Thursday, 1 November 2018

Post 236--Private Schools and Public Schools Are Complementary

Beth Green wrote this article about  Private and Public Schools being complementary, not against each other. She should know, for she is engaged in deep professional research on the topic under the umbrella of the Christian Canadian think tank Cardus. Her title says it clearly: "Private schools form and important part of BC's school system" (Vancouver Sun, October 26, 2018, p. G3).

She offers her opinion in view of the unrelenting opposition to private schools in the province. It is like everything else many of our secular neighbours talk about: If it's Christian and/or independent in education, they will have little truck with it.  That, at least, is the case with 39% of the province's population--hardly a majority. I was, in fact, surprised to read this statistic. It's not as bad as I thought. I think it's a case of the loud minority vs a silent majority.  Canadian Christians tend to be a quietist lot, something that annoys me to no end. I've noticed that throughout the 43 years of my adult life that I've been abroad.

Well, Beth's article makes for worthwhile reading. So, go for it and enjoy--and do a rethink if you're among that loud minority. Here goes.....

Pacific Academy is an independent Christian school in Surrey. JASON PAYNE JASON PAYNE / VANCOUVER SUN
It’s about time we recognized a simple fact about B.C. education. The province’s independent schools are a positive complement to public schools.
While not identical in their methods or environments, both help to achieve the common good purpose of educating the public. And new research is now establishing how independent schools contribute to educating the whole person, not just academically but socially.
We can now confidently say that B.C.’s independent school graduates cultivate diverse social ties, are active and engaged members of their communities, are committed to the well-being of their neighbours and are ready to give of both time and resources. And, as a bonus, they generally look back on their high school days positively. It so happens they also feel more strongly than public school grads do that they’re prepared to face real life.
This more complete look at provincial school outcomes comes thanks to the newly published B.C. findings of the 2018 Cardus Education Survey. It compares B.C.’s public school graduates to grads from Catholic, Evangelical Protestant and non-religious independent schools. Controlling for things like family background and income, we’re able to isolate the effect that schools have on students. The results are telling.
Take civic engagement. Many Canadians worry about the loss of civility in our culture, the decline in how welcoming our country is and a drop in charitable giving. There’s evidence that B.C. independent schools are helping to counteract those negative trends.
B.C.’s Protestant schools seem to shine in developing students who grow to be generous adults. Of all grads in B.C., they’re most likely to donate money to help others.
Non-religious independent schools, meanwhile, produce graduates who are 2.2 times more likely than public-school grads to volunteer. That’s a strong sign of social engagement. Religious independent school grads also display diverse social ties.
Evangelical Protestant school graduates are just as likely as public-school grads to have a friend who is gay or lesbian, a recent immigrant, of a different race, a co-worker, has a university degree, makes more than $100,000 annually, or makes less than $25,000 annually. Catholic independent school grads are almost identical to the evangelicals in this area.
B.C. independent schools don’t just help shape student character. They also help in other, more pragmatic, ways.
Non-religious and Catholic independent schools seem to excel in preparing graduates for careers. Their graduates reported average incomes up to $16,000 higher than public or evangelical Protestant grads. The non-religious and Catholic independent school grads were also more likely to attend university or a graduate program. Evangelical Protestant and public school grads were tied on that score.
And B.C. independent schools of all types seem to be doing well in preparing students for “real life.” Survey respondents (all of whom are aged 24 to 39) rated their former high schools on how those institutions prepared them for things like work, post-secondary school, and religious life. Now at least six years out of high school, those who graduated from an independent school felt more strongly than their public-school counterparts that their school had prepared them well.
The findings are clear. Independent schools are a productive and positive part of the B.C. education system, educating more than one in 10 students. Independent enrolment continues to grow, providing the province with a cost-effective means of meeting a diverse set of schooling needs. So, it’s not surprising that 61 per cent of British Columbians said in 2017 that they supported full or partial government funding for religious schools.
B.C.’s independent and public schools are complementary parts of one education system. They can and should learn from each other. The sooner we recognize this, the better the province will be able to improve education for everybody.

