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Music, News

That morning I listened to Kanye West

I’ve never been a Kanye West fan. About a year ago, I was flipping through the radio channels while driving. I came across a station playing one of his songs. It was one of the most vile, misogynistic songs I’ve ever heard. As we were eating our dinner, I told our kids about what I’d heard earlier in the day. Knowing Kanye better than I did, they weren’t surprised. But they sure were surprised to hear their dad listening to Kanye West last Saturday morning. I was rather surprised too. His new album had just dropped and the title led me to listen. Jesus is King blew me off my feet. How could it happen that the same man responsible for that horrible song could produce an entire album in praise of the Saviour? Who is/was Kanye West? Kanye West is an American recording artist who’s mostly worked in the hip-hop/rap genre. He’s been hugely popular and is one of the most successful musicians of all time. Jesus is King is his ninth studio album. The previous eight each went platinum. Moreover, he’s been awarded 21 Grammy awards since the beginning of his recording career in 2003. As far as his personal life goes, West was raised middle-class by his mother, an English professor. He briefly attended university but decided to chase a music career instead. He was involved in several romantic relationships over the years. He married reality-TV star Kim Kardashian in 2014 and they have four children together. His first album College Dropout included the song “Jesus Walks.” This song already indicated some spiritual inclinations. The song speaks of spiritual struggles but also features the profanity found in so many of his songs. Over the years, he’s claimed to believe in God, and in 2014 he even claimed to be a Christian. However, in the meantime, he continued making music putting those claims in question. For example, his 2013 album Yeezus included a blasphemous song entitled “I Am a God.” In short, while there have been spiritual themes in some of his past work, much of what Kanye West has produced up till now has been profane, wicked, and even sacrilegious. He’s represented the dregs of what hip-hop has to offer. What happened? Early in 2019, West began a new musical endeavor known as Sunday Service. Every Sunday, he and a number of others would get together to perform gospel music. While it began as an event for family and friends, eventually it turned into something bigger and Sunday Service began touring around American cities. That was the first sign something seemed to be changing with West. Through the end of 2018, it was well-known that West was working on a new album entitled Yandhi. It wasn’t going to be a gospel album – in fact, it wasn’t going to have any notable spiritual emphasis. However, in August 2019, West’s wife Kim Kardashian announced that the direction of the new album had changed and it would now be entitled Jesus is King. Around the same time, West began attending Placerita Bible Church in Newhall, California. This church is a non-denominational congregation. Besides what it says about baptism and eschatology, their doctrinal statement is mostly sound. The pastor, Adam Tyson, is a graduate of The Master’s Seminary, an institution founded by John MacArthur. Like MacArthur, Tyson’s doctrine of salvation is biblical/Calvinistic. According to Tyson (in an interview with Apologia Studios), West began attending the church and then asked to meet with him for instruction. West gave a sound Christian testimony and indicated a good understanding of the basics of salvation through the gospel. What he really wanted from Pastor Adam Tyson was instruction about how to begin living as a Christian. Tyson has been instrumental in guiding Kanye West’s spiritual journey. In the last while, Adam Tyson was invited to preach at several Sunday Service events. I watched a video of him preaching at a Sunday Service in Detroit. Using Isaiah 6:1-5 as his text, he gave a faithful and unambiguous presentation of the gospel to at least several hundred people. Kanye West provided a platform so the gospel could be preached. Tyson was also involved in the final production of the Jesus is King album. West told Tyson that he was finished with rap and hip-hop and didn’t want to do it anymore. But Tyson encouraged him to use his gifts in this genre to advance the cause of the gospel. Moreover, he helped him ensure the final product would be free of any serious theological errors. Jesus is King Having listened to the album a number of times now, let me make a few comments. Musically speaking, not everything here is going to be to everyone’s taste. In other words, there are hip-hop and rap elements. Yet it has a different feel to his previous work. I first listened to the album through Spotify, but since I don’t have the premium account, the stream would periodically circle back to his previous work. The difference was noticeable, not only in comparison with his previously foul lyrics, but also with the music. Even though I can’t put my finger on it, something has changed in the sound of the music. One of my Facebook friends noted she’s never listed to Kanye West and never will. I urged her to just listen to the first track on the album. “Every Hour” features lively African-American gospel choir singing – no hip-hop or rap at all. The last song of the album “Jesus is Lord” also breaks the stereotype. This short track features West singing of Christ’s Lordship accompanied by tuba, trombone, trumpet, saxophone, French horn, and euphonium. The lyrics are mostly sound. Check out these rhymes from “Closed on Sunday”:

