Charting religious trends in Canada over the past 50 years has been a fascinating experience. Like the announcer who is calling the game from the booth, I have watched a wide range of Church leaders down on the field bask in the heady numerical glory days of the late 1960s, only to become less buoyant as the numbers started dropping in the 70s.
From the 1980s onward, it became clear that the Christian Church was starting to lose badly. By the end of the century, mainline protestants had conceded defeat, while evangelical leaders were determined to at least have prevailing churches, score a few runs and keep things at least somewhat respectable. But the game was clearly out of reach.
Looking back, all of us were pretty myopic. We thought that as Canada went, so went religion in Canada. So it was that we took our religious trends lead from what was happening in the Mainline Protestant domain – the United, Anglican, Presbyterian, and Lutheran churches. To the extent that evangelical groups were showing occasional signs of life, those of us in the booth saw such singles and walks as anomalies in need of explanations. Putting things in perspective, we looked to the secularization tide that allegedly had swept Europe, and conceded that our time had come. Continue reading Reginald Bibby on Canada’s Catholics: The World is Coming To Canada→
“The Church is better able to fulfil its prophetic role at arm’s length.” In light of the U.S. Presidential race, EFC President Bruce Clemenger reflects on the difference between calling for justice and remaining non-partisan.
The debate over whether evangelical leaders should endorse Donald Trump became more intense with the release of a 2005 video containing comments by the U.S. presidential nominee about making sexual advances toward married women and kissing and groping women without consent.
This revelation led one prominent evangelical ethicist, Wayne Grudem, to change his mind about endorsing Trump, and Christianity Today executive editor Andy Crouch wrote a strong editorial denouncing Trump and challenging those Evangelicals who support his candidacy. Others, such as Jerry Falwell Jr. have maintained their support. Media outlets are pursuing others who had publicly supported Trump to see whether the events of the last few weeks have changed their minds.
The other day I interviewed Doug Koop, a spiritual health practitioner, and David Guretzki, a theology professor and seminary dean at Briercrest College & Seminary, about how to best help those who are suffering. It was our latest EFC webinar, based on the cover story of our Sep/Oct Faith Today, which Koop wrote.
Where can you find, all in one place, the major responses from Christian organizations to the December 2015 final report from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada on the history of residential schools for Canada’s Indigenous Peoples?
Here’s an attempt at collecting such a list. For readers interested in digging deeper or organizing a study group, two especially good resources to start with are the Mennonite resource Wrongs to Rights (free samples online) and the spring 2016 issue of the Baptist periodical Mosaic (view complete issue free online).
I just listened to a CBC radio editorial, in acknowledgement of the upcoming Thanksgiving weekend, about the difficulty of teaching gratitude to children who have so much.
The conundrum for the radio host seemed to be that the more your child has, the less likely it is they will feel thankful, because they don’t know what it’s like to be without. It sounds like the station will dedicate one of its shows to explore this topic of how to be thankful. The host reassured parents there are resources available to help them to help their kids be thankful.
As the mother of three now almost grown children I have coached my kids, like moms everywhere throughout time, to say “thank you.” Thousands of times. Thank you for this, thank you for that. You have to teach them because often it does not come naturally.
And sometimes you are making your child say thank you for a sweater they will never wear, a toy they already own, a blob of turnip casserole on their plate they will not enjoy eating. You can make them say it, but you can’t make them feel it.
For three days straight, my computer was my lifeline to one of the most important events my family has experienced. A lifetime of dedication, faith, perseverance and training led my sister, Jessica Phoenix, to the Rio Olympics – her second Olympic Games and another roller coaster of emotion for our family cheering from home.
