There’s a reason Jesus told stories. We human beings are hardwired to see the world through the lens of stories. A couple of psychologists, Fritz Heider and Marianne Simmel of Smith College in Massachusetts, proved this in 1944. They showed 36 college students a short film, which showed two triangles and a circle moving across a two-dimensional surface.
Heresy is that which deviates from established beliefs. Christianity itself is therefore a heresy. Christianity challenges established beliefs in our culture. It is hard for a heresy to get a hearing because it seems foreign. I completed a strange semester with students at the University of Iowa as a campus pastor this year, while also teaching at a private college with a Reformed heritage. All my students have some church background, but their foreground is more Western culture.
Come on! While we are honoured to be asked to deliver this weirdest of graduation speeches to the graduating class of 2020, what could we possibly say that John Krasinski hasn’t said already? How does one compete with Oprah Winfrey or Barack Obama as your graduation guests? Haven’t they and others of international calibre said it all by now? We’ve heard that these are unprecedented times. Likely you’ve heard that too.
Intelligence itself is difficult to define. And there is often a gap between philosophers and engineers in how to understand artificial intelligence (AI). Philosophers distinguish between the concept of “weak” and “strong” AI. In the first case, the machines act as if they are intelligent; in the latter, they would be actually thinking and not just simulating the thinking, which includes the possibility of reflection (an activity philosophers refer to as a “conscience”).
The Coronavirus pandemic swiftly brought into focus our shared vulnerability and humanity on a global scale. We are lonely, confused and scared. Yet amidst these difficulties, we have come to recognize the blessing of digital technologies and how they can connect us during this time of social distancing. As for schools across the world, teleconferencing software has enabled me to continue my classes at Calvin University.
This month, we are delighted to welcome Jonathan Elgersma as Social Media Editor with Christian Courier for the summer. Jonathan is currently studying Mathematics at the University of Waterloo. He describes himself as having a passion for sports as well as an interest in building up relationships with people around him. He lives in Richmond Hill, Ontario, with his parents and two siblings, and says he’s happy to be a part of Christian Courier.
What happens internally when you hear the word pornography? For just a moment, pay attention to the feeling that rises up when you sit with that word. Statistically, for men – and for a growing proportion of women – the first feelings are guilt and shame. But perhaps you feel disgust, sadness, hurt or defeat – all depending on the way you’ve been impacted by porn. Sitting with these feelings helps us break the temptation to think that the problem of porn is out there somewhere in the world.
In the Bulkley Valley, not many farmers can say that their cows milk themselves. But in the case of Dan, Rudy and Nathan Vandenberg, their cows do just that. This past September, the farm’s milking system switched to artificial intelligence (AI), becoming the first in northern B.C. Before, all milking was done in-person, a time-consuming activity that meant the cows had to be rounded up and herded to the barn before they could be milked. As Dan Vandenberg says, under this system, the farmers “pretty much lived there.” That is no longer the case.
From the earliest days, it was clear that COVID-19 would make a significant impact on the lives of people in their retirement years. For those relying on investments for their income, the drop in markets set off alarm bells. For those whose mental and emotional health is nourished by family visits and volunteerism, the instructions to “stay home” are deeply disheartening. For those who feel the threat of infection most acutely, the news stirs up our deepest anxieties and fears.
I write this in late March, and we are two weeks from the end of classes for the term, followed by exams in April. On Friday the 13th of March, the university I work at, and most Canadian universities, canceled all live, in-person classes. At Laurier, we canceled classes for a week, and we were asked to develop an online plan for going forward. No face-to-face contact or meetings were permitted, but students had to complete their term with academic integrity and meet all the learning objectives in the course. This online process could take different formats depending on the nature of each course.
“There is nothing greater than giving people space to be,” says Nicola Bartel, executive director at Mercy Canada. “To go into those dark places and not be alone. That’s the love of God when he promises that he will never leave us. And when he sits with us in that dark place and in the presence of somebody – a neighbour, a friend, whoever that is – he works in that community, in that beautiful space, and helps someone walk through it and out of it.”
It was a week when the world froze over in northern Alberta. A week when mercury slid below forty and schools closed and traffic halted. When the power went off one night for a few hours, our hearts stopped too, and neighbours huddled around one another’s woodstoves to eat and pray. Not knowing that in this same week, in the same county, a man was sitting stranded, in his vehicle, stuck in the sandhills, for nearly three days before being found.