When you got daughters, always keep em’ safe Watch out for vipers, don’t let them indoctrinate … Raise our sons, train them in the faith Through temptations, make sure they’re wide awake Follow Jesus, listen and obey No more livin’ for culture, we nobody’s slave

Stand up for my home Even if I take this walk alone I bow down to the King upon the throne My life is His, I’m no longer my own.

The last bit echoes the biblical teaching of Lord’s Day 1, doesn’t it? Nevertheless, there’s some immaturity and imprecision in various tracks. Assuming he’s become a Christian, he’s just a young Christian and so we can’t expect the accuracy or theological profundity of Shai Linne and Timothy Brindle. Moreover, while the album is mostly clean in terms of language, there is one use of the word “damn.” It occurs in “God is”:

I know Christ is the fountain that filled my cup I know God is alive, yeah He has opened up my vision Giving me a revelation This ain't 'bout a damn religion Jesus brought a revolution

Could that be a legitimate use of the word? I’d like to be charitable. After all, there is religion that is damned – the religion of self-salvation and works righteousness. What shall we say about these things? For many people, their first inclination is to be skeptical. Me too. After all, how many “Christian” celebrities have we seen over the years? How many proved to be genuine followers of Christ for the long haul? The Parable of the Sower (Mark 4:1-9) reminds us that there are those who hear the Word, show some promise, but are either seed sown on rocky soil or the seed choked by thorns. Kanye West anticipates this response on the album. In “Hands On” he predicts that many Christians aren’t going to believe he’s the real deal. Despite that, he asks listeners to pray for him. Even as we have might have concerns, that’s a request we can enthusiastically embrace. One of the big questions people are asking is: what happens to all the old music West produced? He was asked this directly in an interview with BigBoyTV. His reply was that no one goes to an Apple iStore to ask for an iPhone 4 – Apple doesn’t offer the inferior product. He says his old stuff is behind him and he won’t be performing it anymore. From now on he claims he’ll only be performing gospel music to the glory of God. True, for the moment, his old music is still available for sale -- though, to be fair, when it comes to music sales there are more players involved than just the artist. There are indeed still inconsistencies and troubling things about Kanye West. Just in the last month, he boasted in an interview with Zane Lowe on Apple Music's Beats 1 that he’s “unquestionably, undoubtedly, the greatest human artist of all time.” While he’s attended Adam Tyson’s church in California, he lives in Wyoming and isn’t currently known to be a member of any church. He’s a public figure and, unlike many other fledgling disciples, his life is on display for everyone to dissect and analyze. There’s a lot of pressure on him and one can only hope that influences like Adam Tyson will prevail. Why should we care? Simply because God can do amazing things, even with the vulgar and profane. Let’s watch and see what happens. Whatever the case may be, we shouldn’t look up to Kanye West as a Christian leader – he’s untested. Finally, if nothing else comes from this, even if West proves to be a false disciple, at least the truth about Jesus Christ was broadcast by him and others for a time: Jesus is King! So, “whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice” (Phil. 1:18).

Dr. Bredenhof blogs at yinkahdinay.wordpress.com. Kanye West picture is from Shutterstock.com.

Christian education - Sports

Winning at all costs?

Does sport build character? And what does the way you play sports reveal about your character?