Monday, 29 October 2018

Post 235--"Human Rights"

Recently the European Court of Human Rights upheld an Austrian woman's conviction of calling Prophet Muhammad a pedophile. The conviction, it ruled, did not restrict her freedom of speech. The "Court's" judgement was approved by a higher court apparently who ruled that the earlier one had "carefully  balanced her right to freedom of expression with the right of others to have their religious feelings protected."  She is said to have publicly declared that the Prophet's marriage to a young girl was akin to "pedophilia."  Back in 2011 she was convicted of "disparaging religious doctrines" and ordered to pay a fine of  $713 plus costs, a ruling that was also upheld in higher places (The Associated Press, Vancouver Sun, October 26, 2018)

I do not know enough about that marriage to argue for or against the woman's opinion.  Even if I had enough data to support her opinion, I would definitely not state it this way in public. As a Christian, I have no desire to insult what my neighbour holds dear and precious, even if I disagree with him. I may wish to convince him of another truth and change her mind about his own, but I would do so with respect in the fashion of dialogue, where two partners explain their different opinions, opposing, contradictory opinions even, but always with respect. 

The only time I would turn more vociferous would be when "the other" becomes unjust or oppressive. If it were an extreme case, I might lose it.

You may have noticed that I placed quotation marks around "court" in the first paragraph. There's a good reason for that, at least from the Canadian point of view. Canadian human rights "courts" are anything but courts. Not infrequently they are described as "kangaroo courts." They hand out sentences without the solid data that characterize the more standard courts.  I've had no experience with them, but I read the newspapers and too often read about the soft "legal" --there's those quotation marks again!-- reasoning practiced in these  "courts," reasoning based more on bias and prejudice than on facts and legalities. Whether this holds true for their parallels in the EU, I am not sure.   

Of course, Christians who read the Bible literally can find plenty of excuses for berating other religions. The Old Testament (OT) makes short thrift of the pagan religions that surround Israel without any attempt at showing respect. The New Testament (NT) has its own examples. Jesus, in fact, castigates the leaders of His own religion something fierce, for having twisted its spirit and turning it into a vehicle of oppression. He leaves our Austrian woman far behind in the dust with His insults! The issue for Him was that the good of the best religion was so thwarted and abused that it became impossible for our Lord even to control Himself. He became totally disrespectful in public! He became a model revolutionary!

So, there is a place for lack of respect, for telling it as it really is, but there has to be a pretty good reason for that. Jesus pushed the line for appropriateness; I would  not go beyond Him, for His was based on true insight and wisdom and on love for the poor who were the victims.

In today's Vancouver, the egoism and greed of the property owners would probably evoke the same outburst from Jesus as did the religious leaders of His day. It is no wonder that entire groups of residents blare and yell it out in often brutal language. It is a shame that the Church and individual Christians are playing the same game as their secular counterparts. I am ashamed of them and am moving closer to shouting down especially church leaders who only bring bandages and ambulance service to the homeless, instead of attacking the systemic issues of greed and selfishness. 

But, to come back to our Austrian lady, should she have said what she did?  I would probably say "no."  But should she have the legal freedom of speech to say it?  I would probably say "yes."  Freedom of speech should not be restricted by emotions and bias. Political correctness is going too far. But that's human rights "courts" for you.  

Saturday, 27 October 2018

Post 234--The Word and words

Hi, I'm back. It's been too long, I know. I have given excuses and reasons for long absentees, but won't waste your time on that today.  Flew in from Boston last night and am still jet lagged. So, I hope that the lag does not make me sound lagged!  At any rate, the piece below is not mine; so, it should be safe. 

I do hope I will be more faithful from now on.  The pressure of my other writings is less, which gives me more freedom to pay attention to this blog.  Happy reading!