Jessie has competed in the equestrian sport of eventing since she was 11 years old. It’s the triathlon of equestrian sport, where horse and rider contest dressage, cross-country jumping and show jumping over three days. On cross-country day the element of danger runs high as horse and rider gallop across acres of fields jumping solid obstacles that make my blood run cold – think five-foot ditches, formidable banks and large drops into water. Crossing the finish line is a feat in itself, with a third of the contingent usually falling off or retiring on course. As her sister, the number one thing on my mind is Jessie’s safety. Continue reading Faith Today writer shares what it’s like to have a sister in the Olympics→
The Amazon basin, also known as the Green Window, is the hidden home to thousands of indigenous tribes and communities. The people there live in what could be deemed primitive conditions and extreme levels of poverty, often struggling for survival.
The Green Window has also become home to riverside communities of Portuguese-speaking peoples living in similar conditions to the hidden indigenous tribes. Though they share the same obstacles to development, these Brazilian communities are often marginalized and have become vulnerable because they are not recognized and protected by the government.
Indigenous tribes do not self identify as Brazilians. They are usually hostile to outsiders and have their own unique culture and way of life. In recent years they have faced great risk from exposure to the darker elements of modern society. Drugs, alcohol and various other vices have reached these communities. The Brazilian government has wisely recognized the need to protect their culture and has developed certain rights and protections allowing local tribes a slightly better opportunity to avoid exploitation. Continue reading What we might not know about the Amazon→
[Editor’s note: this is an advance peek at an important article we’ll be formally publishing in our Nov/Dec issue.]
Vancouver is rightly celebrated for being one of the most liveable urban regions in the world. Yet Vancouver’s very success has contributed to profound spiritual confusion and social dysfunction among its residents.
The gospel has always fallen on rocky ground here in “Lotus Land,” where religion is a four letter word and spirituality is merely an optional accessory for a self-fashioned life in the cultural convergence zone between West and East.
But fashioning a life here is immensely difficult. In this city of immigrants, where elementary schools have ESL rates as high as 65 per cent and the majority of residents move every five years, civic leaders consider loneliness and the lack of social cohesion to be more devastating than the fast-rising cost of housing.
Or at least they did until recently. The century-old joke that land speculation is the favourite blood sport of Vancouverites isn’t funny anymore. With offshore investors driving the composite benchmark price of all housing types in the metro area to $845,000 in April ($1.4 million for a detached house), even secular newspaper columnists are openly wondering if the “resort municipality” of Vancouver is “losing its soul” as it empties of families and young people. Continue reading How is God at work in Vancouver?→
I felt a little bit like a little old lady (sorry little old ladies!). I sat in the front row of a Christian writers conference in the States, beside my friend Patricia Paddey. One of the speakers swore a bit of a blue streak from the podium. To make her point. To make us laugh. To shock us.
It did all of those things, of course, as a well-placed cuss word can.
But it got us talking later about the looseness of language we hear more and more amongst our brothers and sisters in Christ. It seems to be more okay today than before to swear. We may have actually “tut tutted” a bit as we chatted about it.
The other day I walked through our family room, spotted a book on grief, and flipped it over so I didn’t have to see the cover. It was part of my husband’s pile of books and materials in transit. These books live on the side table no-man’s land until they take up permanent residency in his office or in our home.
I flipped over the book because, in that moment, I was tired of hearing about grief and other sad things.
Grief and other sad things are all a big part of his life in ministry, and my life by connection. And part of my life — and I’m sure yours — by just being human and caring about other people.
We will explore how best to care for those who are suffering, and also how best to care for ourselves while we do it, in an upcoming EFC webinar on Wed. Sept. 28.
I will be interviewing two Canadians intimately familiar with suffering and caring for those who are in pain or times of deep challenge. Doug Koop is the author of Faith Today‘s Sep/Oct cover story on how to help the suffering and will be joining us from Winnipeg where he is a spiritual health practitioner. David Guretzki, a theology professor and seminary dean at Briercrest College & Seminary in Caronport, Sask., will also join us. Guretzki teaches, among other topics, “In Sickness and in Health: Biblical Perspectives on Marriage and Chronic Illness.”
I’m looking forward to this time to ask questions like: How do we best help someone going through a terrible time? What can we learn? What can we give? What doesn’t help? And…how do you help when what you really want to do is flip over the book and walk away?