 ****

I recently had the opportunity to substitute teach a high school physical education class. Not knowing a single one of the students, I divided the co-ed class into two random teams for a game of soccer. Within seconds of team creation, I heard moans and groans regarding how the players were divvied up: “This isn’t fair, we’re going to lose!” “Sir, I think you should change these teams because they have Jim AND John on their team!” “We may as well not even play.” Of all the statements I overheard, that last one really struck me. Participation in the activity was only viewed as worthwhile should losing be avoided. The victimized attitudes of these youth were tangible for the duration of the class, with many of the players from the "losing side" displaying anger and resentment following the game. Garbage cans were kicked, pinnies spiked, locker doors slammed, walls slapped, curse words mumbled. I felt hated; after all, I was the dumb substitute teacher who made unbalanced teams that resulted in a lopsided 4-2 soccer "blowout." What sports can foster There is a widespread assumption that participating in sport is automatically beneficial for kids. After all, they can learn teamwork, cooperation, self-discipline, and perseverance, among many other great positive values. Among Christians, too, sports are promoted as a means of building virtuous character. However, minimal research evidence exists to validate this belief. On the contrary, sport participation has a proven tendency to promote and develop less desired character traits: selfishness, hostility, greed, jealousy, hatred, violence and alienation. The truth is, in a sport setting people often act out in ways that would be completely unacceptable in any other setting. Sporting arenas function as special spheres where the rules of life often do not apply. We can see this in the normalcy of violence in Canadian ice hockey participation and fandom. Whether as active participants or merely spectators of sport, we need to consider whether we shine as a light for the Lord. As a fan, do we thrive on the hockey fights and scraps? Does that get us jumping up and down in our seats? As a participant, is it possible for us to bear the mind and love of Christ while donning a killer instinct? Do we really believe that this aggression towards our opponents reflects Christ-like love? Cross-checking and chirping at another person would seem like a strange way to express your love towards them. Lacing up to love your enemy seems less frequent than lacing up to squash your enemy. I’m not bashing our own hockey leagues; I know very little about what goes on there – I just know that I saw a 13-year-old boy drag his opponent to the ground in a headlock in order to score a goal on the pitch during a high-school PE class. I know this infiltrates our own turf and our own rinks. Performance-based worth In the world of modern sport, personal identity – personal worth – is grounded in performance. In this glorification of the self, losing is equated with insecurity, powerlessness and a sense of "non-being," which threatens the very purpose of an individual’s life. As the saying goes, you are only as good as your last game. This value has affected our own sport circles, despite Christians readily preaching that God loves them despite the result of their play. We claim our identity is grounded in Christ, yet, for the sake of upping our game-time performance, we prefer to keep compassion and other-centeredness on the periphery of our competitive lives. Many Christian athletes have a tendency to compartmentalize their faith and exclude it from competitive sport, and are more willing to compromise their faith than withdraw from activity. There is a valid concern that our children are more interested in becoming like Crosby than like Christ. Though modeling the behaviors of others can serve as a valuable educational tool, sport, like money, has become an idol for many, leaving me to wonder if we could cast it out of our lives completely, or if our identity, too, has become participation and performance-based, rather than grace-based. Can Christians compete? So are sports beyond redemption? Should we just avoid playing in them and watching them? To answer these questions we need to examine the idea of competition. Competition is closely tied to participation in sport. Competition is commonly understood as an effort to gain or win something by defeating or establishing superiority over others who are trying to do the same; you are striving to outdo someone, to better someone. Competition is based on comparisons: Who is fastest? Who is strongest? Who is best? Of course, competition goes far beyond sport: we see it in the classroom, in the office, in our homes. We are constantly striving to outdo others. Such comparisons can dangerously lead to a loss of perspective, bitterness, jealousy and putting yourself before others. The problem with this typical view of competition is that pursuing superiority over others (thereby making others inferior) directly collides with the Christian ethic of servanthood, as Paul instructs us in his letter to the Philippians 2: 3-4:

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others”.

