“[One of the] challenges has been deciphering the contrasting and sometimes competing messages we’re given from above,” says a high school English teacher. “The ministry will announce something, the board will interpret it, administrators will chime in, then the union will tell us something different, and we all shrug our shoulders and do our best to institute a messy, poorly streamlined set of directions.”
Where do you normally find yourself at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve? Are you a stay-up-late-and-party kind of person? Perhaps you prefer to keep things low-key in the peace and quiet of your own home? Or maybe you acknowledge a new rotation around the sun by gathering with friends at church for a time of worship? Being on the west coast, we have the advantage of celebrating New Year’s with church friends at a more reasonable 9 p.m., as our kids watch the ball drop at midnight in New York City.
For me, Christmas will always mean baking. I grew up with a mom who made sure there were always homemade treats around, and Christmas meant triple the normal amount. I can recall so clearly my excitement when I saw Mom bring home the ingredients she’d be using over the next few weeks. One of my favourites was some sort of ball made with candied cherries, coconut and marshmallows. We also had mincemeat tarts, jam thumbprint cookies, pecan crescents, and (my dad and brother’s favourite) Scottish shortbread.
Did you know that loneliness is a bigger predictor of death than smoking cigarettes or inactivity? It’s also a huge risk factor for suicide – particularly among men.
Suicide is the second leading cause of death among men, namely those ages 15-44, according to Statistics Canada; and in the U.S., white men over 65 die by suicide at three times the normal rate, and are eight times more likely to die by suicide than women in that age bracket. In the UK, 12 men die of suicide every day, and it’s the number one killer of men under 45.
A few weeks ago, I got a text from a close friend saying he was on the Burlington Skyway, the 40-metre-high bridge running between Burlington and Hamilton, Ont., and he was going to jump. It was 3:30 p.m. With two kids just home from school, I hesitated to call the police. But after this person didn’t return my texts or calls, I called 911. They dispatched cruisers to the area and started to search. After several hours of back and forth with the police, they let me know they eventually found him safe and sound. He had been bluffing. I was relieved, but angry.
In a remote corner of my college office sits two full shelves of ‘tacky religious merchandise.’ Surprisingly, I have not purchased a single item of the collection ranging from the rubber ducky nativity set to the John Calvin bobble head doll. Instead, I simply curate the odd assortment of items that friends and fellow faculty members bring back from their treks around the world. Instead of gold, frankincense or myrrh, these wise men and women present their gifts to me andwait to see whether they will be deemed trick, treat or just plain tacky.
Should Christians watch horror films? It’s a question I’m continually asked, especially every year around Halloween. I somewhat agree with the affirmative answers others have given: that by focusing on the darkness, there is opportunity to shine a light; that many horror films are built upon an undergirding of morality. But I wonder if there’s a way to push this defense a bit further. Might there be a crucial connection between how the best horror films function and a Christian understanding of fear?
There is a 10-minute YouTube video with excerpts of Michelle Thrush’s one-woman play, Find Your Own Inner Elder. It has almost 1,800 views and 11 likes. Not the most viral video. There are also two comments, posted a year apart. Both comments say the same thing: She performed this show in my community.
“I think people are looking for a deeper experience of the Spirit moving,” said the Rev. Kristine O’Brien, from her office at Crieff Hills Retreat Centre. “They want to bear fruit, they want to connect. They’re seeking not just a cerebral faith, but an experiential faith.
In the 21st century, our world is plagued with all kinds of fighting. Between unrest in the Middle East, international disagreement on action for climate change and racial injustice in countries all over the world, many young people are looking for a place where they can be safe – a place they can feel at peace without worrying about politics and unrest.
I picked my daughter up from youth group one night and asked her how they spent their evening. “We played lots of games, had some snacks and a bible study.” I smiled and said, “sounds like fun, what was the bible study about?”
The greatest battle on earth is the one that takes place between our ears. The battle of the mind. It started when I began to squint my eyes for the camera. I wanted to create laughter lines in a laughter-less face.Then I began sucking in my cheeks. I liked how it made me look thinner, model-like.