basis, and it is amazing to experience. I have so much fun doing my job every single day, and am so grateful that God led me down the pathway to being a teacher....
Christian education, Sexuality
The Sexual Revolution: a glaring gap in our kids’ education?
There is no series of historical events that have impacted every human being living in the West – and beyond – more than the Sexual Revolution. And yet, while many of us may be familiar with the term, few can explain what the Sexual Revolution really is and was. Legal abortion; digital pornography everywhere; the LGBT movement; hookup culture; gender ideology; threats to religious freedom – all are either an aspect or a direct result of the Sexual Revolution. It has also shaped virtually everything that emanates from our screens, from popular TV sitcoms (which had a hand in mainstreaming revolutionary ideas) to mainstream Hollywood films, produced and directed by the revolution’s most powerful storytellers. A sexualized West We live, in short, in a culture that has been effectively conquered by a revolution we know very little about – because unlike the American or French Revolutions, our society was overthrown from within. As the Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard noted: “A passionate tumultuous age will overthrow everything, pull everything down; but a revolutionary age which is, at the same time, reflective and passionless leaves everything standing but cunningly empties it of significance." Those who brought about the Sexual Revolution did not attack government buildings – they initiated the “long march through the institutions,” eventually occupying powerful places of influence virtually everywhere. When I arrived at university and lived on campus, I left a church community for what was, at first, a fundamentally foreign culture. For the most part, my peers had not consciously rejected the tenets of Christianity. Aside from traditional mentions of God at certain solemn occasions like Remembrance Day ceremonies, they had grown up in a world that was shaped, not by Christianity, but by the Sexual Revolution. So hookup culture was not simply uncontroversial, but standard. The idea that someone could actually oppose extramarital sex, or homosexuality, or pornography was for most of them simply weird. I had grown up shaped by the Christian community I was a part of; most of them had grown up in communities in which Christianity was a part of family history, a generation or two in the past. Not treated like the pivotal event it was At the Christian school I attended, I learned the history of the Bible; church history, and the great stories of the Reformation; the bloody history of the twentieth century, and of Canada’s great explorers and leaders of the past. Despite much insistence from some quarters that students do not learn about the injustice of the residential schools, I learned about those, too, as well as the history of a local Indigenous group (the Sto:lo). But while we learned a little about the consequences of the Sexual Revolution – evils like abortion were covered in Bible class – we learned nothing about the Sexual Revolution as a historical event that had transformed and shaped the society we lived in, and that would impact nearly every aspect of our lives not only on campus, but beyond. For many people, the study of history can seem tedious or useless. But if we wish to understand the cultural moment we find pressing in all around us, an understanding of the history of the Sexual Revolution is absolutely essential. The ideologies of the Sexual Revolution now form the basis of nearly every field of study in academia, and Christian university students often have no idea that what they are learning in education, law, psychology, or anthropology is actually based on the work of ideologues such as Margaret Mead or Dr. Alfred Kinsey. They will almost certainly hear arguments made against Christianity based on revolutionary research and junk science. To know the history of the Sexual Revolution is to have an invaluable context for what is taught in secular universities, and to possess a greater confidence in the Christian worldview. Then the lightbulbs go off Each summer at the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform, I teach a course on the culture wars to dozens of university students and high schoolers. Every time, as I’m speaking, I see shock and realization spread across their faces as many of the things they have been taught click into place. “That makes so much sense!” they tell me. And when the summer ends and they head back to their places of learning, I get messages throughout the year: “One of my fellow students is citing the Kinsey Reports to attack the Christian view of sexuality. Can you email me the titles of some of your sources?” “Thank you so much for your course this summer. It helped me understand everything my prof was saying in my mandatory sexuality course!” These students, armed with the historical and cultural context necessary to understand what they were being taught, were thus prepared to defend their own worldview. In academic institutions often openly hostile to Christian belief, this context provides an invaluable confidence. 3 resources to help us understand As revolutionary ideas spread even into many religious institutions, this history becomes even more essential to understand. As George Orwell once noted: “The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.” Unfortunately, the Sexual Revolution is as much a part of American or Canadian history as World War II or the Cold War – and its daily, real-world impact is more keenly seen and felt. I believe that for students to be forewarned and forearmed, they should be taught this history before they enter university. There are an increasing number of valuable resources available. For higher grades, Carl Trueman’s Strange New World: How Thinkers and Activists Redefined Identity and Sparked the Sexual Revolution is a valuable analysis of the intellectual forces that brought this revolution about; Gabriele Kuby’s The Global Sexual Revolution is an important worldwide view; I attempt to explain how our current society came about in my own 2016 book, The Culture War. The material is, of course, difficult – but considering the state of our culture, I do not think age 16 is too young to begin preparing. Increasingly, people are not rejecting Christianity because they do not believe in the historicity of the Resurrection or because they find theism intellectually challenging. They are rejecting Christianity because they believe that biblical standards are cruel and that God is loveless. To understand that, we must understand the history of the Sexual Revolution. Jonathon Van Maren blogs at TheBridgehead.ca....