It doesn’t read that we can do some things out of selfish ambition. Jesus Christ modeled humility for us so that we would embrace it in all facets of our lives. We are called to deny ourselves, humble ourselves and boast in our weaknesses and shortcomings. How is this possible in competitive sport? A different sort of competition Competition, by its nature, has been suggested to be inherently immoral because it is selfish, egoistic and means treating others as obstacles to be defeated. But is that what competition has to be? When we look at the historical origins of the word, we learn competition means "to strive together, to come together, to agree, to coincide." Note that historically competition echoes cooperation, as it doesn’t mean “to strive against”, but rather “to strive with.” The emphasis in sport, therefore, ought not to be winning, but a mutually acceptable quest for excellence through challenge. This is important, so let me repeat it: competition need not be about winning. Instead it can be about a mutual quest for excellence through the challenge your opponents present you. Competition is defensible in sport given this social contract, mutual quest and voluntary engagement. So, a reformed perspective on competition would be to understand it as a collaborative, mutual striving together towards something excellent, where opponents honor their opposition and cooperate to bring out the very best in one another, as when iron sharpens iron (Philippians 2:3-4; Proverbs 27:17). Some Christians have tried to recast competition and eliminate some of the negatives by talking of it as being primarily about competing with oneself. But this ignores the relational essence of competition, and by removing the interpersonal dimension, it is no longer competition at all. We are relational beings, and the Christian competitor is not only striving for personal excellence and realizing individual potential, but also the potential of their opponent. The hindrances we face in competition, the opposition, are not objects and barriers to be overcome – they are people. The experience is indeed a celebrative experience, and we should be able to experience that shared joy with others. Opponents are made in God’s image too. In loving our opponents while we compete, we are putting them before ourselves. Do you rejoice with your opponents' accomplishments? If Jesus was your teammate, how would you cooperate with him? More, if Jesus was your opponent, how would you act towards him? If triumphing over opponents was the sole purpose of contests, competition would be incomplete and a "winning-at-all-costs" mentality, including cheating, would be both justified and necessary. On the contrary, joyful experiences, the desire and striving for excellence, the concern for achieving competitive balance, fun and enjoyment, all function as goals that transcend the zero-sum experience of beating opponents. The pursuit of fun is improved with the avoidance of alienation and violence. Many of the problems seen in our sport and play are not necessarily intrinsic to sport itself, but rather find roots in our own sinful human nature and an unhealthy obsession with winning. As emotions, enthusiasm and passions are invested so as to create more competitive fun, circumstances all too often and easily dissolve into undesired outcomes. Sport alienates people because it too easily disintegrates into self-serving and self-seeking actions. It is this possibility that players risk when they participate in competitive sport and play, and need to be on guard against. Sport vs. play When you strip away the rules and organized structure of sport, you are left with an inherently playful activity. When people are engaged in sport, they are described as "playing." Play doesn’t serve a utilitarian end – children engage in play not because it will get them something; they play simply to play. In sport, the joy of play has been replaced by a need to win, and an over-emphasis on winning costs us the playful and joyful elements of sporting activities. Currently, sport is not being played – it is being consumed. The current model of sport is business-oriented, and the inherent playfulness within sport has been lost, which is why many Christian scholars are calling for a rejuvenation and recovering of that play-ethic. A win-at-all-costs philosophy is a glaring distortion of God’s desired purpose for our play. There is irony in sport organizations that claim, "It is not about winning or losing, but about having fun." The irony is that we actually have to state this as a mandate! If we have to deliberately instruct participants to express something other than the natural impulses stirred in the game, it is a pretty sure sign that something is wrong with both the game and the people participating. Of course, this is no surprise given out flawed human nature; yet this all the more emphasizes how we structure our games and what we teach our youth. Such mandates are noble intentions, but are often poorly executed; change doesn’t happen with a declaration. If this is indeed the primary purpose of your sport organization, would it make sense, then, to actually keep score? What purpose does it serve? You’ll say, “but kids will keep score anyway.” Absolutely – our me-culture is teaching them that this is important and is the "goal of sport," and therefore highlights why it is extremely important that you reorient that purpose. Children will lie. And cheat. And disrespect. Participating in sport, regardless of a certain mandate, will not teach them that winning isn’t as important as having fun or being active. You must teach them that. The odd anomaly in the sport system gets this. The Canadian Soccer Association has recommended eliminating league standings for youth under the age of 12. As of May 2013, B.C. Soccer stopped posting scores and standings from U12 tournaments. Likewise, in a recent U12 tournament hosted by a Surrey soccer club, scores were not kept, no winners and losers announced, no trophies or medals handed out. These approaches encourage broader youth development instead of a "win-at-all-costs" model. Coaches will then equalize playing time, experiment with different positions, encourage "free play," and children are free to make mistakes without feeling pressure from teammates, coaches, and parents for their shortcomings. So too, especially in reformed circles, I would expect to see an appropriate rewards system. What do we teach our youth when we reward them with an icecream or a doughnut after they scored the game-winner? What would happen if instead they took that $2 and dropped it in a charity jar? Emphasis ought to be on cooperative play and displaying love and respect to your teammates and opposition. Since the emphasis is on this, winning is not discussed and merely functions as a by-product. So, which do you typically applaud: your child’s respect for and inclusion of others, or your child scoring a goal? What would happen if we counted passes made instead of goals scored? By applauding and celebrating certain behaviors, we teach our kids about what we believe matters most. So, the next time your child walks off the pitch, I urge you to say one of these things: “I love watching you play!” “Let’s go thank your coach!” “Can I get you something to eat?” “That looked like a lot of fun!” Winning isn't the problem To keep things clear: winning isn’t the problem. The issue is why a person wants to win. If you or your child desire first place in order to demonstrate your superiority, or claim supremacy, or to protect your ego, competition will often deteriorate into ethical and moral lapses. Instead, foster a desire to win that translates into great effort, support for others, testing and developing one’s limits and exhibiting the core values of your community. Sports can teach our youth about who’s number one, or who is actually Number One; they can teach children to bend rules, or obey them; and they can teach children that opponents exist to be victimized, or to be loved and respected. On their own, sport and competition will not teach these things naturally. Sports do not educate youth – people do. True Christian joy can be expressed aesthetically and playfully in thankful celebration to God. Just like "listening" is important in music, and "looking" is important in art, "feeling" is important in sport. As Christian athletes sharpen their skills, the beauty of their artwork (their expressions of creativity and imagination) may be a blessing to themselves and to others. Our bodies are temples of the living God, so we ought to treat them as such - not idolizing them to superior heights, but taking care that we are using them to glorify God. The real challenge will be in whether or not that joy persists even when losing…even when "failing" or performing poorly. We must set aside personal egos (deny ourselves), accept and acknowledge failure as normal (humble ourselves), and play as if love and respect were verbs.