When I first posted this poem on facebook I prefaced it with this remark: For different reasons we have all on both sides of the Atlantic, been reflecting on the way our words can travel and unravel beyond us, on the need to care for the tenor of what we say, here’s a poem reflecting further on that:
 But I say unto you, that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.” Mathew 12:36-37

What if every word we say
Never ends or fades away,
Gathers volume gathers weigh,
Drums and dins us with dismay
Surges on some dreadful day
When we cannot get away
Whelms us till we drown?

What if not a word is lost,
What if every word we cast
Cruel, cunning, cold, accurst,
Every word we cut and paste
Echoes to us from the past
Fares and finds us first and last
Haunts and hunts us down?

What if every murmuration,
Every otiose oration
Every oath and imprecation,
Insidious insinuation,
Every blogger’s aberration,
Every facebook fabrication
Every twittered titivation,
Unexamined asservation
Idiotic iteration,
Every facile explanation,
Drags us to the ground?

What if each polite evasion
Every word of defamation,
Insults made by implication,
Querulous prevarication,
Compromise in convocation,
Propaganda for the nation
False or flattering peruasion,
Blackmail and manipulation
Simulated desparation
Grows to such reverberation
That it shakes our own foundation,
Shakes and brings us down?

Better that some words be lost,
Better that they should not last,
Tongues of fire and violence.
O Word through whom the world is blessed,
Word in whom all words are graced,
Do not bring us to the test,
Give our clamant voices rest,
And the rest is silence.

Also published (and audio reading)

Wednesday, 26 September 2018

Post 233--Cocaine in Bananas!

As I told you yesterday, I sent an email to the person I hope can help me with the technicalities of running a blog. He has not yet responded, but the history between us gives me every reason he will at least response--and, I hope, do more than just respond.  Today's post is in good shape. For some reason Jim Denison's Forum always fits this blog exactly as to format, font, etc.  So, today we're in for an easy ride.  Thanks, Jim.

Jim's Forum today starts with a hair raising story about cocaine hidden in bananas delivered to a prison.  And not just a little bit--$18 million dollars worth!  From there he takes off on the question of "Christ and Culture," a subject that has been on the Christian radar ever since the days of Christ.  

Well, that has always been the central focus of this blog as well, even if it is not always specified explicitly. Jim mentions Abraham Kuyper and his famous saying about "every square inch" of this world, whether nature or culture or anything else, belonging to Christ. My wife and I have even published our memoirs under that title:  Every Square Inch: A Missionary Memoir.... See  

But that focus does not exclude publishing occasional hard-hitting posts, when that becomes necessary. Post 232 is one of those--a blunt political statement. This is not a mushy perspective that always is couched in gentlemen's or politically correct language. Christianity demands hard choices and blunt language at times. If you expect me to separate politics from faith, you're knockin' on the wrong door. Church & state--yes, they must be kept separate to protect both, but politics and faith is a different story. They cannot be separated, for every type of politics is undergirded by some perspective  or belief, whether just assumed or explicitly spelled out. 

Well, lest I steal Jim's thunder, I will let you free to munch on Jim's column for today.

$18 million worth of cocaine found in bananas
September 26, 2018  |  READ TIME: 4 minutes
Speaking to the United Nations General Assembly yesterday, President Trump stated that American culture is built on “deep faith.”
For evidence, we could point to Rolling Stone‘s headline: “A Christian Singer Is Bigger Than Drake and Ariana Grande This Week.” Lauren Daigle’s new album topped records by Drake, Ariana Grande, and Nicki Minaj on the Billboard 200.
Or we could note Pew Research Center’s report that more than 70 percent of Americans identify as Christians. America’s largest religious demographic is “Evangelical Protestant” at 25.4 percent.
However, America’s second-largest religious demographic is “Unaffiliated (religious ‘nones’)” at 22.8 percent. This is a larger percentage than “Catholic” (20.8 percent) or “Mainline Protestant” (14.7 percent).
As a sign of our troubled times, the Washington Post reports that homicides in Washington, DC, have now surpassed the number of people killed in the city in all of 2017. As another sign of the times, a group of protesters heckled Sen. Ted Cruz and his wife inside a Washington restaurant, forcing them to leave early.