Saturday Selections – Dec. 31, 2022
Dutch woman draws 6 pictures at the same time! This is just fun and crazy... Benefits of working a job for a long time Russell Gehrlein offers a couple of benefits that can come with working the same job for decades. But he's also previously offered a couple of problems that can come with doing the same thing for too long. Blaise Pascal, with four rules for mocking God's enemies These are insightful rules, but worth testing against how God's enemies are mocked in the Bible. Pascal says we shouldn't make things personal - we should mock ideas, not people – but that someone might think it personal doesn't mean it is. A man conducting a "drag queen story hour" might take personal any ridicule of him as a groomer, but would that really be a reason not to do it? Bone growth demonstrates brilliant design When it comes to the human body, and seeing God's fingerprints, we might most often think about the eye, which is truly astonishing. Our bones, however, might get overlooked, because we imagine them to be simple, just supports, hardly more than sticks, right? But no indeed - even your bones, and how they know to grow just so, are unbelievably marvelous! The best-kept secret in preparing kids against pornography "The best kept secret in the fight for your kids’ minds is role-playing. A simple and not very time-consuming activity that costs nothing. Role-playing is practicing difficult situations with your child that might come up as they navigate through a world filled with pornography." Why does Socialism fail? (3 min) Christian economist, Dr. Anne Bradley, offers 4 reasons (for the article version, click above): Socialism doesn't account for self-interest... ...or the importance of incentives Without a marketplace, producers (and socialism's central planners) can't know what products people really want Socialism requires that its all-powerful central planner remain benevolent, which never happens ...
One Reformed Christian seeks his day in court
Should Christians test their arguments against the gov’t, or let sleeping dogs lie? ***** Harold Jonker has become a familiar face to many Canadians. In his folksy, good-humored, sensible way, Jonker acted as a spokesman for the “Truckers' Convoy” that went to Ottawa early last year. In that role he was asked and able to explain why the truckers went to Ottawa, and what would get them to leave. In a word: freedom! In a few more words, it was a protest against the government’s mandate that truckers crossing the US/Canadian border had to be vaccinated. Media outlets all across Canada and the U.S. kept him in their rotation of interviewees, partly for his common sense, and partly for his quotable quotes. On Fox News, when asked what he would do if his bank accounts were frozen, the West Lincoln (Ontario) resident responded: “Go ahead, Mr. Trudeau. If you freeze my accounts, you’re not going to hurt me. You’re going to hurt my wife, my 13 children, my two dogs, and my 15 chickens!” (One has to wonder what Janice and the kids thought about this!) The “Jonker Trucking” company was well represented in the truckers’ convoy: partners Harold and Tim, along with brother-in-law Jeff Tenhage, visited Ottawa often and helped organize the event, which brought in truckers, with their rigs, from all across Canada, to park in and around the capital. Ironically, about half of their company’s truckers were vaccinated, and had been able to continue their runs into the U.S. that were not possible for unvaccinated operators, but they still wished to do their part to send the convoy’s message. Jonker at the time was also a town councilor for West Lincoln Township in the Niagara region, although he tried to make clear that he was in Ottawa with the convoy as a private citizen and business owner, not as a government representative of West Lincoln. However, fellow town councilors were not happy with Jonker’s outspokenness against both the vaccine mandates and the enforced lockdowns. This led to a complaint being filed, and an Integrity Commissioner investigation recommended that he be suspended from the town council, without pay, for thirty days due to violation of the council’s code of conduct. On what basis? For what was called the “unlawful nature” of the protests. The Commissioner also advised that Jonker should repay about $300 of gifts received, and the town council accepted both recommendations. At first, Jonker was inclined to just accept the punishment and move on. Thirty days' pay and $300 worth of gifts “is really chicken feed,” said Jonker – that wasn’t reason enough to fight. But with time, he became convinced that justice had not been served. “Basically, we in the convoy were exercising our right of free speech as guaranteed in the Charter of Rights. And two Ontario supreme court justices ruled that the protests were legal” . Then when the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF) offered to represent him in a case against the