“If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever loses his life for me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?” - Matthew 16:24–26

Legendary basketball Coach John Wooden challenges us all with his words: “I don’t want to tell, based on your actions, whether you outscored your opponent or whether your opponent outscored you.” Conclusion After reflecting on how those students reacted towards me after I selected those teams on that glorious sunny afternoon, I realize that I wasn’t hurt by the bitterness expressed towards my decisions, nor was I disappointed that they began to hate me. Mainly, I just felt discouraged. I’ve seen a lot of different behaviors in various sport systems through my young career. I’ve participated in sport since I could hurl a toy across the playroom; I’ve coached sport at pre-school, elementary, high-school, university and national levels; I counsel athletes and performers regularly as part of my job. Sport pays my rent and feeds my family. What discouraged me about this incident was that this was not a public school or a secular sport club; it was our own Reformed Christian School. These were Christians at play. In that moment I recalled Coach Wooden’s sentiment: “Sports do not build character; they reveal it”. So, what are they revealing in you, and those you influence?

This article first appeared in the July/August 2014 issue. If you liked this article you might also be interested in our other sports-related articles: When we understand our opponent isn’t our enemy…., Boys and sports, A Good Coach is Crucial: the potential and danger of school sports teams, Sports teams are important for our Christian schools, and Daughters in sports.

Questions for discussion 1. Children can learn all sorts of lessons from sports.

a) What are some good ones? b) What are some bad lessons?

