Vaclav Smil is a Czech-Canadian scientist and policy analyst. He is Distinguished Professor Emeritus in the Faculty of Environment at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Manitoba. The title of his most recent book may be a little misleading. The book is not primarily for ignoramuses like me who wish to understand how our modern…
“You cannot serve God and Mammon [wealth]” (Matt. 6:24). The famous 1936 Olympics in Berlin were organized to be Adolph Hitler’s showcase of Aryan superiority. Ironically, Jesse Owens, a Black American athlete, won a record five gold medals for the USA in track events. So much for white supremacy. The ancient Olympic Games were celebrated…
I started writing columns for Christian Courier (CC) about four years ago. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading them as much as I have writing them. Four years of column writing is a pretty puny time-period when one considers that this fine periodical is celebrating its 75th anniversary this fall. As a Dutch immigrant kid in the 1950s…
“Doubting Thomas,” that practical, no-nonsense disciple of Jesus, would fit well in our modern world’s philosophy that “seeing is believing.” Thomas would have nothing to do with fantastical stories of a risen Jesus. No, Thomas wanted empirical proof – the proof of his senses. He wanted to see the wound in Jesus’ side and touch the scars in his pierced hands.
When I retrieved my morning newspaper from the mailbox the day after Canada Day, there, on the front page, was a photograph of a large group of people on Parliament Hill holding up various placards expressing their opposition to many of the restrictions on their “freedoms” occasioned by the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In my last column (June 8), I wrote that, “Going to university or technical school has never and will never save anyone, irrespective of whether one majors in philosophy or computer engineering. Only the sacrificial death of the Lord Jesus can do that.” If this is indeed the case, why would a young Christian person attend a college or university at all, especially since it’s expensive and may not even lead to a well-paying job?
The Greek philosophers believed that the acquisition of certain forms of analytic knowledge would set a person free from ignorance and lead to certain understanding of the Good. From this Greek notion came the belief that a liberal arts education is somehow essential to the making of good people. Even today, within some circles (both Christian and secular) there is a strong belief in the almost salvific value of a liberal arts education.
There have been many words of tribute in this newspaper to former CC editor, Bert Witvoet. My interactions with Bert were limited to a few exchanges I had with him when he was Editor of the Christian Educators’ Journal in the 1990s. I do recall that Bert was released from his Christian high school teaching position for daring to expose his students to J.D. Salinger’s novel Catcher in the Rye.
In 1958, after having lived in Canada for seven years, my father decided that it was time for us to become Canadian citizens. My mother, with a Grade 5 Dutch education and limited English, was very worried that she would not pass the test. I remember coming home from school and finding my Mom ecstatic about having succeeded and now being a Canadian citizen.
Lest you, gentle reader, think that there has been some mistake by me, the author, and by Angela Reitsma Bick, CC’s editor, in writing and publishing a column about lewd and lascivious matters, let us hasten to assure you that this is not the case. The game I am talking about here pertains (originally) to the naming of groups of animals that one would hunt. Venery (from the Latin venari, to hunt) means “sports of the chase” or simply: hunting.
Apparently, I missed two very important days this past November. First, I missed World Kindness Day on November 13, and, a little later, the even more important Random Acts of Kindness Day, November 29. Wikipedia tells me that Random Acts of Kindness Day (RAK Day) was first created in Denver Colorado in 1995, but it achieved real traction in New Zealand in 2004 and has since spread to many other parts of the world. In order not to miss out on this important day in 2020, I am hereby giving you important advance notice that RAK Day will be celebrated in North America this coming Sunday, February 17.
In 1999 I bought a 1984 Volkswagen Westfalia Camper Van in a moment of futuristic nostalgia. At the time of its purchase it already had about 350,000 km on the odometer, but I thought it might still have enough life left to produce many fond memories of family road trips and camping pleasure without the pain of on-the-ground tenting. Dubbed by my wife Louisa as “Bob’s bright green pleasure machine” (see photo), it served us valiantly and well (though not economically) for about 10 years.