Is culture like the weather?

As God’s people living in a fallen world, God’s word calls us to embrace a transformative balance.
We are warned to “touch no unclean thing” (Isaiah 52:11, quoted by Paul in 2 Corinthians 6:17). Much of our culture is off-limits for sincere followers of Jesus.
As D. A. Carson notes in his perceptive Christ and Culture Revisited, some evangelicals liken the culture to the weather–we can’t change it, so we should focus on individual souls and leave society to itself.
However, others claim that we earn the right to share Christ with people by first responding to the systemic issues they face–poverty, sex trafficking, and so on. We must engage culture to engage those affected by culture.
Both “sides” can claim biblical warrant. Jesus won Zacchaeus to himself (Luke 19:1-10), but he did not confront the evils of Roman taxation that Zacchaeus represented. However, like the Old Testament prophets before him, our Lord condemned the hypocrisy inherent in the cultural systems of his day (cf. Matthew 23:1-36).
According to Carson, we should serve people and serve culture, but we should serve Christ above all. Abraham Kuyper was right: “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is sovereign over all, does not cry, ‘Mine!'” (his emphasis).

The most countercultural leader of all time?

God’s call to engage culture for Christ means that we must sometimes act in countercultural ways.
Daniel prayed to God in direct defiance of the king’s command (Daniel 6:6-11). Peter and John refused the Jewish Supreme Court’s demand that they cease preaching the gospel (Acts 4:18-20). Paul defied his Jewish culture in welcoming Gentiles without qualification into God’s family (Galatians 2:15-21).
Jesus may have been the most countercultural leader of all time. It’s hard to think of anything he did that did not defy the conventional wisdom of his day in some way.
He assembled his apostolic band from Galilean businessmen rather than Judean rabbis. From harvesting grain on the Sabbath (Mark 2:23-27) to touching a leper (Matthew 8:3) to befriending a Samaritan woman (John 4) to eating with “tax collectors and sinners” (Matthew 9:10-13), his ministry defied the expectations of his culture. Even when the crowds welcomed him as their Messiah (Matthew 21:1-10), he shocked them by dying on a Roman cross.
It stands to reason that those who serve God must oppose those who oppose him.

“We must be made disciples supernaturally”

But here’s where our call becomes more complicated: our Lord wants us to stand against sin, but he also wants us to love sinners.
Upon learning that God had rejected Saul because of his disobedience, Samuel “cried to the Lord all night” (1 Samuel 15:11). Paul had “great sorrow and unceasing anguish” in his heart for his lost Jewish kinsmen (Romans 9:2). Jesus wept over Jerusalem’s rejection of their Messiah (Luke 19:41-44).
“Speaking the truth in love” is God’s word for us today (Ephesians 4:15). Such compassion for the lost mirrors the heart of a Father who is “not wishing that any should perish” (2 Peter 3:9) but wants everyone to “turn, and live” (Ezekiel 18:32).
And it earns us a hearing with those we are called to serve. We can reject the criticisms of an enemy far more easily than those of a friend.

A prayer in the dark

I was walking in my neighborhood early yesterday morning and marveled at the beauty of the full moon. The darker the streets I walked, the brighter the moon seemed.
I found myself praying that the Son would be reflected in my life as fully as the sun was reflected in the moon. I prayed that I would set aside anything that blocks my ability to reflect God’s truth and love to those who need them. And I prayed that I would stay faithful in the dark until the Son returns at dawn.