2. What can parents do to encourage the former and discourage the latter? 3. Of the four reasons listed below to be involved in sports, which should be given priority in our Christians schools? How might we choose to order these from most important to least important?

a) So that students can learn to be very good at that sport b) Because sports is a means by which we can teach students other things, such as teamwork, leadership, discipline, compassion etc. c) To help students stay physically fit d) For the sheer joy of playing.

4. What are the qualities of a good Christian coach?

Letter Writing

Activism 101: 4 tips on being heard

If you are waiting in-line at a grocery store you are guaranteed to be bombarded by flashy magazines. These magazines are often, if not always, an assault on the senses. They are visually disturbing with pictures of scantily clad women and men. Not only that, the headlines and featured articles promote gossip and obsession about sex, weight-loss, image and power (unfortunately those topics all seem to go hand in hand). It is interesting that these magazines are a temptation for women. On a first glance you would think that it would only be visually tempting for men (which they are). However I admit, and know many other females that would concur, that each time again I have to choose to refuse to look at or read the covers of these magazines. They are there for a reason. And it is not uncommon to see women spontaneously buy the latest glossy bit of smut. In fact, that is the very reason they are displayed there. To add to the problem, women who are grocery shopping are often accompanied by their small children. Enough is enough As a family living in Lethbridge (at that time) we witnessed this onslaught of images and ideas each time we shopped. It often bothered me that this was practiced by companies that received so much business from Christian families like ours, who did not want to see these magazines at all. One particular day my husband was shopping at the Lethbridge Save-On-Foods. He saw a young boy (maybe seven or eight years old) waiting in line with a parent. This child happened to be at eye-level with a Cosmopolitan magazine and out of sheer curiosity was staring at it. The cover featured a woman pulling her shirt wide open to reveal herself wearing only a white lacy bra. Now we all know the power of images and how hard they are to purge from your mind. And we all know the vulnerability of a young school-aged mind. And so when he told me about it I felt physically sick. I had had enough. The next time I was in the store I went from the checkout to the customer service counter and filled out a comment card. I briefly described what had been seen and suggested that they also would probably not care for their eight-year-old to see these images. I requested that the magazines be removed. If that was for some reason impossible I asked that they provide a family-friendly checkout that did not have the magazines. Quite a response It was very encouraging to receive a personal phone-call from the local store’s manager a few days later. He said that he agreed with me but then apologized that he could not change the store’s layout. Apparently every Save-On-Foods across Canada follows the same design and this layout is dictated from the head office. However he provided me with the email for the national customer service centre and offered to also contact them to add his support to my suggestions. Soon after, I sent an email to the head office with my concerns, suggestions and contact information. I then forwarded the email I had just sent to friends and family so that they could also send a similar email. After all, the more response that Save-On-Foods would receive the better. Right? A few weeks later a manager from the Overwaitea/Save-On-Foods head office phoned our home. He spoke with my husband and (at that time) agreed that something should be done. He offered to initially contact some of the magazine companies to see if the covers could be improved. If this wasn’t possible then he would look into cascading them or removing all or some of them from the checkouts. He let us know that it would likely be a few months before we would see any changes in the stores. It was once again a very encouraging response. We were looking forward to seeing what changes would take place. Quiet response Unfortunately, since then we have not noticed any significant change. The store in Lethbridge did provide one checkout aisle where they put a plastic cover in front of just one of the magazines (Cosmopolitan) so that only the cover was showing. However, this was the only change and on one’s first glance for a free checkout it was impossible to notice this. We waited for a few months like the manager had suggested but we did not see any other improvements. After that waiting period I sent a follow up email to see if anything was going to be done but I did not receive a response. My husband called again two months after that and was able to speak with the same manager. Unfortunately he was no longer so helpful. It was very disappointing to hear that they have no plans to standardize the idea of family friendly checkouts. According to him, the store is “not in the business of censoring.” They believe that most customers are not upset by the magazines being there and that they are serving their customers. He also reported that one of the stores in Abbotsford, B.C. does provide family friendly checkouts but he refused to provide any suggestions on how or if they could be implemented at other stores. Not the end? I suppose the reason is obvious. When it comes to consumerism, the almighty dollar writes the rules. The magazines are there because they rely on impulse buyers. The customer service team simply has not felt enough pressure to change. So the next logical step is for more customers to step forward. After all, how do you feel when you notice an innocent eight-year old staring at the cover of Cosmopolitan? If one comment card and one email could create a stir like this just think what could happen if more of us step up to the plate! Things we learned from this

1) Follow up, follow up, follow up. Keep the contact information of every person you spoke with in the issue so that you can speak to the same person again. Be sure to let them know in your email or phone call that you plan to contact them again.

