During Advent, we look forward liturgically, not only to the initial coming of Jesus Christ in a stable in Bethlehem, but to his second coming to judge the world. In so far as this is true, there is a profound sense in which our whole lives between the times are lived in a protracted Advent season as we await the inauguration of God’s kingdom in all its fulness. That this accompanies a divine judgement of the living and the dead and a final separation of sheep and goats (Matt. 25:31-46) is something we may prefer not to consider.
In August there were at least three mass shootings in the United States, including two in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, occurring on the same day. For more than two decades we have witnessed an increasing number of such tragedies, leaving Christians to try to grapple with them in a spiritually discerning fashion. Five days after the double shootings, the Christian Reformed Church (CRC) released a Statement on Mass Shootings attempting to bring the gospel to bear on them.
As I write, Canadians are once again in election mode. I could devote this space to evaluating the record of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government and the promises of the other party leaders. Instead I want to call attention to a significant anniversary that has been all but ignored by our political leaders and the media alike. Four hundred years ago, on 30 July 1619, Virginia’s colonial legislature, the General Assembly, first met. This marked the beginning of parliamentary government in the New World and would have a huge influence on the subsequent development of both the United States and Canada.
When I began writing Political Visions and Illusions in the mid 90s, communism had only recently come to an end in Europe and elsewhere, the 9/11 attacks still lay in the future, and Bill Clinton was in the White House.
It was supposed to be all about language. After the Parti Québécois formed its first provincial government in late 1976, it enacted Bill 101, the Charter of the French Language, which abolished Québec’s previous bilingual status and guaranteed the priority of the majority tongue.
Outside of my family, most people are probably unaware that I am only two generations removed from the practice of arranged marriage. My paternal grandparents were brought together by my grandmother’s eldest brother after their parents had died in a pandemic in Cyprus.
The world watched in horror as the Cathedral of Notre-Dame went up in smoke in Paris and my thoughts drifted back to my visit to the City of Lights at age 20. The student tour that I was on visited eight countries in the space of eight weeks, with tiny Liechtenstein possibly making for a ninth.
As a young man growing up in the America of the 1960s and 70s, I cut my political teeth on the Watergate scandal, which prompted me to change my undergraduate major from music to political science.
HERE IS HOW IT’S supposed to work. We enter the workforce in our 20s, possibly 30s if we’re academics, hoping to secure a job that will be, well, secure. We hope to grow in our jobs, advancing to a position of greater responsibility and higher pay.
On the last day of November, the 41st president of the United States, George Herbert Walker Bush, took his leave after 94 years, many of which were spent in the public spotlight. During his brief one-term presidency I did not always agree with his policies, but in the succeeding years I’ve come to conclude that he may have been the best of the post-war presidents.
Mary told us that she heard a voice,
A century after the Great War ended, God may be using his non-European followers to reverse some of its negative spiritual effects in Europe and elsewhere. That’s something to remember with gratitude and hope as we observe this year’s Remembrance Day.