Tuesday, 25 September 2018

Post 232--Intolerant Liberals

PRELIMINARY NOTE:  You may still nurse your annoyance over Post 228. I left it in an awful mess. I am painfully aware of that and it is the reason I did not do much with this blog for some time. I am terribly embarrassed. I simply do not have the technical savvy to help me correct or understand some of the tech stuff this blog requires. Even this paragraph is not the way it is supposed to be. However, I may well have found someone who can correct some things for me and even teach me how to navigate better in this blog.  So, I crave your understanding, sympathy and patience. My next action after sending off this blog is to contact that person and see how we can work together without it costing me a fortune, which I cannot afford as a retired missionary.

...  Andrew Scheer said it best:

“When people don’t agree with Justin Trudeau, they get silenced, or they get insulted.”

I am not a politician, but I do pay some attention to politics. When I returned to BC after some 30 years in Nigeria, 15 in the US and a short 2 back in Europe,  It occurred to me several times that perhaps I should devote my retirement years to local or provincial politics. However, as I settled into Vancouver's downtown and read the newspapers I soon became disenchanted. So much of it seemed so either downright stupid or ridden with egoism and lust for power. In fact, a friend who served as a BC MLA bowed out after one term. He explained it is disgustingly all about power. Secondly, I discovered that an MLA or an MP is nothing but a small boy/girl to the party leader. Well, I am not cut out to be anyone's small boy, even less a small girl!

I am not particularly favourable to any of Canada's political parties. I may be somewhat conservatively inclined, but definitely not that of the Conservative Party. Nevertheless, I have voted conservative occasionally, but with a heavy heart, for they don't really embody my values. In some ways, I find them traitors.  

But a party I have never voted for are the Federal Liberals. They are totally disgusting to me, especially our PM.  He may be a nice person and I might enjoy him as my next-door neighbour, but as politician or, God forbid in the future, as a PM?  I've never seen a prouder lot in all my life. They actually think the country owes them the power to govern!  Actually, they are among the most self-ignorant people I've ever met. They are totally unaware of the basic worldview that rules them. And then to think that there are Christians among them. I do not doubt their faith, but they can be there only out of ignorance. I advise them and everyone else to read Trudeau Sr.'s book on Liberalism and you will see how deeply individualistic liberalism is; no real room for community.  It's all about ME; hardly ever about WE.

Well, here I am, throwing every pretense at neutrality over the cliff. Today I am leaving you with some campaign smear about the Trudeau clique from the Conservatives. I usually don't take such campaign stuff seriously.  They are paid to smear. But I'm a Christian: I don't smear, though I will tell the truth even if unpleasant. It seems to me that the following Conservative smear is onto something I am encouraging you to read. And feel free to share your opinion with me.   

Hear!  Hear!

... the Liberals have been ramping up their smear tactics as we get closer to the next election:
  • When our Deputy Leader Lisa Raitt questioned Bill Morneau on why their government has failed to live up to their feminist rhetoric – he called her a "Neanderthal."
  • When our MP Todd Doherty rightfully questioned Justin Trudeau about his government’s ethics – Trudeau called him disgusting.
  • When Ontario Cabinet Minister Lisa MacLeod was concerned about the pressures and costs that Trudeau’s border crisis put on the province’s immigration system – Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen called her “un-Canadian.”
  • And just last week, our MP Bob Saroya questioned Bill Blair about the crisis at our border – so Blair accused Conservatives of wanting to put babies in cages.
It was unbelievable, Jan / John, even for Liberals.
You know the Liberals are losing an argument when they start falsely smearing and insulting you.
It’s the ugliest kind of politics and something we continually see out of these Trudeau Liberals.
As soon as the Liberals face any kind of legitimate criticism or questions, their “sunny ways” and “positive politics” come to an end and they head straight to the gutter while trying to look holier than thou.
It’s the same old Liberal tactic of lie, slander, and fearmonger…
… while still claiming to be the party of rainbows, sunshine, and lollipops.
The Liberals can smear us and the millions of Canadians with real questions all they want.
Canada’s Conservatives will continue to put forward Andrew Scheer’s positive Conservative vision for Canada – where taxes are low, government is limited, opportunity is unlimited, freedom is shared, and people are put before government!