township’s ruling, Jonker accepted. A date has not yet been set for the hearing. Many who spoke out against what they’ve judged to be government overreach in the vaccine mandates and the lockdowns are eager for this type of review. Now that the world has moved on from this pandemic, it is good to reflect on where any level of government may have overstepped its areas of stewardship, and where unjust judgments were given. Was it really necessary to prevent all churches from gathering for public worship for such a long period of time? Was it lawful to force police officers, members of the military, teachers, doctors and nurses to get what was a relatively new vaccine in order to keep their jobs? While many of us may be tired of the debate, we do well to allow these types of hearings to make judgments that may guide future decisions for different levels of government and publicly correct past wrongs. Lawyer Jorge Pineda, who represents Jonker in this case, summarized the situation in a Sept. 26 press release from the JCCF: “The sad truth is that Mr. Jonker has been punished for his political position, in the context of an ongoing dispute with other councillors. In Canada, we must tolerate strong differences in political opinion. Elected politicians should not be permitted to weaponize codes of conduct to silence and intimidate their political opponents. The Charter is intended to guarantee free expression. Canadian democratic institutions cannot survive if such guarantees can be easily ignored through these kinds of tactics.” WHO ARE YOU GOING TO BELIEVE, ME OR YOUR LYING EYES? A couple of years ago the American news outlet CNN famously declared a riot as being a “fiery but mostly peaceful” protest. A different sort of mischaracterization happened earlier this year in Canada when the Prime Minister linked the Truckers' Convoy with Nazism and racism. He couldn’t make his charges stick, largely because protesters used their social media feeds to bypass the mainstream press and directly share pictures and videos that showed the site was full of folks and families strolling, laughing, and even coming together in song. Jonker himself bears no animosity towards those who were against him in this particular fight. “I’m not holding anything against people. We all need time to get over things.” When asked if he had any regrets about the events of the past summer, Jonker said: “It would have been nice if the convoy leadership could have taken more time to organize everything,” although in general the truckers were praised for being fairly disciplined and well behaved. “I wish we would have shut down the horns a bit sooner, they were loud! I’m not a horn guy… but people kept asking us to honk the horns!” Harold is not sure what impact his high profile in the trucker convoy had on him not being re-elected as councilor in October. “I’m not a social media guy, but I know that some candidates painted a pretty radical picture of me.” Jonker is not done with politics yet: he is an active and enthusiastic member of the Christian Heritage Party; he has run as a candidate more than once, and hopes that the Lord can use this party for the good of Canada. During their time in Ottawa, Harold, Tim, and Jeff were all thankful to be able to witness to many people about the joy that they have to be children of the Lord. Many people told Harold that the convoy had given them hope, when they were in such a dark, gloomy, isolated place. “To have people say to truckers, you are our only hope, that’s pretty sad. I would tell them, God is your hope!” There were a lot of Christians amongst the trucker convoy leadership team, which met every morning and evening to be able to give direction to the group. “On the first day,” recalled Harold, “one of the older men asked if anyone objected to us starting each meeting with prayer! I was ashamed that it wasn’t my idea. But I was glad to help out, and that’s how we opened every meeting that whole time!” Boldly written on the wall of the meeting room was a text from Ecclesiastes 10, verse 4 (that’s right, 10-4 good buddy!): “If the anger of the ruler rises against you, do not leave your place, for calmness will lay great offenses to rest.” On one particular weekend, a young man that Harold and Tim had befriended asked if he could come to church with them! They of course were glad to take 16-year-old Logan along, and it worked out really well that most of Janice and the kids were coming up for the weekend. Some time later, the brothers got a text from Logan’s mom, showing herself and Logan all dressed up and ready for church back home in Newfoundland: apparently he insisted to his mom that church should be a regular part of their lives. Praise the Lord that even in unusual circumstances, He can use His people to tell others of the real and eternal hope we have as His redeemed children – not perfect, but forgiven. For Harold Jonker (kneeling, middle) the Trucker’s Convoy was a family affair. ...