2) Set a date. Write on your calendar when you are going to contact them again. Life is busy so it’s easy to forget how much time has gone by.

3) Get more people involved. A message is always stronger if it is spoken by more people. The decision makers need to know that they are serving more people by changing the status quo.

4) Offer your assistance. Ask how you can continue to help with this so that the decision makers don’t feel it’s all placed on their shoulders. They are also busy and they may feel more disposed to help you if you are also helping them.

Below is the email sent to the Customer Service Team:

To whom it may concern,

I am a resident of Lethbridge, Alberta after moving here from Langley, B.C. and I work as a physiotherapist in the local area. I have been a long time shopper at Save-On-Foods in Langley and now here in Lethbridge and I have been very happy with most of the service.

However I have always been disturbed by the magazine displays at the checkout aisles. There are always glossy magazines with full front cover stories that include pictures of very scantily clad women. If they are not in a very tiny bathing suit that shows most of the breast, they are in a dress that reveals almost as much. Recently there was even a full cover picture of a woman pulling her shirt open and holding it open to display her breasts barely covered by a lacy bra.

Now I have no need to see these, what I would consider pornographic, pictures. I realize that as an adult I can choose to turn my head away, which I do, but it becomes even more of a concern to me when I see a small child of 7-8 years old peering at the cover of Cosmopolitan which has been put right at his eye level. Would you want your child perusing the cover of Cosmopolitan? How confusing for our kids to be taught about people's privacy at home and then to be bombarded by these images at the local grocery store.

As a leading business group in Canada I would highly encourage you to rectify this situation, to make a moral stand and refuse to have those magazine covers take over your checkout aisles. Customers know where to find them in the magazine section. There is no reason to have them at every aisle. It is a disgrace to an upstanding business such as yours. Why sponsor this industry?

If somehow the increased magazine sales trumps that decision, I also have a few suggestions: You could opt to display the magazines in a cascading order so that only the title is visible as opposed to the entire cover. Alternatively, you could offer "family friendly" checkout aisles which do not have the magazine displays.

I can not express how grateful I would be to see the change occur. Please take the time to consider these suggestions. I appreciate hearing back from you regarding this email.

Sincerely, Jaclyn Penninga

This was first published as "One comment card and one email" in the October 2008 issue of Reformed Perspective.

News

Sanctuary cities for the unborn?

In a brilliant twist, small American towns are taking a tactic, popular among the Left, and using it to defend the unborn. In June 2019, Waskom, Texas became one of the first to declare itself a “sanctuary city for the unborn," banning all abortion within city limits. While the town council’s unanimous vote was largely symbolic – there are no abortion clinics within city limits – it was a symbol covered by the media across the US, and even on the other side of the world. This was a small town speaking up as loudly as it could about the plight of the unborn. Since then other towns, mostly in Texas, have followed Waskom’s example, with two more in January voting in similar ordinances. As LifeSiteNews.com’s Calvin Freiburger reported:

In addition to the declarations on abortion (which do not exempt abortions due to rape or incest), the measures empower families of post-abortive women the ability to sue abortionists for emotional distress, and the Colorado City version would also prohibit the sale of the contraceptive Plan B, which can also function as an abortifacient.

