Tag Archives: Kevin Flatt

An Interview with the authors of “Theology Matters” study

The recent study “Theology Matters: Comparing the Traits of Growing and Declining Mainline Protestant Church Attendees and Clergy” grabbed the attention of mainline media in Canada. The study showed that mainline churches that grow in Canada tend to be theologically  more conservative, led by pastors who engage more regularly in personal religious practices, and attended by Canadians who also engage more regularly in such practices.

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The Jan/Feb issue of Faith Today digs into the study and asks questions we haven’t seen asked anywhere else — such as how mainline denominational leaders are responding to a study that shows church growth is found in the opposite direction theologically in which their denominations tend to be moving. We felt like readers might want even more than is in the article, so our FT team went back to two of the study’s authors (David Haskell and Kevin Flatt) and asked more questions. Here is our interview…
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Sex, Drugs, Religion and the Canadian Church in the 1960s

Kevin Flatt is associate professor of history and director of research at Redeemer University College, Ancaster, Ont., and a history columnist for Faith Today magazine. This week on the Faith Today blog we feature some of our favourite Flatt columns.

by Kevin Flatt

Maybe it’s the colourful and chaotic world of the hippie movement, with its tie-dye shirts, long hair and music festivals.

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Maybe it’s the sense of hope that accompanied Canada’s centennial celebrations in 1967 or the grainy TV images of the first moon landing in 1969.

Or maybe it’s darker themes of social unrest, drug use and political assassinations. Depending on your age, you may simply think back to what was happening in your own life during those years – a first kiss, a first car, a first child.

For most of us the 1960s conjures up images of change, and for good reason.

The baby boom generation, born in the years after World War II, came of age then with more of them attending high school and university than in any previous generation. Televisions became a standard feature of Canadian living rooms. New hairstyles, clothing and music appeared on the scene, all driven by a burgeoning youth market with disposable income.

More controversially, people began to abandon the Christian sexual ethic as popular culture and the birth control pill made premarital sex a more socially acceptable and (apparently) risk-free option.
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Ever Heard of a Canadian Christian Hippie?

Kevin Flatt is associate professor of history and director of research at Redeemer University College, Ancaster, Ont., and a history columnist for Faith Today magazine. This week on the Faith Today blog we feature some of our favourite Flatt columns.

by Kevin Flatt

Everyone has heard of the hippie movement of the 1960s and 1970s. With their bright clothing, outlandish behaviour and psychedelic music, hippies attracted attention – often intentionally.

hippie

But what about a Christian hippie? Was such a thing even possible?

The Jesus People thought so. Jesus People was the name of a North American movement of the early 1970s made up of hippies who had become Christians through charismatic evangelicalism. The hippie subculture was in a state of crisis at the time, as many hippies descended into drug addictions and abject poverty. The Jesus People movement provided a way out at a time when the established churches and “straight” society as a whole seemed remote and unfamiliar.

While the Jesus People movement began in California – early Christian rock musician Larry Norman was an important figure in the movement there – it also sprouted up in various parts of Canada.

Downtown Toronto had a thriving Jesus People scene. According to historian Bruce Douville the focal point for this movement was the Catacombs Fellowship, which began as a small Bible study led by Scarborough high school students, but quickly grew into a major weekly downtown worship service of up to 2,000 young people. One of the Catacomb’s aims was to introduce hippies to Jesus, and at its peak it was not unusual for there to be 50 conversions per week.

Another manifestation of the Jesus People in Toronto was the House of Emmaus, a small Christian commune. Robert Velick, the founder, had been heavily involved in drugs and Eastern spirituality – even renaming himself “Wu,” a term from Daoist philosophy – but had become a follower of Jesus after a friend encouraged him to read through the Bible. Like the Catacombs Fellowship, the House of Emmaus had a significant outreach to the downtown youth community, and even conducted mass public baptisms – in Toronto Harbour in May, no less!
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When Disaster Struck Halifax: The Church Rallied

Kevin Flatt is associate professor of history and director of research at Redeemer University College, Ancaster, Ont., and a history columnist for Faith Today magazine. This week on the Faith Today blog we feature some of our favourite Flatt columns.Screen Shot 2015-05-12 at 10.29.00 AM

Just before 9:05 a.m. on the morning of December 6, 1917, the largest man-made explosion up to that point in history tore through Halifax. The Mont-Blanc, a French munitions ship packed with explosives, caught fire after a collision in the harbour and ran aground at Pier 6. Within minutes, 2.5 km2 of the city had been flattened by the blast and the ensuing tsunami. Part of the Mont-Blanc’s anchor, weighing 450 kg, was thrown through the air and landed over 3 km away.

The tragedy was the result of a series of mistakes and miscommunications between the Mont-Blanc, entering the harbour, and a departing Norwegian ship, the Imo.

Halifax was a busy wartime port. The safe passage of ships into and out of the harbour was governed by careful protocols, but somehow the Imo collided with the Mont-Blanc causing the fire that triggered the catastrophic explosion. Final responsibility for the collision was hotly disputed for years in the courts, though it seems both ships made serious errors in navigational judgment.

The consequences were severe. More than 1,600 people were killed in the initial explosion, with the total death toll eventually reaching closer to 2,000. Another 9,000 or so were injured, many seriously. The explosion rendered 6,000 Haligonians homeless and left another 25,000 – about half the city’s population – without proper shelter.
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5 Reasons Why You Should Bother With History

By Kevin Flatt

My life is saturated with history. I teach it every fall and winter term at Redeemer University College, in the form of courses on everything from the development of Western Civilization to the totalitarian regimes of the twentieth century. I carry out historical research and publish the results in books and academic articles. I write the History Lesson column for Faith Today.

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