While these laws may not stand up to legal challenges, the attempt is a way to send a message. Some other towns that have considered such legislation have since backed away from fears they would get sued, but towns like Waskom, Naples, Joaquin, Tenaha, Gilmer and now Rusk and Colorado City have decided to take a stand, even if it might come with a cost. The term “sanctuary city” was first popularized in the US in the 1980s, but back then it wasn’t about defending the unborn but, rather, about sheltering illegal immigrants. Since then sanctuary cities have largely been used by the political Left with hundreds of cities pledging to do what they can to obstruct the federal government’s deportations of illegal immigrants. Whatever we might think about the issue of illegal immigration, we can recognize the genius in using this tool of the Left to defend the unborn from them. The Left will push back, but when they do their own sanctuary city initiatives will make it difficult for them to argue that lower levels of government must always listen to the higher levels. Of course, we know that no matter what a state or federal government might say, or a court too, it will always be wrong to murder unborn babies. Let’s pray that many other towns follow Waskom’s lead and create their own opportunities to loudly defend the unborn. You can learn more about this movement at SanctuaryCitiesForTheUnborn.com.

Adult biographies, Assorted, Book excerpts

When gray hair meets green

Age has its privileges and the freedom to dish out sympathetic sarcasm is one of them

****

Half his head is shaven. The middle part is green and the right side bright orange. He is clean, very clean. His red jeans are ripped, to show his boxer shorts. His torn T-shirt is white and clean. Lots of piercings; huge earlobe holes, like some African tribesman. Have not seen that since 1954.

He is talking to an old crying Native man. I see him going to the coffee counter and returning with a coffee and a bun and giving it to the Native man. That was the last I saw of him that day.

Two weeks later he wandered into the kitchen while Sue and I were trying to figure out how to feed about 80 people on 30 eggs and 72 buns. First we decided the staff would not eat that day. No worries there as this allowed me to stick to my diet plan. Someone brought in a hot apple strudel, six inches by twelve. We looked at it and just laughed.

He stood in the doorway as we boiled the eggs – very small eggs, not meant for sale and therefore donated to the shelter. He got in my way as I was peeling the eggs. Suddenly he found himself with a spoon and knife in his hand. “Cut the eggs right through the middle and scoop out the egg, dump it in the green bowl.” The old lady, me, had spoken.

He looked at me funny and went to work. One of the guys ran out and got a jar of Mayo. In no time at all, we had egg salad on the buns and got the kid to bring out the trays to the hungry.

When all the buns were gone and the apple strudel still on the counter, the kid got busy. He ran to the back freezer and came back with ice cream – two half full pails, chocolate and strawberry. It was just the two of us in the kitchen. He found the styrofoam soup bowls and plastic spoons. We divided the strudel into some 60 pieces and added two kinds of ice cream. When he carried the first tray out, he was greeted with a shout of “Dessert!”

Sue came back and took the second tray. He came back into the kitchen and again it was just the two of us working together. When everything was gone, he suddenly said: “The way I live I have about 10 to 15 years to live.”

“So do I,” I informed him dryly.

He glanced up at me with a stunned look on his face. Then he started talking again. “I’ve had fun. Got drunk every day, that’s why I’m here. Community service. Can’t wait to get back to drinking.”

“First time?” I asked him.

“No, the second and the last time,” he said.

I agreed and told him that the third time would probably be jail and even more fun.

He asked, “Well did you have a fun life?”

“Sure did and no splitting headache in the morning. Besides that, I can even remember the fun I had.” I asked him if he’d ever played in a band, toured Europe by motorbike, or traveled all over the world. I told him that I completely understood that going to a bar and spending the evening drinking and then staggering around with a splitting headache was, of course, much more fun. But at least I had fun for more years than he had had.

We cleaned the kitchen, no longer talking. Before he left, he told me he had six more hours to serve and probably would not see me again. I agreed with him and told him I realized that it would be jail for him. He left but came back a little while later. “Look,” he said, “if I ever want to be told off, can I look you up?”

“Sure, be glad to,” I replied. We grinned and shook hands! So now there is another kid in my prayers and I do not even know his name. 

This is a chapter from Gerda Vandenhaak’s book “Geertje: War Seen though the Eyes of a Child as an Adult” which is available at www.gerdavandenhaak.com or Alder and Elm Christian books (1 587-988-1619)


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